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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Cosmic Trigger tribute

Kate Sherrod, a blogger previously unknown to me, pens a nice tribute to Robert Anton Wilson, and Wilson's Cosmic Trigger 1. "My appreciation for Wilson and what he had to share has only grown over the years," writes Sherrod, who goes on to explain why.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A hippie physicist's blog

I've just finished David Kaiser's How the Hippies Saved Physics, about the unusual group of physicists that Robert Anton Wilson hung out with the 1970s, and wrote about in Cosmic Trigger 1.

One of the "hippie physicists" portrayed in the book, Nick Herbert, comes off especially well. Herbert's schemes for using the principles in Bell's Theorem (on nonlocality in quantum mechanics) to invent a faster-than-light communications device did not turn out to be viable, but in Kaiser's telling, Herbert's clever ideas forced physicists to think about important issues and helped give rise to quantum encryption, a method for encrypting messages that are theoretically impossible to intercept and decipher. There is a whole burgeoning field of quantum information science, and the "hippie physicists" in general and Herbert in particular deserve credit for helping to spur it, Kaiser says.

Well, it turns out that Herbert has an interesting blog, Quantum Tantra, and he doesn't just write about physics. He writes about many topics that might interest folks who read this blog.

Here is the obituary Herbert wrote for Robert Anton Wilson.

Friday, July 29, 2011

More RAW on Twitter

"My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about everything."

-- Robert Anton Wilson

This is one of my favorite Robert Anton Wilson quotes, but I am reprinting it here to call attention to the source that just reposted it -- the @Robert_A_Wilson account just launched by the folks at Temple Illuminatus.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New 'Email' from RAW

More Bobby Campbell news: He did the artwork on a new edition of RAW's Email to the Universe. It was Wilson's last book, and also is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Aldiss and RAW

I always enjoy seeing connections between my favorite authors. Years ago, I attended a panel discussion at a science fiction convention that featured two personal favorites of mine, George Alec Effinger and Kim Stanley Robinson. The two shook hands before the panel, and I remember wondering if they liked each other's work, and if the panel was the first time they had met.

I've enjoyed science fiction writer Brian Aldiss for a long time. He's a wonderful short story, and also very adept with novels (perhaps my favorite of the latter is The Malacia Tapestry. So I am intrigued that some of RAW's books have the following quote from Aldiss on the cover, concerning RAW: "Here is genius with a G!" It's from a review published in the Guardian.

Searching on the Internet suggests that it was a review of Sex & Drugs -- A Journey Beyond Limits. Does anyone have any other information, such as how I could read the actual review?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How the Hippies Saved Physics

I've begun reading How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser, which as I wrote earlier, is all about the physicists RAW wrote about in Cosmic Trigger 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati (and many other places.)

Two of Robert Anton Wilson's writings are cited in the bibliography: Cosmic Trigger 1 and "The Science of the Impossible," an article that appeared in the March 1979 issue of Oui magazine. The article is not posted at, so it's one more article for someone to track down. (I'd reprint it here if someone could send me a clip.)

In addition, the text quotes from an article Robert Anton Wilson wrote for an underground newspaper in the Bay Area in 1976. No exact citation is given. The notes explain that the clipping was provided by Saul-Paul Sirag, who believes that it originally appeared in a local underground newspaper.

Monday, July 25, 2011

'Maybe Logic' available on net

"Maybe Logic," the documentary on Robert Anton Wilson, is currently streaming on Hat tip, Julian Sanchez (via his Twitter feed.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Do RAW fans frown on dissent?

Ted Hand, mentioned in Friday's blog post, Tweeted on July 19, "Sometimes I marvel at how many really embarrassing things Robert Anton Wilson said, or RAW-fan defensiveness/But maybe it's a real deep game." (@t3dy, a really interesting Twitter feed.)

Naturally, I wondered what he was referring to, so I asked. He explained, "Every so often I get flamed for some criticism I make of RAW's less valuable writings. Ironic that RAWfans get so smug about his skepticism!" (Hand is a fan of many of RAW's writings, as his Tweets make clear).

I have no information about what any of the disagreements were, so I can't take sides, but one of the most appealing aspects of Robert Anton Wilson's writings and philosophy is that he didn't behave like the Pope, or Ayn Rand, or L. Ron Hubbard — he didn't insist that anybody had to swallow all of his pronouncements. It's a delicious irony that when I disagree with RAW, I am agreeing with his "system" for evaluating the opinions of others.

