Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

A good podcast with Phil Farber

Philip Farber (Facebook photo)

Towards the end of last month's Hilaritas Press podcast with Philip Farber, which I finally listened to this week, Mike Gathers describes Farber as an author, saying he's found "an enormous amount of clarity in your books that I don't normally find or get when I study magick or the occult." 

That's also a good description of Gathers' podcast interview with Farber, an author, magician and consultant. There's discussion of magick, NLP, Aleister Crowley and some good anecdotes about Robert Anton Wilson, whom Farber apparently knew well. I've listened to all 11 Hilaritas podcasts so far, and I think the Farber episode is one of the better ones. Gathers is in good form, asking useful questions such as how to get started in magick.

The first recording Gathers made with Farber was lost when Gathers' computer crashed (learn to do backups, Mike!) so kudos to Farber for sitting down for a second interview. 

This month's podcast, out August 23, will be Eric Wagner on Beethoven. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Happy birthday, R.U. Sirius!

Cover art by Jay Cornell (please see this art project)

R.U. Sirius -- Mondo 2000 co-founder and editor, writer, musician, presidential candidate, etc. --  will turn 70 on Friday, August 12.

To celebrate, he is releasing his new song, "I'm Against NFTs,"  as a free download. It is available free from today to Sunday morning, August 14. "This song will disappear from this site prior to becoming... yes... an NFT!" the Bandcamp page says. 

The song, credited to Mondo Vanilli and Blag Dahlia, is part of an ongoing music recording project, Infinite Gesture, based on Sirius' lyrics and featuring collaborations with various musicians, including Steve Fly Agaric 23, Phr!endz with R.U. Sirius and Party Dogs.

See my 2015 interview and search this website for other items about R.U. Sirius. Follow him on Twitter. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

John Quinn, the modernist hero you (probably) don't know

John Quinn (portrait in oil by John Butler Yeats, file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

What do James Joyce and Ezra Pound have in common, besides being big influences on Robert Anton Wilson? A guy named John Quinn. In a recent "What I've Been Reading" blog posting, Tyler Cowen explains:

"3. Hugh Eakin, Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came to America.  John Quinn is the hero of this story.  Who’s he?  He was a wealthy Irish-American lawyer on Wall Street in the early part of the twentieth century.  He supported James Joyce, the various Yeatses, the later-famous Irish playwrights, Irish painters, and Pound and Eliot, all before they became accepted and then famous.  What a talent spotter.  He simply sent them money.  He was also very early on the Picasso and Henri Rousseau bandwagons, most of all in America, where Quinn was a central figure in popularizing, collecting, and displaying modern art.  His is a career to study, and this book is the place to start."

I confess I never heard of John Quinn, but here is a paragraph from the Wikipedia biography: "He was part of the group who staged the Armory Show in 1913, the first great exhibition of European and American modern art in the United States, at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York. Quinn gave practical advice and financial assistance to Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. In gratitude, Eliot sent Quinn the original manuscript of his 1922 poem The Waste Land, including Pound's editorial suggestions."

The Wikipedia bio has all sorts of nuggets; Quinn once worked with Aleister Crowley. 

Quinn was only 54 when he died of cancer in 1924, a huge loss to literature and art. 

Here is John Quinn's May 1917 article for Vanity Fair, "James Joyce, a New Irish Novelist."  It begins, "James Joyce has come to town, and he has come to stay. A new star has appeared in the firmament of Irish letters, a star of the first magnitude."

Monday, August 8, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 93, Chapter 17

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

Exercise three says,

Accept the longevity hypothesis. Imagine you are going to live at least 300 years. How much of that time do you want to spend loafing? How many different jobs would you like to work at? How many sports, arts or sciences you never had time for, would you then find the time to enjoy? (pg. 255)

Well, I just turned sixty. Thinking of Tim McGraw’s song “My Next Thirty Years”, I think about “My Next 240 Years”. I would like to spend a fair amount of time loafing which will also involve watching the world change. I have grown tired of most of my jobs, although I still love teaching my college classes, especially when I returned to the classroom after a over a year on Zoom due to the pandemic. I suspect I will have to work for a good part of the next 240 years. I do enjoy working a lot of the time. Perhaps I will work 42 jobs; perhaps retirement, writing and teaching will take up a good share of my time.

I suspect I will continue to practice tai chi, and I suspect I will explore other martial arts and complimentary practices like kettlebells in the future. My wife suggested I buy a basketball for when the grandkids come over, so their taste in sports will likely affect my taste and practice of sports. I suspect I will keep writing and trying to improve my writing. Ezra Pound emphasized how language study can help one’s writing, and I suspect I will keep learning languages for the rest of my life. I find it interesting how some skills erode over time if one doesn’t nurture them. I look forward to experimenting with various learning processes over the coming centuries. These days I study Arabic a little bit every day. Perhaps I will eventually become fluent and will nurture my Arabic skills as well as my skills in other languages, and I will see how that affects my writing.

