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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The ILLUMINATUS! cuts -- how substantial?

Jason Pilley sent me an email recently, asking, "You know it just struck me, has *anyone* ever considered whether those 500 missing pages of "Illuminatus!" might be a typical RAW joke?"

I enjoyed Pilley's witty suggestion. It would also be comforting to learn that ILLUMINATUS! was, in fact, published substantially as Wilson and Shea wrote it. But I think the weight of the evidence is that ILLUMINATUS! was, in fact, cut before publication, although the size of the cuts may be a matter of dispute.

In various interviews, Robert Anton Wilson complains that (1) Although he and Robert Shea conceived of ILLUMINATUS! as one long work, it was published as a trilogy by Dell and (2) That Dell made large cuts in the published version.

There is independent verification for (1). When I interviewed Dell editor David M. Harris about his role in the book, Harris recalled insisting on publishing the book as a trilogy, over Wilson's strong objections. Harris said it was the only way to actually publish such a long book, by unknowns, as a genre science fiction book. (He did not say "by unknowns," but I think that is implied. Robert Heinlein only got away with publishing very long, unedited books when he was a celebrity who could dictate terms to his publishers). Fred Feldman, another Dell editor who worked on ILLUMINATUS!, told me much the same thing. (Harris also recalls pushing ILLUMINATUS! along into publication and deserves credit for helping to make sure it was published at all.)

As for (2), if you read my Harris interview, you can see he doesn't recall (or may not have been in a position to know) if ILLUMINATUS! was cut or revised in a major fashion.

I have not yet published my Fred Feldman interview, but I listened to it again as I drove home from work today. Feldman, who apparently finished the job of preparing ILLUMINATUS! for publication, recalls two things about his work (1) He reshaped it to give it more narrative drive and more of a beginning, middle and end and (2) he made cuts that he describes as "significant," although he would not describe them as "substantial." I remarked that the trilogy as published includes long speeches by the major characters, and he replied that he did not alter the didactic nature of the book.

It is possible that the cuts were not as draconian as Wilson has represented them. Pursuing this latter theory, I wrote to three people who I thought might remember what Shea said about whether ILLUMINATUS! was subjected to drastic cuts.

All three replied. While it is dangerous to argue from silence, none  recalled Shea complaining about the matter.

Shea's son and literary executor, Mike Shea, said he could not tell me anything. Arthur Hlavaty, the well-known SF fan who knew both ILLUMINATUS! authors but was closer to Shea than Wilson, likewise remembered nothing. Hlavaty queried Bernadette Bosky (mentioned in the acknowledgments for Shea's excellent All Things Are Lights), who did not remember anything, either.

Finally, I tried Dr. Patricia Monaghan, the author, Maybe Logic Academy member and Shea's widow. She did not remember Shea complaining about the matter. She wrote, "As for the cuts to the original ms--they must not have been overwhelming, because Bob never mentioned them, or at least not in such detail that I remember."

It is also possible that Shea was more accepting than Wilson about the realities of dealing with a commercial science fiction paperback publisher. Harris and Feldman both describe Shea as being easier to deal with than Wilson.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New 'Guerrila Ontology' blog

Emily Waddle, who has a degree in philosophy and is working on a degree in linguistics, has launched a new blog, Guerrila Ontology.

The first entry, "Hail to Pope Bob," collects some of her favorite RAW sayings. Some of them were new to me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Eric Wagner's 'Cat' course outline

Eric Wagner has posted a detailed outline of his Maybe Logic Academy course on Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy. Obviously, it would be best to enroll in Eric's class, but his outline of readings, music and movies would make self-study possible for those who can't attend. I hope not t miss the chance to take Eric's class.

For information on Maybe Local Academy enrollment and other classes, go here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Assorted links

A forum on the Godlike Productions Web site: Was Donna Summer an Illuminati sacrifice victim? (The cancer report is what "they" want you to believe.) Hat tip, Jesse Walker.

