Copyright © Michael Monahan, 1908 E.V.
As I often do although I can ill-afford the consequences, I was browsing at the Caliban Book Shop here in Pittsburgh, an establishment that promises on its business cards to possess "Rare and Scholarly Books". It is a promise that is kept. It was here at the Caliban that I found a terrific complete 16 volume set of Sir Richard F. Burton's The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night or Alf Laylah wa Laylah, commonly called the Arabian Nights. The condition of the set is excellent, the price more than reasonable, but it was only one of many treasures that I have discovered in this bookshop that I frequently haunt.
In late 1997 E.V. my eyes chanced upon an author's name on the spine of an old book. MONAHAN. I slid the book out of the crowded shelf with the reverence with which I handle all books, especially those discovered in a shop like the Caliban. The pages of this volume are deckle edged, the cover dark red or maroon quarter cloth, cream coloured paper covered boards with faint sworls of maroon and I think green in it, the title and author's name gilt-stamped on the front cover: PALMS OF PAPYRUS by Michael Monahan.
What was it about the author's name that caught my attention? It and the title, Palms of Papyrus, which instantly tickled my amusement as a satirical jibe directed at Walt Whitman for his Leaves of Grass [1855 E.V.], were familiar to me. Familiar in relation to Aleister Crowley. The title imbued with Crowleyean humour.
It is fairly well known that A.C. was the ghost writer behind Evangeline Adams' books, Astrology: Your Place in the Sun and Astrology: Your Place in [or Among] the Stars. Of course everyone knows that Crowley translated Eliphas Levi's The Key of the Mysteries and many will also be familiar with the fact that he had translated Little Poems in Prose by Charles Baudelaire. I have a copy of this latter book published and copyrighted by Edward W. Titus, 4 Rue Delambre, Paris [no date given], with twelve copper plate engravings from the original drawings by Jean de Bosschere, Translator's Preface written by Aleister Crowley. Few, it seems, know of a book entitled A Prophet In His Own Country: Being the letters of Stuart X, edited with an introduction and notes by Aleister Crowley, published by the author, Henry Clifford Stuart, 2619 Woodley Place, N. W., Washington, D.C., copyright by Stuart in 1916 E.V. This volume, printed by the J. B. Lyon company in Albany is cloth covered, dark blue, title stamped on the cover in white, again deckle edged pages, and what I found amazing upon discovering this book in the now defunct Tuckers rare bookshop in the predominantly Jewish community of Squirrel Hill is that half of the pages to the right had not yet been separated. Clearly this book, or rather this copy of the volume, printed and published sixty-three years before I had chanced upon it in 1979 E.V. had never been read. A virgin book!
I suspect that there are many obscure books of which either Crowley was the paid ghost writer, translator or editior which are yet to be discovered. This is more than likely one of the legitimate and legal sources of his income when his inheritances ran low or were depleted, the slanderous and unproven allegations that he was a blackmailer having absolutely no foundation in fact. However, there is more proof that his literary work, if not by direct means, at least earned him enough to get him from one place to another and hold body and soul together. It is now fairly well known that Aleister Crowley has written many poems, short stories and articles under quite a numbre of pseudonyms. The nom de plume employed by A.C. was sometimes as general as "a Past Grand Master" ["The Crisis in Freemasonry", The English Review], or "a New York Specialist" ["The Great Drug Delusion", also The English Review], as outrageous as Professor Jacobus Imperator, O. Dhammaloyu and Barbey de Rochechouart [The Equinox], or as mundane as Michael Fairfax, the name under which he had written two poems, "The Rock" and "To a New-born Child", both published in Volume XXXV of The English Review of 1922 E.V.
I came the long way around the subject for a reason, so bear with me while we stroll just a little while longer to our destination, Palms of Papyrus.
