Friday, September 17, 2021

Tuning in to the other side


                                                              Tucker Carlson

As an exercise at the end of Chapter 6, RAW advises reading magazines that communicate political ideas you disagree with. And he also advised similar reading habits in this interview:

" I also read at least one periodical every month by a political group I dislike -- to keep some sense of balance. The overwhelming stupidity of political movements is caused by the fact that political types never read anything but their own gang's agit-prop."

I recently listened to Ezra Klein's podcast interview with Tyler Cowen, and I was struck by how Cowen offered similar advice:

"I would say, have friends from all sorts of different idea groups, even if you really don’t like those ideas. And if you have a list of, oh, I won’t have a friend, you know, who’s a Nazi — like, fine. I don’t have a friend who’s a Nazi. But starting to make that list is actually, I think, a bad thing to do. Have diverse friends ... Spend your time building things, doing things, meeting people, going places. Don’t get too much into the complaining, about the right, about the left. Like, whatever you’re going to complain about, a lot of it will be correct. But it’s making you less productive and I would say stupider to be too much into the complaining, if I may complain about the complainers."

When I did my last blog post for the Prometheus Rising discussion group, I committed to take in material I usually avoid: "I also pledge to try to watch a couple episodes of Tucker Carlson's show, someone I've managed to successfully avoid for years. As he is Fox's top show host, it also will be interesting to compare his show with his MSNBC counterpart, Rachel Maddow."

I don't know what it's like in other countries, but in the U.S., politics has largely supplanted religion and any intellectual pursuit as a source of meaning and as a consuming passion. I am not crazy about politics -- I lean toward the Gene Healy theory that politics makes people stupid and mean -- but I sometimes think I'm the only American who doesn't constantly post endless political BS on Facebook.

In any event, I did watch two episodes of Tucker Carlson's evening news show on Fox. Just as Rachel Maddow has the flagship show on MSNBC, Carlson is Fox's top show host. I had to watch Tucker kind of the down low to avoid offending my wife, who watches Maddox almost every night; it would have been difficult to explain I was just trying to do an exercise in Prometheus Rising. 

Both shows are both entertaining and manipulative, with each zeroing in on the most risible actions and statements by the other side, and with plenty of sarcasm and wit by the hosts. Mostly because of the vaccination issue, I would say I tend to agree more with Maddow's views, but both are good at scoring points. I wish someone would do a  similar TV show to push Reason magazine style libertarianism, the political point of view I lean toward. 

It seems to me people in the U.S. might understand each other better if Democrats would watch some episodes of Tucker Carlson's show, and Republicans would watch a few episodes of Maddow's show. 


Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Beatles were Philip K. Dick fans? [UPDATED!]


Philip K. Dick, paperback writer 

Martin Wagner posted this comment on my post a couple of days ago about the Beatles' Revolver album:

"Tessa Dick, the last wife of PKD, said in an interview with the German Spiegel, that John Lennon called her husband in the 1970s to tell him that The Beatles wrote "Paperback Writer" in his honor."

I was surprised to see that. Here is a bit more: 

"In an interview given to Der Spiegel in 2016, Philip K. Dick's last wife, Tessa Dick, said that John Lennon had called her husband during the 1970s and told him that Paperback Writer had been written in honor of him. Source (in German): [1]. Quote from the linked interview: "In den Siebzigerjahren rief einmal John Lennon bei ihm an und sagte ihm, den Song 'Paperback Writer' h├Ątten die Beatles ihm zu Ehren geschrieben." ("In the 1970s, John Lennon called him [= Dick] to tell him that The Beatles had written 'Paperback Writer' in his honor.").

"Of course, we also have John's own quotes in the article that it's mainly Paul's song, but if you look at those quotes closely, you'll see John actually talks about the tune as being entirely Paul's, not the lyrics."

Source.

My old friend Brett Cox (mentioned in the Revolver blog post) once wrote a parody of "Paperback Writer" for a fanzine about a person who wants to publish a science fiction novel; from memory, I believe the first line was "Donald Wollheim won't you read my book?" Wollheim, a famous SF book editor, was one of Dick's editors. So perhaps Brett was more right then he knew? This reminds me of Robert Anton Wilson's bit  in Illuminatus! about Beethoven being a member of the Illuminati, which RAW apparently put in because he loved Beethoven and it was a good joke. RAW later read Beethoven biographies and discovered he was more right than not. 

Many of Dick's titles were first published as paperback originals (much like Illuminatus!, as a matter of fact) and the Philip K. Dick Award is given to the best paperback novel published in the previous year. 

