So here are two reviews... Liber Null is a Chaos Magick classic. As I've said before, I am always wary of the classics.
Liber Null and Psychonaut by Peter J. Carroll (3 out of 5 stars)*
My head hurts. It really hurts. Also, my copy is missing a page of text and half its contents table. Damn to demise all marshmallows in existence and some theoretical ones.
How can someone actively choose to experiment on everything that makes them who they are AND work 9-5? The advice is pretty clear: change your personality, change your sexuality, do all the things that normally you would not do, try a different lifestyle, support a point of view you don't agree with and so on. Keep doing that that until you manage to disentangle your inner core from your present personality, because personality is essentially a completely arbitrary construction based on experience and chance. Once you stop identifying with your personality/ ego, magick can happen because you don't identify with any desire, and consequently don’t sabotage your own efforts by fear or need. Also, by deconstructing your personality you peel away all those superficial/ ego gratification needs that don’t originate from your inner core, but from your fears, complexes and so on. What remains is aligned with the portion of you that is transcendent, in other words, with the needs of your soul. Yep, do all that AND at the same time hold down a job, maintain your relationships, practice magick and try to see life for the cosmic joke it is. Excellent theory, but I am afraid that this can only be done by not having to work, not being in a relationship and not having a family of any kind. And probably having friends who don’t mind dealing with a person whose completely inconsistent and erratic behavior changes from day to day.
It's an interesting book with some excellent ideas but very little practical application for the practitioner who also wants to have a life outside the occult. It's also difficult to follow at parts. Still a good read for someone who wants to be introduced to Chaos Magick. One of the classics. As with all classics, pick and choose the elements that suit you and ignore the rest.
The Pseudonomicon by Phil Hine (4 out of 5 stars)*
I read this one many years ago, and back then I did not fully appreciate it. Now that I re-read it, I can say it is one of the best of its kind. I am not particularly interested in becoming acquainted with the Old Ones on a personal level, let alone going mad. (Or at least, not madder than I already am. ;) However this little volume gives a plethora of information on how the Old Ones can be understood in relation to our human perception of the world, as well as some very valid observations on the way magickal experience cannot be explained or communicated. The writing is crystal clear, avoids metaphysical jargon, has an excellent sense of humour and offers interesting hints/ information if someone wants to get personally involved. Though short in length, it can be used as a solid introduction for someone who is tickled by the idea of the Old Ones in magickal work, and they can expand from there. Highly recommended.
*My star rating and what it means:
Zero stars: Why me?!? I do come across books that aren't really books, but brain damage in disguise. For reasons you can all understand, I won't be publishing reviews on them. I tend to become enraged and say things I later on regret.
One star: Meh... I didn't like it and won't be keeping it. It might be the book, or it might be me. I'll try to clarify in my review.
Two stars: Average/ Okay. Either the kind of light/ undemanding book you read and don't remember in a month, or suffering from flaws that prevented it from realising its potential.
Three stars: Better than average. Good moments, memorable characters and/ or plot, maybe good sense of humour... Not to die for, but not feeling like you wasted your time and money either.
Four stars: Wow, that was good! Definitely keeping it and checking to see what else I can buy from the same writer.
Five stars: Oh. My. Goodness. The kind of book you buy as a gift to all your friends, praise to random strangers on the bus, and re-read until the pages fall out and the corners are no longer corners, but round.