Another manner in which the much maligned and slandered Aleister Crowley earn at least a meagre income was through his work as a contributing editor of magazines such as The International in New York, 1916 to mid-1918 E.V. This also gave him the opportunity to write of many subjects, including magick and Thelema, often under various names. In the February 1917 E.V. issue of The International, Volume XI, Number 2, Page 40, one can find the following:
BEGINNING with this number the subscribers of Michael Monahan's brave little Phoenix will receive the International. We, on the other hand, take pleasure in introducing the inimitable Michael Monahan to our readers. For decades, in the Papyrus and in the Phoenix, the successor of that venturesome periodical, Michael Monahan has fearlessly fought the battle of culture against commercialism in literature. He has gathered around himself a loyal fellowship of lovers of letters and lovers of truth. We welcome this little band at our banquet table. We hope that they will not be disappointed with what fare we may offer them. We promise to keep up the traditions for which Monahan has battled with his Irish heart and his cosmopolitan brain. We shall succeed, if Mr. Monahan will not desert us. The stars that have shone for him are the stars that also guide us.
The International stands for Americanism as opposed to any foreign influence. We believe in a Declaration of Independence in the realm of letters as well as in the body politic. We also believe in International Culture as opposed to Provincialism. While the war lasts, men's minds are keyed to a dangerous pitch. It may be that we shall strike a note now and then that may displease some of our new readers. We may agree on some questions. We may disagree on others. But we hope that neither we nor they will forget that art is common ground where all men may meet. No passport is needed to cross that border, save the love of letters and a dauntless heart. We scorn to check the free discussion of vital topics by our contributors. With equal scorn we refuse to join a conspiracy of silence against ourselves. We shall continue to keep an open Forum in the International for unpopular points of view. We shall not muzzle the intelligent minority. We shall not sell out to Mammon or Mrs. Grundy. One man's meat is another man's poison. If we offer poison to some of our readers, Monahan may supply an antidote. Welcome, Michael Monahan!
This was probably written by George Sylvester Viereck, if indeed not A.C. himself. On the lower half of this same page in the magazine is the following:
I have a sad word for you: owing to unfavorable conditions in the paper trade I am forced to end the pulication of The Phoenix. Our last issue was that of December, 1916, and there will be no future one. Let us spare our tears! The Phoenix has put up a good fight for its ideals and I trust justified its too brief existence. Grief should be only for the ineffectual.
Besides, this is not really a final parting with our good friends, many of whom have followed us from the far years of the Papyrus--Allah will not have it so! And in truth The Phoenix is not dead except commercially--the spiritual part of it--the thing you liked about it, has passed into another medium and survives.
In a word, The Phoenix is now merged with The International Magazine, of New York, edited by my gifted friend, George Sylvester Viereck. The International is the most original and progressive of American literary magazines. Its ideals are mainly those to which I have sealed my humble allegiance since I first took up the pen. Above all, it upholds and cleaves to the free literary spirit which to my mind is the most precious appanage of liberty in our country today.
I shall expect to contriubte regularly to The International, to talk to my friends in its pages as freely as of yore in The Papyrus or Phoenix, and I bespeak for it a full measure of the loyal and generous support which has been mine in the past.
It is not farewell then, dear fellow pilgrim, and I trust we shall march on still for many years together. Never have we really tired of this wounderful adventure of life--and the ideal is always before us!
Your sincere friend,
Unfortunately, the last issue of The International was in May of 1918 E.V. Perhaps the magazine failed because Michael Monahan seems to have deserted it a bit earlier. In that same February 1917 E.V. issue one can find an article simply entitled "Balzac" by Monahan. Immediately upon reading the old magazines and coming to this issue I suspected that Mr. Michael Monahan and Aleister Crowley were one in the same individual. I noted, for instance, this favourite subject of Crowley's, Balzac, with reference to other subjects of interest Crowley had, such as the life and work of Oscar Wilde. And although it is difficult to find a blatant Crowleyean phrase in the works of Monahan, they can be found from time to time, here and there, such as in "Balzac":
"OSCAR WILDE remarked that even the servants in Balzac's novels have genius, and it is true that his characters generally are by this trait unmatched in modern fiction; that is to say, their creator has charged them with his own force and fire."
The reference to "genius", for instance, may imply more than the ordinary, may imply the Roman Genius, basically the equivalent of the Greek Daemon or Abra-Melin's Holy Guardian Angel--the True Self in Thelema. But of course more striking is the phrase "force and fire". Compare Verse 20, of Chapter II from Liber AL vel Legis also called The Book of the Law:
"Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us."