One example of that system (dozens of examples could be cited) comes from the chapter, "Important! Read This Carefully" from Cosmic Trigger Vol. 2 (which I'm reading now):

What I have been saying — the important lesson of this book — can be put into two simple imperatives:

1. Never believe totally in anybody else's BS.

2. Never believe totally in your own BS.

(The boldface is in the original. Besides the obvious, BS stands for "Belief System.")

And isn't this one the main lessons of ILLUMINATUS! ? The characters in the novel can never be sure they have the real story ...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New 'Insider's Guide to RAW' out

A new edition of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson by Eric Wagner has been released, according to Bobby Campbell, who did the new illustrations. Mr. Campbell's blog posting offers a sneak peak at his arresting artwork. I have read Wagner's book — I've repeatedly re-read many portions of it — and I recommend it for all serious RAW fans.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Giordano Bruno news

Via Ted Hand's Twitter feed (a useful source of information, @t3dy) I found Laura Miller's interesting review of a new book about Giordano Bruno, Ingrid Rowland's Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic. A sentence from Miller's review about the Bruno monument in Rome: "Every year, on the anniversary of his death, free-thinking Romans cover his statue with flowers." The inquisitor who pursued Bruno (and Galileo) was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1930, Miller says.

Hand's Tweets also pointed me to a map of Bruno's travels in Europe.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An impressive new music service

Apologies in advance for those who think I've veered wildly off-topic, but Spotify, a music service that is the rage in Europe, has finally launched in Europe. I've been reviewing and writing about music services on the Net for years (I do an Internet column for my old paper in Oklahoma) and Spotify's free service is the most impressive I've ever seen. I like to think that RAW, with his interest in music and the Internet, would have been interested, but no doubt someone will correct me if I'm wrong. (Arguably tenuous RAW link: You can use Spotify to immediately listen to any Beethoven music he mentions in his writings.)

Invitations to join are here. My invitation took about a week to arrive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Ezra Pound conspiracy theory

I've been reading The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt, about the city of Venice. It's a lot of fun.

Chapter 9, "The Last Canto," has a conspiracy theory about the fate of many of Ezra Pound's literary papers, which naturally I am sharing with you.

Many of his papers wound up being preserved and placed in collection in a library at Yale University.

Berendt's theory is that an expatriate American, Jane Rylands, took advantage of Pound's mistress, Olga Rudge, by forming the "Ezra Pound Foundation," enriching herself in the process. All of the elements of the theory cannot be proved, because the alleged conspirators concealed some of the evidence.

The three officers of the foundation were Rudge, Rylands and a Cleveland lawyer (not named in the book.) Any decisions of the foundation would be made be a majority vote of the three.
In other words, when Rudge realized that she was being taken advantage of, she was outvoted.

The foundation was dissolved after the papers were sold to Yale. "There were rumors that Yale had paid Jane Rylands a considerable sum of money for the papers, but they were only conjecture." (Page 210).

The Olga Rudge Papers at Yale consist of 208 boxes of materials. Scholars can read the material in 207 boxes. One box, No. 156, has the papers of the Ezra Pound Foundation, and Yale has placed that box off limits until 2016. According to Berendt's book, Rylands and the unnamed Cleveland lawyer insisted upon that condition.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The William Burroughs curse on Capote

From RealityStudio a "William S. Burroughs Community," comes the odd tale, with overtones of magick, of how Burroughs put a "curse" on his literary rival and enemy, Truman Capote. Whether by coincidence or not, Capote's career faded, the article says. (via @tedgioia on Twitter.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

RAW -- still on Twitter

A couple of Robert Anton Wilson quotes that circulated over the weekend on Twitter:

"Help conquer the IQ shortage — worry less and think more." (via @metasophy).

"The final war will be between Pavlov's Dog and Schroedinger's Cat." (@jdhogkins, RT by @RAWilson23

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Keeping ILLUMINATUS! fresh

The United States government, doing its bit to keep ILLUMINATUS! fresh for a new generation of readers, continues to act in ways that almost defy satire.

As Glenn Greenwald points out, Leon Panetta (then the CIA director) announced two years ago, "CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites." Greenwald then links to an article in The Nation magazine, about the CIA's secret prison in Somalia.

Greenwald notes, "Although Somali government agents technically operate the facility, that is an obvious ruse: 'US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners' and are 'there full-time,' Scahill reported." Kind of like the gangsters you read about who put their assets in somebody else's name.

