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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Penguicon wrap up

I went to only one Penguicon program item Sunday before leaving Michigan to go home and nurse my cold -- a presentation by the Science Fiction Oral History Association. I listened to recordings of SF luminaries such as Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, Arthur C. Clarke and C.L. Moore and paid $5 on the spot to sign up as a member.

There would seem to be an intersection between these guys and my other interests. I wonder how interested they would be, for example, in Robert Anton Wilson audio?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Notes on the new counterculture

I believe it is Timothy Leary who is credited with observing that personal computers fueled a new counterculture in a way that's analogous to LSD and the older counterculture. I also know that Robert Anton Wilson was interested in computers and had planned to write a book on the Internet, "Tale of the Tribe."

This weekend, I have been attending Penguicon, a combined science fiction and digital culture convention, with particular emphasis on open source software and open source culture in general. With the sort of timing that seems to attend such things, I caught a cold shortly before the convention, so I haven't attended as much programming as I would like -- I've been taking naps, avoiding staying up late, etc.

Still, I've been going to events and taking pictures, and I thought I would share some to give you an idea of what's going on.

In some ways, the convention is better-run than the usual SF conventions.

The hotel here, the Hyatt Regency, is the biggest in Michigan, the convention folks say. It's in Dearborn and it looks like a fortress.

The hotel wanted to charge me to use wi-fi, but Penguicon set up its own wi-fi network in the convention area, which is what I am using now.  Weeks before the weekend of the convention, Penguicon began publishing details of its programming on its unusually detailed Web site.

Many aspects of the convention resemble the usual SF convention.

The con suite, where free food and drinks are served, has a good selection. It even has beer, and something called Open Cola, open source soda pop made by soda geeks. Unfortunately, it is  a bit cramped and often the visitor has to stand.

Security for the con suite:

Registration turned out to be a dreadful experience. I had preregistered weeks in advance, but after I stood in a long line and it finally came to be my turn, the guy said he could not find a record I had paid in his computer. I had to go back to my room and get a receipt I had taken the precaution of printing out  when I packed. When another convention person finally convinced the gatekeeper that the receipt was valid, they handed me my preprinted badge and other materials.

As in other conventions, hall costumes are part of the fun. Here is a dragon.

Here is a bit of elevator fandom.

I missed much of the programming because I was in my room lying down instead, and because I don't feel well I'm not going to make this an exhaustive con report, either. But here are a couple of other examples of what makes Penguicon different from regular SF conventions.

To an unusual degree, Penguicon encourages attendees to use ribbons to express their interests, or solidarity with certain forms of programming. Each ribbon has an adhesive so it can be be attached to a badge, and many attendees have a long series of ribbons dangling from their badges.

Here is a ribbon which expresses exactly what kind of relationships you would welcome with the other attendees:

As you can see, the idea is supposed to be that you cross off the aspects of relationships you are not interested in (such as, for example, monogamy). I crossed off most of the stuff on my badge to indicate I was only looking for friendship. Monogamy seemed to be generally taking a beating.

One of my favorite panels was presented by Scrub Club Records, an open source record label which makes all of its music available as a free download from its Web  site. It specializes in nerdcore, i.e., rap music aimed at nerds. I had a lot of questions, and they were very open and helpful in answering them.

From left are Scrub Club artists Soup or Villains (the first two gentlemen, including the one who is standing), King Pheenix, Starf and Mad Hatter.

A steampunk couple:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

How psychedelics can help teminally ill patients

The New York Times runs an interesting story, "How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death." The researchers take pains to distance themselves from Timothy Leary, but the research itself underscores a point that Robert Anton Wilson made -- that scientists ought to be allowed to conduct research on the possible benefits of psychedelic drugs.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ken Campbell on how RAW turned him on to Philip K. Dick

[Jesse Walker, still working on his book but back to work at "Reason" magazine, kindly passes on a cool find: The late Ken Campbell, the British theatre genius who mounted a stage production of "ILLUMINATUS!," once wrote a piece on how Robert Anton Wilson turned him on to PKD's Valis. Here is the piece. -- The Mgt.]

ENANTIODROMIA - I shall be using that word frequently in my next one-man show, Pigspurt. Enantiodromia - I shall be the fourth person to use it, ever, in the world. Heraclitus was the first, C G Jung was the second, Philip K Dick was the third, and I shall be the fourth. It means: sudden transformation into an opposite form or tendency; sudden shifting to the opposite pole of attitude, belief and emotion. So R L Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde is an enantiodromic classic - but Robert didn't know the word!

Actually I didn't find it in Heraclitus or Jung, I got it from Philip K Dick. In Pigspurt I shall be giving enantiodromic demonstrations of my own devising. My last show, Recollections of a Furtive Nudist, was also a tribute to the visionary Dick.

