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

Friday, November 30, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Quantum Psychology, the online discussion

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Robert Shea's letters policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quantum Psychology: Final Chapter

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

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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

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

Here is more information on Radio Eris.

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

'Truth Comes on Swift Wings' by RAW

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

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

Friday, November 23, 2012

Radio Eris is on the air

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

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

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

Update: The book is for sale on Amazon.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

'How to Operate Your Brain' by Timothy Leary

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New book on the KLF and RAW

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

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

"You know, all the good stuff."

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

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

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

Naturally, I asked him about that.

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Scholars crack secret society's code

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 22

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

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

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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The missing prologues

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

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

Here is my favorite bit from the Golden Apple prologue:

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

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

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

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bogus Magus' Illuminatus! studies site

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dennis Kucinich on the national security state

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The lost art of paying attention

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

RAW on daytime TV talk show

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 21

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

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

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

B. This exercize contains 13 propositions.

C. All propositions in this exercize are false.

D. No good cop ever takes a bribe.

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

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

G. Proposition B is false.

H. Proposition G. is false.

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dan Clore's 'weird' books

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

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

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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cultural notes

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

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

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

Assorted links and bits

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pretty good interview

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe Logic is a label that got stuck on my ideas by filmmaker Lance Bauscher. I decided it fits. I certainly recognize the central importance in my thinking -- or in my stumbling and fumbling efforts to think -- of non-Aristotelian systems. That includes von Neumann's three-valued logic [true, false, maybe], Rappoport's four-valued logic [true, false, indeterminate, meaningless], Korzybski's multi-valued logic [degrees of probability.] and also Mahayana Buddhist paradoxical logic [it "is" A. it "is" not A, it "is" both A and not A, it "is" neither A nor not A]. But, as an extraordinarily stupid fellow, I can't use such systems until I reduce them to terms a simple mind like mine can handle, so I just preach that we'd all think and act more sanely if we had to use "maybe" a lot more often. Can you imagine a world with Jerry Falwell hollering "Maybe Jesus 'was' the son of God and maybe he hates Gay people as much as I do" -- or every tower in Islam resounding with "There 'is' no God except maybe Allah and maybe Mohammed is his prophet"? The Snafu law holds that, the greater your power to punish, the less factual feedback you will receive. If you can fire people for telling you what you don't want to hear, you will only hear what you want. This law seems to apply to all authoritarian contraptions, especially governments and corporations. Concretely, I suspect Bozo knows factually less about the world than any dogcatcher in Biloxi. The Cosmic Schmuck law holds that [1] the more often you suspect you may be thinking or acting like a Cosmic Schmuck, the less of a Cosmic Schmuck you will become, year by year, and [2] if you never suspect you might think or act like a Cosmic Schmuck, you will remain a Cosmic Schmuck for life.

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012: The Libertarians won

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier'

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

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

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

Monday, November 5, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. The cold war;

C. The average divorce;

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

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Richard Brautigan's papers pretty heady stuff

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

Via the ever brainy Michael Johnson.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

RAW explains how Obama 'won' again

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 2, 2012

Left libertarianism symposium announced

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 1, 2012

'Nothing is really lost'

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

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

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

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

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