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

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?

Thursday, July 28, 2022

James Lovelock has died


James Lovelock (Creative Commons 1.0 photo)

James Lovelock has died. He made many contributions to the environmental movement, but was best known for his Gaia theory that the Earth is a kind of living, self-regulating organism. Here is his New York Times obituary. 

The Gaia theory is mentioned in Robert Anton Wilson's essay, "GAIA, the Trajectories of Her Evolution," which first ran in RAW's "New Trajectories" newsletter and is reprinted in Beyond Chaos and Beyond, edited by D. Scott Apel.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Prometheus Rising audiobook coming soon

Tweet from Iron Man Records: "Update from Framework Recording Studios, Birmingham: Simon Reeves has completed the recording of Oliver Senton reading Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson."

Response on Twitter from the Robert Anton Wilson Trust: "The recording needs editing, final packaging and uploading... we'll keep you posted on the progress!  Huge thanks to Oliver Senton, Simon Reeves and Mark Sampson!"

Simon Reeves discography, one of his aliases is "Hassan Sabbah." 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

'I'm awfully opinionated tonight'

Robert Anton Wilson gave many interviews during his life, and a great many of them are available at the RAWilsonfans.org website.  Some of the best also are reprinted in RAW's books.

I'd identify my favorite interview, one that blows me away each time I re-read it, as a Jan. 12, 1977, interview with Wilson, with questions posed by D. Scott Apel and Kevin Briggs. It's the source of the quote in my headline for this post. 

There's discussion of the importance of science fiction conventions, the concept of Hilaritas (from which Hilaritas Press gets its name), Wilson reflecting on "What brought me here tonight?" and many other topics. 

But what really stands out for me is that Apel and Briggs apparently gave the Illuminatus! trilogy a very close read, and they ask many penetrating questions about it, such as which parts were Wilson and which were Robert Shea's, how the publication of the book as science fiction affected its reception, the parts that were cut out, the writers who influenced the work, how it attempts to break down class distinctions in literature, how it uses the multi-model approach, the influence of Kabbala, how the work depicts the "basic conflict between the two schools of mystics," Joyce's discovery that we are all living inside a novel, and more. 

There are some quite startling statements, such as, "I think Lovecraft is a hell of a lot more important an artist than Saul Bellow." And there's discussion about how science fiction is "the natural mythology of our time."

There are two ways to access the interview. The cheapest is to buy the Kindle version of Science Fiction: An Oral History, edited by Apel. It's 99 cents (you can get a paper copy for $9.99.) (If you don't own a Kindle,  you can read it on a smartphone using a Kindle app). Along with the RAW interview, there are interesting interviews of many of my other favorite writers, such as Roger Zelazny and Theodore Sturgeon, and a particularly well-done interview of Philip K. Dick. 

Or you can get Apel's (and Wilson's) Beyond Chaos and Beyond, which is a little more expensive but which reprints many RAW articles and includes Apel's biographical essay about RAW.