Monday, August 13, 2007

Dog Ears #4: From Hell

After thoroughly enjoying Alan Moore's WATCHMEN, the first graphic novel I'd read in a decade, I walked to my local comic shop House of Secrets to see what else Mr. Moore had to offer. I decided on FROM HELL, Moore's epic collaboration with artist Eddie Campbell on the Jack the Ripper murders that was originally published in serial comic book form in 1989. The hefty version I bought includes the entire series, and its nearly 600 page length includes appendices that had been published after the original run up until 1998.

"Will no one help the Widow's son?"

The helpful clerk pointed out that it was imperative for full comprehension to flip to the back and read each chapter's description in the appendix after you've read the chapter. At the time I thought the guy was just nerding out, but I quickly found his advice to be spot on. FROM HELL is a dense, multilayered, and chilling tale, and the inspired leaps of imagination in concert with painstaking research from the writer and illustrator results in one of the most thought-provoking reads I've encountered in some time. Flipping back to the appendix after reading each chapter was not a chore, but a revelatory trip into history and the authors' creative process.

This time, instead of selecting prose and words of interest from the graphic novel itself, I wanted to examine the dog ears of the appendices instead. I think you'll get a good feel for the material this way.

Appendix 1, Page 1 (or 1.1)
ex gratia: as an act of grace; out of one's favor

The Fabian Society: a British socialist intellectual movement, whose purpose is to advance the socialist cause by gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning in the late 19th century and then up to World War I. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party during this period; subsequently, it affected the policies of newly independent British colonies, especially India, and is still in existence today.

Jah-Bul-On (or Jahbulon): a word which was used historically in some rituals of Royal Arch Masonry. In addition, according to Francis X. King, the word is used in rituals of the Ordo Templi Orientis, as Aleister Crowley had contact with various clandestine Masonic groups. There has been much debate over the origin and meaning of this word; and there is no consensus even among Masonic researchers as to the meaning of the word. The word's meaning and legitimacy is unclear. One Masonic scholar alleges that the word first appeared in an early 18th Century Royal Arch ritual, as the name of an allegorical explorer searching for the ruins of King Solomon's Temple; while another Masonic scholar believes it is a descriptive name for God in Hebrew; other, non-Masonic, authors have alleged that it is a Masonic name for God, and even the name of a unique "Masonic God". It is this last interpretation that has led to debates about and condemnation of Freemasonry by several religious groups.

was Hogarth satirizing medical cruelty or revealing Masonic ritual?

Necronaut: The International Necronautical Society is a semi-fictional organisation devoted to exploring the concept of death and spatial analogies, closely modelled on European avant-gardes of the 20th century. It has mounted several events at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. The June 2004 edition of Art Monthly ran a feature on the INS, which claimed that: "The INS models itself on the modernist avant-gardes. It even mimics their ideological disputes; a year ago McCarthy, remembering André Breton, ejected most of the founding members. But it also plays, with its "General Secretary", its "hearings" and "reports", on the terminology and protocol of the Kafkaesque bureaucracy."

Dionysiac Architects: an ancient secret society, its principles and doctrines much like the modern Freemasonic Order. They were an organization of builders bound together by their secret knowledge of the relationship between the earthly and the divine sciences of architectonics. They were supposedly employed by King Solomon in the building of his Temple, although they were not Jews, nor did they worship the God of the Jews, being followers of Bacchus and Dionysos. The Dionysiac Architects erected many of the great monuments of antiquity. They possessed a secret language and a system of marking their stones. They had annual convocations and sacred feasts. The exact nature of their doctrines is unknown.

corpus callosum: a structure of the mammalian brain in the longitudal fissure that connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres. It is the largest white matter structure in the brain, consisting of 200-250 million contralateral axonal projections. It is a wide, flat bundle of axons beneath the cortex. Much of the inter-hemispheric communication in the brain is conducted across the corpus callosum

Diabolism n.
1. Dealings with or worship of the devil or demons; sorcery.
2. Devilish conduct or character.

William Blake painted this creature after, he says, it materialized in front of him.

Theosophism: "any of various philosophies professing to achieve a knowledge of God by spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual revelation; esp. a modern movement following Hindu and Buddhist teachings, and seeking universal brotherhood."

Bavarian Illuminati: The Illuminati is the name used for several groups, both real and fictitious. Most commonly it refers specifically to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment secret society founded in the late eighteenth century. However, in modern times it refers to a purported shadowy conspiratorial organization which is reputed to secretly control world affairs, usually a modern incarnation or continuation of the Bavarian Illuminati. In this context, Illuminati is often used in reference to a New World Order (NWO). Many Conspiracy theorists believe the Illuminati (The People of The Light), or illuminated ones, are the masterminds behind events that will lead to a New World Order.

Order of the Golden Dawn
: The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (or, more commonly, the Golden Dawn) was a magical order of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, practicing a form of theurgy and spiritual development. It was probably the single greatest influence on twentieth century western occultism. Concepts of magic and ritual that became core elements of many other traditions, including Wicca,[1][2] Thelema and other forms of magical spirituality popular today, are drawn from the Golden Dawn tradition.

cthonic (or chthonic)
1. (Greek mythology) Of or pertaining to the underworld.
2. Dwelling within or under the earth.

One final note: never saw the Hughes Brothers film version of FROM HELL starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, but remember very mixed reviews. Any thoughts on whether or not its worth my time would be appreciated.

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