Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books read, 2011

1. The Terror of Constantinople, Richard Blake.
2. The Cookbook Collector, Allegra Goodman (audiobook).
3. The Last Trumpet Project, Kevin MacArdry.
4. The Widow's Son, Robert Anton Wilson. (Re-read).
5. All Things Are Lights, Robert Shea.
6. Death of a Chimney Sweep, M.C. Beaton (audiobook).
7. Still Life, Louise Penny (audiobook).
8. Live Free Or Die, John Ringo.
9. Darkship Thieves, Sarah A. Hoyt.
10. Nature's God, Robert Anton Wilson. (Re-read).
11. Zendegi, Greg Egan.
12. For the Win, Cory Doctorow (audiobook).
13. The Big Sleep,  Raymond Chandler (audiobook).
14. So Shelly, Ty Roth.
15. The Hidden Reality, Brian Greene.
16. The Book of Murder, Guillermo Martinez (audiobook).
17. TSOG: The Thing That Ate the Constitution, Robert Anton Wilson.
18. Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson.
19. A Fatal Grace, Louise Penny (audiobook).
20. A Drop of the Hard Stuff, Lawrence Block.
21. Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift. (Re-read).
22. When the Music's Over, Lewis Shiner, editor.
23. Cosmic Trigger 1, Robert Anton Wilson. (Re-read).
24. Cowboy Angels, Paul McAuley.
25. City of Falling Angels, John Berendt.
26. How the Hippies Saved Physics, David Kaiser.
27. Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth, Robert Anton Wilson. (Re-read).
28. Broken, Susan Jane Bigelow.
29. A History of Jazz, 2nd edition, Ted Gioia.
30. The Unincorporated Woman, Dani and Eytan Kollin.
31. The Leftovers, Tom Perrotta (audiobook).
32. Revolution World, Katy Stauber.
33. Trail Magic, Carl McDaniel.
34. Cosmic Trigger 3, Robert Anton Wilson. (Re-read).
35. Phantom, Tremblay and Wallace, editors.
36. Death of a Perfect Wife, M.C. Beaton.
37. The Great Stagnation, Tyler Cowen.
38. Citadel, John Ringo.
39. Reamde, Neal Stephenson.
40. Race Against the Machine, Brynjolfsson and McAdee.
41. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson (audiobook).
42. Snuff, Terry Pratchett.
43. 11/22/63, Stephen King (audiobook).
44. Reader Player One, Ernest Cline.
45. The Sins of the Fathers, Lawrence Block.
46. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett (audiobook).
47. Shatterday, Harlan Ellison.
48. The Swerve, Stephen Greenblatt (audiobook).

Friday, December 30, 2011

An ebook inventory

My main Christmas gift his year was a Kindle Touch, and as I love to read, it has rapidly become my favorite toy.

Getting it naturally opens the question of whether I should buy Kindle editions of RAW's books, as opposed to buying physical copies. A search for "Robert Anton Wilson" in the Kindle store produces 19 results, but only eight actual RAW titles. There's no Cosmic Trigger 1, 2 or 3, no Prometheus Rising, no The Widow's Son ... you get the idea.

This seems like something that ought to be fixed; considering how many people use ebook readers or tablets these days -- many people just got them for Christmas, like I did -- the estate is missing out a big part of the market. Natural Law, out of print for many years, is an obvious candidate for a Kindle Single.   Chaos and Beyond, out of print for years, is well worth reading. (I like it better than TSOG). All of RAW's fiction, and pretty much all of the nonfiction, ought to be reprinted immediately as electronic books.

Speaking of ebooks, there's a sale through Jan. 2 on eight of Philip K. Dick's electronic books. All are available for $4. I asked Ted Hand (@t3dy on Twitter) which of the eight he particularly recommends. He likes them all, but added, "Now Wait for Last Year is an unsung treasure."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking ahead to 2012

I'll be posting a list of the books I read during 2011 in a couple of days, but I wanted to note here that I read "All Things Are Lights" by Robert Shea, read "TSOG:The Thing That Ate the Constitution" by Robert Anton Wilson for the first time, and re-read RAW's "The Widow's Son," "Nature's God," "Cosmic Trigger 1," "Cosmic Trigger 2," and "Cosmic Trigger 3."

I have still not read the following RAW books: "The Sex Magicians," "Wilhelm Reich in Hell," "Reality is What You Can Get Away With," "The Walls Came Tumbling Down," "Playboy's Book of Forbidden Words," "Sex, Drugs and Magick," "The New Inquisition," "Neuropolitique," "Ishtar Rising" (I have a copy of "The Book of the Breast"), "Natural Law," "Quantum Psychology" and "Everything is Under Control." Among Shea's books, I have only read "ILLUMINATUS!", "All Things Are Lights" and "Shaman."

I'll be busy in early 2012 reading nominees and possible nominees for the Prometheus Award, but my tentative plans are to re-read "Prometheus Rising" slowly, this time trying the exercises, followed by "Quantum Psychology," and to re-read "Masks of the Illuminati," which I haven't read in years. But what do you think I should read?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Are libertarians opposed to war?

Jim Henley, a lapsed libertarian who now defines himself as on the left, is one of my favorite bloggers. If you read the comments for his posting on Ron Paul, you'll see a debate between Henley and  yours truly on  whether libertarians generally have been opposed to war.

Speaking of antiwar groups, I've added Come Home America  to the "Resources" area.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another voice on Ron Paul

Libertarian writer Brian Doherty, who wrote at length about Robert Anton Wilson in his book "Radicals for Capitalism," has posted an interesting blog entry at Reason's Hit and Run blog, entitled "Why I Don't Think the Ron Paul Newsletters Are Very Important."

Here's a quote: "I believe it's less important to beat up on and condemn a certain set of powerless and marginalized people who think and believe some nasty things everyone agrees are wrong than it is to beat up on and condemn the set of incredibly powerful people who actually act to commit crimes and rights-violation and damage to life across the globe who everyone thinks are perfectly right to do so. And Ron Paul is the only candidate with any public traction and fans who condemns and would fight to stop such crimes, from the drug war to non-defensive overseas wars to armed assaults on people because they sell raw milk to rampant violations of American's civil liberties and privacy to an organization in charge of our money supply that uses that power to scuttle the entire world economy and bailout its buddies."

More here.

Doherty has a book about Ron Paul coming out in May, so I suppose he has an interest in whether Paul does well, but I don't think that's what he's about. His "Radicals for Capitalism" book (a history of the modern libertarian movement in the U.S.) emphasized the antiwar views of key figures such as Murray Rothbard, and I believe his interest in Paul stems from sincere support for Paul's views on peace and civil liberties.

I wrote Doherty a few weeks ago and asked if "Radicals for Capitalism" will become available as a Kindle book, but I haven't gotten a reply yet.

Addendum: Interesting Tweet from @normative, Julian Sanchez: "Why not just name the newsletter authors? Jim Henley's theory: My guess: Rothbard had a hand in some ugly bits."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quantum poetry from Nick Herbert

For millennia we've played in the shallows
Our sciences mere baby steps
With the advent of quantum reality
Get ready to taste Nature's depths.

For the rest of the poem (on his Quantum Tantra blog) go here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A post for classical music lovers

Here's a post for the RAW fans who share his love of classical music and Beethoven (as I do). With apologies to Haydn (and to Boom), ""I tell you before God, and as an honest man, this blog is the greatest classical music blog known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition." Be sure to look at the Beethoven entries.

My own music blog -- often neglected in favor of this one -- is here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

RAW and Ron Paul

Believe it or not, Ron Paul is leading in the polls in Iowa. That will change, for all I know, but it's a weird development.

Every libertarian has to think about how he feels about Ron Paul, as he is by far the most prominent libertarian leader in the country.

Robert Anton Wilson, explaining why he did not vote in 1980 for the Libertarian Party candidate, Ed Clark, explained,  "I am not that kind of Libertarian, really; I don't hate poor people."

I'm guessing that if RAW was alive today, he would say that Ron Paul (the 1988 Libertarian Party nominee) was not his kind of libertarian, either. I'm guessing though, that like nearly all libertarians, he would be pleased with Dr. Paul's foreign policy and civil liberties positions.

Will Wilkinson's excellent essay on Paul explains nicely, I think, why many libertarians have doubts about Paul.

Bonus link: Conor Friedersdorf on Paul's racist newsletters. (He heaps lots of blame on Paul for them, but comparing Paul to the other candidates, writes, "My tentative conclusion: among the candidates who could win, Paul is least complicit in needlessly killing innocents abroad; he is least likely to deprive innocent foreigners of their God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; he is most committed to civil liberties and drug legalization at home.")

