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

Thursday, March 23, 2023

New Hilaritas podcast: Eric Wagner on Ezra Pound

The new Hilaritas Press podcast, released today, features guest Eric Wagner discussing a key influence on Robert Anton Wklson: The poet Ezra Pound. Mike Gathers returns as host. As usual, the official site for the podcast has links for more information. This is a topic Eric knows a lot about, and I expect to be listening soon. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Who's your favorite Beatle? Your favorite Bond?

Yes, I know I am the only sentient creature in the Milky Way Galaxy who likes this album. 

Freed finally from having to read books nominated for the Prometheus Award (I'm one of the nominating judges), I have now begun to read other books, such as John Higgs' Love and Let Die, his book about the Beatles and James Bond. The first Bond movie and the first Beatles record ("Love Me Do") were both released on Oct. 5, 1962.

Of course, the Illuminatus! trilogy reflects the impact of Bond and the band from Liverpool. The character of Fission Chips is an obvious Bond parody, and Hagbard Celine is the captain of a golden submarine, just like the song. 

For many years (and I don't know if John talks about this, I'm not very far into the book), people have been asked to name their favorite actor portraying Bond and their favorite Beatle. There is naturally debate over the best Bond film and the best Beatles record. Here are my picks. 

My favorite Bond is Roger Moore. Perhaps this is related to his Bond movies coming out when I was a teenager, but I liked the tongue in cheek approach he took to the role. But my favorite Bond movie is You Only Live Twice. My favorite Bond villain is Christopher Walken, in A View to a Kill. My favorite Bond theme song is "Live and Let Die." 

I have changed my favorite Beatle over the years. As a teen, I liked George Harrison, perhaps because I viewed him as an underdog and because I thought All Things Must Pass was better than the other early Beatles solo albums. I then decided John Lennon was the interesting one. I finally settled on Paul McCartney, as it became more obvious to me he was the top musical force in the Beatles. I also thought he seemed more like an adult family man, and he was obviously the one former Beatle who worked the hardest as a solo artist to make music and explore his talents as widely as possible. 

My favorite Beatles album is Revolver. I mostly listen to Paul McCartney via a playlist of my favorites, but if I have to pick a favorite album, it would be a dark horse, Red Rose Speedway. Yes, I know nobody else likes it. I also like Electric Arguments

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

New edition of John Higgs' KLF book: Another sheep and more words

Cover for the new edition

 In his latest newsletter, John Higgs announces a new edition of The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds, which came out in 2013. It's the Higgs book of particular interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans. Here is something I wrote about the book in 2012:

"It's strange to say that a book about a British pop group is one of the best short introductions to the work of Robert Anton Wilson, but it's also true. JMR Higgs' KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money discusses the group but puts it in the context of the band's biggest influence, the Illuminatus! trilogy and Robert Anton Wilson.

"So it's a pop biography that has lucid explanations of reality tunnels, model agnosticism and Discordian philosophy. I also learned about the history of Ken Campbell's stage production of Illuminatus!"

You don't have to be a KLF fan to enjoy the book. 

Here is John's announcement about the new edition, only available in hardcover and coming out in July:

"The ‘new material’ mentioned on the cover is a 13,000 word author’s commentary, which takes the form of footnotes spread throughout the book. In these new footnotes I look back on the text after ten years to see what I make of it now. It’s kind of like a director’s commentary on a DVD, but in book form. Hence the second sheep on the book cover. The same big old sheep as before is still up there at the top of the page, unchanged, but there is now a new little lamb underneath, acting as a sheep represention of the footnotes.

"This new edition is a big handsome hardback. The book has gone from being a self-published ebook, to a paperback, to a hardback. It’s the life cycle of a typical book, but entirely the wrong way around. This seems somehow fitting, given the subject matter. One pleasing thing about it being a hardback is that the list price of the book is now… £23."

More at the link, including links to preorder. The new hardcover-only edition will only be published in Britain. (When I asked about this on Twitter, John replied, "Sorry Tom, US publishers still seem to think that the American public have no interest in a book about the KLF.") And note that "hardcover only" means just that: No cheaper ebook. 

Of course, books published in Britain can easily be ordered and shipped to the U.S. I've had good results with the Book Depository, an online British bookstore that has free shipping. 

