Tuesday, November 13, 2018

BBC radio programming notes

Apparently John Higgs (left) likes to pass the time hanging out in London with Stefano Bollani and Terry Gilliam when he's between BBC Radio appearances. (Via Twitter). 

On the evening of November 26, the BBC Radio 4 program "A Good Read," apparently a show in which guests discuss their favorite books, will rebroadcast a 2007 episode that features Ken Campbell talking about Illuminatus! Then on Nov. 27, "Comedian GrĂ¡inne Maguire and alternative history author John Higgs talk to presenter Harriett Gilbert about the books they love and want to share."

More details here (for the Ken Campbell) and here (for the John Higgs.)

I can't tune in BBC radio from Ohio, but apparently once the programs air, I can download them as podcasts.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Week 14

Beethoven hard at work on one of Eric Wagner's favorite pieces, the Missa Solemnis

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections 4 - 6 of chapter 8 (pg. 242 - 268) and listen to Op. 132 repeatedly. Please comment on this week’s reading/listening and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. Tom suggested we all name our favorite Beethoven pieces. I would choose the Ninth Symphony, the Missa Solemnis, the last four piano sonatas (op. 106, 109, 110, and 111), and the late quartets.

This week’s quartet features the famous Heiliger Dankesang. Beethoven wrote this in the Lydian mode. Almost all music composed during Beethoven’s lifetime fell into either a major or minor key. This proved true of almost all music during the Common Practice Period, the period in classical music from the early seventeenth century until the late nineteenth century. In the late nineteenth century composers after Wagner such as Mahler, Debussy, Strauss, and Scriabin started pushing tonality to the breaking point. Before the Common Practice Period composers often used other modes besides the major and minor.

If you play all the white notes from C to C on a piano, you get a major scale. If you play all the white notes from A to A, you get a natural minor scale. If you play all the white notes from D to D, you get the Dorian mode, from E to E the Phrygian, from F to F the Lydian, and from G to G the Mixolydian. Medieval and Renaissance music used those latter four modes. Beethoven decided to go back to the day before yesterday to compose the third movement of Op. 132 and used the Lydian mode. (Miles Davis and Gil Evans used these modes in jazz in the 1950’s).

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Emperor Norton plaque restored

The restored Emperor Norton plaque. 

A formerly blackened plaque honoring the Emperor Norton (of Illuminatus! fame) has been restored in San Francisco. The plaque has (mostly) not been on public view for the last eight years, but apparently will be mounted soon at a train station. Here are the details. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

'The Invisibles' coming to TV

Grant Morrison at Comic-Con 

Grant Morrison's comic book series, The Invisibles, is coming to TV.

"Morrison’s newest project with UCP will be developing and writing his long-running comic series 'The Invisibles' for television. Set in 2020, the series follows an elite international cell of occult freedom fighters dedicated to the creation of a better world for everyone by any means necessary."

For a refresher on how Illuminatus! influenced the series, see this excellent Prop Anon interview. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

War on some drugs news

Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

The legalization of marijuana was on the ballot Tuesday in two states; it passed in Michigan with 56 percent voting in favor, but failed in conservative North Dakota, with only about 40 percent in favor. So it seems likely that the legalization movement will continue to advance in liberal or moderate states, but may not move forward in socially conservative states. Libertarian law professor Ilya Somin believes change on the federal level is at least possible. 

Michigan is the first midwestern state to legalize marijuana. The Detroit Free Press has an explainer on what passage means: Possession will become legal by early December, but retail sales are not likely until 2020.

One interesting feature of Michigan is that there is a provision to license small businesses.

"Microbusinesses – similar to microbreweries or microdistilleries – are licensed to cultivate up to 150 marijuana plants and process, package, and sell directly to consumers. They help ensure opportunities for small businesses."

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The space migration dream remains alive

Jeff Bezos (Wikimedia Commons photo) 

The dream of space migration promoted by the likes of Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson remains alive; Elon Musk is perhaps the best known exponent, but Jeff Bezos is further along with his own rocket company than I realized, according to this fascinating Wired magazine piece by Steven Levy.  (The Oct. 15 piece identifies the main leaders of startup space ventures as Musk, Bezos, Paul Allen and Richard Branson. Of course, Allen has just died, so who knows what happens to Allen's effort).

Bezos' Blue Origin rocket company is connected to one of my favorite writers besides you-know-who: 

After Princeton, Bezos put his energies toward finance, working at a hedge fund. He left it to move to Seattle and start Amazon. Not long after, he was seated at a dinner party with science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. Their conversation quickly left the bounds of Earth. “There’s sort of a matching game that goes on where you climb a ladder, figuring out the level of someone’s fanaticism about space by how many details they know,” Stephenson says. “He was incredibly high on that ladder.” The two began spending weekend afternoons shooting off model rockets.

In 1999, Stephenson and Bezos went to see the movie October Sky, about a boy obsessed with rocketry, and stopped for coffee afterward. Bezos said he’d been thinking for a long time about starting a space company. Why not start it today?” Stephenson asked. The next year, Bezos incorporated a company called Blue Operations LLC. Stephenson secured space in a former envelope factory in a funky industrial area in south Seattle.

When Bezos talks about space migration, he sounds not unlike Leary or Wilson:

The solution, as Bezos sees it, is to get off the planet to better exploit solar power, so that the sun’s abundant photons can support the fruitful existence of countless people. (We’d also grow real fruit in space.) “Wouldn’t your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s lives be so much more exciting if there were a trillion humans in the solar system who used more of that output to do amazing things?”

Incidentally, the Washington Post seems to be doing well under Bezos' ownership. 

