Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 72, Illuminatus! online reading group

Just another synchronicity: As I worked on this blog post, I found this clip from "Manhattan Melodrama" of Clark Gable, doing "a little favor for a friend," by shooting an actor with my name, Thomas E. Jackson. (He was "also known as Tom Jackson," just like me.) I'll have to track down a copy of the movie.

(This week: End of Illuminatus!, pages 797-805, appendices Mem and Nun.)

A few notes:

Wikipedia article on Manhattan Melodrama.  (page 797)

"See the sequel, The Homing Pigeons," page 798. I don't know if it counts as a sequel, and I don't remember Robert Simpson in it, but The Homing Pigeons is the third book of RAW's Schrödinger's Cat trilogy.  Eric Wagner has a good essay on the book in An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson.

"Hagbard finally blasted off for the stars in 1999," page 800. In Poul Anderson's novel about immortal human mutants, The Boat of a Million Years,  the characters make a starship and leave Earth. Despite what RAW says here (fourth question and answer)  Poul Anderson had his moments (for example, in Tau Zero.)

"a sample of the man's delusions" and "ANTHRAX LEPROSY DELTA," page 801. Not long after Illuminatus! was published, there was an outbreak in the Soviet Union in 1979, when military anthrax accidentally leaked from a Russian military facility — a bit of forecasting that probably hasn't gotten enough attention.

"Malaclypse the Younger," page 783, Gregory Hill.

(Next week: Final thoughts on Illuminatus! and the online reading group, from me, Eric Wagner and anybody else to cares to send something in.)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Libertarian peace books

The libertarian movement is a kind of three-legged stool which emphasizes the free market, civil liberties and peace, and yet it seems to me that many libertarian writers tend to write most about the free market and least about peace. I'm currently reading the new Charles Murray book, which at least so far (I'm about halfway through) says nothing at all about foreign policy.

What great libertarian peace books am I missing? I queried two pro-peace libertarians, Chad Nelson and Jesse Walker.

Chad, an editor at and the Center for a Stateless Society, writes, "For starters, this is a phenomenal, easily accessible anthology of essays that I highly recommend. You'll recognize some of contributors in it. What's neat about it is the diversity of topics and perspectives. Some of the essays are deeply personal. Others are very academic.

"It's called Why Peace.  Look it up on Amazon. Can't recommend it highly enough. It covers such a broad range of conflicts and different libertarian antiwar messages that I see it as the best overview for a libertarian foreign policy.

"The editor, Marc Guttman, is a local Connecticut libertarian who also has an excellent anthology called Why Liberty. See if you can read his introductory essay in Why Peace on Amazon for a taste."

(Follow up from Chad) "The Mises Institute Bookstore's foreign policy section is excellent. Libertarian historian Ralph Raico's Great Wars &Great Leaders was a fantastic primer on WWI & WWII revisionism. Also in the Mises Store (I think) is Defend America First, Garret Garrett's Saturday Evening Post columns from the lead up until entry into WWII. Very libertarian and chilling to the bone.

"Ron Paul's A Foreign Policy of Freedom was fantastic. It's his foreign policy floor speeches from his many years in Congress. Libertarian and heavy on the Constitutional case against war.  As you can imagine, it covers several conflicts.

"Tom Woods' and Murray Polner's We Who Dared to Say No to War is another great collection. Just look at its table of contents for a flavor. Whenever I write an article I get it out because it's so rich with brilliant antiwar quotes.

"I read Nicholson Baker's WWII book Human Smoke recently. He's no libertarian, but Penn Jillette said it moved him to tears.

"Goodness, I forgot to mention Rothbard. Have you read his essay War, Peace and the State? It's as seminal as any libertarian book out there. He's got other good foreign policy stuff too. This is the single best though.

Smedley Butler's book War is A Racket is supposedly a classic too. I have not read it."

Walker sent me another recommendation: War is the Health of the State: The Impact of Military Defense on the History of the United States, a long paper from Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, available here. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Alex Tabarrok on space travel

Alex Tabarrok is the lesser-known member of the duo who write the Marginal Revolution blog. He blogs much less often than Tyler Cowen and his books get less attention. But when he posts, I'm a little bit like the characters in the old E.F. Hutton commercials; I always pay close attention.