The Book of the Law so permeated Crowley's being that he often used phrases from it unconsciously as well as deliberately. In using this phrase here he was obviously counting Honoré de Balzac as a Thelemite. Incidentally, in the August 1917 E.V. issue of The International, Volume XI, Number 8, one can find a one-page two-column article entitled "Balzac--A Note", authorship undisclosed. However, by certain turns of phrase, by a word here and there such as "Zeitgeist", it is easy to surmise that Crowley had written this piece. It is no great leap of logic to then determine that he had then also written the earlier article, "Balzac", under the name of Michael Monahan.
The name Michael Monahan appears again in The International as the author of several articles: March 1917 E.V., "Dining with Schopenhauer" and "Tolstoy's Journal" is said to have been translated by him; April, "Temperance", not to be confused with the small collection of poems by A.C. gathered under that title, a fact which is itself suggestive; May, "In The Red Room"; and June, "A Friend of Lafcadio Hearn". After this the name of Michael Monahan disappears from The International while the same wit and humour continues in other articles under the name of Aleister Crowley or those now known to be pseudonyms of his. Whether the small, short lived publications mentioned in the "Welcome", The Papyrus and The Phoenix, were literary inventions to give some substance to the persona of Monahan or actually existed, possibly small publications Crowley tried but failed to securely establish, I do not know. Yet, to judge from this book, Palms of Papyrus, the subjects discussed and the wit, intelligence and humour so Crowleyean in nature, it is difficult to believe that anyone else could have written it.
The 172-page book is composed of mostly independent essays that Aleister Crowley could have written in a week's time, with or without the aid of cocaine, the subjects being near and dear to the heart of the Master Therion. The Contents of this small literary masterpiece are as follows: The Poe Legend, In re Colonel Ingersoll, Richard Wagner's Romance, Saint Mark, Oscar Wilde's Atonement, Children of the Age, The Black Friar, Lafcadio Hearn, A Fellow to the Rev. D. Hyde, Mr. Guppy, A Port of Age, On Letters, The Kings, The Song that is Solomon's, Dining With Schopenhauer [the same piece as can be found in The International], In Praise of Life, Pulvis et Umbra, Shadows, Sussum Corda, Seeing the Old Town, A Hearty God, The Better Day, A Modern Heresy, Familiar Philosophy, Epigrams and Aphorisms, and Song of the Rain. Some of these titles you may not immediately connect with Crowley's interests, but the content of the essays make it more obvious.
In "The Poe Legend" I was particular amused by statements such as "lovers estranged make the worst enemies" and "the sweet satisfaction of foiling a hated rival--and to a woman's heart we know this is the next best thing to landing the man." It's the kind of tongue-in-cheek and not completely untrue humour that has caused many people to falsely conclude and claim that Aleister Crowley was a misogynist. I do not brag when I say that I have been involved in more love affairs than most over-grown little boys invent with their imaginations and boast of, and can therefore fully appreciate such statements for the truth and the humour that they convey.
"In Re Colonel Ingersoll" contains three paragraphs that I found particularly interesting, not only in regards to the man in question, but also as applied to Aleister Crowley and, I humbly add, myself:
Often it seemed to those who were in sympathy with much that he said, with much that he contended for, that he might have used softer words; that he might have dealt less brutally with inherited beliefs and prejudices; in short, that he might have employed rosewater instead of vitriol.
The answer to this is, Colonel Ingersoll fought without compromise. From his first public utterance he made his position plain. He never faltered, shuffled or equivocated. He knew that mutual compliments cloud the issue; he asked none, gave none.
But the fact really is, he was far kinder and more charitable towards his adversaries than they were toward him. Besides, they had a great advantage in unkindness: they were always sending him to their hell--and he had no hell to send them to!
Something, for instance, in this essay that Crowley could understand and agree with is to be found on page 32:
Did he attack Christianity?
He attacked only the evil part of it, in so far as it justified and continued the curses of the Old Testament. He made a distinction between the real and the theological Christ; the first he honored as a great moral teacher and a martyr of freedom, killed by the orthodox priests of his day; the second he denied and repudiated as a creation of men.
