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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Talking with Steve "Fly Agaric 23" Pratt

Few, if any, people have been more energetic in setting up Internet sites to promote the works and though of Robert Anton Wilson than Steve "Fly Agaric 23" Pratt, a resident of Amsterdam is plays drums, is a DJ and works in various other art forms.  And he isn't exactly slowing down: As I write these words, a brand new site, RAW360, is poised to launch.

I have been wanting to interview Mr. Pratt for a long time, so the following is one more item crossed off my "to do" list.

This interview concentrates on Steve's interest in Robert Anton Wilson. For an archive of his performances with Garaj Mahal and others, go here. His new is called DOCTOR MARSHMALLOW CUBICLE and a sample of the band's music is here.  A comic of Pratt meeting RAW is here.  Mr. Pratt's book, World Piss, may be purchased here. The photo below of Mr. Pratt and Mr. Wilson was taken in 2002.

Steve, could you tell my readers just a little bit about  yourself?

Greetings dear readers, i am 99% sure my name is Steven Pratt and that i was born in Wordsley, England in the year 1976. I currently reside in Amsterdam and spend most my time these days reading, drumming, spinning records, blogging and petting cats.

How did you become interested in Robert Anton Wilson?

Due to my early sporting career as a swimmer i missed out on many intellectual pursuits, discovering the wonders of literature, philosophy and science after my official education, thanks to RAW for the most part. I first encountered RAW through his book Cosmic Trigger II that i traced back through 3 people, starting with my girlfriend at that time, to a guy in Wolverhampton called Jonah who got turned onto RAW in the 80's, possibly via Bill Drummond and The KLF. After 5 years of reading RAW throughout the late 1990's i viewed him as THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT WRITER AND THINKER SINCE SOCRATES.

I have just one Web site devoted to RAW, but you have more than I can keep up with. Could you list them for me, please? Is there a "portal" site that links to them all?

Thanks TOM, from the guy who keeps up the most consistant and comprehensive RAW related blog in cyberspace. I do not yet have a single hub for my RAW related output, but you can get an RSS feed at my wikispaces account, linked below. RAW influences every blog i keep, but the explicitly RAW sites I prune are as follows:

A tale of the tribe
Ettt (email to the tribe)
Only Maybe
Myspace (ghost town)

Q. I was struck by the fact that in the tribute program for RAW you did earlier this year with John Sinclair, you used music that RAW enjoyed. Did you ever talk to RAW about jazz, or about music?

A. Yes, during the interviews RAW kindly granted me I asked him about the music he liked, and I talked a little about my own musical projects. He surprised me with a quote that he was unable to source on the spot, but which i recently read in the introduction to FUG YOU by Ed Sanders. (which i highly recommend, especially due to the high quality surrealist poetry) ("When the mode of the music changes the walls of the city shake.--Tuli Kupferberg adapted (and considerably improved) from Damon of Athens, ca. 460 B.C" from the opening page of FUG YOU: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, The Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side.--Ed Sanders. ).

Eric Wagner has correlated extensive research into RAWs affection for the music of Beethoven and Bach in particular that will be explored on his upcoming class at the Maybelogic Academy. RAW certainly liked orchestral music and Jazz. I would estimate jazz of the 'cool' period. RAW seemed to me to simply enjoy relaxing music. Yet, further more i feel that Jazz as a music form, and free jazz and the avant garde forms have an affinity with RAW's hologramic prose on some level.

Maybe i can take this opportunity to tantalize RAW heads to a new RAW website/museum which has been in progress for over 12 months alongside aerosol graffiti legend and digital design master CHU. /

Although the new RAW panorama site is accesible through conventional web brousers, lap tops and home computers, it takes advantage of the newer IOS systems and incorporates giroscopic intelligence and augmented reality features. Combined with the large array of multimedia content and support from the RAW estate, Matt Black of Ninjatune and deepleaf productions, it presents a state of the art project, dedicated to the life works and panoramic perceptions of RAW. I look forward to sharing more news about the launch of this new site very soon.

