An occult journey into the American nightside.
“There is no being in the outermost Abyss, but constant forms come forth from the nothingness of it. Then the Devil of the Aethyr, that mighty devil Choronzon, crieth aloud, Zazas, Zazas, Nasatanada Zasas.
I am the Master of Form, and from me all forms proceed.
I am I . . .
And, because he is himself, therefore he is no self; the terror of darkness, and the blindness of night, and the deafness of the adder, and the tastelessness of stale and stagnant water, and the black fire of hatred, and the udders of the Cat of slime; not one thing, but many things. Yet, with all that, his torment is eternal. The sun burns him as he writhes naked upon the sands of hell, and the wind cuts him bitterly to the bone, a harsh dry wind, so that he is sore athirst. Give unto me, I pray thee, one drop of water from the pure springs of Paradise, that I may quench my thirst.
I feed upon the names of the Most High. I churn them in my jaws, and I void them from my fundament. I fear not the power of the Pentagram, for I am the Master of the Triangle. My name is three hundred and thirty and three, and that is thrice one. Be vigilant, therefore, for I warn thee that I am about to deceive thee. I shall say words that thou wilt take to be the cry of the Aethyr, and thou wilt write them down, thinking them to be great secrets of Magick power, and they will be only my jesting with thee.”
—Aleister Crowley, The Vision and the Voice
“Full magical initiation is not possible without an understanding of the so-called qliphotic paths which are, in practice, as real as the shadow of any object illuminated by the sun . . . the mature occultist must put aside the toys of superstition and face fearlessly the Trees of Eternity whose trunks and branches glow with solar fire, but whose roots are nourished in the dark.”
—Kenneth Grant, Nightside of Eden
America, as the world’s preeminent principality, is the pit boss, the reigning archon in the whole gang of powers keeping in place our rapidly deteriorating world-system. America’s dayside consciousness is manifest destiny, Jesus giving us the A-bomb, cops throwing flash grenades into cribs, billionaires riding penis rockets into space. It is the empire at the supposed end of history, building monuments to itself glowing with solar fire. It is the demon Choronzon proclaiming, “I am I.”
But what is the underside of this America, the nightside of the decaying empire that, if it were allowed to emerge, might unsettle and overturn this dayside image of America, or at least allow us to live amidst its hyperreality?
Route 333 is a journey into the nightside of Americana that has always been there, a look at the high strangeness of American culture, roots nourished in the dark. It is at home in the psychogeography of old diners, down-on-your-luck casinos (shrimp cocktails still 99¢), Coney Island sideshows, yellowing pulp novels, new age UFO cults, the lonely desert highway at dusk.
The American nightside explored here sometimes fascinates and sometimes repulses. Like Choronzon, because America is itself, Ronald Reagan’s supposed “shining city on a hill,” therefore it is “no self; the terror of darkness, and the blindness of night” (Aleister Crowley). But it is also a place with “a fire for every experience and an obsession for freedom,” both dazzling and dizzying (Lana Del Rey).
Writing about the qliphotic nightside in The Shadow Tarot, Linda Falorio argues that we must “begin to integrate these archaic atavisms, the world of the Nightside of the Tree, world of the Shadow, with emerging adumbrations of whom or what we as humans might become.” So we journey into the nightside of America — to dredge up what we might find there, to see if we might emerge again into the desert sun.
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