Monday, December 31, 2012

Books Read 2012

In his latest blog post, Eric Wagner remarks, "I find it fascinating how we choose what to read.  It can take a lifetime to start to understand some writers (Pound, Joyce, etc.).  Over the years I've encountered various ideas of the literary canon.  I've spent a lot of time reading books perceived as canonical by Bob Wilson and Ezra Pound, but when I became friends with Rafi Zabor a few years ago, I found a whole new canon I had not read (Chekhov, Tolstoy, Proust, etc.)."

Many of the books I read in the past year relate to Robert Anton Wilson's work in ways that may not seem obvious. I'm convinced, for example, that he would have loved A Renegade History of the United States. But I have many interests, and some of them don't really relate to this blog. Anyway, here's what I read this year:

1. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain.
2. Emphyrio,  Jack Vance (re-read.)
3. Count to a Trillion, John C. Wright.
4. Shapeshift, Sherwin Bitsui.
5. Program or Be Programmed, Douglas Rushkoff (re-read).
6. The End of Eternity, Isaac Asimov.
7. The Hot Gate, John Ringo.
8. The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman.
9. The Restoration Game, Ken MacLeod.
10. Death at Pemberley, P.D. James.
11. Temporary Duty, Ric Locke.
12. Iron Angels, Geoffrey Landis.
13. The Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge.
14. Sweeter Than Wine, L. Neil Smith.
15. Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman.
16. In the Lion's Mouth, Michael Flynn.
17. Death of a Kingfisher, M.C. Beaton.
18. Natural Law, Robert Anton Wilson.
19. The War of 1812, Donald R. Hickey.
20. An Economist Gets Lunch, Tyler Cowen.
21. In the Shadow of Ares, Carlsson and James.
22. The Cult of the Presidency, Gene Healy.
23. The Night and the Music, Lawrence Block.
24. The Brandy of the Damned, JMR Higgs.
25. Inscapes, Francis Scarfe.
26. The Wars of Justinian, Procopius.
27. Procopius and the Sixth Century, Averil Cameron.
28. A Cold Day for Murder, Dana Stabenow.
29. The Secret History With Related Texts, Procopios, Anthony Kaldellis, translator.
30. The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity, AD 395-700, second edition, Averil Cameron.
31. Procopius of Caesarea, Anthony Kaldellis.
32. New and Selected Poems, Ron Padgett.
33. A Renegade History of the United States, Thaddeus Russell.
34. Science Fiction Megapack: 25 Modern Science Fiction Stories.
35. Bed of Sphinxes, Philip Lamantia.
36. The Golden Age, Gore Vidal.
37. Savage Continent, Keith Lowe.
38. The Darkening Dream, Andy Gavin.
39. The Quicken Tree, Bill Knott.
40. Land Under England, Joseph O'Neill.
41. The Hydrogen Sonata, Iain M. Banks.
42. Quantum Psychology, Robert Anton Wilson.
43. KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money, JMR Higgs.
44. Burglars Can't Be Choosers, Lawrence Block.
45. Mad About Trade, Daniel Griswold.
46. The Homing Pigeons, Robert Anton Wilson (re-read).
47. Empires and Barbarians, Peter Heather.
48. The Chimes, Charles Dickens.
49. Work of Art, Sinclair Lewis.
50. The Universe Next Door, Robert Anton Wilson. (re-read)





Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two novels featuring the Illuminati

Via a Tweet I learned about two works of fiction by British author Graham Carroll which apparently mention the Illuminati: The Illuminati Kid Can Save You and Illuminati Rock God. Both are priced to sell on Kindle for 99 cents and what I presume is an equivalent amount on the United Kingdom Amazon. Has anyone tried these?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lots of Ezra Pound audio

UbuWeb has a large collection of Ezra Pound audio, including poetry readings and an interview. (Hat tip: John Merritt).

More: video of Pound being interviewed. (Click on CC when the interview is running to get captions). "No politics, but a Communist interviewing a Fascist is ironic," Merritt comments.

Friday, December 28, 2012

'Robert Anton Wilson Remembered' now a free download

Joseph Matheny, who hosts RAWilsonfans.com, has now made his audio CD, Robert Anton Wilson Remembered, a free download for everyone as a "holiday gift." (I bought it when it came out.) It features Douglas Rushkoff, Antero Alli, Tiffany Lee Brown, David Jay Brown, Zac Odin and Matheny himself. Details and download link are here.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

A look at RAW360.net

RAW360.net is a collaborative three-dimensional tribute to Robert Anton Wilson, put together by Steve "Fly" Pratt and Wayne "Chu" Edwards, with help from a couple of other folks.

The visitor takes a tour through what looks like a kitchen in an apartment. Colored dots provide a portal to resources such as the Boing Boing RAW archive and to Pratt's RAW sound projects. As one wanders about the room, there is a soundtrack that can be turned on and off. I haven't asked Steve about this, but I'm guessing that the links will be changed out from time to time.

A Wiki provides some background, although I confess it confused me, as it made me feel I ought to be able to find more on the site.

I wish I had the talent to develop something like this.





Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Finnegans Wake blog launches

PQ, the excellent blogger who does the A Building Roam blog, has begun a new blog devoted to James Joyce's Finnegans Wake; the new blog is called Finnegans, Wake! PQ promises he will continue to post plenty of material at his older blog, even as he gets the new one going. He also hosts a Finnegans Wake reading group in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

RAW360 launches

RAW360.net, Steven Pratt's new Robert Anton Wilson site, has launched. I'll write more about it soon -- I'm busy with Christmas today. Be sure you take a moment to look at it -- it's quite a cool site.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas/Happy Winter Solstice etc.

Here is a nice piece from Jesse Walker on "Puritans, pagans and Christmas."  And here is RAW's essay on the pagan origins of Santa Claus.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Another excised 'Cat' passage

As I read the Dell omnibus version of The Universe Next Door for Eric Wagner's Schroedinger's Cat class at Maybe Logic Academy, I've been looking at the Pocket Books original version to see what was cut. For the most part, it's the lesser material that's been excised, but I did very much like this paragraph, from a whole chapter (from the "Terran Archives 2083") cut from the original novel:

Concerning that which we cannot know with certainty, we should remain honestly agnostic. The reader will, of course, form a purely personal evaluation of Wilson's grandiose allegories and occult claims; the trick is to concentrate on the reality projected through the printed page. Every sentence is a signal from a lost world, a time of primitive, barbaric splendor and fantastic cruelty with which you can interface synergetically by crossing over and entering the form.

I particularly like the last sentence.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Amazon's 'Science Fiction Book Club'

When I was a teen (and for a few years afterward) I belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club. I still have a few of those books in my library, such as my copy of Robert Silverberg's A Time of Changes.

A few days ago, Amazon changed its Kindle Daily Deal. Every day, along with a deal for one adult book and one book for young people, it is offering a book for romance fans and a book for science fiction and fantasy readers. (Occasionally Amazon apparently will offer more books in its deal, as in Cyber Monday when it offered a big pile of titles. It also  put a bunch of Philip K. Dick books on sale earlier this year and I bought 3-4).

I don't recognize the names of all of the authors in the Daily Deal for SF/Fantasy, but in the past week the names have included the Strugatsky brothers (for the new translation of Roadside Picnic), John Scalzi and Raymond Feist. So the new approach seems like good news for science fiction fans.

RAW was published in his lifetime as a "science fiction writer." If Amazon ever puts any of his books on sale, I will do my best to let everyone know.

Friday, December 21, 2012

RAW on YouTube

There's a lot of Robert Anton Wilson on YouTube, but where to start, and how do you know you are not missing anything. Brian Shields (on "Robert Anton Wilson Fans" on Facebook) says this is a "pretty comprehensive YouTube playlist of  all things Bob."



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gothic novel featured the Illuminati

Reason Magazine's Jesse Walker, a RAW scholar often mentioned in these posts, reached back to 1800 (last item) when he was asked to name the best book of 2012.

Julia and the Illuminated Baron by Sally Wood is a Gothic novel, apparently in the tradition of Ann Radcliffe, author of 1794's The Mysteries of Udolpho. The original Gothic novel genre is mainly remembered now because of Jane Austen's satire of it in Northinger Abbey.

Jesse explains, "Coming in the wake of the Illuminati panic of 1798, in which Federalists fretted that the secret society was aiming 'to subvert and overturn our holy religion and our free and excellent government,' Wood weds those anxieties to a Gothic melodrama set in pre-revolutionary France, featuring an Illuminatus who holds a young woman captive and plots against her virtue. Wood's Illuminati are a depraved band of nature-worshippers, seizing personal pleasures as they prepare for the Jacobin apocalypse. At one point Wood has a woman describe the order's initiation ceremony: 'disrobed of all coverings except a vest of silver gauze, I am to be exposed to the homage of all the society present upon a marble pedestal placed behind which sacrifices are to be offered.' The character adds, 'This sect increases daily. They will in a few years overturn Europe and lay France in ruins'." (Notice how Jesse, with a keen eye for detail, manages to find what's likely the one salacious sentence in the book.)