I have a love of conquering outlandish words. When I played Maurice in Heathcote Williams's AC/DC I spent a whole morning wrestling with the pronunciation of dimethoxyphenylathylamide. DI-METH-OXY-PHENY-LA-THYL-A-MIDE over and over again until I had the monster tripping off my tongue - and then in the afternoon the meaning: 'The pink spot in the urine of every schizophrenic.'

The director (Andrew Dallmeyer, Liverpool Playhouse, Studio, 1972) said the line had to be delivered at white heat - I can still do it: 'Dimethoxyphenylathylamide' - the pink spot in the urine of every schizophrenic!' (At white heat!)

Most older actors have their line - the line they say to themselves, or the wall, before they go on - their great line of some memory. The late Stuart Pearce had a good one. He'd say to the wall, or world, or self before launching off into the unknown of a first night: 'A knife in the back is not what we call a normal death, Carstairs!'

An actress of the Margate Theatre Royal (name escapes me) impressed me much with her line, obviously a line which she'd worked on and delivered brilliantly one time: 'It's useless, useless . . . as a leg.'

But before any first night, before I go on, I will declaim to wall, world, whatever: 'Dimethoxyphenylathylamide - the pink spot in the urine of every schizophrenic.' It's my line. I'm the best at it.

Last October I was attending the International Philip K Dick Celebration in Loughton. Heavy Americans had come. Lawrence Sutin, author of Divine Invasions - A Life of Philip K Dick; Gregg Rickman, To The High Castle - Philip K Dick: A Life; and Paul Williams, Only Apparently Real - The World of Philip K Dick.

Dick enthusiast though I was, I was daunted, yet wishing to shine in this company - (this is in the bar the night before) - I steered the conversation so I could casually say: 'Dimethoxyphenylathylamide - the pink spot in the urine of every schizophrenic.' American voice - was it Lawrence? Was it Gregg? Was it Paul? - I don't know. But the reply came certainly and easily: 'Dimethoxyphenylathylamide is found in the urine of everybody.' I was called. I offered: 'But I think you'll find that dimethoxyphenylathylamide is found in greater proportion in the urine of schizophrenics.' He said: 'It's not a study we've made. I thank you for the point.'

Wow! Boys. I'm only just in. A fringe Dick Head. Dick-dom, Dick-fandom, whatever you want to call it, it's like nothing else. You know how the Illuminati were a secret society inside Masonry - well the Dick Heads were a secret society inside science fiction.

There are two factions of Dick Head: the Pre '74s and the Post '74s. If you're Pre '74 you're into Solar Lottery, The World Jones Made and The Man in the High Castle; Martian Time Slip, Clans of the Alphane Moon and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

If you're Post '74 it maybe happened like this . . . you got given Valis (it was the most given Christmas present between ex and older hippies in 1982, and it wasn't like anything you'd read before).

I remember Robert Anton Wilson, co-author of the Illuminatus! trilogy, who used to stay with us sometimes until my wife objected to his using the washing machine for only one shirt. Anyway, late one night, in awed tones, he said: 'Have you read Valis?' He gave me my first copy. Literally mind-twisting, it's one of those books you wind up buying loads of copies of. Because you're either going to have to move on to new friends who have read it or force old friends to get into it.

The hero of Valis is Horselover Fat. (Philip in the Greek means admirer of the equestrian arts and Dick is the German for fat.) Horselover Fat spends much of his time writing his Exegesis - a theological term meaning a piece of writing that explains or interprets a portion of scripture: 'Fat believed that the information fired at him and progressively crammed into his head in successive waves had a holy origin and hence should be regarded as a form of scripture.'

The opening aphorism of Fat's Exegesis is: 'One Mind there is; but under it two principles contend.' A suggestion that the phenomenon of enantiodromia is of Divine Origin? A furthering of this enquiry is one of the main strands of Pigspurt.

On 2 March it will be 10 years since Philip K Dick died. I will be co-hosting a literary evening at the ICA alongside psychotherapist Ernesto Spinelli. Spinelli is a real fan. He's not only read all of Dick's books, he's currently re-reading them in chronological order. We'll take those present on a journey - a journey through the books, the life of the writer and into the science of fiction. Brian Aldiss, Fay Weldon and Geoff Ryman are some of the writers contributing, while bio-physicist Jack Cohen and mathematician Ian Stewart (Does God Play Dice?) come at it from a scientific viewpoint.

The evening will feature events including Desert Island Dicks, in which celebrated fans reveal their favourite eight books from his oeuvre, and a consideration of Dick's work in the light of recent scientific insights on parallel universes, the practical difficulties of infinity and the peculiar nature of time.



* Philip K Dick - The Other Side of Infinity, ICA, Monday 2 March, 7.30pm (071 930 3647). Pigspurt, written and performed by Ken Campbell, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, 4-28 March, 8pm (081 748 3354).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A post on RAW's reading habits

"Bob later suggested to me that if I wanted to improve my prose style I should read Ulysses forty times."