Addendum bonus links: Nick Gillespie weighs in with a fair minded post at Reason's Hit and Run blog; columnist Debra Saunders writes how she "first met Ron Paul in 1988 at the Beverly Hills home of Dr. Timothy Leary, the onetime "turn on, tune in, drop out" LSD guru. Leary talked to me about how he was going to have his head frozen cryogenically when he died - it happened eight years later - and why he was hosting a fundraiser for Paul."

Gary Johnson, probably the most sane libertarian candidate in politics right now (I'll let you decide how much there is to cheer in that statement) apparently is planning to give up his attempt to win the Republican nomination and will seek the Libertarian Party nomination.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wonkette and RAW

I have read several obituaries that ran after Robert Anton Wilson died, but I did not know until this week that Wonkette, the prominent political blog, had run one. It does a good job of describing what kind of libertarian RAW was, which is a good segue to tomorrow's posting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Cthulhu Christmas

In honor of RAW's interest in H.P. Lovecraft, and because it's the season, here is a Cthulhu Christmas tree. (Via Ted Hand on Twitter, @t3dy).

Monday, December 19, 2011

No Governor No. 3 posted

I have posted issue #3 of No Governor, Robert Shea's anarchist fanzine. Thanks again to the University of Michigan library for providing it.

I was surprised to see that the issue has no Robert Anton Wilson bylines in it. There is, however, a short piece, "The Secret Teachings of George Washington," attributed to an author named only as "General Strike." It is reminiscent of certain of RAW's writings, so I'll be interested in what the rest of y'all think.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oz Fritz on the greatest guitarists

Rolling Stone has recently posted a list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." The list strikes me as not very useful, mixing the obvious (Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn) with the idiotic (Steve  Howe  is excluded, but the alleged guitar virtuosos Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen are included.) But it has inspired two (so far) interesting posts at The Oz Mix. Here's my favorite passage from the first one: "Jimmy Page came in at number 3. I thought he should have reached 2 instead of Clapton but figure that Coincidence Control must have put him at 3 for Crowley/Qabalistic associations. As is well-known, Page is quite experienced with magick and it definitely got channeled through his music. Page had Do what thou wilt inscribed in small letters on the innermost part of every vinyl copy of Led Zeppelin IV. According to Wikipedia, that album has sold over 23,000,000 copies in the U.S. alone making it 23 times certified platinum. With all those spinning discs, Page instigated a Crowleyan flavored Tibetan prayer wheel."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quote on the Grail

@Robert_A_Wilson on Twitter (i.e., from Temple Illuminatus) had the following RAW quote the other day: "The Grail is the womb of the beloved." Can anyone tell me where that quote is from?

A list of history books

This is the time of year for lists of "best" books, but I thought this list of the best 11 history books, from Brain Pickings, was particularly thoughtful. Reading RAW convinces me I should have read the first book on the list; I intend to read it soon.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Exciting new video site

A new video site, Tubegnosis, seems tailor made for Robert Anton Wilson fans. Aside from Maybe Logic, it has videos featuring Timothy Leary, Aleister Crowley, David Lynch, Christopher Hyatt, William Burroughs, Philip K. Dick and Alan Watts, among others. I am adding a link to the "Resources" section of this web site.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This year's best science fiction novel

Because of the overlap between RAW fans and science fiction fans, you'll have to forgive me for posting about Ready Player One by Ernest Cline,  the best science fiction novel I have read this year. It's very nerdy, and it's sneaky good the way that Pride and Prejudice is sneaky good. Just as you can read Jane Austen's classic for the love story, without noticing, say, the dramatic ironies, the reader can race through Ready Player One for the plot, without picking up on the mythic resonances. (I'm sure that if RAW read it, he would have picked up on some of the character names.) Can't help wondering whether guru of nerd cool Supergee has read this novel -- I don't see a mention of the book on his blog.

Bonus link: Ernest Cline's top ten favorite science fiction novels.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Michael Johnson on coded texts

At Overweening Generalist, Michael Johnson has written a series of blog posts (five, so far) on "obscure, coded and alchemical texts." He covers all sorts of ground I find personally interesting, including Robert Anton Wilson's thoughts on the subject and the allegedly hidden codes in Shostakovich's music. Be sure to read the comments, full of interesting thoughts by many folks who often weigh in on this blog.

I think Michael has a possible book topic here, although I hate to suggest that, because I want him to finish his RAW book first.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Follow RAW on Twitter

Twitter limits its posts to 140 characters, and Robert Anton Wilson was a writer who came up with many pithy aphorisms to summarize his teaches. These two facts find a happy marriage in @RAWilson23 on Twitter. I'm not sure who writes it, but the Twitter feed does a great job of sending out RAW's thoughts. If you aren't willing to miss with Twitter, you can follow it by going to!/Rawilson23, or you can follow it with a feed reader such as Google Reader.

Update: It's our friend Bobby Campbell, doing more good work.

Monday, December 12, 2011

RAW article from the 1971 Village Voice

I've posted a link to a newly-rediscovered Robert Anton Wilson article from the Village Voice in 1971, "The WASP as Ubermensch, or I Was Saved by Billy Graham." A pretty lengthy piece with memorable sections. Many thanks to Jesse Walker for sharing the link with me so that I might share it with  you.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

List of book lists

The Largehearted Boy book and music blog has compiled a big list of "Best of 2011" book lists. Fun to browse through, and I'm pleased that he has linked both to Michael Johnson's article on this blog and to the book list on my work blog that I also mentioned here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What some libertarians believe

Robert Anton Wilson quite often referred to himself as a "libertarian," and I've often called myself that, even now, even though I am wary of being tied too closely to any ideology. On some occasion, I will get around to arguing that even perfectly intelligent, nondogmatic people can proudly self-identify as libertarians.

Today, though, I want to observe that, unfortunately, the "freedom movement" includes not a few folks who aren't terribly well-informed or respectful of other opinions. Today,when I checked my email, I got a forwarded message asking me to read it carefully.

It was this. (It was attributed to David Kaiser.) (Blogger's note: As Michael points out in the comments, not the same guy who wrote How the Hippies Saved Physics.)

Related to this, here's an observation from RAW, from the "New Libertarian Notes" interview reproduced at this site: "I also read at least one periodical every month by a political group I dislike -- to keep some sense of balance. The overwhelming stupidity of political movements is caused by the fact that political types never read anything but their own gang's agit-prop."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book picks from 2011

For a blog written for my day job, I posted book picks from a variety of folks, including a number of writers, including Tom Perrotta, Elinor Lipman, Lawrence Block and Geoffrey Landis. When I got to my own recommendations, I was pleased I was able to work on titles by both Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New book on Pearl Harbor

Yesterday, on Pearl Harbor Day, Brian Doherty on Reason's Hit and Run  blog noted the recent publication of a revisionist Pearl Harbor book, Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath.  

Doherty notes, "There is a rich history of such revisionist arguments about blame and heroism leading up to World War II, and such thinking used to be a significant element of the inchoate libertarian movement in the 1940s and '50s, though little discussed today. Two of my own biggest libertarian influences, novelists Robert Heinlein and Robert Anton Wilson, both found the war revisionist historians influential on their own ideological development, in complicating the heroic narrative usually told about your own government."

RAW fans will recall that he often discussed his interest in revisionist accounts, for example in the Lewis Shiner interview available at this site.

Doherty's history of modern libertarianism, Radicals for Capitalism, has a chapter that discusses RAW.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Illuminati trending on Twitter

Back to books tomorrow, but this morning when I logged on to Twitter, I saw that #Illuminati, mentioned a couple of posts ago, ranked No. 3 among "Trends" in the United States. (Worldwide, it was No. 2!) It wouldn't break my heart if all of this upsurge inspired the purchase of a few more copies of ILLUMINATUS! RAW fan Jesse Walker, with an eye toward his upcoming book, Tweets, "I wake up to see #Illuminati is trending. Could you folks do this again when the book is done? Thanks!"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MIchael Johnson's recommended books for 2011

(Starting today I intend to do a series of book-related posts looking back at 2011. First up I have contribution from Michael Johnson, he of the excellent Overweening Generalist blog. Michael's been on a hot streak lately on his blog, with posts about surveillance and privacy on the Internet and a two-parter "On Obscure, Coded and Alchemical Texts." -- The Mgt.)

Books Read This Year: Some of My Favorites

By Michael Johnson

Only two of these actually came out this year. This year I spent a lot of time reading IN some fantastic books while not reading the entire volume. I keep a list of what books I read cover-to-cover (mostly so I can cite them if need be), and this year there's only 38 books on the list; in past years there's been 105, 97, etc. I also find as I get older I tend to spent more time re-re-re-re-reading in some books that I love so much: Ulysses, Montaigne, Vico, Robert Anton Wilson's oeuvre, Korzybski, Popper, Berger and Luckmann's The Social Construction of Reality, Lakoff and Johnsons's Metaphors We Live By, etc.

