Monday, April 29, 2013

Occulture on the Real OTO

The recent flap over British celebrity Peaches Geldof's possible involvement in OTO has returned Aleister Crowley's special relationship with the British press corps to the spotlight. This relationship dates back more than a century, and can best be described as one in which given a chance to vilify Crowley, the British press leaps to do so at the slightest possible opportunity. One example is the awful Guardian article that I linked to in my previous post, but here are more:
Some are worse than others, but all contain substantial inaccuracies and they aren't the only articles out there. A number of other tabloids and celebrity gossip sites have picked up the story using the above as their sources, spreading the nonsense far and wide. Occulture has now responded to these articles with - gasp - accurate information about Crowley and the Order, noting that among other things the reporters working on the above stories apparently couldn't even be bothered to look up Ordo Templi Orientis on Wikipedia. That's some crack reporting right there.

Seizing on Crowley’s appetite for drugs and sex, while totally ignoring the fact that Crowley saw these as legitimate routes to spiritual enlightenment, today’s press have spun a lazy and inaccurate picture of the O.T.O., pulling out all the hackneyed tropes about sleaze, drug-fuelled sex orgies, Satanism, sacrifice, and more worryingly, links to Nazism and anti-Semitism, in order to flesh out their weak and unsubstantiated claims of the Order’s activities.

Seemingly unable to locate the excellent and highly informative Wikipedia page on the O.T.O., or to read any of the numerous professional websites maintained by the Order itself, the press have instead chosen to put their lot in with the type of YouTube-addicted teenage conspiracy theorists who claim that anyone from Jay-Z and BeyoncĂ© to Barack Obama are members of the Order, that the O.T.O. is somehow responsible for the ‘occult symbolism’ found in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, and all the while being secretly involved in the highest levels of politics, entertainment and international business.

This reliance on paranoid teenage fantasy in order to sell newspapers is telling. What it exposes is that the press is not in the least bit interested in fact, and when it comes to the personal spiritual explorations of a young woman, who just happens to have famous parents, not one of the newspapers or magazines who have run stories on Geldof have been against stooping to the lowest journalistic standards to sell more units.

In response to the Guardian article, I commented that it was so bad I didn't even know where to start. Occulture is clearly mightier than I am in that regard, because those three paragraphs completely nail it. It's amazing that even in this day and age, with biographies of Crowley far better than John Symonds' lurid and dishonest The Great Beast available, that the British press nonetheless latch onto the latter book as though it represents the absolute, unvarnished truth about Crowley and the Order that he once led. The fact that many of its allegations are simply nonsensical tabloid fodder woven into a biographical narrative to make the book more shocking is conveniently ignored.

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