Re: RARA-AVIS: Angel Heart/Falling Angel

From: Patrick King (
Date: 07 Aug 2008

  • Next message: Nathan Cain: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Angel Heart/Falling Angel"

    --- On Thu, 8/7/08, Nathan Cain <> wrote: I recently read William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel, and last night I

    watched Angel Heart. The book was excellent, and the movie was okay,

    but there was a big chunk missing, specifically the part about the

    black mass, which parallels the earlier voodoo ceremony scene in the

    novel and provides much needed bridge to the story's final revelation.

    In the movie as it is, Angel makes a massive leap of logic with no

    basis to accuse Krusemark (who only appears in one scene) of devil

    worship. Krusemark, when confronted with this rather ludicrous

    accusation backed up by exactly nothing in the way of evidence,

    confesses to being a devil worshipper. It makes no sense.

    I notice the IMDB page notes that the television version of the film

    added some extra scenes that help explain some of the plots vagaries

    to make up for the extended sex scene that had to be cut. Has anyone

    seen this version or another version that makes sense?


    I agree that the book, which is about European Ritual Magick, is better than the movie which is about North American HooDoo, more than VooDoo or Voudon. But I wouldn't go so far as to say the Krusemark's behavior makes no sense. Both the book and the movie came out at a time when I was researching occult beliefs and I thought them both the most accurate depictions of occult mythology, philosophy and psychology I'd encountered in a work of fiction. I include here both Aleister Crowley's MOONCHILD, and Dion Fortune's THE GREAT GOD PAN, & THE SEA PREISTESS. Both Fortune and Crowley were great occultists, but neither were great novelists. Hjortsberg is a fine storyteller and fiction writer.

    When you encounter people who are deeply involved in magical thinking, most really cannot stop talking about it just as Krusemark behaved in the movie. I had been involved with hundreds of people like this over the course of my research and I thought Parker nailed the mentality in the manner he directed Stocker Fontelieu. It seemed to me that both Hjorstberg and Parker did an awful lot of research in terms of actually interacting with living occultists, to understand so well the behavior of people drawn into this type of group think. The whole thing about switching souls, sealing veils, removing hearts, using the victim's property, and transmutation through the physical act of sex is extensively explained in James George Frazer's THE GOLDEN BOUGH and even more specifically in Dion Fortune's THE SECRETS OF DR. TAVERNER.

    While this type of belief does not make sense to people who have not been indoctrinated into the thought process, it is very realistic to those of us who've met such people. By the same token, what sense does it make that a man executed two thousand years ago, "died for our sins"? "Our sins," yours and mine and everybody's, whatever "sins" are. Yet millions of so-called "normal" people believe this and will actually become angry if you simply ask them to explain it. Metaphysics has it's own private logic. To understand it you must immerse yourself in it. To immerse yourself in it is to court mental illness. Take it from me, both the book and the movie are metaphysically surprisingly sophisticated.

    I agree with you that the ritual in the abandoned subway platform was the high mark of the book. I thought the sex magick between father and daughter resulting in the daughter's death and the father's destruction was a pretty good substitute. In western magick, father daughter, mother, son are all elemental aspects of everything. If you're interested, read Crowley's BOOK OF THOTH, or MAGICK IN THEORY AND PRACTICE for the symbolic meaning of these terms.

    Patrick King


    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 07 Aug 2008 EDT