Richard B. Spence
Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult
Port Townsend, Wash.: Feral House, 2008
“The great scientists, the artists, the philosophers, the religious leaders — all maniacs. What else but a blind singleness of purpose could have given focus to their purpose? Mania, my dear Mister Bond, is as priceless as genius. Dissipation of energy, fragmentation of vision, loss of momentum, the lack of follow-through — these are the vices of the herd.”
— The eponymous Dr. No
Even a successful fraud comes across as strangely pitiful. . . . Like Peter Schlemiel, the liar and phony have no shadow. This means being nowhere. They exist outside the equation of brotherhood. The relief of loving comes hard for them, and the curse of triviality follows them everywhere.
— Alan Harrington, The Immortalist
This book proposes that the (in)famous Aleister Crowley, in addition to his well known achievements, both acknowledged — mountaineer, chess master — and disputed — England’s greatest poet, master of the Qabalah — was also , perhaps merely, a British spy.
I suspect that most readers, either of the general public, or Crowley enthusiasts — will find this book frustrating. The frustration arises from both the subject and its execution.
To understand the problems with the execution, it’s perhaps best to look at the origin of this book.
Author Spence is professor and chair of the University of Idaho’s Department of History, and is, I gather, an authority on the history of espionage and counter-espionage, even appearing on the History Channel, no less. Around the turn of the last century he wrote Trust No One: The Secret World of Sidney Reilly, a biography of the crypto-Judaic British “Ace of Spies.”
In the course of that project, Spence tells us, he began to notice the name of Aleister Crowley cropping up again and again. Intrigued, Spence put together an article on Crowley’s possible connections to British intelligence. And there the matter might have rested, except, it now being the age of the Internet, the article provoked responses, and additional information (or claims to information) from Crowleyites, spy fanatics, and conspiracy theorists from far and wide. Spence continued to follow up these leads, and the result is this book.
Unfortunately, most of those leads seem to have petered out or not amounted to much “at the end of the day” (as British historians seem to like to say). In particular, the hitherto classified files of both American and British intelligence, despite being opened up on many recent occasions, seem to remain closed when the topic of Crowley comes up, or else yield little of substance.
It would seem that if Crowley had anything to do with British intelligence, it either amounted to very little beyond some shared information from time to time over several decades, or else was so massive and central that its existence is still being covered up at the highest levels.
Spence, of course, wants you to believe the latter; his Crowley is the original International Man of Mystery — conniving to embroil the USA in what Yockey called the European Civil War (aka “World War I or “the Great War”) through black propaganda and, ultimately, the sinking of the Lusitania; sundry plots to over-through the Spanish government and derail Irish and Indian independence movements; and even in his drug-addicted dotage, using fake astrology to demoralize Hitler and luring Rudolf Hess to England.
Alas, the lack of hard evidence leaves Spence with little more than a lot of “could have” and “might be,” rather like an “ancient astronaut” theorist, augmented by a good deal of “did Crowley have a hand in” and “perhaps this was Crowley’s work.” Along the way, one does learn a good deal of actual history, especially about the major intelligence services, and these parts of the book are certainly of interest to the layman.
The other dissatisfaction I mentioned has to do with the object of the book itself, whether or not Spence succeeds in establishing it. If Crowley was a British spy, how do we reconcile this with our idea of Crowley as, in some sense, and to some extent, a Mage, a Realized Man? Does this diminish him by its mean little triviality — the Great Beast cut down to size and revealed as Col. Blimp? As quoted by Spence:
“I still think the English pot as black as the German kettle, and I am still willing to die in defense of that pot. Mine is the loyalty of Bill Sykes’ dog . . . the fact that he starves me and beats me doesn’t alter the fact that I am his dog, and I love him.”
Crowley was a pariah and spiritual rebel, but he also longed for the “regular life of an English Gentleman.”
Of course, we might wonder how much of a “regular life of an English gentleman” could resemble the life of one of those grubby little men selling secrets in an alley?
Or, alternatively, does it tarnish his reputation — such as it is — with gross immorality? For leaving aside secret-selling, the “espionage” detailed by Spence is really more a history of what we now call “dirty tricks” and even “state-sponsored terror” or “false flag operations” used to stampede the sheeple into various wars for the benefit of the Deep State. Not so much James Bond as G. Gordon Liddy or even, given his supposed role in the sinking of the Lusitania, Dick Cheney.