Eric Wagner posts about Robert Anton Wilson's reading habits.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oz Fritz continues bardo training posts

I don't quite know what to make of Oz Fritz's posts about bardo training and surviving death -- I certainly don't know enough about what he's talking about to offer an informed opinion -- but his posts certainly are a wild ride, and they offer the opportunity to learn about music, too.

Two new posts: One in which jazz legend Ornette Coleman tells our hero, "You won't believe this, nobody does ... what I am trying to do with my music is conquer death." Robert Anton Wilson also is cited in the post, which is dedicated to Levon Helm.

The follow-up post reiterates Oz Fritz's main points and then goes into a discussion of Harry Nilsson and a dramatic anecdote about the death of Oz Fritz's father.

Both posts are really interesting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

RAW defends satire

[This is an email sent out by Robert Anton Wilson on April 1, 2004, to a group email list that included Eric Wagner, R.U. Sirius and others. In this one, RAW responds to Bruce Kodish, who takes him to task for allegedly blurring the lines between real antisemitism and a more satiric variety. Michael Johnson, who seems to know everything, explains, "Bruce Kodish is one of the more prominent writers on the current Institute for General Semantics scene, and published a bio of Korzybski not long ago, although none of the 60-odd libraries I have acccess to have bought it. Kodish wrote a book called Drive Yourself Sane. After that book came out he revealed his rather obvious partisanship for the Israelis and not for the Palestianians. This set RAW off. I remember him writing "He should drive himself sane." Eric Wagner shared this with me, and so I share it with you. I've put RAW's comments in bold. -- The Mgt.]

Dear Bob,
 Where does guerilla ontology end and helping spread rumors begin?

You came in too late on this one. I passed on a
 JFK theory blaming  Israel
along with a parody by meself blaming extra-terrestrials

 I didn't think that I came too late. I read what you were passing on, the
"L.B.J. is a Sephardic Jew," etc. stuff.   And though it goes without
surely don't consider you an antisemite. Not at all, not at all. 

[Why, thank you,sir. Wd you go so far as to say you don't
consider me a fascist, a cannibal or a CIA disinformation
agent? Wot with the death of humor in this moribund republic,
I badly need testimonials on all those issues,
among udders....
--Damned Old Crank]

Guerilla ontology ends where satire becomes invisible...
 which depends on IQ and hilaritas of each reader.


[Oh damn here it comes..

 Where satire approaches invisibility (For example, foo's later missive?) 
then the possibility exists for the 'satire' to get taken seriously and to
affect readers and listeners in a multitude of ways, perhaps negative
ways. And then--does the satirist have any responsiblity for some of those
results? Maybe.

[How much responsibility wd you assign Swift for any English
owners who began buying and eating the babies of their
Irish tennants?
 Or Mark Twain for  those who decided
the oyster really exists to provide a gourmet treat
for JD Rockefeller?
 Or Flaubert for any increase in
adultery among French housewives?
More to the point -- how much do you blame J Joyce
for the anti-semitic ravings of citizen Cusack
in Ulysses?
How strict yr form of Political Correctness?

 Yelling "Fire" in a crowded theatre may qualify as the paradigm of
irresponsible speech. Can passing on conspiracy theories, even with
satirical intent, become irresponsible in a similar way? Maybe. When and
where does it begin to do so? Well, it seems like a matter of degree,
depends upon context, etc.

[Without irony, I cite Rev Ivan Stang as one who
has more sense of humor and more unnerstandin' of my
dumb ideas than you have-- he says  I recognize strong
maybes and weak maybes.
You seem to brood inordinately over very
very very very very weak maybes.

 Antisemitic speech doesn't insult me. I take it seriously because as you
know "as the thinker thinks..." and antisemitic doctrines help create and
perpetuate toxic neuro-evaluational environments. People's lives may be at
stake, including my own and those of close friends and relatives. The
antisemitic garbage that you were 'passing on' and then parodying has
reached pandemic levels in the Arab/Islamic world, thinly masked within
anti-zionism, and has grown among many educated Europeans (especially
leftists) and many of their American academic 'friends', among others.
Synagogues have been bombed in Turkey and North Africa, and burned and
vandalized in Europe. Jews are getting attacked and murdered again for
'being' Jews.

[So I shd fight that yr heavyhanded moralistic way,
and not the way for which
I seem to have some real talent, namely satire a la Swift
and reductio ad absurdum a la Voltaire?

 I have no objection to displaying examples of antisemitism for
examination, critique and parody. I   object to how it is done. For
example, when the example is presented with insufficient quotes, i.e. ,
without framing of the material as an example of "bullshit" or with
insufficient critique. Or if a satire has enough invisiblity that it may
get mistaken for the 'real' thing. Then the satirist may become a
promoter. Or mistakenly get 'identified' as an antisemite. It could

[See my essay "How to Read" in COINCIDANCE:A HEAD TEST
or az Hugh Kenner once said,
"The  fear of the Word is the beginning of reading"

 Such considerations might at least inspire writers and speakers to think
twice or thrice about possible consequences of what they put out--unless
they think of themselves as all-knowing or just could not care less. 
Call it cogitus interruptus to avoid premature verbal ejaculations.

