Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Illuminati Papers has more than one edition




The gentleman who writes the RAW Semantics blog notices something interesting about The Illuminati Papers. 

"I have the 1981 second printing (And/Or Press), and I had no idea – until recently – that a later edition (Ronin, 1997) had a brand new introduction added by RAW."

I had no idea, either. My edition was published in Great Britain by Sphere Books (I certainly didn't buy it over there), but it's apparently based on the And/Or Press edition. So I haven't read the introduction, either, although The Illuminati Papers is a favorite of mine. 

RAW Semantics offers a quote from that introduction:

"This book dates from a barbaric, almost pre-historic age—over twenty years ago. You will realize how far back in the abyss of time that near-Feudal epoch looks in retrospect when I tell you that I wrote the entire manuscript on a typewriter. Of course, we had electric lights instead of candles, and the 'horseless carriage' had come into general use, but otherwise the so-called advanced nations remained in a primitive industrial economy and few could foresee the Information Age dawning."



Alice Walker and the 'lizard Illuminati'


Alice Walker, who's alert to the "Illuminati bloodline families and their puppets" when she sees them on TV

By now if you pay attention to such things, you've probably heard of the resignation latter of Bari Weiss, a controversial New York Times columnist. I'm not going to weigh in on that, at least for now, but there was a sentence in it that caught my eye, because it referenced the Illuminati:

But there is still none appended to Cheryl Strayed’s fawning interview with the writer Alice Walker, a proud anti-Semite who believes in lizard Illuminati. 

Wait, what?

Alice Walker, as I assume most of you will know, is a famous American writer who won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple. 

As far as I can tell, the "lizard Illuminati" reference may be to this "By the Book" interview with Walker that ran in the New York Times:

(As part of a long answer to "What books are on your nightstand?")

“And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” by David Icke. In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious person’s dream come true.

I'm not familiar with Icke's work, so Walker's endorsement means nothing to me.

But Vox ran a long explainer, which says, "Icke is best known for arguing that the world is run by a secret cabal of alien lizard people, many of whom are Jewish."

The Vox article says Icke asserts "The world is run by a global elite of Illuminati, and the government, the British royal family, celebrities, and journalists are all in on it." Also, "The Illuminati are the descendants of a race of shape-shifting, blood-drinking, child-sacrificing alien lizard people." Also "Also, vaccines are the Illuminati trying to control us." In fairness, Vox says, "Icke maintains that he is not an anti-Semite, and that he is criticizing not real Jews, but 12-foot-tall alien lizard people, many of whom just happen to be posing as Jews."

Wikipedia has other details about Icke and Walker.  And here is Alice Walker's blog post recommending Icke: "my partner and I go around saying Oh, Chitauri, whenever we get a glimpse of one or two of the Chitauri offspring, aka Illuminati bloodline families and their puppets, on the telly.  It’s quite the stress reliever, just knowing what we’re looking at."

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

More on the new edition of Eric's book


The new, updated edition of Eric Wagner's An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, recently released in paperback, has now been released on Kindle at Amazon. The paperback is $24.48, while the Kindle is $5.99.

I bought the Kindle this morning so I'd have a searchable text, so I now have both the new paper edition and the new Kindle.

As with the paperback edition, you have to be careful to buy the updated Kindle; as with the paperback, for some reason Amazon is listing both the old and the new editions.  But since I now own the new Kindle, I could check, and I can confirm it's the updated text.

You will want to make sure you get the new edition. It has been  refreshed with pages and pages of corrections and updates, including changes in the "Books by Robert Anton Wilson" chapter to reflect posthumous publications, new interior illustrations by Bobby Campbell, and five new appendices, "Afterwords of a Cosmic Schmuck," "Eight Ways to Listen to Beethoven," "On Robert Anton Wilson and Misunderstanding Finnegans Wake," Eric's introduction to "Wilhelm Reich in Hell," and "Ode to Joy."

Various other bits are slipped in to the new edition. The "About the Author" now has this additional sentence: "Since then he has pursued a campaign of remedial reading, reading Melville, Tolstoy, Proust, Stendhal, etc."


