Monday, March 25, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Five

Mural of Venus from Pompeii

This week, please read from page 90, "The horror came quite unexpectedly, one day as he was returning from school," to page 103, the end of part one, "I tell you my three souls are all sick ..." That's only about a dozen pages, but I think it's logical to conclude part one. We still haven't gotten that far, so perhaps other readers can still be persuaded to join us.

Part One ends with some surprising revelations. I don't want to put any spoilers here.

But perhaps I can point out an interesting reversal of expectations: One of the "bad guys," the blonde man, sounds like RAW:

"Every national border in Europe marks the place where two gangs of bandits got too exhausted to kill each other anymore and signed a treaty. Patriotism is the delusion that one of these gangs of bandits is better than all the others." (Page 95).

The drug that Sigismundo is given is belladonna, about which RAW has a lot to say about in Email to the Universe, in the chapter "La Belle Dame Sans Merci."

It begins, "The four weirdest and scariest drug stories I know all involve belladonna, a chemical for which I now have the same sincere respect as I have for hungry tigers, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, the IRS and Dr. Hannibal Lecter."

What follows are four very frightening stories, three involving friends (one is William Burroughs), and one involving RAW himself, when he made the mistake of taking belladonna as a tea while living on Ohio.

It really sounds like something you shouldn't mess with. "Bella donna" means "beautiful lady"  and Wilson's title comments on the seductive and destructive power of the drug by referring to the famous John Keats poem.

Oz Fritz has been posting many comments to these chronicles. I recently read an article in the New York Times about classical conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, and a quote from the article about how concerts have "the power of the ritual" reminded me of some Oz' writings about music on his blog.

The full quote: "There’s a certain moment when you go off line and someone curates a space, with a piece, and the power of the ritual. You have this moment, along with many others, but still a finite experience. It happens in real time, but it will never happen again, and you were there. You can let yourself go. And I think that’s actually a real liberation. We are going to need that more than ever before.”

Of course, that "finite experience" in the moment was the only way to listen to music in Sigismundo's day.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A new Silverberg anthology

Robert Silverberg

I like the idea of appreciating old SF masters while they are still alive. Here is a review of a new Silverberg anthology of time travel stories, written by Rob Latham and published in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Via Arthur Hlavaty. 

My favorite Silverberg novel is A Time of Changes. When I read the review, I realized I need to read Up the Line. 

Silverberg is now 84. Years ago, when I was in FAPA, Silverberg was still active. I don't know if he's still there, or how FAPA is faring. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

More on the Rev. Raymond Broshears

Raymond Broshears

Adam Gorightly goes deeper into JFK assassination lore with the final installment of his series on Raymond Broshears, "The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00006: A FOIA Treasure Trove." This one explores the connection between Broshears and would-be Gerald Ford assassin Sara Jane Moore, among other topics.

One odd bit: Steve Jaffe, an unofficial investigator for Jim Garrison, was involved in the conspiracy movie Executive Action. Adam says he was a producer; Wikipedia lists Jaffe as a "technical consultant." Oddly, Wikipedia links to a Steve Jaffe is a composer, and apparently not the same person.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Physics experiment echoes RAW's thought

Eugene Wigner

Headline on an article from the MIT Technology Review: "A quantum experiment suggests there’s no such thing as objective reality."

It could also have said the experiment suggested that observation can create a reality.

"Back in 1961, the Nobel Prize–winning physicist Eugene Wigner outlined a thought experiment that demonstrated one of the lesser-known paradoxes of quantum mechanics. The experiment shows how the strange nature of the universe allows two observers—say, Wigner and Wigner’s friend—to experience different realities."

The article goes on to explain how recent advances in quantum technology have allowed experiments to test Wigner's thought experiment, and that Massimiliano Proietti at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and some colleagues recently carried out an experiment in observing the polarization of a proton.

"The experiment produces an unambiguous result. It turns out that both realities can coexist even though they produce irreconcilable outcomes, just as Wigner predicted."

Wigner is mentioned in Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy.

Thank you to Roman Tsivkin for spotting this and posting on Twitter. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Andrew Yang talks about the UBI

Andrew Yang, left, and Kmele Foster. 

Many people are running for president as a Democrat these days. Perhaps the most interesting candidate is Andrew Yang, who is making the UBI a central plank of his platform. 

As I drove to work today, I listened to an interview of Yang by Kmele Foster on the "The Fifth Column" libertarian podcast. Foster is a libertarian skeptic, but he gives Yang plenty of time to talk. 

You can learn more about Yang from his website and his Twitter account. You can follow Kmele on Twitter, too; that's where I found the above photograph. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday links

Young Orson Welles. 

New documentary on Orson Welles.

Butterfly Language launches Patreon. 

Andrew Yang, the UBI candidate. 

"Some moderate, common-sense proposals I don't expect any major candidate to endorse." From Bryan Caplan.