But this year I really enjoyed reading Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs by Morton A. Meyers, MD, which originally appeared in 2007. This guy knows how to tell a story. He's a radiologist who wanted to image some part of the body, using a radioactive dye, and he ended up accidentally finding out how tumors spread: a pretty cool breakthrough. This book goes a long way in bolstering Nassim Nicholas Taleb's idea that most great things happen after a lot of "tinkering." It also bolsters the anarchist sociologist of science Paul Feyerabend: the classic "scientific method" isn't really how new breakthroughs happen; they happen when people are dinkin' around and have the creativity and wherewithal to NOTICE that they don't have a "failure" but something that might be applied somewhere else. The last chapter in on LSD. The Intro, about "the scientific method" and the nature of serendipity, is worth reading alone for anyone who got the bug for how scientific knowledge progresses from some Kuhn or Popper or Lakatos or even Francis Bacon. (Or Robert Anton Wilson's The New Inquisition?)

From Counterculture to Cyberculture, by Fred Turner first appeared in 2006 but I finally got around to reading it cover-to-cover this year. David Kaiser cited John Markoff's What The Dormouse Said in his How the Hippies Saved Physics; Turner's book is sort of a more academic and longer version of Markoff. It's told with Stewart Brand at the center, but it's really well-researched and a lot of RAW fans would love it: Buckminster Fuller, Tim Leary, John Von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, Berkeley in the Sixties, Gregory Bateson, John Perry Barlow, etc. If the Reader liked Markoff's book they might love this one...

I'm not sure how well this will resonate with readers of RAWIllumination, but I really liked a book about heavy metal that came out earlier this year titled Mean Deviation, by Jeff Wagner, a dedicated metalhead, but by far dedicated - a true scholar, really - of "progressive" metal: from Rush to Voivod to Celtic Frost to Dream Theater to Watch Tower to Opeth and literally hundreds of bands in between, Wagner has something to say about how these bands constantly strove to change from album to album. Which is pretty much the opposite of most "pop" music act, who hit it big with some sound then are afraid to alienate their fans by trying anything new. The things these guy did to stay fresh! Get much better on their instruments, for one! But also: long, story-like epic songs with many parts, odd instrumentation, sudden jazz of classical influences, a sudden obsession with odd time signatures. Wagner is so knowledgeable and writes so well about some of these bands - many I'd never heard before - that he made me search out some of the bands and my musical horizons have been expanded due to this book.

Visions and Affiliations vol 1 and 2: A California Literary Timeline, Poets and Poetry 1940-2005, altogether 1200 or so pages, by Jack Foley. Arriving earlier this year, this is an education in itself, and for anyone interested in Wilson's and Leary's theory of "westerning," the locus of money and culture traveling throughout history westward "and mildly northward," as Buckminster Fuller said, might find this of interest. LA/San Francisco seemed to have been where the poetic world zeitgeist fermented in the second half of the 20th century. Foley's assembled research is totally staggering, and even when he's writing about the art/poetry scene in Los Angeles in 1959 or San Francisco in 1990, he writes in present tense. The cabals, the social movements, the gossip, the theories surrounding some new poetry group, who knew who and who they were influenced by and what they did and how they died and how weird they were: it seems that everything is here. This is a compendious, astonishing work of detail and breadth, and even if you're reading this in London of New York of Cleveland you can still find much of interest here. Foley, like Wagner, is so thoroughly steeped in his subject - even knowing personally many of the "famous" personages - that it's infectious, a labor of love that's filled with so many fascinating characters it's hard to put these two massive tomes down. The two volumes look like reference works, but they are immanently readable page-turners.

Similar in massive scope, 2004's Orgies of the Hemp Eaters, edited by Abel Zug and Hakim Bey, is a total feast for fans of the vilified herb. Subtitled "Cuisine, Slang, Literature & Ritual of Cannabis Culture," this book delivers in a way many a dope book doesn't. 694 pages, well-indexed with a tremendous bibliography (I'm a connoisseur of annotated bibliographies and this one's a delight), this is the most underrated pot book as far as I'm concerned. Almost 300 pages cover India and Islam and the history of pot/hash/and the myriad ways it was used, the social effects it had on those cultures, and how it influenced artistic, religious and intellectual culture. My favorite portions are the scientific and literary commentaries and excerpts. There's a history of cooking with cannabis, too, complete with recipes from 1790's "Sweetmeat of Cannabis" to 1995's "Leary Biscuit." It's copiously illustrated and I almost guarantee a contact high from just holding this tome in your hands.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Illuminati, on Twitter!

I am apparently late in discovering that The Illuminati are on Twitter. Using an eye in the pyramid icon,  "they" post various bits of fortune cookie wisdom, such as "The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you'll make one." @TheIlluminati has more than 275,000 followers but doesn't follow anyone, which I guess makes sense.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

German Illuminatus! cover

A cover for a German translation of ILLUMINATUS! Vol. 3, written by two of my favorite authors, Robert Shea und Robert A. Wilson. (Via Jeff Gardner on Twitter, @jg_sj.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

RAW at Esalen

After yesterday's post, an anonymous commentator kindly pointed me to a link that connects Robert Anton Wilson to Esalen. The page says, "Robert Anton Wilson, author of The Illuminatus Trilogy, and other well-known science fiction writers have brought their creative input to the community since the 60s. Wilson came to Esalen frequently through the early 90s and led many workshops."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New movie coming about Esalen

One of my favorite "hippie physicists," Nick Herbert, reports on this blog that a new documentary on Esalen is in the works. (I don't know if Robert Anton Wilson ever taught there, but I know he spent time in a hot tub there.) Herbert links to the trailer, which features Herbert and other names that RAW fans may find familiar.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Steve Pratt talks to Robert Anton Wilson

Here is an interview that I had missed: Steve Pratt (aka Fly Agaric 23) interviews RAW in Palm Springs in 2000. Not the most linear interview ever, but some good bits. Steve does a nice job of describing the scene in his introduction. (Hat tip, PQ).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Psychedelic Salon RAW podcast, part two

I listened to part two of the Robert Anton Wilson lecture rebroadcast on the Psychedelic Salon podcast (see my previous two posts) and found it worthwhile. The conspiracy stuff mostly covers familiar ground (although I don't remember hearing about the medieval black virgins before) but there are also two interesting question and answer sessions. The rest of the podcast (more than two hours) seems to be about Occupy Wall Street -- interesting, but I didn't have time to finish it.

One of my favorite SF writers, Jack Vance, wrote in his memoir that he gave up giving formal speeches and switched to simply getting up and answering all of the questions that were put to him. If there are any recordings of Wilson doing that, I'd love to hear it.

I should point out that there's also a podcast that apparently uses portions of "The Lost Studio Session" of RAW. I bought that album as soon as it came out, so I guess I don't need the podcast.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Podcast from Psychedelic Salon

I've listened to the first of the two Psychedelic Salon podcasts I mentioned yesterday. (Well, most of it. I got all the way through part one of the Robert Anton Wilson talk that Lorenzo Hagerty reprints on the podcast but my MP3 battery gave out before the rest of the two-hour podcast concluded.  The rest was Lorenzo's updates on Occupy Wall Street.)

I thought part one of RAW's talk was OK, but nonessential -- the topics covered, such as the Priory of Zion, the Merovingians, etc., are nicely covered in books such as Cosmic Trigger III. I'll listen to part two of the talk tonight and share my impressions tomorrow.

Lorenzo Hagerty apparently is an interesting guy; if you check out his podcast, be sure to look at his biography.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Two new Robert Anton Wilson podcasts

Notes from the Psychedelic Salon has released two new podcasts featuring material from a DVD called "The 'I' in the Triangle," which apparently was produced by Joseph Matheny. (Lorenzo Hagerty, the podcaster, used the material with Matheny's permission.) First podcast is here, second is here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thaddeus Russell is thankful

American historian Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States, sent out a series of Tweets on Thanksgiving Day which I share below. Jesse Walker's excellent interview with Russell is here.

Thanks to the settlers who danced with Indians.

Thanks to the shiftless slaves who stopped working when the overseers turned their backs.

Thanks to the drunks and slackers who wouldn't labor according to the factory clock.

Thanks to the whores for not being wives or mothers or maids.

Thanks to the fags and dykes for not being proper men and women.

Thanks to the niggers, dagoes, kikes, criminals, junkies, and juvenile delinquents for giving us jazz and rock-and-roll.

Thanks to the draft evaders and deserters for putting themselves above the nation.