Within the midst of "Richard Wagner's Romance" we come to the following paragraphs, which I feel so very Crowleyean that it is worth the burden I put on this review to quote them here.
So it has come to be an axiom that the artistic temperament disqualifies a man for the sober state of matrimony; and many are the cases cited to prove it, from the wife of Socrates to Jane Welsh Carlyle or Frau Wagner. The woes of the unhappily mated genius clamor down the ages like the harsh echoes of a family row before the policeman reaches the corner. Also they make a large figure in what is called polite literature, especially as the sorely tried genius finds in the sorrows of his hearth a strong incentive to the production of copy. Hence the thing is not without its compensations, and the lovers of gossip, who are always the chief patrons of literature, do not seek their food in vain.
I suspect that the matter of vanity has much to do with cooking the domestic troubles--his word is "tragedy"!--of the genius. It is very hard to domesticate the species, and wonderful is the arrogance which the notion of genius will breed in the homeliest man, causing him to look with easy contempt on the beautiful woman who perhaps married him out of pity. The artist is the peacock among husbands--his lofty soul, his majestic port, his rainbow plumage and even, as he thinks, the beauty of his voice--that top note especially!--move him to a measureless disdain of the annoyingly constant, unvaried and tiresome hero-worship of his plain little mate--it is quite curious how after a time he can not see her beauty. To be sure, she has her home uses, and very convenient at times they are, even to the most glorious of peacocks; but he is for the Cosmos and must not limit his resplendency to a narrow poultry-yard--go to, woman! And there you are.
Then, of course, the artist must be always in quest of new sensations,--in other words, must feed his genius, to which satiety is death; and it seems to be agreed that such sensations and experiences are only to be had from other women, or at least, some other woman--and how are you going to get away from that?
Not only does the above seem to be true, while poking fun at women yet more so at the man of genius, but it also goes a long way in explaining something about Aleister Crowley himself in regards to his many relationships with women and his two failed marriages. And on page 43 one finds:
It is seldom indeed that a woman is credited with inspiring a man of genius--after she has married him. As a literary theory the thing is not popular.
"Saint Mark", the "Sieur de Conte", is none other than Mark Twain, yet another man whose wit, humour and wisdom Aleister Crowley admired. I often think of Mark Twain as the American Oscar Wilde, only perhaps more respectfully disrespectful and treated far better by the general public and the legal system of his day.
I am tempted to quote here in full the very next essay, "Oscar Wilde's Atonement", but dare not burden this review too much. Besides, once I start doing this sort of thing I fear I will not know when to quit and quote the entire book.
"Children of the Age" is an essay involving discussion of Aubrey Beardsley, Maupassant, Wilde, and others, while "The Black Friar" focuses on Lord Byron. Here follows "Lafcadio Hearn", after which is "A Fellow to the Rev. Dr. Hyde", et cetera, bringing us to "On Letters" where one quotation in particular caught my attention. After beginning with "The pleasantest thing in the world to receive is a good letter" and going on in this vein, the author wrote:
The truth behind this matter is, that if a man be capable, and make a practice of, writing many good letters, he will surely fall off in other lines of literary effort.
And having not written the short stories, and that novel, not to mention the work of non-fiction that I had intended to begin two weeks ago, partly because I was too busy writing good letters of response, not to mention long and often carefully crafted e-mail messages, I can see that this is indeed the truth behind the matter! [This will be my excuse if future letters and messages from me are uncharacteristically brief and less artistic and witty in form.]
Throughout Palms of Papyrus it seems that Michael Monahan is a Christian, and perhaps a "good Christian", but there are signs of apostasy in these delightful essays. Take for instance this from "In Praise of Life":
As a boy I used to read in my prayer book the supplication against the "evil of sudden death." In this is contained the very essence of the Christian idea, since death being synonymous with judgment, must needs appear terrible to the soul unprepared. Indeed a sudden death in the case of an irreligious person is always hailed as a judgment by people of strict piety. On the other hand, the favor of heaven is shown by the grace of a long sickness with its leisure for repentance and spiritual amendment. No picture is so edifying in a religious sense as that of the repentant sinner, over whom we are told there is more rejoicing in heaven than is called forth by the triumph of the just. Especially if the sinner have repented barely in time to be saved--that is the crucial point. If he should make his peace too soon, or if his repentance should come tardy off, it is not difficult to fancy the angels cheated of their due excitement. Such a blunderer would, I imagine, get more celestial kicks than compliments. God help us!--I fear me these deathbed repentances are the sorriest farce acted in the sight of heaven.
