Fool me once
"O Fool! begetter of both I and Naught, resolve this Naughty Knot!"
- Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies
I hate April 1st. I always have, but more so in recent years, because it might as well be every day now. So much news, both reported and suppressed, seems tailored to make us look like fools for believing we live in a world where such things are possible. But this is our world, or at any rate mine now: a concretization of formerly ungrounded fears into an eff-you reality that parodies what used to pass for paranoia. And since it's a truism of comedy that there are diminishing returns for satirizing a self-parody, what's to become of April 1st?
This Register story, for instance, which now carries the byline April Fool: "Bush Preps Historic Third Term - Memo." While I didn't fall for this one - a term limit serves some still necessary fictions, perhaps the most important being that real power resides in the presidency - it's not surprising that so many, apparently, did. A "draft proposal for a future Executive Order establishing a Continuity Presidency" is no more absurd than Bulldog Gannon's press credentials, or the Vice President shooting a man and joking about it afterwards.
The Register owned up to its prank, but Cannonfire's still playing this one straight: Was Barbara Bush's real father Aleister Crowley?
A sixth-level initiate within the OTO (the Ordo Templi Orientis, the mystical society that Crowely came to head in the 1920s) first set me down this research path by revealing that [Barbara Bush's mother] Pauline Robinson had befriended an woman named Nellie O'Hara, an American adventuress who, at some point during her European travels, met the famed writer Frank Harris. Despite his advancing years, Harris still maintained a reputation for sexual excess that rivaled Crowley's. During this period (1919-1927), Nellie and Frank Harris lived as man and wife, although they could not actually wed because Harris' second wife was still alive and would not grant a divorce.
Nellie's friend Pauline no doubt scandalized her social circle by traveling to France on her own and leaving two very young children in the care of nursemaids. However, her correspondence with her friend -- whose life in France with a famous literary figure must have seemed quite glamorous -- can only have inspired a sense of wanderlust. Her husband, increasingly bound to his duties with the McCall Corporation, did not share this spirit of adventure.
Thus it was that four individuals came together: Frank Harris, Nellie O'Hara, Pauline Pierce [formerly Robinson], and Aleister Crowley. Anyone who has studied Crowley's life will understand that what happened next was, in a sense, inevitable.
Pauline returned to America in early October of 1924. On June 8, 1925, she gave birth to a girl named Barbara. Barbara Pierce married George H.W. Bush, who eventually became the 41st President of the United States.
Many of the details check out, but I haven't found anything yet outside of Cannon's story supporting a link between Barbara's mother Pauline and Nellie O'Hara, let alone between Pauline and Crowley.
I'm not saying it's not true. I'm just saying it sounds too perfect, like a good hoax should. This piece stands out for Joseph Cannon since he doesn't usually pick at the occult aspects of power, and he's also a solid researcher not given to extraordinary claims. So I suppose what I'm really doing is adding the caution that before we repeat "Barbara Bush may be the daughter of Aleister Crowley" we should have more than the word of Cannon's annonymous OTO initiate as reported on April 1st.
Since we've already slipped into a time of attenuated reality in which anything - or at least anything bad - seems possible, we should take particular care about distinguishing fantastic fact from fantasy. For example, I still see The Onion gag from 2000 "Bush 'Refuses To Dignify' Mass-Murder Allegations" sited as a legitimate news story because "highly-regarded independent investigator Sherman H. Skolnick" cribbed from it in 2004. Whatever their previous merit, "investigators" like Skolnick and Tom Flocco seem little more than schlock artists now, serving product to the niche of paranoid entertainment by fabricating elaborate Black Iron Prisons in the air. It's poison to the legitimate inquiry of forbidden subjects, but consumers of conspiracy would rather have the thrill of being scared by a lie than be challenged by the terrible truth, because the truth demands more than our goosebumps.
But damn. I really hate April 1st.