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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Frederik Pohl's blog

The very first science fiction magazine I can remember buying, the July 1972 issue of "Fantasy and Science Fiction," included a short story by Frederik Pohl, "Shaffery Among the Immortals." Pohl is famous as a science fiction author, editor, literary agent and fan (he was a member of the legendary Futurians). Now 92, he blogs about all of this, and includes candid anecdotes about Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov and other famous authors.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

PQ on 'Finnegans Wake' and chess

PQ, immersed in Finnegans Wake, discusses a passage that refers to chess and detects a possible reference to Marcel Duchamp's famous painting, "Nude Descending a Staircase." He finds links from chess to Aleister Crowley and to Robert Anton Wilson:

It was The Rza, Abbott of the Wu-Tang Clan who first taught me about the depth of chess, pointing out (among other things) the importance of the number 64, there being 64 squares on a chess board as well as 64 different possible combinations of pieces that make up DNA, 64 hexagrams in the I-Ching and a few other such examples. Robert Anton Wilson discusses all of this in connection with Finnegans Wake in his spectacular book Coincidance (he's also got a short essay on chess in The Illuminati Papers that will make your head explode; and in another piece discusses it all in regards to the Law of Octaves).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bobby Campbell relaunching 'Agnosis'

Bobby Campbell has announced that he is relaunching Agnosis, his comic book adventure series, at the Maybe Logic weblog.

I'm very happy to announce that the latest and greatest relaunch of the world's weirdest comic adventure is set to commence on Monday, October, 1st 2012 right here at the Only Maybe weblog.

New episodes of AGNOSIS! will be posted here every Monday and Wednesday morning.

Some people are pretty familiar w/ early drafts of the first 40 pages or so, but I reckon they've been made new enough to warrant another gander, even if only to gaze in wonder at Marcelino's beautiful artwork!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Stanislav Petrov Saves the World Day

This sounds like something out of Illuminatus! but it seems to be true: On Sept. 26, 1983, a Russian officer named Stanislav Petrov was the on duty officer watching out for a nuclear attack from the U.S. when the early warning system showed that  a missile had been launched by the United States. Petrov  concluded (correctly) that it was a false alarm, thereby avoiding a chain of events that could have resulted in an accidental nuclear war.

I missed Happy Stanislav Petrov Saves the World Day, but Supergee doesn't miss much.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'Why Politics Are Bad for Us'

When I read Gene Healy's column on "Why Politics Are Bad for Us" it reminded me of many of RAW's writings on tribalism and politics. I liked these lines:

Politics makes us worse because "politics is the mindkiller," as intelligence theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky puts it. "Evolutionary psychology produces strange echoes in time," he writes, "as adaptations continue to execute long after they cease to maximize fitness." We gorge ourselves sick on sugar and fat, and we indulge our tribal hard-wiring by picking a political "team" and denouncing the "enemy."

Healy's excellent book, The Cult of the Presidency, apparently is still available as a free ebook. I read it earlier this year.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Members of Illuminati' blog

The Members of Illuminati blog purports to track which celebrities are members of the secret conspiracy. This is the blog to visit to learn that "Adam Weishaupt was a professor of cannon law." The deadpan-serious blog also reveals that LeBron James is a member of the Illuminati. Many Cleveland sports fans would agree.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 14

[In this chapter, the exercizes seem appropriate for an online group, so I reproduce them here. -- The Mgt.]

1. The Cold War, now seemingly coming to a close, last 45 years. Discuss the role of self-fulfilling prophecies in American and Russian foreign policy during that 45 years. Discuss especially the Arms Race.

2. Children, psychologists say, tend to believe things literally. Discuss the following parental utterances and how they might function as self-fulfilling prophecies; discuss also if any of you heard these in childhood and have accepted them as Life Scripts ever since:

A. You never do anything right.
B. You're so lazy you're going to end up on welfare.
C. You have a terrible temper. You are going to hurt somebody seriously someday.
D. You've never been a healthy child.
E. Don't ever let me catch you doing that again.
F. You're going to get fat as a pig, the way you eat.
G. You're just not as smart as your brother.
H. Don't touch that part of your body again or you might go crazy.

