Wednesday, August 5, 2020

UFOS making a comeback in 2020

A purported UFO in Passaic, New Jersey in 1952 (via Wikipedia)

One of the oddest things about 2020, an odd year, is the way that UFOs and speculation about contact from aliens has made a comeback. "Flying saucers" have seemed old-fashioned in recent years. Yet here is a New York Times story (published on July 23), "No Longer in Shadows, Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit Will Make Some Findings Public," which includes those Navy videos you've probably heard about. And here is Vox, with "It’s time to take UFOs seriously. Seriously." 

Slate introduces a note of caution with "It’s Still Not Aliens." And as Slate notes, the New York Times issued a long correction which didn't get as much publicity as the original story (part of the correction: "An earlier version of this article inaccurately rendered remarks attributed to Harry Reid, the retired Senate majority leader from Nevada. Mr. Reid said he believed that crashes of objects of unknown origin may have occurred and that retrieved materials should be studied; he did not say that crashes had occurred and that retrieved materials had been studied secretly for decades.") Still, it remarkable how the subject is suddenly being taken seriously. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Musings on RAW, Leary, Dick etc. at

Val D'Orazio's blogs tend to come and go (Butterfly Language, as far as I can tell, is no more and has been deleted) so I missed the fact until now that she launched a new blog,, in April. Lots of musings on RAW, Timothy Leary and Philip K. Dick, and some reprints from the earlier blog. "On the Future of Humanity in Space" is an interesting new post. 

Val's other blog is Fantasy Merchant.

Monday, August 3, 2020

RAW's 'Serpent Power'

If you've checked out New Trajectories, the publication Bobby Campbell put together for Maybe Day, then you've likely read Gregory Arnott's essay "Ewige Schlangenkraft," which references Robert Anton Wilson's article, "Serpent Power." 

"Serpent Power" has now become easier to read, thanks to Martin Wagner's RAW site. Here is part one, and here is part two. 

How the article became available is a nice example of the collaborative nature of RAW fandom. 

I tracked the piece down in 2011 after seeing it mentioned in Cosmic Trigger. Bobby Campbell turned my original TIFF files into an easier to handle PDF version, which you can download here.  And then Martin made it easy to read on the web.

It's a cool article. Ted Hand mentioned to me this weekend he had his "mind blown" after reading it. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

News and notes

1. The Worldcon has ended; ConZealand did a good job of largely replicating the convention experience with an online convention. Here is a list of the Hugo Awards; Arkady Martine is a worthy winner for Best Novel, even if I slightly preferred Seanan McGuire' Middlegame I was the moderator of a panel on the Prometheus Awards. Via the art show, I discovered New Zealand artist Emma Weakley

2. A few more copies of a very interesting, very rare John Higgs book, Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, are becoming available.  More details here on how to get it. 

3. I am planning to do a "Robert Shea week" on this blog. I will do all of the posts myself, if necessary, but if anyone else would like to do a guest post, consider yourself invited. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Jean Cocteau and RAW

Jean Cocteau in 1923

The blogger at RAW Semantics spots something interesting -- the fact that Robert Anton Wilson cited Jean Cocteau as playing a "major role" inspiring Cosmic Trigger III -- and attempts to figure out why Cocteau was important to RAW.

Years ago, after I discovered surrealism but before I really got into David Lynch, I saw Cocteau's movie Orpheus So I was interested on one of the points RAW Semantics uncovered: "... in a BBC2 documentary on Surrealism presented by David Lynch (‘Surrealist Cinema’, BBC Arena, 1987 – part 1/part 2). Lynch says: 'in my opinion, Cocteau is the heavyweight of Surrealism'."

I reach a search for "Jean Cocteau" in An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson (I bought the ebook so I could do such searches) and found one reference; Eric says there is an entry for Cocteau in Everything Is Under Control, one of the few RAW books I don't have. 

Addendum: The links RAW Semantics provides to the BBC show are very interesting. The quality of the video is not very good, but many of the films Lynch mentions apparently are available on the Internet, e.g. Man With a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Discordian Tarot

Thanks to the indefatigable Adam Gorightly, keeper of the Discordian Archives, the images of the Discoridian Tarot created by a 26-year-old Antero Alli back in 1979 after an encounter with Greg Hill are now up on the Internet, available for all to see. 

Along with the images are Mr. Alli's account of how the cards came to be created, and how Adam rediscovered them after the creator had forgotten them. 

Lots more stuff at Antero Alli's website. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

New album influenced by 'Prometheus Rising'

the fundamental structure of existence is nothingness (a spiritual odyssey in three movements) is a new album by Steve Tromans, available at Bandcamp. 

Tromans' own description of the music: "Not as nihilistic a statement as may first appear, honest - aka "It's just turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down..." & other things I learnt from reading
@RAWsemantics Prometheus Rising." Also: "This album is definitely my Vangelis meets Terry Riley meets Tangerine Dream meets Allan Holdsworth homage (influences assemble..)"

You can listen to the whole thing before deciding whether to buy it.