Monday, July 13, 2020

Nature's God reading group, Chapter 10


Week Ten: Chapter Ten “In Pursuit of Wild Pigs” pg. 185-210 Hilaritas edition

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blotter 

Our penultimate chapter covers three years and concludes the American Revolution narrative in the novel. Through the lens of Seamus Muadhen’s experience we are provided with decently accurate accounts of the historical record of those three years. Looking into some of the events mentioned in this novel I found that much of Seamus’ descriptions come from the memoirs of Joseph Plumb Martin, whose words on Washington’s marches are directly quoted on pg. 186. Wilson deserves more credit than he has been given for going back to first hand sources; while those sources occasionally enjoy a dubious credibility, it is generally accepted as a good practice.

Seamus might be wrong about the Colonial Army being the first “bare-arsed” army in history. It is sometimes accounted, although this might be apocryphal, that dysentery was so rampant amongst the fleeing English army that by the time they made their stand against the French at the funnel-abattoir that was Agincourt, many of the longbowmen fought without breeches. Shitting and shooting. I’m sure RAW would have appreciated the parallel.

Washington’s failed attack on Staten Island is reflective of the model modern major general’s fixation on New York since the beginning of the conflict. After his defeat in Brooklyn, the British pretty much had New York City as their base of operations for the duration of the War. Washington actually wanted to focus the campaign that led to Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown on retaking New York from the British.

The Dark Day of 1780 did cause a lot of hubbub amongst the Continental armies and the people of New England. (Seamus’ recollection of the cock’s crowing and whippoorwill songs is taken directly from Joseph Plumb Martin’s journals.) The incident did garner one bon mot for the historical record when Abraham Davenport, a member of the Connecticut Senate, said to his colleagues, who wanted to adjourn over fear of it being Judgement Day: 

“I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”

His remark reminds me of a bumper sticker an uncle bought for me Christmases ago: “Jesus is Coming: Quick! Look busy!”

New England’s Dark Day is actually surmised to have been caused by forest fires that were raging in Ontario. Atmospheric effects before and after the Dark Day, the sun and moon having a reddish hue for example, are typical in such events. While West Virginia was not in the path of the recent dust plume, it is worth pointing out that much of the Southern United States just experienced hazy skies and fantastic sunsets due to dust from the Sahara Desert migrating across the Atlantic. The effects in the Caribbean were even more dramatic.

The Battle of Yorktown was even more fantastically awful than Seamus’ account indicates. Washington is recorded as having struck the first strike of the pickaxe at the beginning of the trench digging, although I couldn’t find anything about him striking three times. It is plausible, and I prefer to believe he did did did. Cornwallis had holed up in Yorktown and had sunk dozens of his own ships to block hostile naval access at the mouth of the York River. After this order he had all of the horses that couldn’t be fed over the course of a siege slaughtered and cast into the river. However, the tides swept the corpses back to shore so there was an overwhelming smell of decay in the air. And it rained and rained. Seamus’ complaints about the precipitation during the war are 100% accurate.

Joseph Plumb Martin’s memoirs also seem to provide some of the details for Seamus’ experience. Like Seamus, Martin was involved in various charges and taking of redoubts; his company cleared the way for Alexander Hamilton’s vaunted taking of a British redoubt. It is generally argued now that Cornwallis’ playing of “The World Turned Upside Down” was a detail added a year after the end of the Siege of Yorktown. However, this is one of those dubious facts that I choose to believe in myself.

And we end with Seamus Moon sailing back to Ireland to take up a new struggle against the goddamned British. And, since we are nearing the end of RAW’s final novel, we are left to wonder what he might have gotten up to forevermore.

From Eric: “A soundtrack for an unwritten sequel.”
https://youtu.be/v-N0ckzU1mI

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Cherryh, Fancher win Prometheus Award


C.J. Cherryh in 2006

[The connection with this blog is that the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award is the only literary award, that I am aware of, that Robert Anton Wilson ever received (he and Robert Shea won it in 1986 for Illuminatus!) Robert Shea was a member of the Libertarian Futurist Society, which gives the Prometheus Award and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. Disclosure: I am a member of the board of the LFS. By the way, when some friends of mine and I formed a science fiction club at the University of Oklahoma in the 1970s, C. J. Cherryh was our first author guest. She had just published her first novel, Gate of Ivrel.  Below is the official press release on this year's award. -- The Management.]

