Sunday, March 29, 2015

RAW on consciousness change

It's nice to have Robert Anton Wilson Fans back. There's a wealth of material to browse through, thanks to Mike Gathers' efforts to get the site going again.

There are quite a few interviews with RAW there, and one of the more interesting one is the "Notes from the Pop Underground" interview that posted in 1985. Here's a question about the occult that RAW turns into an answer about consciousness change. I think it sheds light on many scenes in Illuminatus!

What is your association with the O.T.O., Golden Dawn and other occult orders?

RAW: Those are only two of the occult orders into which I have been initiated. For a while in the early ’70s I was going around to occult conventions the way some people go to every science-fiction con, and frequently members of one occult order would initiate the members of another order _en masse_. If I listed all my mystical titles, the catalog would be quite impressive (to those who are impressed by titles). Chiefly what I learned from all this hocus-pocus was that ritual can be a very effective method of brain-change or neurological reprogramming, but only if it contains a high element of symbolic drama and a certain carefully calculated shock. That is, the reason most church rituals accomplish nothing and are so bloody *dull* is that the drama and shock are missing. The real reason for the secrecy of occult orders (including the Freemasons) is that the drama and shock are most powerful if the candidate literally does not know what is about to happen next.

A true ritual, containing a neurological shock, can be as effective as many years of meditation or other yogic practices. Of course, it doesn’t always work; amateurs often botch their rituals and the effect then is like a syrupy Disney film that’s supposed to make you cry but just makes you squirm, or a comedy that doesn’t make you laugh, or a horror film that doesn’t scare you. But when a ritual is performed correctly, everybody feels the energy and knows they have entered a new level of reality.

The principal methods of altering consciousness are drugs, meditation, special breathing techniques like pranayama, and a heightening of shock or confusion. A good ritual creates that shock and confusion in which you begin to see with new clarity and hear what is being said. It opens you to experiences that your cultural conditioning has previously armored you against.

After a while, however, all ritual becomes vain repetition. There is no more to learn from it. I dropped out of all occult orders, with no hard feelings on any side, many years ago. My work on consciousness these days is involved only with meditation and yogic breathing. In my experience, those techniques never become repetitious or redundant. You learn more from them every year.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Warning: Alternative Beliefs!

You may think you are just reading a literary site, devoted to a somewhat obscure American writer, but you are wrong. You are accessing forbidden fruit!

Yesterday, I took my car to the oil change shop and I accessed the shop's courtesy wi-fi on my smartphone and checked this site to see if it was up, did I have any new comments, etc. But I couldn't access it. A message (above) said I was blocked from, because I was offering "Alternative Beliefs." See the link for more information.

It's said that early in the 20th century, book publishers competed eagerly to be "banned in Boston" because it was so useful for marketing a book in the rest of the country. I'm hoping this site will acquire a similar cachet, although I admit that "banned by Valvoline" isn't quite as interesting.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday links

PQ on recording Finnegans Wake. 

Oz Fritz on Bill Laswell. An interesting paragraph: "A popular notion in esoteric circles concerns the Secret Chiefs or Hidden Masters, advanced Initiates who influence and guide the evolution of the human species or at least attempt to.  According to Robert Anton Wilson this works as a "useful metaphor."  Perhaps not all the Masters are metaphysical?  True artists, those that communicate transformational information or "data cells" through the medium of their art, help shape the culture and society of their times."

Greg Hill's free ticket, from Adam Gorightly.  Also an Eris of the Month, although I could not find the golden apple.

Bill to end NSA spying on Americans introduced in U.S. House. Via Jake Shannon at Discordian Libertarians on Facebook.

Do we need a new economic model?  Via Jake Shannon, again.

Spielberg to direct Ready Player One movie. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Black Magic and Curses' by RAW?

Jesse Walker — author, gentleman, Reason magazine editor, RAW fan, etc. — wrote to me recently to ask if I knew whatever had happened to Black Magick and Curses, Robert Anton Wilson's planned revised version of Playboy's Book of Forbidden Words. An announcement was posted on Usenet by one "Mark Chan," purportedly RAW himself.

"This was earlier in 2000, so perhaps the revised edition actually existed? (Or perhaps this was just to be the original uncut version, which would itself be quite a find?)," Walker asks. The Post Office box was the same as for Permanent Press, which put out the newsletter "Trajectories" and the book Chaos and Beyond, Walker found.

These kinds of inquiries to the RAW estate never seem to generate a  useful response, at least in my experience, so I tried Eric Wagner, who very well might know, and Michael Johnson, another RAW scholar.