The first question or perhaps just disquietude — the Mage as Jingoist — is perhaps best addressed by stepping back and asking what The Mage is doing in general. Here, I find the work of Colin Wilson to be useful, both generally, and specifically for Crowley; indeed, though this “confession” may make orthodox Thelemites and Crowley groupies cringe, I find Wilson’s account of Crowley to be the best, or at least the most convincing, around.
Magic (or “magick,” as Crowley would prefer) is, Wilson points out, concerned with bringing about changes in the environment through the action of the will (or the “Will”). Thus, the Mage is concerned first and above all with the training, or strengthening, of the will.
Why, then, all the fuss about robes and incense, altars, fasting, planetary positions, etc.? Why, in short, all this bother about “magic”?
Because training the Will is hard, and one needs all the help one can get. He needs, Wilson says, “a whole scaffolding of drama, of conviction, of purpose.” Wilson frequently points out how in ordinary life, a sudden crisis can lead one to concentrate the will, summon up necessary reserves, and achieve almost miraculous feats: “In moments of crisis or excitement, man ‘completes his partial mind,’ and somehow knows in advance that a certain venture will be successful.”
But to do this systematically, some kind of framework of belief is needed, to serve as a focus of belief and provide confidence in ones actions.
Crowley, as Wilson points out, is quite clear that the results are not, as Crowley puts it, “apodictically” related to the truth of the framework:
Magic is to do with a subconscious process, and the actual ceremonies and rituals are not “apodictically related” to it.
The “results” produced by a religion are not based upon the apodictic truth of its dogmas, but the dogmas are indispensable to the results, and the results are real.
The question here is familiar to Traditionalists and perhaps “neo-pagans” as well. Guénon was insistent that one must follow a “regular” tradition — speaking in a way that was perhaps itself a product of his Catholic upbringing — and denounced Crowley as a representative of “counter-traditional action” precisely because of his unorthodox and seemingly improvised teachings.
But what if, as a child of modernity, one does not belong to any particular tradition? On what basis can one “choose” a tradition to belong to, and assuming one can do so in good faith, how does one practice it in good faith while believing, as a Traditionalist, that all the others are equally valid?
Of course, Crowley and modern “Chaos Magicians” have no such problems, and view themselves as practicing a kind of postmodern magic that is based, in fact, on a radical skepticism about the ultimate truth of any given framework, which may be adopted and discarded for another at . . . will.
Now I bring all this in because I find it interesting that as soon as Wilson introduces the issue of frameworks and belief, his immediate comparison is to — patriotism:
When a patriot talks about his country, he does not mean the view out of the bathroom window, although that is certainly a part of his country. In order to get that patriotic glow, he needs to think of the Union Jack or Old Glory, and accompany it with some definite image of green fields of some battlefield of the past.
I wonder, then, if Crowley’s “patriotism” was not more of the same sort, a framework to help provide support for the Will.
Bur Crowley did more than contemplate his English garden, or even engage in some trivial, pro forma patriotic acts; he supposedly engaged in several decades of dirty tricks, resulting in the deaths of over a thousand on the Lusitania, and is perhaps somewhat responsible for the deaths of millions in the two “World Wars.” Even the harshest critics of the Great Beast never blamed all that on him!
So our second question is: can we think of the Mage, the Realized Man, as a Dirty Trickster?
Uncomfortable as it may be, I think the answer may very well be “Yes.” The Realized Man has by definition passed beyond the “pairs of opposites” and is no more bound by our notions of moral law than JHVH himself. I’ve discussed this many times before when discerning the notion of “passing the buck” — passing on one’s karmic burden to a sucker and transcending the Wheel of Becoming — in various films.
Spence certainly seems comfortable with the idea; commenting that
On the contrary, those very qualities (such as his “contempt for the existing order”) helped to qualify him for the job.
And what is the job?
Street-level spying anyway, [which] is at best morally suspect.
He then quotes from a CIA agent’s memoir to illustrate the mind-set:
“Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the all-highest?”
But how does this “contempt for the established order” comport with his supposed “my country right or wrong” patriotism? Part of the problem arises from Spence’s systematic confusion of “spy” and “secret agent.”
Now, Spence may be the authority on the history of espionage, but when it comes to fictional spies — and Crowley may be no more than that — my authority is Kingsley Amis, specifically his James Bond Dossier.