Here's an interesting article about how the University of Maine at Machias brought the long-forgotten novel into print.

You likely won't find Julia in your local bookstore, and I couldn't even find it on Amazon. You'll have to follow a link from Jesse's article to buy a copy.

But an Amazon Kindle version is in the works. When I wrote to the "Library of Early Maine Literature" at UMM Press to ask about a Kindle edition, I was told to look for it this summer, maybe fall. I got a follow-up email, however, telling me the new target date is the end of January.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Radio broadcaster criticizes RAW

Is "dishonest right-wing radio broadcaster" a redundant phrase?

Alex Jones, a right wing radio broadcaster who rails against "world government," has a piece on the Internet criticizing the Mayan doomsday hoax, the claim that Mayans predicted the end of the world in 2012.

I'm fine with that, but if you watch the video, you'll see that he claims that Robert Anton Wilson helped foment the hysteria in Cosmic Trigger 1. 

Here's the full paragraph that Jones cites, with the one sentence that Jones took out of context highlighted: "Sirius is only 8.6 lightyears away. The British Interplanetary Society already has a design for a starship that could be sent to Barnard's Star (6 lightyears away) in 2000. The first O'Neill space cities will be orbiting the earth by then, and by 2004, according to Dr. Asimov's calculations, the biological revolution will be producing DNA for any purpose we want, possibly including immortality. In 2012, if the McKenna scenario is right, comes the Omega Point. In that case, Dr. Temple, we are all pulling a cosmic trigger."

Obviously, this is another example of Wilson's technological optimism running away with reality. I haven't noticed any space cities. (Notice, incidentally, how this goes back to what I blogged about on Dec. 17.) But there's nothing about Mayans or the Apocalypse. (If you search inside the book on Amazon for "Maya" or "Mayan," you get nothing.)

Hat tip: Aidan-Isaacs Cooley at Robert Anton Wilson Fans.

Update: Rob's comment makes me think I was a little harsh, so I've toned down my headline and lead sentence.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lots of cuts were made to "Cat"

I've been re-reading the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy for my Maybe Logic Academy class. Our assignment is to read The Homing Pigeons First, followed by The Universe Next Door and The Trick Top Hat.

The assigned text for the class is the one-volume Dell edition first published in 1988.  It's my first encounter with that edition, which I had to check out of the library. When I re-read the trilogy a couple of years ago, I read the original novels, which I still have in my personal library.

A couple of days ago, after I finished re-reading The Homing Pigeons, I pulled my original Pocket Books edition off the bookshelf to compare it with the Dell version. I compared the last few pages of the two versions and saw there were significant cuts in the Dell.

When I re-read the trilogy a couple of years ago, I noticed that The Universe Next Door was my favorite of the three. As I began reading the Dell version, I was surprised at how much was left out in comparison with the original version, at least in the early part of the book.

If your only experience with The Universe Next Door is the Dell omnibus, for example, you may not know that the original version had an "Overture," two pages long, about a guy named Joe Malik writing a novel with a protagonist named Robert Anton Wilson.

And you'd miss other material.

For example, in the Dell version, the first chapter, "Don't Look Back," ends with the words, "The planet as a whole continued to drowse."

In the original Pocket Books version, that's followed by three paragraphs:

Nihilism had been invented in Russia in the nineteenth century. It was a philosophy based on materialism, skepticism and a fierce demand for social justice. Naturally, various deranged individuals quickly made it an excuse for violence, and Nihilism became a synonym for horror.

Anarchism was similar. It had been invented in France in the nineteenth century and was also based on materialism, skepticism and a fierce demand for social justice. It attracted the same types as Nihilism and also quickly acquired a bad reputation.

The Nihilist Anarchist Horde believed that they had chosen that name to refurbish the sane, sound side of Nihilism and Anarchism. Actually, they were kidding themselves. They really enjoyed having a name that scared the bejesus out of everybody.

Now, when I re-read the "Cat" trilogy a couple of years back, I did feel that some of the sex scenes could be cut without damaging the literary value of the work very much.  The attack on Dell in the second chapter of the original version of The Universe Next Door,  criticizing the publisher for making too many cuts to Illuminatus!, is tactfully removed from the Dell version, and I suppose that's no great loss. But it seems to me that many of the cuts in the Dell edition remove a great deal of detail and nuance.

The Dell version is still a pretty good work of literature, but I'd kind of like to see the original version brought back into print. I'd also like to know why the work was cut in the first place.






Monday, December 17, 2012

Peter Thiel picks some books

In an earlier blog post, I remarked that Internet billionaire (and philanthopist) Peter Thiel is interested in many of the ideas that Robert Anton Wilson is interested in — immortality, space migration, the Internet, and more. And he's putting his money where his mouth is, trying to make these things happen.

So when I saw that Thiel was one of 50 people that the Wall Street Journal interviewed to ask about their favorite books of 2012, I was interested. Here is the first book Thiel mentioned:

"Sonia Arrison's 100 Plus was first published in 2011, but its message is evergreen: how scientists are directly attacking the problem of aging and death and why we should fight for life instead of accepting decay as inevitable. The goal of longer life doesn't just mean more years at the margin; it means a healthier old age. There is nothing to fear but our own complacency."

The rest of his picks are available here; you'll have to scroll down a bit, but the people quoted are in alphabetical order, so you can find Thiel pretty quickly.

The WSJ also did a weekend interview with Thiel a couple of years ago that I had missed; it's here.

Here's a bit from the piece that reminds me of RAW: "Innovation, he says, comes from a 'frontier' culture, a culture of 'exceptionalism,' where 'people expect to do exceptional things' ..."




Sunday, December 16, 2012

RAW360.net to launch on Dec. 21


(Wikipedia Commons photo of Chichen Itza)

Steve "Fly Agaric 23" Pratt, on  his way to the fabled Mayan city of Chichen Itza (pictured above) shares some news about RAW360.net, his new site dealing with Robert Anton Wilson:


"We are planning to launch raw360 on Dec. 21st.

"I'll be in Chitchen Itza playing drums at the synthesis festival on the 21st, helping project the launch into the media mayhem (mayahem) that may decend on Palenque. Wish me luck."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Excerpt from a novel

Like almost everybody else, "Ike" thought the Communists had taken over Russia, not Unistat.

One of the most insidious things the CIA Communists did when they took over Unistat was to change the Constitution.

The original Constitution, having been written by a group of intellectual libertines and Freemasons in the eighteen century, included an amendment which declared:

A self-regulated sex life being necessary to the happiness of a citizen, the right of the people to keep and enjoy pornography shall not be abridged.

This amendment had been suggested by Thomas Jefferson, who had over nine hundred Black concubines, and Benjamin Franklin, a member of the Hell Fire Club, which had the largest collection of erotic books and art in the Western world at that time.

The Communists changed the amendment to read:

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.

All documents and textbooks were changed, so that nobody would be able to find out what the amendment had originally said. Then the Communists set up a front organization, the National Rifle Association, to encourage the wide usage of guns of all sorts, and to battle any attempt to control guns as "unconstitutional."

Thus, they guaranteed that the murder rate in Unistat would always be the highest in the world. This kept the citizens in perpetual anxiety about their safety both on the streets and in their homes. The citizens then tolerated the rapid growth of the Police State, which controlled almost everything, except the sale of guns, the chief cause of crime.

(Schroedinger's Cat trilogy, pages 481-482 in the omnibus edition, i.e. The Homing Pigeons, by Robert Anton Wilson.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Anyone up for a 'Masks' discussion?

I've been planning to re-read Masks of the Illuminati, which I haven't read in some years.

Would anyone be interested in an online discussion of the book, hosted at this blog? I wouldn't be able to do it right away — I'm busy studying Schroedinger's Cat in Eric Wagner's Maybe Logic Academy course -- but I would be ready to read it sometime the first half of next year.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

RAW interviews Bucky Fuller



Robert Anton Wilson's interview with Buckminster Fuller (Pdf) appeared in the May 1981 issue of "High Times" magazine. I'm making it available to you thanks to Mike Gathers. Image via Danny Rollingstone at Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Best Books of 2012

Somebunall of you may be interested in my "Best Books of 2012" piece for my daytime blog. Robert Anton Wilson's name is mentioned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Influence of 'Ulysses' still strong, critic says

Critic, novelist and English professor Darin Strauss, in "Reasons to Re-Joyce" in the New York Times Sunday book review, argues that literary fiction in the U.S. remains strong and that the influence of James Joyce's "Ulysses" can be seen in many of the best novels published within the last year.