   I do try to follow my own advice, as I don't consider myself exempt.

  [As I wrote 2 years ago ---
Bloomsdayy 2001

  Schrodinger's Jew

       97 years ago today Leopold Bloom, a fictitious man, wandered the
streets of Dublin, a real city; and Joyce scholars still argue about his
odd odyssey. I would like to add to the confusion with a note about Bloom's

"Is" Leopold Bloom a Jew?

Not according to Orthodox Rabbinical law, which defines a Jew as the child
of a Jewish mother. Bloom as the child of a Protestant mother "is not" a

According to Nazi law, however, a Jew "is" a person with a known Jewish
ancestor. Bloom as the son of Rudolph Bloom [born Rudolph Virag], "is" a

See how easily a person can "be" and "not be" a Jew at the same time?

On the third hand, most humanists define a Jew as one who believes in and
practices the Judaic religion. By this definition, Bloom who neither
believes in nor practices any religion "is not" a Jew. But Marilyn Monroe,
who practiced and probably tried to believe in Judaism while married to
Arthur Miller, "was" a Jew by that definition-- for those few years, if not
before or after.

Extensionally or phenomenologically, a Jew "is" somebody considered Jewish
by all or most of the people he meets. By this standard the multi-ordinal
Bloom "is" a Jew again.

Once more: in terms of pure existentialism a Jew "is" somebody who chooses
to consider themselves Jewish. Bloom obviously doesn't consider himself
Jewish but Irish, most of the time. Only when under verbal assault by the
anti-semitic Citizen in Barney Kiernan's pub does Bloom define himself as
Jewish ["And Jesus was a Jew too. Your god. He was a Jew like me."] Here he
obviously has in mind the "known Jewish ancestor" rule, because he adds
"And so was his father," to which the Citizen replies, as a correct
Catholic, "He had no father," and Bloom, unfamiliar with that theology --
logic played with deuces, eights and one-eyed jacks wild -- can only
pragmatically reply, "Well, his uncle then."

But recalling the incident later, Bloom says "And he called me a Jew, which
as a matter of fact I'm not." Here he returns to his customary "believer in
Judaic religion" definition.

I suppose Joyce made Bloom such a tangled genetic and cultural mixture to
expose the absurdities of anti-semitism; but I also suspect that he wanted
to undermine that neurolinguistic habit which postmodernists call
"essentialism" and which Korzybski claimed invades our brains and causes
hallucinations or delusions every time we use the word "is."

--Dam o' Crnk]
 Bruce Kodish's Weblog at

 "Words are powerful enough to lead to love,
but can lead to hatred and terrible pain as well.
 We must be extremely careful how we use them."
 --Joseph Telushkin


I confess that I have never written anything "in prose
or worse" not sbject to misunderstanding. Vide infra, dig?

"Both  Leary and Wilson have been funded by the CIA since at least the late
sixties....Wilson does have a sense of humor, but remember his smirking
antics are at your expense." --Anonymous leaflet, NYU, 30 April 1990

"Wilson describes himself as a 'guerilla ontologist,' signifying his intent
to attack language and knowledge the way terrorists attack their targets:
to jump out from the shadows for an unprovoked attack,  then slink back and
hide behind a hearty belly-laugh." -- Robert Sheaffer, Skeptical Inquirer
Summer 1990

"A male feminist...a simpering pussy-whipped wimp." -- Lou Rollins,
Lucifer's Lexicon

Douglas Rushkoff managed to misread my unbelief in absolutes
as dogmatic belief in Fundamentalist Materialism.


--ye olde crank
a midi pommes bleues

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil,

it multiplies it... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot
drive out hate; only love can do that.
    --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong
there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?

Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred ceases
by love. This is an old  rule.
    --Gautama Buddha

Monday, April 23, 2012

"I am not that kind of libertarian, really; I don't hate poor people." -- Robert Anton Wilson.

More Manic Doodling here. You can also follow on Twitter (@SteveBellitt).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

RAW and reality tunnels

A blog that I was previously not familiar with, Mea Tulpa, recent ran a post on Robert Anton Wilson and reality tunnels (although it doesn't use the term.)


The example which RAW gives is that, in the midst of various arguments with Catholics in his daily life, he decided to choose to believe like a Catholic for a week. That is, he took all the precedents and precepts of the faith (well known to him from his childhood) and as much as possible let himself trust in them. He talks about how great the comfort this offered him in some areas was, and how great the sense of resentment he felt against those who disagreed with him.