W.H. Auden on no-platforming Ezra Pound. "This incident is only one sign—there are other and far graver ones—that there was more truth than one would like to believe in Huey Long’s cynical observation that if fascism came to the United States it would be called Anti-fascism."

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Ralph Metzner has died

Ralph Metzner has died. He carried out psychedelic research at Harvard with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass.) Wikipedia bio here.

R.U. Sirius says, "I'm sorry to learn of the death of Ralph Metzner intrepid explorer of consciousness, author, environmentalist & part of the original Harvard psychedelic project w. Timothy Leary & Richard Alpert/Ram Dass. He used to drop by the Mondo house occasionally. A lovely gentle presence."

Here is a podcast that features Metzner.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Four

The Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini. "Out of the most Catholic of all countries, in the most Catholic of all centuries, Sigismundo Malatesta had created this symphony in marble and gold to hail his own private gods: against all the laws of probability and history, the first pagan temple in a thousand years." Page 79. 

This week, please read from page 68, "There was a piece by Scarlatti, a Sonata in D Major, that was like the human soul trying to free itself from the vegetative and animal souls" to Page 89, "Nobody knows what they are really plotting, they are as enigmatic as cat's eyes."

"...chiefly, it was Venus he saw ... There was only flesh and light and joy: golden flesh and clear light and pagan joy." Page 77.

Gemistus Pletho, whose remains were interred at the Tempio Malatestiano. "He was a chief pioneer of the revival of Greek scholarship in Western Europe.[5] As revealed in his last literary work, the Nomoi or Book of Laws, which he only circulated among close friends, he rejected Christianity in favour of a return to the worship of ancient Hellenic Gods as well as ancient wisdom based on Zoroaster and the Magi." See Wikipedia article. 

The phrase "time out of joint" is from Shakespeare's Hamlet, but also evokes the Philip K. Dick novel. " ... time has been stretched out of joint, not by horror this time, but by ecstasy." Page 81

Sunday, March 17, 2019

RAW's 'Introduction to a Malign Fiesta'

The news of the latest atrocity makes Martin Wagner's latest discovery more relevant: Robert Anton Wilson's introduction to Dark Destiny, Proprietors of Fate, edited by Edward E. Kramer, an old horror anthology.

This is a really good piece.


A phalanx of intelligences and powers, all differentiated, some cooperating and some competing—the view of the ordinary person about ordinary day-to-day reality—ultimately describes the cosmos better than any monotheistic or atheistic oversimplification. We can call these intelligences and powers “gods” or “goods” or “demons” or “evils,” if we will, but those remain merely our own prejudices. Each entity has its own view of the situation—just as an old rat, in Burroughs memorable phrase, has decided opinions about wise guys who stuff steel wool into rat holes.

In other words, one and zero do not differ by very much—one god or no god, who really cares?—but infinity and zero differ very greatly. And we seem to live in a world of infinite complexity, infinitely many intelligences, infinitely competing and cooperating entities, very few of whom give a fried fart about human hopes and prayers.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Finnegans Wake roundup

From artist Carol Wade: "I am delighted to announce, the premier exhibition of "riverrun", a visual response to #FinnegansWake by James Joyce. The exhibition will be held in the Waterways Visitors Center, Grand Canal Dock in conjunction with @5lampsarts" (It's in Dublin, part of the Five Lamps Arts Festival. More information here.)

From Derek of Waywords and Meansigns: "In case you haven't heard, Finnegans Wake turns eighty this year -- published 80 years ago, May 4, 1939 -- & we're celebrating with a big weekend event in Dublin, May 3rd through 5th at the Joyce Centre. I hope some of you can join us for this "Finnegans Wake-End". And I'm curating an installation at Trinity College, April 11-13, as part of the Wake Symposium there."

From PQ: "Carvings in the Claybook: A Reading of Finnegans Wake pgs. 18-19."

Friday, March 15, 2019

Erik Davis followup

As a followup to the posting the other day on Erik Davis' new book, High Weirdness, Erik knows the old dissertation his book is based upon is out there, but hopes you'll wait for the book. In a comment to my post the other day, he wrote:

"Having labored on the revision of High Weirdness for at least as long as the dissertation took, I'd of course like to believe that my effort was worth it in a better book that is worth the wait.

"In terms of RAW I added material more than I removed it, and more importantly, smoothed the ideas and improved the lingo that carries them forward. The dissertation was like a sloppily wordy first draft with lots of secondary material crammed in, and without the cherry on the top of yummy prose.

"Caveat Downloador."

I plan to wait.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

War on some drugs news

The above video shows police in Bolivar, Missouri, searching the hospital room of a stage four pancreatic cancer patient. No marijuana was found. The hospital did apologize later. You can read Reason magazine's account,  although I should warn everyone that Reason is a libertarian magazine, and I was recently told on Twitter that libertarians have an "obnoxious emphasis on personal liberty."

The police chief is unhappy about the "negative feedback" the department received on Facebook.