Strauss also touches on other novels influenced by "Ulysses." For Robert Anton Wilson fans, the obvious omission in the piece will be the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy, which name-checks the book in a running plot line that runs through all three books. Could this be an example of how Wilson was injured by being labeled a "science fiction writer"? Did that make books like Schroedinger's Cat invisible to people such as Darin Strauss?


Monday, December 10, 2012

PQ finishes "Finnegans Wake"

PQ has finished reading Finnegans Wake, and in his blog post on the subject, he discussed the book itself and the several books he read as guides and commentaries. His post itself offers a kind of guide how to read it.

There's also an announcement: "It's going to take a while for me to assimilate all of my observations and notes into a full piece about the experience and I will in fact be starting up a separate blog to be entirely devoted to Finnegans Wake stuff."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

RAW on Mozart?

Following up on yesterday's post: Does anyone know of a RAW essay, comparable to the Beethoven one that I referenced, where RAW talks about Mozart? Mozart appears as a character in the "Historical Illuminatus" books, but I cannot remember any references to Mozart in RAW's writings that last more  than a sentence or two.

Like most classical music fans, I have quite a bit of Mozart in my music collection. A few weeks ago, I got  a Mozart collection from Amazon called Mozart -- 100 Supreme Classical Masterpieces: Rise of the Masters, a huge budget collection for $2. Yes, it has recordings by lesser-known musicians, but it's still an amazing bargain. I've been going through it, checking out some of the compositions I had not heard before.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

RAW on Beethoven

Because I've been listening to so much Beethoven recently, I re-read RAW's "Beethoven as Information" essay in The Illuminati Papers. All of it is valuable; here is one paragraph I particularly like:

"Perhaps some mystics have achieved higher levels of consciousness than Beethoven (perhaps!), but if so, we cannot know of it. Aleister Crowley once astonished me by writing that the artist is greater than the mystic, an odd remark from a man who was only a mediocre artist himself (although a great mystic.) Listening to Ludwig, I have come to understand what Crowley meant. The mystic, unless he or he is also an artist, cannot communicate the higher states of awareness achieved by a fully turned-on brain; but a great artist can. Listening to Beethoven, one shares, somewhat, in his expanded perceptions; and the more one listens, the more one shares. Finally, one is able to believe his promise: if one listens to that music enough, one will never again be unhappy."



Friday, December 7, 2012

Senior Recital Blues

I've been listening to more classical music than ever these days (listening to Beethoven is one of the assignments for Eric Wagner's class that I'm currently taking at Maybe Logic Academy.) John  Merritt apparently is into classical music, too. Here is his  sad tale of how a "flaky soloist" largely ruined his big moment as a music performer in high school.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Article on Sirius enigma

Who Forted?, a blog/Web site devoted to weird stuff (a la Charles Fort) posts an article on the Sirius enigma, with a long section about Robert Anton Wilson. The site appears to be something of a hotbed of Robert Anton Wilson fans. (Via Jon Swabey, posting at Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook.)



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Robert Anton Wilson letter to "No Governor"

[Here is Robert Anton Wilson's letter in issue No. 11 of Robert Shea's zine, "No Governor," dated July 1990. This is a pretty cool letter -- I didn't know, for example, that RAW was a John Barth fan, and the great defense of the principle behind civil liberties is valuable. -- The Mgt.]

Issue #10 of No Governor seemed great to me, as usual.

I can't answer Arthur Hlavaty's question about what John Barth thinks of my novels, but I can easily answer his second question. I enjoy Barth's books enormously. I think his Sabbatical covers the malaise of our time better than professional spy-thriller writers like Ambler and Le Carre have ever done. Just because one is never sure if the CIA killed the man on the boat or is trying to kill the hero, Sabbatical leaves one with precisely the sense of uncertainty and dread that has hung over this nation since democracy was abandoned in the National Security Act of 1947 and clandestine government became official.

Sometimes I find it astounding that we have lived under fascism for 40 years while continuing the rituals of democracy -- and that hardly any "major" novelist has tried to grapple with this issue. I salute Barth for his subtlety and the eerie atmosphere he creates in describing our increasingly Machiavellian world. To be brutally frank and eschew false modesty, I think only Mailer, Pynchon and myself have captured the terror of the situation as well as Barth did in that book.

Oh, yeah, I like Barth's other books, too. Sabbatical just happens to be my favorite.

I think Neal Wilgus has his head up his ass. With all his ifs and ands and buts and subordinate clauses and modifications, he still seems to be endorsing the idea that any "moralist" that thinks X's way of life is "immoral" has the right to come in and trash anything X owns, and I find that bloody damned terrifying. It only seems remotely akin to sanity if  you substitute some person or group you violently dislike for "X,"but put your own name in the place of the "X's " and read it again. See what you think then. If it doesn't work with "the NAACP" or "Bob Shea" or "the Credit Unions" in place of X, it seems a very dangerous idea, even if "Mobil Oil" or "the American Nazi Party" in place of X does not upset you immediately.

Civil liberties remain indivisible, and what can be done to Catholics or Mobil Oil today can be done to Protestants or nudists tomorrow. ("If they can take Hancock's wharf they can take your cow or my barn," as John Adams once said.) Since the majority always rejects the Bill of Rights whenever a sociologist tries the experiment by offering it for approval by a cross-section of the population, and since George Bush earned great enthusiasm for his attacks on the ACLU, I don't suppose Wilgus or most people will understand this point, but we libertarians  have to keep saying it over and over, every generation, and hope it will eventually register.

Maybe Wilgus thinks he knows who "is" "really" "immoral" and who isn't, and only supports vigilante action against the "really" "immoral"? I would congratulate him on having attained Papal Infallibility, except that I suspect he has only obtained the delusion of Papal Infallibility.

Wilgus asks, "What about the Luddite minority who don't want your damn progress?" Well, some questions remain unanswerable within the context where they are raised, just as some problems prove unsolvable at the time and place where they appear. Minorities have been the victim of monarchy, tyranny, fascism and every other authoritarian system, and they have usually been the victim of democracy, also. For instance, there is no way the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland will ever get justice through democracy; the Protestant majority will always outvote them. I also recall a TV show about the aborigines of New Guinea in which one of them said, as well as I can recall the words, "Democracy means the white majority will always get what they want and we will never get what we want. There must be something better than democracy."

I think the Bill of Rights and the division of powers were built into our government because the founding fathers, or some of them, saw that problem clearly and wanted to avoid total democracy in order to protect minorities from majority prejudice. Like all human inventions, the Bill of Rights and 3-headed government did not solve all problems, and minorities still get screwed frequently. As a libertarian (intellectually) and a sucker for the Under Dog (emotionally) I have sympathy for all minorities, including the Luddites, but I do not see any workable solution for Luddite problems within the present context.

Evolution, however, will soon move us to a new stage in which the Luddites can be segregated from the "progress" --ives without coercion and with free choice all around. I refer, of course, to the socio-genetic mutation of Space Migration. The Luddites will naturally have no part of anything so repugnant to their principles, and will stay on Terra. The strongly neophiliac will pioneer the first space colonies, the moderately neophiliac will follow later, and those even slightly neophiliac will join the migration eventually. The evolutionary vector, as I see it, indicates that everybody except the most Stone Age (neophobic) Luddite types will be moving into space sooner or later, and the Luddites will have this planet all to themselves, with no "damn progress" to annoy them. I suspect that all science and technology later than c. 1760 will leave when the creative spirits leave, and all the charms of pre-democratic pre-industrial Europe will gradually return to Earth to fill Luddite hearts with joy.

I offer that Utopia to Wilgus for whatever comfort it gives him.

Shea, I enjoyed your rebuttal to Carl Watner's commentary on the Conchis dilemma but I doubt that he understood it any more than he understood my original argument. I increasingly suspect Gurdjieff spoke accurately in describing the state of most people as deep hypnosis, and I would define "morality" as a condition of hypnosis so deep that the subject has not had a waking moment in an entire lifetime. Watner believes in his General Principles and cannot imagine or experience the concrete existence in sensory space-time around him of the 300 men who must die, according to his General Principles. The words (of the ideology or moral code) are experienced as real; the people are not.

I begin to agree with Shaw's verdict that people invented "morality" as an excuse to do things so terrible they would be ashamed to admit they enjoy them. I have noticed that when people do kind or generous things they do not mention "morality" or other abstractions at all; they just say something like, "I felt his pain," or, "I cried when I saw how she was suffering." They only talk about "morality" when they are about to add to the suffering and violence in the world, not when they are trying to heal or comfort one of the victims of that brutality.

