Sex, Drugs & Rocket Science: The Occult World of Jack Parsons with Adam Parfrey of Feral House

Adam Parfrey - Photo: Steve Dewell

Adam Parfrey - Photo: Steve Dewell

Adam Parfrey’s fearless publishing style has lead to an invaluable contribution to the modern literary world – he dares to venture where few men dare, releasing information to the world that is absolutely priceless. Known for his risqué and unconventional choice in books, their content and subject-matter provide insight and illumination into topics that the general public, for the most part, has never stumbled upon or even heard of.

Published titles include, Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Rudolph Grey), of which Parfrey was the editor, and which later became the basis for Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood; Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society, A Visual Guide, (written by Parfrey alongside Craig Heinbichner); Love, Sex, Fear, Death: The Inside Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment, an incredible book detailing the curiosities as well as the horrors of this oppressive religious movement (an off-shoot of Scientology), with not just ties to L. Ron Hubbard, but even Charles Manson; and The Manson File (compiled by Parfrey, credited to Nikolas Schreck), a fascinating collection Manson's letters, spells, curses, artwork, lyrics, stories, and even an essay on the power of evil (intended not for the public but to influence his circle of followers).

For those that don’t know, Parfrey is also a journalist and author himself, with an impressive repertoire that blows most writers out of the water. Titles include the highly-acclaimed, Apocalypse Culture, a multifaceted book consisting of a collection of essays, ranging from themes of occultism, Satanism, and apocalypticism, to anarchism, anti-establishmentarianism, and conspiracy theories; End Is Near!: Visions of Apocalypse, Millennium and Utopia, another astonishing collection of essays, with contributors ranging from all walks of life, amongst them the legendary Dalai Lama (certainly not something many author or publishers can claim!).

Described by Headpress as, “The most courageous and incendiary publisher in the U.S,” whilst Kostelanetz of, Rain Taxi, classes him as “among the most valuable in America,” this certainly seems apt given his collection of writings and publications; alas, it comes as no surprise then that the Seattle Weekly should label him as, "America's most dangerous publisher."

Parfrey aside for now though, this West of The Rockies episode focuses on a very particular book, namely, Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons (published under Parfrey's Feral House), written by John Carter (alongside a rather insightful and entertaining foreword by Robert Anton Wilson). Jack Parsons was a rocket scientist, inarguably the most significant and influential rocket scientist to have walked this Earth. Though oft overlooked in history and popular media, his works and inventions are essentially the entire basis for NASA's successful rocket program. He was an eccentric, daring and fearless man, co-founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an absolute genius whose experimentations lead to the invention of rocket fuel, helping the allies to win WWII.

When not engaging with rockets and explosives, however, Parsons lead a secret life of underground occultism, associating with the likes of Aleister Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard, engaging in sex-magick rituals, and, most incredibly, signing an oath asserting himself to be the Antichrist (and in fact genuinely believing so). Interesting, or perhaps more frighteningly, Parsons decided to invoke the Devil at the mere age of thirteen, performing a ritual in his bedroom (which is commonly believed to have been successful), and rather unsurprisingly frightening himself to such an extent, that he ceased to pursue his bizarre occult interests for quite some time.

In any case, before giving too much away, it’s time for the actual interview now – enjoy!

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Posted on July 18, 2016 and filed under SUM2.