I'm fascinated by space expploration and the possibilities opened up by ventures such as SpaceX, and so I want to mention some of his space postings. The recent SpaceX setback caused Cowen to point to Tabarrok's 2007 posting, which argues that space travel remains too dangerous to make space tourism viable yet.

On a more positive not, Professor Tabarrok writes here and here about the case for a planetary defense system to defend Earth against asteroids. No sign, alas, that he has read Arthur C. Clarke's classic Rendezvous With Rama.

Bonus: Tabarrok also is interesting on Greece. 

The illustration above is from the iO9 posting, "How Rendezvous With Rama Might Look as a CG Film," and see also the comments.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bobby Campbell "meets" Alan Moore

Bobby Campbell is a fan of Alan Moore, as you can see from Bobby's art, above.

But is Alan a Bobby Campbell fan? We can only hope.

Bobby reports, "Several months ago a few of the guys from the Cosmic Trigger production crew were kind enough to offer to set up a hand delivery of a couple of my comix (Agnosis 1 & Buddhafart 1) to Alan Moore. I hadn't heard anything back for quite a long time, and had forgotten all about it, but just the other day I get word back that the delivery was recently made along w/ a few encouraging words from the man himself. 'Alan told me to tell you... ' "

I asked Bobby what the message was. "He just said thanks and that he wishes me all the best."

About that art, above: "About a year and a half ago I drew his portrait for a Cosmic Trigger event poster, listening to his lectures on youtube while I worked, and he was explaining his perspective about how art & magic are basically the same thing, so I wondered if I could turn my drawing into an Alan Moore invocation ritual.  Which of course is a very strange thing think! But hey, a year and a half later he was holding that same drawing in his hands, so who knows!?

"Nick and Scott were the super cool dudes that helped me get the comix & art to him. (I guess I shd leave it at first names to thread the needle between giving credit but not giving out personal info)."

Get your own copy of Agnosis here.  Bobby has just posted the first 12 pages of Agnosis @2. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Listening to Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti 

Robert Anton Wilson, in Cosmic Trigger Volume 2: Down to Earth, pithily explained his reasons for wanting to escape the planet and live in a space colony (in the "The Call of the Wild" chapter):

1. I like peace, quiet afternoons, the prose of James Joyce, chess, and listening to the sonatas of Scarlatti with my eyes closed while stoned on marijuana.

2. Most people like booze, football, violent noisy movies full of gore, and increasingly frequent wars.

3. I have finally admitted that I can't change most people, so I want to get away from them and live with the minority who share my own eccentric tastes.

If you are curious about RAW's musical reference, he is referring to Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), an Italian composer mainly remembered now for his hundreds of keyboard sonatas. These were not multi-movement sonatas in the Mozart or Beethoven sense, but one-movement, short pieces for the keyboard, nowadays sometimes performed on the harpsichord and sometimes on the piano.

If you want to sample Scarlatti, one low-cost option is to purchase, for 99 cents, the "Big Baroque Box" offered by the Bach Guild. It has more than 14 hours of music, and includes an entire album of Scarlatti recorded on harpsichord by Kenneth Cooper, with a lot of other Baroque music thrown in. The Bach Guild makes a habit of releasing very cheap MP3 compilations; I like the "Big Beethoven Box."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An invitation

Next week will be the final post of the Illuminatus! online reading group effort that's tied to a specific section of the book.

But I'm not quite ready to end.

Christian Greer suggested I do some kind of video or audio broadcast or podcast to wrap things up. I've taken his suggestion and modified it into something else. I've sent out an email to some of you, but I am also posting a public invitation: If you want to share some final thoughts about Illuminatus!, a general observation or perhaps something you noticed in your latest re-reading, please send it to me by July 10. I will include it in a blog post (or perhaps a series of blog posts, depending upon how many people send me something.) Send it to my tom.jackson (at) address.