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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Masonic Book Club: Illuminati Weishaupt's "Diogenes Lamp"

I stumbled in late last night from Kodiak, Alaska and eagerly tore into the box that arrived from the Masonic Book Club. Actually, two boxes, for somehow I received two copies (neither one numbered as in the past 30 some years). The selection was no surprise, as I had heard about it some time ago: Diogenes Lamp ("Die Leuchte Des Diogenes") by Bavarian Illuminati founder Adam Weishaupt .

I am not really about trashing the work of others, and if someone has done good solid work and been a little sloppy in its presentation, I'm not such a tweedy, patches-on-the-elbows sort of critic who snorts insults through my tendrils of pipe smoke. But the truth is that this volume is a disgrace.

The two introductory sections are written by "Sir knight Mark Bruback." (See photo) Just from a purely technical standpoint, the text is loaded with spelling and formatting errors (and the most irritating elementary school convention of using "&" instead of "and"). While he would have done service to readers by discussing in a rational manner the modern day Illuminati accusations of alarmists like Lyndon LaRouche and David Icke, referring to them only as Mr. LaDouche and Mr. Icky is appallingly juvenile.

There is no explanation about "Sir knight Mark's" role in bringing this text to light, other than a brief allusion to his procuring the German translation services of Amelia Gill, or why he was chosen to write this appalling introduction (He does explain it a bit on his MySpace site). Indeed, it would have been nice to know Ms. Gill's background and translating experience, because Bruback's errors and inappropriate goofiness call into question the accuracy of the Weishaupt text itself. And Bruback's inclusion of lines from Aleister Crowley's Thelema writings for no apparent reason adds an OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis) element to the book that comes totally out of left field.

One of the biggest benefits of the previous editions from the MBC was the production of hard-to-find older works, enlightened by a modern, well-written preface. By publishing this volume under the imprint of the Masonic Book Club, it calls into question their editorial judgement and expertise in a very big way. (And could they have picked a more unreadable typeface to print this in?)

The Bavarian Illuminati writings have never been available in English, as incredible as that may seem. With all of the Illuminati hysteria that has occurred all the way from the Illuminism scares in the 1790s, through Robert Anton Wilson's reintroduction of the Illuminati in his peculiar and satyrical trilogy, along with Icke's own "reptilian" brand and LaRouche's anti-semitic version, it has taken the threat of a movie based on Dan Brown's Illuminati story Angels & Demons to at last bring forth this one small volume of authentic Illuminati philosophy.

Bear in mind that "Die Leuchte Des Diogenes" was originally published in 1804 in Regensburg, long after Weishaupt was chased out of Bavaria and the Illuminati was exposed as a group of anti-clerical and anti-monarchial revolutionaries who were infiltrating Masonic lodges. Their organizational documents were well publicized by the Bavarian government (again, we have no English translations of these, even though they exist). So Diogenes Lamp may simply be Weishaupt's weepings on what might have been, and why the Illuminati was really just a lovable bunch of harmless fuzzballs.

The text of the work itself turns out to be—nothing special. It is a distillation of Enlightenment philosophy, relying on quotations from other writers and philosophers and darlings of the period. No irony that Weishaupt would have more than a few quotes from Shakespeare's "misunderstood" characters of King Richard II and Brutus, given his recent troubles in his home country. But again with a problem of this edition: why translate the Weishaupt German text, but leave as untranslated long quotes from French and Latin sources?

I know there are texts that actually lay out the Illuminati's rituals and organizational structure that researchers would love to have available in English (and not just John Robison's descriptions of them, or Albert Mackey's and Abbe Barruel's descriptions of Robison's descriptions...) The Illuminati has been erroneously tied to the Freemasons by anti-Masonic critics for 200 years, and I was applauding the publication of this book before I saw it. The good news is that we at last have the first book of authentic Illuminati writings translated into English. The bad news is it's this one.

Robin Carr retired last year from the Masonic Book Club, and I realize there's a steep learning curve for any new management team. And the publishing business has its own special hurdles to overcome. One of the biggest raps against the club over the years was the total lack of communication to members. You simply sent in your money, and eventually a book would come. Hopefully, this will be addressed, and I hope next year's selection is an improvement over this one. The Masonic Book Club has a good reputation from the past, but this volume is a step backwards.


  1. IMHO just to have the Illuminati workings in English is reason enough to get this book Weishaupt was a rockstar. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Well, this is sort of my point. At last you can read it for yourself and decide whether he was a "rockstar" or not. But these are definitely NOT the "workings" of the Bavarian Illuminati. It's more of the postscript to the group.

  3. Oops, thanks for the clarification. Seems I
    misread your original
    post. Aww shucks, I would
    love to have those workings.

  4. Chris, I understand your concern. Here was a chance to do the Illuminati writings up right, and we have bupkis.

    Good news: I have access to the Illuminati rituals in German, and I will publish excerpts from them in a book I am preparing on the Illuminati. I'll be focusing on (1) their real history, and (2) the bizarre afterlife they have had in conspiracy theory. Will discuss this from the point of view of the psychology of conspiracy and, especially, the psychology of religion.

    Bad news: Looking for an agent, and a mainstream publisher. Suggestions may be sent to me directly!

    I hope you are enjoying Masonic Week. This year, some unfortunate family matters involving my mother's passing have taken priority. I hope to see you there next year. Best regards to all in the meanwhile. Fraternally, MEK-R

  5. That's too bad that its an amateurish production. Maybe it will spur the market to produce more scholarly editions of the Illuminati texts. I would think every patriotic American would be interested in the Illuminati because we're in some sense Weishaupt's only real success. We're a proof of concept that a country can be run without relying on Churches or Monarchies.

  6. Weishaupt's philosophy was really quite boring and dry. I have a French translation of one of his books here, Discours philosophique sur les frayeurs de la mort (1788) [Ueber die Schrecken des Todes: eine philosophische Rede], and I wasn't at all impressed. I also have the German text to his last degree of Doceten (Man King: Docetist) which, although interesting in that it is contains elements of gnosticism, it'll put you right to sleep.

    The Diogenes book is not authentic "Illuminati" writings; it is authentic, boring, indulgent Weishauptian philosophy. Apparently, his anti-Kantian polemics were quite the rage in Popularphilosophen circles, though.

    As the Diogenes book was going to print, Mark emailed me out of the blue. I told him that out of all the published works by Weishaupt, he could have done better. If your going to get someone to translate a Weishaupt book, I am under the impression that Pythagoras oder Ueber die geheime Welt- und Regierungskunst [Pythagoras, or
    Considerations on the Secret Art of Diplomacy and Government] (Frankfurt am Main 1790), would be the one to go for.

    By the way, Chris, what ever did you mean by "Abbe Barruel's descriptions of Robison's description..."? Although they speculated a lot, and have been castigated by masons and academia, Barruel was more thorough and precise than Robison. Barruel translated whole swaths (hundreds of pages) of the Original Writings. And the only Illuminati scholar to check on his work for accuracy, Rene Le Forestier, grudgingly gave him his due. Robison, on the other hand, (translation-wise) is close to inept; and Le Forestier has a field day with him.

  7. How long did you have to wait for the book to be delivered to you after you ordered it?

  8. It is wonderful indeed that there is now an English translation of the Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati, The Secret School of Wisdom, edited by Josef Wäges and Reinhard Markner, Translated by Jeva Singh-Anand. 2015, Lewis Masonic. 447 pages, hardcover £25.00 at http://www.lewismasonic.co.uk/, $39.95 at http://www.macoy.com/.

    Scott Schwartzberg


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