Thursday, August 21, 2014

New comic book from Bobby Campbell

Bobby Campbell has issued the new digital comic book AGNOSIS #1 — #FINDTHEOTHERS. It is 64 pages long and available for $1.95 as a digital download here.  I bought my copy right after it came out and read it the next night.

It's written by Bobby with rather good art from Marcelino Balao III. RAW fans will enjoy the work, as it is dense with allusions to Bob, Timothy Leary, James Joyce, Robert Shea, Aleister Crowley, etc., and will enjoy seeing some of their concepts brought to life in Ballao's art. I particularly liked the No Bunny and the entire panel illustration the eight circuit model of consciousness. I hope Bobby sends this to Alan Moore and gets a response.

There's no DRM, so I was able to download my copy, back it up online, and then transfer it to a tablet for convenient lie-on-the-couch viewing.

Also available: Weird Comix #1, an anthology from Bobby (for just 99 cents).

I interviewed Bobby earlier this year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New John Higgs book

While we wait for John Higgs' big alternative history of the 20th century, he is meanwhile coming out with a short ebook on the British monarchy.

                          John Higgs, loyal subject of British pet Elizabeth II

Our Pet Queen: A New Perspective on Monarchy will be issued Tuesday by Random House. The blurb says, "In the modern, democratic twenty-first century, the notion of an unelected, dynastic monarchy is not easy to defend.This new book argues that the current monarchy is by far the best system for choosing a Head of State - providing that it is understood that we are not subjects and that the monarchy are not our superiors. They are, in actual fact, our pets.
"In this original eBook, John Higgs, author of the The 20th Century: An Alternative History, makes an argument in favour of the monarchy that will annoy royalists even more than it will annoy republicans. This is a tongue-in-cheek, witty examination of the persistence of monarchy in the modern world."

On his blog, Higgs comments, "It's a continuation of what seems to be a major theme in my books, namely that looking at the world rationally leaves you far more bewildered and angry than when you recognise and enjoy the magical thinking that really shapes the world.

"It's 15,000 words, contains revolutions and beheadings, and you can pre-order now from Amazon UK for £1.94 or from for $3.25."

Higgs isn't the only British author I follow who has written on the monarchy. Sean Gabb aka Richard Blake, in this essay, wrote a defense of the institution.

Sean is not a fan of the current queen, but adds, "This does not, in itself, make a republic desirable. Americans may be very pleased with an electoral system that has given them so many interesting and even entertaining heads of state. But, from an English point of view, American history is something more enjoyably observed than suffered."

A couple of graphs later, he adds,

"Symbolic functions aside, the practical advantage of having a monarchy is that the head of state is chosen by the accident of birth and not by some corrupted system of election; and that the head of state is likely to show a longer term, more proprietorial interest in the country than someone who has lied his way to one or two terms of office.  (This is the essential argument of the German libertarian Hans-Herman Hoppe`s book Democracy: The God that Failed.)"

I'll bet a dialogue between these two gentlemen, both subjects of Her Majesty the Queen, would be interesting.

I still feel a patriotic loyalty to the American system, where every four to eight years, we get rid of our president and replace him with one who is equally bad. I only wish our president was about as powerless as the British hereditary monarch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

'The Internet's Own Boy'

Aaron Swartz

Robert Anton Wilson never got around to writing his Tale of the Tribe book, but for him and for many other libertarian-minded folk, the role of the Internet in modern life has been important.

The late Aaron Swartz, in an interview in The Internet's Own Boy, a new documentary about his life and death, talks about two opposing views of the Internet: The idea that it provides a new method for achieving freedom that will liberate us all, and the notion that it provides a way for the government and others to spy on us all of the time. Both conceptions have a measure of truth, and which prevails will depend on us, Swartz observes.

I watched The Internet's Own Boy on the free, Creative Commons version posted at the Internet Archive. I strongly recommend taking the time to watch it if you are interested in Internet issues. (Kudos to Steve Pratt for also trying to draw attention to it.)  It's a fine documentary, focusing on Swartz's intellectual gifts, his contributions in politics and programming, his efforts to make information available on the Internet, and his death after he downloaded a large number of documents from the MIT computer system and was hit with a federal prosecution and threatened with up to 35 years in prison.

There's an interesting irony in the movie. It's clear that the Obama Administration's Justice Department, obsessed with secrecy and with crushing anyone who represented a challenge to the system, wanted to make an example of Swartz. Instead, although they are likely no worse than many other tyrannical government officials, the movie "makes an example" of Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann, who hounded Swartz to his death over a minor crime. Incidentally, President Obama has gone out of his way to make it clear that while Ortiz and Heymann may be unprincipled thugs, they're his thugs: His attorney general, Eric Holder, told a Congressional committee that the hounding of Swartz was "a good use of prosecutorial discretion."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 26, Illuminatus online reading group


(This week: Page 252, " 'What color where they?' he said suddenly to Hagbard," to page 262, "until long after this meeting is over, Mr. Muldoon.")