It should be remembered that Aleister Crowley had been raised in a strict Christian fundamentalist Plymouth Brethren family and community. Further on in this essay, separated into several parts, one finds these statements made on the subject of suicide:
I am asked if, in my opinion, suicide is ever justifiable.
The question is one for the individual conscience. Men and women are answering it with a dreadful yea, yea, every day, casting away life as they might reject a worn-out garment.
By social consent, founded on religious feeling, suicide is a crime against God. It is also held to be a crime against society. Persons attempting suicide and failing in the act are subject to the rigor of the law. No legal punishment is (of course) provided for those who succeed, but they do not escape in the next world--the churches take care of that: all theologians agree that the suicide is eternally reprobate and damned.
I dissent utterly from this inhuman teaching, while I can conceive of no circumstances that would make suicide justifiable for myself. For so dissenting I shall be told that I render myself liable to damnation. Is it not strange that a man should be damned for holding too favorable an opinion of God?
But it may not be so bad as that--we have only some men's word for it.
* * *
It is most strange that while men have killed other men, believing themselves to be inspired of God, no man has ever been credited with the same belief in killing himself. The courts of heaven, it would seem, are thronged with murderers who have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb; but you shall see no suicide there.
Is not this a monstrous conception--one that dishonors God?
In reading "Seeing the Old Town", Mr. Michael Monahan supposedly being an American, I noted a curious lack of specific details, street names that might be particular to a home town, the name of a deli or ice cream parlor, and it gave me the impression that the writer, while speaking honestly of a return to his home town, was nevertheless disguising the true name and location of that place. In this piece I enjoyed particularly the following paragraph, no doubt because I could identify with the sentiments.
There is some humor, too, in going back, as I find from my visits at an interval of five or six years. Always I am most heartily and noisily greeted by men who have no use for me except to "knock" me, whom the sight or sound of my name exasperates, to whom my tiny bit of success is poison, and who struggle on bravely with the hope of seeing me finally land where I deserve to be and am, as they fervently believe, irretrievably headed. We do each other good, for if I were to die, these men would lose one of the sweetest motives of their existence; and I, knowing this, am eager to live on and disappoint them.
The following, from "Familiar Philosophy", under the heading of "Love", more truly reflects the personality of Aleister Crowley than do the idiot claims, based upon a tongue-in-cheek boast made here and there, that A.C. was an incredible egotist whose ambition was to replace God. While it may seem addressed to an human admirer, it would not be a great stretch of the imagination to view this as being addressed to the Beloved, that is to say, to his own True Self, That which has created and manifests through the impermanent human persona.
Yes, dear, do you go on sending me those sweet messages full of praise, and hope, and inspiration, holding always before me the Ideal, keeping me to the plane of my better self. I may not feel that I deserve a tenth part of your faith in me--no matter, some day I may be worthy of your praise. And even though I should never reach the summit of your appreciation, still the glory will be yours of having urged me to the endeavor. You are the height and I am the depth; you are the star shining in the Infinite and I the poor vainly aspiring worm on the earth below: yet in some fortunate hour I may be lifted to you.
For we do not make the supreme effort of our souls for the many, but for the few,--nay, oftenest of all, for the One! When I am at my best, you know well that I am writing for you alone; when I am at my worst, it is because I can not rise to the thought of you. Even so my soul is often silent for days, giving me no message from the Infinite, no hint of its kinship to the stars, no whisper of the life it led before this life and the life it shall lead after this. I sometimes think you are my soul!