Thanks to everyone who's ever been a bad American.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

RAW vs. the elite

Apropos of recent events, Ted Hand unearths a quote from Robert Anton Wilson I don't remember running across: "We have much more power than we realize, and the governing elite has started to worry about that." (via Twitter).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giordano Bruno resources

Ted Hand has a new blog post up on Giordano Bruno, who also fascinated RAW, pointed to books about Bruno. The first book he lists is Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition by Frances Yates, frequently cited by RAW (for example, in the first Cosmic Trigger book.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RAW on the possibility of consciousness after death

Edward Babinski wrote to me last year and asked about Robert Anton Wilson, "Did he ever speak about hoping for life after death?  I'm curious."

I wrote back and said that I didn't know.

I noticed yesterday, however, that in the second David Brown interview, RAW was asked about that topic and took the time to give a thoughtful answer.

David: What do you think happens to consciousness after the death of the body?

Bob: I haven’t died yet, so I can’t speak with any assurance about that. My guesses remain guesses. I grant equal respect to the opinions of all men, women and ostriches, but no matter how sure any of  them sound, I still suspect them of  guessing, just like me. I wish they would use that liberating word “maybe” more often in their speculations.
If  I must flounder around in metaphysics, “the great Serbonian bog where armies whole have sunk,” I know of only five possibilities:  (1) heaven, (2) hell, (3) reincarnation, (4) “union with God” or some other entity a lot like “God,” and (5) oblivion. Only (1) heaven, seems frightening to me; an eternity of “bliss” with nobody around but Christians– such messmates as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others of that ilk–really sounds awful. There’s even a sinister rumor that the streets “are guarded” (brrrrrr!) by the United States Marines. Fortunately, according to the leading proponents of this model, I can’t get sent there because I don’t believe in Christ. Oh, goody. 
Of course, (2) hell sounds almost as bad, but it has its good points. Everybody  I admire from all history will get sent there, so the conversation should prove lively and stimulating. Besides, I find it impossble to believe that “God” (i.e. the assumed “Mind” behind the universe] suffers from the kind of  sadistic psychosis necessary to delight in eternal torture, and if “He” [or She  or It] does have that kind of nasty streak, well, as a part-time Buddhist, I’ll just have to forgive “Him” (or Her or It). I’ve started practising for this eventuality by forgiving all the people who’ve made this planet a good simulation of hell. 
(3) The reincarnation model  seems cheerier and somewhat less goofy than these morbid notions, so it doesn’t bother me. I even wish I could believe in it. 
(4) “Union with God” seems a great idea to me, if I understand it, like an acid trip that never ends. Now that’s what I’d prefer, if I have any choice in the matter. 
Finally, there’s (5) the oblivion model. I’ve never understood why so many people, like Woody Allen, find oblivion totally dreadful. If you’re oblivious, that implies no experience and, of course, no experiencer either. How can you fear or even resent what you will never experience? It seems to me that only an advanced case of narcissism, or a mangled confusion  of the map with the territory, can explain the bum rap that oblivion gets from most people. We all go there every night, between dreams, and it doesn’t hurt at all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another RAW interview posted

David Brown has posted his second interview with Robert Anton Wilson on his blog.

The first interview has long been available, for example on, but the second interview, posted Saturday,  appears to be newly available, at least on the net.

The new one is kind of a great interview, so go read it.


Bob: I just preach that we’d all think and act more sanely if we had to use “maybe” a lot more often. Can you imagine a world with Jerry Falwell hollering “Maybe Jesus ‘was’ the son of God and maybe he hates Gay people as much as I do”–or every tower in Islam resounding with “There ‘is’ no God except maybe Allah and maybe Mohammed ‘is’ his prophet”? 

David: Why do you think  politics on this planet is such a huge mess, and human beings are so violent towards one another?

Bob: Because most  people have never heard of maybe logic and live in an either/or  world, which applied to ethics and social policy becomes a good/evil world. Human vanity then determines that all the damned eejit always put themselves in the good position and anybody who disagrees in the evil. Look at any literary/politics journal–any journal of the nonscientific “intelligentsia”–and you’ll see that they all sound as medieval as George W. Bush or Osama bin Laden. Violence comes of self-righteousness and self-righteousness comes of right/wrong logic, without maybes.

Lots of interviews with other interesting people are posted there, too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Another good economics ebook

Recently I wrote about a short new electronic book by Tyler Cowen, The Great Stagnation, which discussed technology and the economy.

I am now reading another ebook, Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity and Irresistibly Transforming Employment and the Economy. The topic is something else RAW wrote about, how technology affects employment.

Tyler includes it in his list of the best economic books of the year ("Second best eBook of the year," presumably behind Tyler's own.)  More here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

RAW bookplate by Bobby Campbell

Over at Maybe Logic, a friend of us all, Bobby Campbell, has posted the beautiful bookplate he created for the possible project of cataloging Robert Anton Wilson's personal library. Bobby writes, "I don't know if his library ever actually got cataloged, but I was asked to scribble this up way back when (late '06), in anticipation of the project."

Does he mean late '07? I would guess the project was never done, although I would love to be proved wrong.

Lots of interesting stuff to look at at the Maybe Logic site, if you haven't ventured there lately.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street library destroyed

Like many of you, I've been following the news about Occupy Wall Street. I'm not an expert on the movement, and I haven't felt it necessary to weigh in. But this caught my eye: Police raiding the Occupy Wall Street camp in New York City recently destroyed a library of about 5,000 books.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Article about Prometheus Rising

The blog A Building Roam ("one of those Sports/Music/Literature blogs") has a new posting that reviews four books, among them Prometheus Rising. PQ became interested in RAW when he stumbled across the Maybe Logic blog. He also writes a lot about Joyce and about sports (he correctly predicted the Cardinals would win in 7).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jobs book, zine search

As I mentioned earlier, I've been reading (or rather, listening to on my long commute) Walter Isaacson's new book on Steve Jobs. Lots of background on the computer industry and the counterculture, but I've also never run across a book that had so many good stories.

An unrelated question: The zine review section at the end of No Governor, Issue 2 (posted on the right side of this page) mentions Volume 4, No. 1 of an issue of a zine called "Against the Wall" that has "an article by Robert Anton Wilson on the philosophy of Timothy Leary." (Sounds a little like everything else RAW was writing at the time). Does anyone know if this is available anywhere?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Aleister Crowley, serial murderer?

Aleister Crowley isn't exactly a magnet for good publicity, even in death, but this is still pretty starting: Right Where You Are Sitting Now webzine's head honcho, Ken Eakins, reports that a new book, London's Curse: Murder, Black Magic and and Tutankhamun in the 1920s West End by Mark Beynon, alleges that Crowley was a murder and Jack the Ripper copycat who sought to enforce the "curse" of the pharaoh's tomb after Howard Carter excavated it. Eakins reports that he has ordered a copy of the book, "so I will report back shortly; but it seems very odd to me that only now has an author and ‘historian’ (I can’t find any academic credentials for Mr Beynon) linked this together.

"Could it be that Crowley’s name is once again being used to sell books? We’ll have to see."

The Amazon blurb says the book is a "a blend of meticulous research and educated conjecture."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mr. Wagner dissents

A recent blog post discussed Michael Johnson's thesis that RAW's writing breaks down into three distinct periods. Wrote Michael, "The middle period writings of RAW (which I consider as 1975-1985, with 1959-1974 the first period and 1986-2005 the third and last, not that anyone had asked) contains an abundance of non-Euclidean political writing, by which he meant that he saw value in left-libertarian and traditionally anarchist thought, and individualist-"right" libertarian ideas."

I endorsed the thesis, noting that I had noticed a similar division. I also suggested that the RAW writings that he'll be remembered for were created almost entirely in the middle period.

Eric Wagner, author of the essential An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, posted a long dissent in the comments, and I want to reproduce it here and give Eric "equal time" (but see the discussion in the comments in the original post):

I guess I distrust a three fold division. I think of Carl Dahlhaus's criticism of the three fold division of Beethoven's work, pointing out the continuum of evolution evident, especially in the works on the borders of the traditional three phase division. I think the three fold division works better for Beethoven's work than for Bob's.

With Bob's writing, his sixties work shows his highly developed third circuit with emerging right brain intelligence. This becomes more pronounced in Bob's early 70's writing. In 1973 and 74 Bob had some intense experiences, and his developing writing demonstrates this, especially in the rewrite of Illuminatus! and in Cosmic Trigger.

The end of Cosmic Trigger and Schroedinger's Cat has show him processing the greatest tragedy of his life. This period culminates in the mastery displayed in Prometheus Rising. 

I think Bob's writing takes another quantum leap with The Widow's Son, Natural Law and The New Inquisition, all of which show the growing influence of Swift and of living in Ireland, as well as his growing intelligence.

He moved back to the US in the late 80's and metaprogrammed himself for success in Hollywood. He didn't find material success, but his intelligence continued to increase and I think his writing improved. E-Prime became an important tool for him.

I think he became even more interesting and funnier in his final years, especially in the conclusion of TSOG and his Thoughts of the Month on, etc.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Are we stagnating?

