Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday links

A black woman won the Hugo for best novel. I haven't read it yet but it goes on the ever-expanding reading list. 

Greg Hill's Emperor Norton poster.

Keeping a synchronicity journal while reading Cosmic Trigger. 

Book 'Discordian Problems' released.

Hugo Awards announced; the "puppies" did not do well.  The best novel winner, N.K. Jemisin, has some thoughts. 

Paul McCartney in Cleveland, with a setlist.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week 20!

Welcome to week 20 of the RAWIllumination.net Cosmic Trigger Reading Group. This week we are covering a couple of pivotal chapters — Mystery Babalon and Leary emerges from darkness and Sirius rises again, located beginning on page 161 Hilaritas. Many thanks to Adam Gorightly for going above and beyond the call of duty last week offering us a deeper look into the slow mental unravelling that can happen whilst wandering about in Chapel Perilous. The contrast between Kerry Thornley and RAW is invaluable for anyone considering a study of magick, the occult, the Illuminati, etc.

Before diving into this weeks reading, I want to replay a few choice quotes from Ishtar’s Walk, which can serve as a time-lapse of our Author hitting bottom and then emerging from the depths.

“Pity assaulted me; I wept.”
“Pity tour at me with claws.”
“Pity and horror.”
“It is an easy step from pity to self-pity.”
“At sunset, The fool got up and went out on the porch and watched the song sinking in the west, doing the Sufi heart chakra exercise, forcing myself to love all beings. I came back to life.”
“I reached a depths of despair and deliberately decided to love the world instead of pitying myself; and, afterwards, I was no longer afraid of anything.”
“Sufism had vindicated that self: the heart chakra exercise works. Perfect love cast out fear. I was beginning to emerge on the other side of chapel perilous.”

And now for our regularly scheduled broadcast.

Mystery Babalon finds our Author on October 12, 1974, hosting a Crowleymas party involving “weird and eldritch festivities” as well as nearly 100 local wizards and mystics. That must have been quite a scene. Our intrepid Author and erstwhile Shaman gets things started pretty quickly, invoking the notion of paranoia, and then flexing his new-found “emerging from chapel perilous” muscles, first by spending 20 minutes on the phone helping one Dr. H (not his real initial!) turn around a bad acid trip, and then spending 3 hours “practicing psychotherapy without a license” while helping another alias (Tom) grok that “he was the programmer of his own computer, and that it had only been a hallucination that made him think the computer was starting to program him.”

 Jacques Vallee

“And then Jacques Vallee arrived.” Bob immediately kidnaps him into “a room which the other party-goers were not informed about,” accompanied by Grady and Phyllis McMurtry, a couple of young magicians from Los Angeles, and Alias Tom. There ensues a conversation regarding alien intelligences, UFO’s, and extraterrestrials which brings to mind the Sufi tale of “The Elephant in a Dark Room.”

“Jacques said that the evidence emerging suggested to him that the UFO’s weren't extraterrestrial at all,” and that they “always strive to give the impression that they are something the society they are visiting can understand."

Grady McMurtry

Bob asks Grady McMurtry about the extraterrestrial nature of alien intelligences—"Some of the things Aleister said to me," Grady replied carefully, "could be interpreted as hints pointing that way,” although he himself thought the theory of higher dimensions made more sense to him than the theory of actual extraterrestrials.

Bob himself states that he “was inclined to believe the Higher Intelligences were extraterrestrial.”

Alias Tom, a witch as well as a computer programmer (note how Bob used the computer analogy to talk him out of his earlier crisis) said that the Higher Intelligences are “imbedded in our language and numbers.”

There ensues talk of a War in Heaven, Secret Chiefs, and “beings we cannot understand,” which brings to mind the oft-quoted remark by Arthur C. Clarke that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magick.” Pay no attention to that Secret Chief behind the curtain!

The Author then dives into a story about Dr. H (from earlier in the chapter), auras, and Energy from the Sky resulting in a sort of ecstatic chest-pain and/or asthma, in which he ties together Anton Mesmer, Baron Reichenbach, Alexander Gurvich, and Wilhelm Reich as discoverers of “animal magnetism,” “OD,” “the mitogenic ray,” and “orgone energy,” and details a trail of magickal adepts who developed chest pain and asthma after experiencing this energy and/or the “beings we cannot understand”—including MacGregor Mathers, Alan Bennett, Aleister Crowley, and Israel Regardie, who was cured of his condition after undergoing bio-energetic therapy from Dr. Wilhelm Reich. Whew!

Interestingly enough, just at the time Cosmic Trigger was published, Reiki energy, the most popularized form of “energy work,” was just beginning to spread beyond small groups of practitioners in Japan and Hawaii on its way to becoming as commonplace and many other freaky ideas Bob was talking about way back then—yoga, meditation, etc. The Author then finishes the chapter with a Crowley quote which is a bit too enthusiastic perhaps in its prediction of a scientific understanding (and acceptance) of these energies. The energy work itself, however, is vibrant today…

Leary emerges from the darkness and Sirius rises again

William Grimstad's Six Million Reconsidered 

The Author herein introduces the Reader to Timothy Leary’s SMI2LE scenario, Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, & Life Extension, as “the three obvious steps that a reasonable educated God takes.” He then proceeds to mash-up some recent communications from Leary with a series of communications from one W.N. Grimstad, which included an elaborate theory which Bob describes alternately as “Cabalistic Numerological magick” and “rigamarole.” Interesting to note that the title of the chapter partially derives from a tape created by the aforementioned Mr. Grimstad titled Sirius Rising, and that over the past week, Sirius has indeed been rising, after spending 40 days “behind” our sun. Mr. Grimstad, by the way, is an apparent “Holocaust denier” and potential anti-semite, if Mr. Google is to be trusted, something our Author may or may not have suspected back in those pre-internet days.

