By Adam Parfrey
A few decades ago we spent a good deal of time at Anton LaVey’s “black house” in San Francisco’s Richmond District.
On the walls and on the shelves were a lot of items to look at and consider. One photograph, seen in the kitchen, was a framed and signed photograph of a hunching woman overlapped by a depraved cloaked ghost. The photo was called “Fear,” and it was the work of William Mortensen (1897 – 1965).
Anton spoke of Mortensen’s influence in guiding him to understand the mechanics of “Lesser Magic,” or what affects people’s reaction to what they see and absorb.
Mortensen’s photographs like “Fear” are fascinating, but for years I resisted Mortensen’s reductive ideas regarding human behavior. It all seemed too reptilian to me. But there came the time when researcher Larry Lytle approached me about publishing a monograph on William Mortensen.… Read the rest