Prometheus Award for Best Novel

Alliance Rising, by C. J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher (DAW), has won the 2020 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for novels published in 2019. Set in C.J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union Universe (before her novel Downbelow Station), Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher's interstellar saga of technological upheaval, intrigue and romance explores the early days of the Merchanter Alliance. Independent spaceship families ally during complex, mult-isided political-economic rivalries to defend established rights and promote the common good through free trade.

In one of the better fictional treatments of a complex economy, characters maneuver to prevent statist regimes from dominating space lanes, resist Earth's centralized governance, and investigate the purpose of a mysterious ship, The Rights of Man, undergoing construction on an isolated space station. Classic libertarian themes emerge about what rights are and where they come from (often to resolve conflicts and avoid the initiation of force) and how commerce and property rights promote peace and prosperity as humanity spreads among the stars.

The other 2020 Best Novel finalists were The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (Random House; Nan A. Talese); Ruin's Wake, by Patrick Edwards (Titan Books); Luna: Moon Rising, by Ian McDonald (TOR Books): and Ode to Defiance, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing).

LFS members also nominated these 2019 works for this year's Best Novel category: They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears, by Johannes Anyuru (Two Lines Press); Monster Hunter Guardian, by Larry Correia and Sarah H. Hoyt (Baen Books); The Good Luck Girls, by Charlotte Nicole Davis (TOR Teen); Empire of Lies, by Raymond Khoury (Forge Books/TOR); The Year of Jublio!, by Joseph T. Major (Amazon); Atlas Alone, by Emma Newman (ACE Books/Penguin Group); Stealing Worlds, by Karl Schroeder (TOR Books); Fall, or Dodge in Hell, by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow); and Delta-V, by Daniel Suarez (Dutton).

The Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction

"Sam Hall," Poul Anderson's short story, won the 2020 Best Classic Fiction award and will be inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

First published in 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction, Anderson's story is set in a security-obsessed United States, where computerized record-keeping enables the creation of a panopticon society. The insertion of a false record into the system leads to unintended consequences.

Anderson (1926-2001), now a five-time Prometheus Award-winner and the first sf author to be honored with a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement (in 2001), explored political implications of computer technology that now, decades later, are widely recognized.

The other Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists were "As Easy as A.B.C.," a 1912 story by Rudyard Kipling; "The Trees," a 1978 song by the rock group Rush; A Time of Changes, a 1971 novel by Robert Silverberg; and "Lipidleggin'," a 1978 story by F. Paul Wilson.

In addition to the finalists, the Hall of Fame Finalist Judging Committee considered four other works: The Winter of the World, by Poul Anderson; The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood; "The Pedestrian," by Ray Bradbury; and The Uplift War, by David Brin.

While the Best Novel category is limited to novels published in English for the first time during the previous calendar year (or so), Hall of Fame nominees may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including novels, novellas, stories, films, television series or episodes, plays, musicals, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse.

Prometheus Awards History

The Prometheus Awards, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards.

The Prometheus Award have, for more than four decades, recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power. Such works critique or satirize authoritarian trends, expose abuses of power by the institutionalized coercion of the State, champion cooperation over coercion as the roots of civility and social harmony, and uphold individual rights and freedom for all as the only moral and practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, mutual respect, universal human flourishing and civilization itself.

After separate judging committees select finalists in each annual awards category, LFS members read and rank the finalists to choose the annual Prometheus Award winners.

As always, the annual Best Novel winner will receive a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin; and the Hall of Fame winner, a plaque with a smaller gold coin.

LFS Prometheus Awards panel at New Zealand Worldcon

In honor of the recent 40th anniversary of the Prometheus Awards, the New Zealand Worldcon (ConZealand) has added to its virtual program a panel discussion on “Freedom in SF: Four Decades of the Prometheus Award.” That panel, with novelist F. Paul Wilson joining LFS board members and awards judges Michael Grossberg and Tom Jackson, is scheduled for 10-11 p.m. Saturday Aug. 1 EDT (i.e., 2 p.m. Sunday Aug. 2 NZST in New Zealand.)

The Worldcon will offer a full virtual convention schedule, available July 30 through Aug. 2 to Worldcon registered members.