Since all amoralists in history combined have not perpetrated as much cruelty and damage as the average moralist does in one lifetime, I think that whenever anybody starts raving about "morality" one should quickly trade the car in for a tank, buy a gun and a stack of ammo, wear a steel helmet and build a bomb shelter. Such people are dangerous. -- Los Angeles, California.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Harnessing the power of peppers

In his latest "Drug Report," Michael Johnson reports on the sensory altering properties of hot peppers and describes an adventure in a Thai restaurant that resulted in "seeing" Angelina  Jolie in the next booth.

After I read Michael's piece, my wife announced we were going to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, so I tried to replicate Michael's experience by making my kung pao chicken as hot as possible. Laura Linney did not appear at the next booth, so I guess the experiment was a failure.


Monday, December 3, 2012

'Cagliostro ghost sightings' spook Arezzo

"Arezzo, November 15 - Italian paranormal-phenomena experts have been called to the Tuscan hilltown of Arezzo to probe a dozen alleged sightings of the ghost of legendary 18th-century alchemist, adventurer, con-man and occult dabbler 'Count' Cagliostro ...  An alchemist, fake physician and necromancer, Cagliostro became extremely rich selling miraculous cures and elixirs of youth, also posing as the founder of an occult branch of freemasonry. Although he was an impostor, his daring and ingenuity briefly made him the darling of Europe. He was wined and dined by high society across the continent and wound up marrying a member of a high-born Roman family. His real name was Giuseppe Balsamo and he was born to a poor family in Palermo in 1743."

More here. Of course, he is a character in RAW's "Historical Illuminatus!" books.

Via Brian Shields at Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

'Diabolical World Conspiracy Exposed'


Here is the cover for the March 1969 issue of "Teenset" magazine. I went out and found the graphic after reading Michael Johnson's comment on yesterday's post: "Supposedly Shea wrote an actual article to Teenset magazine in 1969, under the name 'Sandra Glass.' If true, part of it is in Illuminatus!, pp.40-41, and note that 'Sandra' is getting her info from 'Simon,' who would be RAW.

"This Memo was dug up by 'Pat' the researcher, who's throwing Saul a lot of curves, knucklers...Something ain't right about this gal."

As you can see, the cover of "Teenset" mentions an article, "Diabolical World Conspiracy Exposed!" An ad on eBay for an issue of the magazine (alas, it had been sold) states that the article was about the Illuminati. I'd love to get my hands on an actual issue of the magazine, but apparently there really was such an article. I am pleased to be able to vindicate Pat, at least partially.

Thanks, Michael!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Robert Shea fanzine address in Illuminatus!

Yesterday, I asked whether it's true that there are any references in Illuminatus!  to "No Governor," Robert Shea's "zine of Illuminated anarchism."

Arthur Hlavaty wrote to point me to this passage in the work (page 622 of the omnibus):

On Feb. 2 Robert Putney Drake received a book in the mail. The return address, he noted, was Gold and Appel Transfers on Canal Street, one of the corporations owned by that intriguing Celine fellow who had kept appearing at the best parties for the last year or so. It was titled Never Whistle While You're Pissing, the and flyleaf had a bold scrawl saying, "Best regards from the author," followed by a gigantic C like a crescent moon. The publisher was Green and Pleasant Publications, P.O. Box 359, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022.

If you look at the colophon for the early issues of "No Governor," you will see that it's credited to "Green and Pleasant Press," of the exact same address as the novel. The last issue of the zine has a slightly different address -- the P.O. Box is 319 rather than 359.

While Wilson and Shea could have come up with this joke on their own, I'll point out that they both loved Robert Heinlein's work and that Heinlein put his own address, to similar humorous effect, in his short story, "--And He Built a Crooked House--," a favorite of mine when I was in high school. ("Own address" is a slight simplification. Here is the sentence from the Wikipedia article: "In the story, it says that Quintus Teal lived at 8775 Lookout Mountain Avenue in Hollywood, across the street from 'the Hermit, the original Hermit of Hollywood.' That address is actually across the street from Heinlein's own house at the time the story was written.")

Thanks, Arthur!






Friday, November 30, 2012

Robert Shea's "No Governor," issues 1-11

I have uploaded issue no. 11 of No Governor, Robert Shea's "zine of Illuminated Anarchism."

All 11 issues are available from the "Feature Articles and Interviews" section on the right side of the page, and from the official Robert Shea Web site, which you should look at, as it provides free ebooks of his solo novels and other good things. As you might guess from Shea's description of his zine, much of the material will be of interest to Illuminatus! fans.

There may only be 11 issues of the zine, which was published irregularly in a span of about 15 years; issue no. 1 is dated "Spring 1975," while issue 11 is dated "July 1990." The Labadie collection at the University of Michigan, which has kindly made these issues available to share with you (after I got permission from Mike Shea, Mr. Shea's son), lists only 11 issues. 

I have made inquiries on whether there were any other issues, but apparently 11 may be it. Robert Shea died on March 10, 1994 but perhaps he turned his full attention to novel writing in his later years.

The Shea Wikipedia article, by the way, states that "The zine was mentioned in and read by one of the characters in Illuminatus!" Can that really be true? I could not find the zine when I ran a search of the text in Amazon, and the work was written in 1969-1971. Can anyone help?


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Quantum Psychology, the online discussion

I've now posted all of the chapter entries for the online discussion of Quantum Psychology. They're available at the side of the page.

But that doesn't mean the discussion is finished. The book attempts to cover a lot of ground, and I myself plan to read the book again and go through the exercises again, completing exercizes in the chapters where I did not get around to it the first time. (That won't be for awhile though, because now I'm busy with Eric Wagner's Schroedinger's Cat class at Maybe Logic Academy.)

And it's not too late for anyone else to read the book, gain the benefit of the comments that have already been posted, and post your own comments to enrich the discussion.

Again, I want to thank everyone who took the time to post comments and to participate in the discussion.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

JMR Higgs talks about his new book on The KLF and RAW


It's strange to say that a book about a British pop group is one of the best short introductions to the work of Robert Anton Wilson, but it's also true. JMR Higgs' KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money discusses the group but puts it in the context of the band's biggest influence, the Illuminatus! trilogy and Robert Anton Wilson.

So it's a pop biography that has lucid explanations of reality tunnels, model agnosticism and Discordian philosophy. I also learned about the history of Ken Campbell's stage production of Illuminatus!

Mr. Higgs entered the literary scene with I Have America Surrounded: A Biography of Timothy Leary, which I plan to read next year. His novel, The Brandy of the Damned, appeared this year and another novel, The First Church on the Moon, is largely complete. The Tumblr companion for the KLF book is here.

Higgs, who lives in the United Kingdom with his family, cheerfully agreed when I asked if I could pose some questions. This interview took place a couple of days ago via email.



What impelled you to write a new book on The KLF? Your bibliography shows that other books have been written on The KLF.

Hi Tom, yeah there have been fanzine histories and The KLF have been mentioned in broader music books, but there hasn’t been a book like this. One of the main reasons for writing it was a desire to write about Robert Anton Wilson and Discordianism, because that was the obvious next step after writing a book about Leary.

I’m a sucker for writing about ideas, but really what I like are ideas that kick up an absolute shitstorm in the wider world. That was fine for a Leary book, because he escaped from jail and was hunted around the world by the US government and so on. But I couldn’t think of a way to write about Bob Wilson which brought more to the party than we already had in that fantastic ‘Maybe Logic’ documentary. So this was my response to that problem – tracing those ideas all the way to that burning of a million quid on a remote Scottish island.

Why do you wish the two members of The KLF had not burned 1 million pounds?

Ah, good question. I said that because every era has a strange undercurrent of previously unthinkable ideas preparing to bubble up to the surface, and during my formative years that current was the Chaos current. The Chaos current, by definition, is never dull but it is not concerned with destination, and for me there’s something unsatisfying about that. (This, in part, was the cause of my unease about the book before putting it out.)

I wrote the book to record an aspect of the history I lived through which was in danger of being lost. That’s all well and good, but I couldn’t help think those in earlier eras such as the Enlightenment or the Renaissance or even the Sixties had more fun, and at times when I was deep in the book I would grumble about how what fell to my generation was sodding chaos and money burning.

That said, after getting the book out I feel much happier about the whole thing, and if Cauty and Drummond wanted to burn a million pounds, then good luck to them. There were far worse eras to live through. It was certainly better than the early 20th Century, when the strange undercurrent was all proto-Nazis and Aleister Crowley fucking goats and the like.