I also suspect I will play music, and perhaps I will practice more regularly at various times in the coming years. Perhaps I will go back to ballet, or I might work on drawing. Who knows? It would not surprise me if I die before I turn ninety. If I keep on living, various passions and curiosities will likely emerge. Of course, I may spend my time foraging for water and food in a climate change nightmare with little time for poetry or architecture. 

I haven’t taken a science class since 1980. I started school as a math major, but I have neglected math and sciences over the past forty years. Bob Wilson got me to read about quantum mechanics, but I have not done much of that this century. I remember reading that in the fifties Isaac Asimov found himself on a panel with Philip Jose Farmer. Someone asked how they stayed current with science. Asimov thought to himself, well, I have a Ph.D. in chemistry, this question doesn’t apply to me, but he liked Farmer’s response. Phil said that he read Scientific American every month. Asimov realized that a lot had happened in science since he got his degree, and more and more would continue to happen, so he decided to follow Phil’s example and he subscribed to Scientific American. Perhaps in a few years I will subscribe to Scientific American (if they even continue to publish a paper magazine). Of course, passions have tended to drive my education. Sometime in the coming centuries I may develop a passion for some science that will get me to study a lot.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Is SMI2LE advancing?

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Many of Robert Anton Wilson's writings are full of predictions based on Timothy Leary's SMI2LE formula for humanity's advance in the near future, i.e, space migration, intelligence increase and life extension. 

Obviously, the space colonies have not arrived on schedule and the other predictions have not come true as quickly as RAW thought. But the space launches of Elon Musk and other entrepreneurs seem to make the space colonies at least possible, and advances in artificial intelligence seem to make the intelligence increase part of the formula possible.

But what about "life extension"? That does not seem likely to arrive right away, but it's interesting to read this New York Times story (I've included a link) , "A ‘Reversible’ Form of Death? Scientists Revive Cells in Dead Pigs’ Organs." It's full of quotes such as, "There is a whole population of people who in a different era might have been called dead."

Friday, August 5, 2022

RAW in a Marvel comic


From Marvel Two-in-One #39

Full page 

Source from Twitter.  (E.g., hat tip, Bobby Campbell and @WormDrive Pro on Twitter). 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

New York Times reviews new Bucky Fuller biography

Alec Nevala-Lee's new biography of Buckminster Fuller will be of interest to many RAW fans because (1) Fuller was a big influence on RAW and (2) Lee does a great job with the new book, Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller, which came out this week. 

The New York Times has just reviewed the book, and I notice that the reviewer, Witold Rybczynski, reaches exactly he same conclusions as I did when I reviewed the book: "The strength of this carefully researched and fair-minded biography is that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of a deeply complicated individual who overcame obstacles — many of his own making — to achieve a kind of imperfect greatness."

Here is my review, where I wrote: "Alec Nevala-Lee's new book about Buckminster Fuller, Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller, is a big, carefully researched account that seems likely to become the definitive biography of Fuller. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

'Maybe Zine' released as PDF

A 2008 zine produced by various Maybe Logic Academy folks has now been released as a PDF, making it available to everyone. 

The posting by Bobby Campbell at the Maybe Logic blog explains,

"Behold a blast from the past!

"Way back in 2008, a group of Maybe Logic Academy alumni endeavored to produce a print publication, spinning off from the web based Maybe Logic Quarterly, which ran for 14 issues from Winter 2004 to Spring 2008. 

"Presented here in digital form for the first time:

"MAYBE ZINE (2008) [PDF]

"Featuring work by Toby Philpott, Prop Anon, Steve Fly, Eric Wagner, Mike Gathers, Bobby Campbell, Eva David, Borsky, Sean Rovaldi, Minja, Frater KDB, and published by Chris Veleniki.

"Most of whom can still be seen collaborating on various Maybe Logical pursuits :)))"

I have downloaded my copy, and so far I have read Prop Anon's interview with RAW, and the five haiku for RAW by Sean Rovaldi, aka The Purple Gooroo. Here is one that I liked:

                                                    So Much More Than Just A Story 
                                                    A Brain-Change Device

Sean is on Twitter. 

Sean Rovaldi (Twitter account photo)

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

John Higgs book news

John Higgs, fighting off a bout of COVID-19 (" I can see why everyone uses the term “brain fog” to describe this feeling") but he nonetheless issues his latest newsletter and announces that his latest book, Love And Let Die, about James Bond, the Beatles and the "British psyche," is available for pre-order and will be out next month (in Britain, it comes out in February in the U.S.) I previously posted the British cover, so above is the U.S. cover.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Prometheus Rising reading and exercise group, Episode 92, Chapter 17

Photo of radios from the Chihuly Glass Museum. Photo by Rod Flores on Unsplash
  Like Eric a couple of weeks ago, I am attempting to carry out exercises for the chapter.

Here are my "ten areas in which your thinking-feeling is conservative." 

1. On Twitter, Eric Alper recently asked, "If you could add 10 productive years to the life of any deceased musician, who would you choose?" I agree with Julian Sanchez' answer, "Mozart. How is this remotely even a question?"

2. Aviation and the development of flight was a big technology in the last century and offers lessons for making space flight safer and more of an everyday thing. 