3. Discuss the following Game Rules as self-fulfilling prophecies:

A. "The poor you will always have with you." (J. Christ).
B. "Jews make the best doctors."
C. "We will  put a man on the moon within a decade." (J. Kennedy)
D. "We don't have the money to build more housing."
E. "We will build the Star Wars technology and place it in orbit, no matter how much it costs."
F. "The masses are feminine. They want a strong man to lead them." (A. Hitler)
G. "All men are created equal ... and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ... among these rights is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (T. Jefferson).
H. "Someday we can abolish hunger" (various 19th century Futurists).
I. "We can abolish hunger by 1995." (R. Buckminster Fuller).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A mysterious Bible verse

Over at Overweening Generalist, Michael Johnson riffs on an interesting verse from the Bible, and posts a really good picture of Eris.

Also, PQ puts together quotes from Robert Anton Wilson, Euripides and Robert Ingersoll and recommends a book discussion group.  Thanks, PQ!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

More on alternative currencies

We have had a couple of distractions around here  lately -- I've been sick with a cold and our new roof leaks -- so I'm a bit behind on the blog and on posting comments in the Quantum Psychology discussion. I will get caught up when I can.

In the meantime, following up on this post on a private currency in Yellow Springs, Ohio, here is an article from Time magazine about alternative currencies. Thanks to John Merritt for the link.

Friday, September 21, 2012

'Finnegans Wake' in Chinese

Finnegans Wake has been translated into Chinese -- or at least part one has, which I guess leaves the Chinese readers hanging on how the book comes out. The article offers information on the translator's approach:

In the translated work, Dai keeps about half of the author's original words, and has put down every possible meaning of some complicated words that have rich meanings as footnotes.

Via a post by Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Philip K. Dick festival this weekend

What if they had a science fiction convention devoted to only one author? This seems to be the idea behind the Philip K. Dick Festival being held this weekend in San Francisco. Cool, and perhaps someday Robert Anton Wilson will be able to attract that kind of attention.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

'The Gospel of Jesus' Wife'

From the New York Times: "A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife ...’ ”

More here.

Of course, this will interest anyone who has read Robert Anton Wilson's The Widow's Son. Naturally, it will also interest Dan Brown fans, and anyone who has read Holy Blood, Holy Grail (which influenced Brown, but RAW was there first.)

Hat tip, Henry Baum.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oz Fritz on Musical Gnosis (part two)

In a posting on Musical Gnosis, Oz Fritz mentions both Brian Eno and John Coltrane and makes this assertion:

I began to entertain the notion that the mood of a space can recorded onto a reproducible medium from cleaning up and mastering hundreds of talk tapes in E. J. Gold's archive recordings which date from the '60's. Sometimes the intense mood given off had a much stronger effect than the words being said. I've heard Robert Anton Wilson talk tapes that also have this quality. The atmosphere around these talks communicates something as well.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 13

[Most of the exercizes for this chapter seem to require sitting in a room with other people, but here is the first one, which I think will work for us.

Also, for this week's duality, please divide this objects into "American" and "un-American." The U.S.  Congress used to devise the very same duality for American citizens. The list of objects is here. -- The Mgt.]

1. Have the group experiment with rewriting the following Standard English sentences into English Prime. Observe carefully what disagreements or irritability may arise.

A. "The fetus is a person."
B. "The zygote is a person."
C. "Every sperm is a person/Every sperm is great/If a sperm is wasted/God gets irate." (Monty Python).
D. "Pornography is murder." (Andrea Dworkin.)
E. "John is homosexual."
F. "The table is four feet long."
G. "The human brain is a computer."
H. "When I took LSD, the whole universe was transformed."
I.  "Beethoven was paranoid, Mozart was manic-depressive and Wagner was megalomaniac."
J. "Today is Tuesday."
K. "Lady Chatterley's Lover is a sexist novel."
L. "Mice, voles and rabbits are all rodents."
M. "The patient is resisting therapy."
N. "Sin and redemption are theological fictions. The sense of sin and the sense of redemption are actual human experiences." (Paraphrased from Ludwig Wittgenstein.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

