A Talk and Visual Presentation by Mitch Horowitz
Date: Friday, October 21st
Presented by: Phantasmaphile
It is one of the strangest and most beguiling books of the twentieth century: The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Privately printed in 1928 by a 27-year-old occult scholar named Manly P. Hall, the table-top sized volume – brimming with arcane diagrams, otherworldly illustrations, and detailed entries on everything from Pythagorean mathematics and Egyptian geometry to the origins of the Tarot and the secret authorship of the Shakespearean plays – became one of the most successful underground books ever published. Passing through many printings and versions, including a compact “reader’s edition” in the twenty-first century, it reigns as the Encyclopedia Arcana of the modern age – a must-read for every acolyte of mythical traditions, esoterica, and the occult.
Who was the young and preternaturally gifted author of this massive and impactful work? And what were the circumstances behind the early genius of Hall, a man with little conventional schooling who went on to become the most influential occult voice of the last century? In this vibrant and intellectually lively evening, author Mitch Horowitz (Occult America) – who has written widely about Hall’s life and published the recent “reader’s edition” of The Secret Teachings of All Ages – explores the remarkable persona behind this mysterious tome.
Horowitz dissects the unusual career of Hall and explores his legendary status on the West Coast occult scene for most of the twentieth century. From Hall’s art-deco headquarters in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park neighborhood, the arcane scholar not only helped reignite the academic study of esoterica but made an impact on figures as diffuse as Bela Lugosi and Ronald Reagan (who actually quoted from Hall in his speeches). Horowitz also explores the circumstances surrounding Hall’s 1990 death, which is marked by persistent rumors of foul play. Finally, Horowitz considers the wide-ranging influence of The Secret Teachings of All Ages, including the book’s strengths and weaknesses, enduring mysteries, and seismically powerful, yet underappreciated, impact.
***Books will be available for purchase and signing
Mitch Horowitz is the editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin and the author of Occult America (Bantam), which The Washington Post Book World called: “Fascinating…a serious, wide-ranging study of all the magical, mystical, and spiritual movements that have arisen and influenced American history in often-surprising ways.” Horowitz has written on alternative spiritual topics for The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, CNBC.com, Boing Boing, and The Washington Post, where he recently explored the relationship between Manly P. Hall and Ronald Reagan. In 2003, Horowitz published the “reader’s edition” of The Secret Teachings of All Ages. He leads Observatory’s popular Occult New York Walking Tours and has discussed alternative spirituality on CBS Sunday Morning, Dateline NBC, and All Things Considered. Horowitz is currently writing a history of the positive-thinking movement, to be published by Crown. Visit him online at: www.MitchHorowitz.com.