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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.


michael said...

Sigismundo Celine relates to one of Ezra Pound's favorite historical figures, the 15th c. condottiere Sigismundo Pandolfo Malatesta, of Rimini. See Cantos 8-11.

Hasn't Wagner gone into the legacy of characters that relate to P.J. Farmer and Greystoke, line?

Just so we're all on the same page: selenna/celine/moon/muadhen, the moon relating to imagination and the right brain, the sun to the left hemisphere and rationality...

Eric Wagner said...

Also, Ezra quotes the line "All things that are are lights" many times in the Cantos.

michael said...

The 9th century Irish theologian Scotus Erigena - some in Rome called him a heretic - is often translated as saying "All that is, is light." It's in Illuminatus!