Has there been any response by Bill Drummond or Jimmy Cauty to your book?

Not that I’m aware of, but then I wrote the book and put it out without informing them. That’s not an approach I’d use for any other non-fiction book, I should add, but it was necessary for this one.

There are two main approaches to non-fiction - the first is the academic, encyclopaedic approach where you painstakingly pile on fact after fact and hope the accumulated impact on the reader gets the subject across. The second is about capturing the spirit of the thing – something like the Led Zeppelin book ‘Hammer of the Gods’ is a good example of this - and that was what I was trying to do here. An ‘official’ or ‘approved’ or even an ‘acknowledged’ book wouldn’t have been in the spirit of the thing, and that would have damaged the book.

That said, I did meet Jimmy Cauty when I first attempted this book about five years ago. He was a lovely guy and as helpful as you could wish, but speaking to him I couldn’t shake the impression that deep down he wished that no-one would ever mention The KLF or the money burning ever again. Shortly after that the publisher who had wanted to put that book out went kaput, so I put it to one side and left it. Or I tried to, anyway.

Your new book says that the "path" you chose in telling the story of The KLF was determined by a desire to "create a narrative that was (a) a good yarn and (b) something that would mess with the reader's head on as deep a level as possible." Does this describe your objectives in The Brandy of the Damned?

I was being a bit flippant there to drum home the notion that all non-fiction books are far from neutral truths, but that said it is pretty close to my approach to Brandy. Although Brandy really is intended to heal and sooth the reader’s head, rather than mess with it. I think of it as a balm. It is supposed to feel complete and satisfying at the end, even if it only makes sense on a subconscious level. It’s supposed to leave you feeling new and clean, and positive. I’m not claiming that I achieved that, of course, but that was the aim.

I’m quite open that all my books are attempts to hack the reader’s mind without them noticing, reprogramme them a little and send them on their way subtly different to how they were before. Advertisers do this all the time, but they are doing it to make you unhappy and to make you want things you don’t actually want. In that context I don’t think what I try to do is too much of a liberty. I get all this from Robert Anton Wilson, of course - anyone who’s read Cosmic Trigger and the like will know how books have the power to alter readers like that.

It’s a lot of work, writing a book, and I couldn’t do it if my ambitions were just to entertain or to distract or whatever. There are enough books that can do that already, and we really don’t need anymore. I have to convince myself that the finished work will be a more valuable use of my time than going round and giving all my friends and family a hug, or hanging out and making them a cup of tea or whatever.

How is the First Church on the Moon coming along? Our friend Orlando Monk from The Brandy of the Damned will turn up again, will he not?

He will – for one scene at least. The book’s going great and the aim is to finish the first draft by Dec 31st, so that I can think to myself, “2012? Oh yeah, I wrote three books in 2012.”

The First Church on the Moon is much more of an out-and-out comedy. Whereas Brandy is aimed at the head, without being rational, First Church is aimed at the heart, without being sentimental. (The third and final part of the trilogy is about sex and death in a way that is neither gothic nor erotic. But that’s a tale for later!)

First Church will be fun and daft and just be a real pleasure to read, with the ambition behind it not becoming apparent until the end. It’s the first thing I’ve done that I think has mainstream appeal, so I’ve got to decide whether to hawk it around big publishers or put it out quickly with the others. Going mainstream with it makes a lot of sense until you realise that it wouldn’t then appear until 2015, which would destroy any momentum I’ve been building up this year. So, you may see it soon, you may not.

Why did you release your book under the Creative Commons license? Are you unconcerned that some people might obtain copies without paying for them?

That doesn’t really bother me, if I’m honest, the more heads I can get into the better. Putting my books out under the Creative Commons Attribution/Non-Commercial license  and keeping the ebooks DRM free, just seems the healthiest approach to writing these days.

That said, the fact that the character of Orlando Monk declared himself to be Public Domain is more of a worry. I woke from a dream when I was writing ‘Brandy’ thinking, “Shit! Orlando Monk has put himself in the Public Domain!”, so I added that to the text because that book had to be true to my subconscious.

That was more worrying because I’ve got a backstory to that character that I like a lot and think is pretty outrageous, but I’d have to adapt it if others start adding things to the character. The first person who was going to add Orlando Monk to one of their stories, incidentally, died shortly afterwards. That’s not connected, of course, but I mention it whenever possible in an effort to unsettle other writers who might be thinking about using him.

You mention that you did not actually read Illuminatus! until you were 90 percent finished with the book. What did you think of it after reading RAW's nonfiction books?

I had read the first volume twenty years earlier, but I’d never got round to finishing the full thing. But that first book alone definitely opened me up and changed me for good. Most of the RAW I’ve read has been non-fiction so I’m anxiously waiting for his back catalogue to appear as ebooks so I can have a good wallow in his fiction (they’re not always easy to get hold of in the UK). I’m eager for any news about when his back catalogue will appear on ebook, incidentally!

I think publishing RAW ebooks is important. At the moment his work is kept alive by the Californian counter-culture, the conspiracy theory scene, Libertarians and the like and that’s great, but it’s also stopping his ideas from spreading further, where they are needed. As I say in The KLF book, Bob’s multi-model agnosticism does seem to me to be the only way forward from the whole post-modernism thing, without retreating into false certainties and ignoring the things that brought us to post-modernism in the first place. So I’m genuine when I say that I think he was one of the most important thinkers of the late twentieth century, but I’m aware that may not seem convincing in light of the lurid 70s book covers and so on.

I think a lot about how RAW should be presented to the 21st Century but I don’t really have any great ideas about how to do that at the moment. I will write more about this at some point. But in the meantime, I want to say how important blogs like yours are and the research you do – so thank you for all your work!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Robert Shea's letters policy

In what was apparently the final issue of "No Governor," issue 11, Robert Shea explained that he no longer had room to run every letter to the editor he received and that he would have to implement a new policy for handling them. I was delighted by the policy and thought I would reprint it here:

"I will publish letters that are surly and hostile in tone advocating positions that I consider a crock of shit, as long as they are not excessively long.

"I will publish letters that are surly and hostile in tone and excessively long, as long as they do not advocate positions I consider a crock of shit.

"I will publish excessively long letters that advocate positions I consider a crock of shit, as long as they are not surly and hostile in tone.

"But I will not publish letters I consider a crock of shit, are excessively long and are surly and hostile in tone.

"I get to decide what is excessively long, what is a surly and hostile tone and what is a crock of shit."

I'll post "No Governor 11" shortly, but if you can't wait, visit the official Robert Shea site.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quantum Psychology: Final Chapter

I want to thank everyone who has contributed comments and participated in the online study group for Quantum Psychology. Everyone who took the time to post a comment is very much appreciated.

There are no exercizes in the book for the final chapter, but I will post a question for anyone who chooses to answer it: What RAW book would you recommend for someone who read and enjoyed Quantum Psychology?


Sunday, November 25, 2012

John Higgs has set up a Tumblr to provide supplementary information for the new book on the KLF and RAW.  It includes the video of the members of The KLF burning 1 million pounds.

Here is more information on Radio Eris.

The book is excellent, by the way, and I will post a review soon.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

'Truth Comes on Swift Wings' by RAW

My latest posting of recovered Robert Anton Wilson material is another "Illuminating Discords" column from the Nov. 28, 1976 issue of "New Libertarian Weekly." It concerns the effects of magick on politicians, and I wonder what the zine's original readers made of it.  I've posted it as a PDF so you can see the accompanying Egyptian hieroglyphic illustrations; read it here.

Many thanks to Mike Gathers and Jesse Walker for making it available.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Radio Eris is on the air

Radio Eris has been launched to promote the new John Higgs book on the KLF.

"We're starting an auto-generated internet radio stream called Radio Eris, which is going to run for two weeks and synthetically read out a chapter a day, amongst randomly-mixed audio of RAW, Alan Moore etc. skimmed from the Internet," Higgs explains.

The book is called KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money and should be available on Amazon today in Kindle format. Much of the book is devoted to explaining how Robert Anton Wilson influenced the band.

Update: The book is for sale on Amazon.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

'How to Operate Your Brain' by Timothy Leary



How to Operate Your Brain is a 1993 music video that Timothy Leary made to help propagate some of his ideas. The Open Culture posting by Dan Colman calls it a "guided meditation." Another illustration of how Leary's ideas influenced RAW. I enjoyed the video. (Via John Merritt) Thanks, John!).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New book on the KLF and RAW



JMR Higgs has announced that his new book, KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money will be published Friday as a Kindle ebook. A paperback will be released next year.

