Sunday, September 8, 2013

Interview with the Fall of Man

We wish, to put it simple, to fulfil the Fall, to see where that mythic beginning can take us. We want to push the boundaries of flesh and transcend our humanity, riding on the wings of demons and exploring the qliphothic tunnels that lead us to the Beyond. - Fall of Man

The age of consumerism and blind worship of quantity has left very few places uninfected by its depravity. Unfortunately cankerous influence of the age also extends to the occult book markets, which are, more and more, flood with subpar thinking and writing. Fortunately for the critical conneisseur, there still are publishers like the Fall of Man, who stand proudly for the quality. Without further ado, here's Alex.   

What is your personal history with the printed word? Do you have a formal education that is in some way linked to the literature and/or publishing?

Reading has always been my passion for as long as I can remember, and I can not think of another thing that has been always present in my life as my love for the written word has. Even so, my formal education is not related to literature or Philology (it could not be further away, actually). I do have, on the other hand, several years of experience as a professional editor and translator, which did qualify me for the task at hand.

When you were starting out with Fall of Man, was it clear to you, from the very beginning, that you are going to specialize in occult literature? 
I had been personally invested with the occult for many years before I decided to start Fall of Man, so when the opportunity to have my own publishing house presented itself, it was clear that it would be exclusively occult literature. At the moment there were not that many publishers, and I knew that I had the knowledge and the will to start something that could be great.

How do you view the current situation in the occult book markets? Are there some specific publishers, whose work you especially hold in esteem?

I think that we are right now living in a renaissance of sorts when it comes to the occult scene. Never before have there been so many publishers, authors and public in general interested in the subject. I think though there is still room for growth, and for old ideas to be given a new twist in a positive way. On the other hand, what may be saturating the market are the number of journals and magazines; I am not saying there is no interest in them, because there obviously is, but I think it is more of a trend and that it will eventually wear off. This is in no way a critique to the format; I absolutely love the freedom of layout, contents and presentation that a magazine gives, compared to a traditional book release.

There are lots of excellent publishers right now, something that can only benefit the scene, but if I had to chose I would have to at least mention Ixaxaar, for their pioneering work in the field and excellent releases, and Scarlet Imprint, for their beautifully crafted editions.

For an oldschooler like me, who always needs the real, tangible book, the phenomenon of eBook is an abomination, but how about you? Do you find something positive about this new invention? 
We can not deny the practicality of the electronic format, but I personally will always prefer the feel of having a physical copy in my hands. But as technology progresses we can not turn our backs to this new media which is obviously here to stay, especially as publishers. From the author's and publisher's point of view there are indeed negative sides to e-book, but as a reader it is great to be able to have thousands of titles instantly available. We have started experimenting with electronic formats through our new series Nox Sine Occasu, and so far the response has been widely positive, especially for the fact that we do not use any particular security measures, forcing people to use this or that format. As they say, information wants to be free, and we think that if someone is interested in pirating our releases they are going to find a way to do so... And each copy out there, legally acquired or not, spreads our work further.

Next, a few questions about your favorites. Let’s begin with the occult books. Could you name your favorite three occult books? Could you also open up a little bit, what made you choose exactly these three works? 
First of all, I need to point out that I am not the only person behind Fall of Man, and I am sure my collaborators would have a different saying, but this is my list:

  • “Kybalion”. As a kid, I spent hours in my parent's library, always searching for something new to read. One day I found this little volume, and thus my passion for the occult begun.

  • “Initiation into Hermetics”, by Franz Bardon. This volume was the one I started to experiment most seriously with, and made me realize the power behind seriously performed magic. It really opened my eyes to a lot of other stuff I had disdained as nonsense. All the collection of techniques Mr. Bardon presented on that book really made sense to me, and I still find them useful to this day.

  • “Works of Darkness” by E.A. Koetting. This book made me realize how big, pompous rituals are actually not necessary in order to obtain the desired effects, how one can simplify it to the basics and still have powerful results. Before it, I really tried to replicate exactly the conditions described in the ritual, and that is something that can be complicated sometimes, as anybody working with Lemegeton for example knows very well.

