Monday, October 07, 2013

The Ninth Gate

Because we're coming up on Halloween, there are lots of horror films on TV this month. I watched most of The Ninth Gate last night, although I bailed before the end. I've seen it before. 

Polanski is a talented director, so it's a quality film with some masterful brushstrokes. Excellent cast. Classy settings. That said, the film is something of a dud. It begins somewhat promisingly, but never catches on, and the ending is anticlimactic. Maybe Polanski has lost his touch. It's certainly no match for Rosemary's Baby.

The basic premise of the plot involves the pursuit of a book (actually, three editions of the same book) that's ghostwritten by the devil. To the one who owns a copy and can decrypt the message, the book promises worldly success. A variant on the Faustian bargain.

Although the basic idea has some dramatic potential, there'd be a more interesting way to develop that theme. Say there's a book "inspired" by the devil. Throughout the centuries, power-hungry men and women pursue the book. They travel to far-flung places to track it down. They murder to steal the book. All because the book promises its owner worldly success. 

Only there's a catch. You will go mad if you read the book. The book passes through many hands. Each owner was widely successful and powerful. Yet each owner became insane as his mind was drawn into the labyrinth of the book's fiendish symbolism and numerology. Owner's lose their way, and lose their minds, in their effort to break the code. The code is a trap. A lure.

Although The Ninth Gate is fictional, there are real candidates for books inspired by the devil. Automatic writing is a prima facie case. It's possible that automatic writing as a natural psychological explanation. But given how it typically takes place in an occult setting, that certainly invites a demonic interpretation.

Swedenborg is another example. Swedenborg was a notable apostate: the son of a Lutheran bishop. Swedenborg himself was a brilliant man of polymathic interests. 

However, in his early fifties, he says he engaged in astral travel to heaven and hell, where he communicated with angels, demons, and ghosts. He wrote voluminously about his encounters. 

I don't know if he was possessed, mentally ill, or both. Certainly possession results in mental illness. If he was possessed, then this would be another case of diabolically inspired literature. 

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a New Age blockbuster by Richard Bach, is another example.

To take a final example, in his Occult ABC, Lutheran exorcist Kurt Koch has a section on the apocryphal Sixth and Seven Book of Moses. To judge by his description, this is a book containing magic imprecations. How to curse your enemy. According to him, the spells work. But, of course, the owner pays a terrible price, for he himself comes under a terrible spell. 

I notice that in googling the title, there are copies floating around the internet. Needless to say, I never read it, since it's reputedly a very dangerous book to read. I mention this as a warning to the curious. Even though The Ninth Gate is fictional, it has real-world counterparts. Literature "inspired" by the dark side, which–if you own it and read it–will have disastrous effects on you and those around you. 


  1. So would you list the Necrinomicon (sp) as one of those books to avoid? Even though it is fictional?

    1. The fact that it's fictional makes a difference. Mind you, I think fiction which glamorizes the occult can be insidious. But that's different than being in contact with an actual mind from the dark side, via a literary medium.

    2. So let's say someone happens to read the words in whatever transmitted form that were written by a man who was under possession/some direction by a demon. Are you saying that reading those words itself constitutes contact with demons, and/or that the demon will know you're reading and try to haunt you?

      Let's expand it a bit. Say someone replicates the document including this demon's words on the internet so that a thousand people read it. Surely the demon isn't capable of appearing to them all at once, or even noticeably to all of them in a short period of time. What should a Christian be anticipating should these things I've mentioned happen to him?

    3. I think intent on reading the material is a factor. For example, apologists can read and critique occultic books without being demonically possessed or oppressed or attacked. However, even some Christian apologists and pastors have testified that as they read occultic works to critique them that they were sometimes attacked.

      Also, there are claims by some Christian writers that some objects can be "possessed". Presumably, that means demons sometimes like to hang around certain objects (e.g. occultic books, and paraphernalia) or locations/areas (e.g. haunted houses). If there's some truth to that, then some books may be more dangerous than others even if they are copies of the same text. For example, you may have two copies of a Masonic book. One is newly printed and the other was used in occultic practices. The latter might be more dangerous than the former.

    4. If you read a book inspired by a demon, that puts you in contact with the mind of a demon. With his thoughts.

      And writing is typically intended to draw the reader into the world of the writer. To see things from his perspective. To manipulate the reader.

      I didn't say anything about a demonic apparition. This involves a literary medium, which is a one-to-many medium–rather than a direct, "face-to-face" encounter. Indeed, that's more insidious, because it's not as overt. It can ensnare the unwary.

      If we read a book inspired by the devil or a demon, we are placing ourselves under that malign influence.

      Keep in mind, too, that I cited a book of magic imprecations. Black magic. Witchcraft. That invites the demonic realm into your life. Puts you at their disposal.

    5. Satanism, Witchcraft, Demons & Drugs - Satan, Possession, Oppression & the Occult
      by (the late) Reformed/Calvinistic minister Ferrell Griswold

      -The late Lutheran pastor Dr. Kurt E. Koch's book: Between Christ and Satan [alternatively titled "The Lure of the Occult"] (complete?)

      -Excerpts from Dr. Koch's Occult ABC

    6. The average Christian has no business reading occultic material. Only Christian ministers or apologists/theologians etc. should be doing so in order to respond to and critique their errors.

      Steve Said...
      And writing is typically intended to draw the reader into the world of the writer. To see things from his perspective. To manipulate the reader.

      That's SOOO true. Even when reading some books of fiction. How much more books presented as teaching the truth about reality and how to enter the spiritual realm in a non-Christian way.

    7. I just want to say that a lot of the things Dr. Kurt E. Koch writes is difficult for me to believe even though I'm a Charismatic. So much so that I think that Dr. Koch was a bit too credulous. But, some of the anecdotes he describes are plausible. I think Dr. Koch should have better sifted his anecdotes or at least phrased his conclusions more tentatively.

  2. Some claim that Napoleon Hill's famous book Think and Grow Rich is another example of a demon inspired text.

    For example:

    1. hmm...the links say that Hill was probably influenced by demons at some point and time, but it's not clear that his most famous book Think and Grow Rich was written under their influence. However, the resources suggest it's likely.