Amis starts right out by clarifying the difference:
It’s inaccurate, of course, to describe James Bond as a spy, in the strict sense of one who steals or buys or smuggles the secrets of foreign powers. . . . Bond’s claims to be considered a counter-spy, one who operates against the agents of unfriendly powers, are rather more substantial.
Bond, then, or at least the American version, would be a “secret agent” working to foil the machinations of a “spy” like Crowley.
Amis also emphasizes Bond’s simple-hearted patriotism, already somewhat outdated in his mid-’50s to ’60s prime, which is a genuine version of Crowley’s “non-apodictic” sort.
Moreover, Amis emphasizes that Bond is a “believable fantasy” because he is basically like you and me, only a little better, due to training and experience. He’s not the best shot in the service, has to read up on card tricks, undergoes various kinds of training, doesn’t really drink that much, etc. We can easily imagine ourselves doing the same, if given the chance. He is, in a comparison not made by the Yankee-phobic Amis, Batman, not Superman.
As for the CIA chap, surely this is not a spy, even, but simply a psychopath; which certainly jibes with the CIA’s record: not very good at intelligence gathering, but great at creating chaos.
Of course, it’s true that the psychopath seems — misleadingly? — rather like the Realized Man after all; the monsters fought by Will Graham and Clarice Starling seem like Mages who have perhaps, like one of the Bluth family, “made an huge mistake.” Taking hermetic metaphors literally, with egos too strong or, being too weak, needing inflation all the more, Buffalo Bill, The Tooth Fairy, and even Anthony Hopkins’ operatic Hannibal Lecter illustrate the fine line between enlightenment and psychosis.
But this tells us where we should be looking for our analogue for Crowley; not a secret agent, like Bond, nor even a spy, like Bond’s quotidian enemies, the secret-stealers and diamond smugglers, but the man Fleming conceived of as the anti-Bond, his opposite number in every way: Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
That Ian Fleming based the first Bond villain — Le Chiffre in Casino Royale — and then the ultimate super-villain, Blofeld, on Crowley is fairly well-known. The telling of the tale gives a fairly good example of Spence’s method of building what he admits is a “circumstantial” case.
When news of the capture of Rudolf Hess began to get about, Crowley dropped a note to Ian Fleming, working in Naval Intelligence, to offer his services in the interrogation; Crowley could locate Fleming, whom he had never met, because Fleming’s boss, Maxwell Knight (the model for Bond’s “M”) had been introduced to Crowley through occult novelist Dennis Wheatley. Higher ups, including Knight, eventually nixed the idea, and Fleming still never met Crowley.
Spence takes this well-established tale, interesting but ultimately going nowhere, and manages to torture the evidence enough to graft on a new head and tail, as well as some depth. Surely Crowley must have been called in to interrogate Hess; after all, the NID interrogation room was located near Crowley in London. Sure, he was an elderly drug addict by this time, but that just shows he could have brought his long experience with psychotropic drugs to bear on Hess. And speaking of bringing things to bear on Hess, perhaps Crowley had been called in even earlier, to psychically manipulate Hess, perhaps planting suggestions in his dreams? And as for Fleming, well, he must have been Crowley’s control all along. Can you prove it didn’t happen?
Hess was, supposedly, tricked into flying to Scotland. The Crowley/Scotland connection added another element to Blofeld, which also gets us back to Crowley’s patriotism. A key plot point in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is Blofeld’s mad wish to be recognized as a Scottish aristocrat, a wish shared by Crowley, as Spence narrates:
Soon after the Golden Dawn meltdown, the Beast retreated to Boleskine, his newly acquired house near Loch Ness. There he played at being a local laird and performed “magicakal” operations to perfect his command of the occult arts.
This certainly put his supposed “patriotism” in perspective. Although I suppose Scotland is regarded as part of Britain (though not by Sean Connery) the idea of “playing at being a local laird” recalls Wilson’s notion of framework, and suggests that Crowley’s pose as a John Bull-style patriot was, just that, a pose, useful “to perfect his command of the occult arts.”
Oddly enough, although Spence mentions Fleming, of course, and the Bond connection, Blofeld never once turns up. A suspicious absence, is it not? Because once we consider Crowley as Blofeld, it becomes clear that he could never have been so respectably middle-class as to be a secret agent, nor as low-level as to be a mere spy.