My 2012 interview with John about the book is still interesting. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

New audio release from Antero Alli [UPDATED]


Filmmaker, author and (it turns out) musician Antero Alli, currently dealing with advanced cancer, is busy releasing new works.

The Discordian Salon, just released, is available as a CD or a digital download.  It includes stories about meeting Robert Anton Wilson, but that's not the only feature of the recording. Here is a description:

"The Discordian Salon opens with ‘Companions of the Flame’, a siren call from The Haunting Songs (featuring Antero on guitar, and Sylvi Alli on vocals, piano, accordion and lyrics). You’ll hear Antero’s rare Experimental Piano Solos (performed in the dark as blind improvisations), and his Spoken Word Performance Poetry. Join him at the mysterious Illuminati gathering in The Cosmic Trigger Effect hosted by Robert Anton Wilson. Here Antero sees a UFO, meets Greg Hill (author of Principia Discordia), and learns how to play Five-Card Katma with his unpublished Discordian Tarot deck.

"It features Antero’s first ever public recording of his solo piano experiments, something he’s kept private for over fifty years. Asked why he plays in the dark: ‘I only want to play what I’m feeling, and seeing the keys gets in the way.' Asked why he’s kept them private (until now): ‘I’ve had so much of my work exposed and consumed by the public, I needed a sanctuary from the world, a dimension outside of time and space, and my music gives me that.’ "

In more news, it turns out that Last Words, issued in January, will not be Alli's final book after all. Sacred Rites: Journal Entries of a Gnostic Heretic is listed as "coming soon" by Original Falcon Press. Announcement on Twitter: "COMING SOON! "Sacred Rites: Journal Entries of a Gnostic Heretic" -- my next and final book. Documenting  eighteen years of ParaTheatrical ReSearch through my private ritual journals and twelve of those who have trained with me."

You can get the latest news at Antero Alli's Twitter account, and see the official web page for more news, including a March 26 film screening in Portland. 

UPDATE: I would not ordinarily ask for this, but if you are on Twitter, would you please RT Antero Alli's announcement on Twitter, and maybe also the @RAWilson23 posting on Twitter? For obvious reasons, I want Mr. Alli to benefit from the attention to the new release and the upcoming book while he can. (I don't actually know him, he's kind of a friend of friends, but it seems the right thing to do). I will try to spread the word on Facebook. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

An upcoming interview (or 'interview') with Jonathan Swift

While there is work being done on the "longevity" and "space migration" parts of SMI2LE, the Timothy Leary formula for a future that features longer human lifespans, intelligence increase and space migration, it seems to be the intelligence increase part that seems to be advancing rapidly, in the form of artificial intelligence.

Jonathan Swift was one of Robert Anton Wilson's favorite authors. If I remember correctly, when RAW was living in Ireland, he made a point of reading all of Swift's work. 

Now blogger and economics professor Tyler Cowen has announced he plans to interview an AI version of Jonathan Swift as part of his "Conversations with Tyler" interview series. I don't know how well the interview will turn out, but certainly we live in interesting times. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Did Heinlein invent TANSTAAFL?

The paperback edition of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress I read as a teenager. 

The acronym TANSTAAFL — "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" — features in Robert Heinlein's classic libertarian science fiction novel, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which won both the Hugo Award and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.

Robert Anton Wilson referenced the phrase in his Schrödinger's Cat trilogy. Wikipedia explains,

" 'Tanstagi', an acronym standing for 'There Ain't No Such Thing As Government Interference', is the motto of the Invisible Hand Society, an originally fictional organization invented in the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy. The acronym was deliberately intended as a reference to Robert A. Heinlein's TANSTAAFL principle.

"The Tanstagi principle is meant to imply that the invisible hand of the free market applies to government as well. In other words, contrary to traditional ideas of laissez-faire capitalism, government interference in the free market is impossible, since governments are inextricably a part of the market as a whole. 'Government' is not a separate institution—it is a word used to describe the actions of a large number of individuals subject to the same (at least qualitatively) pressures as everyone else. Both of these ideas are part of what is known as 'economic Taoism.'

"While it was first introduced in a novel, people claiming to be members or know of chapters of the Invisible Hand Society have occasionally appeared in editorial pages and on the Internet." 