LFS at North American Science Fiction Convention

The Prometheus Awards ceremony will take place in an online program via Zoom as part of the Columbus 2020 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC). Because of safety concerns during the pandemic, the NASFIC will offer selected virtual events Aug. 21-22, including the LFS's Prometheus Awards ceremony (set for Saturday Aug. 22 from 1pm to 2:30 EDT), to be immediately followed by a NASFiC/LFS panel discussion with Prometheus-winning writers F. Paul Wilson and Sarah Hoyt on "Visions of SF, Liberty, Human Rights: The Prometheus Awards over Four Decades, from F. Paul Wilson and Robert Heinlein to Today."

Prometheus blog: Awards Appreciation Series

On the 40th anniversary of the first Prometheus Award in 1979, the LFS began celebrating and remembering past winners with a weekly Appreciation series on the LFS's Prometheus Blog. With the initial Best Novel series completed, the Appreciation series is now continuing with review/essays in chronological order of each of the winners of the Hall of Fame category, first presented in 1983. Each review/essay is designed to remind readers of outstanding works of fiction that remain worth reading or rereading today while educating the public about the specific pro-liberty and/or antiauthoritarian themes or story elements that inspired LFS members to select each work as a Prometheus winner.
For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories, visit www.lfs.org. For reviews, news and commentary on these and other works of interest to the LFS, visit the Prometheus blog via the link at the top of our website (lfs.org/blog).

Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is open to any science fiction fan interested in how fiction can promote an appreciation of the value of liberty.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

RAW reviews the 1976 'King Kong'



Another Martin Wagner rediscovery (and I meant to post about this earlier, sorry Martin): A review by Robert Anton Wilson praising the 1976 remake of "King Kong."

The two versions simply are not comparable. It is impossible to say with any fairness that one is better than the other; that would be like comparining Beethoven to strawberry or sex to Picasso.

What we have here is just what the advertisements promise: an astonishingly original motion picture. It is also the most mythic, psychedelic and mind-boggling cinematic extravaganza since 2001.


Friday, July 10, 2020

RAW versus the Acidheads


Home page of the Original Kleptonian Neo-American Church. "Kleptonian" refers to Arthur Kleps, please see below. 

Adam Gorightly has an excellent new post up at Historia Discordia, RAW vs. the Acidheads for… ONE MILLION DOLLARS! which includes a clipping from "National Weed," a newspaper I am unfamiliar with,  “Author Sues Acidheads For Saying Leary Wrote His Book!” The article does not actually announce a court filing, and Adam says, "In essence, this article appears to have been a PR prank Robert Anton Wilson pulled as a pretext to promote Illuminatus! while at the same time taking a pot-shot (pun intended) at members of the Neo-American Church, who — on occasion — RAW was known to tussle with."

Adam's posting also has a possible clue to the contents of the impending publication of The Starseed Signals: Link Between Worlds.  

"This article also mentions a Timothy Leary interview RAW was working on that had yet to be published at the time due to what he referred to as 'perfectionist' editors at PLAYBOY. This “Lost Leary Interview” — which has yet to see the literary light of day — was among content included in the RVP-never-to-be-version of Starseed Signals, although I’ve been informed that our friends at Hilaritas Press may include it in their forthcoming iteration of the book," Adam writes.

His post also includes a letter to the editor written by RAW, involving a feud between RAW and the late Art Kleps. 


Thursday, July 9, 2020

Eric's music listening scheme


Murray Perahia (Creative Commons photo)

Eric Wagner wrote recently to share his new music listening scheme: "My new game: I listen to a Mozart piano concerto based on the date. Today, June 18, I just put on Concerto #18. I have the Perahia set of 27 concertos and two rondos. I plan to listen to a rondo each on the 28th and 29th, and I plan to return to #25, my favorite, on the 30th. I will likely pick another late concerto on July 31 if I keep this up."

Murray Perahia is a very good Mozartean; I need to listen to the 25th to see why Eric likes it so much. I'm partial to #20 and #24, myself. I forgot to ask Eric if he is referring to listening to a CD on the stereo, or to Spotify with a Bluetooth speaker, or what. I need to nail these details down.

