An Alternate History Of Jack Parsons, Part 2: The Beast And The Geek

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When I ordered the hit on you, I was worried that I was killing the golden goose. But, you see, it was just fate that you survived it, leaving one last golden egg to give. You really think that just because you have an idea, it belongs to you? Your father, he helped give us the atomic bomb. Now what kind of world would it be today if he was as selfish as you?
–Obadiah Stane, “Iron Man”

I. THE BEAST AND THE GEEK

The very best scenario—if you are so inclined—is that you are the “New Messiah.” The second best scenario is that you are the exclusive prophet of the New Messiah.

A far more troubling scenario is one in which you are the prophet of the New Messiah, but consider him to be somewhat “beneath” you—you consider him to be a punk, a nerd, a neurotic, a weakling, somebody unworthy of the title.

In such cases, a heavy sense of the unfairness of the Universe descends…and in my alternate history of Jack Parsons, it was no other than Aleister Crowley who felt he was “cheated.”

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Jack Parsons and Aleister Crowley

He would not be the last to feel such a way about Jack.

If Crowley represented the culmination of a modern magickal movement that started at the tail end of the 19th Century,—then Jack was the truly the New Messiah of the 20th.

And the dominant vehicle of universal mythos and meme-magick in the 20th Century was…

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collage art by Howard Hallis

Comic books.

II. THE PARSONS AVATAR OF THE 21st CENTURY

There are relatively few original images of Jack Parsons to be found—such a dearth paradoxically adding to his overall “mystique.” Since (in our alternate history, at any rate) Jack was the Horus-like New Messiah of the 20th Century and perhaps beyond, his energy sort of “demanded” more of a presence within the pop-culture zeitgeist—easily-reproduced iconography and ideas for us to consider and possibly “worship.”

Enter: Iron Man.

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Jack Parsons and Tony Stark

Like Jack, Tony Stark was a genius inventor with wavy jet-black hair and a mustache; a tech wizard whose inventions could send humankind to the stars, be used as deadly weapons, or quite possibly both.

Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee described how he created the superhero as a creature very much of the start of the Cold War…the era where Jack lived and created: “It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military….So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree.”

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Though Lee specifically credited millionaire industrialist Howard Hughes (who eventually had his own highly bizarre conspiracy-tinged history) as the inspiration for Tony Stark, by the time the character reached movie theaters in 2008 he couldn’t help but take on a much more “Jack” type of vibe. (check out Loren Coleman’s Twilight Language blog for a deeper analysis of the Hughes/Tony Stark comparisons)

This is clearest in the casting choice of Dominic Cooper as Tony’s father Howard in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger

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I mean, it’s pretty much identical.

But even back in 2008’s Iron Man, the character of Tony Stark sort of resonated Jack (Jack, whose given name at birth was “Marvel” like the publisher of the comic book)…with the scene in the beginning with the rockets…the explosion causing Tony’s crucial injury (shades of Jack’s unfortunate demise)…even his struggle against his late father’s friend Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges with a Crowley-esque bald head):

III. CRACKING THE SHELL

iron-man-forbesIn Iron Man, Stane literally pulls paralyzed Tony’s heart out, informing him with glee that his discoveries will be used for evil. That Tony was just a pawn; his inventions and discoveries not truly his own, but rather part of a “bigger plan.”

Similarly, in my alternate history of Jack Parsons, Crowley knowingly used Jack…”weaponized” him. Crowley himself would not be the ultimate New Messiah of the coming age, but he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to steer this “ship” anyway.

And Jack was “easy,” in the sense that he was like this overly enthusiastic kid, this kid without his own father’s regular presence in his life or approval…I mean, he was an adult, but he was also highly manipulatable. And he was a natural adept—his was the destiny to give humanity the crucial equipment to take them to the stars. So naturally gifted in magick, so blessed with an intuitive intellect…perhaps he could have been like the successful Tony Stark of the movies (he who created the Avengers).

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But he was corrupted. Purposely corrupted. He was, as I will discuss in later posts, “broken open” by Crowley’s eventual rejection as well as a long list of other failures that would befall him within a very short period of time.

Because if there was one thing that Crowley knew about: it was that sometimes you need to “crack somebody open” in order to have them achieve their full potential.

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If Crowley (in the alternate history) was forced to “justify” what he did…the path he set Jack on…he might have said something like this:

His name is Jack, and he had been operating free, relatively under-the-radar, for quite some time now. No way of knowing just how destructive, albeit unintentionally, that had been.

But the reality of the situation is that he possesses omega-level abilities that should never have been left unattended, unsupervised. The reality is that he had placed himself in an overly-permissive environment that did not have the capacity & imagination to grasp what it was exactly they were dealing with.

So at least, people like Crowley had that vision: which was, of course, to kick off the New Aeon, the Aeon of Supermen. To break open the “doors”—to rip Earth from the “quarantine”—and let all nature of beings just flood in and alter our reality forever.

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But that’s the alternate history, at any rate.

CONTINUED IN PART THREE, “FINDING BABALON”

More to read about on Butterfly Language:
An Alternate History Of Jack Parsons, Part 1: Warrior Lord Of The Forties
An Alternate History Of Jack Parsons, Part 3: Finding Babalon
Star-Lords, Sacred Orbs, And Tree-Christ: Esoteric Themes in Guardians Of The Galaxy