Yesterday, typing on my Linux laptop, I put up a post celebrating the personal computer. I did that partially because I know that Robert Anton Wilson was a technological optimist who was (for a person his age) someone who had an early interest in personal computers.

Wilson often wrote about that technological acceleration. I believe he referred to it as the Jumping Jesus Phenomena.

Lately, though, some of my favorite thinkers have been writing about hiccups in that march toward technological progress.

Tyler Cowen has authored a short book called The Great Stagnation which argues that the reason the economy has performed so badly in recently isn't because of the liberals, the conservatives, the bankers or whoever your favorite perceived enemy is, but because there has been a slowdown in technological innovation. A few key decades in the 20th century produced the automobile, the airplane, electricity, radio, TV, the refrigerator, and many other innovations that helped drive the economy, Cowen says. He says that the rise of the Internet, however laudatory, hasn't yet had similar results.

Here is a similar article by Peter Thiel.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Popular Electronics January 1975

In a sane world, the above magazine would be more famous than Joe Paterno. It is the magazine that inspired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to found Microsoft by writing software for the first personal computer, the Altair. The same computer also was tested by the Homebrew Computer Club, which had members, such as Steve Wozniak, who went on to build the Apple.

Note that the magazine was Popular Electronics, and not Popular Mechanics (a mistake repeated in the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson that I mentioned yesterday.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Steve Jobs biography

I've been listening to an audiobook of the new Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, and I believe many RAW fans would find the book interesting; it's a biography of an individual, but also a history of how the Silicon Valley tech culture and the counterculture converged to help create personal computers. Jobs was immersed in both communities.

Bonus link: Douglas Rushkoff on the Apple cult, and whether it can outlive Jobs.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A book recommendation

Creation Records founder Alan McGee recommends a book:

"I was up in London earlier in the week and whilst there, I made my now frequent trip to Treadwell's shop and bought myself a copy of Rebels & Devils edited by Christopher J Hyatt. It's a life-changer of a book. It sucked me in from the foreword: 'In all human history, the essence of the human mind has been to think and act according to standards from within, not without. To follow one's own path, not that of the crowd. Inevitably, it follows that anyone with an independent mind must become, as the dictionary says, one who resists or opposes an authority or established convention - a rebel. Usually rebellion is done so quietly no-one notices but, when others recognise the rebel's disobedience, we then have a rebel with a capital 'R'. If enough people come to agree with, and follow the Rebel, we now have a devil. On the other hand, if enough follow the devil, we may then have a leader, a hero, a martyr, an innovator or any number of good things. Rebels and devils create.'

"This book links in Crowley, Austin, Osman, Spare, Peter J Carroll, Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Jack Parsons, Israel Regardie and the Marquis de Sade - all rebels and this book just joins the dots."

I notice the book is available in a Kindle edition for about $10. (You can read a Kindle book on any device, using an Amazon app.)

Maybe the best part of the post, though, is about McGee learning that he may have been part of the News of the World phone hacking case.

"Joking aside, if the police confirm that I have indeed been hacked, and even though this will have been years ago, I will still sue. I couldn't abide NOTW, so I won't be losing sleep in suing them. The joke to me is that in the period they are talking about, whoever had the pleasure to get into my voicemail would have just been faced with hour-long Courtney Love rambles from LA about her new songs at 5 am UK time. I hope they enjoyed their hack there (if obviously it happened) and I pity them having to listen to all that madness..."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quantum theology?

An interview with Catherine Keller, author of a new book on "quantum theology." (Via Supergee, who headlined the posting, "Maybe.")

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Philip K. Dick book

If you are a Philip K. Dick fan, you may have noticed the new book, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, a new collection of unpublished writing.

Ted Hand has a blog post on the "Top Ten things I've been looking forward to Discovering in the Exegesis."

I am linking to the post not just because RAW and PKD liked each other's writings, and their fans tend to like both authors, but because some of Dick's specific interests were RAW's  interests. For example, Hand writes that he wants to know more about what Dick's interest in Giordano Bruno. "I suspect that Dick got a large chunk of his idea of Bruno and the "Hermetic Alchemists" from Frances Yates," Hand writes, referring to a historian often cited by Robert Anton Wilson.

According to Hand, Dick also were interested in Kabbalah and weird physics, two big interests of RAW.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stewart Brand recommendations

I thought some of you might be interested in this New York Times piece on what Stewart Brand, publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, is reading, listening to, following on the Internet, etc.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A censorship hassle at Google

Following up on Friday's posting: Michael Johnson has put up a new post on his Google Problem, which is apparently causing him more angst than his Noam Chomsky problem. Please speak up and spread the word; Michael is taking on a lot of heavy topics and deserves support for his blog. Needless to say,  we all know where RAW would have been on this.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why don't liberals and libertarians get along?

One of my favorite pundits Will Wilkinson, has a piece up on why progressives and libertarians don't mix well, and why conservatives and libertarians tend to group together politically.

In other words, why there are so few RAW-style libertarians who can make common cause with the left on issues such as peace and civil liberties?

Wilkinson argues that it's because libertarians and conservatives has similar attitudes on personal responsibility. As he memorably puts it, "As long as they stick to complaining about handouts for poor people sitting on their asses and praising rich people working hard to make civilization possible, libertarians and conservatives get along fine."

This makes sense to me, but Reason magazine editor Matt Welch dissents.

Addendum: Tyler Cowen explains why one of Matt's points is wrong.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Here's an excerpt from the Lewis Shiner interview with Robert Anton Wilson: 

What's your opinion on pornography?

I agree with Magnus Magnusson. He's the host of an English quiz show called Mastermind, that's a very--not intellectual, but erudite quiz show. The contestants are all experts in some rare field of knowledge, like German history from 1872 to 1886, or Irish poetry of the 7th and 8th centuries--things like that. The winner is the person who can answer the most questions in one minute.

Anyway, Magnus Magnusson was on an Irish television show and somehow the subject of pornography came up and he said, "I'm absolutely against all censorship." And the host said, "That's on the usual Libertarian grounds?" And Magnusson said, "Of course. But I also like pornography." And I thought, my god, that's the first time I ever I heard that. Everybody else who defends it, they argue on these abstract things, the First Amendment or whatever--in England they quote John Stewart Mill. Magnusson was the first person honest enough to say, "I like it, you know." I like a lot of it. I'm not only against censorship, but I feel the damn people who want to ban it are interfering with my right to enjoy myself.

Here are some thoughts on the topic, some of them not unrelated, from Michael Johnson.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A defense of jury nullification

Robert Anton Wilson defended jury nullification as an important freedom (particularly in Chaos and Beyond, a good book that remains out of print), but it's not a popular opinion among mainstream pundits. So I thought it was interesting to see this article at the Atlantic's Web site. The book referenced in the post, William Stuntz' The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, sounded interesting when it was reviewed recently in the Wall Street Journal. (Hat tip, Jesse Walker on Twitter).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Conspiracies -- hackers versus drug cartel

Here is an article about an apparent war between dueling conspiracy groups -- a violent Mexican drug cartel and the Anonymous hacker group. Interesting, but it could also be a very grim duel, as the cartels are prone to extreme violence.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Illuminati behind rap video's disappearance?

A reporter at the Daily Dot with the byline "Fruzsina Eördögh" (it's the usual spelling, I guess) reports that the Illuminati may be behind the mysterious disappearance of a music video for Tupac Shakur's video, "Hit Em Up."

The Daily Dot article explains, "The Illuminati is said to be an all-powerful secret society, whose members include top CEOs of banks and even former United States presidents—and is a favorite  of conspiracy theorists.

"The Tupac conspiracy videos assert Tupac was killed by the Illuminati because he was becoming too powerful, or because he had changed his “thug life” ways. Some videos include security footage purporting to show Tupac being beaten by security guards, and not rival rappers."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

RAW anthology from Polish record label

From the comments in the Oct. 16 posting -- thanks whoever you are -- a Polish record label has released "From Earth to Sirius," a compilation of tracks dedicated to Robert Anton Wilson.

From the Web site (Google English translation):

"Sirius - dog planet - the brightest star in the night sky, located in the constellation Canis Major. Known since antiquity. In many cultures left its mark on the shaping of particular worldview, beliefs, religious formation centers. The ancient Egyptians worshiped as a deity of Sirius, created their own calendar based on his cycle, closely associated with the flooding of the Nile before the summer solstice. Therefore, to build their own temples so that the star's light was visible from the altar.

"In the twentieth century, interest in the magical aspect of Sirius is not weakened. Through Discordians group of RA Wilson and T. Leary at the head of the myth is still alive ...

"Compilation of "From Earth to Sirius", dedicated to RA Wilson - one of the greatest scientific philosophers turn of the century - wise, przenikliwemu, full of humor and optimistic man , is an attempt to reinterpret the myth known to man for millennia."

