Tulpa! Tulpa! Tulpa! -or- Mr. Devereux, John Constantine called and he wants his schtick back...oh and a Mr. J. Crow wants his gun back

Book: Memoirs of an Exorcist
Author: David Devereux
Author Web Site: David Devereux - official site
Publisher: Gary Allen Pty Ltd


Note: I sit down to write this review with expectant glee. After subjecting myself to one of the most wretched reads I've ever experienced, writing this review will be a pleasant catharsis.

Where to begin with David Devereux and his autobiographical Memoirs of an Exorcist? The text itself or Mr. Devereux's equally clumsily constructed web page? I suppose I'll start at the source, the book itself.

One shouldn't judge a book by its cover, of course, but the cover photograph on this little gem is priceless. The man himself, stalking stoically through a grave yard in black shirt, black pants, black shoes, black tie, black trench coat, and, yes...black hat. You can just tell that at any moment, he will take out his black notebook and his black pen to write with black in on black paper his black black thoughts about this crazy exorcism biz. (Apologies to Henry Rollins for stealing one of his bits, but it fit so well!)

The blurb on the back cover didn't go far to reassure me. Despite calling Mr. Devereux “level-headed, highly knowledgeable and completely credible,” it made sure to mention that he approached spoooooky situations with “fearless calm...often accompanied by a cigarette and a swift whisky.” I clutched the book to my breast and prayed for a kitschy, Dashiell-Hammett-esque riff on ghost hunting. I was to be disappointed.

The book starts with Mr. Devereux repeatedly handing himself the “Damn I'm Awesome Award (TM)” [DI'MA] over and over again. This is cleverly disguised as a biography. He explains about how unpopular he was at school because he was so smart and precocious. He explains about his early interest in the Occult and Paranormal. He explains how fucking awesome he is – oh wait, I already mentioned that. Sorry. (But then again, he mentions it more than once, so I should be able to, also.)

Mr. Devereux then proceeds to explain that he has taken the building blocks of magic and has constructed his own magical system, like unto the martial arts system constructed by Bruce Lee and the other magickal system created by that one guy, Alister Crowley. He was, of course, inspired by Phil Hine's concept of Chaos Magic. And his “multimodel” approach to magic has allowed for that custom tailoring of his practices just like the aforementioned Lee and Crowley. He's a lean, mean magical-fighting machine!

The next chapter is the one I found most engaging and interesting (which highly telling, since it is the chapter with the least amount of text penned by the author). In the chapter “Meet the Team” four members of Athanor Concsulting, the paranormal investigation and protection services company of which the dashing Mr. D is second in command, explain how they got interested in the occult/paranormal and they each describe a case that he or she worked on. This is the part of the book that was the most cohesive and detailed. Particularly interesting was Daniel's story about receiving a message in a dream and decoding that message by using a pendulum and his knowledge of Old English. His thorough description of his methods was both riveting and the only time a detailed description of a practice graces the pages of the book. Go Daniel! You get the authentic “Damn You're Awesome Award (TM)”, which carries a bit more weight than it's analog.

The next few chapters detail various bad situations that Mr. Devereux is adept at resolving. Everything for poltergeist and poltergeist-like activity, to curses, and weirdness in the workplace. Yes, ladies and gents...weirdness in the workplace!

The poltergeist chapter was a bit dull and nothing really wretched popped out at me. I may have blacked out for a bit, one never knows.

In the chapter on curses, we get to learn that information is important when you are attempting to remove a curse and that sometimes people don't even realize they are cursed (I'm paraphrasing here, but ya'll get the gist)! This hard-hitting information is riveting and insightful and demonstrates that Mr. Devereux has read at least an article or two on curses! However, my favorite part of the curses chapter is this little bon mot, where he states that curses are “less common than you think, but more common than I'd like to think.” Wait...what? I didn't know we were going to get free Zen koans in this book, too! Score! I think I just reached enlightenment!

The weirdness in the workplace chapter causes me to wonder if it contains some secret, hidden, esoteric message that is actually the key to all magickal knowledge in this space-time reality, or if good old David had to make a page or word quota. It's primarily a bizarre digression about how companies should organize their work spaces and how unhappy employees not only are less productive but also generate the dreaded negative energy! Gasp! It also includes repetitive assurances about how confidential Athanor employees are and how they always strive to blend in. More about this feature of the company later. The curses chapter is capped by a description of Mr. Devereux's personal office and my little heart fluttered at the glimpse of this great man's personal life. Either that, or I blacked out again.

Folks, we've made it through part one! Sadly, there is a second part to this book. I'm not going to pretend there isn't, because I had to read it. So now you have to hear about it. You may want to take a short break before going on. I won't hold it against you.