Thank you Charles Faris for sharing this with me. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Robert Anton Wilson on UFOs

Martin Wagner has uncovered another "lost" Robert Anton Wilson article: "Has Contact Already Been Made? A Synergetic Theory of UFO’s," published back in 1978.

A few days ago, I noted John Higgs' observation that UFO reports had suddenly fallen off in the era of the cell phone, when everyone always has a camera with them. Wilson's emphasis on the subjective nature of UFO reports, as opposed to the assumption that they are literally spaceships from other planets, seems prescient.

Bravo to Martin for another great find.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A business book by RAW fans?

The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets by Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker came out in 2002. The book apparently is a business book that describes how fringe ideas or practices can become mainstream, and both authors are described as futurists. Mr. Wacker died last year.  Both have written other books.

Our English friend Nick Helweg-Larsen emailed me about the book after noticing that Robert Anton Wilson is mentioned in the footnotes, which have a citation from Quantum Psychology on page 128. The cited quotation is from Nick Herbert, quoted as saying, "Reality? We don't got to show you no steeeenking reality."

I don't have time to read the book right now, but when I looked through the footnotes I found citations from a variety of people in RAW's circle or who knew RAW, including Jesse Walker, R.U. Sirius and Douglas Rushkoff, and references to people RAW was interested in, such as Clifford Irving, Rupert Sheldrake and Joseph Campbell.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman readng group, Week Thirteen

The Grateful Dead in 1980. (Creative Commons photo by Chris Stone). 

Kerman Week 13 – Op. 127

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections 1 – 3 of chapter 8 (pg. 223 - 242) and Op. 127 over and over again. Please comment on this week’s reading/listening and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. Thank you for the terrific comments. On page 239 Kerman talks about “the extraordinary sense of coherence created by the sequence of movements in Beethoven’s greatest compositions.” (Note that he considers the quartets Op. 127, 132 and 131 Beethoven’s greatest compositions. Bob Wilson would likely prefer the Ninth Symphony and the Hammerklavier Sonata.) I enjoyed Jan Swafford’s biography of Beethoven, but I disagreed with how much he stressed thematic unity as the key to the coherence between movements in Beethoven’s music, especially in his early music. I find Kerman’s more nuanced approach, emphasizing harmony and form as well as melody, much more convincing.

On page 242 Kerman says, “The exquisitely calculated journey leads to a castle in the clouds.” This reminds me of a comment in The Deadhead’s Taping Compendium, Volume I, calling “Dark Star”, “St. Stephen”, “The Eleven”, “China Cat Sunflower”, and “Clementine” “psychedelic castle music” for their Medieval elements.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Cosmic Trigger II coming soon!

An old cover for Cosmic Trigger II. I am looking forward to seeing the new Hilaritas Press cover. 

I have no official news for Cosmic Trigger, Vol. 2, Down to Earth, but I do know it is next in line to be published in a new edition by Hilaritas Press and that Rasa and his allies are hard at work. It is one of my favorite RAW books, and I look forward to an excuse to read it again.

Rasa recently shared a great quote from the book:

Some evenings I applauded a particularly gorgeous sunset and shouted, “Author! Author!” All of us Infidels have our own moments of piety and forget the real Identity of the artist who makes this world so weirdly lovely.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Hail Eris! All Hail the Saucers!

 When I was a boy, I used to love reading books about UFOs by the likes of Frank Edwards, the author of Flying Saucers -- Serious Business. I eventually outgrew my UFO interests, but fortunately Adam Gorightly did not. His upcoming book ‘A’ is for Adamski: The Golden Age of the UFO Contactees (available "before too damn long") seems likely to be a great read.

I base this opinion on Adam's new Historia Discordia article, "Discordianism Meets Ufology Part 00004: Were Gray Barker and Jim Moseley Original Discordians?" about a couple of memorable UFO pranks, including one pulled on UFO "contactee" George Adamski.

The letter in question—signed by the fictitious R.E. Straith, a member of the State Department’s “Cultural Exchange Committee”—informed Adamski that his 1952 encounter with Orthon the Venusian in Desert Center, California, had been confirmed by government officials, and Straith encouraged Adamski to drop by the Cultural Exchange Committee’s D.C. offices whenever he was in town.

Adamski all but wet his pants over this phony State Department endorsement, trotting out the Straith Letter at every opportunity to support his ET contact claims. This prompted an investigation by the real State Department and FBI, who ordered Adamski to stop pimping this cockamamie letter as it was an obvious hoax and there was no such department as the “Cultural Exchange Committee.” Of course this didn’t dissuade Adamski, who claimed that the government was trying to suppress the Straith Letter from the public. But he would not be deterred!

It was John Higgs who pointed out that sightings of UFO encounters suddenly declined in the cell phone era, when everyone walks around with a camera. See the chapter on "Science Fiction" in his excellent Stranger Than We Can Imagine.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Timothy Leary note

Timothy Leary during the recording of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." (Creative Commons photo)

The Butterfly Language blog  has an interesting post up about Timothy Leary, examining his legacy and noting that not everyone is positive about him. Val concludes, "I believe his desire to see humanity free and ready to evolve to the next level was sincere. (but that is me, reading a bunch of books; read books for yourself and decide for yourself)."

Val links to what she calls "an absolute essential short text," an essay by Leary called “The Post-Larval Must Be Very Cautious in Communicating with Larval Humans," which from she got the title of her blog. It is interesting, and it's another discussion of the eight circuit model; does anyone know if it's an excerpt from a book? Is is from Exo-Psychology? And I'm still not clear how we "attain biological immortality, leave the womb-planet, become galactic citizens and fuse with superior interstellar entities."