Bandcamp bio for Tromans: "Pianist and composer Steve Tromans has been active on the music scene since the 1990s. He has given over 6,000 performances on a national and international level, at venues ranging in size from festival stages to the intimacy of club spaces. As a composer he has written more than 100 compositions, and received major commissions from a series of major arts organisations in the UK."

Here is the Dr. Steve Tromans Twitter account.

Hat tip: RAW Semantics on Twitter. 

Addendum: This guy also has a one-track album (about 30 minutes) called Prometheus Rising. The other album titles at his Bandcamp main page also are intriguing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


When I started reading the New Trajectories journal, available as a download from, I was particularly impressed with the "Transmission From the Tribe" comic written by Mike Clinton and illustrated by Ken Condon.

I'm afraid I didn't know those guys before, but the comic included a link to, where I found the above cartoon and other cartoons with RAW quotes. And other good items, too. One of the more exciting aspects of Maybe Day is the opportunity to find out about other creators and learn more about them.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Prominent SF fan recommends Illuminatus!

James Davis Nicoll is on the Hugo ballot this year for 'Best Fan Writer." We'll find out in a few days whether Mr. Nicoll has won (the all-online Worldcon, nominally based in New Zealand, begins this week) but in the meantime, he's posted "Five More Massive Works of SFF to Add to Your Must-Read Pile," at and one of the works he recommends is Illuminatus! Excerpt:

The trilogy is, to quote an old review of mine, “if drugs, sex, the occult, polyester, Studio 54, post-Watergate America, and the Playboy letters page were to have a monstrous baby.”

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Maybelogues panel discussion now available

On Saturday, the Maybe Day celebration continued with a "Maybelogues" panel discussion led by Bobby Campbell, held live and then posted to YouTube.  Featuring Bobby Campbell, Mike Gathers, Steve "Fly" Pratt, Brenton Clutterbuck, Mike Gathers, Peter Quadrino, Oz Fritz, Ted Hand, Rich, Eva David and Eric Wagner. One hour, 53 minutes. I was unable to take part, I had to work. It turns out Bobby is an excellent moderator.

Topics include, "Has Operation  Mindfuck gone too far?" what RAW saw as a legacy for his work, integrating magick into the "normal world," and what projects are each panelist working on. I do have to call out the panelists on one point: Bobby asked everyone for an update on their projects, but no one on the panel asked for an update from Bobby. Bobby, please share?

A couple of anecdotes: Bobby shared that RAW was a fan of the movie "The Chase" with Charlie Sheen, and Ted Hand said RAW watched the TV show "House" and was sad he had to die without knowing what the final outcome of the series would be.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Thanks to everyone for New Trajectories

New Trajectories, the big zine put together by Bobby Campbell for Maybe Day, clocks in at an impressive 77 pages. But like the tesseract home in the famous Robert Heinlein story, "--And He Built a Crooked House--" those 77 pages have a lot more in them than you might realize. Like a link to a YouTube playlist of Robert Anton Wilson inspired songs, a link to a Mike Gathers minibook, a link to the first chapter  of Steve Fly's new novel, and so on.

All of the Maybe Day work put in by RAW fans seems particularly impressive to me when you consider we're not getting a lot of help. We don't get money from the government or from arts foundations. Academia doesn't seem to be interested in RAW. We can't even get much publicity; Boing Boing, for example, has had nothing about the upcoming Hilaritas Press edition of Starseed or about Maybe Day. Maybe it's not the right time to try to stoke interest in a dead white male, although I'd point out that RAW didn't come from a wealthy family, and Irish Americans were once a marginalized group.

In fact, New Trajectories is so impressive, many of us seem to be a little worried he/she/they didn't measure up. One friend described his contribution as "super rough." Another worried his contribution wasn't original enough. I worried about my Bob Shea piece, but it was sincere.

Everyone, you did well! Pat  yourself on the back!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Getting to know Bobby Campbell

Bobby Campbell in the video explaining Maybe Day. 

Artist and writer Bobby Campbell dropped a lot of material Thursday from himself and his many collaborators for Maybe Day, and it's going to take me awhile to absorb all of it, but I thought for a few days I could call attention to some of the contributors and contributions and perhaps offer a bit of annotation.

The obvious way to start is with Bobby himself. The whole website is a creation from Bobby, but he also has an article in the New Trajectories zine and a video explaining Maybe Day. 

Please also see Bobby's Weirdoverse website, his Twitter and his Instagram.  Bobby is also the maintainer of the Robert Anton Wilson Twitter account. You can also support his Patreon account. 

I met Bobby (and Gregory Arnott) in person when I got together with them for RAW activities at the ConFluence SF convention in Pittsburgh in 2018. I was attempting to repeat that effort with the North American Science Fiction Convention in Columbus, Ohio, this year, but the convention was canceled. Bobby then declared he would organize the Maybe Day effort. Kudos to Bobby for all his work -- building the website, putting together the "New Trajectories" zine, making videos, doing all sorts of artwork and on and on. Hard to believe he has a day job, but he does.