1890s flyer for a talk in Paris by Léo Taxil, part of a lengthy campaign in which he “exposed”– or in truth, made up– connections between Freemasonry, Satanism and other esoterica of the kind that still exercises simple-minded conspiracy theorists to this day. Taxil or his printer has appropriated occultist Eliphas Levi’s already iconic image of Baphomet (not Satan).
One pretty obvious tip-off should have been that he was already well-known as a disillusioned former Catholic who’d written satirical, mocking books about the evident absurdities, incongruities and logical errors present in Church doctrine and in the Bible, particularly if one took the Bible literally. One of his books was called The Amusing Bible. In the 1880s he alighted on some already existent conspiracy theories about Freemasonry, then spent over ten years puffing them up into grand accusations about the worship of Satan in modern Paris. He had a huge and lasting influence on popular Western culture, though unfortunately most people don’t know that he was making fun of the credulous and didn’t for one moment believe that evil fraternities ruled the world in cahoots with Satan. Taxil’s still sometimes cited in crank texts as an “authority” on occultism or Masons. The image of Baphomet was re-appropriated to Anton La Vey’s little club of genuine Satanists in the 20th century via Arthur Waite, via Taxil; many of their Satanist practices were actually made up originally by Taxil as well. Future founder of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley and the pioneering rocket scientist Jack Parsons were also involved to various degrees in Satanism or occultism created in reality from Taxil’s fiction. I think I need a flowchart or something. Probably not until H.P. Lovecraft was there another individual who so inadvertently and yet so thoroughly provided a gateway for fiction to seep through into the real world.
Taxil was nearly lynched by a Catholic audience in Paris when he revealed that he’d been taking the mickey, thereby finding out that satire and subtlety are wasted on most people; even he had underestimated the gullibility and confirmation bias of the ostentatiously religious, and also their fury at having their pet conspiracy theories attacked with logic. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
trying to read what it says about the entrance fee…
The text at the bottom refers not to the talk but to the serialised book the talk is promoting. It says “La 1ére livraison est gratuite chaque livraison suivante se vend 10 centimes. Deux livraisons chaque semaine- une serie tous les quinze jours.” (Delivery of the 1st [part] is free, each delivery thereafter costs 10 centimes. Two deliveries each week-a fortnightly series) These last two sentences seem to contradict each other, unless you could get two deliveries a week to catch up with a fortnightly series that was already in progress or finished. Or unless my French is wrong… although a Google robo-stupid translation also gives a similar interpretation.
interesting, there are places that are attempting paid electronic serialisation, but you probably get spammed if you choose not to keep reading… have not tried it yet but I can imagine that is one of the clever ‘features’ that has been programmed in…
I think the 19th century publishers mostly got around this by taking subscriptions in advance to an entire serialised book (e.g. Dickens, the Brontës) rather than allowing people to pay by the episode, on an episode by episode basis. Publishers of stuff like Taxil’s tended to be more about getting what they could while they could and weren’t so bothered about anyone actually making it to the end of the whole book. These were also the days of Cash on Delivery, so a postman might collect subscription fees or payment for mail order goods.
Sounds like they had a good model if you ask me… Pay upfront I mean, not having to actually meet the postie and or try to get money off him that he had collected ;)