I know zip about Polish pop music. Polish composers are very important to the modern classical music scene -- Gorecki, Lutoslawski, Penderecki, and probably a bunch more I'm not remembering right now. So I'm going to guess this might be a cool anthology.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New RAW article

To make it easy to find, and for future reference, I have posted a separate link in "Feature Articles and Interviews"  to the RAW article, "Anarchism and Magicks in the Light of Interstellar Neurogenetics," which is in No Governor, Issue No. 2. That's the article where I drew the two quotes in the post for Oct. 27.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A very Discordian 'No Governor'

Issue No. 2 of Robert Shea's zine "No Governor," just posted under Feature Articles and Interviews, has contributions from Robert Anton Wilson, Kerry Thornley and Gregory Hill.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two quotes from RAW on getting into outer space

Both of these quotes are from an article published in 1975:

Although it sounds spooky to say it, there is a real neurological link between the space-explorations of the 1960s-70's and the Hedonic revolution also occurring.

Every form of social experimentation is now illegal on Earth; methods of control and surveillance are improving yearly, monthly, even daily. All the long-hairs will be barbered; all the revolutionaries jailed in the Gulag or California archipelago! All the free, wild animals made extinct; all the soft earth covered with concrete; all the swingers led back to Calvinist or Stalinist domesticity. 

Both quotations are from "Anarchism and Magick in the Light of Interstellar Neurogenetics," an essay I'll make available shortly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The three periods of RAW?

In the midst of a good-sized blog post ruminating on political corruption, Michael Johnson writes, "The middle period writings of RAW (which I consider as 1975-1985, with 1959-1974 the first period and 1986-2005 the third and last, not that anyone had asked) contains an abundance of non-Euclidean political writing, by which he meant that he saw value in left-libertarian and traditionally anarchist thought, and individualist-"right" libertarian ideas."

I am asking, in the sense that I hope Johnson will elaborate, but I agree that RAW's writings fall into three periods, because I've noticed a similar division in tone and content. The "middle period" (my favorite period of RAW's writings) are more optimistic, more overtly libertarian (although RAW espoused libertarian ideas, on and off, for the rest of his life), and more heavily in debt to Timothy Leary. The middle period also encompasses most of the fiction and all of the really good novels. The Widow's Son, a favorite of many of us, came out in 1985. Nature's God (1988) is certainly worth reading, but it's not one of his best. Thereafter we get nonfiction. The Historical Illuminatus series was never finished and the Bride of Illuminatus project apparently did not get very far.

As I continue to dig up old RAW articles, I am particularly excited when I find something from the middle period.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Like an author? Check him out

I live in the Cleveland area. I thought I'd share some searches I ran today in the online catalogs for CLEVNET, a consortium of northern Ohio libraries that includes 35 public libraries including the Cleveland Public Library, and for Cuyahoga County Public Library, which serves metropolitan Cleveland and has 28 branches.

Number of Robert Anton Wilson works listed in the CLEVNET catalog: 21. Number of Robert Shea items: five, but just three titles.

Number of Robert Anton Wilson books held by the Cuyahoga County Public Library: None. Number of Robert Shea books: None.

Libraries have a limited amount of shelf space. They constantly buy new books, which means that old ones have to be culled from the collection and gotten rid of in some way (sales by library volunteer groups, sealed in boxes and thrown away, etc.). The easiest, most logical way to cull the collection is to get rid of the books that haven't been checked out in awhile. If you want your favorite writer's books to remain available in public libraries, check them out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A few words on copyright

Some weeks ago, a reader who follows the blog wrote to me and asked if I have permission from Robert Anton Wilson's estate to post the articles that I place here.

I haven't had any contact with RAW's daughter, although I've tried to email her. So I can't guess what she might think of this blog.

However, almost all of the articles that I post on this site, and the interviews (other than the material I create myself) are obscure  pieces that have sat, forgotten, in obscure journals for many years. In some cases, I have the permission of the original publisher to reprint the piece. In other cases, I would not know who to ask. In all cases, I believe I am helping the estate by bringing to light material that could be published in a later book.

I don't believe in publishing material that's available from a RAW book that's in print. I don't link to sites that circulate pirate electronic editions of books that are in print. I support RAW's children by buying new editions of books that are in print (I've bought several books in the last couple of years) and I urge everyone else to do the same.

If you can't afford to buy RAW's books, or as many as you would like, there are still ways to support his writing and his place in the literary canon. I will talk about that tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Have a Lovecraft story read to you

This is the time of year to listen to spooky stories. So in honor of RAW's interest in H.P. Lovecraft, and the fact that the Cthulhu Mythos appears in ILLUMINATUS!, here's a link to listen to Lovecraft's "Nyarlathotep." Hat tip, @t3dy on Twitter.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

James Bond's 23, and ours

At the Oz Mix, Oz Fritz looks at the 23 glyph "as a viable and extremely useful technique for brain change."

Excerpt: "Like many fans of Robert Anton Wilson, when I first encountered his works and for several years after, I began having lots and lots of unusual coincidences with 23. Too many to write off as selective perception though there were some that fit that category. I usually regarded them as an indication of my awareness of a new life as a spiritual being, evidence of going in the right direction."

Definitely a read the whole thing post.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pynchon reading group

Over at, a group of Robert Anton Wilson fans are reading Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day. It started a few days ago, but they haven't gotten very far, so it isn't too late to join in.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eureka! They found Archimedes' lost books

On the theory that somebunall Robert Anton Wilson fans might be interested in lost lore, here is a New York Times article about the discovery of two "lost" works by Archimedes, and a related story about the discover of "lost" speeches by the Greek orator Hyperides.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Maybe I don't watch Colbert enough?

Tweet from Ted Hand: "How many people see the fnords for their first time watching #Colbert these days? First effective translation of illuminatus! to video? #ows"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Discordian blog

Gnosis Discordia! is a new blog that I just discovered. The author has a long, recent post about Robert Anton Wilson. I could not find anything on the site identifying the author.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Another RAW resource

Inside the Mind of Robert Anton Wilson is an area in the Temple Illuminatus Web site, with postings on topics such as "Favorite Book by Robert Anton Wilson" and "The Eight Circuits of Consciousness."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Listeners, do what you Ott shall be the whole of the law

I recently discovered that our ally Fly Agaric 23 is not the only electronica artist influenced by Robert Anton Wilson. Ott also likes to use clips from RAW in his music. A rather good track that uses a RAW clip, "Signals from Bob," can be played here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

'Free Love, Sexism and All That' by Robert Anton Wilson

Although the typography of the PDF is a bit of a struggle (the librarian had a bit of bother scanning the document) RAW's essay in the first issue of the zine "No Governor" is well worth reading. (Shea's anarchist zine is posted under "Feature Articles and Interviews" at the right side of this page.)

The article, on page 25 of the zine, is entitled "Free Love, Sexism and All That." Here is a good sentence from the article: "If you do not 'own' your genitals -- if the Church owns them, or any stronger person in the room owns them, or some 'irresistible impulse' owns them -- you do not possess anything like self-identity." Here is another good sentence: "To an anarchist aware of anarchist theory the issue remains clear:  Love is either free or coerced. The former represents anarchism and the latter represents tyranny."

Friday, October 14, 2011


"Fue el año en que finalmente hicieron inmanente el Eskatón." Do you recognize that first line?

It is the first line of The Eye in the Pyramid, translated into Spanish by one Mazzu Stardust, who identifies himself as a resident of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He appears to have translated the entire trilogy into Spanish, posting his labors at a Blogger blog, 

Hat tip to Laynd, in the comment for my Oct. 9 posting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Peace — A litmus test for libertarians?

This article by Robert Higgs argues that although libertarians should not look for excuses to quarrel with one another, peace is a legitimate "litmus test" for whether someone is really a libertarian. I've linked to it because (1) I agree (2) I think Robert Anton Wilson would agree. (Via @Antiwar2, aka Angela Keaton, on Twitter.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

But Siriusly folks

Mysteries of Sirius, a Web site I ran across recently, explores the speculation involving the "enigma of the dog star" and includes Robert Anton Wilson material.