Whether Spence or anyone else can “prove” Crowley was an agent of the British, he was much more than that: a Realized Man, and so in some sense, already a super-villain. Fleming’s instincts were sounder than Spence’s: Crowley can only be adequately dealt with through fiction.
Crowleyites need not fear that anything in Secret Agent 666 about either his patriotism or dirty tricks will tarnish the reputation, such as it is, of their hero. But unless the files haven’t been destroyed, and someone someday feels comfortable releasing them, neither Spence nor anyone else will be able to confirm or deny that he was an International Man of Mystery; and I think Crowley would be quite happy about that.
1. For a Hegelian analysis of Dr. No’s speech, see “The Dialectic of Dr. No” by Ian Dunross, here. “For what makes the evil scientist so damn readable is that, despite his fantastical dimension, Fleming went out of his way to make the madman’s propensity for world domination a credible one and to provide him with sufficient reasons for behaving as he does. Indeed, he becomes enthralling in the obligatory doomsday speech, the best delivered by a villain in the entire Bondian canon. At once sinister, histrionical, and with touches of camp, the speech holds intriguing philosophical ideas.”
2. Frogmore, St. Albans, Herts, UK: Panther, 1969; p. 131. “The most important book of our time” — Gore Vidal.
3. “It has been remarked a strange coincidence that one small county should have given England her two greatest poets—for one must not forget Shakespeare (1550–1610).” The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, online here. Even more strange that one small street in Alabama should have produced Truman Capote and Harper Lee. See my “To Cut-Up a Mockingbird,” here.
4. “The natural and obvious result of the antagonism of the great Jewish scholars was that, since the authorized guardians neglected this field, all manner of charlatans and dreamers came and treated it as their own property. From the brilliant misunderstandings and misrepresentations of Alphonse Louis Constant, who has won fame under the pseudonym of Eliphas Levi, to the highly coloured humbug of Aleister Crowley and his followers, the most eccentric and fantastic statements have been produced purporting to be legitimate interpretations of Kabbalism. [AUTHOR’S NOTE]: Eliphas Levi is a Judaization of his Christian names Alphonse Louis. No words need be wasted on the subject of Crowley’s “Kabbalistic” writings in his books on what he was pleased to term “Magick,” and in his journal, The Equinox.” — Gershom Scholem: Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York: Schocken Books, 1961), p. 2; and Note on p. 353.
5. When I think of Idaho historians, I think of conspiracy researcher Michael A. Hoffman, II (who, according to no less than Robert Anton Wilson, has “the strangest reality tunnel” ever; and when I think of the History Channel, I think of crazy-haired guys talking about what aliens “might” have done; but Spence seems to be rather more conventional.
6. Post Townsend, Wash.: Feral House, 2002.
7. I am reminded of how Oliver Stone, at the end of JFK, proudly announces that after Clay Shaw’s death the CIA “admitted he had worked with them” — leaving the viewer to assume this validates Garrison’s whole conspiracy plot — when the “work” actually amounted to Shaw, an international businessman, being asked to provide information from time to time.
8. Conspiracy theorists like Hoffman might wonder if this is Revelation of the Method by smirking reference to Crowley, “The Great Beast.”
9. Is there any other kind?
10. “False flag attacks occur when government engages in covert operations designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations seem as if they are being carried out by other entities. False flag terrorism is a favorite political tactic used by governments worldwide. They influence elections, guide national and international policy, and are cynically used to formulate propaganda and shape public opinion as nations go to war.” Kurt Nimmo, “A Brief History of False Flag Attacks: Or Why Government Loves State Sponsored Terror,” Infowars.com, August 14, 2012, here; also includes a handy list from the burning of Rome by Nero to Operation Gladio, which designed “to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the state cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened.”
11. Perhaps this explains the popular meme of portraying the otherwise utterly banal Cheney as a Sith Lord.
12. See his classic survey, The Occult: A History (New York: Random House, 1971), which has a chapter on Crowley, as well as his Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast (Wellingborough, UK: Aquarian Press, 1980).
13. “What Crowley realised instinctively was that magic is somehow connected with the human will, with man’s true will, the deep instinctive will. Man is a passive creature because he lives too much in rational consciousness and the trivial worries of everyday.” — Wilson, The Occult.
14. “It turns out making a movie is really, really hard.” — Joel Hodgson, creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
15. “Man has become so complicated that he is unaware of the relation between his will-power and the spinning of the top called consciousness, and minor discouragements tend to get so out of proportion that he forgets to whip it.” Wilson, op. cit.