Free audio book of James Joyce's Ulysses.

A new insect species, nanocthulu lovecrafti.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

RAW on science fiction authors

Eric Wagner,  author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, has posted an answer to my question, "In one of your blog postings, you mention that you and RAW mostly talked about movies and books. Can you tell me if he talked about science fiction very often, and what he said about who his favorite science fiction authors were?"

For more on RAW discussing science fiction, see part two of the Lewis Shiner interview and the first part of this interview.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rihanna's pyramid, and her eye

During a performance in the season finale of American Idol, Rihanna begins her performance by emerging from a pyramid, and at one point she is the pupil when her female dancers form the shape of an eye. At the VH1 Web site, Bene Viera comments, "Judging by Rihanna’s performance on last night’s American Idol season finale, she has no intention of killing the Illuminati rumors any time soon. If anything she’s laughing at the ridiculous conspiracy theorists by feeding them exactly what they want." More here.

Hat tip,  Jesse Walker on Twitter.

Also, via Mr. Walker: A singer in Kenya denies being a member of the Illuminati.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Haiku, and Timothy Leary

A couple of recent haiku from Pipzi Williams (@lordfanny1723 on Twitter)

my haiku are not
about the world -- only my
own nervous system


looking through these eyes
being in just this moment
not any other


William Gibson remembering Timothy Leary:

"We’d bump into one another on the VR rubber chicken circuit. Barcelona, Linz, Venice… He was really great to have at your table. Kept the evening in flux. And people would come up to him and give him drugs, which he’d give to someone else, usually a perfect stranger, as soon as the gifter was gone. He said that this was a win-win proposition, as the first person could now say that he’d given drugs to Timothy Leary, and the second person that Timothy Leary had given him drugs. I never saw him look to see what was in the envelope."

Hat tip, Jesse Walker. More here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A couple of RAW mysteries

I have a post up at that brings up a couple of questions I've written about here: What has happened to the Robert Anton Wilson-Robert Shea correspondence? Who at Dell bought ILLUMINATUS!?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More on 'Reality Tunnels' photos

I have heard back from Scottish photographer Andrew Smith (now a resident of England) about his "Reality Tunnels" photographs that he placed with the Guardian. (I wrote about this in an earlier blog posting.) I asked him to give me a bit of background for the photos and he obliged:

"Background is that they were taken for the Guardian Camera Club  which have a monthly assignment that is run via their flickr group and for May the theme is conceptual photography, with the photographs having to have been taken during the month. The Guardian photography team select some sets for review as they get submitted and they publish them on the Guardian website and I've been lucky to have had a review and positive comments.

"I came up with the idea of taking photographs in a stark urban setting and decided on using some of the under-road subways in Croydon as the setting and I also came across the Prometheus Rising quote: "When we meet somebody whose separate tunnel-reality is obviously far different from ours, we are a bit frightened and always disoriented." I felt that the photographs fitted this quote very well due to the different viewpoint and the selective and limited focus which gives a different image than you would expect."

Mr. Smith is on Flickr here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oz Fritz spots an interesting book

Oz Fritz calls attention to an interesting book and to a radio broadcast (available online) about "the controversial Solar Lodge, a Thelemic community that flourished for five or six years in the 60's and early 70's in the Los Angeles area."

The book Oz mentions, Inside Solar Lodge — Behind the Veil, is kind of odd, and I'm not just referring to the subject matter. Oz includes a link on where to buy it, but it doesn't seem to have been "published" in a normal sense. It's not available on Amazon, for example (although a similar book is, for just $280) and it's not available as an electronic book.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Give Dell's editors some credit

My favorite mystery writer is Lawrence Block. This morning, as I was finishing reading his collection of short stories about unlicensed private detective Matt Scudder, The Night and the Music, I came across a passage in Block's afterword in the book that's of direct interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans.