And then your favorite three non-occult books?

  • “Foucault's pendulum”, by Umberto Eco. In fact, I could have chosen any other by Umberto Eco, as his books are always really entertaining and inspiring.

  • “Gateway” by Frederik Pohl. I am a big science fiction fan, and this book (and its follow-ups) is among the best ones I've read. The author passed away recently, by the way, a great loss.

  • The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” by H.P. Lovecraft. As probably every single student of the occult, the influence of Lovecraft's work was key to my discovery of the occult arts. As a kid, reading about the oniric adventures of Randolph Carter, it made me begin to understand that there are worlds beyond ours that could be reached if one wanted so.

The introductory text on your website states that the Fall of Man, as a publisher, is not limited to one specific tradition, but do you, personally, feel a strong affinity with some particular tradition?

I think my capacity to remained attentive to the same subject is too short for me to be able to stick to the same tradition for longer than a year, so even if I did belong to different groups in the past, and have a personal connection to the Sufi traditions for example, I don't have any particular affinity nowadays. I am a lone practitioner, and therefore quite eclectic, as I suspect is the case with the majority of practitioners nowadays. I do orbit towards Left Hand Path teachings though, something I think is obvious based on Fall of Man's releases.

The same text also mentions the ‘qliphothic tunnels’. There seems to be some kind of revival or resurgence going on with this subject; Starfire Publishing is re-releasing the classic works of late Kenneth Grant, Ixaxaar has released couple of volumes that are related to the qliphothic side of things, and the subject has also become quite popular within the black metal subculture. What is your personal take on the subject? Do you have some kind of theory, why qliphoth has become so popular among the milieus of Western occultism?

Since most of westerners practice western magic, or at least westernized versions of it, I think it is natural for anybody wanting to study the dark side of things to stumble upon the Qliphoth. Kabbalah is, after all, one of the pillars of Western occultism, and something easily accessible to anybody interested in the subject. Therefore, if a person interested in black magic learns about the existence of the Qliphoth, I think it is natural that they be drawn to it. Even more, working with qliphothic tunnels is a very effective thing, and many modern organizations base their teachings around them, so I think it is normal that it is so widely spread. 
Some proponents of the Order of Nine Angles (ONA) have leveled serious criticism towards working with the qliphothic spheres, seeing these as nothing but a one form of ‘Magian Distortion of the West’. Having released an ONA-related book, Threshold by Ryan Anschauung, I’m sure you are familiar with ONA’s criticism. So, how do you view the arguments of ONA?

As a matter of fact, I did not know ONA's official standing on the subject. Despite the fact that we released Threshold, I was never really into ONA's teaching; I simply read several of Ryan's articles and found them very interesting, so we decided to contact him for a possible release. He certainly has his own opinions and ways of doing things, and I suspect that is the reason the Temple of THEM is no longer affiliated to ONA, since I can't imagine Ryan following anybody's path but his own. As for ONA's view on the qliphothic tunnels; they are of course entitled to say and think whatever they want, but I think that the qliphoth have been so extensively used by so many practitioners that the fact that they do help towards one's personal spiritual progress has been proven. But as it is the case with so many other things, they are just “tools”, and each one of us is different; what may be useful for one person can be total rubbish for another. The good thing nowadays is that there are so many alternatives out there, that fortunately we do not need to stick to one thing, and we can try and try until we find what works for us.

Now that we are at it, what is your opinion on the current status of the ONA? The Temple of THEM seems to have evolved into a formidable force, but otherwise the ONA seems to be only a pale shadow of its former glory. 
As I mentioned before, I have never been too involved with the ONA and their teachings, therefore I do not have anything meaningful to say about their present state. On the other hand, I think I know better the situation with the Temple of THEM... The fact is that the people behind THEM are very serious about their work, and since it is a small group, they have better control over their output. They are very active, and have a big community of online followers who respect them. Ryan is the most visible face, and he is an unstoppable force when it comes to spreading his ideas and discoveries, so it is no wonder why they are in the rise. I think that the fact that they have disassociated themselves from the ONA has also helped them grow in a different direction, one that may be resonating better with the present state of the occult scene.

