Thursday, February 26, 2015

A fine short film

This is a short film based on the "Parable About a Parable" chapter in Quantum Psychology, 9:43 in length but worth your time. It was uploaded to YouTube until 2006, but it escaped my attention until now. Hat tip, Bobby Campbell. The film opens with a young man portraying the character of Simon Moon.

The Franz Kafka text that much of this is based on can be found here (only about one page.)

The parable was discussed during the Quantum Psychology online discussion; read the comments here. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

News from England — a Discordian festival

Anwen Fryer Burrows

On Twitter, Anwen Fryer Burrows has announced plans for "Festival23" in 2016. Naturally, I asked what she was referring to. 

"Coming summer 2016," she explained. "Chaotic & creative fun, music, poetry, song,  in the woods a weekend to submerge in all things #erisian."

She is the owner of the Airy Fairy Shop in Sheffield, kind of New Age shop.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Michael Johnson on performance art

Marina Abramovic

Michael Johnson, who has made a welcome return to blogging of late, has a new one up on "Marina Abramovic's The Artist Is Present (Thoughts on 'Performance Art')" Excerpt:

I meditate, smoke cannabis, read Finnegans Wake, listen to Bach/Stockhausen/Coltrane/Sun Ra/Vilayat Khan/Balinese Monkey Music/Pink Floyd, have sex, do math or logic puzzles, eat very spicy foods, sit in a hot bath in the dark with earplugs and eyeshades on, engage with sophisticated technology, watch films: voila!: non-ordinary states. I think this came with the Instruction Manual for the owner of a Mind. Many seem to have displaced their manual. Personally, I model all of these wonderful gimmicks as sorts of things and of a piece with the practice of magick. Your Mileage May Vary. To me, it's all Drugs. Try to stop me from doing my bathtub routine, DEA!

I really do need to tackle Finnegans Wake. (Right now I'm reading The Most Dangerous Book, about Ulysses. Very interesting so far. ) Related: New blog post by PQ on the winding and reconnecting river that is Finnegans Wake. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 53, Illuminatus! online reading group

The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, which some believe was deliberately provoked to force the U.S. to enter World War II.

(This week: Beginning of Leviathan, page 565, "The mutation from terrestrial to interstellar life must be made," to page 575, "Joe gasped, 'It's alive!' ")

If the biggest kind of fool is the person who thinks he has it all figured out, and has quit thinking, the characters in Illuminatus!, and the people who are reading it, would seem to have escaped that trap. The characters, and the readers, are trying to figure it all out.

One thing they are trying to figure out is who belongs to whom. We have run into John Dillinger before, but as Leviathan opens we learn he is a double agent for the Illuminati and not the loyal ally of Simon Moon and Hagbard Celine that we had been led to believe. Pat Walsh is revealed as a secret Illuminati mole on Joe Malik's staff at Confrontation magazine.

One of the ways that the Illuminatus! trilogy is about paranoia, and perhaps the most convincing way (as the fear of the Illuminati is a little remote for many of us), is the way it dramatizes how the fear of "double agents" is a part of everyday life. That's what drives the TV series "The Americans" — not so much the fear of a KGB couple living next door, but who is the person I am married to, really?

While a "double agent" is technically a spy working for two different governments, in reality double agents are found in all walks of life,  just like Pat Walsh. A little bit of disloyalty is hardly worth remarking on. Even the most stringent employer likely accepts the occasional non-work-related phone call or personal email or website visit. Most spouses would not be surprised by a minor flirtation at work. It's the degree of disloyalty, and whether it is covert. Is the employee giving company secrets to a rival? Is the spouse planning to run off with someone else? A romantic triangle is much more interesting if one of the points is not aware of the other one.

As the classic Alan Jackson country song "Who's Cheating Who?" asks

Who's cheatin' who, who's being true
Who don't even care anymore
It makes you wonder
Who's doing right with someone tonight
And who's car is parked next door

Illuminatus is rife with double agents, as I've broadly defined the term. Can you really trust anyone with the initials "H.C."? Or anyone else?

