Sunday, December 4, 2016

'Lost' RAW book to appear soon

Image from a short Timothy Leary work, Starseed: Transmissions from Folsom Prison. Source. 

It's taken awhile, but it appears that Starseed Signals, a Robert Anton Wilson book written in 1975 during a period of close collaboration with Timothy Leary, finally will be out soon.

The final touches are being put on the production by the publisher, RVP Publishers, and the book is supposed to be out during the first or second quarter of 2017, according to information given by the publisher to RAW fan Chad Nelson.

RAW and Discordianism scholar Adam Gorightly rediscovered the book and wrote a forward for it. And although the book was never published, it formed the basis for later work, Gorightly writes in his forward: "Starseed Signals laid the foundation for RAW’s landmark work Cosmic Trigger, The Final Secret of the Illuminati, so don’t be surprised if some of the passages in this book seem familiar, to be later lifted and inserted into the Cosmic Trigger narrative."

This appears to be a substantial work, more than 340 pages of text. I can't wait to read it, and I'll provide more news as it becomes available.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

'Groovy Science' and Boing Boing books

Boing Boing, the website that grew out of the best magazine in the world, has published its 2016 Gift Guide for Books.  There are several titles here that might interest Robert Anton Wilson fans.

One of the reviewers, Mark Frauenfelder, is a longtime Robert Anton Wilson fan, and reviewer Cory Doctorow is an important writer for me, and I want many of the books they mention, but I also noticed that many of the titles that seemed interesting were recommended by David Pescowitz.

Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture is one of the books Pescowitz recommends. It's a collection of pieces edited by David Kaiser (of How the Hippies Saved Physics fame) and W. Patrick McCray. Pescowitz writes, "In the late 1960s and 1970s, the mind-expanding modus operandi of the counterculture spread into the realm of science, and shit got wonderfully weird. Neurophysiologist John Lilly tried to talk with dolphins. Physicist Peter Phillips launched a parapsychology lab at Washington University. Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill became an evangelist for space colonies. Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture is a new book of essays about this heady time!"

The table of contents reveals a piece by McCray called "Timothy Leary's Transhumanist SMI2LE" which has several mentions of Robert Anton Wilson.

Pescowitz also recommends England's Hidden Reverse: A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground by David Keenan and a book called Atlas Obscura, also recommended by other trustworthy folks.

Thanks to Chad Nelson for the tip.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Krassner on Robert Anton Wilson

And now, I explain why Robert Anton Wilson fans would be interested in Paul Krassner's Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut, which I've been reading.

In his collection Coincidance: A Head Test, Wilson wrote, "Paul Krassner's iconoclastic journal, The Realist, has published more of my writings than any other American magazine, and there was a period in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I might have given up writing entirely if Paul had not gone on publishing my work. I think everybody in the 'counterculture' owes a great debt to Paul Krassner, but I perhaps owe him more than anyone else."

Here is the first mention of Wilson in Confessions, which explains how Wilson got the byline we all now know:

"Another writer, Robert Wilson, editor of the Institute for General Semantics Newsletter, gave himself a middle name, Anton, for his first published article in The Realist, 'The Semantics of God,' in which he posed this suggestion: 'The Believer had better face himself and ask squarely: Do I literally believe 'God' has a penis? If the answer is no, then it seems only logical to drop the ridiculous practice of referring to 'God' as he. Wilson began writing a regular column, 'Negative Thinking'."

There are other references to Wilson in the book, too.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Paul Krassner is funny and interesting

Paul Krassner

When I was in college, I had a red, white and blue poster in my dorm room that proclaimed, "Fuck Communism!" I thought it was funny.

Many years later, and I've learned that Paul Krassner was involved in producing the poster. And there's a lot that I think is funny in his memoir, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut.

There's a section, for example, where Krassner decides to try LSD.

When I told my mother about taking LSD, she was quite concerned.

She warned me, "It could lead to marijuana."

I keep reading sections of the book to my wife, and she just looks at me.

Krassner knew just about every interesting person involved in the culture. His first interview at The Realist was with Alan Watts. He knew Timothy Leary. He was friends with Norman Mailer. And on and on and on. So, reading the book tells you a lot about 1950s hipster culture and the 1960s counterculture.

There's a more direct reason for RAW fans to be interested in Krassner, which I'll get into soon. But his book is interesting on its own merits.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Paul Krassner meets Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro, hanging out with the East German Politburo. 

Fidel Castro is dead, and as usual, I feel like the odd man out. On the one hand, I am totally opposed to  invasions, assassination attempts and even trade embargoes. On the other hand, I find it hard to summon much enthusiasm for praising Communist dictators. Judging from my Twitter feed, I've failed in my duty to choose sides.

By coincidence, I've begun reading Paul Krassner's Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut, his memoirs, and Sunday I came across a passage about his trip to Cuba and his encounter with the Maximum Leader.

Krassner's mentor in magazine publishing, Lyle Stuart, was treasurer of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and in December 1960 Krassner was invited to take a trip to  Cuba. He met Fidel at a reception, gave him a copy of Krassner's magazine, "The Realist," and asked for an interview. Castro told him to set it up with his secretary.

Krassner never got his interview. He writes, "In retrospect, I would like to have asked him, 'Do you believe in term limits?' "

More on Krassner's book soon.