The Jeremy Scahill piece Greenwald links to includes this sentence, referring to a recently-killed Al Quada leader, "A JSOC attempt to kill him in a January 2007 airstrike resulted in the deaths of at least seventy nomads in rural Somalia, and he had been underground ever since." (The JSOC is the "Joint Special Operations Command," a U.S. anti-terrorism force.)

Hey, they're just "nomads."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Using the Internet to get out of your reality tunnel

Jesse Walker has an excellent new essay up at, "The Facebook Friend in the Plastic Bubble," which argues that the Internet makes it easier for all of us to get out of our "reality tunnels" (my wording, not his) and get opinions and information from people who don't agree with us. (I think Jesse is right, but this is not the received opinion, hence his essay.) This blog posting illustrate's Walker's opening explanation of the reality tunnel concept with an illustration from Prometheus Rising.

My own experiences on Twitter would tend to illustrate Walker's point. True, I follow several libertarians and folks who are interested in Robert Anton Wilson, i.e., people who would tend to reinforce my (general) view of the world, but I also follow a few liberals and conservatives, too. (Robert Anton Wilson argued that everyone should make a point of reading opinions from people we don't agree with, to avoid becoming dumb by being locked in to one ideology. On the Internet, that's pretty easy). I also follow several news organizations. Because I'm on Twitter, l learned very quickly about the death of Osama bin Laden. I don't accept the thesis that the Internet shields me from what's going on in the world.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hlavaty the Horrible (Example)

One of the favorites around these parts, Supergee, writes about the time Robert Anton Wilson used him as a "horrible example."

The reference was in Wilson's Natural Law, or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy. Wilson wrote, "Although I do not agree with the almost Manichean attitude of critic Arthur Hlavaty, who regards nature as a combination of slaughterhouse and madhouse against which, by great effort, a few human beings have created a few enclaves of reason and decency, I do agree with, e.g., Nietszche, La0-Tse, and the authors of the Upanishads, all of whom held that nature or existence combines so many diverse elements that we cannot judge or measure or compare it with anything, and cannot describe it as a whole except in contraditions." (Toward the beginning of the section entitled "Why Not 'Violate' Nature?")

Arthur writes, on rocket science vs. brain surgery "I greatly prefer the intelligence of rocket science. I think we became really human when we figured out verbal and mathematical systems and structures to deal at a safe distance with a material existence that I find simultaneously too boring and too exciting,

"Robert Anton Wilson didn't agree. In fact, in one of his books (Natural Law, or Never Put a Rubber on Your Willy) he used me as a horrible example of the sort of person who doesn't love the material world enough. He later recommended Leonard Shlain's book, The Alphabet vs. the Goddess, for its view of the approaches.

"I could not make it through the book. It featured a form of gender essentialism so extreme that it probably would have offended Robert Heinlein. Men are verbal and violent (which always go together); women are neither, and that's it."

You should really read the whole thing.

By the way, calling Hlavaty a "critic" is a nice, economical touch. Calling him a "prominent fan writer" likely would have confused many of Wilson's readers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A 'Cosmic Trigger' question

I'm reading Wilson's Cosmic Trigger 2 (and I've finally changed the "What I'm Reading" to reflect what I'm actually reading), but that prompts a question. The Cosmic Trigger books, I think it's safe to say, are favorites of RAW fans. Does anyone know whether Wilson started (or planned) a fourth one?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Robert Shea's 'thematic prequel' to ILLUMINATUS!

Paul Di Filippo has taught me a new phrase to refer to Robert Shea's novel, All Things Are Lights. It's a "thematic prequel" to ILLUMINATUS!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, All Things Are Lights has many of the themes developed in ILLUMINATUS! It's in a very different style -- as in all of Shea's novels, it's a very straightforward book with clear prose and a beginning, middle and end. But as I wrote in that earlier post, "there is rather more material than I expected about secret societies and secret occult teachings. The Templars and Cathars feature prominently in the book, and Gnosticism, paganism, sexual tantra and the Assassins also are referenced. The book's hero, Roland de Vency, has a skeptical attitude toward authority and an agnostic attitude toward religions."

Supergee's comments in a recent post about Timothy Leary referenced Di Filippo's novel, Ciphers, which Di Filippo describes as a "thematic sequel" to Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. No "proprietary characters" from Gravity's Rainbow are used, Di Filippo explains.