John Merritt on politics

John Merritt decides to reduce the stress in his life:

 Later on, I decided that I really had to make some major changes when I got back to the US, and one of those was avoiding those whose life revolve around politics -- feral primate behavior, as Robert Anton Wilson once called it. Almost all of these are my approximately my age, and don't seem to have anything else to occupy their minds with. Me, I'm reading Yukio Mishima's Spring Snow -- and hope to read the other tree novels in the series -- and have just finished Jonathan Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein (more on that later). I've pretty much quit reading any blog that deals primarily with polyticks, and this has seemed to have helped my mental health considerably. Man may be a political animal -- as Aristotle once quipped -- but if the troop is headed for the cliff I see no reason to be equally stupid.

More interesting stuff at The Hamon's Patttern, including the dwarf planet named Eris.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Michael Johnson on Vico

Michael Johnson has a post (and I'm a little late in getting to it, sorry) on Vico, an influence on James Joyce and on RAW. Be sure you read the comments, where Michael is in dialogue with Bobby Campbell and Eric Wagner.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Private currency in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Jesse Walker blogs about private currency in Yellow Springs Ohio during the Great Depression. "I've been curious about that Yellow Springs money ever since I saw a passing reference to it in the Illuminatus! trilogy," Jesse explains.

Robert Anton Wilson discusses living in Yellow Springs in Cosmic Trigger 2. And you'll recall that Simon Moon in Illuminatus! attended Antioch College, located in Yellow Springs.

Jesse's invaluable Twitter site is here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

RAW on James Joyce and Joseph Campbell

The Only Maybe blog has posted a long interview with Robert Anton Wilson on James Joyce, and also on Joseph Campbell and also on Giovanni Bautista Vico. The posting includes video and a transcript.

A couple of RAW quotes from the interview: "To me it’s not only the greatest novel ever written, it’s the greatest poem ever written, the greatest detective story ever written, and the most entertaining work in all literature, and as William York Tindall of Columbia says, it’s the funniest and dirtiest book in the world.   People are intimidated by it.  If the publishers just had the sense to put on the cover, “the funniest and dirtiest book in the world - Tindall, Columbia”, it would sell a lot better, and people would make the effort to decipher it."

"My style is heavily influenced by Joyce; everything that I do has a Joycean element in it."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Maybe libertarianism IS advancing?

I've wondered why libertarian ideas never seem to get much traction in society at large, but perhaps my time horizon is a little too small. A Reason obit for Ronald Hamowy, the libertarian scholar, written by the important scholar of libertarianism, Brian Doherty, makes the point that libertarianism has, in fact, come a long way:

While he embraced libertarianism for both truth and fellowship, he [Hamowy] told me he was never expecting its ideas to conquer the world--though he was surprised at how far the movement he and his pals helped launch in the 1950s had progressed by the 21st century.

"I thought we were doomed to fail, if we got 50 people in the world who agreed that would be great," he told me. "I still think we’re doomed," he said, laughing. "But now we have more than 50. I really believed [libertarianism] was correct, and I wasn’t going to adopt incorrect views because they were popular, but I didn’t think we were going to go anywhere."

Doherty's article explains Hamowy's role in the movement and links to other articles. Doherty's book on the movement, Radicals for Capitalism, has a chapter that focuses on Robert Anton Wilson.

Here's a great anecdote about Hamowy and Ayn Rand, from Stephen Cox's obit:

One person who resisted Ronald was Ayn Rand. As one of the young libertarians (Ronald’s friend Murray Rothbard was another) who were invited to her apartment for intellectual discussions, he was cast into oblivion after a difference of opinion about . . . Rachmaninoff. Guests were asked to say who their favorite composers were, and when Rand’s turn came, she said “Rachmaninoff,” with specific reference to his second piano concerto. “Why?” Ronald asked. “Because he was the most rational,” Rand responded. At which Ronald laughed, thinking it must be a joke. He knew that the composer had dedicated that concerto to his psychiatrist — and anyway, rationality had nothing to do with its greatness. But Ronald’s laughter resulted in exile, and the loss of friends who were dear to him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Philip K. Dick and RAW, the anthology

Have you noticed that Philip K. Dick fans tend to be Robert Anton Wilson fans, and vice versa? Probably you have. Before I discovered Illuminatus! in college in the 1970s, I read and enjoyed Dick (i.e., I read him before he was "cool."