The idea that leapt out at me from this was not how to better sympathise with and understand Catholics, but rather that it is possible to choose the beliefs which we carry with us in our daily life and that, in doing so, we can change how we feel about and react to the world.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bobby Campbell comic at Maybe Logic

Bobby Campbell reprints a comic, "Reality Tunnels."

Bobby comments, "Boy did people not like this comic! but RAW loved it or at least was kind enough to say so. He also remarked that McLuhan had told Pound to use comic books to popularize his ideas about finance, and that he liked the idea of me doing that for his neuro-semantics. More of which coming soon!"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eric Wagner on RAW and Beethoven

Don't miss Eric Wagner's warm memories about Robert Anton Wilson and Beethoven, posted at Eric's new blog.

"He also said he once took LSD and listened to all nine Beethoven symphonies, taking a bit more before each symphony, climaxing with the Ninth at sunrise."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Big things afoot at Maybe Logic Academy

Here's an announcement that caught my eye over at Maybe Logic: "On July 23, 2012 we're opening the floodgates to celebrate all things Robert Anton Wilson. All MLA courses, tele-seminars and Erisian happenings this year will be dedicated to, inspired by and focused on our dear Pope Bob. More info coming soon. Hold tight."

Obviously, when I learn more I will pass it on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eric Wagner's new blog

Responding to a suggestion I posted in a comment a few days ago, Eric Wagner has launched a new blog, "Ask Eric," which seems admirably suited to show off his literary insights, good nature, and sense of humor. Eric kindly responded to my query for example on what people should read to get started on Ezra Pound, observing, "(I sometimes think of Ezra as the Yosemite Sam of poetry. "Ya varmits, I want ya to read Ovid and Dante." I think of T. S. Eliot of the Elmer Fudd. "Be vewy, vewy quiet, I'm saving Western Civilization. Heh, heh, heh." I yearn to become the Bugs Bunny of poetry, but I remain more of a Daffy Duck, a Scarlet Pumpernickel."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Joyce manuscripts becoming available online

A major collection of James Joyce manuscripts are being published online for free. The move comes as a response to a Joyce scholar who apparently was trying to make them selectively available in expensive volumes. reports, "The director of the National Library, Fiona Ross, said yesterday that plans to put the manuscripts online had been under way for some time.

"The collection includes notes and early drafts of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, as well as earlier notes by Joyce from between 1903 and 1928. Two of the notebooks include the earliest surviving sets of notes, and there are drafts of nine separate episodes of Ulysses. The handwriting in the manuscripts matches Joyce’s known handwriting from the different periods in his life and includes his use of coloured crayon lines and Xs through certain writing."

More here. Ulysses materials available so far are here. 

Hat tip: John Merritt (@17Beowulf on Twitter).

Bonus: Brief video clip of James Joyce in Paris. Thanks, Roman Tsivkin! (@zenjew on Twitter).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Penguicon in Michigan

Supporters of anarchism, the theory that you can "get things done" without coercion or government, can point to two modern cultural movements that relay on volunteers working together: The open source software movement and science fiction conventions. If you ever been to a Worldcon, you know that it's a big enterprise that provides entertainment and instruction to thousands of people.

Later this month, I plan to attend Penguicon, a convention in the Detroit area that combines traditional science fiction conventions with the open source software movement. I have been looking at the convention schedule,  and the variety of countercultural programming is amazing. At 9 p.m. Friday, for example, the choices include a drag show, "Sangria and Whiskey Cakes," a gathering to discuss "world building," a program on "Shisha mirrors for belly dance costumes," a program on how the convention's blinking badges were made, Tarot 101, the Breath Moss adventure game, another game called Chez Cthulhu, a gamer meetup, a program on becoming an airline pilot, a roast of the previous year's convention chairman, "Sleep Hacks," a reading by writer Johanna Gedraitis, a geeky comedy show, a software program on continuous integration and a software program on Drugal, an open source software system for building Web sites. We live in an interesting world.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Study RAW's intellectual roots at Open Culture

Open Culture, which offers free cultural and educational material, continues to add to the lectures available in the "Free Online Courses" section, and some of the material would likely interest Robert Anton Wilson fans.

For example, I noticed several courses on quantum mechanics. There are classes that explain the Internet and digital communications and Langdom Hammer's modern poetry class at Yale includes a lecture on Ezra Pound. I could not find a course on James Joyce or even a lecture, but I found a free audiobook of Joyce's Ulysses on the site. Lots of other stuff on the site to explore, too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nick Herbert's 'Quantum ABCs'

From hippie physicist Nick Herbert: "Quantum ABCs," an introduction to the subject for those of us who don't know a great deal of physics.