"Thematic prequel" seems like a good description of the relationship of All Things Are Lights to ILLUMINATUS! Robert Anton Wilson's Historical Illuminatus books are clearly meant as a prequel to ILLUMINATUS! -- the historical novels have characters who seem to be ancestors of characters in ILLUMINATUS! I could not spot any characters in All Things Are Lights that seem to be ancestors of anyone in ILLUMINATUS! and I could not find anything in the plot directly linked to ILLUMINATUS! Yet, "thematic prequel" seems like a fair description.

A bit more on All Things Are Lights is here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'Darwin's Pharmacy'

From an interview by Jason Silva of Richard Doyle, author of the new book, Darwin's Pharmacy. An intro paragraph explains, "In Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants and the Evolution of The Noösphere, the transhumanist philosopher focuses on his favorite technology: the psychedelic, “ecodelic” plants and chemicals (read: drugs) that can help make us process more information and make us aware of the effect of language and music and nature on our consciousness, thereby offering us an awareness of our own ability to effect our own consciousness through our linguistic and creative choices. And that, from an evolutionary perspective, is simply sexy."

Here is an excerpt (whole thing here):

JASON: Robert Anton Wilson spoke about "reality tunnels".... These 'constructs' can limit our perspectives and perception of reality, they can trap us, belittle us, enslave us, make us miserable or set us free... How can we hack our reality tunnel? Is it possible to use rhetoric and/or psychedelics to "reprogram" our reality tunnel?

RICH: We do nothing but program and reprogram our reality tunnels! Seriously, the Japanese reactor crisis follows on the BP oil spill as a reminder that we are deeply interconnected on the level of infrastructure – technology is now planetary in scale, so what happens here effects somebody, sometimes Everybody, there. These infrastructures – our food sheds, our energy grid, our global media - run on networks, protocols, global standards, agreements: language, software, images, databases and their mycelial networks. The historian Michel Foucault called these “discourses”, but we need to connect these discourses to the nonhuman networks with which they are enmeshed, and globalization has been in part about connecting discourses to each other across the planet. Ebola ends up in Virginia, Starbucks in Hong Kong. This has been true for a long time, of course – Mutual Assured Destruction was planetary in scale and required a communication and control structure linking, for example, a Trident submarine under the arctic ice sheet – remember that? - to a putatively civilian political structure Eisenhower rightly warned us about: the military industrial complex. The moon missions illustrate this principle as well – we remember what was said as much as what else was done, and what was said, for a while, seem to induce a sense of truly radical and planetary possibility.

So if we think of words as a description of reality rather than part of the infrastructure of reality, we miss out on the way different linguistic patterns act as catalysts for different realities. I call these “rhetorical softwares”. In my first two books, before I really knew about Wilson's work or had worked through Korzybski with any intensity, I called these “rhetorical softwares.”

Now the first layer of our reality tunnel is our implicit sense of self – this is the only empirical reality any of us experiences – what we subjectively experience. RAW was a brilliant analyst of the ways experience is shaped by the language we use to describe it. One of my favorite examples from his work is his observation that in English, “reality” is a noun, so we start to treat it as a “thing”, when in fact reality, this cosmos, is also quite well mapped as an action – a dynamic unfolding for 13.7 billion years. That is a pretty big mismatch between language and reality, and can give us a sense that reality is inert, dead, lifeless, “concrete”, and thus not subject to change. By experimenting with what Wilson, following scientist John Lilly, called “metaprograms”, we can change the maps that shape the reality we inhabit. Ecodelics seem to help induce a map of self that includes rather than excludes the scale of our ecosystemic interconnection, Pahnke's Reality “Greater-than-self”. I should add that I am writing about this because this was something I consistently observed in m own experiences. When the book went to press, I learned that Arne Naess, the founder of Deep Ecology, was profoundly influenced by his experiences of LSD. Howard Odum, another ecologist, tried to help metaprogram us into a more dynamic and interconnected sense of ecology and thermodynamics with his language of “energese”.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pop notes

I continue to run across references to musicians who cite Robert Anton Wilson as an influence.

Here is an interview with Closure in Moscow. Excerpt:

What inspires you most in the creation of your own music, musically or otherwise?

Frank Zappa, the dialogue in Deadwood, sacred geometry, Robert Anton Wilson, Roman Catholic symbolism, Camille. The list could really go on and on, personally I’m more inspired by reading up on things like gematria or the 8 circuits of consciousness, especially in relation to lyrical content.