This is a theme of James Joyce's Ulysses, by the way. Leopold Bloom is worried that his wife, Molly, is cheating on him, even as he secretly corresponds with another woman, using the name "Henry Flower."

A few notes on the text:

"Timothy Leary, Ph.D., and L. Wayne Brenner, Terra II," page 565. I have not read Terra II. L. Wayne Benner (that's his actual name, it is misspelled in Illuminatus!) knew Leary when the two were in a California prison together. Benner wrote a self-published memoir, Seven Shadows, which mentions RAW very briefly and describes Leary. I read it in 2013 and I did not think it was a very good book. (I contacted officials in the California prison system and they did not remember the prison breakout that is claimed in the book, so I believe Benner likely made it up.)

Page 566, 567, the list of band parodies a paragraph of James Joyce's Ulysses (part of the bar scene with "the citizen") :

He wore a long unsleeved garment of recently flayed oxhide reaching
to the knees in a loose kilt and this was bound about his middle by
a girdle of plaited straw and rushes. Beneath this he wore trews of
deerskin, roughly stitched with gut. His nether extremities were encased
in high Balbriggan buskins dyed in lichen purple, the feet being shod
with brogues of salted cowhide laced with the windpipe of the same
beast. From his girdle hung a row of seastones which jangled at every
movement of his portentous frame and on these were graven with rude
yet striking art the tribal images of many Irish heroes and heroines of
antiquity, Cuchulin, Conn of hundred battles, Niall of nine hostages,
Brian of Kincora, the ardri Malachi, Art MacMurragh, Shane O'Neill,
Father John Murphy, Owen Roe, Patrick Sarsfield, Red Hugh O'Donnell,
Red Jim MacDermott, Soggarth Eoghan O'Growney, Michael Dwyer, Francy Higgins, Henry Joy M'Cracken, Goliath, Horace Wheatley, Thomas Conneff,Peg Woffington, the Village Blacksmith, Captain Moonlight, Captain
Boycott, Dante Alighieri, Christopher Columbus, S. Fursa, S. Brendan,
Marshal MacMahon, Charlemagne, Theobald Wolfe Tone, the Mother of the
Maccabees, the Last of the Mohicans, the Rose of Castile, the Man for
Galway, The Man that Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, The Man in the Gap,
The Woman Who Didn't, Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon Bonaparte, John L.
Sullivan, Cleopatra, Savourneen Deelish, Julius Caesar, Paracelsus, sir
Thomas Lipton, William Tell, Michelangelo Hayes, Muhammad, the Bride of
Lammermoor, Peter the Hermit, Peter the Packer, Dark Rosaleen, Patrick
W. Shakespeare, Brian Confucius, Murtagh Gutenberg, Patricio Velasquez,
Captain Nemo, Tristan and Isolde, the first Prince of Wales, Thomas
Cook and Son, the Bold Soldier Boy, Arrah na Pogue, Dick Turpin, Ludwig
Beethoven, the Colleen Bawn, Waddler Healy, Angus the Culdee, Dolly
Mount, Sidney Parade, Ben Howth, Valentine Greatrakes, Adam and Eve,
Arthur Wellesley, Boss Croker, Herodotus, Jack the Giantkiller, Gautama
Buddha, Lady Godiva, The Lily of Killarney, Balor of the Evil Eye,
the Queen of Sheba, Acky Nagle, Joe Nagle, Alessandro Volta, Jeremiah
O'Donovan Rossa, Don Philip O'Sullivan Beare. A couched spear of
acuminated granite rested by him while at his feet reposed a savage
animal of the canine tribe whose stertorous gasps announced that he was
sunk in uneasy slumber, a supposition confirmed by hoarse growls and
spasmodic movements which his master repressed from time to time
by tranquilising blows of a mighty cudgel rudely fashioned out of
paleolithic stone.

"the Ultra-Violet Hippopotamus," page 567.

Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, the name of a current rock band based in Grand Rapids, Mich. "As they tried to settle on a name for their new group, they stumbled across a story containing a fictional band with the name, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus.  They felt it worked as a pefect represetation of the ridiculousness nature of the band... and so it stuck." (From the "History" section of the band's website.) The band, which has recorded five albums, currently is taking a break from recording and touring but denies it has broken up. So you may have to wait to see them live, but you can watch the video's posted on the band's website.