Block explains that when he came up with the idea for the Scudder books, his agent made a deal with Dell, and the first three Scudder books came out in the early 1970s, beginning with The Sins of the Fathers in 1976.

He writes, "Paperback distribution in general was problematic during those years, and Dell's troubles were greater than most; they returned much of their manuscript inventory, paid for but unpublished, to authors and agents, and but for the personal enthusiasm of editor Bill Grose, Scudder might never have seen print."

Dell, of course, was the publisher that brought out ILLUMINATUS! in 1975  which launched the writing careers of Wilson and Robert Shea, and as it is a rather long, unusual book, it probably only wound up in print because of the personal enthusiasm of its editors. I have so far not been able to track down who the Dell editor was who bought it, but I do know that editors Fred Feldman and David M. Harris pushed it into publication.

I haven't published my interview with Feldman yet, but my interview with Harris is here.

Footnote: The Sins of the Fathers is available for 99 cents for Kindle; I believe that sale will expire very soon. Block attended Antioch College in Ohio.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

'Masks of the Illuminati' a 'gateway' book

Some  months ago, I suggested The Earth Will Shake as a "gateway" book for readers who prefer conventional fiction and would like to try Robert Anton Wilson's writing.

Some of you held out for Masks of the Illuminati, and it appears that the author of Josephine's Reader's Advisory would agree. "I’ve always found Masks of the Illuminati to be Wilson’s most approachable book; I’ve made several attempts at the Illuminatus (written with Robert Shea) and Schrodinger’s Cat (written alone) trilogies but never gotten more than a few pages in before losing track of the plotline and wandering off to something more straightforward."

I haven't read Masks in years but I plan to re-read it later this year. I'll note that it's available as an electronic book as well as in print editions.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Photo essay on RAW's reality tunnels

The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain has published a photo essay built around a Robert Anton Wilson quote about reality tunnels. This is quite a bit of publicity for Bob -- the Guardian is a big deal newspaper, kind of the equivalent of the New York Times or the Washington Post.

The photographs are part of the Guardian's Camera Club feature. The caption says, "Croydon promises to be the perfect setting for this visual exploration of Robert Anton Wilson's extraordinary ideas. " (Wikipedia explains, "Croydon is a large town in South London, England.")

The arresting photographs are taken by Andrew Smith. Mr. Smith's Flickr account explains, "I live in Croydon and enjoy photographing the events going on in and on round London. Being of Scottish origin I do particularly enjoy those which are free and many of them are."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Maybe Logic Academy announces classes, teleseminar

Maybe Logic Academy, boasting a new easy-on-the-eyes redesign, has announced a tele-seminar on July 23, Robert Anton Wilson Day. "RAW Retrospective, tele-seminar, free as can be," the site says.

See the site for details on new online courses that have been announced, such as "Initiation" with Lon Milo Duquette, "Cosmic Trigger" with Erik Davis, "Prometheus Rising" with David Jay Brown and "Schroedinger's Cat" with Eric Wagner.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mystery bones in Italian gangster's tomb

"The disappearance of Orlandi reads like the rollercoaster plot of a Dan Brown thriller, with a touch of The Godfather thrown in for good measure.

"Twelve years ago, a skull was found in the confessional box of a Rome church and tests were carried out on it to see if it was Orlandi after a mystery tip-off, but they proved negative.

"In 2008 Sabrina Minardi, De Pedis' girlfriend at the time of Orlandi's disappearance, sensationally claimed that now-dead American monsignor Paul Marcinkus, the controversial chief of the Vatican bank, was behind the kidnap.

"Monsignor Marcinkus used his status to avoid being questioned by police in the early 1980s probing the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, which the Vatican had invested heavily in.

"The collapse was linked to the murder of Roberto Calvi - dubbed God's banker - because of the Vatican connection, and his body was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in June 1982.

"His pockets were filled with cash and stones and it was originally recorded as a suicide, but police believe he was murdered by the Mafia after a bungled money laundering operation."

Full story here.