And here is an interview with a duo named Yacht, who cite Wilson by name in discussing reality tunnels

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some of THOSE books

I really like these opening sentences in R. Michael Johnson's "Overweening Generalist" blog post for June 9 (OK,I meant to write about it earlier):

We all have one or three or fourteen or "around seven"of those books that we are always returning to, year after year, sometimes almost every day, or at least once a fortnight. One of my problems may be that I have too many of these books. These are books that you keep by your bedside, but perhaps have another copy in your living room. You have perhaps lost a copy of one of these books and have replaced it. Possibly more than once. You have bought copies and given them as gifts, and maybe found out later that they were never read. These are your books. You love many other books, but these are the ones that have melded into your DNA somehow, they've had an almost demonic power over you at times; it seems that, though some of them may be less than 250 pages, their contents are, for you, inexhaustible. These books seem to pay dividends at a far higher rate than you ever imagined when you first picked them up; they are blue-chip stocks that go up in value every year, and you are comfortable with that aspect of opacity in the text ...

Michael's post then veers off into a few thoughts that he wants to offer before going to the fridge for a beer and reveals that for him, two of those books are Science and Sanity by Alfred Korzybski and Ulysses by James Joyce, two important books for RAW, but I want to stay on his opening passage for a moment, because it made me think about what those books are for me. After I read Michael's passage, I started making a list.

The most important example for me would be the ILLUMINATUS! trilogy; I still have my 1970s mass market paperbacks, which I have read over and over.

Some of my others as Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (he has a new novel coming out this fall, which I'll read ASAP), The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (not as influential on my thought as Wilson or even Stephenson, but boy does Wolfe take you to another world) and Flag of Ecstasy by Charles Henri Ford (a collection of the best material from about a couple of decades from an American surrealist poet I discovered years ago while reading an anthology of surrealist poetry.)

Michael's remarks also fit nicely with what Leary had to say about getting into an "active relationship" with a book.

See also Michael's other post on books (click the photo of the library for a higher resolution photo).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Wilhelm Reich book

Celebrity psychiatrist Peter D. Kramer (Listening to Prozac, etc.) reviews a new book about Wilhelm Reich, Adventures in the Orgasmatron by Christopher Turner, and also assesses Reich's legacy. Kramer concludes, "It is largely in Oprah, in the broad dissemination of advice about intimacy and self-fulfillment. The culture of confession has not led to political nirvana, but we may—I do—see a link between Oprah's investment in emotional connection and her endorsement, and our election, of Obama, a community organizer, a concilator, and the finest memoirist to be elected president. This connection between personal and political awareness is tamer and more tenuous than anything Reich contemplated, but it may contain a hint of his influence."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Death of a RAW fan

Len Sassaman was a bright, accomplished computer geek. He apparently suffered from depression and took his own life on July 3. He was 31.

I had a slight connection to him. His wife, noted computer scientist Meredith L. Patterson, is a member of the Libertarian Futurist Society and we both served on a committee last year that nominates works for the Hall of Fame award. When I nominated Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson for the award, she seconded the nomination, and then nominated Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. I'm not sure that it's quite correct to even claim her as an acquaintance, but she seemed interesting so I follow her on Twitter. You can learn a lot on Twitter by following smart people. And so I learned the sad news about her husband soon after she did.

I would not have mentioned Mr. Sassaman here, except that I ran across this obituary by Andrew Orlowski, who wrote, "He introduced me to the cypherpunks at one of their regular meetups at Stanford. I introduced him to Robert Anton Wilson, the author of the Illuminatus trilogy, and his favourite author."

I don't know if Mr. Sassaman ever looked at this blog, or read the postings at, or hung out with the Maybe Logic folks. But in some sense, he was a member of our community.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Prometheus Award announced

Congratulations to author Sarah Hoyt, author of Darkship Thieves, the novel awarded the 2011 Prometheus Award from the LIbertarian Futurist Society. The Hall of Fame Award went to George Orwell's Animal Farm. (I'm a member of the LFS. The Hall of Fame Award also went to ILLUMINATUS! -- see Robert Shea's excellent acceptance speech in the list of articles on the right).

The Last Trumpet Project by Kevin MacArdry was one of the finalists; my interview with MacArdry also is available under "Feature Articles and Interviews."

Here's the full text of the official press release from Chris Hibbert, president of the LFS:

* The Libertarian Futurist Society will hold its annual awards ceremony for the Prometheus Award during Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held Aug. 17-21 in Reno, Nevada. The specific time and location will be available in the convention program.