As many of you likely known, the phrase "invisible hand" was made famous by Adam Smith

But did Heinlein come up with the phrase behind the acronym TANSTAAFL? Apparently not, according to a blog post, "Who Said TANSTAAFL First?", published by David Boaz at Cato at Liberty, the blog of the Cato Institute.

Boaz credits Heinlein with popularizing the phrase — "I’d say that Heinlein’s book generated the buttons and bumper stickers produced by the early libertarian activists" — but says research shows Heinlein did not originate it. 

Noting that the phrase also has been attributed to Milton Friedman, Boaz notes that the Quote Investigator has traced the phrase "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" back to a 1938 newspaper article titled “Economics in Eight Words.”   Evidence suggests the unsigned piece was written by Walter Morrow, editor‐​in‐​chief of The Southwestern Group of Scripps‐​Howard Newspapers, Boaz says.

"Heinlein just might have read one of the 1938 newspapers in which the 'Eight Words' article appeared," Boaz suggests. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

A really good short video on 'Illuminatus!'


I have featured  @amoebadesign videos on Illuminatus! before, but I do not remember seeing this one  recently posted on Twitter. Take a couple of minutes and watch.

More here. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Hilaritas releases 'The Walls Came Tumbling Down'

Hilaritas Press has released its new edition of The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Robert Anton Wilson's screenplay, and as usual there are extras to reward RAW fans for buying the new edition. Here is the announcement from Rasa: 

"This month Hilaritas Press has published the new edition of RAW's The Walls Came Tumbling Down, a mind-bending screenplay that seems fitting for our bizarre times. We have also included in this edition a foreword by Gregory Arnott, an enlightening story about "tumbling" from Bobby Campbell, and we were delighted that Alan Moore gave us permission to publish his eulogy for Robert Anton Wilson that he delivered at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, March 2007. Once again, Scott McPherson from amoeba created a dazzling new cover using a special 3D graphic technique called clayrendering.

[Gregory often has written for this blog under the name Apuleius Charlton].

"And now, a lovely excerpt from Alan Moore's eulogy...

“Robert Anton Wilson limped out through the wall into the fire, into the simultaneous party of eternity, into the splendid, timeless funfair of a life that he has somehow managed to survive with thirty-five books weaving his ideas in their spectacular diversity, weaving his luminescent consciousness into the intellectual DNA of our painfully slow-developing society and dancing somewhere with his wife, back when he could still dance and she was still alive...” – Alan Moore, author, occultist, and anarchist

I've already bought my copy; it's one of the few RAW books I haven't read. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Bandcamp: A listener's guide

Following up on Tuesday's blog post, I want to provide a "listener's guide" to Bandcamp, a website where independent musicians and small record companies offer their recordings for sale, and where I have purchased a number of items, including from musicians whose names will be familiar to this blog. While the website is known to be useful to musicians, I hope to make the point that it is also a good website for listeners who love music. 

Bandcamp is a U.S. company that was founded in 2007. Here is how Wikipedia explains how it works:

"Artists and labels upload music to Bandcamp and control how they sell it, setting their own prices, offering users the option to pay more, and selling merchandise.

"Users can download their purchases or stream their music on the Bandcamp application or website only once or, by preserving the purchase voucher, unlimited times. They can also send purchased music as a gift, view lyrics, and save individual songs or albums to a wish list. Uploading music to Bandcamp is free. The company takes a 15% commission on sales made from their website, which drops to 10% after an artist's sales surpass US$5,000, plus payment processing fees."

The selling point for artists is that they get to keep a lot of the money once they make a sale. I used to purchase music from independent artists I support from Amazon's digital music platform, but I have switched to using Bandcamp when possible. From now on, when I can purchase music from Bandcamp, that will be my first choice, as I want to support the artists I like. 

Once you pay for an album or a song — I would describe the pricing as generally reasonable, while admitting that prices vary — you can stream it as often as you like in the useful Bandcamp smartphone app, or at the website, and you can download music files in a variety of formats, not just MP3 files but in other formats, including FLAC files that have high audio quality. In addition, you can create playlists, and download those playlists for playback when you aren't connected to the Internet or cellular data. Prop Anon has not yet made his Squat the Condos album available as an album on Bandcamp, but I was able to purchase the individual tracks, put together a playlist that recreates the original CD, and blast it out in my car as I ran errands Sunday. All of the music you have purchased is visible in one place on the app. 