Thanks for the tip, Martin! 

UPDATE: Martin wrote to me and shared this passage from Tessa Dick's memoir, Philip K. Dick: Remembering Firebright: "On another occasion, Phil took a telephone call from a man who said he was John Lennon, and he was in a hotel room in Canada with Dr. Timothy Leary. 'Yeah, sure, you bet,' Phil said. He did not believe it, but eventually the man convinced him he really was John Lennon of the Beatles and that he and Dr. Leary were both fans of Phil's writing. He told Phil that the Beatles song 'Paperback Writer' was about him."

I still don't know what to make of this, but the additional details are intriguing and seem to add to the possibility the claim is true. A possible date for the phone call would be 1969, when John Lennon recorded the song "Give Peace a Chance" in Canada. Timothy Leary was present. Details here. 


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Hilaritas 'Natural Law' book is going to be really good

Chad Nelson

I recently completed a stint as a volunteer copyeditor for the new Hilaritas Press edition of Natural Law, Or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy.

To do so, I had to agree to a  nondisclosure agreement, so I have to be careful to reveal few actual details about the book. I think it is known publicly that the book doesn't just have the original long essay but also adds other material, but I can't give any other specifics. I also don't know when the book will come out; I only know Rasa and the Hilaritas folks are working on it. 

But what I did want to record is that based on what I read, it's going to be a really good book. I am very excited about it, and I'm curious what the rest of you will think when it comes out. Chad Nelson took on the task of editing the book, deciding which additional material to add, and he did a great job. There is a lot of additional material, and it's all really good. 

I had expected a more political, more "libertarian" book based on the sources I was working with, but instead I encountered a rather strong RAW book, one aimed at all of his fans. 

In fact, I told Chad in an email, "I was actually kind of expecting a 'libertarian' book, but I suspect the title will have broad appeal to RAW fans."

Chad replied,"I too was expecting a "libertarian" book!"

Chad then gave me a RAW quote from the Natural Law essay which partially summarizes what the book became:

"If Ideologists ever convince me that this pragmatic, individualistic, scientific attitude is incompatible with libertarianism, then I will find some other name for myself and not use the word 'libertarian'anymore. I am not interested in Ideologies and don't give a damn about labels at all, at all."

                                                                                                    -- Robert Anton Wilson

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Why 'Revolver' is the best Beatles album for RAW fans

 


Inspired by a good book I just read, Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock 'n' Roll by Robert Rodriguez. I am talking about the complete album released in Britain and later released in the U.S. not the truncated version originally released in the U.S. 

1. RAW fans as a rule are big music fans, and Revolver seems to me and many others the best Beatles album. (This has become conventional wisdom, but it was my opinion before I knew that.) 

2. This is the Beatles album with the song "Yellow Submarine," which of course inspires Hagbard Celine's submarine in Illuminatus! (As I have written elsewhere, it was Shea and not Wilson who apparently was the Beatles fan.) Howard and his friends in Illuminatus! make sense of the lyric about friends who "live next door." Most people can't live "next door" to a submarine.

3. Between "Yellow Submarine" (with its dream of freedom) and "Taxman," Revolver arguably in the most libertarian Beatles album.  

4. The album also has "Tomorrow Never Knows," one of two Beatles songs inspired by RAW's friend Timothy Leary. The "Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream" and other lyrics are taken from a book, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner. The tune is primarily written by John Lennon, who picked up the book at a London bookstore. 

5. The album jumps around to different sounds, giving multiple music points of view, analogous to RAW's technique of multiple viewpoints in his novels. "Taxman" and "She Said She Said" are hard rock albums with a heavy guitar sound, but "Eleanor Rigby" uses a string octet and "For No One" has a French horn solo by Alan Civil, a prominent classical musician. "Love You To" features all Indian instruments, with George Harrison playing sitar. 

Some tidbits from the book: "Got to Get You Into My Life," a Paul song, is an ode to marijuana; the Rolling Stones had recently put out an album called "Aftermath," so when it was time to name the new Beatles album, Ringo suggested calling it "After Geography." 

The sessions for Revolver also resulted in the single "Paperback Writer"/"Rain." As my friend Brett Cox has pointed out, "Rain" could be described as the first "alternative rock" song. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 49


The Golden Gate bridge in California. Unsplash.com photo by Maarten van den Heuvel.

Chapter 7

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

All is changing. 

What happens when we build a binding circuit inside our minds and that which is outside our minds refuses to be bound? Confusion and Chaos. 

