Weiser Book Club (#WBC3) – The Diary of a Drug Fiend by Aleister Crowley – Book II
Book II of Crowley’s The Diary of a Drug Fiend is told through Lou’s (Louise Laleham Pendragon’s) journal entries.
Lou and Peter find themselves back in England. Having been robbed and humiliated during their European honeymoon binge, they arrive in London broke and desperately addicted. Compounding their troubles is a recently passed law which restricts the distribution and prescription of dangerous drugs. Their friends cannot supply them, and the underground dealers they seek out take advantage of their naivete and desperation. Peter becomes brutish, violent and paranoid. Lou is willing to do whatever she must to restore the relationship and the euphoria they felt in Europe – even bargaining sex for drugs. The sudden death of an old friend and fellow user (Mabel Black) does not restore their sense of perspective, but an encounter with another friend (Maisie Jacobs ) kindles in Lou a sense of purpose and clarifies the true nature of King Lamus and Thelema. Inspired and resupplied, Lou and Peter retreat to his country estate and embark on a series of reckless magical experiments*. Both become increasingly delusional, and the tension mounts until Peter, in a fit of paranoia, shoots himself in the chest. Lou rallies to his aid, and the shock and sudden urgent focus of the situation restore her to a form of sobriety. Peter’s recovery takes longer, but by the end of Book II both are clean – alas, not for long.
One of the most significant features of this section is a poem that King Lamus recites to the couple when they visit him in Chapter I. He refuses to meet their chemical need, but offers instead a long and complex verse that haunts both (especially Peter) throughout the rest of the book.
That poem has obsessed us. It fills our souls to the exclusion of everything except the thirst…I don’t know what some of the words mean. But there is a fascination about them. They give the idea of something without limit. (Lou – p.231)
The rhythm of the poem was still in muy own blood; but it seemed to have worked itself out into another channel.. (Lou p. 237)
What is the purpose of Lamus’s poem and how does the power of words (the poem, Lou’s diary, the Satanic books in the Grange Library) dictate the action in Book II?
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*These passages are truly frightening and deserve their own, lengthy examination – so have at it, if you are so inclined!