Here are examples of artists and recordings available on Bandcamp: Prop Anon, but see also the Hail Eris hard rock band, also his project; All Around the World, the Oz Fritz the "audio document of sacred spaces with their acoustic and consciousness altering properties"; Steve "Fly" Pratt (but scroll down the page for "Steve Fly recommends," which is his stuff, too, and see also Robert Anton Wilson meets Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt); and Rasa's Starseed band.  Rasa makes all of his stuff easy to access in one place, which is kind of how I wish other folks would do. All of this music, and much else, can be streamed at least once before you buy it, a nice "try before you buy" feature. You can also access the Noah23 catalog

Unrelated to this blog, among other folks I like Peter Gabriel is here.  So are the Smithereens, but represented only by comparatively rare releases. 

I mostly listen to classical music; one of my favorite piano players is R. Andrew Lee, who specializes in modern minimalist and post minimalist composers. I especially like his recording of William Duckworth's The Time Curve Preludes Please try it if you like classical piano. I've bought much of his music on Bandcamp, much of it available at the Bandcamp site for his main record label. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Discography: Prop Anon, Steve 'Fly' Pratt and Rasa's band (and more RAW-related music)

Starseed's "Entering the Ambient Temple" album

Prop Anon's Discography

Prop Anon, who has a biography of Robert Anton Wilson coming out this fall, also has had a musical career. Here is a discography, courtesy of Prop, with a bit more information from me:

1. Prop Anon Todo Corazon (EP). I don't have more information, sorry.

2. Prop Anon Squat the Condos, an album. Rap music, released in released in 2013. You can buy the individual tracks on Bandcamp, then put together a playlist to replicate the CD, as I have done. Here is the correct tracklist:

2. Konkrete Giants
3. Nights Like This
4. Consciousness is the Key
5. Calling Down the Earth
6. Luxury Condos
7. Ayahuasca Metropolis
8. Nammo Tasso
9. Nammo Tasso (DJ Nihilist Remix)

Note that the Nammo Tasso remix is pretty different from the original track; you are not being ripped off if you buy both.

3. Hail Eris, four song EP,  hard rock album, Prop with backing band, remixed by Oz Fritz, available on Bandcamp. 

The only information I could find on this album is from this blog: Prop says, "The music on this EP is Heavy, Strong, Groove oriented. The other musicians on the record are: Scott Yacovina on Drums, Gabe Saladino on guitar, and Jeff To on Bass. Other absolutely vital musicians involved were Mason Lucas, as well as Joe Mulvanerty and Ham from Black47. These guys helped get the ball rolling, and now the present line up is myself and Laura Kang, aka Thee Semiotic Alchemyst."

Also from Prop:

"False Flag." Rap song released in 2014, available on Bandcamp. 

Prop also performs the lead vocal on the song "DDK (Bowing to the Buddha remix) by the artist Goyopod, also on Bandcamp. 

                                            Steve "Fly Agaric" Pratt's Discography

Steve pointed me to Discogs, explaining, "Best place is Discogs, however, this list includes my work as DJ with live bands (garaj Mahal, Gregory james Band), collabs with John Sinclair (on drums) and compilation albums and some Live CD's that are not really proper album releases."



Steve also says, "I've a new album/book for release this year, (Deep Scratch Remix) although no publisher or label interest yet, but I suppose I have to tell them about it." Information here. And note that this link also connects you to Steve's music on Bandcamp. Please note also that the same link provides information about Mr. Pratt's books, as well as his music projects. 

See also this blog post on the Robert Anton Wilson meets Steve 'Fly Agaric' Pratt album. 

Rasa's Starseed Discography

I won't attempt to cover the entire music history of Rasa. See this Wikipedia article on Sweet Smoke for his rock music days. 

His current band is Starseed, and the official web site lists all of his albums. 

Note that Rasa recommends two of the albums, Live on Mount Shasta and Entering the Ambient Temple. Rasa wrote (in a December 2021 email), "In some ways, I think Live in Mt. Shasta is “classic” but I think that because all the music was recorded after we had invested heavily in some spectacular sound equipment. We have a couple of good friends who think our best music is on Entering the Ambient Temple.