The finale of this chapter gives the Reader an awesome example of “meaning” (“in the Jungian sense”), tying together Bob, Tim, Grimstad, the San Francisco Phoenix, the S.L.A., and Patty Hearst. Interestingly enough, the birth of Cosmic Trigger The Play involves another beautiful example of Jungian “meaning,” which John Higgs recounts in the introduction to the Hilaritas Press edition of Cosmic Trigger, and which Cat Vincent wrote about in March 2014.

That’s it for this week—please dive in with your own tales of Higher Intelligences, Jungian “meaning,” elephants in dark rooms, etc. Next week we will be examining The Horus Hawk and Uri Geller, The Motorman Prophesies, and Doggiez from Sirius, beginning on page 172, and finishing up Part I.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Portrait of a writer

This is a portrait of Robert Anton Wilson I found on dribbble.com (extra "b" is not a typo), by artist Michael Walters of Chattanooga, Tenn.

The caption says, "Some more low poly love for an American hero, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, psychologist, self-described agnostic mystic, Episkopos, Pope, and saint of Discordianism."

This artwork is available as a canvas print. See also his other products, such as a nice looking "If you can read this, you are a pope" t-shirt or sweatshirt in a variety of styles.  Counting styles and sizes, there are "23 available products" of the pope t-shirt. Check out his other works to see offerings that may interest sombunall of you, such as Aleister Crowley rendered as a cat.

Mr. Walters is the founder and director of Third Floor Labs. "Third Floor Labs is an artistic design and marketing company driven by technology and culture."

Dribbble.com is a "show and tell for designers" site.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

H.P. Lovecraft's birthday today

August 20 is the birthday of the writer H.P. Lovecraft, an influence on Robert Anton Wilson who shows up as a character in Illuminatus!

I confess that I might have missed the happy occasion, but Chad Nelson wrote to me and sent me the above graphic promoting a birthday party in Lovecraft's city, Providence.

Using  your favorite search engine (I use DuckDuckGo — it doesn't track you) reveals other celebrations, including one in New York City.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thiel destroys Gawker: Two views

If you haven't heard, Gawker.com is shutting down in a few days. Apparently the other Gawker Media sites will continue. The shutdown is the result of the Hulk Hogan lawsuit, which Peter Thiel financed.  (I feel justified in putting up a blog post about all of this here because of Robert Anton Wilson's interest in freedom of speech, although I don't pretend to know what he would have thought about this controversy).

My reaction to this has been dominated by a feeling of pleasure that Gawker finally bullied the wrong targets, but I acknowledge that Thiel's lawsuit raises freedom of speech issues. I've noticed two good blog posts about the case.

Jacob Sullum, a reliably excellent columinist and Reason Magazine writer, pens a piece arguing that "Peter Thiel's Free-Floating Right to Privacy Is Inconsistent With Freedom of Speech." 

Kudos to Sullum for letting Thiel make his argument before attacking it.

"A story that violates privacy and serves no public interest should never be published," Thiel writes. "It is ridiculous to claim that journalism requires indiscriminate access to private people's sex lives....It is wrong to expose people's most intimate moments for no good reason."

One can agree with all of these propositions without agreeing that they should be legally enforceable.

You should read all of Sullum's piece, but here is the heart of his argument:

Thiel's free-floating right to privacy is completely unmoored from property rights, contract rights, or constitutional law. It can be invoked whenever someone objects to a story that reflects negatively on him or complicates his personal life, even when the story is completely accurate, provided that person has the resources to pay for a lawsuit. And as with defamation suits, he need not win to punish his adversary.

Ken White at Popehat, very good at freedom of speech issues, writes:

Gawker's utter destruction produces a feeling of glee in my guts but disquiet in my heart. As I've written before, I'm not sure that the ruinous verdict against Gawker was just, I don't think that the amount of damages awarded was defensible, and I'm concerned that the result was a product of the brokenness of our legal system.

For White, the brokenness of the legal system is the main point.

But observers seem eager to push the wrong message about that brokenness. The scary part of the story isn't that the occasional vengeful billionaire might break the system and overwhelm even a well-funded target with money. Such people exist, but getting sued by them is like getting hit by lightning. No, for most of us the scary part of the story is that our legal system is generally receptive to people abusing it to suppress speech. 

His piece is also a read-the-whole thing, and let me add that neither piece is terrible long — you can read them both without interrupting your day very long.

UPDATE: The Peter Thiel op-ed is here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review of Alan Moore's new novel

Publishers Weekly runs a review of Alan Moore's new novel, Jerusalem. 

It certainly sounds ambitious. Reviewer Heidi MacDonald writes that the book is written in three parts.  "The third and most difficult part is written in a series of literary pastiches, including a Beckett-like play and an entire chapter written in a language invented by Lucia Joyce, the institutionalized daughter of James Joyce."

Here in the states, the book is released on Sept. 13.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Real Taoism

Taoist rite at the Qingyanggong (Green Goat Temple) in Chengdu.

The New York Times interviews a scholar of Taoism, "China’s only indigenous religion," and the information is surprising, at least for someone as ignorant as me.

A Colorado professor, Terry F. Kleeman, explains that the religion of Taoism and the famous Taoist texts have little in common: "Taoist priests don’t carry around copies of the Daodejing, and that work has little to do with what they teach. They teach a set of rules and morality, but you’ll find little morality in the Daodejing."

And what does the religion consist of? "The world of the dead is like the world of the living. Taoist priests are like cosmic lawyers. They can go up to heaven and extricate the dead from difficulties. Taoism gives you a way of controlling your fate in another world."

Hat tip, Roman Tsivkin.