From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

The Great Purple Hoo-Ha by Phillip H. Farber

Reviewed by Don Webb

This two-volume novel can be read two different ways. It can be read as a Robert Sheckley/Douglas Adams-style romp or it can be read as a Robert Anton Wilson-style novel of comic enlightenment. The hero, Joe Maroney, is a talk show host, somewhat like Jerry Springer, and an unlikable human being. In the course of investigating a sex cult that is seeking to call into manifestation the Great Purple Hoo-Ha, Maroney has a fateful encounter with the new god on the block: “Atem.” Atem is your basic Chaos Magic servitor—a blend of magick, advertising memes, Neuro-linguistic Programming, and turbo-capitalism culture. Atem “tweaks” Joe. He makes him likeable—super-likeable. His ratings attain astronomical heights, women adore him, and everyone will tells him everything. No matter how rude or crude his remarks—everyone loves him. Everyone, that is, with mirror neurons (us non-austic folks who are always modeling what is going to happen).

Every door opens for him and he finds out more and more about the cult—which is exactly what the cult wants. The bigger the market share of Joe’s show, the more attention the Great Purple Hoo-Ha gets. This schema takes Joe to meet ad men, UFO researchers, Elvis worshippers, and oddball visionaries. It also gives the author a chance to show you a lot about Tantric sex, the media, and information theory. Phillip Farber is a student of Robert Anton Wilson, and like Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy (co-authored with Robert Shea), Farber is the Trickster master of condensing the 500 books you should have read about how your mind works into a two-book comedy series. Like Wilson’s little books, Farber’s books could become cult classics found on everybody’s shelves in a few years.

The hellzapoppin’ approach of interrupted orgies, a reawakening Rip Van Winkle (You know he slept really near Woodstock right? Google never lies), fun facts about the effects of storytelling on the brain, and so forth make you speed through these two books very quickly. One could fault Farber on a too-long retelling of the story of Inanna’s descent as a send-up of bureaucracy, and his social commentary needs to be a little more edgy for him to be truly comparable to Sheckley, but he is on the way. Farber is well known for his nonfiction on occult and Neuro-linguistic Programming topics, if he keeps his hoo-ha up he might become well known for his comedic SF/F as well.

The Great Purple Hoo-Ha: A Comedy of Perception (Part I)
The Great Purple Hoo-Ha: A Comedy of Perception (Part II)

Phillip H. Farber
Mandrake of Oxford
Part 1: ISBN 978-1906958-169
234 pages | Trade Paperback | $14.99
Part 2: ISBN: 978-1906958251
192 Pages | Trade Paperback | $14.99
May 2010

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