Monday, June 27, 2011

R. Michael Johnson on ILLUMINATUS!

R. Michael Johnson has a typically erudite article on ILLUMINATUS! and Robert Anton Wilson's "Guerilla Ontology" at Suite 101. It's a short article written for general readers, but you're likely to learn something, anyway. (I didn't know that Edward Abbott's Flatland influenced the structure of ILLUMINATUS!) Don't forget to do the social media thing (e.g., "liking" it on Facebook) so that the piece can find a few more readers.

Michael also has a piece on Ezra Pound in case you need to brush up on the key RAW influence.


michael said...

Tom: thanks for the bump. That RAW piece was originally four times longer, and my first piece for that site. Then the editor said, "We have a rule: 1500-2000 words max per article, but we think readers are more likely to read it if it's 800-1000 words." The advice was to make the article into three or four separate pieces, which I thought kinda lame. I am not happy with the piece, and Suite 101 got clobbered when google's "Panda" algorithm change came in; people who had written there for years, with 500-1000 articles, saw their share of revenue drop by up to 2/3...The site has been undergoing a radical re-vamping in the wake of Google's swath. The problem with the site, in my eyes: they allowed too many terrible writers to post crap there...along with some very good writers. The good writers got penalized.

In general, as of today and from where I'm standing: if you're writing for anything BUT revenue share: you're doing okay, relatively. The revenue share model seems really dicey, especially for someone who doesn't want to/cannot crank out article after article on herbal remedies, how to save on children's toys, how to perform better on World of Warcraft, how to save money when you travel, and how to know if (s)he "really likes you."

There are writers online who are EXPERT, not at writing, but generating "content" and then using SEO and four or five blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc: directing traffic around to their articles. They seem to do well. Their writing seems barely passable to me, but they are more in tune with the "reality of the system" than Ill ever be.

Oz Fritz said...

Thanks for posting this link to the excellent Illuminatus! essay. I couldn't remember where I heard the Wilson/Flatland link, and it must have been there. I read it a few weeks ago. I would love to read what was edited out.

Also enjoyed the Ezra Pound essay.

michael said...

Thanks, Oz Fritz.

I'm not sure if RAW or Shea ever made the Flatland infl explicit; it is my extrapolation, but it's based on the popularity of Flatland among erudite RAW reader-types, and the exegesis in Eric Wagner's book An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson.

RAW was one of those writers who was delighted to hear what his readers found in his texts that he didn't consciously put there; he did not discount the validity of some of the interpretations that he hadn't knows "were" there.

A lot of writers flat-out quit writing for Suite101 when Google smashed them as a "content farm," and I don't blame them. But I also think Google's Panda algorithm was not exactly just, and my own searches on Google turned up a lot of dead ends after the change, so I think they were probably hurt a tad too (big deal: they're worth a gadbrazillion dollars now).

SatoriGuy said...

Hey Michael,

A little off-topic, but I just finished reading your great interview with Tom Jackson from last summer.

Are you still working on that book about RAW?

And what current writers would you compare to RAW?

michael said...

SatoriGuy: thanks for the good vibes.

Yes, I'm still working on it.

The current writers question I find difficult. I've thought a lot about it, and, for me, there are writers who seem somewhat isomorphic to RAW in some areas of RAW's thought and not others. I find a lot of writers who complement certain areas of RAW's thought. Some I'd name: Rushkoff, Tom Robbins, Matt Ruff, Neal Stephenson...on drugs and magick: see the astounding trilogy of books by Dale Pendell: Pharmako/Poeia; Pharmakodynamis; Pharmako/Gnosis.

Antero Alli extends some of RAW's thought in a new direction.

Whenever Pynchon comes out with a new book, there's always a bit of a RAW buzz there, for me.

As for math/science/weirdness: I like Rudy Rucker and Clifford Pickover.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb extends a lot of what RAW had to say about "experts" and epistemology, but Nassim's character is not ludic at all. A lot of what RAW thought about finance capital is furthered by Taleb, in a way I really think RAW would've appreciated.

Someone please tell me of someone?