And here's the rest...

Part Two is called “War Stories,” and while I was hoping for a ripping good tale of wartime adventures (perhaps set in WWII and starring a plucky major, his dog, and his French-resistance girlfriend), what I got instead was seven stories about Mr. Devereux's adventures doing battle with the occult forces of nastiness.

The first war story is called “Spot Cleaning” and describes Athanor removing some negative energy from a room. Daniel, the individual who asked for help, describes the employees of Athanor, mentioning how “The two boys were dressed in 'team colors' – long black leather coats, and dark glasses. People around them certainly moved out of their way.” Subtle. Good thing Mr. D. pointed out how much Athanor attempts to blend in when on a case. Good thing Mr. D. also called the people who didn't know what they were doing as regards to Chaos Magic 'Leather Trench Coats.' It's nice of the man to do my work for me. The moment of high humor comes when Ian, the boss at Athanor states that “negative spirits hate coherent light.” I was instantly catapulted back in time to 1984, when Peter Venkman hits the high keys on her piano and tells Dana Barret, “Ghosts hate that.” At the end of the yarn, the Athanor boss states that he's handled cases that were a “15” on the “Richter scale.” Which, all things considered, is pretty awesome, since the Richter scale only goes up to +10, even metaphorically speaking. Wikipedia says +10 on the Richter scale equates to 1 teraton of TNT going off, so either his boss is the occult equivalent of Conan, or I think a bit of exaggeration was involved.

Next, we are treated to the story “Misfire.” In this story, not only does the daring Mr. D call the person he's helping a “moron,” but, he seems to have channeled John Constantine. Now, my Hellblazer comics are on the other side of the ocean right now, but I swear to you some of the lines in Mr. Devereux's story seems to be directly from a comic I've read bout JC. No lie. I also giggled every time Dave called the demon he claims to have summoned “sunshine.” He's so tough! Read this story to hear all about John – I mean, Dave summoning and trapping a demon in a piece of obsidian. He also summons his demon into a smaller circle, rather than a triangle...which I just find more annoying than anything else.

War story three is kind of a blank for me. I think I may have had one too many “swift whiskies.” Or I may have just thrown the book across the room and went to go watch some old Danger Mouse episodes. Same difference. (Long live Count Duckula!)

War story four is about one of Athanor's failures! Shocked gasp! It's about the team attempting to clean up a farm house that is full of oogies of the boogie variety. Mr. Devereux again makes it clear how perfectly normal he and his coworkers are. Yep, nothing to see here people – we are normal as normal as normal can be (said while secretly praying someone thinks he's special). Bite me, Dave. The climax of the story is when Mr. D. releases some psycic energy to do battle and shouts “fire in the hole!” That really got my blood pumpin'! Yeee-haa! Fire in the hole, indeed.

War story five is about a haunted pub. This is where things completely broke down for me. Yes, really – here. Not way back at the start. This is obviously supposed to be the tale of tales – an epic battle of the forces of trench-coated occult bad boys against the forces of nasty evil negativity. You can tell that this is the case from quotes like, “I purged the room hard” and “Allright, fuckbag, here we come!” Rawk out! Devereux also goes on about all of the “easy kills” he made. Kills, you ask? Yes, kills. Apparently, he kills entities. Despite the fact that they aren't corporeal. How does he kill them? Brace yourself, bat friends. He kills them with his...ZOZO GUN!

You may be wondering what a zozo gun is, exactly. I'm not exactly qualified to tell you, because I'm not Grant Morrison. But, I have read The Invisibles Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution so I'll give it a shot. The Invisibles is a comic by Grant Morrison. And Grant is an awesome story teller, and a pop magickian. I love him, and the Invisibles are my favorite comic. The zozo gun is a weapon in the Invisibles that is weilded by my favorite character, Jim Crow. In the comic, Jim states that his zozo gun “converts sex to death” and one of the annotations on the issue in which the gun appears states that zozo probably means “penis” in “ 'language,' a garbled mix of several West African languages.” See The Bomb for where I snagged that info.

So, though I was vaguely entertained by the idea of Mr. Devereux ricocheting around a pub, “shooting” things with his big 'ole zozo “gun,” bringing that concept in and not explaining its source or purpose or even how the gun was supposed to function is a kind of desperate occult saber rattle that screams flash over substance. Which nicely sums up this entire book, actually.

The last war story is all about Mr. D. struggling to clear a dwelling with no “kit” or ritual tools. This struggle comes after an entire book of Mr. D. telling us that rituals and ritual items are largely unnecessary, since he uses the building blocks of magic in his multimodel process. Though, extra creativity points for using a sharpened pencil as a wand! Three points to Gryffindor!