And it goes on a bit further with statements such as "I will be your Sir Galahad and my strength of soul shall be as the strength of ten." After Sir Lancelot's failure due to his imperfection, it was Sir Galahad in some versions of the Arthurian Cycle who successfully completed the Quest for the Holy Grail, the Grail being a metaphor for the True Self, one's own Genius or Daemon, the essential god/dess at the centre of our soul.
In "Epigrams and Aphorisms", these in particular struck a chord in my psyche:
The wise gods when they contrived this tragic comedy of life which we have been such a weary time a-playing, mixed up a little humor with the serious business. He alone plays his part well who finds the jest--the lath for the sword, the mask of Harlequin for the frozen face of Medusa. Those who have best solved the exquisite humor of the gods are called great by the general voice of mankind, and some dozens of them have lived since the world, or the play, began. Unlike these supremely gifted players, the vast majority of men get only the merest inkling of the gods' merry intent, but it surfaces to save their lives from utter misery. Some devote themselves to solving the riddle with terrible seriousness, and the laughing god underneath always escapes them, leaving them empty-handed and ever the more tragically serious. These--and they are no small number--die in madhouses or religion, or write books which increase the sorrow of the world: whatever their fate, life remains for them a tragedy to the end.
Laugh at Death and the chances are he will give you a meaning salute and pass by. Get into a panic and chase after Dr. Cure-all--you will presently have a surer physician on your trail. When the Fear is really at hand,--as once occurred to me, when though I called to it, it went away,--you will learn that it is no fear at all. For it is much easier to die than to live, and at the last Nature helps us to play our part. Indeed I believe few of us know what true courage is until we come to die, though we talk of it so loosely.
The fear of death is largely a growth of superstition, and it has especially been fostered by the Christian faith, with its terribly uncertain award in the Hereafter. To the ancients it was utterly unknown in this dreadful aspect, and it was indeed accepted with a natural firmness and resignation which "makes cowards of us all." But the last thing to be said is, that our modern fear of death is as foolish as futile and makes a mock of itself. For why cling so desperately to this uneasy life which you are yet ever wishing an end of, by discontent with the present or idle anticipation of the future? Do you remember when it was thrust upon you?--I doubt that you will be more conscious when it is at last taken away.
Cultivate joy in your life and in your work. For indeed when you think of it, over-seriousness is the bane of art as of life. Nothing in art was ever done well that was not a joy in its conception. Travail the artist must, but in gladness. So of the perfect lyrist, we read that his song is a rapture poured forth from a heart that can never grow old.
Alexander Dumas, the greatest master of narrative fiction that has ever lived, toiled all day and every day, laughing like Gargantua at the birth of his son; and sometimes weeping, too, over his own pathos. Ah, what would one not have given for the privilege of climbing the stairs stealthily to watch the merry giant at his task! Do you wonder that this rejoicing faculty furnished for many years the chief entertainment of Europe? I should not care much for a writer incapable of being moved as Dumas was moved.
Remember that the true struggle in life is not to achieve what the world calls success, but to hold that Essential Self inviolate which was given you to mark your identity from all other souls. Against this precious possession--this Veriest You--all winds blow, all storms rage, all malign powers contend. As you hold to this or suffer it to be marred or taken from you, so shall be your victory or defeat.
In making up the character of God, the old theologians failed to mention that He is of infinite cheerfulness. The omission has cost the world much tribulation.
The only man that ever lived who understood and pardoned sin was Christ. And for this men have made him God.
It is something to have lived for the things of the mind, even though we have missed what the world calls wealth or success--those at least shall not be taken from us.
Revise and revise and revise--the best throught will still come after the printer has snatched away the copy
Did Aleister Crowley write Palms of Papyrus under the name of Michael Monahan? Or was there an individual by that name, a writer who is now forgotten, who was so very like Crowley in thought and sense of humour? Or could both be true? These are not questions I propose to answer here in a definitive manner. However, these questions did encourage me to soar out into cyberspace using abebooks.com to navigate the entangled threads of the Net and I found a list of books by Michael Monahan that are available from various sources. It was here that I found Adventures in Life and Letters available, editions from 1911, 1912 and 1925 E.V. In item 342, possessing the longest write-up of all the listings, there and only there could I find a short biography on the author:
Monahan (1865-1933) was an American author born in County Cork, Ireland. Some very interesting and very well written essays, etc. It is sad that Monahan did not produce more work--he writes extremely well.
