A prominent client recently suggested assembling a library of all the classic books on Metaphysics. A vast compendium of all the world's knowledge on various arcane and occult subjects housed in one building - to give the peasants something to try and bring down.
An excellent title to start off this ambitious project might be the recently revised PERDURABO, The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski. The blurb on the front of dust jacket says: The definitive biography of the founder of modern magick. Having read the first edition of Perdurabo, and every other biography of this controversial figure, I readily agree.
This edition was just released. There's still a special launch offer available through Weiser Antiquarian: a signed copy of this 700+ page hardcover book for $25. The offer is good for only a few more days then goes to its regular and unsigned retail price of $29.95. The full offer and a link to Weisers is here.
I received my copy yesterday. The book is beautifully produced. It includes many rare and revealing photographs. Diving into the first chapter, Birthday, it becomes immediately apparent that the factual research of Crowley's life and history is thorough and extensive, bordering on pedantic.
Perdurabo begins with Crowley's initiation into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn on November 18, 1898 the date which he ever after referred to as his magical birthday. The initiation includes solemnly making several vows one of which is: Neither will I use my occult powers for any evil purposes...
I laud Kaczynski for addressing this issue right at the top. The common, profane, misperception of Crowley is that he was an evil black magician who did all kinds of horrible things. That couldn't be further from the truth. However, Perdurabo is a critical account, not a white-washed attempt at spin control of Crowley's legacy. Paul Feazy, the webmaster of Lashtal.com put it well in a blurb used on the flip side of the dust jacket:
...Roundly rejecting the pantomime villain at the center of previous biographies and deeply suspicious of the nonsensical hero-worship of some of his modern followers, Kaczynski's portrait is balanced and well-informed...
Perdurabo is Latin for "I shall endure unto the end." It was the motto Crowley chose when initiated into the Golden Dawn in 1898. He took it from the New Testament, Mark 13:13:
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Kaczynski ends the book with:
In our jaded modern age, magick offfers an opportunity for adventure and discovery in the only uncharted domain that doesn't require a space shuttle: the spirit. Crowley may be gone, but look around: the spirit of Frater Perdurabo endures.