Somewhat related to the previous question, for many people the standard explanation for any and all shortcomings and weaknesses of modern-day occultism, is the phenomenon of Internet. In the past, so the argument goes, people were walking the walk, whereas nowadays they are just talking the talk, and the Internet is the one to blame. The Internet has been, of course, a mixed blessing, but can it be justifiably blamed for the fact that more and more people are taking the easy way out? 
As you say, the Internet has been a mixed blessing, not only with the occult, but with every other aspect of the modern world. The instant availability of information has made hunting after rare books much easier... I remember before the Internet, every time I got my hands on an occult book I felt I found a real treasure, since they were so hard to come by. I use to spend hours searching on second hand stores... Nowadays we have things like the Hermetic Library, which is an amazing tool. This instant availability of material has the downside of trivializing it; we have so many options so rapidly available that we do not take the necessary time to analyze and study each one of them properly. I see this same thing happening to me, so I imagine that the younger generations, those who grew up with the Internet always being there, must take it all for granted and not search properly for what they are looking for. In a world of instant gratification, something as delicate and slow-going as studying magic must feel very tedious, and that is probably why people take the easy way out, as you say.

Musick is an important part of the Sinister Angles blog, and therefore all the interviewees will get at least one music-related question. So, could you tell what kind of musick you like? Could you also name some of your all-time favorite bands, artists and composers? 
I always gravitated towards the dark side of things, so I tend to listen to dark music: Post-Punk, Gothic Rock, Black Metal, EBM... Music is a very important part of my life and it has definitely shaped me into who I am today. As for my all-time favorite bands, I would have to say:

  • Paradise Lost. This band has always been a constant in my life, no matter what; their “Draconian times” album opened my eyes to a whole new side of music, and despite the fact that I have been listening to it since its release, I still love it and play it almost every week. Simply perfect. I lost track of them when they started doing weird things after their “Host” album, but the last two albums are really good, it seems they found themselves again.

  • Sisters of Mercy. Another band that has always been a constant in my life. Not much to say, apart from how great they are.

  • Covenant (the electronic, Swedish band, not the Black Metal band). I never really cared for electronic music, until I listened to this band back in 98. Some of the coldest, darkest songs ever created, truly amazing sonic landscapes.

  • Satyricon. With each album they release, they basically create a new Black Metal sub-genre. I can listen to their first four albums on a loop without getting tired, simply perfect. 
Thus far Fall of Man has released only non-fiction, but could you consider, in the future, to release also fiction that is in alignment with your aims?

Now and then we receive a few fiction manuscripts, but we always turn them down because we want to focus exclusively on non-fiction, serious occult books. I can not say this will never change, but for the foreseeable future it will remain that way.

If any reader of this interview is about to contact you in view of possible publication, what kind of things he or she should take into account? For example, should he or she have almost finished manuscript when making an initial contact, or is it fine to contact you already at an earlier stage?

People usually come to us with a finished or almost finished manuscript, but if someone were to present us with a serious investigation proposal on a interesting subject, we would also be interested. Even so, we never send out the contract until we read the final version of the manuscript, to make sure there are no nasty surprises. Our next release, "The Ophidic Essence: Seeking a return to the Origin" has been on the making for over a year now; the author contacted us with a very good draft, we asked him to develope it and to come back to us when it was done, and that we would give him our input if so desired, during the whole process. We think that it has been a very satisfactory collaboration, and that is the most optimal way to do things. We understand and respect the fact that some authors are very protective of their work, and may not want any external influence, but for those who need a push in what we consider the right direction, we are more than willing to help and counsel.

Thank you, Alex, for this interview. The last words are, of course, yours. 
Thank you very much for taking time preparing this interview, your support is greatly appreciated! Kiitos!

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