A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 21 June 2010

Two Interesting Facts About Cefalù

First interesting fact about Cefalù: it was the place where Giuseppe Tornatore shot the 1988 film Cinema Paradiso. I watched this film again recently on DVD and still found it utterly charming. It's a nostalgic celebration of films and filmmaking, and its critical and public success helped revive the Italian film industry at the time.

Second interesting fact about Cefalù: the mountaineer, chess player, poet, playwright, occultist, alleged British spy, and practising black and white magician Aleister Crowley lived here from April 1920 until Mussolini expelled him from Italy in April 1923. Crowley was a very bad boy. Known as 'the wickedest man in the world' and 'The Great Beast', he travelled the world on inherited money with a string of impressionable, slightly screwball women in tow - most of whom he impregnated and/or persuaded to cooperate in esoteric 'sex magic' rituals. He was also vain, arrogant, bullying, ruthlessly ambitious, racist, antisemitic, misogynistic, and one of the most thoroughly unpleasant charlatans ever to have been born on English soil.

In Cefalù he founded the Abbey of Thelema - inspired by the eponymous abbey in that rollicking series of novels The Lives Of Garagantua And Pantagruel by François Rabelais. The abbey's motto was 'Do What Thou Wilt', a precept to which Crowley irreligiously adhered throughout his whole life. A habitual experimenter with drugs - including opium, cocaine, hashish, cannabis, alcohol, ether (ethyl oxide), mescaline and morphine, he died a heroin addict in 1947 at the age of 72. A lot of people who should have known better were influenced by his pseudo-mystical, drug-fuelled antics - including Timothy Leary, David Bowie, heavy metal bands Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, the avant garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and the spooky founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. A final interesting fact: Crowley was also one of the figures on the cover sleeve of the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.


Anil P said...

Ah well. Sounds so much like he wanted to reject "the world" in every way he could possibly imagine, and do.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, he was certainly anti-establishment, to say the least. (By the way, I've just checked out your own blog, AnilP, and it looks absolutely fascinating. Will return to browse in greater depth.)