In this section, we get a good dose of Illuminati paranoia and more about Atlantis.

One of my sisters told me a few days ago about an old friend of hers believed she was being spied on by the government all of the time. In a sense, of course, my sister's friend is correct: The U.S. government apparently has telephone records for pretty much everyone. But it's probably not likely that the Tulsa police were personally targeting the woman, although my sister could not convince her otherwise.

On page 256, Hagbard Celine offers five explanations for why the Illuminati either do or do not rule the world; you can take your pick for your favorite. But if you do believe there is an Illuminati, you are allowed to be paranoid about them, whether or not you think they are in charge.

It's been said that Illuminatus! ties together many conspiracies.

There's also a lot of myth, and a lot of romantic history. We get the Assassins, the Vikings (Celine's ship is named the Leif Ericson), Greek myth (in the form of Eris) and Atlantis, a myth which has its roots in ancient Greece. As we noted last week, RAW said that the Atlantis parts were all Shea. And judging from his solo novels, all historical novels, Shea was a a big ancient and medieval history buff.

The Atlantis myth comes from an account in Plato; when I was young, developing my own interest in history, I read about one theory, that the Atlantis account was a distorted account of what happened to a Minoan community in the island of Santorini, destroyed by a volcanic eruption. 

Of course, there are many accounts of Atlantis; it would appear that the Illuminatus! account owes something to Ignatius Donnelly's Atlantis: The Antideluvian World.  I don't have time to try to read it now, but Wikipedia says, "Many of its theories are the source of many modern-day concepts we have about Atlantis, like the civilization and technology beyond its time, the origins of all present races and civilizations, a civil war between good and evil, etc."

Wikipedia says that Donnelly's book inspired my favorite Donovan song, "Atlantis," which I once saw the singer perform live, as the opening act for Yes. The song was a big hit in the U.S., although less so in Great Britain, where the single "the single managed only a modest No. 23 placing," Wikipedia says.  Did Wilson or Shea dig the song?

Here is a map from the Donnelly book, showing the empire of Atlantis. Apparently the ancient Atlanteans even occupied what is now the state of Ohio, where I live. The statues George Dorn gazes on "bore resemblance to Egyptian and Mayan," page 257. 

A couple of notes:

Peos, page 255. The name of the Atlantean city of Peos may come from Edgar Cayce, the alleged seer.

Gruad, page 258, first Illuminatus in Atlantis, 30,000 B.C. 

Zwack, page 261, Franz Xavier von Zwack A member of the Bavarian Illuminati, associated with Adam Weishaupt.

(Next week: Page 262, "It was the night of February 2, 1776" to page 272, "Except for Drake's power drive.")

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Discordian (mostly) news roundiup

I was away on a family gathering in Oregon for a few days, so I need to get caught up:

(1) Neil Rest and Daisy Eris Campbell at the world science fiction convention currently being held in London. Daisy posted this on Twitter, writing, "Just met the guy that Simon Moon was part-based on! #Illuminatus"

(2) Jesse Walker on Discordianism, at Io9. 

(3) Michael Johnson on Swift, Marx and Robert Anton Wilson.

(4) The Lost Treasure of Eris has been found. 

(5) Things to Stop Being Distracted By When a Black Person Gets Murdered by Police. (Via Supergee)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

New Neal Stephenson novel announced

Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson, maybe my favorite living writer, will be coming out with a new book, Seveneves, on April 14. It's apparently a science fiction novel; a few meagre details have been released. There's no information yet at the crummy official page or the other crummy official page.  

There is also a mysterious announcement for yet another new book to come out next year, BombLight.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Is Bloomsday tied to the Illuminati?

The excellent Groupname for Grapejuice blog has a new post up, "A Blooming, Buzzing Infusion," which investigates the possible occult links to June 16, the date that is the setting for James Joyce's Ulysses.

The Dublin Hermetic Society, which included W.B. Yeats, held its first meeting on June 16, 1885, blogger Znore explains.

[Joyce biographer] Ellmann does not suggest, to my knowledge, that this opening meeting of the Dublin Hermetic Society had anything to do with Joyce setting Ulysses on June 16th. It is quite a coincidance, though, that this magical order first met on the same day in Dublin that Nora first performed her own version of sex magick with Jim during a walk through the same city streets. Yeats's profound influence on Joyce is clearly evident and the question is begged: was Joyce in on the conspiracy?

Znore then demonstrates how June 16 is tied to the Zoroastrian religious calendar and provides citations to show how the Bavarian Illuminati were inspired by the Persian fire cult. His long post also discusses the neopagan calendar created by Ezra Pound and how Robert Anton Wilson was very familiar with it. If his post is correct, Illuminatus! is even more inspired by the work of James Joyce than we already thought.

I can't really do justice to Znore's post with this short blog entry. I had missed, for example, the fact that Aleister Crowley gave Ulysses a rave review, although Steve "Fly" Pratt knew. 

I've belatedly added Groupname for Grapejuice to the "Sangha" blog list on the right side of the page. This was an oversight on my part and I'm pleased to finally correct it.