Higgs explains, "It is an attempt to explain why The KLF burnt a million pounds in a deserted boathouse on a Scottish Island in 1994. It's a story about Robert Anton Wilson, Dada, punk, Alan Moore, Operation Mindfuck, Situationists, rave, magic, Ken Campbell and the alchemical properties of Doctor Who.

"You know, all the good stuff."

The Nov. 23 publication date is appropriate, Higgs notes, "seeing as it's largely about RAW and Discordianism and tracks how those threads affected the UK."

A temporary radio stream, Radio Eris, will launch Friday to promote the book. I'll give more details Friday.

The fact that the book is coming out at all is good news. As I wrote on Oct. 17, Higgs had serious doubts about it after he finished and was seriously considering shelving it.

Naturally, I asked him about that.

"Yeah my proof readers and beta readers gave me a hard time when I suggested not putting it out, and basically slapped me about a bit until I saw sense. I'm still a little wary of the damn thing because things did get a little weird writing it, but in general I'm feeling better about it," Higgs replied.

Higgs is the author of the novel The Brandy of the Damned, which came out this year and which I liked very much. The sequel, The First Church on the Moon, will be out soon.

His book on Timothy Leary, I Have America Surrounded, remains available on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Scholars crack secret society's code

This sounds like something out of the "Historical Illuminatus" books, or in Illuminatus! but it's real: Scholars have succeeded in cracking a secret code from a German secret society in the 1740s that advocated a revolt to restore man's "natural freedom."

The Wired article explains that deciphering such articles could rewrite the history of the West: "Dismissed today as fodder for conspiracy theorists and History Channel specials, they once served an important purpose: Their lodges were safe houses where freethinkers could explore everything from the laws of physics to the rights of man to the nature of God, all hidden from the oppressive, authoritarian eyes of church and state. But largely because they were so secretive, little is known about most of these organizations. Membership in all but the biggest died out over a century ago, and many of their encrypted texts have remained uncracked, dismissed by historians as impenetrable novelties."

The article even speculates that members of the group invented rituals to conceal their involvement in Freemasonry. Shades of the coding and concealment discussed in Cosmic Trigger 1?

Hat tip: Dan Clore at the Robert Anton Wilson Fans group on Facebook.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 22

[As the exercizes printed in the book do not seem viable for an online discussion group, I have with regret substituted a couple of questions of my own. -- The Mgt.]

1. Robert Anton Wilson mentions The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra as a book that makes a connection between a particular model of quantum mechanics and Taoism. Please suggest another book about quantum mechanics that might help the reader understand some of the concepts discussed in Wilson's book.

2. Explain the link between the "model agnosticism" that Wilson advocates here (and elsewhere) and quantum theory.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

The missing prologues

One more note pertaining to the Illuminatus! studies site I mentioned yesterday. If you have bought a new copy of the work within the last 30 years or so, you probably have the omnibus version that publishes it  as one thick volume. That version omits the prologues that began the second and third books in the original mass market paperbacks.

I assume that whoever assembled the volume figured the prologues were no longer needed, but they have bits that are not in the rest of the work. Anyone who wants to read everything that was originally published back in the 1970s can read them here (top of the page.)

Here is my favorite bit from the Golden Apple prologue:

Hagbard Celine, a mad genius fully qualified to practise several varieties of engineering and law, chooses instead to be a pirate and attempts to design the world’s first Self-Destruct Mynah Bird.

“Here, kitty-kitty-kitty! Here, kitty-kitty-kitty!” Hagbard can be heard saying as we dolly in for a close-up on his swarthy Sicilian face. (Actually, he’s half Norwegian and has a raft of Irish relatives named McGee and Marlowe in Ohio somewhere.) As the camera pulls back, we see Hagbard standing between two rows of Mynah Birds, each perched on a separate miniature lemon tree. “Here, kitty-kitty-kitty! Here, kitty-kitty-kitty!” the birds robotically repeat, thereby being programmed for self-destruct when he unleashes them in New York City.

“Honest to God,” Epicene Wildeblood (New York’s bitchiest literary critic) is later heard telling a crowd of sceptics in the office of Confrontation magazine. “The damned bird committed suicide. I was sitting in Washington Square and I heard him cackling, “Here, kitty-kitty-kitty!” Just like that. “Here, kitty-kitty-kitty!” It was a big Siamese that got him, but every cat in the neighborhood was on the prowl by then. I tell you, this city has reached the end of its rope if even the birds are turning depressive-psychotic.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bogus Magus' Illuminatus! studies site

Here is an important resource that I'll be studying more closely when I re-read Illuminatus! again: an "Illuminatus! Studies" site by together by Bogus Magus that includes a timeline of the book, a detailed outline of the names of the various sections of the work, biographies of the characters, cover art for various editions, an article on the Ken Campbell theater version, a list of other resources (I was very pleased to find this blog listed there) and an article on references to other texts. Lots of stuff to explore here, including a posted outline of RAW's own online course on the work.

All hail Bogus Magus! Official site (Jesus, he looks just like I imagined!) and Twitter account. Be sure you follow the links to find out who was the hidden hand behind the original version of Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars.




Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dennis Kucinich on the national security state

[Most press releases from politicians are not worth reading, but I'm going to miss the press releases from my local congressman, Dennis Kucinich. The departure of Kucinich from the U.S. House, along with the exit of Ron Paul, remove two of the few voices in that body for civil liberties and peace. Here is the press release Kucinich sent out yesterday on "The Real Scandal Surrounding the Petraeus Resignation." I think you'll find it's more interesting and useful than most of what you've read about that business. -- The Mgt.]


The National Security Agency routinely collects 1.7 BILLION emails, phone calls and communications every single day. Any kind of digital communication can be recorded and stored. Where you were when you wrote an email, where the recipient was when it was read, the text of the message can all be stored in enormous facilities like the $2 billion dollar Utah Data Center which contains four 25,000 foot facilities containing rows of data servers. They have to pump 1.7 million gallons of fluid through the facility every day just to keep it from overheating.

The NSA doesn’t need a warrant to record your most private conversations. They have managed to circumvent our privacy laws because they define an “intercept” as a piece of information read by an agent. That means they don’t need authorization to record and save your information until someone decides they’d like to read it.


Just how big is this domestic spying operation? It recently ensnared the nation’s top spy, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Here is how it worked: A woman in Tampa received some emails. The emails read “Who do you think you are?... You parade around... You need to take it down a notch.”

Because the woman in Tampa told a friend who worked at the FBI about the emails, a sprawling investigation began. According to the New York Times, the FBI found the computer from which the emails were coming. The account was anonymous, so they used “forensic techniques” to find out what other accounts were accessed from the same computer. The FBI identified a subject and obtained access to her private emails. The FBI then found more emails and then tracked down where THOSE emails had come from.

Turns out salacious messages were coming from the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. And while the FBI was looking around the Tampa woman’s computer, they printed off twenty to thirty thousand pages of emails and sent them over to the Department of Defense.

Ignore for a moment that we are talking about the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. At the beginning, his involvement was unknown. “You need to take it down a notch” was justification for the FBI to access private emails in at least three accounts.

Why should this concern you? You are reading this on a computer or a mobile device. The FBI and the NSA can track you and find out your location. They can then look at your IP address and determine what websites you go to and what accounts you have accessed. They need a warrant to read any email that is less than 180 days old, but they can read any older email with only a court order that DOES NOT REQUIRE PROBABLE CAUSE. Just yesterday, Google disclosed that they have received 7,969 requests for information and access from the United States government in the first half of 2012.

The FBI, if they thought they had a reason, could find out where you are and read your email, with relatively little oversight. Don’t think they can? This is what happened to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, an active four star general and two women. Even after this incredible invasion of privacy, the FBI has determined that no crime was likely committed and charges are unlikely to be filed.

Want to know what a national security state looks like? Look around.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The lost art of paying attention


The photograph above is a picture of students attending a speech by Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, given on the campus BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio. Mr. Carr was attempting to tell his audience, including the three students sitting next to each other consulting their cell phones, that always being connected to the Net weakens one's ability to pay careful attention to the task at hand. (Photo credit: Jason Werling, the Sandusky Register.)

Link: The Libertarians won the 2012 election. (It's a longer version of my Nov. 7 post.)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

RAW on daytime TV talk show

I followed the link for this TV appearance by Robert Anton Wilson from Jesse Walker's Twitter account; Jesse remarked, "Robert Anton Wilson does daytime TV. 1985ish." Right he is; the link at RAWilsonfans.com says it aired March 17, 1986.

The audio and the video could be a little better, unfortunately, but I was charmed by the video. It's fun to watch someone who isn't a member of the "RAW cult" interviewing him, and I thought that both RAW and the cute lady did well. (Her name is now Nancy Graham Holm; she retired in 2007 as a professor at the Danish national journalism school and was working on a book in 2010, according to a bio I found online.) By coincidence, the show aired on St. Patrick's Day.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 21

[I've reproduced the exercizes from the book, unmodified. -- The Mgt.]