Q. Well, then, what can we expect when RAW360 launches?

Alike many other virtual technologies RAW360 remains difficult to describe. At first glance it might look to some people like a first person shooter game due to the sensation of exploring, zooming in and out, and interacting with the hotspots: responsive areas containing multi media surprises, audio, video, image, text. Unlike a first person shooter game you are actually inside a RAW museum/library discovering and uncovering exhibits. We are looking to expand and continue developing into next year as new content and partners get on board. Please contact me by email if you wish to recieve updates and/or have anything you wish to share.

Q. I looked up Wordsley, your hometown. You grew up very close to Birmingham, a big music city. You weren't far from Wales, with all of the history and myth that entails. England is not a very big country, so by definition you could easily travel to Stonehenge, the Saxon Shore, Hadrian's Wall, etc. etc. It sounds wonderful to me, but I understand you envy people who grew up in the United States, as I did. What is it about the U.S. that fascinates you?

What fascinates me about the U.S very generally is what i have come to view as the anarchist libertarian tradition that reaches right back to 1776, and beyond that, if you begin to view Native American Indian tribalism exhibiting basic anarchist libertarian principles. I feel very lucky to have met and to have studied with some of the great American's that most fascinate me: RAW, John Sinclair, John C. Lilly, Jack Sarfatti, Paul Krassner, R.U Sirius, Mark Pesce and a host of literally hundreds of boundary dissolving artists, musicians, poets and generally libertarian optimists. I might also substitute the term 'anarchist libertarian' with '1960's U.S consciousness movement' as describing why the above characters embody my fascination with Unistat.

Q. How did it come about that you traveled to the U.S. and actually met RAW late in his life?

Thats a question i have spent a lot of time thinking about. In the most basic sense I contacted the Prophets Conference now called 'The Great Rethinking' i think, and ordered a ticket for the Sante Fe, New Mexico, event held 14th-17th April 2000, with some help from Birmingham reggae band UB40. But RAW fell ill shortly before the event and cancelled his appearence. RAW falling ill was the twist of fate that led to me meeting him in person since the Prophets took pity on my pilgimage from the UK to hear RAW speak, and so offered me a golden ticket: would i like to be RAW's caregiver at the December conference in Palm Springs, they asked me by email one day. Yes, yes, I say yes. I said. Nearly two years later i simply travelled to his home, rang his doorbell and asked to come in and interview him, he obliged and this led to the most memorable day of my life, some of which is captured in my interview published in the Maybe Logic Quarterly magazine. RAW proved himself to me that day as the cheerful, generous and intellectual giant i suspected. I regret to say that the audio from this interview has been lost during my recent movements.

On another level it came about that I traveled to the U.S to meet RAW due to Carl Jung's dream about Liverpool. At least i deduct that RAW came into my orbit in the UK by way of the KLF, the Illuminatus! stage performance, Ken Campbell's Science Fiction Theatre of Dream Language and Pun, and so Carl Jung's dream which influenced both the name of the theatre, and the contents of the production: Wilson and Shea's Illuminatus! This syncro net is explored in Cosmic Trigger 1, on page 223.

Q. Why did you decide to live in Amsterdam?

Well i thought that might be obvious, it's the quality weed and the blow jobs. I mean it's the holographic principle of Dutch Nobel Prized physicist Gerard T'Hooft, and the tessellated genius of M.C Escher, the relative cultural diversity and fabled Dutch tolerence, the unpredicatable weather and the...waffles. I decided to live here due to landing a job that could fascilitate that dream, and enable me to continue my studies. I shot weed in a coffeeshop and recently graced the New York Times on page 9 in an article about the proposed new restrictions on foreigners freedoms in Amsterdam.

Behind the bar at Amsterdam’s 420 Cafe last month, Steven Pratt showed marijuana products to customers from Romania. (Original New York Times caption. Photo credit: Michel de Groot for the International Herald Tribune)

Why have you spoken up to defend Wikileaks? Do  you see it as an antidote to government militarism and secrecy?