"Maybe I agree with that. It’s an older recording, and the sound seems a bit raw to me, but not bad. Tim Leary’s old friend Brummbaer thought this was our best album, and he used a bit on his video tribute to Leary."

Note that all of the Starseed albums are on Bandcamp, and when you buy there, Rasa gets to keep 90% of the money. I wish I had bought my copy of Ambient Temple there; I bought it at Amazon. I did buy the Starseed Ambient Blue album on Bandcamp. Note that you can stream Starseed's music on Bandcamp before you decide to buy it. 

Other RAW affiliated music

This of course does not totally cover musicians who have some kind of affiliation or affinity with Robert Anton Wilson, don't miss my blog post on the connection between David Lowery (of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven) with RAW. 

See also my blog post back in 2012 on "Musical Tributes to RAW." 

The Canadian rapper Noah23 is a RAW fan. Prop says Noah23 is "very good." He has many releases, I don't know what to recommend, but on Reddit, Occult Trill and Jupiter Sajitarius are said to be good. His releases are on Bandcamp.  Prop recommends "Faded." and another Reddit posting recommends the Fry Cook on Venus album. "Faded" is a track on the Rock Paper Scissors album. Noah23's new album is called Ikosia Tria, which means "23" in Greek, review from Scatched Vinyl with 8/10 rating. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Jacob Sullum revives 'Guns and Dope Party' discussion

When Robert Anton Wilson founded the Guns and Dope Party, he apparently sought to use libertarian arguments to reach out to both conservatives (guns) and liberals (marijuana). 

Jacob Sullum at Reason magazine is my favorite writer on the "war on some drugs." He also writes often about gun control laws. Sullum believes that repression of drug rights and of gun rights is related. He makes his case in a new Reason article, "The Drug Exception to the Second Amendment." When I read the article, I learned that even legal medical marijuana users are banned by federal law from owning a firearm. 

His article focuses on the NRA's outrageous refusal to criticize the killing of Philandro Castile. The police officer who killed Castile for no reason was acquitted of manslaughter. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Jim O'Shaughnessy's psychedelic investments

                                          Image from the website for Mindstate Design Labs

When I last wrote about Jim O'Shaughnessy, the Wall Street investor and investment guru, I wrote, "What would happen if a wealthy Robert Anton Wilson fan used his money to try to make the world a better place? It seems as if we are getting at least one answer to the question."

The last blog post covered grants, first two O'Shaughnessy Fellowships awarded by  O'Shaughnessy Ventures, LLC. "Dr. William Zeng will use the O'Shaughnessy Fellowship $100,000 grant to pursue open-source quantum computing," a press release says. "Nat & Martha Sharpe will use the $100,000 O'Shaughnessy Fellowship grant to study and make documentary films of alternative childhood education schools."

Here is something else interesting. O'Shaughnessy Ventures, LLC also is investing in various companies. 

One of the companies that is getting investments is Empath Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in early stage psychedelics startups. In turn, if you scroll down here, you can find information on the various companies Empath is investing in. Thirteen different companies are listed, including Mindstate Design Labs, "A psychedelic drug development company designing altered states of consciousness for mental health therapeutics," and Wavepaths, which seeks to use music for psychedelic therapy. 

Just today, O'Shaughnessy posted two of his favorite RAW quotes on Twitter. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Prop Anon looks back on Maybe Logic Academy

Lately I have often been mentioning Prop Anon in this space, and of course with good reason: Since completing the final draft of his biography Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson, expected to be out this fall, Prop has shown amazing energy in posting one article after another, much of it material that can be described as a spinoff from the biography.

One of his new pieces, "The Maybe Logic Academy- 10 years of Magic, Maybe, and RAW Mayhem," is an informal chronicle of the online school originally created as a way for Wilson to make money by teaching online classes. Prop took many of the courses and has posted many of the original class assignments.

Some highlights from the article, at least in my opinion: Prop names his favorite MLA class taught by Wilson, and links to his online collection of the class materials; Prop, a rap musician as well as a writer, gives a bit of background for his album Squat the Condos. (I've linked to Amazon to show the correct track list; you can listen to and buy the individual tracks, such as the opener "Agit-Prop," from Bandcamp.) I also didn't know Prop used to live in Hawaii, near the beach.