Ted Hand, the hard-working Philip K. Dick scholar, has a long blog post about the two writers that seems to collect and link to much of what RAW wrote about PKD.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 12

[I reproduce here Robert Anton Wilson's original exercizes, although I would argue that researching and presenting  almost any theory or ideology that most of us would reject also would work -- The Mgt.]

1. Let one member of the group write to the Flat Earth Research Society. Let him or her present to the group some good arguments that the flatness model of Earth fits the facts better than the sphere model.

Let all members attempt to listen calmly, rationally, objectively.

Let all members observe that this attempt to listen without prejudice seems very much more difficult than you would expect in advance.

2. Let another member of the group similarly research and present a defense of Islam (especially its attitude toward women.)

Again, attempt to listen without prejudice, and observe how hard this seems.

3. Let another member research the brilliant scientist Nikola Tesla, father of alternating current grids, and present to the group Tesla's reasons for rejecting Relativity.

4. Let another member research and present the case against Evolution.

Again: More profit will come from doing these exercizes than from merely reading about them.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Couple of Changes

I've altered the links on the right side of the page, adding a "Sangha" section to make it easier to keep up with blogs that likely would be of interest to many of you.

I've also set up a new area to make it easy to access all of the chapters in Quantum Psychology that have been discussed so far, and to make it easier for new visitors to the site to get caught up, if they so chose. When we are finished, the links will be there for anyone who wants to read the book and join the discussion. I will probably re-read the book right away when we are finished, and go through all of the comments again.

Off topic: I have launched a new blog, Please consider taking a look if you are interested in science fiction.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Politics of Pot

Three states actually have measures on the ballot this fall to legalize marijuana: Colorado, Oregon and Washington. The news comes via Jacob Sullum, who closely follows drug matters for Reason magazine.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A letter in Playboy magazine

Here is a nice goodie, courtesy of Jesse Walker: A letter to the Playboy Advisor asking about the Illuminati, and the magazine's reply. You can read it here.

Mr. Walker explains that the letter purporting to be from a reader was cooked up by Robert Anton Wilson, an editor at "Playboy" at the time, possibly in collaboration with Kerry Thornley and also includes a reply written by RAW.

"A portion of this appeared in Illuminatus!, but not all of it. From the April 1969 issue," Walker says.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

RAW and Ralph Nader

A note from one of our British correspondents,  Nick Helweg-Larsen:

I was wondering if you would do a post which would lead to discussion etc. on RAWs thoughts on Ralph Nader. I get the impression he didn't like him. eg. in Reality is What You Can Get Away With:

Just tell us about the Space Brothers, please.

Well, they look like dwarfs, and they’re all Ralph Nader fans. They kept talking about wearing your seat belt when you drive and eating wholesome foods and never farting in church.

and from a quick Google: RAW says, "Every time I have to attach a seat belt I say 'God damn Ralph Nader' ..."

Do you think it was uncomfortable to him with his polio, or he was just grumbling, wanted the choice of seat belt/no seatbelt etc.?

My  guess would be the latter -- I figure RAW didn't like being told what to do -- but what do the rest of you think?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Assorted links

The conspiracy theorist as artist (hat tip, John Merritt and Jesse Walker). Lots of counterculture stuff at the  blog, which was new to me.

The Brandy of the Damned is out in paperback.

An artist listens to Robert Anton Wilson as she paints.

Lots of interesting book reviews from Michael Johnson.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Eric Wagner, Sept. 15, in Anaheim

Eric Wagner will give a talk on "The Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness" developed by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson and discussed in many of Wilson's writings (notably, in Prometheus Rising.) His talk will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 15 at The Learning Light Foundation, 1212 East Lincoln Avenue, Anaheim, Calif. Eric is the author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, still available from Amazon and other outlets. Information on Eric's upcoming online course at Maybe Logic Academy is here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 11

I love this sentence from the chapter, about maps or models of the universe: "Some maps seem to contain fairly large areas of fiction, also -- a possibility we always seem to remember when considering other people's ideas but quickly forget when considering our own."

