Benjamin DeCasseres produced a pamphlet promoting his own magazine. Two scenarios are possible:
1. A literal interpretation leads one to believe the project never got off the ground,
2. There was no real intention of publishing a magazine, this served as an outline to the idea of what his concept of a magazine should be. The Prelude is the product.
What follows are the title page and a transcription of the copy. The text has only been lightly checked for errors.
PRELUDE To DeCASSERES’ MAGAZINE
I remember reading somewhere in one of Edgar Saltus’ essays that Voltaire, leering mockingly from the tower of his skull, asked the world: Why is anything?
As I was very young at the time—and recalling that no one had answered Voltaire —I set about trying to find out for myself the answer to what struck me as being the sublimest and most important question ever asked by man.
The adventure was stupendous, memorable, exalting. It still is. And I am no further advanced on the road to an answer than on the day I set out.
Mystical nihilism, cosmical wonder, sceptical laughter, satiric pity: they were my first moods confronting the almighty Why of my youth. And they remain my moods to-day.
This magazine will reflect these moods of mine, with a variety of subsidiary moods. It will mirror my personality in all its mental, moral, emotional and metaphysical inconsistencies, antics, spontaneities, grotesqueries, angers and guffaws as completely, as defiantly and as unashamedly as Montaigne is mirrored in the Essays or Walt Whitman in “The Song of Myself.”
This magazine will be, therefore, the Alice in Wonderland of a human soul—the adventures of myself in the wonderlands of spirit and matter—religion, philosophy, art, literature, politics—the grand tour of an abnormally aware being in the marvelous Kingdom of Why.
This will be a magazine of aggressive individualism because the individual is the unit of all values.
In a universe of perpetual and immanent illusions ,the ego and its needs are the nearest approach to a fundamental Reality that we know. No one can ever step outside of his I. This I is aggressive. If it isn’t, it will be murdered by another I.
Whatever exists preys. The nearest approach I ever made to an answer to the question Why is anything? is this: self and its exploitation.
This vital biological truth wears many veils, it dresses itself in a thousand lies; but the Ego is the war-lord in perpetuity of this planet. And with Spinoza, Goethe, Nietzsche, Stirner, Napoleon, Emerson and Walt Whitman, I salute and affirm it—and affirm it most even when I believe in Buddha and Nirvana! For every No is Yes. The negative does not exist.
Aggressive individualism is the law of life.
I am an Individualist. I believe in the grandeur and the divinity of the individual man against the mass—Public Opinion, Church or State.
An individual is a person who has no programme for any one else.
I oppose all mob-ethics, mob-concepts, mob-judgments. I prefer dynamic chaos to the standardized stagnation and sterile conformity of bee-hive Socialism, Communism and Capitalism: three systems that are one at bottom; three systems that aim at the absorption of the body, blood and soul of the individual man.
I am opposed, and shall oppose in this magazine and elsewhere with all the forces of my brain and pen, to all extension of the power of the State over the individual, whether it is called Stalinism, Mussoliniism, Ramsay MacDonaldism or Hooverism. I am for a Man against Man.
I am an Individualist—which means self-culture, autonomy, self-love. I am a believer in the State—so long as it is necessary—of Jefferson and Spencer—the “administrative nihilism” of Huxley.
I have no programmes, panaceas, nostrums, cure-alls or a mission. Live and let live! And to the professional moralic busybodies and tumblebugs, political and religious Cromwells and Torquemadas, I say what Voltaire said to the Church, Crush the infamy!
I rejoice in the chaotic times in which we live. In the war of opposing beliefs and ideals the sceptic, the artist, the satirist goes scot-free. The one thing that the Free Spirit, the unallied mind, has to fear is that Order—a synonym for stagnation, spiritual and mental degradation and tyranny—will roost over the world.
The “old order” is rapidly going to pot. I’ll give it a push. And I’ll fight any “new order” of any kind. I’m for variety, the Tower of Babel, Tohu-Bohu.
I adjust my monocle from my box in the amphitheatre of my skull and applaud the Show. Even when I myself go down to the dust in the shambles I still enjoy the drama
and the comedy of my own life, for I am both spectator and actor in this Mystery Farce.
No problem has ever been solved. No problem will ever be solved. No problem should ever be solved. Simply because there are, in my vision of life, no problems at all. There is only Fatality. What we call our problems are merely the comic attempts of humans to deform or to lie about Necessity.