Hat tip: "Hagbard Celine" on Twitter (@amoebadesign) who remarks, "P2 Calvi and Marcinkus again in the press, re Mystery In Tomb Of Murdered Gangster. R.A.Wilson would love these days."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Space within our grasp?

Colonization of space hasn't happened quite as quickly as Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary had hoped, but the news isn't all bad.

Supergee links to this post, noting, "Reminder that Europe punked out on exploring America the way Earth punked out on space. Mildly cheering."

One good sign is the rise of private rocket companies that can put cargo, and even people, into space, breaking the government monopoly. SpaceX has announced it will launch a rocket with a cargo-carrying space capsule Saturday and dock it with the International Space Station.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A bit of equal time

Here's a bit of equal time, I guess. Andrew Crawshaw wrote me (HomingBohm in the comments on this blog) to call my attention to a critique of Robert Anton Wilson written by someone named Charles Carreon. Andrew comments, "it struck me as quite an ironic critique of one of RAW's pieces. Enjoy reading it; it's funny - sometimes intentionally, sometimes not so."

Well, I did try to read it, but I couldn't get though it. Carreon says that Wilson's works regularly disappoint because of his "their lack of engaging characters and threadbare plots," using a link supplied by the copyright thieves at his host site to indicate that he's referring to "ILLUMINATUS!" That's fine; no one writer or particular literary work is for everyone. Mr. Carreon's post apparently is not for me.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Matt Chamberlain, a drummer with a long list of credits, has a new project called Company 23, which has just released an album that has songs with titles such as "8 Circuit Model," and "FNORD."

Confusingly, the link cited above appears to show two lists of song titles. But my informant, J.F. Smith, downloaded it and reports that he received the tracks with the RAW-friendly titles. (I couldn't find the album on iTunes or Amazon the other day, so I guess it's not widely distributed yet.)

How did it sound? "Good, not great. Not what I expected, though Matt didn't disappoint." Smith reports.

Follow Smith on Twitter as @jfsmith23.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A terrorist attack mystery

I was a reporter for many years in Oklahoma, and like every other newspaper reporter in the state, I wrote stories about the April 19, 1995, terrorist attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City. I was pleased when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted, as the evidence of their guilt seemed overwhelming. (I was driving when the results of Nichol's first trial was announced live on NPR -- I pulled over to the side of the road to concentrate.)

There's a new book out on the bombing, and Edward Jay Epstein's review of it in the Wall Street Journal seems to suggest strongly that not everyone who committed the crime was caught. Two paragraphs from Epstein's review:

Among the glaring gaps in the investigation was the failure of the FBI to attempt to match the more than 1,000 unidentified latent fingerprints found in the investigation—taken from McVeigh's car and motel room, as well as from the office where he had rented the truck—to the FBI's computerized database or even to perform a comparison among them to see how many belonged to the same people. This failure proved important because, as the authors demonstrate, almost all the eyewitnesses to the crime claimed that McVeigh was not alone. 

No fewer than 24 witnesses said that they saw McVeigh, just before and after the crime, with a man who could not have been either Mr. Nichols or Mr. Fortier. The FBI concluded that these witnesses had all been confused. Certainly eyewitness testimony can be unreliable, but 24 mistaken witnesses—and no accurate ones? The authors suggest that the FBI missed the chance to track down a third conspirator. "One of the prickliest problems with the government's case," they write, "was its failure to explain how McVeigh and Nichols could build a huge destructive device without advanced explosives training and be confident it would go off."

When I read Epstein's review, I assumed the book would get a lot of attention, but I've seen nothing about it anywhere else. Is Oklahoma just too far from the beaten track for anyone to care? The book is Oklahoma City by Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Skepticism and Solipsism by RAW

[This piece is a sequel to "The Compleat Skeptic." "Skepticism and Solipsism" was published in New Libertarian Weekly 100, Nov. 27, 1977. Thanks to Jesse Walker and Mike Gathers. The Mgt.]