* The winner of the Best Novel award is Darkship Thieves, by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books). The Hall of Fame award was won by Animal Farm, a short novel written by George Orwell in 1945. Sarah Hoyt will receive a plaque and a one-ounce gold coin, while a smaller gold coin and a plaque will be presented to Orwell's estate.

Darkship Thieves features an exciting, coming-of-age saga in which a heroic woman fights for her freedom and identity against a tyrannical Earth. Hoyt's novel, dedicated to Robert A. Heinlein, depicts a plausible anarchist society among the asteroids. Hoyt is a prolific writer of novels and short fiction, though this is her first time as Prometheus finalist.

Orwell won the Hall of Fame award for his novel 1984, fittingly, in 1984, the second year the award was given. Animal Farm has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame award multiple times. Animal Farm, a short novel, retells the story of the Russian Revolution in the literary form of a beast fable, reflecting the post-World War II disillusionment of many communists. The story introduced the phrase "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," which has been borrowed innumerable times to pillory many political movements that claimed to be fighting for equality. Orwell's story is widely considered both a classic work, and a devastating critique of Stalinism.

The other finalists for Best Novel were For the Win, by Cory Doctorow (TOR Books); The Last Trumpet Project, by Kevin MacArdry (; Live Free or Die, by John Ringo (Baen Books); and Ceres, by L. Neil Smith (Phoenix Pick (print edition) and Big Head Press, online publication at Ten novels published in 2010 were nominated for the 2011 award.

The other finalists for the Hall of Fame award were "The Machine Stops," a story by E. M. Forster (1909); "As Easy as A.B.C.," a story by Rudyard Kipling (1912); "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," a story by Harlan Ellison (1965); and Falling Free, a novel by Lois McMaster Bujold (1988).

The LFS is announcing the winning works so that fans of the works and the writers can begin to make plans for attending the awards ceremonies. Anyone interested in more information about the awards ceremony or other LFS activities at Renovation can send email to

The Prometheus awards for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame), and (occasional) Special Awards honor outstanding science fiction/fantasy that explores the possibilities of a free future, champions human rights (including personal and economic liberty), dramatizes the perennial conflict between individuals and coercive governments, or critiques the tragic consequences of abuse of power--especially by the State.

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (, was established in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin and plaque for each of the winners.

The Hall of Fame, established in 1983, focuses on older classic fiction, including novels, novellas, short stories, poems and plays. Past Hall of Fame award winners range from Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand to Ray Bradbury and Ursula LeGuin.

Publishers who wish to submit novels published in 2011 for the 2012 Best Novel award should contact Michael Grossberg, Chair of the LFS Prometheus Awards Best Novel Finalist judging committee online at BestNovelChair at our domain or via postal mail at 3164 Plymouth Place, Columbus OH 43213.

Founded in 1982, the Libertarian Futurist Society sponsors the annual Prometheus Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame; publishes reviews, news and columns in the quarterly "Prometheus"; arranges annual awards ceremonies at the WorldCon; debates libertarian futurist issues (such as private space exploration); and provides fun and fellowship for libertarian SF fans.

A list of past winners of LFS awards can be found on the LFS web site at

For more information, contact LFS Publicity Chair Chris Hibbert (publicity at the domain).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Timothy Leary interview posted

Jesse Walker has posted the interview with Timothy Leary that I have mentioned a couple of times in the last few days, the one that demonstrates the influence of Leary's thought on Robert Anton Wilson, particularly in the 1970s. (Compare Leary's attacks on Bob Dylan with RAW's comments in the New Libertarian Notes interview.)

Walker's posting, on the Reason Hit and Run blog, also has other interesting stuff, including a link to Jeff Riggenbach's new article about Leary and links to reviews of Robert Greenfield's Leary biography by Nick Gillespie and Walker himself (in both cases, the reviewers are more sympathetic to Leary than his biographer.) Finally, Walker links to an article about Leary by Brian Doherty. Wilson scholars will recognize Doherty's name; Doherty's definitive history of modern libertarianism, Radicals for Capitalism, has a chapter that discusses Robert Anton Wilson's political views.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New John Dee opera

The New York Times reviews a new opera, "Dr. Dee, an English Opera," written by pop musician Damon Albarn. " Its title character, John Dee (1527-1608 or 1609), was the historical figure who was probably a model for Shakespeare’s wizard Prospero and for Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus.

