Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday links

Nick Herbert emits antimatter (and so do you.) 

Lenny Kaye's SF fanzines. 

Readers predict in 1936 who will be widely read in 2000. 

Seven countries bombed by the U.S. since 9/11 (maybe eight.)

Letters of Nabokov. He talks about meeting James Joyce.

JFK conspiracy theories, including one from a Warren Commission staffer.

The anti-militarist libertarian heritage.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 32, Iluminatus! online reading group

A sculpture from the British Museum, depicting the death of the Buddha. Shortly before he died, the Buddha advised his followers, as Timothy Leary paraphrased it, to think for themselves.

(Page 309, "There is no god but man," to page 323 "Do-da, -do-da, do-da-do-da-day")

As the Golden Apple begins, many of the plot elements of Illuminatus! are tied together with the last words of mobster Dutch Schultz, who as Illuminatus! says was killed on orders of the Mob because Schultz wanted to kill prosecutor (later presidential candidate) Tom Dewey. As police attempted to question the dying, incoherent mobster, a police stenographer wrote down many of his words, which in Wilson and Shea's telling contain many references to the Illuminati and their relationship with the Mafia and with others.

There is one slight alteration in the novel, which has the Dutchman saying, "They did it. Come on, Illuminati" (page 317). What he really said, according to this transcript, was "They did it. Come on. (A name, not clear)." So, if you like, you can believe that Illuminatus! is set in a parallel world not quite our own, or that They made sure the reference to Them was taken out of the transcript.

Other portions of the Dutchman's words can be read to match plot elements of Illuminatus!, for example, "Please crack down on the Chinaman's friends and Hitler's commander," a reference to the occult creatures mentioned by Lovecraft and others. There is more on this in the next section for the online discussion, when Robert Putney Drake chats with Hermann Hesse.

Meanwhile, some notes on the text of this section:

Page 311, "Mordecai Malignatus," Robert Anton Wilson.

Mendy Weiss, page 313. one of the assassins of the Dutchman. Executed on the electric chair in 1944.

"I am a pretty good pretzler, Winifred," page 318, another quote from the Dutchman. Winifred is a leader in the Illuminati.

"Camp-town racetrack five miles long," page 319. Famous Stephen Foster song about horse racing track, though I don't understand why is it is quoted here and on page 323.

Malaclypse the Elder, page 320,  not to be confused with Malaclypse the Younger, e.g. Greg Hill.

"Communication is possible only between equals," page 322. Hagbard Celine's rant on the subject reminds me of Neal Stephenson's point in Cryptonomicon, that the American armed forces, more egalitarian than the Japanese, did a better job of correcting mistakes and allowing the communication of ideas.

"To receive light you must be receptive," Hagbard said curtly. "Work that out for yourself." Pages 322-333. A reference to the last words of the Buddha, who in the Mahaparinibbana Suttanta told his followers to rely upon themselves when seeking enlightenment. His words are translated in various ways, but here is one translation:

"Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help.

"Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Seek salvation along in the truth. Look not for assistance to any one besides yourselves."

(Translation quoted from "Buddha's Farewell Address," in The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, edited by E.A. Burtt)

Translation also available here. 

"Never Whistle While  You're Pissing," page 323. More Buddhism, a reference to mindfulness. "Hagbard Celine, H.M., S.H." Holy Man, Shit Head. From a famous Discordian parable by Camden Benares; see this post by noted Discordian Pope Guilty I. 

(Next week:  Page 324 (And Semper Cuni Linctus, the very night he reamed his subaltern for taking native superstitions seriously" to page 334 "and tellers turned to stare at him.")

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New webcomic 'Dadtown' from Adrian Reynolds

Writer and RAW fan Adrian Reynolds has launched a new science fiction webcomic, Dadtown, which is being serialized on the web, with new episodes added every Wednesday. I just finished reading what's posted so far, and it's in the middle of exciting events. Very colorful, with good art and an interesting story (drawings by Raben White, coloring by Jess Parry).