But in any event I like this scheme for concentrated listening. One drawback is that while Mozart is never less than pleasant, the early work is not as interesting as the later pieces; Mozart wrote most of the music he's remembered for in the last few years of his life, frantically issuing one masterpiece after another in his waning months. On the other hand, under Eric's scheme, the music is generally going to get better as the month advances.

In any event, I may have to adopt this for myself. It would be a way to finally get through all 27 Nikolai Myaskovsky symphonies; I could also modify the scheme to listen to all of the Shostakovich and Prokofiev symphonies (with a few concertos thrown in) or to listen to all of Beethoven's piano sonatas in a month.

I never seem to get many comments for my classical music postings, but oh well! I like to think RAW would have read them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

'Haydn, of course, was not mentioned in the prognosis'


Vadim Batitsky, aka Boom. 

My favorite music blogger, the "Boom" of the "Boom's Dungeon" classical music blog, has put up a farewell blog post. Unfortunately, I only noticed it Tuesday; the blog generally is updated every few weeks, so I haven't felt the need to check it daily.

The blog has been written under the "Boom" pseudonym, but in the post Boom reveals he has a fatal illness and also reveals his real identity, philosophy professor Vadim Batitsky.

A team of highly paid doctors has given me good reasons to believe that my days are numbered and the number is unlikely to exceed by much that of Haydn's symphonies.  (Haydn, of course, was not mentioned in the prognosis.)  Which makes now just the right time for a post of this sort.  It is not irrationally premature because an advanced death notice can be written even for a healthy fetus.  (Remember that tired syllogism: All men are mortal ... ?) ... My blog is only my way of having fun by advertising my enthusiasms and venting my frustrations derived from encounters with art music, art criticism, journalism, academia, and a few other subjects I find worthy of my time.  At the risk of flattering myself, I take it that those few people who periodically visit my blog do so because they are interested in, if not always pleased by, what I write about these subjects.  And this makes me feel that such readers deserve to know that this blog will become inactive not because I got bored with it or ran out of things to say, but for a biological reason beyond the reach of today's medicine.

I've learned a great deal about classical music through reading Boom's blog posts over and over again; he apparently loves classical music even more than Eric Wagner or I do. He is a sharp thinker, and expresses himself clearly and with a sometimes biting tone. I invite you to check out his blog.

Here are a couple of blog posts I particularly liked: "Modernism as an attitude problem," one of his defenses of Elliott Carter, and here is his amusing post on a "perfect pianist" although he later found recordings by Till Fellner that he liked.

I'll be spending some of my time this week listening to Roger Sessions, one of the composers Professor Batitsky successfully turned me on to.  (Another Sessions post.)






Monday, July 6, 2020

Get your free 'black opium in a lush and expensive brothel'


Johann Christian Bach, the 'English Bach'

One of the amazing aspects of modern times for an old guy like me is the wealth of free music that can be streamed into your home by anyone with a library card. I take advantage of that quite often, usually but not always to listen to classical music.

Robert Anton Wilson's description of the music of Johann Christian Bach in a recent chapter for the Nature's God reading group as  "black opium in a lush and expensive brothel" (Chapter 7) reminded me that I've meant to explore J.C. Bach's music; surely Wilson meant to strongly recommend him with such a vivid description. I'll use him as an example of how to use the free library services. (I find it comforting to know that if I lost everything, all of my music collection vanished, and I had no money, I could still listen to tons of music.)

The two main digital library music services are Freegal and Hoopla Digital. There is little overlap between them, as they have deals with different record companies. Both have tons of classical music representing all of the major composers (and many minor ones.)

Each service has strengths and weaknesses. Freegal has unlimited streaming and also lets users download and keep five MP3 files a week. It also makes it easy to combine music into playlists. (I quickly put together a four-hour J.C. Bach playlist.) Hoopla operates strictly by letting users check out an album for a week. There's no opportunity to put together playlists, but Hoopla has a very large selection of music, much bigger than Freegal.

It's best to have a library card that offers both services, or to have more than one library card, so you can take advantage of both. It's easy to do this in Ohio, which provides a bigger state subsidy for local libraries than any state and therefore requires each library to accept applications for a library card (for a library, or a library network) from anyone in Ohio.  Other states are apparently not so generous, but see this article on "Libraries with Non-resident Borrowing Privileges!" which explains how you may be able to obtain an additional library card in your own state, or failing that, purchase a library card.  I looked at some of the latter libraries, and the Houston Public Library, in Texas, seems to offer a nice balance of cost and lots of digital goodies.