I confess I have not studied this matter closely enough to have an opinion on Robert Temple's book, The Sirius Mystery,  and the Sirius matters discussed in RAW's Cosmic Trigger Vol. 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati and other works.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Science Fiction Encyclopedia launches

The beta version of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia has launched, thus making available for everyone the same book that I bought years ago as an expensive hardcover. ("Beta" means that some of the content is still missing from the free Internet version.) There is a quite decent-sized entry for Robert Anton Wilson, plus entries for related subjects such as Robert Shea, the Prometheus Award, libertarian science fiction, etc.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Robert Shea quote

I've been reading through the first issue of "No Governor," Robert Shea's anarchist zine (Spring 1975, list price, 25 cents). Although I tracked it down to read the Robert Anton Wilson article, I like some of the other pieces, particularly Shea's own article, "Doing Anarchist Yourself." The last paragraph is worth quoting:

We are all victims of an authoritarian mind-set that dates back, at least, to the neolithic era. The anarchist movement, little more than a century old, represents a beginning effort by some members of our species to erase that programming and try to think about human problems in a new way. This new thinking, and doing, whatever it may become, will not originate with leaders or groups. It will come from individuals, from the voice and the light within.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Robert Anton Wilson resource site

The Robert Anton Wilson site is an apparently new site that attempts to provide a "one stop shop" gathering together videos, audio, articles and a bibliography. It's a nice supplement to other sides, although for some reason it doesn't collect interviews, and the anonymous compiler (there is no contact information) apparently is not aware of and doesn't include  any of the material I have found. (Via triangleeye, apparently a new blog.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

One more Steve Jobs post

Here is Professor Juan Cole, on "Steve Jobs: Arab-American, Buddhist, Psychedelic Drug User and Capitalist World Changer."

Friday, October 7, 2011

A band from the book

Ultraviolet Hippopotamus is one of the bands listed in book three of ILLUMINATUS! It's also a real band.

From the Grand Rapids Press: "(By the way, [drummer Joe] Phillion says the band's name comes from one of author Robert Anton Wilson's "Illuminatus" works.)"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The news of the day

We all live in Steve Jobs' world, and so when I learned last night that he had died, I was shocked that he had left us to fend in the world on our own.

John Markoff's obituary in the New York Times is a must-read. I apparently haven't followed Jobs' career very closely, because I didn't realize just how much it was influenced by the California counterculture that Robert Anton Wilson was so familiar with. Here is one of the sentences that jumped out at me: "He told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand."

My other take on Jobs is here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A prediction from RAW

Here is a posting from, from "drokhole," who says,

You want an eerily accurate prediction of these protests/uprisings? Robert Anton Wilson from 1990:

"If the rate of increase of information does have the structure of a Mandelbrot set, as McKenna claims, by the year 2012 we should have information doubling every day and, later in the year, every hour and then every nanosecond. I can't imagine what this means practically in terms of social change, because every doubling of information in the past has resulted in totally unexpected social revolutions, violent or non-violent."

With the utilization of twitter, facebook, YouTube, Occupy Wall Street sites posting up-to-date "meeting minutes," other Occupy Everywhere sites popping up every minute, and livestream (talk about up-to-date by the nanosecond), I'd say that was a pretty amazing prediction. That man's intelligence and wit is sorely missed.

(All of the above from the original posting; hat tip to Michael Johnson on Go here for Michael's 10-point plan in reaction to the protests.  -- Tom)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thank God the police are protecting us from movie posters

One of the recurring themes of Cosmic Trigger 3: My Life After Death is the absurdity of PC though on college campuses.

Here's a real-life example of the sort of thing that amused Robert Anton Wilson. A theater professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout put up a poster on his office door of a character in the "Firefly" TV show, captain "Mal" Reynolds, saying "You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed."

If, without knowing the context of the quote, you are thinking "Gee, I wonder if my professor would be cool enough to be a Firefly fan" or "that's a poetic way of saying I won't talk about you behind your back," you don't think like a college administrator. The campus police chief removed the poster. When the prof put up another poster, protesting fascism, she removed it, too. She also reported the professor to the "threat assessment team."

Three top administrators then issued a statement defending the police chief's actions and stating, without a trace of irony, "This was not an act of censorship."

Email exchange between the police chief and professor is here.

I'm reporting Police Chief Lisa Walter, Chancellor Charles Sorensen, Provost Julie Furst-Bowe and Vice Chancellor Ed Nieskes to the stupidity assessment team.

Monday, October 3, 2011

H. P. Lovecraft's eldritch places

Robert Anton Wilson was a Lovecraft fan, and we're getting into the Halloween season, so here's a couple of links: Five places that helped inspire Lovecraft and a virtual walking tour of Lovecraft's Providence, Rhode Island.

ILLUMINATUS! has a scene (page 329 of the omnibus edition) in which Robert Putney Drake calls on Lovecraft in a house on Benefit Street. This may be either a mistake or a dramatic liberty; the Wikipedia entry on Lovecraft says that Lovecraft lived on Barnes Street until 1933; 135 Benefit Street is the address of "the shunned house," from the Lovecraft story. Does anyone know if Lovecraft ever lived on Benefit Street?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

'Magic mushrooms' can cause lasting personality changes

A new study suggests that a single dose of psilocybin can bring about a measurable personality change that lasts at least a year, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers. Specifically, the  dose caused "in the part of the personality known as openness, which includes traits related to imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas and general broad-mindedness."

The study leader, Roland R. Griffiths, "believes psilocybin may have therapeutic uses. He is currently studying whether the hallucinogen has a use in helping cancer patients handle the depression and anxiety that comes along with a diagnosis, and whether it can help longtime cigarette smokers overcome their addiction.

"There may be applications for this we can't even imagine at this point," he says. "It certainly deserves to be systematically studied."

Hat tip: Mike Gathers, via

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New William Burroughs opera

An announcement of an opera, The Ticket That Exploded: An Ongoing Opera.

"Based on William Burroughs’ 1962 dystopian novel about identity disintegration, oppression of humanity’s collective consciousness through technological influence, and revolution through the subversion of those very technologies.

"Featuring live vocalists Ted Hearne, Nick Hallett, Anne Rhodes, and Megan Schubert, video vocalists Melissa Hughes, Steve Dalachinsky, and Ryan Opperman, an ensemble of thirteen instrumentalists, and live video projections from Jason Ponce, the opera will be organized using the same cut-up techniques and emphasis on fragmentation of language that distinguishes Burroughs’ literary work.

"An ongoing opera is one which has set material but is perpetually reconfigured during the performance, mixing composed material with indeterminate composition strategies and conducted improvisations. With zero staging, all visuals are conveyed through projected live video manipulations. Pre-recorded video performances will facilitate vocalists to interact with other vocalists who are not present, or even to sing a duet with themselves. These efforts to perpetually repurpose the musical and visual content of the opera are a direct effort on my part to draw comparisons between the performative and the generative-- to make the very act of reorganizing materials function both as a blueprint for making art and as art itself."

Hat tip: Jesse Walker, currently fending off an attack from a Randroid named Tibor Machan.

Walker: "“Every one of us has our perceptions filtered by the thousands of stories and assumptions and rituals that constitute our culture. Every one of us has held beliefs that seemed self-evidently accurate but were actually contingent elements of the time and place that produced us. This is true not just of the people reading this article, but of every person, in every era, who has been capable of perceiving anything at all. You can stretch those perceptions, expose yourself to new worldviews, learn new things, but you’ll always be embedded in a cultural matrix." Machan: "The passage exemplifies just such a viewpoint, whereby no one is capable of objectivity and everyone is caught in some set of preconceptions."

Jesse didn't actually say that no one is capable of an objective opinion, but never mind. Objectivism today, objectivism tomorrow, objectivism forever!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Proposal for ILLUMINATUS! reference book

Editor's note: John Merritt is on Twitter as @17beowulf. I noticed him when he got into a dialogue with Ted Hand about RAW (reproduced here in the Sept. 21 posting.) We began following each other. On Sept. 24, he Tweeted, "Working on a precis for a annotations volume for "lluminatus!" Mater deoruum, would it be a lot of work!" Naturally, I was interested and I asked for more information, and he kindly shared the following article with me. Mr. Merritt is not nominating himself as the editor of the proposed volume but wants to get a discussion going. -- Tom.

Notes concerning a Concordance and Commentary for Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus!.
By John Merritt

(Divina Mater deorum, would this be a lot of work!)

The following represents some thoughts about a concordance and commentary on the Illuminatus! trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. This work was originally published in three volumes by Dell in 1975 and is now available in a one-volume edition first published in 1984. The basis of Illuminatus! is a general lampoon of various conspiracy theories and the mentality that goes along with them. This is a free-wheeling, drug-fueled free-for all, the Dionysian counterpart to Umberto Eco’s more Apollonian Foucault’s Pendulum.

Illuminatus contains numerous references to events in American history, especially between 1968 and 1972. Other historical subjects touched on are the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1963 and the many conspiracy theories deriving from that event, the history of American gangsters in the 1930s, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the 1968 Democrat Convention in Chicago, the drug scene of the period, UFOs, alternative religions, and various occult currents. The work is also full of a Gawd-awful number of puns, many of which are tied to cultural and/or literary references which may not be apparent to the casual reader.