3. As Bryan Caplan says, perhaps the best few pages of philosophy is the "Letter to Menoeceus" by Epicurus. 

4. Children are best off when they are raised by two parents. (Not that I don't have sympathy for single parents -- I was one for many years.)

5. Music culture in this country has gotten worse for many years, for example as shown by the lack of interest by  younger people in jazz and classical music.

6. Radio is an underrated source of news, sports and music. It is the form of entertainment anyone can afford, as a radio from a garage sale costs almost nothing. 

7. Literature is the deepest form of art. Not that I don't like music, visual art and movies (in pretty much that order.)

8. As much as I like bands such as the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music and so on, the conventional wisdom is correct: The Beatles were the best and most important rock music band.  

9. Open up the borders and make trade free.

10. I prefer paper books, all things considered, but digital books are a way to build a library cheaply. 

Here are ten ways where my thinking seems radical: 

1. The shift toward people choosing their genders is a natural outgrowth of the modern tend toward individualism and it seems unlikely to be reversed. People soon will be choosing their own race. 

2. All drugs should be legalized. People should have complete control over what they put in their body.

3. We would be better off if the statement in the First Amendment about Congress making "no law" restricting freedom of the press were interpreted by the courts to mean "no law." 

4. The Internet has been a wonderful improvement in life for many of us, giving access to entertainment and education that would have seemed Utopian within recent memory (or at least my memory.) Many of the problems with it are self-inflicted by people complaining about the net. 

5. While I think all drugs should be legalized, I think regulation should have some relationship to the actual dangers involved. Alcohol is really one of the most seriously abused drugs. I would keep it legal but would restrict advertising, enforce the ban on sales to minors very strictly, etc. 

6. Pro football is terrible, producing hundreds of cases of brain damage from CTE and many cases of early death. People should not support it. 

7. Taxpayer funding of stadiums for professional football teams and other pro sports teams should be banned. I don't see how that's a legitimate government expenditure. 

8. Robert Anton Wilson is an important writer who deserves Library of America volumes, large continuing sales, etc. I still think we may get there.

9. Chrissie Hynde is better than Bruce Springsteen.  The Pretenders are not as big as they should be, even in northern Ohio. 

10. Public library cards ought to be universal, i.e. you should be able to use your local card at any U.S. library. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Robert Anton Wilson at the Prophets conference


Prop Anon on Twitter: "This could be my favorite RAW talk.  All his jokes were hitting.
It's even more amazing to think that he was 'fired' from further Pro-Con lectures after this."

Saturday, July 30, 2022

RAW and Scott Alexander on freedom of speech and tolerance

Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash

I recently read a passage from Scott Alexander (formerly the Slate Star Codex writer, now writing a Substack called Astral Codex Ten) that reminded me of something Robert Anton Wilson had written. I'll quote the RAW passage, then the Alexander.

Here is RAW on how freedom of speech  for people you like also has to be freedom of speech for people you despise (source and more background):

I think Neal Wilgus has his head up his ass. With all his ifs and ands and buts and subordinate clauses and modifications, he still seems to be endorsing the idea that any "moralist" that thinks X's way of life is "immoral" has the right to come in and trash anything X owns, and I find that bloody damned terrifying. It only seems remotely akin to sanity if  you substitute some person or group you violently dislike for "X,"but put your own name in the place of the "X's " and read it again. See what you think then. If it doesn't work with "the NAACP" or "Bob Shea" or "the Credit Unions" in place of X, it seems a very dangerous idea, even if "Mobil Oil" or "the American Nazi Party" in place of X does not upset you immediately.

Civil liberties remain indivisible, and what can be done to Catholics or Mobil Oil today can be done to Protestants or nudists tomorrow. ("If they can take Hancock's wharf they can take your cow or my barn," as John Adams once said.) Since the majority always rejects the Bill of Rights whenever a sociologist tries the experiment by offering it for approval by a cross-section of the population, and since George Bush earned great enthusiasm for his attacks on the ACLU, I don't suppose Wilgus or most people will understand this point, but we libertarians  have to keep saying it over and over, every generation, and hope it will eventually register.

Maybe Wilgus thinks he knows who "is" "really" "immoral" and who isn't, and only supports vigilante action against the "really" "immoral"? I would congratulate him on having attained Papal Infallibility, except that I suspect he has only obtained the delusion of Papal Infallibility.

And here is Scott Alexander, from his July links edition of his newsletter. (His links collections are invariably interesting.)

33: I used to hope that freedom and tolerance would win in the end because everyone would realize that they were weird and unpopular in some way, and so tolerating weird unpopular people was in everybody’s common interest (cf. “They came for the Communists, but I did not complain…). Since then the world has taken every opportunity to disabuse me of the notion that this could ever possibly work, but I guess it’s still possible to disappoint me. The latest example is /r/forcedbreeding, a fetish subreddit fetish about men enslaving, raping, and forceably impregnating women, which shut down recently to protest Reddit for not censoring pro-Russian subreddits enough. Apparently they’re back up now, but their top stickied post is still a demand that Reddit ban anti-COVID-vaccine subreddits. Another metaphor for life?