In my last column, I pointed out that both the impeccable logic of David Hume and the experimental evidence anyone can discover through daily meditation for only a month of so, demonstrate that all we know directly is a stream of sensations. The theories that there is an "ego" experiencing this stream, and an "outside" world provoking it, are inferential, unproven and (if we are strict about applying Occam's principle of parsimony) should be rejected as illegitimate.

The main objections to this solipsistic theory are (a) it contradicts "common sense" -- i.e., the body of hominid (or primate) prejudice that is so widespread that only philosophers, mathematicians, physicists and other eccentrics ever contradict it; (b) it leads, if logically followed, to a course of behavior or non-behavior rather similar to the psychosis known as catatonia (but who is to say that the catatonics aren't the only ones who have figured out the sensible way to react to that highly agitated predicament of matter called "life"?) and (c) there's no way to argue with people who hold this belief (since you are, to them, only another temporary sensation that will pass like all the others), so to hell with them. This alternative is also known as "throwing the case out of court," which philosophers have, by and large, also done with the problem if the infinite regress.

Well, since I am not a philosopher by profession -- only a heckler of philosophers, like Socrates -- I don't have to answer questions, only raise them. Asking annoying questions, after all, is a profession in its own right, and has been widely followed, not just by Socrates, but many teachers in the Sufi and Zen traditions. We Discordians call it guerrilla ontology.

I have experienced, many times, both the dissolution of the ego (known as dhyana in the trade) and the dissolution of the "outside world" (known as Samadhi in the trade.) They are both most interesting experiences, and I urge them upon one and all, as philosophically Illuminating, invigorating, healthy, hilarious, and a great tonic for the nerves, glands and the organism as a whole. I also know enough of modern neurology to realize that there is good scientific evidence that the ego is, indeed, a discontinuous (quantum) sequence, rather than a fixed and static entity. I find from Planck, Bohr, Wheeler, Sarfatti and Bell, among many other physicists I could mention, ample evidence that the physical universe is also a discontinuous, quantum light show rather than a block-like Thing.

These discoveries in neurology and physics have been popularized by Buckminster Fuller in his memorable aphorisms, "I seem to be a verb," and "The Universe is a verb." An internal dance of neurons: an external dance of quarks: world without end. Amen. Sir James Jeans said that to the physics of the 1930s the universe seemed less like a great machine, and more, like a great thought. To the physics of today, it seems more like a great Acid Trip.

In this Heracleitian flux, Doubt becomes not a philosophical choice but a necessary habit. As Hagbard Celine once said, "Those who have seen the Great Vision" (the dance of Shiva-energy) "look at everything else twice." There seems to be no way out of the silk-lined womb of solipsism.

Aleister Crowley got into this trap in 1905 -- after seven years of ceremonial magick, five years of yoga and the simultaneous attempt to maintain a philosophical attitude of Scientific Materialism while undergoing these mutations in neurology. He found that he couldn't believe anything anymore and feared for six months that he was going mad. He came out of it when his horse fell off a mountain, 40 feet, nearly killing him.

Zen teachers, when they recognize that a student has arrived at this womb-like solipsistic stage, hit him, with a wooden staff, hard, on the right shoulder, which sends most striking sensations to damned near every nerve in the body.

After such Shock Therapy, one does not return to the naive objectivity of the ordinary fool or the Randroid. One realizes that there is some sort of Self (although everything one has learned about it is probably false) and some sort of Objective Reality (although everything one has learned about it is also probably false.)

One realizes that life is not a tragedy (as pessimists claim) or a comedy (as optimists assert) or a kind of Moral police court (as theologians would have it) but rather more in the nature of a game, a gamble, a multiple-choice Intelligence Test.

And then ...

But that must be reserved for my next column.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Assorted links

John Merritt writes to point me to a link that shows "the earliest known painting of a transvestite."

