The Universe is the Practical Joke of the General
at the Expense of the Particular, quoth FRATER PERDURABO,
But those disciples nearest to him wept, seeing the
Those next to them laughed, seeing the Universal
Below these certain disciples wept.
Then certain laughed.
Others next wept.
Others next laughed.
Next others wept.
Next others laughed.
Last came those that wept because they could not
see the Joke, and those that laughed lest they
should be thought not to see the Joke, and thought
it safe to act like FRATER PERDURABO.
But though FRATER PERDURABO laughed
openly, He also at the same time wept secretly;
and in Himself He neither laughed nor wept.
Nor did He mean what He said.
The title, "Onion-Peelings", refers to the well-known
incident in "Peer Gynt".
The chapter resembles strongly Dupin's account of
how he was able to win at the game of guessing odd or
even. (See Poe's tale of "The Purloined Letter".)
But this is a more serious piece of psychology. In one's
advance towards a comprehension of the universe, one
changes radically one's point of view; nearly always it
amounts to a reversal.
This is the cause of most religious controversies.
Paragraph 1, however, is Frater Perdurabo's formulation of his perception of the Universal Joke, also
described in Chapter 34. All individual existence is
tragic. Perception of this fact is the essence of comedy.
"Household Gods" is an attempt to write pure comedy.
"The Bacchae" of Euripides is another.
At the end of the chapter it is, however, seen that to
the Master of the Temple the opposite perception occurs
simultaneously, and that he himself is beyond both of
And in the last paragraph it is shown that he realises
the truth as beyond any statement of it.
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Original text by Aleister Crowley
Commentary by Karl Germer
I need your help! This stuff is very cryptic, feel free to provide your own commentary.