mercredi 17 juillet 2013

Que penser de Franz Bardon ?

Puisque pour son dernier article l'administrateur de la Jérusalem des Terres Froides a sorti de sa bibliothèque son exemplaire de Where Do Demons Live ? Everything You Want to Know About Magic de Frater U.: D.: (oh le vilain nom à faire délirer S. Laïbi et J. Livernette !), il va présenter un troisième extrait de ce livre qui vaut son pesant d'or. Pour avoir parcouru une immense quantité de livres sur la magie (l'auteur de ces lignes a travaillé dans une librairie ésotérique pendant 5 ans + ce qui peut se trouver à la BAnQ + dans le réseau des bibliothèques de la ville de Montréal + à la bibliothèque de l'UQAM + ce qu'il a trouvé dans les bouquineries d'usagé et les écoulements de livres depuis une quinzaine d'années + ce qu'on lui a donné + tout ce qui a pu être trouvé en PDFs sur les sites d'hébergement et sur les torrents, bref, davantage que ce que vous seriez tenté de le soupçonner à prime abord), votre serviteur vous certifie que ce petit opus est ce qu'il y a de mieux en matière de vulgarisation de la magie.

Justement parce qu'il a consulté une très grande documentation sur le sujet, l'auteur de ces lignes a eut également dans ses mains les livres de Franz Bardon, un nom incontournable dans la littérature consacrée (merci à Histoireebook pour sa mise en ligne). Plusieurs personnes ont demandé à l'auteur de ces lignes ce qu'il pensait de Bardon. Celui-ci leur a répondu qu'il ne déteste pas le mage tchécoslovaque mais qu'il lui semble un peu pompeux et vieillot, un peu surfait et pas assez précis là où il le faut vraiment (sans compter que ses livres sont excessivement dispendieux). Mais ça restait surtout une impression d'ensemble, l'administrateur de la JTF ne s'étant pas aventuré dans une exégèse poussée de l'oeuvre « bardonienne ». Puis votre serviteur a obtenu une copie du High Magic (vol. 1, Llewellyn, St-Paul-Minnesota, 2005) de Frater U.: D.:, jusqu'à présent le meilleur livre qui soit sur le sujet de la magie, toutes langues confondues (encore qu'en langue française, nous avons la chance d'avoir Denis Labouré et ses deux grands classiques, Enseignements qabalistiques de l'Ordre Hermétique de la Golden Dawn T.2, la pratique du Pilier du Milieu -Télètes, Paris, 1991- et Introduction à la magie -Charles Antoni l'Originel, Paris, 1994-). Dans cet ouvrage notre ami le frater donne son opinion de Franz Bardon et force est de constater que celle-ci est juste. Il reprend son explication pour un lecteur de la revue Anubis qui le questionne à ce sujet et c'est cette réponse que l'on retrouve dans le Where Do Demons Live ? (p.27-31) que la Jérusalem des Terres Froides reprend ici.

Au passage, un second remerciement à Histoireebook pour sa mise en ligne du « companion guide » de l'oeuvre « bardonienne » par Rawn Clark.

---What do you think of Franz Bardon---

Dear Aunt Klara ! Tell me, what do you think about Franz Bardon's system (Kabbalah, etc.) ? I hope my question will not cause you any sleepless nights while chewing on your fingernails.


Günther F. from W.

Dear Günther,

Thank you very much for being so concerned about my manicure. (Why didn't you ask if my toenails might curl at your question ?) But don't be worry, I have experienced worse than that in my fifty-plus magical years. Seriously now : of course there is no objective way of saying what I think about Franz Bardon and his magic, so what you are probably looking for is my personal opinion. Well, that opinion would be quite mixed. Frater U.: D.: liked to criticize Bardon for his dogmatic approach, and a result angry Bardonians retorted by calling him a "naïve scribber" ans a "charlatan", but that is the fate of all those who have ever dared to trample on someone else's honor. It also shows how important Bardon still is today, which certainly cannot be the result of a mere misunderstanding.

But what makes Bardon so great and so controversial at the same time ? In order to understand this, we have to dig way back into the past and try to view this magician within the context of his era. Without a doubt he has given us a magical system that is both comprehensive and cohesive. In addition, he has taken great pains to write in a style that is clearly understandable - a fact that is greatly appreciated by many.

Back when Bardon's books were first published (I can still remember... it was in the early 1950's and we were simply starving for good litterature on magic), they presented a true bright light on the horizon. They saved us the trouble of having to gather everything from various obscure sources, and Bardon presented us with the legend of a "high initiate" who is finally able to explain everything. The fact that this "everything" did not go all that deep was easily overlooked in the vast quantity of material that he presented, and hardly anyone noticed that many "explanations" were actually more like "transfigurations". After all, you always knew what to expect with Bardon : like no other serious author of books about magic (and he can still be considered that today), he made a clear distinction between good and evil, right and wrong.

However, we tend to get smarter with time, so when bold questions are asked and we get nothing but smart answers in return, or the questions are avoided altogether, we also tend to get more skeptical and critical. Not that his system would not work - it does indeed for many people, and often too well, at that ! But in the end, that is true of all magical systems that are self-contained and cohesive. To make a long story short : Bardon is especially well suited for beginners wanting an excellent introduction to magic. Unfortunately, he also makes sure that the beginner remains a beginner for a very long time (if not forever) as a result of fanatical thoroughness. He does this by means of constant warnings and admonitions, and by providing exercise guidelines that are in principle correct, but on the whole entirely unrealistic and unnecessary. His first step alone can easily take ten to thirty years, and that is still a far cry from actual magic. Some of his exercises are excellent, as long as you ignore his instructions about practice time.

But personally, I do not like Bardon's silly, patriarchal manner. There is no doubt that he accomplished great things in his time, but considering the vibrant intelligence of a certain Aleister Crowley or the grim intensity and uncompromising originality of a certain Austin Osman Spare, Bardon is merely a small light in comparison. He never made any "spiritual quantum leaps", and could never hold a light even to his teacher Rah Omir Quintscher. He was an archivist and a compiler, a bookworm by nature who wanted to make his own visions binding for others - which he succeeded in doing for a fairly long time, at least in the German-speaking areas.

To contemporary novice magicians, however, Bardon's dogmatism often proves to be disastrous. One could even say that his books (in contrast to those of the other magicians previously mentioned) already seem to be quite outdated. He sets rules where none are necessary, points out restriction where none actually exist, and intimidates where words of encouragement and consolation would be much more effective. When reading his words, one has the impression that he is really not interested in having his students make any progress. Instead, he seems more concerned with basking in his own glory, which of course seems quite fake and conveys a false impression. Surely every good magician has a tendancy toward self-adulation ; after all, this a natural characteristic of a strong (but not necessarily "mature") personality. But Bardon as a person remains inaccessible to the reader. Instead, any personalized aspect is stifled by moral preaching and bigotry, and Bardon never mentions a word about his own practice apart from vague insinuations.

I could go on forever in this manner, but let us forget all of that and just say that Bardon is a well-known brother-in-kind whom we should finally see off into a well-deserved retirement. After all, if you scratch on the surface too much, don't be surprised if the whole wall comes crumbling down upon you...

A bumped and bruised
Aunt Klara

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