Friday, September 28, 2012

Here We Go Again...

Over at Dionysian Atavism Jack Faust has opened up a can of worms. Long time readers of this blog will already be well acquainted with my feelings on the subjects of piracy, and by extension my belief that while it is wrong, a good portion of the blame for it lies with the authors and publishers who have taken to releasing "trash for cash".

Donald Kraig, of Modern Magick fame, posted a rebuttal over at the Llewellyn Magick Unbound blog which is articulate, lucid, and, in my opinion, quite wrong.If you haven't yet read it, you should do so now, along with the comments section as you'll need to in order to understand the remainder of this posting.

My comment, which has yet to be moderated and appear on the blog but belongs after comment #6, is as follows:

As I expressed on comment section of the blog in question, I wholly agree with the author of that post. I do not “encourage’ piracy of books, but I do understand completely why many people participate and I do not condemn them for it. Let’s call a spade a spade here; many publishers these days release absolute tripe – Gonz├ílez-Wippler’s books being a shining example.

Addressing first your suggestion that they buy and then return such books, while Llewellyn, Amazon and some others do happily accept returns, the fact is that for many of the “independent occult publishers” do not. Further, those that do accept returns require that you pay to ship the book back to them, and as many of them are located in the EU, UK or otherwise internationally, the cost of posting a book back to them renders the refund moot and the whole thing an exercise in futility.
You argue that while the blogger finds many of the books released today useless, they may not be so to others. In this you’re incorrect. They’re useless to everyone. You refer to Miss Gonz├ílez-Wippler as an expert in Santeria. Apparently she is also an expert in Wicca, Paganism, Christian Mysticism, Qabalah, Grimoires, Palo, Dream Interpretation, Christian Qabalah, Amulets and Talismans, What Happens After Death, Angelology, and Seashell Divination because Llewellyn has published her books on each and every of these subjects, as well as several others. They all share a common theme – tripe.
Publishers who release such material, alongside Schueler’s Enochian material which, lets be honest, is even worse, are going to have their releases questioned by the market they target, and justifiably so. If someone would rather download an illegal version of a book released by that publisher than spend the $10 or $20 only to find out that what they’ve purchased a bookend, I can’t blame them.
As Jack said in his original post – Llewellyn DOES has several authors who are genuinely good teachers and authors, and who write an excellent book. However when their work is next to a dozen Silver Ravenwolf titles, Migene’s “expert” treatises on every aspect of occultism under the sun and Schuelers’ Un-nochian material, the buyers have a very good reason to be suspicious.

Let's be clear here. There are some publishers who can be counted on to release only valid, well researched material which will benefit the reader - Among them Scarlet Imprint, Nephilim, Teitan and Hadean. And then there are some on the other end of the spectrum. Those who do occasionally release valuable material, but which, as Jack Faust suggests, represents a needle in a haystack amongst all of the other tripe they sell the masses. While we would love to think the latter sort is limited to the Llewellyns and Finbarrs of the world, there are even some amongst the independent occult publishers' community who have released utter tripe. No need to name names, and while few are willing to criticize the works of others you, dear reader, know as well as I the disappointment of ordering a much hyped, masterfully marketed, limited edition of 39, finely bound paperweight which contains all the wisdom of a fortune cookie.

While I do hate that piracy hurts publishers like the aforementioned SI, Teitan, Nephilim and Hadean, who genuinely care and put actual love into and take pride in their work, I also concede that the "pirates" who simply don't want to continue getting swindled by the less reputable publishers are justified in this.

This doesn't apply to those who just want to be dicks and download everything under the sun, or who have the money and just dont care to spend it. They, unlike the serious student who just can't afford to spend $100 on a paperweight, are just plain dicks.


  1. Yeah I dunno. I stopped buying occult books a looong time ago (with some rare exceptions when I get lots of recommendations from friends) because of the problem of "different people speaking with a different voice."

    And I cringe at the thought of someone -needing- Silver Ravenwolf for their spiritual evolution, but hey. To each hir own.

    But this is really just Department Store Theft ethics. Is it ok to steal the stuff because it's a big faceless corporation? Personally, passing off fake spiritual goods/knowledge to make a buck crosses a serious ethical line with me. if an author chooses to publish WitchtrashImeancraft specifically for a profit I wouldn't give a damn if piracy "hurt" them. They get what they ask for. But pragmatically speaking, just not buying the shit sends a louder message than stealing it, if you want any hope of the faceless monster to go away (not that I think Llewellyn ever will, but in the case of individual authors that's perfectly feasible).

    An eye for an eye isn't a bad philosophy to go by ... as long as retaliation occurs in practical and like terms. (IE if the authors want to use the system to screw me, then it would behoove me to use the system to do likewise.) ;)

  2. You're confusing "illegally duplicating a file" with "physically stealing an object."

    The two are not transparently the same thing, Rose. You can argue for it but you *must* argue for it. On their face, they simply aren't the same thing and calling the first "theft" pretends that they are.

  3. I feel it necessary to point out that DMK used a pirated version of Emblems and Modes of Use to create the last chapter of Modern Sex Magick. He did not re-print the document itself, but he accepted and read the pirated version, than went on to write such a close explanation and analysis of the document that it made the document unnecessary.

    SO, there is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black here...

  4. I unfortunately have almost an entire book case of bookends which i dont dare release into the public lest someone at Half-Price Books pick it up by accident :p My early years, i picked up anything and everything that hinted at rumors of the occult, only to find that 99% of what is out there is just a reiteratation of the same concept. Case in Point being "The Secret" which rocked every home-bodies world. You get a drop of truth diluted into an entire ocean of bull. It reminds me of my highschool days when i would have an essay exam requiring me to write on a topic i knew almost nothing about because i failed to study. I would take the ONE thing i knew about the topic and surround it with MILES of BS till i confused the teachers into at least giving me a C. And that is the grade i would give most of the books you are discussing... a C at best. Average information. You might as well start your own university and give yourself a degree based on reading Wikipedia, or a MD based on reading and watching Dr Oz.

    Hmm.. maybe comparing them to bad Kareoke would be more apt.

  5. One of these days, if you're bored and want to giggle, you and I should chat about the time (well, there is one specific instance rather than a few others) I spoke to Llewellyn for about an hour back when I was considering letting them publish a book for me...needless to say, I wasn't willing to have my work assimilated into the Llewell-wicca collective, watered down and Wiccanized for a mainstream audience so those publishing chats didn't work out. ;) BUT during that conversation, they outright TOLD ME that they publish crap and they know it. They even derided several of their authors as "Crack pots" and "crazy as crazy can be." When I mentioned I'd thought of self-publishing they admonished me for even thinking of it.

    Like many of you when I was younger if it even was negligibly about the occult, I bought it. 99% crap. And I worked in a bookstore, so I could get these amazing deals...I think I owned half of Llewellyn's in print publications or more at one point. Almost all of it was useless. Since I was in college, that's a lot of money to lose even with my kickass 40% off books employee discount. :/ To this day, I have a hard time recommending beginner books because so many of the ones I'd read in my earlier days are just so bad that I'd feel irresponsible for even suggesting someone pick up a copy of any of them. ;) Right now other than self-published stuff, the only company I can recommend insofar as occult publishers is SI. There are occasional gems from all the "big" publishing houses, but there are also occasional stinkers from SI, too, so it all evens out.