"I don't think it ever appeared," Eric wrote back.

Michael said he doesn't know, either. He speculated that a manuscript might have been auctioned off when RAW. "I'm fairly certain this never appeared in any substantial way," he wrote.

I notice also that "Black Magick and Curses" is the name of a piece in Email to the Universe. 

Does anyone else know anything?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book news from England

Above is the paperback cover for John Higgs' alternative history of the 20th Century, Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century.  It is available for pre-order both in the U.K. and the U.S. (The lobster telephone presumably refers to Salvador Dali's surrealistic creation, although I'm hoping it's the phone John reaches for when you ring him up.)

Alan Moore is going to release a massive (non-graphic) novel next year.  Follow the link in the Times article for more information.  Moore also has an H.P. Lovecraft project that starts soon. 

Not sure I can really relate this last bit to RAW, but the Elvis Costello memoir also comes out later this year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cosmic Trigger play news

Daisy Eris Campbell has sent out a new email update. A couple pieces of news:

(1) Another batch of Cosmic Trigger t-shirts are being printed up at 15 pounds apiece (a little under $23 American dollars); to order one, write to Daisy (at) It's the t-shirt being worn by actor Oliver Senton, above, "and the money will go towards re-filling the Cosmic Coffers," Daisy writes.

(2) "We are currently exploring all sorts of Cosmic tentacles — and hope to be announcing some very exciting news soon... For more information, consult your pineal gland (and we might email in case)." Probably if you write to her, you can get yourself added to the email list.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 57, Illuminatus! online reading group

Saul Goodman, as played by John Joyce in the Ken Campbell stage version of Illuminatus!, with Prunella Gee. 

(This week: "The peace symbol," said George, Page 595, to "If we're right about this, we might all be dead before Woodstock Europa opens next week." Page 605.)

At the beginning of Illuminatus!, New York police officers Saul Goodman, head of the homicide unit, and his friend Barney Muldoon, from the bomb squad, are called in the middle of the night to investigate the bombing of the offices of Confrontation magazine.

And in this week's section, we find out why pentuple agent Tobias Knight and Joseph Malik set off the bomb: If I am reading this correctly, one of Knight's organizations, the CIA, wants to deploy the talents of Goodman and Muldoon to see what's up with the Illuminati.

The bombing will draw in Muldoon from the bomb squad (a bombing would only get Muldoon in, page 605) and they want Goodman, too, so what to do? (Even having Malik disappear might only bring in Missing Persons, page 605).

Then I remembered the dummies used by the clothier on the eighteen floor, right above the Confrontation office. Burn the dummy just right before setting the bomb and it might work, Knight thinks, (page 605). (Tobias Knight's monologue on this section begins with "Robinson and Lehrman of the Homicide Department actually started the last phase of the operation," page 602.

And it does work. On page 11, Barney Muldoon explains to Goodman why Goodman was called to the scene, even though nobody was killed: "The call went out to you because a clothier's dummy was burned on the eighteenth floor and the first car here thought it was a human body." And then a couple of pages later, Dan Pricefixer finds the box of memos about the Illuminati ("It's the freakiest box of memos I ever set eyes on. Weird as tits on a bishop," page 13) and the chase is on.

And did you notice another passage where this section ties back to the beginning of the book?

Page 602: Robinson and Lehrman of the Homicide Department actually started the last phase of the operation, and a few sentences later, "Muldoon is on to  us," Robinson told us right off."

Page 19, after Muldoon and Goodman realize they've gotten interested in the strange case:

Methodically, Saul went on, "Who, on your staff, do you think is a double agent for the CIA?"
"Robinson I''m sure off, and Lehrman I suspect."
"Both of them go. We take no chances."

A note on the text:

Page 601, The woman who calls  herself Lady Velkor is an astonishing beautiful women with flaming red hair and smoldering green eyes. She sounds like Marjorie Campbell, the woman with red hair who participated in the Babalon Working ritual with occultist Jack Parsons. (Citation: Oz Fritz, in the Week 12 posting which covers the Black Mass in which Ms. Velkor makes her first appearance: "p.117: the woman with red hair and green eyes recalls Marjorie Cameron who had the same.  She was the woman who entered Jack Parson’s life during his Babalon working eventually becoming his wife.")

(Next week: "Are you a turtle?" Lady Velkor asks again, page 605, to  page 617, "Just then, Joe distinctly heard a rooster crow.")