Many readers have expressed interest in the backstory of this arcane tome with which I was involved back in the 1970s. I have given interviews about it over the years, most notably in the Tracy Twyman interview which has been extensively reprinted and reposted all over the Net and in publications like The Book of Lies. I believe I have said all I could say about it, but the subject still comes up.
The main question seems to be: is Peter Levenda actually Simon, the editor of the version of the Necronomicon often referred to as the “Simonomicon”?
Leaving aside for the moment the idea that — as has been stated many times — “Simon” is a pseudonym, a nom de plume, and that it would be rude if not counter-productive to reveal Simon’s identity, let’s look at this question in some detail.
Why this interest in identifying Simon? The Necronomicon — no matter what you may think of it — stands on its own, and always has. Any book is always more important than its author, its publisher, its editor, book designer, printer, etc. In this case, the Necronomicon has withstood the test of time. It has been published in the ubiquitous Avon paperback in about one million copies since its first appearance as a mass market volume in 1980. Leather-bound first editions (published in 1977) go for hundreds of dollars each. William Burroughs called its publication “a landmark in the history of spiritual liberation.”
A cottage industry has grown up around it, spawning many more books, websites, and groups dedicated to practicing its rituals. It has even generated a kind of anti-Necronomicon cultus of those intent on debunking something that was never actually “bunking” anything to begin with.
One of the issues that keeps coming up is the fact that there is a copyright application for one of the books in the Necronomicon “series” that bears my name as the copyright owner. That seems like a smoking gun to the debunkers, ignoring the fact that I have said time and again that Simon’s identity must be protected and that I front for the man and his work when necessary. Obviously, Simon can’t copyright this material in his own name otherwise why the pseudonym? And in this age where everything is digitized and searchable it would be only too easy to trace him through dummy corporations or offshore accounts, if that was the intention.
His book Dead Names pretty much sums up the situation, offering a lot of the backstory and revealing the names of those who were involved in the book thefts, etc. If anyone truly wished to deconstruct the legend, there is more than enough information there to give one a running start: names, dates, places.
All that said, I have never denied my role in the Necronomicon affair as tedious and repetitious as the questions have become over the decades and indeed it has been my fortune to find myself involved (if only peripherally) in some of the seminal political and religious events of the 20th century, usually by chance. I joined the ASPR (American Society for Psychical Research) when I was sixteen. I gate-crashed St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the RFK funeral in 1968 (while still a high school senior); I similarly waltzed into Colonia Dignidad eleven years later and emerged unscathed (the same could not be said for others who were not so lucky). I was involved (as a teenager) with the same church that numbered David Ferrie, Jack Martin, and Tommy Baumler among its “bishops”: some of whom were believed to have been involved in the JFK assassination. I was doing business in China during Deng Xiao Ping. I worked with one of the CIA agents who was part of E. Howard Hunt’s front operation, the Mullen Corporation. I worked for Bendix when they were training troops in Saudi Arabia, and later for a major Israeli bank sending coded traffic to Tel Aviv via telex. During the period 1968-1980 I met with members of the PLO, the IRA, the Weathermen, the Panthers, NORAID, the National Renaissance Party, the Klan, etc. I met such notables in the New Age scene as Raymond and Rosemary Buckland, Herman Slater, Ed Buczynski, and Leo Martello.
I was fortunate to have known Norman Mailer and his wife, Norris Church and many other authors, musicians, and artists over the years.
The list of my connections, friendships, and involvements is long and sometimes bizarre, I admit. The Necronomicon affair is emblematic of this strange journey. And journey it has been: I have lived and worked overseas, traveled to more than forty countries, learned some languages, did some business. Not bad for a kid who just managed to graduate high school in the Bronx in 1968 by the skin of his teeth without a dime to his name or any prospects at all. My bio may be more a credit to dumb luck and serendipitous chance than to any Machiavellian master plan, but there you are. The Necronomicon is of a piece with everything else in my life as I walk into the dark tunnels of the American spiritual experience armed with nothing more than a flickering flashlight, a pencil stub, and a sardonic sense of humor.
As Tommy Lee Jones — playing Clay Shaw — in Oliver Stone’s film JFK said: “Like all businessmen, I am accused of all things.”
For me, being Simon is just one of them!