Testament for the New World - Being seven books containing essential spiritual wisdom from Oahspe. Kosmon Press, Los Angeles, 1945.
This book bears the copyright imprint of Wing Anderson, well-known purveyor of prophecies. Our guess is, in another year or so, he'll have the King James Version in the bag too - "quotation allowed for review purposes only." We're going to copyright Candide, the Decammeron, Holy Night, and the Rape of Lucrece. But anyhow, here's a review copy and we refuse to review it.
We will say, however, that Mr Anderson has written seven pages of very readable preface, about Dr. John Ballou Newbrough, and added a much needed glossary. In between these two one finds 315 pages from the first five books of Oahspe. In the old 1910 English edition these occupy 78 pages, but that's double column fine print, whereas the Testament is well set up and easy to read.
Maybe that's enough, but it still leaves 697 pages of small print unaccounted for, including the very remarkable Book of Cosmogony, and also omits 90 pages of most extraordinary plates and diagrams. A great pity to leave these out, but Mr Anderson's full version includes them - and one has to leave something out, in dealing with a literary behemoth of this sort.
78 : 315 = 913 : X. X = 3667. Q.E.D.
One reason we can't, don't and won't review this Testament is that we don't understand Oahspe - neither the text, nor the plates, nor the diagrams, nor the Angel Communicator, nor Dr Newbrough, or even Mr Anderson. But we have been impressed and perplexed by Oahspe for years. We bought our copy for five cents from a smart college professor who had not been impressed at all - and if we had held off he might have given us a dime to carry it away. Then we got hold of a full page write-up by Whit Wellman, in some Hearst newspaper, and were injudicious enough to read it, and so fell into the tentacles of this enormous literary squid, where we are still struggling.
But we do not speak disrespectfully or even lightly of this book. It's the most formidable literesque production of the last sixty-five years. We find beauty and power and wisdom in it, and can see how the poet or imaginative scientist may find a lift of cloud-capped heights about him. The trouble is, these magnificent perspectives don't integrate. We're too small for the book; it doesn't click with what we know, or think we know, or have been taught to believe. And "we" probably means nine out of ten, ninety-nine out of a hundred even of its devotees.
There's a story originating in spiritualist circles, some seance or other, that the Communicator of the Oahspe text was a powerful Angel, Luciferian, ambitious to establish for himself a great following on earth and not too particular how he did it. We neither share nor condemn this opinion. But certainly it is written with an air of supreme authority. And it is not the kind of book that any human being ever composed in a year, or, to tell, truth, in many years. And if this Angel were in fact some personalization of sub- or super-consciousness, the mystery grows no less and the achievement remains quite as remarkable.
What we want to say about Oahspe is that there's nothing to say - that is, nothing really intelligent, intelligible, useful to the understanding of this phenomenon. We might call it, pro tempore, a poem, an Art-work, a transcendental epic, a cosmic scripture, which like all Art and all scriptures gives back to us what we bring, yields what we are capable of finding - or it is like a mirror, or fragment of the mirror which is the infinite memory of Nature. Or better perhaps, it is a vast and cloudy canvas, or dim gigantic cinema, whereon the shapes of two hundred and forty centuries pass and repass as in an apocalyptic dream. Are these shapes "real"? But how can anyone judge, and who can define reality? Arts and sciences, philosophies and languages, sunken continents and vanished races, the panorama of infinite space, of galaxies and nebulae and the far journeying of our earth on her star-strewn track, and a spate of cryptic symbols, and hints of ten thousand mysteries, of times both past and future - all these are in Oahspe. And therefore, if criticism means evaluation, it is not a book that can be criticised. One does not criticise mountains, or the ocean, or sunset clouds, or even lusus naturae, strange happenings and visions of the night. There are, at rare intervals, phenomena of analogous kind in the world of written words. Whoever can speak, can utter certain foolish words about them, but the significance of them, like the significance of a mountain, a dream, or the sheen of a gnat's wing in noonday sun, evades the clutch of human understanding.