In related news, Pip Williams has just provided an introduction in 17 syllables:

construct of quantum waveforms-
welcome to my world!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Memoir by RAW collaborator

Jesse Walker spots a new memoir by L. Wayne Benner, Seven Shadows. The blurb on Amazon says, "This is the original draft of the memoirs of the person the media called, the Tuxedo Bandit. In the early 1960s the Los Angeles police accused this man of committing more than 100 robberies. In 1964, shortly after his 21st birthday he was arrested and sentenced to life for the kidnaping of a Hollywood actor. This story takes the reader from the childhood of this man through his criminal activities and into prison. There he attempts several escapes, taking guards hostage and eventually escaping from Folsom prison. This story covers the 8+ years he spent in the “Hole”. From the deepest, blackest place in the world you will see his view of life. While in Folsom prison he co-authored Terra ll with Dr. Timothy Leary, and The RICH economy with Robert Anton Wilson. Through his eyes you witness the riots, gang wars, and political interventions that took place in the prisons of the 1960s and 70s. You will witness his struggle for his life, his mind, and his soul. In the end you will walk with him through the gates, as a free but hollow man. These are his words, completely untouched, grammatically imperfect, unedited for readability, uncensored for content social sensitivity."

Benner is mentioned in "The RICH Economy," an article reprinted in RAW's The Illuminati Papers. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Freemasons seeking new image

Via Tyler Cowen on Twitter (among others) comes a report from the BBC that the Freemasons are seeking a new image.

Apparently conspiracy theories about them persist.

 "The charter of Hamas - the Islamist party governing Gaza - states that the Freemasons are in league with the Jews and the Rotary Club to undermine Palestine."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Zen haiku from Wales

Via Roman Tsivkin, I recently discovered a Twitter account I like very much: Pip Williams' Twitter account, which mostly sends out new haiku. Lots of evocations of the Welsh countryside, quite a bit of Zen, a little bit of many other topics. Some of my favorites so far:

across the valley
orange streetlights echo the
ancient glow of stars

at my support group
for eremophobia
no one else showed up

washing the dishes
other lights, other kitchens
other peoples' lives

the master who makes
the grass green seems vague about
lots of other stuff

said hui-neng, sixth patriarch
not one thing exists

the blue sky, the sun
usher in spring's bright riot
a gateless gate

in buddha's footsteps
i will walk, a cat, stalking
i accept my doom

Monday, April 9, 2012

Free RAW audio CD

As part of the revamping of, Mike Gathers separate the audio and video sections, a move that perhaps has the effect of making the site's audio collection stand out more. I finally noticed that the site has an entire Wilson audio CD, the TSOG CD, available for downloading. I thought Wilson's TSOG book was perhaps his weakest, but I have no gripes about the CD, where he sounds as sharp as ever. If anyone will tell me who the interviewer on the CD is, I will update this post. Quite a bit of other audio, which I'll be exploring soon.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Eric Wagner on his new book

Eric Wagner, responding to my inquiry, wrote to brief me on Straight Outta Dublin, his book on James Joyce's influence on Robert Anton Wilson, which he hopes to complete in 2013.

"The appendix in my first book on the influence of Joyce on Masks of the Illuminati grew into my master's thesis, The Influence of Finnegans Wake on Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati.  A slightly modified version of my thesis makes up the first section of my new book.  I decided next to write an antithesis, following the five phase model of history put forth in Illuminatus!  I've nearly finished the antithesis and I've written a chunk of the synthesis.  I've put Joyce on hold for a while because I want to finish reading Proust.  I do have a weekly Finnegans Wake Club at the high school where I teach.

"I hope to finish Proust by June.  In August I hope to begin teaching a class at the Maybe Logic Academy on Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat.  I think that will help to return my focus to Wilson and to Joyce.  At least I hope so."

Obviously, as more information becomes available on the Maybe Logic course, I will report it here.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Eric Wagner on RAW and misunderstanding Finnegans Wake

[I liked  Eric Wagner's posting about RAW and misunderstanding Finnegans Wake, which he put up on on Feb. 28, so I thought I would reprint it here. Love the vegetarian restaurant anecdote, too. Mr. Wagner's book, An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, remains available. -- The Mgt.]

I started reading Bob Wilson in 1982, which led me to check Finnegans Wake out of the library in 1983. I had little success with the book, but after reading more of Bob’s writing I decided to buy a copy of Finnegans Wake on February 2, 1984, Joyce’s birthday. I still couldn’t make much sense out of the book. In 1985 I read Prometheus Rising in which Bob mentioned a Finnegans Wake study group. Aha, I thought, I could do that, patterning it on Bible study groups I’d attended – a group of people studying a book few if any of whom had read all the way through and likely none of them really understood. I invited everyone I knew to come over one Thursday, and only one other person showed up, but we kept Finning on Thursdays for the next twelve years at least semi-regularly, joined by various other pilgrims, until I moved from Arizona back to California.