As any Erisian knows, the best proof of the Goddess is "who do you think put all this chaos here?" 

I hate to be cynical, but there's not as much here as there is in other chapters of Prometheus Rising. Not in this day and age. Geography is a forgotten subject and California isn't a great example of progress. What is the West and the East in the days of the Internet? Knowledge moves in tangling webs- true knowledge, if there is such a thing, remains occult and speaks from two sides of the same mouth.

Citizens United doesn't negate Wilson's and Henry Adams' arguments but it does render them obsolete: who cares once the battle has been won? Illegitimate wealth and power have been absolutely enshrined and until the impossible happens, they will remain. Every time I remember that corporations are people, I die a little more inside. There is nothing to be done until that decision is undone. For all that John Roberts is lionized for not siding with the extremist bench, he should still be drawn and quartered for his treason against all free peoples. 

For further reference read John Higgs' "Growth" chapter from Stranger Than We Can Imagine. A man got killed for attempting to demonstrate the second exercise in the chapter (allegorically, at least). 

Information-doubling and Jumping Jesus were fun theories in the nineties, but after we've passed 2012 it just seems the more we are exposed to, the dumber we become. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

RAW's 'Scientific and Experimental Magick'


One of the mysteries involving Robert Anton Wilson's "lost" book, The Starseed Signals, finally published by Hilaritas Press in 2020, is what happened to the material in it. 

Reading it revealed that much of it was repurposed into Cosmic Trigger 1. 

And now the indefatigable Martin Wagner also has revealed part of the answer: Much of the same material in the book was used in a long, dense article on the Eight Circuit model, "Scientific and Experimental Magick," published in Gnostica in January 1975, and now reprinted by Martin on his website. The intro for the article says, "This article is taken from his incredibly popular series of lectures at the Gnosticon 4 last September," but if you've read The Starseed Signals, you also should recognize a lot of it.

For example, these striking sentences in the article also are found in the book:

Jacques Bergier has suggested, somewhat whimsically, that the Parisian radio station which broadcasts a one-hour transmission on French civilization once a week may be an earthside analog of magick/religious/UFO phenomenon. That is, some central “station” may be broadcasting a one-hour transmission on Cosmic civilization. Space-time relativity considerations make it not unthinkable that the Transmissions received on Earth in the past 30,000 years—by shamans, yogis, alchemists; Buddha, Jesus, Joseph Smith, Bohme, Blake, Crowley, Mary Baker Eddy; flying saucer “contactees“; etc.—are part of the same educational project. These Starseed Transmissions (as Dr. Leary calls them) suffer a great deal of semantic noise in passing through the nervous system which receives them, but remain strikingly identical in emphasis.

The Book of Mormon, Crowley’s Book of the Law, the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Upanishads and Vedas, etc., when closely and dispassionately studied, appear very much to be the same signal with encrustations of local prejudice, ignorance, bias and distortion.


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Tyler Cowen decides to SMI2LE

Tyler Cowen

It's an easy criticism to say that the space colonies and dramatic life extensions forecast by Robert Anton Wilson haven't arrived yet, but readers of this blog will notice that I like to point out indications that SMI2LE isn't dead, it's just not moving as quickly as predicted.  I recently mentioned Balaji Srinivasan and Zoltan Istvan; here is another example. 

Tyler Cowan has a project called Emergent Ventures, funded by donations, a "fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center" which "seeks to support entrepreneurs and brilliant minds with highly scalable, 'zero to one' ideas for meaningfully improving society." 

Tyler periodically announces Emergent Ventures grants on his Marginal Revolution blog; the latest announcement was published Sept. 10. It lists 13 winners; I want to quote what Tyler says about two of them:

"BeyondAging, a new group to support longevity research."

"Nina Khera, 'I’m a teenage human longevity researcher who’s interested in preventing aging-related diseases, especially those related to brain aging. In the past, I’ve worked with companies like Alio on computation and web-dev-based projects. I’ve also worked with labs like the Gladyshev lab and the Adams lab on data analysis and machine learning-based projects.'  Her current project is Biotein, about developing markers for aging, based in Ontario."

Here is an article on SMI2LE, and if you follow the link and read the whole announcement at Marginal Revolution, you will see some of Tyler's other announcements arguably promote increases in intelligence. There is a grant to "Zena Hitz, St. John’s College, to build The Catherine Project, to revitalize the study of the classics" and a grant to "for a project to make the Great Books on the web easy to read." I have bookmarked the blog of Sam Enright,  a university student studying in Scotland; some of you may enjoy Enright's blog post, "A Beginner's Guide to Miles Davis." 