Yes, the antidote, or at least a working alternative medicine for the sick and dying centralized processes that seems to cripple information flow. The corporate militarism and a Pyramid structured secrecy policy of most business practice seems to be failing humanity. I have spoken up, or thrown down written support to defend Wikileaks for a few reasons, the first is that Wikileaks ruined some of my favourite conspiracy theories by providing new data sets by which to deduce 'what the hell is going on'. In particular in the dark recesses of international finance capitalism, the revolving doors and oily lubricants employed by governments, surveillance industry companies and spook agencies, for example. To repeat a familiar cliche' i think that RAW would have supported Wikileaks and continued to cheer the open source revolution and principles that aspire to scientific journalism. RAW, like Buckminster Fuller, identified with decentralization principles, and so Wikileaks, to my mind, seems a watershed moment for a working example of decentralized principle, a methodology in action. And in resonance with some of Giordano Bruno’s ideas, and McLuhan’s and Bucky Fuller’s.

Secondly, i support Wikileaks due to its whole new style of communication and furthermore propose that in some sense Wikileaks may constitute a new tale of the tribe for the 21st century: a new global epic including history; or a collection of multi-media snapshots into the recent past that detail who said what and when and where, plus data fields of once secret messages between Governments, spooks and Global Corps., and, all this information decoded from a once encrypted scrambled up secret Joyce like nat-language, and juxtaposed into a higher order of meaning.  I sincerely hope that one day some bright and brave soul might set a Wikileaks glossing of 'the tale of the tribe' to verse, so we might have something to stand with the Cantos of Ezra Pound, and/or Joyce's Wake: a modern verse epic including history, something to make you leap up for joy and laugh your ass off, and something that make the soul soar with compassion for tragic suffering.

Why did you get interested in Amanita Muscaria, and why do you use it in your  DJ name?

Like most things in retrospect there remains a complex of origins, and the more i think about it the more i surprise myself. For example, in response to the name a) i used to be a competitive Butterfly swimmer, 2) i gained the nickname ‘fly by night’ at an RnB club I once worked at, and 3) when i discovered RAW's Cosmic Trigger chapter titled Dope and Divinity, I had a Joyce-like Epiphany. (as i write this, a marching band marched by outside my front door, 3.00 P.M, 23/6/12) I read Andrija Puharich, R. Gordon Wasson, John Allegro and Robert Graves as a direct result of this chapter, and 4) when I discovered that Amanita Muscaria was the 24th entry in the index to Cosmic Trigger, Fly Agaric 23 was born out into the world. However, my academic pursuits lay dormant under gestation for the most part until I travelled to the U.S and found some of the others. In particular, RAW himself and the gang of brilliant critters orbiting the Maybe Logic Academy who together helped kick me into writing more sincerely, regular forum and blog postings, and shed loads of quality esoteric reading materials. I was swimming through thousands upon thousands of RAW resources and sources.

Besides my private RÁW related studies i have been performing, producing and DJ'ing music for 20 years, and until my fly agaric 23 epiphany occurred around 1995 I did not have an artist name, if that’s what you call it? so ever since that moment I developed Fly Agaric 23 as a meme spore that i hoped might connect and grow alongside the gazillions of bits flying around cyberspace. I also like the Amanita Muscaria glossing of Christmas and the possible psychedelic shamanic revolution someday usurping Jesus Christ, Coca Cola and the Queen's Xmas speech. I only tried Amanita Muscaria once at a very low dose, and the results were mildly sensational but not really my cup of tea, but the experience did lead to a creative burst of energy and interest in shamanic drumming.

I might also take this opportunity of my first ever interview (thanks again TOM) to address some theories about Amanita Muscaria and its probable use among early hominids and in mythological symbolism, and use Maybe Logic to disperse any creepy messiah complex clinging to any Jesuspect Stereotype such as Fly Agaric 23. The book: Ploughing the clouds: The search for Irish Soma by Peter Lamborn Wilson remains my favourite text on the subject, due to his anarchist-poetic glossing of the data field, and his critical thinking and prize picked specimens. To me PLW manages to apply Maybe Logic to the question of SOMA without identifying any particular species of plant or drug, but instead detailing how SOMA contains a complex of origins and symbolic similarities across cultures from African and Vedic India, to Irish Celtic hyperborean.

