PHOEBE LIGHT
ARCHIGRAM NINE [9]
KULCHUR - Vol. 2 No. 5 - Spring 1962
EAU DE COLOGNE [First Two Issues]
FUCK YOU: A Magazine of the Arts - Number 5, Vol. 4
THE KNOWN WORLD
NAKED CITY [Ex-Libris Ralph Ingersoll, Founder of PM Newspaper]
FAC51 - THE HACIENDA [Membership Card to The Hacienda Nightclub]

[Three Prison Journals by Damien Echols]

ECHOLS, Damien

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(ca. 2006). Three unpublished journals handwritten in prison by Damien Echols circa 2006. Journal 1: Small perfect-bound 8vo. Stiff black paper wraps, grey cloth spine, gilded silver edges and journal brand name stamped on back cover ("EXACOMPTA 9930 PARIS /Made in France). Binding tight, moderate edgewear, pages clean apart from Echols' own writing. Approximately thre-quarters filled with entries; remaining pages blank. Newspaper clipping and a few event announcements neatly glued in; "Wedding of the Vampire" event card affixed to rear paste-down. Journal 2. 8vo. "Cachet" ruled journal. Black pebbled boards. Bumped spine ends and corners. Front and back endpapers decorated with pop culture ephemera -- stamps and stickers of Darth Vader et al. -- as well as a color photograph of Echols and his wife, Lorri Davis, pasted to ffep and various song titles penned along edges. Journal 3: 4to. Black boards with gold ankh stamped on front cover and spine. Unruled sketchbook used as journal. Endpapers collaged with stamps and clippings, including art images of the Virgin Mary. Penned song titles and drawings of arcane symbols to endpapers. Amnesty International address label on rear paste-down with Echols' prison identification number. All three journals very good overall. (Item ID: 22163)

Three unpublished diaries formerly belonging to Damien Echols, the most notorious of the so-called West Memphis 3. Echols, along with two friends, was tried and convicted in 1994 for the murders of three children, and was the sole member of the three to be sentenced to death. He maintained his innocence throughout his 18 years on Death Row. In 2011, all three men were released upon their acceptance of an Alford plea, asserting innocence but conceding the strength of the prosecution's case, thereby allowing the state of Arkansas to avoid more embarrassment than absolutely necessary. These journals date from 2006, when Echols had become aware of fresh DNA test results and was, for a brief period, euphoric and hopeful of release within a year's time. The journals chart his cyclical movement from relief at apparent breakthroughs, to rage at procedural delays, to renewed wariness and resignation to an unknown number of years in continued captivity.The first journal begins on 3/10/06 and ends on 8/06/06. Many entries are on consecutive days, with rare skips of up to a week; gaps are usually explained by Echols as the result of warden and guard harassment, fatigue, or ennui. This journal, the most detailed of the three regarding the murder case, records every conversation with his lawyers and wife regarding the search for new evidence and progress of DNA testing. Echols speculates about the possible involvement of John Mark Byers (stepfather of one victim) or a previously unknown serial killer in the murders, complains of abusive treatment by prison officials, and expresses his private feelings about his supporters, some of whom he considers exploitative or "tacky" in their efforts to gain publicity for themselves. Mara Leveritt, director of "Devil's Knot," is the focus of some aggravated commentary. Also recorded is Echols' first contact, via his wife, with John Douglas, a criminal profiler for the FBI who was hired by Echols' defense team and would eventually conclude that the WM3 were innocent. Echols writes, with cynical acuity, that Douglas's plan to write a book was good for him: "That will make him try all the harder to make it have a happy ending."The entry dated 7/01/06 states: "Once this journal is full, there will be no more like this." Nevertheless, the second journal begins begins soon after on July 10 (and ends on September 17). Although no year is given, it appears to overlap with and follow the preceding volume; the September 16 entry notes that Echols' son turned 14 "four days ago;" the previous journal recorded his son's 13th birthday. Like the first journal, it tracks every piece of news Echols received about new evidence, and records his wife's travels to West Memphis attempting to review old evidence files and revisit the crime scene. Echols details his outrage at the treatment of other condemned men and his struggle to obtain basic medical and dental care, at one point contemplating a hunger strike out of desperation: "I think I may stop eating. It's the only way I can think of that will make them fix this tooth." Both this and the previous journal dwell on the always-moving execution dates set for other inmates; Echols identifies them by name and records his opinions of their crimes, guilt or innocence, and personalities, always with anger and disgust for the death penalty and its proponents and agents.The final is likewise dated by day, but not by year, and appears to be what Echols refers to in his other writings as his "magickal journal." Past friends and lovers are referenced by symbolic code names defined in previous journals. Tone is very different from the previous two: entries are long, intricate, dreamy, disconnected from daily life, exploring Echols' imaginative/spritual worlds and practices: an amalgam of Thelema, Rosicrucianism, and '90s new age neopaganism with an occasional quasi-Catholic overlay. [1] Two symbols are drawn on the endpapers as well as in entries, in appearance a sort of knock-off Enochian angel script: the first, the "symbol for the essence that lies at the core of home;" the other representing "the demon who slowly devours my health, my self respect, and my life." Echols' family members appear to him in dreams, as does his younger self; he attempts to interpret and control these increasingly distant memories. The tonal disconnection appears deliberate: "The inside of my head is the one place I can keep free of prison paraphernalia and scenes." Despite this, reality intrudes on occasion: "If there is anything more repugnant than prison staff it's local news reporters. [...] Nothing I could say to them would actually matter, they just want to gawk at the guy on death row."These primary sources are vital documents even beyond their immediate relevance to one of the most sensational miscarriages of justice in recent decades. Of the more than 100,000 words of these journals, a large portion is devoted to concrete records of fact: legal plans and prison miseries; frustrating investigation-by-proxy of old murders; management of crime groupies and famous defenders. The remainder shows Echols consciously engaged in a effort to imbue his own life with meaning and power, repurposing the same mythological vocabulary that allowed him to be demonized as an occultist degenerate in his teens: The Land of Nod, at first a simple code name for his hometown, grows into a symbolic zone of stillness and memory outside time and prison, accessible only through elaborate rituals he continually constructs and discards. These journals document Echols' two parallel plans for escape: one real, but torturously slow, conducted through lawyers and conditioned by the excruciating realities of prison life; the other internal, symbolic, a secret story built in the mind underneath the repetitive grind of days. Echols has been asked countless times how he survived so many years in confinement; these journals give some hint at the answer.[1] Echols had by this point clearly recovered from the low point of April 2006, when in a moment of frustration with the inadequacies of the Sekh-Bast-Ra Lodge's website, he wrote: "Magick is for losers. It hurts me to my soul to say it, but it's true."



By This Author: ECHOLS, Damien
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