Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Robert Anton Wilson on Hoopla

If you live in the United States and you have a library card, you should check to see if your local library offers Hoopla, a digital service that provides ebooks, audiobooks recorded music, movies, TV shows and comic books to your computer, smart phone or tablet. Hoopla is easily the best of the library digital services. If your local library does not have Hoopla, try to get a library card for a library that does.

I just ran a search for "Robert Anton Wilson" on Hoopla and found two items of interest. "Robert Anton Wilson: The Universe Contains a Maybe," is a 57-minute video. My search also turned up an ebook, Adam Gorightly's The Prankster and the Conspiracy, his biography of Kerry Thornley, which every RAW fan should read.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Adolf Hitler, junkie

It sounds like something out of Illuminatus!, but it's true: An article in the Guardian, about an upcoming book, tells the largely untold story about how Adolf Hitler was an enthusiastic drug user and how German troops used amphetamines during their invasion of France.

The book is Blitzed by Norman Ohler. It has not yet been released in the U.S. 

Hat tip, Eric Wagner.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week 25!

Image of the Buddha

By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger reading group guest blogger 

Welcome to week #25 of the Cosmic Trigger Reading Group, in which we wrap up PART TWO: Models and Metaphors. This week we are looking at The Octave of Energy (214) and The law of acceleration (219), the first of which seems like the final pitch for the biggest of the big ideas in Cosmic Trigger (8-Circuit Theory) and the second of which provides that essential ingredient for suspense and engagement — the sense that time is speeding up or running out (“immanentize the eschaton” anyone?).

The Octave of Energy


This little chapter is a very concise attempt to tie a lot of things together — cabala, tarot, astrology, I Ching, yoga, evolution, physics, chemistry, oh my. As noted on page 218, The Game of Life gives an exhaustive view of this glass bead game of correlations; here we just get a taste.


Bob does a lot of name dropping here — Pythagoras, Leary, Crowley, Buckminster Fuller, Buddha, Patanjali, Kepler, Mendeleev, Gurdjieff — and attempts to correct a historic injustice (John Newline being laughed out of the Royal Chemical Society for daring to think up 8 families of chemicals a decade before Mendeleev), all while attempting a sort of “support by association” case for that big idea of 8 brain circuits and all that they imply (terrestrial/post-terrestrial existence, etc.).

Timothy Leary

Lots of “idea dropping” as well — Octaves, I Ching, Noble Eightfold Path, 8 limbs of yoga. planetary motion, Periodic Table of Elements. Interestingly, Bob doesn’t really dive into music here, although it is certainly one of the most potent examples of the use of octaves, and interfaces extremely well with all of the states of consciousness explicated herein.

Kepler and his octave of planets

RAW also finishes with a salvo in the direction of his own brand of tantric non-dualism — “Any attempt to describe this octave as 'mystical' or as 'materialistic' misses the real point of Leary’s work.” (219)

Dmitri Mendeleev

A quick story about Mendeleev. When he broke Church rules and remarried without the standard 7 year cooling off period, Tsar Alexander III is reputed to have said—“Mendeleev has two wives, yes, but I have only one Mendeleev.” Unfortunately for Timothy Leary, official sentiment for his breakthroughs was not quite so enthusiastic.

The law of acceleration

This riff is certainly familiar with any regular reader of RAW, and while it is certain that there is acceleration of some sort playing out globally, in this local Universe everything didn’t go “jackpot around A. D. 2012.” Of course, neither Tim nor Bob nor Terence lived to see that fantastic non-occurrence. (I wonder how Dennis McKenna feels about that?)

Robert Anton Wilson

So—what happened? Of course, it could be that the idea was nothing more than a good idea, without real legs to move it along to fruition. Then again, maybe there is something to that notion that “most of the world falls in the category between 100% proven or 100% disproven. And we live among millions and millions, or as Carl Sagan would say, billions and billions of maybes, and only a few definite yes’s and no’s here and there. And they’re usually only temporary.”

And what of the possibility that the Grand Triumvirate of Trippers — Leary, Wilson, McKenna —weren’t wrong, only a bit naive about the strength of the power structures on Planet Earth, and the inability of living scientists, politicians, business moguls etc to wrap their heads around something just a little too far-out. Such that only the ARTISTS could grok it. And of course there was the crack-down on psychedelics, which pulled the advance edge back to circ5.

