Saturday, October 20, 2018

Anarchism in the California desert

Slab City. Creative Commons photo. 

Actual examples of anarchist living on the ground are not exactly numerous, but a new book, Slab City: Dispatches from the Last Free Place by Charlie Hailey tells the story of Slab City.

Boing Boing explains,

Slab City is a curious community in the Sonoran Desert about 150 miles northeast of San Diego. Formerly a World War II Marine Corps base, it's now home to around 150 off-the-grid squatters and thousands of temporary campers and RV owners who wait out the winter months before continuing their journeys. The name comes from the concrete remnants of the military base. Author and architect Charlie Hailey and photographer Donovan Wylie documented the anarchic living and structural scene in their new book "Slab City: Dispatches from the Last Free Place." The pictures are a compelling and provocative view inside this not-so-temporary autonomous zone that embodies a curious kind of liberty for its diverse inhabitants. 

Hat tip, Jesse Walker.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Exciting book news: 'High Weirdness'

Erik Davis, speaking at RAW Day 2017. Watch the video of his talk. 

Here's a book many of  you will want to read when it comes out next year: High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experiences in the Seventies by Erik Davis.

From the MIT Press summary:

"An exploration of the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terrence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson.

"A study of the spiritual provocations to be found in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terrence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson, High Weirdness charts the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality that arose from the American counterculture of the 1970s. These three authors changed the way millions of readers thought, dreamed, and experienced reality—but how did their writings reflect, as well as shape, the seismic cultural shifts taking place in America?

"In High Weirdness, Erik Davis — America's leading scholar of high strangeness — examines the published and unpublished writings of these vital, iconoclastic thinkers, as well as their own life-changing mystical experiences. Davis explores the complex lattice of the strange that flowed through America's West Coast at a time of radical technological, political, and social upheaval to present a new theory of the weird as a viable mode for a renewed engagement with reality."

Seeing Erik Davis' name on the book only makes the announcement ever more exciting, of course. He was one of the speakers at RAW Day last year in California.  Some of you probably listen to his Expanding Mind podcast.

The MIT Press bio: "Erik Davis is an American journalist, critic, podcaster, counter-public intellectual whose writings have run the gamut from rock criticism to cultural analysis to creative explorations of esoteric mysticism. He is the author of Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, The Visionary State: A Journey through California's Spiritual Landscape, and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica."

More details from MIT Press:

$34.95 T
ISBN: 9781907222764
500 pp. | 6 in x 9 in
10 b&w illus.
June 2019

Hat tip: Jesse Walker.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thursday links

Another one from Rasa. 

Was Gary Hart set up?  Via Supergee. The more I read about Democrats and Republicans, the more I wonder why there aren't more libertarians. Then again, if I understood that, I might also be able to grasp why masses of Americans don't turn away in disgust from the current GOP. 

Jacob Sullum on pot legalization in Canada. If Mr. Sullum isn't the best journalist in the U.S. on drug issues, he is surely a close runner up. I need to find out if he does interviews.

I interview pot historian Emily Dufton. 

"Neo-liberalism has been incredibly successful, essentially delivering on all of its promises of economic growth, declines in poverty, and peace." And see also this. 

What the hitchhiker learned.  Yes, a lot of stuff from Marginal Revolution, which has been particularly good lately, although I disagree with Tyler Cowen on marijuana legalization and will write about that soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Arthur Hlavaty's recommended books [Updated]

Arthur Hlavaty says Catch-22 is "the ultimate Libertarian book."

A couple of months ago, I posted about Arthur Hlavaty's new zine, Archive I: Down by the Old Slipstream, a collection of his writings about fiction that he likes. I really liked it and told you all to read it.

Arthur has now assembled a second collection of his fiction recommendations, Archive II: Back to Live, and if anything, it is even better than the first zine. Here are the first two items, on Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, and on Illuminatus! 

Robert A. Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land. 

The satire hit me first, then the sex, then the Eastern religion. Yes, I know that it’s flawed,  but the good stuff remains. Heinlein was a  Trickster, whose two desires were to make money  and make people think. He certainly succeeded  with the latter, as far as I am concerned. (And I bought all his books.)

Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

I may still have been sane when I finished  Stranger, so I was ready for more, and in 1975  there appeared a trilogy about sex, dope, science  fiction, alternate metaphysics, conspiracy  theory, and libertarianism/anarchism. My tastes  have changed, but then I figured that if they’d mentioned pro football, they would have had everything.

