The Great Harry Houdini Erik Weisz Magician Escape Artist


Eight Of Swords And The Great Escape Of The Upside Down King (Continued)

By Lena Ruth Stefanovic (Guest Writer) | Magic Articles

Friday, August 17, 2012

As a side note – don’t get me wrong – i am not using this opportunity to promote my own work, rather to explain it further – the book THANKS GOODNESS wasn’t a commercial project in the first place; my third – “Devil, an unauthorized biography” published together with Francisco J. Campos’ amazing “Vaudeville Tarot” was financed by Montenegrin Ministry of Culture, after the expert committee had evaluated it as ‘a work of art, contributing to Montenegrin cultural heritage.

During launches i often get asked “how did you get such cool people to contribute to the book?” Namely – besides Francisco – the famous Spanish artist who created the deck; mystical British poet and avantgarde philosopher Stephen J. Mangan – who is enviably popular in not-easy-to-impress international tribe of Tarot connoiscieurs - contributed selflessly to the book; so did Sanjin Sorel, leading Croatian linguist and poet; Tanja Bakic – poetess and world renown Blake scholar and others.

So, i often get asked "how come"?! It’s “simple” – it’s magic, it’s the strange ways of Tarot and Vaudeville itself.

“Mystery attracts Mystery”, as H.P. Lovecraft puts it. The genius writer’s work is in public domain and if you haven’t yet – you can enjoy his short story on Harry Houdini which the statement opens – "Under the Pyramids."

Lovecraft sets the story in 1910, in Egypt, where Houdini is kidnapped by a tour guide – a lookalike of an ancient Pharaoh – and thrown into a deep pit near the Great Sphinx of Giza. While trying to escape, he stumbles upon a huge cavern where he meets the deity that inspired the building of the Sphinx. Apropos, Houdini himself loved the story and worked with Lovecraft on several projects afterwards – until his death in 1926. Had Lovecraft written only this short story and not a sentence more – i believe he would have rightfully earned all the admiration and popularity he enjoys nowadays (sadly – like with many geniuses from the past – it was not the case during his lifetime.)

I’ve been to Egypt and with my interest in the occult you can imagine what profound impact it had on me – yet i never wrote a single line about it; simply – it’s already being done – and in a way that hardly can be surpassed: "Old Cairo" is itself a story-book and a dream—labyrinths of narrow alleys redolent of aromatic secrets; Arabesque balconies and oriels nearly meeting above the cobbled streets; maelstroms of Oriental traffic with strange cries, cracking whips, rattling carts, jingling money, and braying donkeys; kaleidoscopes of polychrome robes, veils, turbans, and tarbushes; water-carriers and dervishes, dogs and cats, soothsayers and barbers; and over all the whining of blind beggars crouched in alcoves, and the sonorous chanting of muezzins from minarets limned delicately against a sky of deep, unchanging blue.

The roofed, quieter bazaars were hardly less alluring. Spice, perfume, incense, beads, rugs, silks, and brass—old Mahmoud Suleiman squats cross-legged amidst his gummy bottles while chattering youths pulverise mustard in the hollowed-out capital of an ancient classic column—a Roman Corinthian, perhaps from neighbouring Heliopolis, where Augustus stationed one of his three Egyptian legions. Antiquity begins to mingle with exoticism. And then the mosques and the museum—we saw them all, and tried not to let our Arabian revel succumb to the darker charm of Pharaonic Egypt which the museum’s priceless treasures offered. That was to be our climax, and for the present we concentrated on the mediaeval Saracenic glories of the Caliphs whose magnificent tomb-mosques form a glittering faery necropolis on the edge of the Arabian Desert.

If you read this two paragraphs by Lovecraft – you too have been to Cairo, you strolled along the cobbled alleys of its bazaars, you sipped on your coffee on Nile and listened to the city talk about yet another Saudi prince who fell head over hills in love with the famous belly dancer and spent his fortune in the process.

As charming as Cairo is – traditionally the task of the Kabbalist is to escape his/her own Egypt or Mizraim as is is called in Hebrew; of course – as meitzar (מיצר), means “sea strait” and also ”boundaries, limits, restrictions” – we are not speaking here of an actual country, but of our own egos made of fears and doubts.

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