Merritt notes that it's "a portrait of France's cross-dressing spook, who is mentioned on pp. 311-12 of The Widow's Son."

Merritt adds, "Speaking of the Masons, I was having breakfast at a coffee shop this morning when a younger fellow -- twenty-something, I would say -- came in with his right pants leg rolled up to mid calf. Isn't that from one of the basic Masonic degrees, say 2nd or 3rd?"

Robert Anton Wilson combined libertarian leanings with advocacy for a guaranteed income system. Here is a post on the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog about how F.A. Hayek supported a basic income guarantee. 

A whistleblower says the federal government spied on "hundreds of millions" of Americans.

The Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" broadcast is available online.

Roger Ebert lists "Citizen Kane" as one of the ten best films of all time. He also likes "Vertigo," one of my favorites. (Hat tip: Jesse Walker.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

FBI spied on Simon Moon's university

I've been reading Gene Healy's book, The Cult of the Presidency. Much of the government abuses he describes in the book are familiar to me, including extensive government spying on dissidents and the rush to get involved in various unnecessary wars. But this paragraph describing the FBI's COINTELPRO (for "Counterintelligence Program"), a 1970s domestic spying operation, surprised me:

The program had begun in 1956 with a focus on the U.S. Communist Party, but soon broadened to include white and black nationalist groups, and eventually ‘‘New Left’’ organizations. The bureau had 
an expansive definition of ‘‘subversive.’’ Among its targets were liberal Antioch College and Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which the FBI termed a Black Nationalist 
‘‘hate group.’’  (Page 107.)

Antioch College is of course the school that is Simon Moon's alma mater in ILLUMINATUS! Robert Anton Wilson lived for awhile in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Antioch is located. Antioch went through financial hard times and shut down in 2008 but reopened in fall 2011.

Some of the incidents described in Healy's book sound like satire from ILLUMINATUS! Here is the paragraph that follows the one quoted above:

Some of the FBI’s actions during this period had the flavor of high-school pranks, albeit potentially murderous ones. In ‘‘Operation Hoodwink,’’ carried out between the fall of 1966 and the summer of 1968, agents purporting to be Communist Party members sent insulting letters to mob figures Carlo Gambino and Santo Trafficante, among others, hoping to ‘‘provoke a dispute between La Cosa Nostra and the Communist Party, USA.’’ Other schemes were less amusing. On one occasion, FBI agents kidnapped an antiwar activist to intimidate him into silence. On another, agents bugged Martin Luther King’s hotel rooms and sent him a tape containing evidence of his extramarital affairs. With the tape was a letter saying ‘‘King, there is one thing left for you to do. You know what it is’’ —that is, commit 
suicide. King was only the most famous of the FBI targets on whom this sort of gutter tactic was employed.

Healy's description of some of the crazy things the U.S. did (or considered doing) to Cuba also is eye-opening (Page 94):

After the Bay of Pigs debacle, top military officials developed a plan to foment a war with Cuba by blaming Cuba for attacks on Americans that the military itself would stage. On March 13, 1962, 
Army General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented Robert McNamara, President Kennedy’s defense secretary, with a memo detailing ‘‘Operation Northwoods’’: a plan to covertly engineer various ‘‘pretexts which would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba.’’ Those pretexts would include ‘‘a ‘Remember the Maine’ incident’’ —staging the explosion and sinking of a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay. Though no U.S. personnel were to be killed in the incident, phony casualty lists would be supplied, which ‘‘in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.’’ The memo also contemplated faking a Cuban attack on ‘‘a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela ...,’’ 

The book then describes plans to stage a phony Communist Cuban terror campaign in Florida and Washington, D.C. and then explains, "The plan, signed off on by all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was apparently vetoed by Defense Secretary McNamara." 

Rob Pugh had a post about this recently at his excellent blog.

