Sunday, July 21, 2019

More on Paul Krassner

I have other things to get to, but let's stay on Paul Krassner for a moment; he's worth it.

As I wrote yesterday, Paul Krassner reportedly is in hospice care and won't be with us much longer. The sad news in the Tweet is from Mondo 2000, a must-follow Twitter account.

Branka Tesla wrote in a comment, "Paul Krassner wrote an Afterword for Robert Anton Wilson's last published book - Email to the Universe - and he made me burst with laughter when I read his last sentence "May he rest in lasagna."

Thank you Branka. She's referring to the new Hilaritas Press edition.

Speaking of Hilaritas Press, the above meme from the RAW Trust was Tweeted on July 17, with a followup Tweet the same day explaining, "It is (pardon the E-Prime) Paul Krassner behind Bob."

Jesse Walker wrote, on Twitter, "Sad news. Paul isn't just a talented satirist; he's one of the menschiest writers I've had the privilege of knowing." Arthur Hlavaty on his blog wrote, "It all started with The Realist. Editor Paul Krassner was brilliantly witty and cynical, and the zine also introduced me to Robert Anton Wilson and Albert Ellis, among others."

Krassner was the mentor for Bob Abel, the book editor who launched Robert Anton Wilson's (and Robert Shea's) career.  Paul Krassner was kind enough to help me when I wrote that article.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Paul Krassner is in hospice care

Paul Krassner in 2009 (Creative Commons photo)

from Mondo 2000 on Twitter: "The great Paul Krassner is in hospice and will be leaving us. He's been a great friend to Mondo and to me and to many others and one of the funniest and kindest people on earth. A cultural hero."

Krassner is a very funny writer and an influential editor, but RAW fans particularly should appreciate him.

In an introduction to "Three Articles from the Realist" in Wilson's essay collection, Coincidance, Wilson explains, "Paul Krassner's iconoclastic journal, The Realist, has published more of my writings than any other American magazine, and there was a period in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I might have given up writing entirely if Paul had not gone on publishing my work. I think everybody in the 'counterculture' owes a great debt to Paul Krassner, but I perhaps owe him more than anyone else."

Here is a Krassner piece published in Variety just a few days ago.

Friday, July 19, 2019

My Tarot reading, using PKD cards

When I'm not trying to explain to my friend Ted Hand that RAW's libertarianism is a feature not a bug, we often chat on Twitter and elsewhere about RAW-related and cultural matters.

Ted has been offering Tarot readings for $10, using the new Philip K. Dick Tarot cards he helped create. My newspaper has just been sold to a new owner, Ogden Newspapers, so I'm going through a period of transition. In the mood for input and willing to experiment, I paid him for a reading. When I got the results, I realized that I'm currently reading the PKD section of Erik Davis' new High Weirdness book, a mild synchronicity.

Above are the three cards he drew, and here is his reading:

Here's your PKD Tarot reading. Cut off in the corner is the phrase "issues of scale can also be (a matter of) point of view," which is interesting given your situation with the paper being sold.

Indicator card is Joe Chip from Ubik, the quintessential PKD "small protagonist" who gets a sort of gnostic message from graffiti on the bathroom wall. That feels like some kind of a comment on your seeking out a Tarot reading!

Past card is Four of Swords, "The War with the Fnools." On the side of the cards is the I Ching correlation, interesting that it's minor setback. I'd take that as encouraging.

Future card is "The Dark Haired Girl" which is in traditional tarot the High Priestess, representing intuition or divine inspiration.

Joe Chip correlates with Hanged Man, which represents a situation of stuckness and/or self sacrifice. Can indicate something needs changing in your life or your approach.

Four of Swords in traditional Tarot is Truce.  Can indicate things having been brought to a resting point. Like once a problem has been solved. 

There's some kind of weird allegory about "the changes in the media business" here. I'm also seeing some play on that in Joe Chip's "impossible message." Doing journalism is such a challenging task in this brave new world.

 Dominance of Trumps in a reading indicate "forces beyond your control." So I'm seeing a pointer toward the goddess figure within, the Jungian anima.  There is an opportunity here to open yourself to some strange new ideas.

I guess my advice would be to keep seeking out ways to engage the "lunar consciousness" of weird intuition. Gaze at the moon, get high, find some spooky music. Dip into the irrational.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The 'dark side of Maybe Logic'?

Ted Hand, left, hanging out with me in Sandusky in 2018. 

Ted Hand launched a big discussion on Twitter a couple of days ago by arguing that some of RAW's work has not held up well in the current political climate, specifically the interest RAW focused on conspiracy theories. Ted argues that the alt right/racist right have used  conspiracy theories as a recruiting tool.