If you missed Adrian's "Press When Illuminated" video, you should certainly check it out. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

An easy option for email encryption

ProtonMail, an encrypted webmail service, has apparently opened up its beta to the general public; I had signed up to try it months ago and finally got an email inviting me to set up an account.

It's a webmail service such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc., but messages between ProtonMail users are automatically encrypted. The encryption is done in the browser, and ProtonMail says it does not have access to a user's encryption password. (The site requires two passwords, a login password and an encryption password.)

ProtonMail would seems to be a simple option for people who are interested in trying email encryption.

Note that probably the most secure approach is to keep control over your own keys and encryption.  That can be done using Thunderbird as your email client with Enigmail as an add-on. That can also be done using Mailpile, which probably will be the best program to use once the development finishes.

The Mailpile beta has been released. It's very promising and I have been testing it, but it does still have some bugs.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Boing Boing article revisits RAW and Leary's 1970s technological optimism

Jason Louv

On Boing Boing, writer Jason Louv re-reads Cosmic Trigger I and pens an article, "Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger, and the psychedelic interstellar future we need," which argues that many of the proposals that Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary argued for -- space migration, intelligence increase, life extension and so on -- are coming to pass, and perhaps they were not as wildly overoptimistic as they appear. A lively discussion has followed, with many arguing that economics argue against space migration.

I have been thinking along somewhat the same lines, if only to point that out two former business partners, Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, have been advancing much of that old "Starseed" agenda. Thiel has funded research into life extension, while Musk has been working to bring the cost of space exploration down via SpaceX. (Among the causes Thiel has funded: anti-aging research, research into machine intelligence, and grants for radical research into the frontiers of science. Musk also has invested heavily in solar energy.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Adam Gorightly on Week 30 of the Illuminatus online reading group

Adam Gorightly weighs on on Week 30 of the Illuminatus! online reading group. 

He traces the origin of the word "Fnord" to the fourth edition of the Prinkipia Discordia and publishes more Discordian documents from his apparently very large stash.

My favorite document this time was a Gnostica newsletter which offers a bio on Robert Anton Wilson, explaining that he describes himself as either a Transcendental Agnostic or an Experimental Theologian. I like this bit:

"All I know is that I know nothing," he says. "My value, such as it is, lies in the capacity to transfer this Negative knowledge to others very powerfully and directly, so that all may become aware that the Universe and the Mind (which may be identical) are, as biologist J.B.S. Haldane finally admitted, 'not only queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think.' In this queerness or spookiness, directly known, is the key to liberation from all dogma, all despair and all fashionable doom-mongering." 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cosmic Trigger play news roundup

Tickets have gone on sale for Daisy Eris Campbell's Cosmic Trigger play.  The play will be staged in late November in both Liverpool and London; details and tickets here.

The play opening will be accompanied by two days of events, Nov. 22-23, in Liverpool -- including a Papal Ball and Find the Other Festival.

Daisy explains, "We have a bumper programme of talks, music, cinema, art, performance and ritual. There will be illuminating discussions on Magick, Conspiracy, Consciousness, Science and Art from Discordian luminaries including: Robert Temple (The Sirius Mystery), Adam Gorightly (Historica Discordia), Robin Ince (Infinite Monkey Cage).

"There will be Artwork from KLF’s Jimmy Cauty and Punk icon Jamie Reid; Music from TC Lethbridge and Youth (Killing Joke); Luxuriantly sculpted psychedelic landscapes; Pods, domes, and caravans with performances to wow & secrets to reveal; Stalls of arcane and wonderful paraphernalia; and so fnordy much more!"

The new Maybe Logic Academy class on Robert Anton Wilson, "Cosmic Trigger RE:PLAY," began Tuesday, but Bobby Campbell tells me that it's not too late to enroll in the pay-what-you-will class.  You will  need to register at the website; if you don't see the class in the forums section, you may have to ask one of the instructors to add you manually to the class.