Healy's book is available "for a limited time" as a free ebook download here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy anniversary to the Overweening Generalist

Michael Johnson has posted on the one-year anniversary of his blog, Overweening Generalist, even taking the trouble to list his top ten "Greatest Hits" since he created it in May 2011. If you read my blog and you haven't read Michael, you should read his excellent "Remembering Robert Anton Wilson" post, written in conjunction with Boing Boing's "Robert Anton Wilson Week." It will likely serve as a gateway drug for the rest of his posts.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Shea in the Libertarian Futurist Society

I've noted that the Libertarian Futurist Society's Prometheus Hall of Fame Award was the only literary award (that I know of) won by ILLUMINATUS! I've also mentioned that I'm a member of the group, and I ran Robert Shea's acceptance speech when ILLUMINATUS! won (in 1986).

But I did not realize until the other day that Shea himself was a member of the LFS. I found out when I read issues 6-7 of Shea's fanzine, "No Governor."

In Issue No. 6, Neal Wilgus "put in a plug" for the LFS in a letter to the zine and asked, "By the way, Bob -- are you still a member of the LFS?"

Shea replied, "Of course I'm a member of the Libertarian Futurists as I have been since its beginning, and I was delighted with their three selections for 1984 -- Bradbury, Orwell and Schulman."

Shea's endorsement came before he himself won. I've seen no signs so far that RAW was a member of the LFS.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Oz Fritz posts liner notes for his album

I recently wrote about Oz Fritz's album, "All Around the World," which uses ambient sounds to create a magical sound atmosphere. I noted that it's just $8 as an Amazon download.

One bummer is that the download does not include the liner notes. Oz sent me a copy when I emailed him, but now he has posted the liner notes on his blog, along with further background material.

The first two graphs of the liner notes kind of give the idea:

All Around The World is an audio document of sacred spaces with their acoustic and consciousness altering properties.  It is the creation of new ambient environments, new realities, through audio collage, juxtaposition and cut-up techniques.  

All recordings were done on location in various sites including  The King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza, Notre Dame Cathedral, Mount St. Thomas and the Theosophical Society World Headquarters in Madras, India, the Australian Outback, Inner Mongolia, West Africa, Tashkent, The City of the Dead in Cairo, a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, the subways of Paris and Brooklyn and more. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Links: John von Neumann AND H.P. Lovecraft

Robert Anton Wilson recognized John von Neumann's important contributions to modern computer culture and often mentioned von Neumann. See for example RAW's short story, "Von Neumann's Second Catastrophe," in the anthology When the Music Stops, edited by Lewis Shiner.

A new book, Turing's Cathedral by George Dyson, emphasizes von Neumann's role in the development of the modern computer. I've run across several interesting reviews, including a new one in the New York Times.

Meanwhile, a horror movies blog has a compiled a list of the "Top Ten H.P. Lovecraft Inspired Horror Movies."

Friday, May 4, 2012

Trippy video posted at

A link to "Amoeba vs.," a trippy video that makes good use of graphics and RAW sound samples, has been posted to Hagbard Celine (@amoebadesign on Twitter writes, "this is a R.A.W. live cinema mix I performed in 2002, DeepleafProductions gave me the clips."

A link to the video is here.

I want to take the opportunity to point out that, already a great site with a new design, is not a static site but is routinely updated with new material, such as the link to Amoeba Design's video.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Compleat Skeptic by RAW

[This is another of Robert Anton Wilson's columns for "New Libertarian Weekly." It is from the Nov. 20, 1977 issue, No. 99. Thanks to Mike Gathers and Jesse Walker for making this available to me. -- The Mgt.]

The Compleat Skeptic by Robert Anton Wilson

I have said what I have said; I have not said what I have not said.
                                                                     -- Count Alfred Korzybski

In NLW 93, John Walker of Washington, D.C., takes exception to one of my columns on the grounds that if I were truly as skeptical as I claim to be, I would be totally incapable of dealing at all with the objective world.