There's a danger I'll misrepresent him if I don't quote everything he said, but here are a couple of representative comments from Ted, and you can go to Twitter and read more:

"Chatting with @mitdasein I realize my attitude about "Fringe research" has changed a lot since my RAW boyhood. I used to think a lot of that stuff had serious intentions but was marginalized. Now I see much of it is racist conspiracy theory. TLDR:  Pizzagate ain't Fortean."

And "Lots of RAW has aged poorly, but his methodological agnosticism can be helpful. It's just a bit obsolete, and in practice it's problematic. Look at all the Jordan Peterson fans on RAW boards parroting stuff abut reality tunnels as if they were epistemologically savvy..."

Some of the thread is here, but you'll have to go beyond it.

Some of the folks weighing in include Erik Davis, John Higgs, Cat Vincent, uel aramchek and Semiotic Stochastic. Bobby Campbell, writing at the @RAWilson23 account (a must-follow for RAW fans) writes, "It's strangely cathartic to read such undeniably valid criticisms of ideas I help propagate. Very many thanks for helping to elucidate the dark side of Maybe Logic."

John wrote about similar issues with his "Operation Mindfix" piece in 2017. He comments, "Reading that back, I'm struck by how the notion that the certain and the alt-right are the only people who can never escape from Chapel Perilous stands up well in light of the whole Qanon thing."

Ted also has issues with RAW's alleged "right libertarianism. " I didn't post much on the conspiracy theory stuff, but I did push back against what I think is the exaggerated notion that RAW was right libertarian; I suggested instead that his attitude toward feminism is more problematic. I got some support from Erik Davis on the libertarianism observation  and on the feminism comment.  (For my money, RAW often but not always combines the best libertarian and left ideas, but Ted complains, "RAW spent a lot of writing hours writing right wing libertarian propaganda that makes perfectly sensible left wing ideas sound ridiculous to bigots." )

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Toxteth Day of the Dead book

More British Discordian news: The Liverpool Arts Lab has announced the impending publication, on July 23, of the Toxteth Day of the Dead: Beating the Bounds book, with a foreword by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.

"The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu have set out to build The People’s Pyramid. The first brick was laid on its foundation stone on Toxteth Day Of The Dead, Friday 23 November 2018.

"The location of the pyramid had not yet been determined, and so the foundation stone was taken on a procession around part of the the Royal & Ancient Park of Toxteth, searching for its future permanent site ... This book commemorates that event with photos of the procession, stories, poems, games and gifts."

More here. Preorders are sold out.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Castle Perilous 23 approaches

Sometimes I wish I lived in England, with all of the wonderful "find the others" events put on by the English RAW weirdos (this is meant affectionately; I am an American RAW weirdo.) The folks who did Festival 23 and Catch 23 have a new event, Castle Perilous 23, August 30 in a real medieval castle in a secret location. (We don't have many secret medieval castles here in Ohio.) The event is sold out and there's no public Internet site, but watch the Castle Perilous 23 Twitter account for news of returned tickets occasionally becoming available.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Erik Davis' two bookmarks book

A couple of points about Erik Davis' excellent new book, High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica and Visionary Experiences in the Seventies, which I am still reading (I haven't finished the RAW section, which is the middle of the book, between Terence McKenna and Philip K. Dick.)

1. Here is one arresting paragraph:

"Wilson always played the garage philosopher, packing his conceptual jams with chatty riffs and refrains, corny jokes and outlandish follow-my-wink enthusiasms. This makes his work appealing to late adolescents, but less so to others. Still, he remains an important and serious thinker, albeit an unsystematic and sometimes sloppy one." (page 220).

A couple of points: Wilson was not an academic. In academia it is currently fashionable to focus upon one narrow field of study. E.g., almost nobody is an expert on the later Roman Empire; professors are experts on the later Roman Army, the evolution of Roman cities in the later empire, etc. The professors who bother to write books on the general history of the later Roman Empire perform a valuable service to undergraduates and interested laymen such as me, but few risk doing so and being caught out in mistakes, i.e. being accused of being "sloppy." If you try to transmit current scholarship in your field to a general audience, you are inevitably targeted for carping criticisms.

Wilson was a generalist. He wrote about libertarian political theory, James Joyce, quantum mechanics, Beethoven, Timothy Leary's eight circuit theory of consciousness, Korzybski, magick, and many other topics. Did he probably make mistakes? Yes. But a generalist has his uses. Not by accident, I think, did Michael Johnson name his blog Overweening Generalist.

2. About RAW, Erik writes, "One of the more charming aspects of Wilson as a writer is the fact that, unlike many charming autodidacts, he does not pretend to think in isolation. His texts are unusually generous in acknowledging his sources, his influences and his intellectual heroes...." (page 221.)