I spent a lot of time recently listening to Johann Christian Bach on both library services, and indeed, as you might expect from "black opium in a brothel," his music is beautiful and sensuous. The recommendations below are for the library services, but they should also work for Spotify, etc. 

His music can be easily found on Freegal by searching for "Johann Christian Bach" and "J.C. Bach." On Freegal, try the Johann Christian Bach - Quintet in D Major, Op. 22 No.1 recording by Collegium Musicum Fluminense or the J.C. Bach: Sinfoniae Concertante Collegium Aureum album. 

Hoopla's cataloging and annotation of classical music is not exactly a strength, and but the service's treatment of J.C. Bach is particularly slovenly; a search on Hoopla for "J.C. Bach" or "Johann Christian Bach" turns up nothing. I could not accept that Hoopla, with is large stores music, actually did not have any English Bach, so I searched for "Bach" and scrolled through hundreds of albums and bookmarked a number of relevant ones.

I can at least make your search easier. Search for "The English Concert" to find J. Chr. Bach: Quintet Op.22 No.1; Quintet Op.11 Nos. 1 & 6; Sextet Without Op. No.  and search for "Netherlands Chamber Orchestra" for J. Chr. Bach: Sinfonien. 

If classical music is not  your jam, I should mention that Hoopla is particularly good at offering classic rock. No Beatles yet (although lots of solo Beatles albums), but lots of Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Neil Young, etc. 









Nature's God reading group, Chapter Nine, Part Two


Week Nine and a Half: Chapter Nine “Cherry Valley” Part II pg. 169-184 Hilaritas edition

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger 

I would say with some confidence that I have never read any description of the psychedelic state as enjoyable and heady as Wilson’s crescendos of psyche and soul. They’re a pleasure to read- like being inside a game show booth grabbing at references to Joyce, music, magic, and ribaldry instead of dollar bills. This pleasurable quality does not extend itself to writing as the tempest of erudition leaves far too many footnotes to fill in...too many references that need to be explored. (I am completely lost on the identity of Dr. Cyprus and would love for someone else to clear that up for me.) So, I beg your forgiveness if I am not necessarily thorough.

As Colonel Muadhen experiences PTSD in an army hospital and continues to see the Creation of a Jealous and Vengeful God his consciousness guides the reader into Sigismundo’s flailing attempts to keep reality together. The four guardians have become Diversion, Perversion, Subversion, Diversion. Sigismundo’s consciousness, seemingly led into some fashion of self-referencing bear trap by Miskasquamish, is transported from their encampment in the sweltering, sulphurous brook to the frigid floor of an English forest where Maria Babcock is possessed by Lady Greensleeves.

The dual setting of this iteration of Chapel Perilous is interesting: two men in some sort of magical contest and twelve women passively watch the thirteenth suffer from a deluge of magical energy. The men struggle in an alchemical crucible, the yellow-sulphur imagery is a little strong, while the women are gathered in the cold forest in the dark of night. There is balance between the visionary experiences, however unpleasant it may be. The four guardians tumble throughout both visions, their morphing and unpleasant guises echoing the tumbling down of the world around Sigismundo and Maria Babcock.

Of course, the emphasis on the sulphurous brook near Sigismundo’s dwelling is made explicit when he “hallucinates” into the future and sees the road marker reading DAYTON 20 MILES. Sigismundo has been living in the spot of the future Yellow Springs, where Wilson would later live with his family and experience peyote. (He would also be arrested in a sit-in for desegregation.)

Miskasquamish’s magic strongly resembles that of Don Juan’s when Sigismundo pants that he cannot walk to the brooke, Miskasquamish simply comments “Then you will crawl.” There’s the flavor of Castaneda’s irascible man of power...much like Don Juan, we find out that Miskasquamish is not what he seems. In another manner the transformation of the bear-people into magicians of all ages and nations resembles the accounts of magicians throughout time during the apogee of psychedelic or ritual operations. There is a presence of many minds.