Of course, the Law of Octaves doesn’t describe a smooth and even course, as we can see on the musical scale in the difference in navigating from A to B and from B to C. And there is still a lot in here to dig out, even 40 years later with no BINGO in sight.

Terence McKenna

And even today, Bob’s writing is so compelling and speaks to a desire for the sort of Chaotic Harmony that dissolves the barriers between Mysticism and Materialism, Liberalism and Conservatism, the Eristic Illusion and the Aneristic Illusion that, just like Fox Mulder in The X-Files, I Want To Believe. Then I look at my calendar and think “maybe that’s what belief will get you.” Ah well, 40 years ago it was closer to the bone when RAW wrote: “As the McKennas say, it is hard to avoid hyperbole in trying to contemplate what this means.” And then the acid supply got dialed way down.

Okay — that’s it for this week. Next week we begin PART THREE: Trigger, from A FINAL FABLE (225) through Blood of the Gods? (229).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday links

Not the eye in the pyramid, but the eye on the Lovecraft beer. (White Ship White IPA by Narragansett Beer, photo by Chad Nelson)

A tour of Aleister Crowley places. Hat tip, Supergee.

Robert Anton Wilson thought immortality would be great, but Alex Tabarrok points out that not everyone agrees.  

H.G. Wells writes to James Joyce. "Perhaps you are right and I am all wrong. Your work is an extraordinary experiment and I would go out of my way to save it from destructive or restrictive interruption. It has its believers and its following. Let them rejoice in it. To me it is a dead end."

The highest-paid public employee in each state. Guess, just guess.

The Chasing Eris website returns. 

Peace and liberty are my two biggest issues, but that's not how some progressives feel.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Libertarianism: Freedom for ordinary folks?

I enjoyed this Roman Genn caricature of Gary Johnson that ran recently on the National Review website, which I ran across because of my habit of reading Kevin Williamson. 

Arthur Hlavaty has a blog post up musing about how he is a "recovering libertarian."  Like other posts about Johnson lately, the post references a 2011 comment Gary Johnson made about climate change. (If anyone is interested, a 2016 update is available at Reason. I personally like the idea of a carbon tax.)

And then I saw Michael Johnson's remark in the comments in the last Cosmic Trigger reading group post about "The idea that, historically, you had to evolve to a sufficiently wealthy/comfy leisure class in order to activate a enlightened hedonism and Mind Your Own Business-ism? That makes a ton of sense to me."

Arthur's post remarks on how libertarians have won, at least in part, as society has relaxed many of its rules about sex, drugs, getting an abortion, etc.

But did these rules ever apply to the rich, or just to ordinary people? Did rich people ever lack access to abortions? Did Jack Nicholson ever have to worry about being busted for smoking pot? It seems to be that libertarianism could at least partially be defined as taking the freedoms that rich people have largely enjoyed and attempting to make them available for everyone. And I would guess that being a "progressive" might mean providing a measure of economic security for everyone, not just folks who have money.

Just tossing that out there.

Michael also mentions "RAW's riffs about 3rd circ people vs. 4th circ people?" There's also a passage about another putative conflict:  "The current ideological struggle is between circuit IV tribal moralists-or-collectivists and circuit V hedonic individualists." That's a passage that I would guess Wilson's libertarian readers enjoy running across.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Special Report: The origins of 'Keep the lasagna flying'

As I mentioned about a couple of weeks ago, a German reporter named Maximilian Netter is hard at work on a German public radio documentary about Robert Anton Wilson. RAW's advice to "keep the lasagna flying" came up.

Herr Netter was busy interviewing Christina Pearson when quick-thinking Richard Rasa recorded this video:

Here is Rasa explaining the scene. Christina Pearson is of course RAW's eldest daughter, and Marlis Jermutus is Rasa's old friend and a member of Rasa's band, Starseed.

"Marlis and I had a great time in Santa Cruz hanging out with Christina and the German public radio reporter Maximilian Netter. Max is a really nice guy and interesting to us as someone from his generation who only discovered Bob’s writing two years ago through a friend who had pulled himself through rough times with the help of Cosmic Trigger. Max's focus in the hour long documentary, if I could paraphrase what he said, was to look at Bob’s view of reality and art and how that relates to the concept of Reality Tunnels. It’s public radio, so he has the time to explore Bob’s life and ideas. He had a wide range of questions for us. Max collected a lot of audio, probably about 6 hours or so just with the three of us. We had a long interview session with Christina, Marlis and me at Christina’s friend Kim's wonderful house in Santa Cruz, and the next day Christina and Max had another long session, a couple hours or longer. He had one other session with Marlis and me in our hotel room. On Saturday, with beautiful weather, he had a session talking with Christina in the back seat of my car as we drove around Santa Cruz, pointing out Bob and Arlen’s two homes, their favorite restaurants, places he liked to hang out, places where he spoke publicly, the Coconut Grove where his Meme-orial was held, and Monterey Bay where his and Arlen’s ashes were scattered.