It goes on to describe the individual works that make up this book, "A Note on Oscar Wilde", "A Mathematical Myth", "At Poe's Cottage", and so forth, all subjects that Crowley would have enjoyed writing about. Perhaps Mr. Monahan did produce more work ... under various names.
Does this information of his birth and death, even the place of his birth, prove that Michael Monahan was an individual and not a nom de plume employed by Aleister Crowley to facilitate writing for profit as well as the joy of writing? Not necessarily. Contemporary examples can be found in the now successful Anne Rice, who, before her vampire chronicles caught on wrote such things as the three Beauty novels under the name of A.N.Roquelaure. Another successful writer of our times, Stephen King, once wrote secretly under the name of Richard Bachman. The secret has been revealed. His reasons for doing this you can read for yourself in The Bachman Books, being made up of Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, and The Running Man. King also wrote Thinner under this name, and even went so far as to create a past for this paper man, eventually terminating his existence. Such things are not at all unusual. I myself have written several porn ... er, I mean ... erotic short stories that have been published--you will have to find these for yourself, because I'm not saying anything further!--using names such as Whitney Vaughn, Mansfield Ryder and Richard Lovver ... close friends call him Dick. Therefore, we cannot say for certain that this minuscule biographical information on Michael Monahan proves his existence as an individual separate from pseudonym-loving Aleister Crowley. Referring to The Confessions of Aleister Crowley does not even help for there seems to be only one reference to Michael Monahan in Part Five, "The Magus", Chapter 75, and with tongue-in-cheek A.C. could have been referring to himself:
In the matter of prose, the situation is altogether different. As remarked elsewhere, the first urgent need of the country is a critic whose words carry weight, who knows good from bad, and could not be bullied or bribed. These were found in William Marion Ready, Michael Monahan and H.L.Mencken. The two former were not fully efficient. They were too refined to take off their shirts and plunge head foremost into the rough and tumble, but Mencken understood the psychology of the cattle he was out to kill, and he poleaxed them properly. ...
Other titles found under the name of Michael Monahan, although not necessarily all by the same Michael Monahan, are An attic Dreamer, Dry America, Heinrich Heine: Romance and tragedy of the Poet's Life, My Jeanne D'Arc, Nemesis, New Adventures, Nova Hibernia: Irish Poets and Dramatists of Today and Yesterday and of course, Palms of Papyrus. Did Aleister Crowley, under the name of Michael Monahan, write all or some of these books? I do not know. However, I have studied Palms and I have found it very Crowleyean in its wit and humour, its point of view and mode of expression, and with the connection to The International magazine, I am convinced that at least this one volume was indeed written by Aleister Crowley. Whatever the truth may be, the book is certainly well worth reading, and if indeed it was written by Crowley it proves further that he earned his income through legal and legitimate means, employing his literary skills.
It is easy for the vile slanderer and the rude sensationalist to claim in a few libellous words that Aleister Crowley was a blackmailer, but it should be noted that not a single bit of evidence has ever been produced to prove this heinous allegation, while even without Michael Monahan and Palms of Papyrus there is ample evidence that Crowley earned his money through noble literary work as an author, a ghost writer and as both a translator and an editor of the works of other authors. Perhaps when people stop buying the trash, eagerly reading the lies and slanders about good and noble men and women, looking too enthusiastically for something, anything, which may make the genius, the person worthy of admiration, appear less superior so that one may feel, by comparison, less inferior ... maybe then there will be an end to the libels and slanders which do nothing but obscure the truth. This, of course, may be too much to hope for, but who knows? It's a New Æon and if, in time, the general consciousness of society raises itself high enough, it may come to pass.
In the meantime, if you can find a copy of Palms of Papyrus, whether or not it was written pseudonymously by Aleister Crowley, it is well worth reading. Oh, yes, and if you should ever come across a copy of any of the titles above mentioned attributed to Michael Monahan which you would like to contribute to the Newaeon library for further research into this matter, I will not reject the gift!