Dee was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, navigator, book collector, philosopher and proponent of empire for an expanding Britain." (Robert Anton Wilson, mentions Dee repeatedly.) The music is described as a mixture of early music and rock.C

(Also posted in slightly different form at

Monday, July 4, 2011


This blog isn't going to turn into the "Timothy Leary Show," but I recently noticed an item by Leary I liked and I want to mention it here.

Leary wrote the introduction for Cosmic Trigger I. It includes this passage:

There are two word which always define a great writer-philosopher:


Each civilization, we are told, produces at its high water mark one or more encyclopedic works which summarize the knowledge, technology, culture, philosophy of the epoch. Such books are like neurogenetic manuals which summarize and explain a primitive planetary culture to an Intelligence Agent from another world. Dante, Boccaccio, James Joyce, Hesse. As American civilization moves from its adolescence into the final territorial stages of technological centralization preceding Space Migration, it is beginning to produce such encyclopedia writings. For example, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, the Illuminatus trilogy of Wilson and Shea, and the book you hold in your hand.

Does anyone besides me think that Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson also belongs on the list?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Leary on true literacy

There's a bit in the Leary interview I mentioned yesterday that I really like:

LEARY: We've come to the conclusion that almost everybody is basically il-
literate. In the Middle Ages there was only one literate person in a thousand,
a monk poring over manuscripts. Nowadays, sure, people can expose them-
selves to words, but it is a very passive, consumerite, almost narcotic process
which has nothing to do with reading, with literacy. Literacy is getting into
an active relationship with a book, like the Gutenberg Bible. That wasn't
something that you'd read while you were falling asleep. It was something
you'd really expect to change your life. You'd expect to get into a dynamic
exchange with the author, to have the book really open you up and move
your head around. This is the way we define literacy. And that's why we say,
perhaps provocatively, that maybe less than one person in a thousand today
uses this ancient Medieval mode.

It seems to me that many of Robert Anton Wilson's readers are literate in the way Leary uses the term -- they have a relationship with his books.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Who said this?

Here's a quote from a 1977 interview, in Reason magazine, from a self-style libertarian ("At a political level I'm very much a libertarian.") See if you can guess who said this:

"The great enemy is gravity. The way out is levity. And we are physically and biologically going to do everything we can to leave this planet and we're going to live forever ... or die trying."

If you guess Robert Anton Wilson, you're wrong. It's Jeff Riggenbach's interview with Timothy Leary, which ran in Reason's April 1977 issue. But it sure sound like statements Wilson made many times, and for me it underscores the influence Leary had on Wilson's thought.

Jesse Walker kindly supplied me with a copy of the interview. When I remarked on the above passage, Walker responded, "A fair amount of Wilson's writing amounts to popularizing Leary's ideas (often explaining them better than Leary does). On the other hand, I suspect that with a lot of Leary's post-prison political commentary, the influence went in the other direction."

I still don't know a lot about Leary, but did he notice, perhaps, that when he got into trouble over drugs, it was the libertarians who sided with him against the state?

Riggenbach recently posted an article about Leary and Thomas Szasz.

About the Leary interview, Riggenbach wrote, "When this interview ran in Reason in April of 1977, it created a bit of controversy within the libertarian movement and got Leary invited to deliver the keynote speech at the 1977 national convention of the Libertarian Party, which was held in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend of that year. I was asked to introduce Leary to the assembled multitude, which I did. Leary stressed his personal commitment to libertarian ideas once again.

"He seems to have still felt that way a decade later. For in 1988, he held a fundraiser in Los Angeles for LP presidential candidate Ron Paul. And in 1993, only a few years before his death, when he wrote an Introduction to a new edition of his 1968 book The Politics of Ecstasy, he listed 'libertarianism' as one suggested name for what he called the 'new, post-political society' that he believed 'the Sixties revolution created — and continues to create' in this country. In the original edition of the book, the word "libertarian" hadn't appeared — but then, it was rather infrequently used in the America of 1968."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Temple Illuminatus and RAW

Awhile back, I posted about an outfit called Temple Illuminatus, remarking that it seems to have a lot of material about Robert Anton Wilson.

The outfit's Twitter account, @Illumine_Nation, sent out this Tweet on June 29: "Robert Anton Wilson is the 'patron saint' of Temple Illuminatus, in that his book the Illuminatus Trilogy was part inspiration for the name."