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

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.”

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