Classify the following propositions as true, false, meaningless or currently indeterminate.

A. The U.S. Air Force has several dead extraterrestrials hidden in a hangar at Edwards Air Force Base.

B. This exercize contains 13 propositions.

C. All propositions in this exercize are false.

D. No good cop ever takes a bribe.

E. The function of public education consists of killing curiosity, encouraging docility and preparing mindless drones to work for corporations.

F. Gorbachev has an advantage over everyone else in the Politburo because he remains sober when the rest of them have all gotten. drunk.

G. Proposition B is false.

H. Proposition G. is false.

I. Gods loves everybody, even serial killers, rapists and CIA agents.

J. All propositions are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.

2. Try living for one day with this (possibly) self-fulfilling prophecy: "I am dumb and unattractive and nobody likes me."

3. Try living for one day with this program: "I am brilliant and attractive and everybody likes me."

4. Decide which of the two above exercizes you liked best, and try living with that program for a full month.
Observe all old programs that reassert themselves and interfere with this exercize.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dan Clore's 'weird' books

Dan Clore, founder of the Robert Anton Wilson Fans group on Facebook, points to a couple of his books. Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon is a reference book; Clore explains, "Dictionary of horror/fantasy diction, with a large selection of sample quotations illustrating usage. Authors quoted include Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Machen, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, etc., but there's also plenty of quotes from writers including Aleister Crowley, William Burroughs, and plenty of Robert Anton Wilson.

Should be especially useful for those interested in RAW's connections to the Cthulhu Mythos."

The Unspeakable and Others is a collection of Clore's writings. There doesn't seem to be ebook editions of either of these.




Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cultural notes

1. My favorite living novelists are Neal Stephenson and Iain M. Banks; there's a brand new novel out in Banks' future space opera series about the Culture. The book is called The Hydrogen Sonata and I finally got the chance to begin it last night. It's a pretty cool planet that has Iain M. Banks living on it.

2. The most acclaimed classical music composer in the U.S., Elliott Carter, has died. He was 103 and had kept composing right up until the end. My favorite classical music blog, Boom's Dungeon, has posted live recordings of Carter's music in his honor (see the comments.)

3. I ran a search for "Robert Anton Wilson" among Kindle ebooks a few days ago, and alas, the supply of RAW electronic books has not increased. But I did notice that RAW collaborator (and Timothy Leary collaborator) L. Wayne Benner's  memoir Seven Shadows is available for Kindle for just $4.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Assorted links and bits

The U.S. held a presidential election, and Nobody won. (From the Kids Prefer Cheese blog, which includes this "about the bloggers" note: "Angus has been called a "libertarian clown," and Mungowitz has been called a "vanity candidate." And those are our FRIENDS.")

Michael Johnson on what a negative TV ad on quantum mechanics would sound like: ""Don't let socialist Old Europe determine the indeterminacy of something as wonderful as quantum mechanics. Reject the Copenhagen on Tuesday and affirm American values by voting for the Everett/Wheeler Graham Model." (Promoted from the comments so you would not miss it. From the posting on Beethoven's "Hammerklavier," of course!)

Mr. Johnson, again, on Ayn Rand's theories on art. (Ayn Rand thought Beethoven was "malevolent" but loved Tchaikovsky.)

Petition asking the Obama Administration to respect the pot votes in Washington and Colorado. (Via Dan Clore, from Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook.)

"Death has been the focal point of my work for over 20 years." From an Oz Fritz post.




Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pretty good interview

Bobby Campbell wrote to me the other day, pointing to this interview with RAW, "23 Questions with Robert Anton Wilson." He asked if it was one I hadn't seen, and I pointed out that it's on RAWilsonfans.com and that I'd read it before.

I re-read it, though, and it's a good interview. I particularly like this section, where Wilson discussed three of his ideas that he hoped would catch on:

It seems a lot of your writings have really connected with people, and perhaps even influenced their thinking and activities. Because of this effect on your fan base, some have suggested you to be a "cult figure." To make a clever little RAW-like slide here, this seems appropriate, given your early participation in the Discordian Society and your many writings on the Illuminati (a secret cult that may or may not exist.) Surfing the web one may find Discordian groups and references to Eris, golden apples, the Law of the Fives, the number 23, as well as other related ideas. Memes you sent out into the world twenty, thirty years ago continue to thrive and flourish. How do you feel about this legacy of having seeded such a diversity of eclectic memes? 

 It's both pleasing and flattering, of course, but I'll feel much happier when Maybe Logic, the Snafu Law and the Cosmic Schmuck Law get seeded just as widely, or even more widely.

Let's seed them more widely right here! Can you explain to our readers what (Maybe Logic, the Snafu Law and the Cosmic Schmuck Law) are?

Maybe Logic is a label that got stuck on my ideas by filmmaker Lance Bauscher. I decided it fits. I certainly recognize the central importance in my thinking -- or in my stumbling and fumbling efforts to think -- of non-Aristotelian systems. That includes von Neumann's three-valued logic [true, false, maybe], Rappoport's four-valued logic [true, false, indeterminate, meaningless], Korzybski's multi-valued logic [degrees of probability.] and also Mahayana Buddhist paradoxical logic [it "is" A. it "is" not A, it "is" both A and not A, it "is" neither A nor not A]. But, as an extraordinarily stupid fellow, I can't use such systems until I reduce them to terms a simple mind like mine can handle, so 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"? The Snafu law holds that, the greater your power to punish, the less factual feedback you will receive. If you can fire people for telling you what you don't want to hear, you will only hear what you want. This law seems to apply to all authoritarian contraptions, especially governments and corporations. Concretely, I suspect Bozo knows factually less about the world than any dogcatcher in Biloxi. The Cosmic Schmuck law holds that [1] the more often you suspect you may be thinking or acting like a Cosmic Schmuck, the less of a Cosmic Schmuck you will become, year by year, and [2] if you never suspect you might think or act like a Cosmic Schmuck, you will remain a Cosmic Schmuck for life.

Incidentally, in one of those coincidences that delight RAW fans, I glanced at Arthur Hlavaty's blog while I was working on this and found this quote, from the same interview.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012: The Libertarians won

My observation that the Libertarians won the 2012 election may seem counterintuitive, given that Gary Johnson performed only slightly better than most past  Libertarian Party nominees, but nonetheless it is true. Libertarians won stunning victories on several important ballot initiatives.

Marijuana was legalized in two states, Washington and Colorado. It's hard to say whether that's more amazing than the fact that same sex marriage was legalized in three states. (A ban on gay marriage that would have been placed in a state's constitution lost in a fourth state.)

Libertarians didn't win every ballot initiative, but won more than their share; Reason's Hit and Run blog is keeping a running account.

I got interested in the  Libertarian movement in the 1970s, not coincidentally perhaps about the time I was reading Illuminatus! for the first time. Libertarians have long supported gay rights and opposed the "war on some drugs." I am here to tell you those were not mainstream positions in the 1970s.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier'

I just enrolled in Eric Wagner's Maybe Logic Academy course of Schroedinger's Cat, and I noticed that   Eric's course outline asks members of the class to listen to Beethoven's piano sonata, Opus 106, the "Hammerklavier" at least once a week. RAW wrote a lot about Beethoven, and I've noticed that he seemed to be particularly fond of the symphonies and of the Hammerklavier.

I can't point to a free source for the symphonies,  but there are credible live, free recordings of the Hammerklavier online, including one by Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen at the wonderful music library of chamber music performances at the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston; the link to download the recording is here. (One oddity of this particular file is that although the Web site identifies the performer as Jumpannen, the tag on the file identifies the pianist as Jeremy Denk. I asked Gardner spokesman Michael Busack about this, and he replied, "This is tricky as they have both played the Hammerklavier here at the museum in 2008, but Paavali’s recording is the one that we featured on the website.")

Another recording is available from my favorite music blog, Boom's Dungeon. He recommends a live recording by Martina Filjak, writing, "Her Hammerklavier is bracing and propulsive, yet there is always a singing quality to her melodic lines, and the tone never becomes brittle or harsh even in fortissimos. With its flowing tempo the Adagio emerges as a wistful elegy instead of a funereal dirge, and the music only gains from the underlying subtle sense of urgency." For the URL to download the recording, see Boom's entry in the comments.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 20

[These are the exercizes as they appear in the book. Feel free to use more contemporary illustrations for Question 4. The mgt.]

