Re: RARA-AVIS: Angel Heart/Falling Angel

From: Nathan Cain (
Date: 07 Aug 2008

  • Next message: Patrick King: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Angel Heart/Falling Angel"

    The Millipede Press edition of Falling Angel has an essay by Hjortsberg says he did do research, but admits he couldn't find anything that had any bearing on the ritual at the center of the book and soul switching so he just made it up from scratch, so that's not really based on anything.

    The movie did lose a lot of the structure of the book, which is really disappointing. Hjortsberg carefully structured the story so that the voodoo scene in Central Park and the black mass parallelled one another. The voodoo takes place out in the open under the sky because it is a legitimate religious expression, albiet one by a marginalized class of people. The black mass, on the other hand, takes place underground in man made darkness, because it is an act of evil. Setting the black mass in the subway tunnels also suggests that evil is the foundation upon which modern society, and all the power and wealth one thinks of when one thinks of Manhattan are based. Losing that contrast and the subtext it provided really hurt the movie.

    If you're interested in further occult reading I would recommend Sex and Rockets, a biography of pioneering rocket scientist/occultist Jack Parsons. It was published by Feral House some time ago, and I think they released an expanded edition not too long ago. Parsons was quite the study in contrasts.

    On Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 3:05 PM, Patrick King <> wrote:
    > --- 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.
    > 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

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