16. “If an ordinary, rational person tried to perform a magical ceremony, he would be thinking all the time: This is absurd; it cannot work. And it wouldn’t.” Wilson, op. cit.
17. Wilson, op. cit. I find it interesting that Crowley’s colleague and private secretary, Israel Regardie, called Neville Goddard the “most magical” of the New Thought or Positive Thinkers, and describes Neville’s use of the Bible — interpreted accounting to supposed secret teaching delivered to him by a black African rabbi named “Abdullah” — to not just clothe his message but to engage the emotions of a nominally Christian audience in order to provide them with the confidence and will power to actualize their imaginations. The relevant chapter of his 1947 book is reprinted as the “Introduction” to The Neville Goddard Treasury (New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2015). Also interestingly, Neville asserted that this was in fact the intention of the writers of the Bible, which he insisted was a collection of “psychological teachings” and not in any way, shape or form a “historical” document; thus he was an early proponent of the “Christ Myth” theory, or rather, a bridge to an earlier form of the theory that was temporarily displaced by a resurgence of fundamentalism among so-called Biblical scholars in the mid-century. See my review of Robert H. Price’s The Human Bible here.
18. And what if one believes that ones tradition is no longer traditional (the “sede vacantists” among Catholics, for instance, who are “more Catholic than the Pope”? And on what basis does one reach such a belief? What if one comes to believe, as Evola did, that Catholicism was never a valid Tradition anyway?
19. This is the Jehovah God whose “ways are not your ways,” and who “rains upon both the good and the bad.” Christianity has introduced an apparently inconsistent Father God who seems bound by a moral law outside himself that requires him to punish mankind for its sins, rather than simply issuing a pardon. Evola, Watts, and others have pointed out this as showing that this god must therefore be a lower, relativized entity than the Absolute, Brahman, the Godhead, etc. How someone could infer this, metaphysically, and yet remain a practicing Christian, at the level of practice, returns us to the previous difficulty.
20. These film reviews will be reprinted in a collection, Passing the Buck: A Traditionalist Looks at the Movies, forthcoming from Counter-Currents.
21. London: Jonathan Cape, 1965. As I’ve said before, I regard this as a model for the intense, “deep” study of a pop culture item, although Amis would hardly approve of my own flights of fancy regarding Ed Wood, say. Apart from his literary authority, and a knowledge of James Bond that led him to be asked to write the first post-Fleming thriller, Amis was assisted in the technical details of espionage by his friend, the noted anti-Communist historian Robert Conquest.
22. Amis, Kingsley, The James Bond Dossier (London: Jonathan Cape, 1965), p. 11
23. Amis, an epic drinker who, alas, died a painful, lingering, alcohol-related death — no passing the buck for him — minutely investigates this issue; among other things, trying to find out if the famous “Vesper” martini recipe could possibly be drinkable as it’s written (it’s not). See also his three books on drinking, collected as Everyday Drinking (New York: Bloomsbury, 2008); ignore the introduction by the vile Christopher Hitchens and read the review by Roger Scruton in The Guardian, here. “Wine occasionally gets a look in, but it is clear that Kingsley despised the stuff, as representing an alcohol-to-price ratio far below the horizon of a real drinker’s need.”
24. See Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner (New York: Doubleday, 2007), which lists dozens of world-historic events completely missed by the CIA, which was too busy planning its next coup. The Europeans seem to have a weakness for anarchic comic strip or movie anti-heroes whose antics go far beyond what American audiences would tolerate. Faced with Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1968), a kind of Bond/Batman hybrid, in which the titular super-thief merrily machine guns guards and blows up bridges, plunging trains into the sea, Mike and the ‘bots could only wonder at a movie in which “Thousands die to satisfy Diabolik’s girlfriend’s whims” (Episode 1013). The movie does feature Thunderball’s Aldo Celli, who, in the dubbed version used on MST3k (though not the revamped DVD release) delivers the immortal line “Is that Stud . . . coming?”