In 1988 a group of us brought Bob Wilson to Arizona to give a talk and a workshop. I wanted to make Thursday a Finn day, so we took him to see the new film of The Dead, which he loved because it reminded him so much of Dublin. We went to a vegetarian restaurant that night which one of our group recommended, but afterwards Bob asked me to take him back to the hamburger joint we had enjoyed the day before. That night Bob came over to my house and we had a raucous Finn session enhanced by Guinness Stout.

My Finn group meets on Wednesdays now, so it fell on the anniversary of Bob’s death last week and it fell on his birthday this week. We’ve almost reached the song at the end of chapter two, which makes me think of the performance of that song at Bob’s Memorial BB-Q five years ago. I still have trouble understanding Finnegans Wake, but it always makes me think of Bob, and I feel grateful for the ongoing confusion.

Friday, April 6, 2012

RAW as a 'gigantic and benign floating head'

The quotation I've picked out of the blog post by Scott Jeffery, "academic, comedian, wrecker of civilization" to put in my headline is a little unfair, taken out of context. But who can resist a "gigantic and benign floating head"?

The full quote: "So this is just some thoughts on Wilson, whose work had a profound impact on my philosophical and psycho-spiritual development and who still sometimes (not sure if I should mention this so I will) appears to me as as a kind of gigantic and benign floating head whenever my more unusual states of consciousness seem like they might get too much. Which, by the way, is awesome and I don’t care if its not really him; everyone gets the Robert Anton Wilson they deserve. So, an intellectual influence then and, in some strange way that only writers who you love but have never met can be, a friend."

The last two sentences capture rather well how I feel about Wilson (whom I never met, either.)

This is part of an interesting post on why the first Cosmic Trigger book is "hands down, my favourite book in the world."

Thanks to Rob Pugh on Twitter for calling this to my attention.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Prometheus Award finalists announced

The finalists for the Prometheus Award have been announced. (I am a judge on the nominating committee).

With the understanding that I am only speaking for myself, and not for anyone else or for the award, I want to offer a couple of comments. The list of finalists is quite strong this year. I'm particularly pleased by the nomination of Delia Sherman's The Freedom Maze, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and Ken MacLeod's The Restoration Game. If the Hugo Award this year goes to a novel as strong as any of those three, it will be a good year for the Hugos. (Hugo nominations will be announced Saturday.)

Ken MacLeod's blog posting about making the Prometheus ballot is here. If you haven't read MacLeod, you are in for a treat. MacLeod, Iain Banks and Charles Stross are all talented Scottish SF writers; I love Banks' SF novels.

Official press release follows:


The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced finalists for this year's Prometheus Awards, which will be presented during the 70th World Science Fiction Convention over Labor Day weekend in Chicago.

The Prometheus finalists for Best Novel recognize pro-freedom novels published last year:

  * */The Children of the Sky/* (TOR Books) - A sequel to Vernor Vinge's *A Fire Upon the Deep* and in the same universe as Prometheus-winning *A Deepness in the Sky*, this novel focuses on advanced humans, stranded and struggling to survive on a low-tech planet populated by Tines, dog-like creatures who are only intelligent when organized in packs. The most libertarian of the three human factions and their local allies must cope with the world's authoritarian factions to advance peaceful trade over war and coercion.

 * */The Freedom Maze/* (Small Beer Press) - Delia Sherman's young-adult fantasy novel focuses on an adolescent girl of 1960 who is magically sent back in time to 1860 when her family owned slaves on a Louisiana plantation. With her summer tan, she's mistaken for a slave herself, and she learns the hard way what life was like.  In the process, she comes to appreciate the values of honor, respect, courage, and personal responsibility.

  * */In the Shadow of Ares/* (Amazon Kindle edition)- This young-adult first novel by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson focuses on a Mars-born female teenager in a near-future, small civilization on Mars,
where hardworking citizens are constantly and unjustly constrained by a growing, centralized authority whose excessive power has led to corruption and conflict.

  * */Ready Player One/* (Random House) - Ernest Cline's genre-busting blend of science fiction, romance, suspense, and adventure describes a virtual world that has managed to evolve an order without a state and where entrepreneurial gamers must solve virtual puzzles and battle real-life enemies to save their virtual world from domination and corruption. The novel also stresses the importance of allowing open access to the Internet for everyone.

  * */The Restoration Game/* (Pyr Books) - Set in a world whose true nature is a deeper mystery, this philosophical and political thriller by Ken MacLeod (winner of Prometheus awards for *Learning the World*, *The Star Fraction*, and  *The Stone Canal*) explores the dark legacy of communism and the primacy of information in shaping what is "reality" amid Eastern European intrigue, online gaming, romance and mystery.

  * */Snuff/* (Harper Collins) - A Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett (winner of a Prometheus Award for *Night Watch*, also set in Discworld),  *Snuff* blends comedy, drama, satire, suspense and mystery as a police chief investigates the murder of a goblin and finds himself battling discrimination. The mystery broadens into a powerful drama to extend the world's recognition of rights to include these long-oppressed and disdained people with a sophisticated culture of their own.