Problem-solvers and balm-vendors are without imagination, humor or psychic penetration.
This magazine will always treat them as pathetic donkeys and exhibitionist clowns.
It is the Free Spirits, the unallied minds, that move the human race, or at least that small part of it that is worth moving—the rebel dreamers and the Promethean intellects. I shall continually blow on that Undying Spark in the human soul, the spark of mental and moral rebellion.
This magazine will be an Island of Defense, the Individual versus the Universe. The Kingdom of God-Power is in the Individual Will.
I have said all things are open, all things are in solution. And to a mind with the subtle apparatus of dissociation such as I carry in my skull all things will always be
open and in a state of solution: there is always in the world an Aristophanes, an Erasmus, a Rabelais, a Montaigne, a Voltaire, a Nietzsche, an Anatole France.
But in this vast ocean of change and variety—without knowable aim, design or end, but which has an unseen guiding hand in back of it which I call Satanas-Aestheticus —I hold three things to be indestructible. There are three immanent Ideas in which all things float, three things which to me are metaphysical: Power, Beauty, Mirth. They are all ye need to know, and knowing them—realizing them—all the rest shall be added unto ye.
Power. I conceive the Will-to-Power to be fundamental and irreducible. In this matter I am an absolute Nietzschean. Power is another name for Will. Both are mystical, metaphysical, a priori. Whatever exists wills dominion over something else. No mental or physical movement is conceivable without the idea of conquest. The word self-conquest means will-to-power. Buddha’s extinction in Nirvana is will-to-power. It is a positive that admits of no negative. All ethical and religious systems are will-to-power. Power, my naïve Christian-Socialist brother, is your secret dream. I shall unmask humility-fakers.
Beauty. I am a Platonist. I hold Beauty to be transcendental, a Reminiscence of a superhuman state, an Idea that is metaphysical, mystical, the very essence of Satanas-Aestheticus, the Artist-God, who is the impersonal, indifferent, mystical Shakespeare of the electrons. This universe is a tragi-comic Poem. Beauty, in the terrible, the ironic sense, the sublimely mind-blasting sense, is of its essence. I am a Poet, a Mystical Poet, first, last, always. I glory in the word Poet in the very navel, the very bowels of a realistic, cash-down, materialistic age of mental, ethical and artistic dung-beetles. This magazine will always apotheosize Beauty. I am a Poet, like Satanas-Aestheticus, and I hurl that most glorious of wordsPoet—at the bloodless and wingless minds of the smugmugs of this age and the utilitarian and realistic sandhogs and drainmen of politics, literature and the arts. You must write as Satanas-Aestheticus thinks and creates—in the rhythm of demonic and dynamic beauty.
Mirth. The two great liberators are mirth and money. Don Marquis went so far as to say that money was a spiritual thing. It is undoubtedly of mystical origin, for whatever is is bought; whatever is has been paid for in some coin. I therefore hesitated whether to make the third of my irreducible trinity money or mirth. Money is, however, implicit in power. So I chose Mirth, the Homeric twinkle in the eye of Satanas-A estheticus. Humor, irony, mirth are inherent in all forms of life. The most tragic happenings on Earth are comedies in the brains of the gods, who are the personification and imaginative incarnation of our aspiration to super-sight and demonic mirth. Their smile is frozen vitriol. Mirth is the mischievous pétarade at the banquets of the Staid and Solemn; it is what Mencken calls the dead cat in the shrine.
This magazine will be dateless. It is of no time or movement. It will not be in the swim. It will not be a la mode. It will have the smack and tang of eternity. It will care nothing about Mauve Decades, Yellow Decades, the Machine Age or the other time-clocked rigmarole of literary and artistic thimbleheads. It will have no room for the ladybugs of the magazines, lace-curtain philosophers, publishers’ gigolos, book-stupid reviewers, cocktail-chasing log-rollers and rump-licking literary climbers. It will bombard and ridicule the gymnopaedic sesquipedalians, the pleonastic platitudinarians, the logographic rigmarolists and the abracadabrists who write for us, think for us and dope us.
“O Rabelais, where is thy vast mouth!” exclaimed Flaubert in 1858. In 1932 this magazine will reply, “Me voila, Gustave!”