Davis also is good about acknowledging his sources. One of the strengths of High Weirdness are the footnotes, where Davis not only lists his sources but makes many interesting comments. I am reading it with two bookmarks, one for the text and one to keep my place in the notes.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Jesse Walker on Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson (Twitter portrait) 

"One day maybe we'll awaken from this simulation and realize that Marianne Williamson's campaign was just a dream," writes Jesse Walker in his article about this year's most interesting and most weird presidential candidate. "But for now, she wants your vote."

Jesse is always interesting, but his piece on Williamson for Reason magazine is particularly good, and ties Williamson to a long tradition of American spirituality which Walker calls New Thought and could also be referred to as New Age, a recent manifestation.

Readers of this blog will be interested in passages such as this:

"That said, there is one rather Hallian passage in Williamson's first political book, 1997's The Healing of America. The Great Seal of the United States—that eye-in-the-pyramid logo on the back of the dollar bill—'illustrates our Founders' sense of America's destiny,' Williamson writes. 'The seal shows the Great Pyramid at Giza, with its missing capstone returned and illuminated. The Eye of Horus, the ancient Egyptian symbol for the consciousness of higher mind, is displayed within the capstone. Beneath the picture are written the words 'Novus Ordo Seclorum'—new order of the ages. This Masonic symbolism reveals democracy's function as a vehicle for the realization of humanity's highest potential'." ["Hallian" as in Manly P. Hall]

I was startled to read Jesse's piece and learn something about Donald Trump I didn't know. Another passage in the piece: "We're used to seeing religious coverage that stresses the left and right wings of Christianity. On some subjects, such as Middle Eastern policy, we hear about the left and right wings of Judaism. Well, here are the left and right wings of New Thought." Joshua Hallenbeck vs. Charles Faris on Twitter!

One of Ms. Williamson's books. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

The saga of And/Or Press

I've been reading the new Erik Davis book, High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica and Visionary Weirdness in the Seventies. I like it a lot; everyone who reads this blog would likely find it very interesting. More about it soon.

On page 170, Davis briefly mentions "the independent Berkeley publisher And/Or Press, which also put out books on Gurdjieff, laughing gas and nude Tai Chi." It also put out the McKenna brothers' Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide: A Handbook for Psilocybin Enthusiasts, which came out under a pseudonym.

I don't have any of those books, but I do have two Robert Anton Wilson books put out by And/Or: The Illuminati Papers and Right Where You Are Sitting Now, two of my favorite RAW books.

I realized I didn't know anything about And/Or Press when I read Davis' passage. I ran a search, and it turns out there's a Wikipedia article about And/Or, and also its successor, Ronin Publisher.  Ronin is still around and has a bunch of Timothy Leary titles. 

Right Where You Are Sitting Now is listed for sale on Amazon as a paperback. No ebook is listed. The Illuminati Papers, as put out by Ronin Publishing, also is listed, and there's also a Kindle.

These two titles seem to be an anomaly, as all of RAW's other books either are published by Dell (e.g., Illuminatus! and  Schroedinger's Cat) or were eventually acquired by New Falcon and then Hilaritas Press, the imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Brian Eno, on Twitter

Musician and record producer Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, known as "Brian."

Hat tip, Charles Faris.

More on Mr. Eno the RAW fan.

The Wikipedia bio. 

I particularly like Eno's work as a producer for Talking Heads, but he also produced recordings for U2 and many other bands, has issued memorable solo recordings, was an early member of Roxy Music, did a fine album with David Byrne called My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and has many other credits.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Oz Fritz on the new Bob Dylan film

Oz Fritz has a post up on one of my favorite singers (and one of Robert Anton Wilson's least favorite), Bob Dylan. Specifically, the post about the new Martin Scorsese movie on Netflix, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story.  I haven't seen it yet; maybe this weekend. I am old enough that I saw the original movie about the tour, Renaldo and Clara.

If you haven't heard, the new movie mixes real documentary facts with fiction.  In other words, it's not a straight documentary of the tour, although it has concert footage and some genuine moments mixed in with the made up incidents and characters. Renaldo and Clara also was pretty weird and not really a conventional documentary; I remember mainly liking the concert sequences.

One paragraph from Oz's piece:

"This misdirection should come as no surprise.  The film begins with old footage of a stage illusionist making a woman disappear then bringing her back.  It seems part of the film's mission to ontologically shake-up assumptions about exactly what is going on.  Editing and using sound and visuals in this way to create new contexts and factual illusions reminds me strongly of Orson Welle's F is for Fake "documentary" that looked at art forgery through using the techniques of film forgery. Robert Anton Wilson wrote an excellent account of the sleight-of-hand in that film that could give some insight into how Scorsese constructed this Bob Dylan story."