1. Let the class discuss the Zen riddle, "Who is the one more wonderful than all the Buddhas and sages?"

2. According to a story in News of the Weird, op. cit., six men in the Philippines once got into an argument about "which came first, the chicken or the egg." Tempers flared, guns emerged, and four of the six got shot dead. See if the class can discuss the Wheeler theory, pro and con, without equally drastic results.

3. Apply, with your own ingenium, the Wheeler model to an ordinary quarrel between humans.

4. Take a top off the tank behind the toilet, pull the handle and watch how the water level returns to its previous height after flushing. This shows the simplest possible circular-causal mechanism in an ordinary home. Apply circular-causal analysis to:

A. Race relations in the U.S. and the Union of South Africa;

B. The cold war;

C. The average divorce;

D. Self-fulfilling prophecies in corporation/human relations.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Richard Brautigan's papers pretty heady stuff

If you read the comments in this recent post, you'll see an interesting discussion about literary papers and lost manuscript pages. I thought it was a pretty good post (thanks to the commenters), but I'm afraid it can't top this post, which pretty much puts every other blog post about a writer's literary papers to shame.

Via the ever brainy Michael Johnson.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

RAW explains how Obama 'won' again

When I watched the now-famous (or infamous) first debate between Obama and Romney I was surprised by the unanimous opinion that Obama lost. I thought Romney benefited by being able to present himself directly to a large audience, without the filter of a largely-hostile media, but I didn't think Obama was inferior to him in terms of facts, policy ideas, etc.

Then in subsequent debates, Obama acted angry, spoke in a louder voice, interrupted Romney and generally was more assertive, and that apparently made him seem smarter, as the polls of TV viewers revealed that Obama had won.

I was struck by how Robert Anton Wilson managed to explain to me what had happened, in his discussion of the Anal-Territorial System in Chapter 18, "Multiple Selves and Information Systems," of Quantum Psychology:

This system makes a feedback loop between muscles, adrenalin, the thalamus of the brain, the anus and the larynx. Swelling the body and using the larynx to howl (muscle-flexing and noise) makes up the usual Domination signal among birds, reptiles, mammals and politicians. Study the speeches of Hitler and Ronald Reagan for further details, or just watch two ducks disputing territory in a pond.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Left libertarianism symposium announced

Somebunall of Robert Anton Wilson's political ideas can be defined as "left libertarianism," and I do think that's the best short description of his political thought. So what's up with left libertarianism these days? You're about to have a great opportunity to find out.

The two big Internet sites for left libertarianism, Bleeding Heart Libertarians (a favorite site of mine one that I've mentioned here) and the Center for a Stateless Society (a particularly important site for some of our friends, such as Jeremy Weiland) have joined forces for a symposium on left-libertarianism that starts Monday.

The full announcement is here, but here's a taste:

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Benjamin Tucker, Thomas Hodgskin, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, left-liberarianism purports to combine a (libertarian) support for free(d) markets with a trenchant (leftist) critique of contemporary corporate capitalism. The current wave of left-libertarian scholarship is led by the likes of Kevin Carson, Charles Johnson, Sheldon Richman, and our own Roderick Long and Gary Chartier. You can find their writings on the web at the Alliance of the Libertarian Left and at the Center for a Stateless Society. And now, thanks to the hard work of Charles and Gary, you can find a great sampling of classic and contemporary left-libertarian writings in their anthology, Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty, available as a free PDF or in paperback.

Benjamin Tucker and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon are names I recognize from RAW's writings.



Thursday, November 1, 2012

'Nothing is really lost'

Some encouraging words from Robert Shea for those of us who worry about what was chopped out of Illuminatus! before publication.

In No Governor Issue 10 (available under "Feature Articles and Interviews") the cartoonist Roldo (not otherwise identified) writes in to the lettercolumn and says, "The idea of pub'ing the missing pages from Illuminatus! sounds good to me. Hopefully, it would include more of Miss Portinari's enlightening rap on the Tarot. I fain would see more of Mordicai the Foul's Tarot writing too ... that poem on the Hierophant is brilliant. A piece on each of the Atus would be an invaluable classic to anyone hip to what the Tarot is really for an about."

Shea replied, "There's more on the Tarot on other books by Robert Anton Wilson, such as Prometheus Rising.Wilson's ideas bear a striking resemblance to those of Miss Portinari and Mordecai the Foul. Nothing is really lost."

I'm like everyone else -- I wish the missing appendices to Illuminatus! could be recovered, along with the other material missing from the final version. But as Shea pointed out, much of what Wilson wrote after Illuminatus can be considered an appendix to that work.

BTW, I like this paragraph from Roldo: "What's really needed is a good solid hardcover edition of Illuminatus! I read it bits-at-random constantly and cover-to-cover annually to test my own learning by how much more I understand. Sometimes I think it's a combination of instruction manual and entrance exam for the Invisible College. Whom the Gods would raise, they first make mad ... "

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

'Lost' Beethoven work found

Classical music lovers like to try to figure out who was the greatest composer of all time. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven are usually nominated for the honor, and scholars have been studying the three for years. So it's a surprise to periodically read about a lost work by Beethoven being found.

Here is the latest such article, about a lost hymn that Beethoven modified. The article includes links to pieces about other lost works. (Hat tip, John Merrit).

It would be great if a really major Beethoven work could be found, but alas, this NPR story about the discovery of Beethoven's 10th Symphony came out on April 1.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eric Wagner's 'Cat' course

With Eric Wagner's Maybe Logic Academy course on the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy drawing near (it starts Nov. 19) I thought I'd note that for me, one of the highlights of Eric's Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson was his essay on The Homing Pigeons.

Lots of other Maybe Academy courses that are coming up look interesting, too; Erik Davis has a class on Cosmic Trigger and classes also will be offered by David Brown, the Rev. Ivan Stang and Lon Milo  Duquette. Full list of upcoming offerings is here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 19

[In this chapter, I have mostly copied the exercise, modifying just a bit for the online circumstances. -- The Mgt.]

Let each member of the study group say aloud, "I do this exercize because ... "and then attempt to state "all" the reasons. For instance, you will do this exercize because you are participating in this online discussion group. Why did you join it? How did you get interested in the topics discussed in this book? How  did you find the discussion? How did you arrive at this particular blog among all of the Internet sites around the world?

Carry the analysis further. How did you happen to be born? That is, how did your parents come to meet and mate? How did they come to be born? Amid all the wars, earthquakes, famines and other disasters of human history how did those genetic strains which combined in you survive when so many other genetic strains disappeared?

How did this continent emerge in geological evolution? Can you estimate how many migrations, wars of conquest, economic upheavals etc. led to the genetic strains of your father and mother coming together?

Attempt in at least a rough, vague way to account for the formation of the planet Earth and the appearance of life on Earth.

When each  member has had a chance at this game consider the improbability of all of you coming together at this location on the Internet, at this time, to do this exercize.

It will probably prove necessary to do this exercize at least three times before the full meaning sinks into the neurons.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fly's RAW radio show

I finally got a chance to sit down and listen to Steve 'Fly' Agaric's recent radio show, COZCON: Fly by Night with Steve the Fly 06,  an episode from Radio Amsterdam, produced by Steve and John Sinclair. (It's hard for me to find time to listen to a streaming program uninterrupted. I don't have a smart phone, so I have to do it at home, rather than during my long daily work commute.)

Anyway, I enjoyed it. The show artfully mixes music with RAW sound bites, and the music is mostly jazz of the sort that RAW enjoyed. (Pretty bitching Charlie Parker track on the show, by the way. I have quite a bit of Bird's music but didn't recognize "Cosmic Rays.")

 Steve's other RAW shows on Radio Amsterdam are SCHROEDINGER'S CAT: Fly by Night 09,  and Nutty Logic With Steve Fly.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I like the Facebook group

I said some grumpy things about Facebook in my last posting on Dan Clore's new group, but I do like the group and hope more of y'all will join.

At the end of the day, the main virtue of Facebook in 2012 is that it's where the people are. The group already has 137 members, and it's fun to join the group just to go through the list and see who's there. I saw some familiar names, and also some names that were  unfamiliar to me, such as Donald Meinshausen, who "Helped found the current libertarian movement by act of ceremonial magick or the draft card burning at the 1969 YAF convention," and folks such as Gavriel Discordia PsyIndustries, George Dorn (he's listed as a member), Raw Fnord, Zanryu Darkheart and Johnny Occupy Lemuria.

It's worth pointing out, I think, that being connected can involve not being on Facebook very much. One I joined, all of the postings on the wall were emailed to me. I only have to log in if I want to make comments and post something myself. You can join and still prefer Twitter, as I do, or join and still hold social media in general in disdain.

UPDATE: Mr. Dorn has now confirmed me as a Facebook friend. Thanks, George!