 The book lived up to it: chaotic,  experimental. occasionally simplistic, but full 
of the three things I most read for: people,  ideas, and laughs. As with Stranger, I reread it every year, and I still haven’t worn it down to  the parts that annoy me and “I know that.” AND ALSO Shea went on to write good, solid  historical novels with a beginning, a middle, and  an end in that order, but also with fascinating  characters and small hints of metaphysical and other weirdness. I particularly liked Shike and  All Things Are Lights. Wilson’s novels were more  like Illuminatus!, centered on initiation.  Schrödinger’s Cat was based on quantum theory, among other things. James Joyce, to whom there are many references in Wilson’s other fiction, showed up as a character in Masks of the Illuminati, which actually had a tight plot structure, along with the Wilsonian stuff.

The two archive zines and much else are available here. 

Arthur should consider assembling his book reviews into a book, perhaps an ebook, to reach the people who don't follow fanzines.

UPDATE: Fixed the formatting, which I did not have time to do yesterday, and see also my post on finding free ebooks of the Shea novels Arthur recommends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

RAW-influenced Australian group Hedonix

Hedonix (Facebook photo). 

I post from time to time about musicians who wear their RAW influence on their sleeves; the Sydney, Australia duo Hedonix is one that I missed. The band's 2013 album, Guerrilla Ontology, includes the track "The I in the Triangle." 

The band's members are Robert Dilley & Steven Zanuttin. Mr. Dilley says, "My best friend and I have a group/project called Hedonix. We haven't produced anything new in a while, but what we've got might be of interest to RAW fans who also enjoy electronic (particulary psy trance) music. We dedicated our first album (Order out of Chaos) to RAW and named our second one Guerilla Ontology. Just check the tracklists and you'll be able to see which have samples of Saint Bob. You can find the music around the traps to buy but we're also on Spotify. I hope you enjoy! If you do, get in touch and let us know what you thought!"

Source (comment from Rob posted Monday.) 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Kerman/Beehoven reading group, Week Ten

Another photo of the Borromeo String Quartet. Listen to a live recording of Opus 74 from the Gardner Museum. Photo by Richard Bowditch.

Kerman Week 10 – Op. 74 The First Half of Chapter 6

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections one and two of chapter 6 (pg. 155 - 168) and listen to Op. 74 over and over again. Please comment on this week’s reading/quartet and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. The expression “with the Bartók quartets twanging in our ears” on page 161 has always bothered me. It struck me as dismissive of Bartók.

Pg. 163 – Schubert’s song Das Wirtshaus appears in the song cycle Winterreise.

I have never really loved this quartet, but I have enjoyed listening to it this week. Kerman calls this work “a work of consolidation than of exploration” on page 168. Well, the rest of the quartets devote themselves savagely to exploration as we will discover over the next eight weeks.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The hippie physicist talks to Scientific American

Nick Herbert. (Creative Commons photo by Nick Herbert). 

"Hippie physicist" Nick Herbert of Cosmic Trigger fame is interviewed by Scientific American, and it's a very interesting interview. Lots of good questions from John Horgan.

Herbert no longer thinks  that faster-than-light communication is possible. Here is one of his thoughts about physics and mysticism:

Horgan: Looking back, does the analogy between quantum mechanics and eastern mysticism hold up?

Herbert: For many years physics held the distinction as "the subject everyone hated in high school," but Fritjof Capra's Tao of Physics made the subject sexy again and paved the way for such bestselling quantum physics popularizations as Heinz Pagels's Cosmic Code and my own Quantum Reality.

However I am sorry to say that despite immersing myself deeply in the quantum paradoxes and less deeply in meditation and mindfulness, I find them both profoundly mysterious but having little in common.

In his blog post about the interview, Herbert notes that Horgan has published what appears to be an interesting book,  Mind-Body Problems: Science, Subjectivity & Who We Really Are, available free online. Herbert writes, "In this book, Horgan interviews nine specialists representing nine different perspectives on human subjectivity. This book is unusual in that Horgan does not just interview these nine people about their ideas but about their personal lives as well. John's curiosity and desire to really know what's going on entangles himself and the reader in a sometimes embarrassingly intimate connection with some of these scientist's personal lives. For that reason, this book is a lot more lively than your typical psychology textbook."

Saturday, October 13, 2018

What we get for the transporter beam

Ludwig van Beethoven. Earth's bargaining chip? 

Considering that we have been immersing ourselves in Beethoven, I was pretty amused to see this bit (Tyler Cowen is interviewing Paul Krugman for a podcast):

COWEN: Will there ever be interstellar trade in intellectual property? You send your technology to a planet far away. It arrives much later, of course. Or you trade Beethoven to the aliens in return for a transporter beam? Can this work? You’ve written a paper that seems to indicate it can work.