The physical structure of the work is based on the Tree of Life in Kabbalah in its normal form. The overall work is divided into four parts, corresponding to the Four Worlds of Kabbalah, the three parts of the narrative and the appendices at the end. The story parts are divided into ten chapters, named by the ten Sephrioth, and thirteen appendices named for the first thirteen letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The continuity of each of the three parts of the narrative is further broken into smaller parts by sudden changes in plot and/or location. There is a further division of the narrative into five parts, corresponding to the “Illuminati’s Theory of History”, which is explained in Appendix Gimel.

This compilation would consist mainly of a series of short articles explaining the historical and fictional persons and places mentioned, historical events, and geographical places real and imagined, and the explication of puns. The order of the articles should be that of the subjects’ occurrence in the work, an approach taken in similar commentaries for Joyce’s Ulysses, Pound’s Cantos, and Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.

An example of a pun: "Purple Sage": sage = wise man, also a  plant used as a seasoning. _Riders of the Purple Sage_: a novel by Western writer Zane Gray. Possible reference: "Riders of the Purple Wage", a short story by Philip Jose Farmer first published in _Dangerous Visions_, edited by Harlan Ellison, first published in 1967. Wikipedia also lists several bands with the name.

Since the work was published in two different formats, the page references should be given for both.

While it perhaps would be possible for one person to do this, it would be better if there was a general editor and several sub-editors for major topics:

• One for the Kennedy assassination and related conspiracies.

• One for American politics and the Viet Nam War (one for each?).

• One for the literary references and allusions.

(An example: General Tequila y Mota uses Edward Luttwak's; _Coup D'Etat: a Practical Handbook_ as his guide for taking power in Fernando Poo. Here's some links on Luttwak.  A tough bastard.)

• One for music allusions (?).

• One for occult references.

• One for libertarian politics and non-standard (i.e., not Keynesian, monetarist or Austrian “free market”) economics.

The following are some further thoughts:

• The three biggest sections would probably be those on the Illuminati—with or without the “regular” masonic groups—, the JFK hit and the fallout therefrom, and Atlantis.

• At the beginning of “Leviathan” is a long list of rock bands going to the big festival at Ingolstadt. How many are/were real and how many fictitious at the time that Illuminatus! was written?

• Sort biographies and bibliographies of the various libertarian and alternate economics authors and works mentioned, which are mostly in Appendix Zayn.

• Possible real-life basis for characters, e.g., how much of Joe Malik is based on Hugh M. Hefner, publisher of Playboy magazine. Both Wilson and Shea were assistant editors at Playboy when they started work on Illuminatus!

• Occult references: Aleister Crowley, Tarot, Kabbalah, the Black Mass.

• Chicago politics and the Daley Machine.

• Religions: Catholicism, Fundamentalist Protestant Christianity, Zen Buddhism, Discordianism. Discordianism as a spoof of revealed religions.

• In the bibliography of works mentioned in Illuminatus!: full bibliographic information for the first edition and any current printings should be given, as well as whether older books are available online.

• Writers mentioned or referred to: Joyce, Pound, Lovecraft, R. W. Chambers, William S. Burroughs, Edgar Rice Burroughs (?), Raymond Chandler, J-K Huysmans, Hart Crane, Ambrose Bierce, Zane Gray (in pun), Ayn Rand, Allan Ginsberg, J. G. Ballard, Dante, and Arthur Machen. This is a partial and incomplete list.

• The various Atlantis stories, starting with Plato’s Timaeus and including Mu and Lemuria as Pacific Ocean variants. How much of the film that Joe Malik sees is from previous post-Plato Atlantis yarns and how much is Shea and Wilson’s invention?

• A big part of the second and third volumes is taken up by a spoof of Ian Fleming’s MI6 hitman, James Bond—particularly, the last three books Fleming completed: Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. These are the books concerning SPECTRE and its chief, Ernst Starvo Blofeld. This is intertwined with a variation on the Cthulhu Mythos during the part of Illuminatus! that takes place on Fernando Poo.

• One big help would be Shea and Wilson’s Nachlass; where are they and are they available for study?
In Cosmic Trigger I Wilson mentions that, at one time, he had a fair sized collection of conspiracy books. What happened to them? If the collection didn’t survive, is there a surviving list of titles?

• A list of translations should be given, with notes on completeness, illustrations, and any other interesting points. Here is an example for the German translation.

Illuminatus! Die Trilogie. Aus dem Englischen von Udo Breger. Reinbek: Rowalt, 2011. Copyright © 1977, 1978, 1978 der ersten deutschesprachigen Ausgabe by (sic!) Sphinx Verlag, Basel. Copyright © 2002 der deutschsprachigen Ausgabe by Heinrich Hugendubel Verlag, Kreuzlingen/München.
I have no idea what is going on here with the copyright notices, unless Breger’s version is the second German translation. I also don’t know if Hugendubel the publisher is related to Hugendubel the bookstore chain. (I did buy my copy at a Hugendubel. Synchronicity strikes again.) The German Wikipedia article on Illuminatus! says that Breger’s is the only translation, and lists the different editions.

(The German Wiki article looks to be a lot better than the English one.)

The individual volumes are also available. The one-volume edition is not paged continuously, but keeps the pagination of the individual parts. It also keeps the introductory sections of the 2nd and 3rd volumes, which are omitted in the Dell one-volume edition.

Breger leaves some American slang untranslated, but otherwise this seems to be a complete, unexpurgated version. There are some interesting inconsistencies, though. On III, 276-7 he leaves the quotation of Chapter 23 of Crowley’s The Book of Lies untranslated, but the nearly complete quotation of Liber Oz at the beginning of volume 2 (p. 7) is translated entire. And in the other quote from The Book of Lies (on I, 183) he opts for the in German nonsensical half of Crowley’s pun on ass, translating it as Ärsche (‘arses’) and ignoring the equine reference (German Esel), though admittedly there is no way to get the pun to work in German—or in British English.

The chart of conspiracies from The East Village Other is reproduced untranslated on p. I,128. The other illustrations in the original are also present.

There is also a German translation of Masks of the Illuminati.

On the Internet
There is an Illuminatus! wiki at, but it seems to just be an outline for now.
There is a character index to Illuminatus! at

Thursday, September 29, 2011

RAW on Philip K. Dick

Cosmic Trigger Vol. 3: My Life After Death has a chapter on Philip K. Dick, "The Black Iron Prison."

I thought it was pretty good, but although I've read PKD for years (I read him when he was a paperback SF writer not not a prominent member of the modern canon) I wondered what someone with a really serious in Dick would think of it.

So I asked Ted Hand via Twitter. He replied, " I like it. But along with his mentions of PKD in CT1+Selected Letters of PKD introduction too tantalizing! I wish he'd said more."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My three books

Yesterday, I posted Supergee's three books that changed his life, and Oz Fritz (in the comments) listed his three. After thinking about it for a day or so, here are mine:

1. ILLUMINATUS! Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. There's obviously a lot that can be said about this book, but just one of the things I like about it is the philosophical agnosticism — none of the characters can ever be sure they are getting a real idea of what's going on. That's true even of the protagonists  narrowly focused on solving a problem in their area of expertise, i.e., the New York City police detective trying to investigate a crime, a missing persons case that might be murder. Wilson remarked many years later (in Cosmic Trigger 3, Chapter 31) that "I see the  universe as Puzzle to Work On, Joyce-Welles fashion, and not as Puzzle Solved," and that's one of the major themes of the trilogy.

Notice also that the "puzzle" of what kind of novel ILLUMINATUS! is can't really be solved. Is it a literary novel, or a pop culture novel? (How many readers notice right away that Hagbard Celine is sailing around on a yellow submarine, just like the Beatles song?) Is is a literary novel, a mystery, an occult-horror novel, a science fiction novel, a political novel a la Ayn Rand or a Cthulus Mythos novel? (H.P. Lovecraft even appears as a character in the book.) It would seem to be all of those things.

2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. I've always liked fiction that is "out there" — science fiction, ambitious literary fiction (I've liked Vladimir Nabokov since high school), complex books like ILLUMINATUS!

More than any other book, Pride and Prejudice taught me about the power of fiction that is straightforward, written in clear prose, about everyday people in the present doing ordinary things. I went on to read all of Austen's works, and I still read many "Austenite" comic novels about everyday people in the present (I've read everything by Tom Perrotta, for example, including his new one, and most of Elinor Lipman's books.)

3. The World of Late Antiquity, Peter Brown. This book, and Hugh Elton's Warfare in Roman Europe AD 350-425 helped focus my interest in late antiquity, a wonderfully interesting period in history which is neither classical history not medieval history, but something in between. At the same time that the Angles and Saxons were invading Britain and creating "England" — the putative time of King Arthur, in other words — the inhabitants of Constantinople, the new Rome, were still going to public baths and watching "Ben Hur" style chariot races.