Thirteen novels were nominated this past year and read and voted on by 10 judges, selected from LFS members. The other nominees:  */Cowboy Angels/*, by Paul McAuley (Pyr Books);  */The Hot Gate: Troy Rising III/*, by John Ringo (Baen Books);  */REAMDE/*, by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow);  */Revolution World/*, by Katy Stauber (Night Shade Books);  */Sweeter Than Wine/*, by L. Neil Smith (Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick);  */Temporary Duty/*, by Ric Locke (Amazon; Kindle edition, Ric's Rulez blog); and  */The Unincorporated Woman/*, by Dani and Eytan Kollin (TOR Books).

For more than three decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that stress the importance of liberty as the foundation for civilization, peace, prosperity, progress and justice.


The 2012 Prometheus finalists for Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) were announced earlier.  This category honors novels, novellas, stories, graphic novels, anthologies, films, TV shows/series, plays, poems, music recordings and other works of fiction first published or broadcast more than five years ago:

  * */Falling Free/*, a novel by Lois McMaster Bujold (1988);

  * /"'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman,"/ a story by Harlan Ellison (1965)

  * /"The Machine Stops,"/ a story by E. M. Forster (1909)

  * /"As Easy as A.B.C.,"/ a story by Rudyard Kipling (1912)

The Worldcon's Prometheus Awards ceremony most likely will take place, as in previous years, on the Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend (to be confirmed this summer at a Chicago Worldcon hotel and meeting room to
be announced).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oz Fritz, mixing magick and music

Oz Fritz often seems to straddle the boundary between magick and music. His interesting post on drummer Ginger Baker (from Cream, Blind Faith) etc. includes a section on a jazz/rock/African album called The Map is Not the Territory (!) by a band named Temporary Autonomous Zone (!!). It's a rather obscure album -- I could not find a listing for it on -- but Oz helpfully includes the first track from the album (called "Invoke") and links to another blog which lists the musicians.

I did succeed in finding a long list of Oz Fritz's credits on Allmusic (everyone from Laurie Anderson to the Ramones to Iggy Pop, and various other artists I'm not hip enough to recognize.)

Here is information about Oz Fritz's album, "All Around the World," which describes as a "cross between imaginary travelogue and meditation tool." $8 as an MP3 download from, where I just bought my copy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Put Natural Law back in print

Natural Law is a good little book, but I had to read a copy posted at the Anarchist Library because it's been out of print for many years. I wish the estate would reprint it. At its current size, it would make sense as an inexpensive Kindle Single. Fleshed out with other material concentrating on political philosophy, it also could be the centerpiece of a normal-sized book.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Natural Law -- notes on the "main characters"

I just finished reading Robert Anton Wilson's Natural Law, or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy, and I thought it might be useful to say something about some of the people mentioned in the essay.

Samuel Konkin was the publisher of New Libertarian Notes and New Libertarian Weekly and published not a few articles by Robert Anton Wilson and also published this interview with Wilson, one of my favorites. According to this entry on Wikipedia (libertarians appear to be very active on Wikipedia) Konkin dressed in black, refused to vote, opposed involvement in the Libertarian Party, saw libertarianism as a movement of the left and was a proponent of agorism. He died on Feb. 23, 2004. See my interview with Agorist Kevin MacArdry if you want an example of a current proponent.

Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) was a very influential libertarian who espoused "anarcho-capitalism." His book For a New Liberty was very popular and influential (I dutifully read it in the 1970s after I discovered libertarianism) and he remains influential, particularly among the and Lew Rockwell types. His portrayal in Natural Law is not flattering, but I'll note that he was a vigorous proponent of peace.

George H. Smith is an American libertarian and atheist. Confusingly for a libertarian science fiction fan, he is not the same person as SF author George H. Smith, or SF author George O. Smith.

Arthur Hlavaty also is mentioned in the text, e.g. "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., Nietzsche, Lao-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 contradictions." Hlavaty is this guy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Robert Anton Wilson on libertarianism

(I extracted this from RAW's Natural Law, which I just finished reading -- The Mgt.)

If libertarianism means anything, it should certainly mean progress, not stasis; change,  not medieval dogma; a liberation of energies, not a new cage.

Of course, there is an opinion broad in the land that libertarianism does mean a mindless, heartless and mechanical system of medieval dogma. I don’t know how this impression came about, although it probably has something to do with Randroids and other robot Ideologists who occasionally infest libertarian groups. Frankly, I have always loathed being associated with such types and devoutly wish libertarianism could be sharply distinguished from Idolatry and fetishism of all sorts. If liberty does not mean that we can all be more free, not less free, then I need to find a better word than “liberty” to describe my aspirations ...

I am not interested in Ideologies and don’t give a damn about labels at all, at all. I am interested only in what makes the world a little more reasonable, a little less violent and somewhat more free and tolerant than it has been in the past.