Book review - Thundersqueak

Thundersqueak: or the confessions of a right wing anarchist, being the suicide writings of Liz Angerford and Ambrose Lea. Originally published 1979.

“Is the health of a society dependent upon its strength to resist us as well as its failure to exterminate us?” This is a book to turn you on to so many things; it’s hard to know where to start.

Ok, so first- what the heck is a Right-Wing anarchist? Nothing at all: “Government cannot handle humans…it can only handle labels”. The book title is just a label to differentiate it from Cookery books, Crime Thrillers and other psycho-politico-magico instruction manuals… not that there are too many of the latter in yer average bookshop.

We all work on labels, of course- you, me, the bloke in the street…. And it’s so limiting: “the furious anti-Semite cannot see the kindness of his Jewish neighbours, the rabid Tory cannot see Labour’s successful economic measures, and so on. If we live on restricted maps we live a restricted life”… so what are YOUR restrictions?

I suppose at a pinch this could be called a self-help book- as there are instructions inside that you can follow, and by doing so make your life better (or at least more interesting)- and perhaps happier- even if “the only true happiness is to live dangerously in times of peace, and to be at peace in times of crisis” … but New-Age fluffy it is NOT! This is ‘self-help by self psychic-surgery’: It tears your self to bits and chucks out the crap:

“Principles are tyrants. They are the worst tyrants of all because they dwell in your own mind. So don’t stick up for principles- fuck them. You then discover that the principles that you have been sticking up for were not ‘your’ principles, but those most convenient to other systems (of society)”… Sticking to principles is “politically most convenient… it helps the government if it can reply on its opponents to come out onto the streets and protest… once they are on the street they can be shot”…

The authors are, not surprisingly, very down on religions: here’s a sample: “Would Christianity ever have gained such power if Thingummybob had not let himself be crucified?” … Of course not, and:

“What greater example of applied hatred has ever been seen on earth? Two thousand years of buggered up humanity! No wonder God wept. No wonder the last book of the bible is a little, er, odd”

And of course there is politics: “Politics is a disease of the mind. Creeds and moralities are parasites and vampires that shrivel us, distort us and make us grotesque.”

And History: “ ‘Who won the last war?’ is not a very interesting questions, but ‘WHAT won the last war?’ is. So many of the Nazi ideals, methods and obsessions are now taken for granted… the people’s car, racial unrest, missiles, jet aircraft, secret police, brainwashing, anti-Semitism… Christ and Hitler are the two greatest examples of the vast significance of timely death, the surrender that disguises total victory”

Thundersqueak compares the techniques of a repressive police state (not so far distant from our own) with the methods used for centuries to achieve spiritual illumination (for want of a better term)- fasting, sensory deprivation, sleeplessness, physical discomfort, protracted abject terror…..

There are so many challenges and insights in such a relatively short book- such as why academic research into ‘weird’ (another label!) subjects like magic is not done: “although society is now so rich in money that we are prepared to risk millions on a nuclear gamble, we are in fact so poor in time and trust that nobody is officially prepared to dedicate a lifetime to test an alchemical theory. (Unofficial testers are therefore suspicious and their conclusions therefore annulled), ” but “when we are taught to be suspicious of spiritualists who insist on working in the dark, what are we to make of nuclear physicists who do not ever allow any observers within a hundred miles of their tests?”

More liberation stuff abounds: “Morality that depends upon individual judgment is a vigorous living thing; but when morality becomes equated with a rigid code of law and dogma then it is no longer part of us, we are ‘distinct’ from it and can grow free. The church did mankind the favour of thus enslaving morality long, long ago.”

In other words- YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WISH (OR ‘WILT’). Providing you are also prepared to accept the consequences of your actions, and act accordingly. This is perhaps the best modern exposition of the Law of Thelema; and it goes way beyond that. It’s a magick book, it’s modern politics and sociology torn to pieces with the claws of a Hawk, it’s philosophy, it’s art (The insight of writers who can see Austin Osman Spare, Aleister Crowley and Rudolf Steiner as archetypal figures of Pluto, Uranus and Neptune respectively is just awesome), it’s science… it’s tragic, it’s a laugh (The Civil Service letters trick on page 86 is worth the price of the book alone- great idea and everyone should do it at least once a year.)

Truly beautiful, and much-deserving of wider circulation. I hear a print-version is on the cards someday soon, but for now you’ll have to buy the e-book. Other authors sell their e-books for 10 or 15 quid (mentioning no names here, or the bloke concerned will start throwing curses around again), but Thundersqueak is just £3 UK (approx $5 US). It will change your life much, much more than it changes your bank balance. There is no score out of ten that does this book justice, so it has to be 11/10.