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Friday, December 17, 2010

Michael Johnson and Eric Wagner on Beethoven and RAW

Robert Anton Wilson loved Beethoven, as I've written before in this space (see label below), so I was surprised and delighted to see RAW specialists Michael Johnson and Eric Wagner discuss the topic Thursday at

Michael Johnson

[Posted under topic: Beethoven rolls over, Tchaikovsky the news that he's 240 today)

I recently checked out Maynard Solomon's bio on LvB; I found the
information surrounding him and the Illuminati fairly convincing. Was
he a member of the Illuminati? I don't know. Was he influenced by
their ideas? I'm about 90% sure he was, after reading what Solomon has
to say. (RAW posited LvB as a member of the Illuminati as a fanciful
lark, one of his reductio ad absurdum moves to satirize Beatles-as-
satanists he'd read about in the late 1960s/early 70s. It was yet
another "satirical prophecy." (see also _Everything Is Under Control_,
pp. 63-64)

I just read Mencken's essay on LvB, first pub on April 24th, 1922, in
the Baltimore Evening Sun. I liked these lines:

"His most complicated structures retained the overwhelming clarity of
the Parthenon. And into them he got a kind of feeling that even the
Greeks could not match; he was preeminently a modern man, with all the
trace of the barbarian vanished. Into his gorgeous music there went
all of the high skepticism that was of the essence of the Eighteenth
Century, but into it there also went the new enthusiasm, the new
determination to challenge and beat the gods, that dawned with the
Nineteenth." - from _A Mencken Chrestomathy_

Meanwhile, in another universe - a Trick Top Hat one - a female Leary/
RAW/Bucky Fuller-ish-type thinker is President, and Things are quite
different than in "this" universe, although there seem some strong
similarities, and music critic Justin Case is pleased: "It appeared
that the administration was the first government in history to take
Beethoven seriously. To him, Hubbard's whole philosophy was obviously
derived from the last movement of the Ninth."

I love the description of the Hammerklavier that "Ezra Pound" of the
"Fair Play for Fernando Poo Committee" sends Dr. Dashwood in _The
Homing Pigeons_, pp.374-375 of the SCT omnibus ed.

O! Sizeism seems a horrible thing!

PKD's last, unfinished novel, IIRC titled _The Owl in Daylight_, had a
main character based on LvB and Faust. PKD wondered where Beethoven
would've gone to try to transcend himself if he'd lived longer.
Beethoven only lived to 56? The idea of LvB going "further" than those
late string quartets, or the 9th, seems to me like pondering what
Joyce would've done after Finnegans Wake.

"Anyone who understands my music will never be unhappy again." -
that's LvB, as translated into English. We read such a quote and say
ahhh yesss. But what does it mean to "understand" any text, much less
something as abstract as music? If I consider "understand" as
metaphor, it seems related to a rational geometrical relationship
between subject/object, and I'm not sure I understand music in the
same way I understand, say, Euclid's axioms and demonstrated proofs.
Rather, I think a more apt metaphor would be tuning, or resonance. I
feel attuned to some music or other, or some piece of music resonates
with me. But I digress...

He's 240 today. May we all live as long, at least in dove sta memoria.

Eric Wagner

I did not finish the Solomon biography. I read about the first half
back in the 90's, up to the Eroica. I keep telling myself to go back
and read the whole thing. I have not read Mencken's essay. I haven't
read much by Mencken, except his translation of Nietzsche. I love the
Beethoven material in Schroedinger's Cat. I like the idea of the 7th,
8th and 9th Symphonies as a map of future evolution and the idea of
the 7th and 8th as successful tantric sex. (I saw part of a Seinfeld
last night where Kramer mentions tantric sex.)

I had not heard of that Phil Dick book. In The Transmigration of
Timothy Archer (I think) he suggests the new ending for the quartet
Op. 130 suggested a new period for Beethoven. I had tended to favor
the original ending, the Grosse Fugue, but when I hear the new ending
now I think of Phil and wonder what the Big B might have written
next. He had planned a piece using Hebrew modes. People often divide
Beethoven's work into three periods. At the end of each the influence
of Haydn shows up more than it usually does in his work. I think of
the Second Symphony near the end of the first period and the Eighth
Symphony near the end of the second period. Parts of the quartet op.
135 and the new ending to 130 have a Haydn feel, as Beethoven Z up
another period.

Joyce talked about writing a novel of the sea after Finnegans Wake.
For years I've imagined it called One Piece Bikini.

(Eric also appended some reviews of Beethoven recordings by Rafi Zabor on Amazon. I have
left them out for space reasons, but you can read them here.)