What are your favorite Robert Anton Wilson books? What is your favorite book to recommend to a RAW newbie?

I have a particular affinity for Coincidance, which is probably one of RAW's more difficult books and which opens with a riot of Joyce scholarship, moving through a series of Jazz Haiku's, Bell and Bohm Quantum Physics, Synchronicity pieces, a fantastic interview with Sean Mcbride (Nobel Prize and Lenin Peace prize), prose Cut-Up's and more Joycean Taoist Magick. All in all In all, I view Coincidance as an explicit example of RAW's Holographic prose style, or Hermetic style, or his Hologrammic Prose.

I would recommend Cosmic Trigger I as a first book for a RAW newbie, followed by 'Reality is what you can get away with', a surrealist screen play and, good for a Boobie, followed by Everything is under Control' his encyclopaedia of Conspiracy happenings, perfect for a Doobie.


Eric Wagner said...

Very interesting. Thanks to both of you. It makes me want to go back to Amsterdam and read Giordano Bruno.

PQ said...

Great interview of one of my favorite entities on the interwebs.

michael said...

I just finished reading Fug You, by Ed Sanders, a history surrounding his famous Peace Eye bookstore in the East Village. Sometimes you find disincarnate strangers on the Internet whose personalities show through from across the world and you think, "This is my brethren!"

I feel that way with Pratt - who I've never met. The same goes with a lot of those who comment in these spaces.

Fly Pratt - not a pratfall - infectious enthusiasm in the best sense.

Thanks for the interview, T-Jack.

Steve Fly Agaric said...

@Eric, yes come visit Amsterdam anytime and we can read Bruno and tour the city.

@PQ, cheers, happy you got a buzz mate.

@michael, thanks, that's one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said about my name ;) cheers Bruv.

@tom, i can honestly say this experience changed my life, and helped me to piece parts of it together in new ways, for that i am eternally grateful.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Thanks the for interview Steve, you're great to work with.

As an update, the link to Steve's new group now works. Steve plays drums with the group.

Eric Wagner said...

That sounds cool, Steve. Perhaps Dr. Johnson could join us and we could meditate on Italy between the days of Bruno and Vico.

Happy Friday the 13th. Mr. DJ, you might enjoy this cool radio show: . I have last Friday's show playing right now. Before that I listened to "Friday the Thirteenth" by Thelonius Monk performed by Joe Henderson. (Does anyone care? Well, I find myself in a Friday the Thirteenth mood. I picked up a Stephen King novel off the shelf this morning and read two pages in honor of the day and found myself hooked so I plan to read it this week instead of what I had planned.)

Speaking of cool dj's, I love Rafi Zabor's show .

Anonymous said...

Nice interview, and I have much to read now that these links are up, I am looking forward to your new website. it sounds interesting.

Rasa said...

I think Bob would have loved the idea of RAW360 - and the name especially as it suggests the possibilities of a full spectrum of maybes. I just had the thought - maybe in one room you could have a literal representation of Maybe Logic by presenting the visitor with several doors that lead to differing reality tunnels that explore the same topic. Of course to follow that idea to it's logical result, an infinity of tunnels would need to be presented, and RAW360 would eventually envelop the whole of internet - I could live with that.

Dava Sheridan said...

"Great interview Mr. Fly Pratt, ....a compelling window one can glimpse into the world of Robert Anton Wilson and you Steve, Fly Agaric 23, a well read scholar this this quote and challenge to the poets of the world!....."I sincerely hope that one day some bright and brave soul might set a Wikileaks glossing of 'the tale of the tribe' to verse, so we might have something to stand with the Cantos of Ezra Pound, and/or Joyce's Wake: a modern verse epic including history, something to make you leap up for joy and laugh your ass off, and something that make the soul soar with compassion for tragic suffering." Best wishes...Dava Sheridan"