25. Jack Crawford: [about the Tooth Fairy] “You feel sorry for him.”
Will Graham: “. . . My heart bleeds for him, as a child. Someone took a kid and manufactured a monster. At the same time, as an adult, he’s irredeemable. He butchers whole families to pursue trivial fantasies. As an adult, someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks. Does that sound like a contradiction to you, Jack? Does this kind of thinking make you uncomfortable?” Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986). Once more, a contradiction. See my “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1” and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2,” all of which should be reprinted in Passing the Buck, op. cit. Although the remake of Red Dragon contains the Blake etching eating that illustrates my point about the misunderstanding of levels and lateralization, as well as Hopkins’ Crowley-like take, I continue to prefer Mann’s version, including Brian Cox’s working class Lecter (named Lektor here, out of Judaic crypsis), for the reasons given in my “Essential Films … & Others,” here; among other things, the way Tom Noonan embodies The Tooth Fairy’s realization that he has indeed “made a huge mistake.”
26. Thus: “And so Fleming chose Crowley — based on their wartime meetings [untrue, they never met, but Crowley was sufficiently infamous already] — as the model for the first ever Bond villain. Fleming described Le Chiffre as ‘clean shaven, with a complexion very pale or white, fat, slug-like, with sadistic impulses, constantly using a benzedrine inhaler and with an insatiable appetite for women.’ He also had a rather feminine mouth. It is also written that both called people ‘dear boy’, and both, like the crazed Benito Mussolini [?], ‘had the whites of their eyes completely visible around the iris.’” Well, I guess all “fascists” must be “crazed,” but as for the whites of their eyes business, Amis notes that he only met one such person in his life, a local Welsh bureaucrat, but then he hasn’t seen him around for a while . . .
27. Although, as Spence notes, the details mysteriously disappeared from the American edition of Pearson’s Fleming biography.
28. Shades of Jim Garrison’s “geographic” theory of guilt: Naval Intelligence, Guy Bannister and Lee Harvey Oswald must have been working together, since they all had offices near one another! See my review of Dave McGowan Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream, here. Crowley, of course, figures on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s.
29. The aforementioned Neville describes methods to control the future behavior of others through the planting of such suggestions, so I suppose Crowley must have had similar, more sinister methods. “My schooling was devoted almost exclusively to the power of imagination. I sat for hours imagining myself to be other than that which my reason and my senses dictated until the imagined states were vivid as reality — so vivid that passers-by became but a part of my imagination and acted as I would have them. By the power of imagination my fantasy led theirs and dictated tot hem their behavior and the discourse they held together while I was identified with my imagined states.” Out of This World, Chapter 3, “The Power of Imagination” in Goddard, op. cit. Spence is correct to point out as well that this is little different than the methods of “remote viewing” and even “remote influencing” studied by the CIA and others.
30. Criswell’s evidence is actually much sounder: “My friend, you have seen this incident, based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn’t happen?” Plan 9 From Outer Space (Edward D. Wood, Jr., 1959).
31. Although Bond is a real Scotsman, with a French mother, Amis suggests that Sean Connery was not entirely suited to the role; he could play an Edinburgh businessman, but never a laird. Ironically, we never got to test this out, since Connery dropped out of the series before OHMSS was filmed; there, Bond –impersonating a Scottish herald to get to Blofeld — is played by George Lazenby, an Australian, who is increasingly seen as being the best Bond after all. Even more ironic, the “new Blofeld” will apparently be Christoph Waltz of Inglourious Basterds, a movie that would have dumbfounded Amis, who observes, à propos Bond’s careful application of violence, that “we would shrink from identifying with a mere terrorist who happens to be killing Nazis.”
32. Amis suggests “mid-level Civil Servant” as Bond’s correct status, if not title.
33. What would be interesting would be a comparison of Crowley’s activities and those of Baron Evola. Evola, of course, was also a practicing Mage, whose UR Group was definitely attempting to influence Mussolini, who, in turn, seemed to be terrified of him (despite having those Blofeld-like eyes). He seems to have been something of an Italian patriot, but more interested in guiding the Fascist movement as such, and thus more than willing to switch to the German side when it seemed more fruitful. See those invaluable publications from Arktos, Fascism Viewed from the Right (London: Arktos, 2012) and Notes on the Third Reich (London: Arktos, 2014) as well as Guido Stucco’s discussion of the activities of the UR Group in his Introduction to Evola’s Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2001); for Evola on Crowley, see his essay here. Both Crowley and Evola seem to have wound up as physical wrecks, but Evola already noted in The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1995) that the condition of the Mage in this phenomenal world is often the inverse of his astral state, the triumphs and struggles in the latter resulting in “karmic boomerangs” (as opposed to the “buck passing” I’ve described above). A true “Struggle of the Magicians”!