KRUGMAN: I wrote a paper on the theory of interstellar trade when I was an unhappy assistant professor. Are there any happy assistant professors? [laughs] I was just blowing off steam. But it’s an interesting question.

COWEN: It could become your most important paper, right? [laughs]


The "Conversations with Tyler" podcast is quite good; there's a wide variety of guests. I like Episode 21, the interview with Cowen himself. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bobby Campbell's new comic book

Bobby Campbell has released a big new comic book collection, WEIRD COMIX #000.

Bobby says, "Weird Comix #0 is 60 pages of discombobulating chaos! Collecting together a wide array of my short form comix, some dating as far back as 2003, some from as recent as this summer, and some an unholy mutant hybrid of both old & new aesthetics."

It's available now for Bobby's Patreon subscribers. I'm one, so I've already downloaded my copy. The public release will be Tuesday.

I've read the first few comics (I have to work today, so I can't read all of it now) and it's some of Bobby's best stuff.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Adrian Reynolds Kickstarter film

RAW fan and overall good guy Adrian Reynolds and his collaborator Tristan Ofield have a Kickstarter for a new short film, Citrus.

Adrian writes, "Tristan Ofield and I took White Lily from a concept through to an award-winning short that can be seen on Amazon prime and touches on some of RAW's concerns.

Now we're back with another crowdfunder for Citrus, which is a more grounded tale in some ways - set here and now rather than in space - and again chimes with themes you'll find in RAW. It's a darker tale, one tuned to our times."

More here. 

Link to White Lily.  His radio play was pretty good, too. Don't miss Press When Illuminated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Another MC5 nomination

The MC5 in 2005 (Wikimedia Commons photo).

The MC5, a rock band from Michigan that is part of the mythology of Illuminatus! have once again been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This year's 15 nominees are Def Leppard, Devo, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Roxy Music, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, The Cure, The Zombies and Todd Rundgren. More details on the awards process here.  I happen to be a Roxy Music fan, though I doubt the band will win.

In Illuminatus!, the Illuminati control the record companies, and John Dillinger tells Joe Malik, ""We were ignoring that front until they got the MC-5 to cut a disc called 'Kick Out The Jams' just to taunt us with old bitter memories."

Note that John Sinclair, who has collaborated with Steve Fly, was the band's manager.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

'Reality is what you can get away with'

"Reality is what you can get away with," the saying created (or at least popularized) by Robert Anton Wilson pops up in "The Constitution of Knowledge," a piece by Jonathan Rauch in the latest issue of National Affairs. (Rauch's piece is about how well institutions are doing in the search for truth in the Trump era; he likes the performance of the courts and the news media, but college campuses not so much.)

RAW's phrase pops up at the end of the first paragraph. It's also the title of a RAW screenplay published as a book that will be republished by Hilartas Press.

Hat tip: Jesse Walker.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Beethoven string quartets/Kerman reading group, Week Nine

The Modigliani Quartet, sometimes called the Amadeo Modigliani Quartet. For the group's live recording of this week's Opus 59, No. 3, go here. 

Kerman Week 9 – Op. 59, No. 3 – The Second Half of Chapter 5

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections 4 - 6 of chapter 5 (pg. 134 - 154) and listen to Op. 59, No. 3 over and over again. Please comment on this week’s reading/quartet and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. On page 136 two lines from the bottom of the page it says, “The piercing viola F# (bar 18)”. That should read “violin F#”. The F sharp appears in the second violin part.

Reading the discussion of the key relationships in the slow movement on page 148 I found myself back in the Pale Fire reading group. I expected to turn to notes where Kinbote explained the real meanings of the development section.

The Lovecraftian in me wonders about the “chthonic tone” of Schubert on page 149.

When we finished the Op. 18 quartets, I went back and listened to all six quartets. I’ve just begun listening to the three Op. 59 quartets again. We have come a long way, but we have a wonderful journey ahead of us, even if Kavanaugh gets confirmed.

Beethoven wrote sixteen string quartets. I associate this with the tarot trump the Tower. P. G. Wodehouse’s novel Leave It to Psmith gives an important role to sixteen flowerpots. Of course, the Hebrew letter peh has a value of 80 and corresponds with The Tower. The silent P in Psmith corresponds with peh, so I associate the numbers 16 and 80 with both Leave It to Psmith and the Beethoven quartets. The Hebrew letter feh (similar to peh) also has a value of 80, and I associate that with the flowerpots in the Wodehouse novel. I think of the Beethoven quartets as sixteen flowerpots waiting for us to explore.