The second exercize in the chapter seems meant for a group meeting together so I've omitted it, but here is the first:

Brief Exercise:

Meditate on the differences between the two sentences following, and note how coding (typographical convention) helps us distinguish between the two meanings:

1. Water is not a word.

2. "Water" is a word.

Got it? No, you probably haven't. Not yet. You only think you've got it ...

Also, returning to an earlier exercise in dividing objects into two categories, Eric Wagner suggests dividing them into "good" and "bad." Here is the list of objects; Eric suggested the images, although I lost Eric's turkey feather and had to substitute another one.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

RAW and his editors

I've mentioned before that Robert Anton Wilson didn't seem to have much good to say about any of his editors, and Michael Johnson makes much the same point in his comment to yesterday's post, which I've "promoted from the comments" for today's post:

RAW was a lot like Pound here: he held publishers (and others who would seek to alter his words, like editors!) with contempt. Pound eventually had James Laughlin, fer cryin' out loud! Nary the encomium for Laughlin in Ez's later work.

 I think RAW's attitude toward potential handlers of his work really hurt him, because he answered that Falcon/New Falcon let him publish what he wanted. But he did need at least a pro proofreader (the Falcon stuff seems riddled with typos and RAW often gets names wrong); but the worst thing about NF was their poor distribution and they spent, it seems, ZERO on promotion.

I had long held out hope that RAW had kept a secret stash of his correspondence; when I asked him if he had that he said no. NOW: he could've been paranoid about THAT, too, if we only take into account what the FBI did with Michael Horowitz when they wanted Leary's papers.

But this is conjecture. As for now, I'll consider Joe Schlabotnick as the guy who worked at Dell and talked the brass into publishing it. Someone said he was "cute."

My comment: James Laughlin was the founder of  the publisher New Directions. RAW, typecast as a science fiction writer, generally had editors for  his novels who were science fiction book editors. But his editors were among the best in the business. David Hartwell, the editor for Schroedinger's Cat and Cosmic Trigger 1, is a legendary editor (he edited Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, and founded the New York Review of Science Fiction, still going strong.)

Jim Frenkel helped keep Illuminatus! in print and edited a couple of the "Historical Illuminatus!" books. His copyeditor for The Widow's Son, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, a big RAW fan and well-known as a fan, copyeditor and blogger, worked very hard to fix the mistakes in the book, as I documented. 

I can't remember any interviews where RAW refers to any of these folks. The only editor I can remember he ever had anything good to say about was Paul Krassner, in Coincidance, whom he thanks for giving RAW's writing space in The Realist when RAW had trouble getting published elsewhere.

The Shea article on Larry Shaw shows, perhaps, a more realistic and fair attitude toward editors, so perhaps the answer to who bought Illuminatus! is somewhere in Shea's writings.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More on the search for an Illuminatus! editor

Well, I still don't know the name of the editor who bought Illuminatus!, my posting topic a couple of days ago, but I've coaxed a couple of good jokes out of Arthur Hlavaty. Linking to my post at his Supergee blog, he wrote, "I think it's incredibly appropriate that we can't find the editor who originally bought Illuminatus!"

In a comment to my post, he wrote, "At around the time the manuscript arrived, someone brought in a coffee  urn." (It's a reference to  the coffee urn is how Markoff Chaney is smuggled around in Illuminatus!; example here.)

Commenting on the Larry Shaw piece reprinted yesterday, Michael Johnson remarks that if Shaw had played a role in getting Illuminatus! published, it's odd that Shea  never mentions it in his essay. Fair enough, and this leads me to an observation: Whichever editor bought the work played a huge role in the writing careers of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Shouldn't they have written, somewhere, "I'll always be grateful that Joe Schlabotnick at Dell took a chance on us when we were unknowns by buying Illuminatus!" Have I just missed it?