Well, I've heard that complaint before, and I expect to hear it again (and again, and again ... )

Before proceeding to reply to Mr. Walker, let me quote (for those with less-than-photographic memories) Walker's last paragraph, to wit, "Skepticism is a lovely game, after all, only so long as we ignore it long enough to deal with the outside world. Which, after all, Mr. Wilson spends a lot of time at, usually succeeding rather effectively, I believe."

I maintain that I deal with the "outside" world (outside what?) (the only world I know of is inside my brain) "rather effectively" not in spite of being a philosophical skeptic, but because of it.

I also maintain that people who are perpetually muddled, baffled, frustrated, angry, resentful and act as general nuisances and bring-downs in social life are that way, and cause themselves to continue being that way, only because they lack philosophical skepticism.

What mad Discordian paradox am I attempting to sell to NLW's long-suffering readers this time? Am I stoned again, or merely having you on, as the English say?

Well, let's go back a bit to  the word skepticism itself. In the first place, it's Mr. Walker's label for my position, not mine. I always prefer to describe my philosophical stance as "neurological relativism." While I admit that this has much in common with ordinary philosophical skepticism in the tradition of David Hume or the Logical Positivists, the relationship, as in biology, is one of inheritance, not of perfect identity. Genealogically, Hume began English Empiricism and  German Idealism which incestuously begat such diverse progeny as Bradley, Bertrand Russell, Logical Positivism and, eventually, American Zen, the Third Force in Psychology (the Human Potential Movement) the psychedelic revolution, and the counter-culture aspect of modern libertarianism ("doing your own thing" etc.)

Meanwhile, in the sciences, Einstein begat Schrodinger who begat Bohr and Bell and Sarfatti and Walker and non-local quantum theory in general, as well as such cousins as relativistic Cultural Anthropology, General Semantics, modern neurology, computer theory, Dr. John Lilly, Dr. Timothy Leary and me. We are a long way beyond Hume now, although standing on his shoulders.

Hume pointed out that all we can know (directly) is a stream of sensations. Even the hypothesis that there is a block-like entity, the Ego or "me," observing or experiencing this stream of sensations, is inferential, not directly known. Every philosopher since Hume has tried to refute this, not very successfully, because it happens to be true. Any human being of experimental rather than purely philosophical temperament can confirm Hume within about one month by practicing standard Zen meditation for one half hour twice a day.

"This is truth. This is truth. This is truth," as Aleister Crowley intoned sonorously in his most gloomy book. Yes: this is truth: the stream of sensations is all that is given directly. All else is inference.

But is this all of the truth? Does skepticism lead directly to solipsism?

Not quite. There is an old Zen story which is worth recalling at this point in our argument. A monk, after long meditation, perceived the facts noted above. In great excitement, he rushed to tell his roshi (Zen teacher), "I have it! I have it! That rock there is inside my head!"

"You must have a very big head," said the Teacher, "to hold a rock that size."

Ah, but my space is running out. I will leave Mr. Walker, and all the rest of you, hanging on that ontological cliff until my next column.

Just remember: I have said what I have said; I have not said what I have not said.

-- Robert Anton Wilson

(The follow up column will be posted shortly -- The Mgt.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Agnostic senryu

in all things sings well, a song
carrying lightly

-- Pip Williams

From her Twitter account, @lordfanny1723. Hashtags #senryu and #raw

Possibly related quote: "My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about everything." -- Robert Anton Wilson.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No Governor, Issues 6 and 7

I have just posted issues No. 6 and 7 (one file) of No Governor, Robert Shea's anarchist zine. These are probably my favorite issues so far, even though neither issue has a contribution from Robert Anton Wilson. The issues have less material from outside contributors than earlier issues of No Governor, but they have more articles by Robert Shea himself, and I love his stuff. The issues provide a good look at the ILLUMINATUS! co-author and were done when Shea was working on All Things Are Lights, a Shea novel that I love. To download the issues, see the "No Governor" link under "Feature Articles and Interivews" on the right side of the page.