Friday, September 10, 2021

Memorial site for L. Neil Smith

 


A memorial site has been set up for L. Neil Smith, the libertarian science fiction writer who died August. 27. Relatives, friends and fans are posting photos and links. The above is Bobby Campbell's illustration for the article on Smith I wrote for New Trajectories 2; Bobby gave me permission to post it at the memorial site. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Bobby Campbell to release new art and comics soon

 



This might be a good time to sign up to be a subscriber to Bobby Campbell's Patreon account.   If you hurry up and sign up, you'll get a limited edition postcard later this month with original art.  I'm a subscriber, so I'm looking forward to mine. 

Many other projects are on the way, including "THE MAGNIFICENT MULLAH NASREDDIN HOOJA
6 page comic starring the sensational Sufi satirist" (scheduled for release Sunday) and "AND BOB'S YOUR UNCLE 6 page comic about 'The Headless Way' meditation assigned by RAW in his Quantum Psychology Class." Other projects are on the way, see this post. 

Subscriptions start at just $1 a month, so it won't break the bank to support Bobby. 



Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Jesse Walker dates the Leary letter


From the Berkeley Barb

Yesterday when I posted the link to the RAW letter to Timothy Leary I noted that there was no date for the letter but that it referenced the Bicentennial (e.g., British friends, 1976, the 200th anniversary of when we threw off the yoke of the British monarchy). Jesse Walker wrote to me saying that the letter apparently dates to 1975:

"He refers to the saucer-TV contact possibly happening in 'late 75,' which makes me think the letter is from 1975. (People were already talking up the bicentennial then.) Or possibly a little earlier -- but he wrote up that saucer-TV stuff for the Berkeley Barb in '75 (see page 14 of  https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/community.28033528.pdf), and that's also when Wilson and Leart were working on the Periodic Table of Energy (I assume that's what "PTofE" stands for)."

Thanks, Jesse!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

RAW writes to Tim Leary about 'experimental theology' and other matters

 

Robert Anton Wilson explains, "The bison in our illustration is named Tennial. He's our mascot, Bison Tennial, and also our bicentennial mascot." 

A letter from Robert Anton Wilson, undated, to Timothy Leary about various matters, preserved at the Internet Archive. Hat tip, Sean Howe. (No date on the letter, but the bison, above, suggests 1976). (UPDATE: Please see this follow up post, where Jesse Walker dates the letter to 1975). 



Monday, September 6, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 48



By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger 

I had forgotten the vicissitudes of getting magazines by snail mail. The cover of the new issue of The National Review arrives with nothing inside.  Either intentionally or accidentally most of the magazine did not arrive in my mailbox. Oh well. I must admit it pleased me to have such an easy excuse not to read the new issue. The Skeptical Inquirer still hasn’t arrived. I suspect it will take me at least a year to finish these four exercises. 

I enjoyed reading Fate magazine. I read a nice article on pets on the Titanic, and it pleased me that one author still believes in the Priory of Sion. I wonder what Bob Wilson would have made of the debunking of that conspiracy. 

About fifteen years ago doing the exercises in this chapter I bought a copy of Scientific American. It had an article on how researchers had burn victims play a skiing video game, and playing the game lessened the patients perceived pain as they vividly imagined the intense cold of the world of the game. This pleased me because some of my fellow teachers at the time perceived videos as worthless. 

I have had a number of discussions with intelligent Muslims recently. I forwarded Bob Wilson’s interview with David Bohm to some Muslim friends, and they really liked it. This year I heard more references to Ramadan than ever before. Even Weight Watchers had an article on how to follow the WW plan during Ramadan this year. I don’t remember Weight Watchers ever mentioning Ramadan before (and I first joined Weight Watchers back in 1978). 

I have little desire to “find a victim and explain the universe to him or her, until they are able to escape you” at this time. I may not repeat this exercise this time around. 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Attic Dwellers review Illuminatus!


The Attic Dwellers ("We are Tig & Eric - Hosts of a Public Access Style Variety Show Filmed in an Attic (Movies | RetroGames | PopCulture)") do a review of Illuminatus!, about five minutes. On Twitter, RAW Semantics writes,  "Take Kurt Vonnegut, dose him up with more acid than a human being can handle, send him on a road trip with Jack Kerouac...  and make it the length of Lord of the Rings." Quite a fun review of Illuminatus!" There's also brief discussion of Masks of the Illuminati and Schroedinger's Cat. Posted in 2019, about five minutes.