Sigismundo’s trip is more traumatic than those he has experienced earlier in the series and stronger than Sir Babcock the Younger’s spiked-champagne evening chronicles in Part 5 of Masks of the Illuminati. Miskasquamish eventually leaves as the bear-people transfigure themselves into magi to be replaced by old Abraham Orfali.

Maria is Crossing the Abyss, an undertaking not to be taken lightly, without immediate preparation. But, like the Knowledge and Conversation of the Guardian Angel, the process will occur if the aspirant remains on the path of magic, and if well-guided and sincere, the magician will have been prepared. After all, pure folly is the key to initiation. Maria’s blindside-Samadhi is linked to Sigismundo's own abysmal experience. Traditionally, at least in the sense that Crowley’s writings track as “traditional,” the Crossing of the Abyss is very similar to Wilson’s description of Chapel Perilous in Cosmic Trigger: the aspirant will either give up their ego, every last shred of their paltry conception of “myself” and attain another state of being, or they will fail in that endeavor and go mad. (RAW is a bit gentler saying you’ll either come out completely agnostic or raving paranoid.) Orfali, the Initiator, provides Sigismundo with the necessary tool to complete his Crossing.

Our Author is still kind to his creation; Sigismundo is no longer running from anything and has transcended...something.

Before Miskasquamish and Sigismundo “enter eternity,” Sigismundo realises that “the whole of nature was identified as a mongoose.” I believe this is a reference to a joke that is said to contain the whole secret of magic. While the original is found in Crowley’s Magick In Theory and Practice, I first read it in Alan Moore’s Promethea #12 “The Magic Theatre.” I’ll relate it as I have told it on evenings similar to those experienced herein by Balsamo and Maldonado:

There are two men inhabiting the same railroad carriage, sitting directly across from one another. One of the men has a box with a perforated lid sitting on his lap. His fellow passenger’s curiosity is piqued and after some time he inquires what the other man has in the box. 

“Well,” said the other man with a smile of indulgence. “It is a mongoose.” The passenger nods and sits for a moment before asking again: 

“I’m sorry to press, but a mongoose is an awfully exotic creature around these parts- why are you transporting a mongoose? Is it your pet?” 

The other man smiles again and magnanimously says, “My dear fellow, trusting in your discretion, I shall let you know that my brother has a terrible drinking problem. Furthermore whenever he drinks he sees snakes all over. I am bringing him this mongoose to chase away the cobras, as it were.” 

The passenger is surprised at the other man’s sincerity and accepts the matter as it is before remarking: “But, and I’m sorry to press, aren’t those snakes imaginary?” 

The other man smiles again, “Yes,” he gestures at the box, “but this is an imaginary mongoose.” 

There you go, the ultimate secret to magic. I expect payment.

Sigismundo decides to set aside his wilderness onanism and sets out beyond his clearing. There he finds out that Miskasquamish, like Don Juan, Aiwass, Jesus Christ, The Ascended Masters, Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hogwarts, Max Headroom, Australia and my parents’ acceptance wasn’t....fucking...real. Okay, at least he existed at one time if one counts being a ghost in a fictional novel any sort of existence.

From Eric: “A musical preview of George Washington knock-knock-knocking next week. https://youtu.be/rnKbImRPhTE




Saturday, July 4, 2020

Roddy Doyle, 'By the Book'


Roddy Doyle in 2006 (public domain photo)

As Robert Anton Wilson was interested in Irish literature, I like to think he would have enjoyed the recent  amusing and interesting"By the Book" interview with the Irish writer Roddy Doyle, published in the New York Times. (Doyle is the author of a number of funny and humane books set in Ireland, among them The Commitments, made into a movie you have have seen. He won the Booker Prize for Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha. )  In the course of the interview, Doyle brags that he took a quiz about his work run by an Irish newspaper and got eight out of ten answers right.) Excerpt from the interview:

What books would you recommend to somebody who wants to learn more about Irish literature?

Read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” then read “This Hostel Life,” by Melatu Uche Okorie. You’ve just read two fine examples of Irish literature. Stoker was a Dubliner; he grew up a 10-minute walk from where I live. Okorie’s stories capture the language and lives of asylum seekers who live a half-hour drive from Stoker’s house. Ireland is a small island but there’s more than one way to tell an Irish story.