At Cambridge University, a groundbreaking experiment integrates the human brain with a supercomputer using a state-of-the-art 'interactive suit'. One of the Cambridge boffins is an obsessive follower of the occult leader Aleister Crowley, & he has reduced Crowley's rituals to a series of equations & entered them into the system.
What people are saying - Write a review
I have just finished reading the tie-in book to the film and, I have to say, I'm impressed!
I decided to read the book for several reasons. First I really enjoyed the movie and wanted to relive some of it's best moments; secondly I would like to see if they developed some of the esoteric themes that were just mentioned in the movie, especially the ritual of the Chemical Wedding and thirdly an explanation of the L. Ron Hubbard connection. Gratefully the full interchange of letters between Jack Parsons and Crowley concerning L. Ron Hubbard are printed out giving the full background to one of the important themes in the film.
But the book reads so well, the style soft and straightforward, that I began to wonder if the book was not written before the film since it works so completely as a novel. So whether you have seen the film or not the book is worth reading. First for what I call the Umberto Eco's style, named after his ‘Foucault's Pendulum’. Although not trying to imitate Eco, the authors of ‘Chemical Wedding’ either via a description, a pause in the narrative or by extending some of the movie scenes delve into everything, and I mean everything! From the identity of Jesus' father to the science behind light reception in the eye and how the information reaches the brain, passing through the mandatory Templar Knights to the essentials of quantum physics. Of course they don't delve too deep into it (you don't get the feeling that the authors have a PhD in... well, everything like you get when you read Eco) but deep enough to entertain and yet generate curiosity in the reader who is not familiar with such concepts.
Secondly, for those who watched the movie, the book has some extra scenes and extra information about the characters, most importantly what goes on in Leah's mind. In fact there's this whole subplot about her dead father that is developed here. Other things are interesting to know, like what happened to the purpled suit guy after his "encounter" with Haddo and also what really happened in this encounter.
Importantly where the film gives us to a large extent the newspaper version of Aleister Crowley as the Wickedest Man in the World, the book expands the character giving us many well chosen quotes from his writings revealing his intelligence, his humor, his knowledge of ancient cultures and his ideas which were well ahead of their time. This makes it clear why so many famous people considered him important and why he was voted in a recent BBC poll, the 73rd most important Britton.
The science, which delves into quantum physics is simply explained and the comparison between science and magic, fascinating and quite esoteric and actually got me thinking. There are many in-jokes for physicist like the conversation before the scientist undertakes a dangerous mission.
‘Good luck. Uncertainty is your best chance.’
‘I feel like Schrodinger’s cat.’
‘Let’s hope God doesn’t throw dice.’
Lastly, what I really wanted to know, the Chemical Wedding itself. I'm still confused about it. It involves a ceremony that mimics the story of Isis and Osiris where because of a missing phallus she has sex with him using the reed of Thoth. It is suggested that the story we know of Abelard and Heloise (where caught having sex in Notre Dame Abelard had his phallus cut off by her angry uncle) that this story is a cover up for what actually was a rite. However we may feel about this nowadays, phallus removal as a ritual is still practiced in India.
After reading this book, even though it still lacks in magical content, I will now enjoy the movie even more.