We have turned our text into a pretext - Mr Anderson's Testament into an Oahspe discussion. But then, this Testament is Oahspe - that is, a tidbit or nibble or first bite at it. If he put it all in, he would have 3687 pages instead of 315. That's something his readers ought to know - and which he doesn't tell them.
We speak of the magnificence of Oahspe, and in the same breath say that many think it is the world's dullest book. You have to have an Oahspe type of mind to do anything with it. We have run on and on about it, because it is one of those phenomena of human expression which no glib psychologist has ever yet said anything intelligible about. We don't "believe" it or disbelieve it; we contemplate it as one would a hippogrif, leviathan, or dragon. It's simply there, and we don't know any answers to Why, What, or How - and so have taken a near two pages to make proof of our ignorance.
|All comes and goes,||The One,|
|The rose||The Witness,|
|Blossoms and fades away:||Knower of the Plot;|
|Gray leaps to gold,||Who bears life|
|And gold||As a mask|
|Sleeps into gray:||Upon a face,|
|And all that leaped||As rock|
|From clay||In flood|
|Is steeped in clay||He goeth not.|
|But He,||Though all else goes|
|The Self,||Life and Death is He,|
|The Watcher of the Race;||Death and the Rose.|
Digital editions of the Faithist testament of OAHSPE, as first received by typewriter through John Ballou Newbrough, certainly abound; here are a few direct links for your perusal and study: <http://www.angelfire.com/in2/oahspe3/oindex.html> [ed. 1882, includes PDF version] • <http://sacred-texts.com/oah/> [ed. 1912; 1891 front material, image captions, 1882 body text] • <http://oahspestandardedition.com/> [ed. 2007, re-edit.]
Editions & Re-Editions (& Re-Re-Editions)
- Newbrough, John B. Oahspe: A New Bible in the Words of Jehovih and His Angel Embassadors; a Sacred History of the Dominions of the Higher and Lower Heavens on the Earth for the Past Twenty-Four Thousand Years, Together with a Synopsis of the Cosmogony of the Universe, the Creation of Planets, the Creation of Man, the Unseen Worlds, the Labor and Glory of Gods and Goddesses in the Etherean Heavens, with the New Commandments of Jehovih to Man of the Present Day, with Revelations from the Second Resurrection, Formed in Words in the Thirty-Third Year of the Kosmon Era. New York: Oahspe Pub. Association, 1882. Print.
- Oahspe: A New Bible in the Words of Jehovih and His Angel Embassadors; a Sacred History of the Dominions of the Higher and Lower Heavens on the Earth for the Past Twenty-Four Thousand Years, Being from the Submersion of the Continent of Pan in the Pacific Ocean, Commonly Called the Flood or Deluge to the Kosmon Era, Also a Brief History of the Preceding Fifty-Five Thousand Years, Together with a Synopsis of the Cosmogony of the Universe, the Creation of Planets, the Creation of Man, the Unseen Worlds, the Labor and Glory of Gods and Goddesses in the Etherean Heavens with the New Commandments of Jehovih to Man of the Present Day, with Revelations from the Second Resurrection Formed in Words in the Thirty-Third Year of the Kosmon Era. Boston: Oahspe Pub. Association, 1891. Print.
- Newbrough, John B. Testament for the New World: Being Seven Books, Containing Essential Spiritual Wisdom from Oahspe. Los Angeles, CA: Kosmon Press, 1945. Print.
- Newbrough, John B., Ray Palmer. Oahspe: A New Bible in the Words of Jehovih and His Angel Ambassadors: a Sacred History of the Dominions of the Higher and Lower Heavens on the Earth for the Past Twenty-Four Thousand Years, Together with a Synopsis of the Cosmogony of the Universe, the Creation of Planets, the Creation of Man, the Unseen World, the Labor and Glory of Gods and Goddesses in the Etherean Heavens, with the New Commandments of Jehovih to Man of the Present Day, with Revelations from the Second Resurrection, Formed in Words in the Thirty-Third Year of the Kosmon Era. Amherst, Wisc.: Ray Palmer, 1972. Print.
- Newbrough, John B. Oahspe: A Kosmon Bible in the Words of Jehovih and His Angel Ambassadors. London: Kosmon Press, 1975. Print.