I must admit, that I’ve always been a bit freaked out by Freemasons since reading Alan Moore’s brilliantly but disturbing tale of Jack the Ripper, From Hell.  In Moore’s carefully plotted graphic novel, he laid out how the JTR murders were an elaborate plot, with Masonic involvement.  The brilliance of it all was that while there’s no way of knowing that his version of the story was true, nonetheless, he had done his research so well that it was entirely plausible.

Anyway, there’s another tale I could tell about Masons, but I’m about to leave work to head out to a chamber music concert (the fabulous Eggner Trio) and so I don’t have all that much time.

But my two cents for today are that I liked the way Tolstoy contrasted the solemnity (and creepiness) of the Masons with Pierre, with his own little funny thoughts in his head.  They’re asking him about his three reasons for joining (and he’s thinking things like, “Yeah, okay, I like the third one.  I think I should join!”).

More tomorrow . . .

5 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 5.3 – Joining the Masons

  1. Yes, I have to say that I, too, found the whole Masonic thing a bit creepy – stripping off clothes, wearing blindfolds, talking ab out your most intimate depravities … is it any wonder the Masons want all their rituals kept secret??!!

    Amd I, too, was kind of amused by Pierre’s approach to it all – trying to be very solemn on the one hand, but unavoidably being his usual bumbling self on the other, like when he could only remember six of the seven virtues.

    And then I couldn’t help but notice a parallel with Andrei, when Pierre starts imagining himself saving the world from spiritual desolation – not at all unlike Andrei’s dream of saving the entire Russian army. It makes you think that maybe we’re not all so different from each other after all.

    Hope you enjoyed the concert, Matt. What were they playing?

  2. Hi Ian,

    It was funny, actually, how this concert tied in with War and Peace. First of all, I found out at a Q & A that Christoph Eggner, the pianist of the group, loves Russian literature (or at least he did when he was younger). Secondoly, their concert (which began with Schumann and Martin) ended with an absolutely blazing performance of the Shostakovich Piano Trio, which must rank as one of the great pieces of music to come out of Russia in the 20th century.

    I’m not an expert on these things, but some people who are, said that last night’s performance was an absolutely definitive performance.

    They *are* coming to Melbourne tonight (but with a different program of Beethoven, Debussy and Mendelssohn) so if you were super-quick, you could probably snag a ticket.

  3. That Shostakovich Piano Trio is just amazing, I think. I like pretty well anything that Shostakovich wrote, but that trio is incredible, even against the rest of his music. It sounds a good ensemble to hear – but, as timing would have it, I’m actually on leave this week (and was for half of last week) and, as I live 100 kms from Melbourne, the thought of leaving the peace and quiet of the seaside for a commute to Melbourne when I don’t have to for work, is something that even Beethoven, Debussy and Mendelssohn cannot persuade me to do!! I would have been sorely tempted for Dmitry, though.

  4. Heh! Heh! Yes, it’s creepy alright . . .

    There is a book from the ‘Wiccan’ faith called ‘The Solitary Practitioner’. Wicca is an old faith, with a new name. It is based on ‘White Witchcraft’ which is nothing evil. In Wicca, for instance, you cannot cast a spell that will affect you directly, nor can you cast a spell that interfere’s with anyone’s karma . . . that is to say, that changes the course of their life.

    The most you can do is conduct a ritual that more or less expresses the ‘best outcome’ for someone, including yourself.

    When I was studying this faith (practice) I burned many candles in the hopes that I might win the lottery . . . actually this is useless; I cannot ‘cast spells’ that enable me to win the lottery.
    And as for another ‘witch’ and I casting the same spell for each other, well that’s out too, ‘cause you can’t cast spells that will change anybody’s karma.

    So what’s this to do with the Masons? Well . . .

    In ‘The Solitary Practitioner’ it is revealed that The Masons actually adopted their rituals from the Wiccan rituals!

    I would also like to add that The Masons, although they may have been strictly Christians at one time, they are not now – there are such organizations as ‘Jewish’ Masonic Lodges.

    I too have a rather negative story that concerns ‘The Masons’, but it isn’t any fault of The Masonic Order itself . . . I’ll tell it . . .

    My first husband who loved spending money on anything other than what he was supposed to be spending it on, paid 200 bucks in the early eighties to join the Masons.

    Very nice . . . we, my kids and I, were getting by on very little and he owed my mother a whole lotta’ money through his ‘manipulation’ of her.

    It just kinda’ ticked me off when he gave over 200 dollars to join the Masons.
    I am positively sure that the Masonic Order does not expect you to neglect your own family’s needs while giving to others.

    So there ya’ go – that’s my ‘Masons’ story.

    To my knowledge, they are a good order and do a lot of good for people. Something like ‘The Shriners’.

  5. Am I adding any people to my illustrious list?

    Kempis – Thomas A. Kempis –

    On reaching Petersburg Pierre did not let anyone know of his arrival, he went nowhere and spent whole days in reading Thomas a Kempis, whose book had been sent him by someone unknown.


    Thomas à Kempis (orig. Thomas Haemerkken; Thomas Hammerlein; also Thomas Hemerken, Thomas Hämerken, Thomas van Kempen, Tomás de Kempis) (ca.1380 – July 25, 1471) was a late Medieval Catholic monk and author of The Imitation of Christ, one of the best known Christian books on devotion.


    Man in Strange Attire –

    A man in strange attire appeared at the door.


    Smolyaninov – Rhetor – The Short man –

    This short man had on a white leather apron which covered his chest and part of his legs; he had on a kind of necklace above which rose a high white ruffle, outlining his rather long face which was lit up from below.

    Drawing nearer, he recognized in the Rhetor a man he knew, Smolyaninov, and it mortified him to think that the newcomer was an acquaintance- he wished him simply a brother and a virtuous instructor. For a long time he could not utter a word, so that the Rhetor had to repeat his question.


    Willarski –

    A week after his arrival, the young Polish count, Willarski, whom Pierre had known slightly in Petersburg society, came into his room one evening in the official and ceremonious manner in which Dolokhov’s second had called on him, and, having closed the door behind him and satisfied himself that there was nobody else in the room, addressed Pierre.


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