October 16, 2011 5 Comments
The Magus by John Fowles is a peculiar novel. It is not like anything I’d read previously – a kind of mix between the TV show Lost and the Michael Douglass movie, The Game, with a bit of Eyes Wide Shut thrown in for good measure: Imagine Aristotle Onassis with a penchant for psychological warfare. Its protagonist is a young Oxford graduate named Nicholas Urfe who, having become bored of philandering and partying, undergoes an existential crisis and embarks for a teaching position on the Greek island of Phraxos. Before leaving England, however, Nicholas breaks the heart of a beautiful Australian girl named Alison, as he quickly adopts an atheistic, nihilist worldview.
As he arrives, he finds that the island is not exactly what it appears to be. Nicholas wanders into the company of a wealthy Greek billionaire Named Maurice Conchis who seems to toy with Nicholas at every turn, befriending him, yet in a distant, disingenuous way. Nicholas begins to experience strange events that even make him question his own anti-supernatual presuppositions. He sees what he thinks are Greek gods, as well as playlets that seem to match up to the Marquis de Sade. Nicholas realizes that these masques become increasingly real, encompassing his entire existence on the island. Eventually, having partaken of a hallucinogenic drug, and falling in love with one of a pair of twins that appears to be in the employ of Maurice, Nicholas experiences another kind of breakdown, resulting in an initiation of sorts similar to the process one sees in Eyes Wide Shut, as I argued.
The novel is thus not a story of mere intrigue, but of induction into the mysteries. However, this novel presents the mysteries in a different fashion. In Fowles’ mind, the initiation is not one wherein Nicholas’ world status changes, adjoining him to the elite, but rather operates as a kind of grand “fuck you,” where Nicholas is forced to come to grips with the fact that there is an entire strata of individuals for whom generations of enormous wealth has occasioned a godlike status on earth. As such, in Flowles’ construal, the world becomes a kind of grand, global masque and stage. In fact, the novel is quite explicit that the controllers are the Illuminati. Read more of this post