One has to ponder a book on the paranormal that includes the definition of “Long Island Iced Tea” in the glossary, right between “libation” and “obsidian.” And one that lists three whole books in the Further Reading section. Better yet, his online resources list consists of 1) Wikipedia and 2) Thelemapedia. Will the esoteric secrets ever stop?

Review Summary:

Hopefully, I won't always need a review summary. This review got a little bit out of hand, but I must admit I had fun.

To sum up, reading Memoirs of an Exorcist was reminiscent of going down to the Mag Bar in Old Louisville and listening to drunk Thelemites boast about their magickal prowess in a desperate attempt to get chicks. Except, with less substance. However, if you've never been chatted up by drunk Thelemites, this book will provide a similar experience.

Though Devereux insists that exorcism is “an extremely specialized task that calls for a great deal of training, a very particular skill set,” he doesn't really tell us what his training or skill sets encompass. Everything is kept very vague. It's interesting to note that the FAQ on his web site states that he's been “very busy over the years” studying everything from “crystal healing to Vodou,” yet, once again, he refuses to give any detail. He gleefully maintains that he will neither confirm or deny rumors about what his training consists of. That's good Dave, keep 'em guessing!

I will confess that David Devereux has proven two of his statements without a shadow of a doubt. The first comes from a discussion about New Age and occult books:

[The New Age movement has led to] “far more people than ever before being able to learn magic and sadly this means that almost anyone can get away with putting a book out on the subject.”

The second statement is still more trenchant, and he has proven it admirably:

“Every field of study has its share of assholes.”

That's it. I'm outta here.


Anonymous said...

Superb post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Many thanks!
Feel free to visit my page ; work from home

Anonymous said...

Hi, every time i used to check website posts here in the early hours in the daylight, for the reason that
i enjoy to find out more and more.
Also visit my webpage : Flash websites

Anonymous said...

A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.
I think that you ought to write more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people do not
discuss such issues. To the next! All the best!
Feel free to visit my web blog http://teachershaveclass.org/

Anonymous said...

If some one wishes expert view about blogging then i propose him/her to visit this weblog,
Keep up the good work.
My site ... affiliate marketing

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it's new to me.

Anyways, I'm definitely happy I found it and I'll be bookmarking and checking back

my blog post :: make money online free
my website: online blogging

Anonymous said...

Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it
;) I will return once again since I book-marked it.
Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

Feel free to surf to my web page yourmatch420.com

Anonymous said...

Hi, I do think this is an excellent web site.
I stumbledupon it ;) I'm going to come back yet again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

Also visit my page: click through the up coming web site

Anonymous said...

Everyone loves it when people come together and share opinions.
Great website, continue the good work!

Here is my web site; Reputation Management

Anonymous said...

It's the best time to make a few plans for the future and it'ѕ
time to be happy. I've learn this publish and if I may just I desire to suggest you few attention-grabbing things or advice. Maybe you could write subsequent articles relating to this article. I wish to read even more issues about it!

My site; Lloyd Irvin

.DGS. said...

I have read this book and found it quite entertaining. I must confess that I didn't see some of the things you have pointed out but now come to think on it what you have said is very true. Well done my dear, well done... Regards DGS ☺

cryptapocalypse said...

I am probably one of the few people who have also read this book cover to cover. I provided a fairly detailed review on Amazon. I was more charitable in my comments, but I wanted to compliment your review in that your assessment of the problems with the book match mine. I am in complete agreement that after reading the entire book, there is not one clue as to the source of the energy used to accomplish these spirit cleanings. And importantly, it is not even clear that the "cleansings" were permanent in nature at all. The title is also a misuse of the term "exorcist", which refers to spirit possession of people versus infestation of places or objects or to oppression of people by dark spirits; one has to wonder how much training Mr. Devereux really received before offering his services professionally. My real concern is that people will read something like this and think they can, through their will or with some spells or incantations, influence dark spirits when in fact, they will almost certainly get themselves in serious trouble. Your review emphasized a serious problem with Mr. Devereux's account- the level of arrogance displayed. I had the opportunity to meet with an exorcist or some reknown and he was an extremely humble person. Ultimately, the tone of this book stands in stark contrast to the Christian principal of relying on God to contest the spirits. The concept of personal power and influence that permeates this book is very consistent with the tradition of the learned adept (which is a horrible path, in my opinion), but I don't know of any adepts on the right-hand or left-hand path who would publicly boast in this manner. The Athanor website appears to be defunct, so maybe Mr. Devereux's career as a "exocist" or whatever has been greatly curtailed. Although it was a bit mocking, your review was right on. God bless....