Charles Portis, Author of Masters of Atlantis, Celebrates His Greater Feast

Novelist Charles Portis has died at the age of 86. His most successful novel was True Grit which topped the NY Times Best Seller List for 22 weeks and was made into a major motion picture which won John Wayne the only Oscar of his long career. Notwithstanding, he scrupulously avoided the public eye so much so that author and journalist Ron Rosenbaum called him “our least-known great novelist.” Meanwhile, our beloved OHO suggests that Portis’ Masters of Atlantis “should be required reading for any OTO officer.” A Washington Post book review stated:

“CHARLES PORTIS is back with a funny and touching novel about an imaginary occult organization called the Gnomon Society. We follow Gnomonism from its inception after World War I, through its heyday in the Depression, and on through its slow attrition up to the present time. Much of the book’s humor derives from the gap between the cosmic afflatus of Gnomonism and the fumbling lives of the Masters who profess it…

“At some stage in their lives, many people get the feeling that there should be some kind of key to the universe. The world seems like a mysterious whole, a unity whose essential secrets lie just beyond one’s grasp. These numinous feelings may impel a person to delve deep into art, science, philosophy or religion. But a person with no great creative drive can easily get hung up on the numinous feelings themselves. Instead of finding difficult ways to make things clearer, such a person may opt for easy ways to make things more mysterious. This is the kind of person who, a few decades back, would have been likely to dabble in Madame Blavatsky’s astral planes, G. I. Gurdjieff’s laws of octaves, or Rudolf Steiner’s writings on Atlantis. In general, these cults start with a few broadly suggestive principles — notions like ‘All is One,’ and ‘As Above, So Below’ — and then swathe these precepts with layer upon layer of gauzy obfuscation. Gnomonism, as a parody of such cults, seems to consist of swathing alone.”

Read the whole review:

Here’s the Washington Post’s obituary:

Thanks to Hymenaeus Beta for the tip!

Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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