The American jam rock band Ultraviolet Hippopotamus. 

Page 568, "Nirvana," later the name of a very big American rock band, of course, associated with the Seattle rock scene. Seattle is the U.S. location where the Illuminatus! play was staged in 1978. 

"... when the Pearl Harbor revelations started coming out in the late 1940s," pages 570-571. Robert Anton Wilson's reading of revisionist historians convinced him that FDR maneuvered the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor and dragging the U.S. into World War II; see for example this essay. 

(Next week: Leviathan continues, page 575, "JUST LIKE A TREE THAT'S STANDING BY THE WAATER" to page 585, "AND HANK BRUMMER.")

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Watching TV with RAW

Hugh Laurie, star of the TV medical drama House. 

Ted Hand, on Twitter (Ted's father recently died): "After Robert Anton Wilson died his daughter told me he had wanted to find out what happened next on House. My Dad missed 2+1/2 Men finale."

I never watched "House." Does anyone else have intel on RAW's TV habits?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Social Justice Warrior roundup! Contain your excitement!

A couple of different writers take on the "Social Justice Warrior" phenomena on the Internet, the folks who oppose bashing people along the lines of crude categories (unless they are the wrong category of people, of course.)

Thomas L. Knapp, in a discussion a recent libertarian kerfuffle, writes about a woman who criticized Ron Paul,

I understand that she's paid a personal price in terms of being dogged by Paul cultists right up to the point of deleting her social media accounts, etc. I don't like identity politics and such very much. I don't consider myself a "Social Justice Warrior" whatever that is (it's something I see "right libertarians" and conservatives posing as libertarians throw out as snark quite a bit). But even I can't help but notice how much meaner these allegedly "equal opportunity assholes" tend to get when it's a woman they're picking on (perhaps they worry slightly less that a female victim will forsake the non-aggression principle and break someone's nose by way of imparting a much-needed lesson in basic manners).

Supergee (e.g. Arthur D. Hlavaty) also weighs in on the Social Justice Warrior identity thing, in his brand new zine, Nice Distinctions 26:

They tell me that if I say online that I want POC and LGBTQ to feel comfortable in our space or think that offering to rape is not a reasonable form of discourse, I am a "Social Justice Warrior." It seems obvious to me that I do not have the Warrior nature, so I am glad that someone has suggested other character classifications. I have decided that I am a Social Justice Rogue, although I suppose I could fill in as a Social Justice Cleric or Social Justice Bard.

Arthur's zine is available by email; his blog includes contact information. Back issues of the zine are available here. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Peter Bebergal's 'Season of the Witch'

Peter Bebergal's Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll, manages to perform a bit of magic: It's a book on rock music that's fun to read. I've generally quit reading books about the Beatles and about rock because once you've read a few, you've pretty much read them all. Although my tastes have generally shifted to classical, I still listen to rock and have always enjoyed it. Bebergal's exploration of how the occult has influenced rock musicians offers a fresh take on rock history.

Bebergal offers a broad definition of "the occult" to include not just Satanism or Aleister Crowley style magic but also Eastern religions, Gurdjieff, African religions and pretty much anything that is excluded from conventional Christianity. Bebergal's central thesis, stated various times in the book, is that the occult gave rock music a richness it would otherwise not have had. For example, in the chapter about progressive rock (which doesn't heap the usual scorn on the music of my youth), he writes, in a section about King Crimson, "This was the occult's greatest impact on rock and roll. Over time, by incorporating mystical and magical elements into its music and presentation, rock created a mythos around itself suggesting it was somehow heir to secret wisdom. Sometimes malevolent, sometimes mystical, this special perception of things unseen would drive both its fans and detractors to obsess over possible esoteric meanings."

Although Bebergal does not mention Robert Anton Wilson, his book addresses many topics of interest to RAW fans, including Crowley, Alan Moore, the Kabbalah, the Illuminati (and its alleged influence on rap music), Gurdjieff, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, John Dee, and so on.