Max interviewing Marlis (in German), in our hotel room. Marlis has spoken German to me since I met her in 1970, even before my German was good enough to follow what she was saying. Now I understand her perfectly, and so I was interjecting occasionally, although in English. My spoken German is not near good enough for a German audience. They would miss whatever point I was making while laughing at my accent and syntax. (All photo captions from Rasa)

"Before Max arrived on the West Coast, he stopped off in New York and had a session with Douglas Rushkoff. While in Santa Cruz, he also met with David Jay Brown, and I know he was planning on stopping by WAMM to see a few folks. He really wanted to meet Val Corral, the founder of WAMM and a very close friend of Bob’s, but Val is in Ireland so they intend on Skyping. After Santa Cruz, Max is heading down South to interview Adam Gorightly, and then he’s taking a little time off to visit Yosemite Park before flying back to Germany. Max really wanted to interview Paul Krassner and Nick Herbert, but sadly both of them have recently stopped doing interviews.

On the edge of Monterey Bay

"When we were all together at Kim’s, the subject of lasagna came up, more as one of Bob’s favorites foods. Before I could turn on the camera on my iPhone, Christina was explaining that her mother had an incredibly spontaneous and excitable manner when expressing herself, sometimes resulting in food flying. I clicked the record button and captured the rest of the description:

At Kim’s house in Santa Cruz. September 17, 2016. Christina, Max, Marlis and Rasa

"All of his audio in English will be translated into German for the documentary. Max says they have an interesting new way to do that while somehow preserving the English underneath. I’ll be curious to hear that. He says they would also like to produce an English language version and sell it to the BBC, but if that comes together that wouldn’t be until early 2017."

In front of Arlen and Bob’s Brommer Street apartment in Santa Cruz.

After Rasa wrote to me, I wrote back and confessed that I had never understood "keep the lasagna flying," and he wrote to me again. Rasa:

"I do believe that Bob first published the phrase "Keep the Lasagna Flying" in Reality Is What You Can Get Away With (1992).

"Here are the book's first mentions or references to lasagna representing the brain . . .

Alien Voice #4: Let there be Slack. Keep the Lasagna Flying.
CUT TO: Long shot of houses, and above, a flying Lasagna. 
(p. 8)
Lloyd: The brain has two hemispheres . . . . (graphic of lasagna flying out of head)
(p. 16)

"Bob came to take the phrase to mean something like “free your mind and keep it active.” He was a lover of Dadaism, so I think for him the metaphor seemed particularly playful. For a long time he ended all of his emails with "Keep the Lasagna Flying.” When Marlis gave him the German translation, he started using that: "Las die Lasagne weiter fliegen!"

"I think I may have written this to you once, but we had a flying lasagna incident when eating dinner with Bob and Arlen in their Brommer St. apartment sometime in the 90’s, so hearing this account from Christina was particularly enlightening for me!"

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Space colonization advancing?

Bob Richards, founder and CEO of Moon Express

The dream of colonizing space, as advanced by Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary (and many others, of course) may not be as distant as you might think.

A blog post by Ryan Hagemann at the Niskanen Center's blog notes that these are exciting times for private space ventures.

"Despite what Donald Trump seems to believe,namely that U.S. space policy is “like a third world nation,” the past few days have seen a number of major milestones. Most notably, Moon Express became the first private company to receive regulatory approval to launch a mission outside of Earth’s orbit: to the moon.

"What’s more impressive is that the regulatory approval came not from one single federal agency, but from the FAA, State Department, NASA, and the White House. (To give a general sense of just how compelling Moon Express must have been able to make their case to receive inter-departmental and -branch approval so quickly, the FAA took four years just to approve initial rules for the operation of small UAS; and as discussed earlier, they weren’t even all that good.) This is a momentous event in the history of space policy, one on par with, if not superseding, the many recent accomplishments of Elon Musk’s SpaceX. But the best may be yet to come."

The Niskanen Center, if that doesn't ring a bell, is a fairly new (founded in 2014) libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C. I want to find out more about it.