Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Skepticism and Buddhism

Skepticism and an interest in Buddhism shows up in many of Robert Anton Wilson's writings. After reading a mention of the Greek Skeptic philosophers in Chapter 6 of Quantum Psychology, and a mention of the Greek Skeptic philosopher Pyrrho in a recent blog post at Overweening Generalist and looking up Pyrrho in my Oxford Classical Dictionary, I remembered reading a review in Bryn Mawr Classical Review of a book arguing that Greek Skepticism was derived from Buddhism. The book is Pyrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism by Adrian Kuzminski.

The reviewer, Jerker Blomqvist,  regards the thesis as interesting and plausible but not quite proven: "Undoubtedly, Kuzminski raises an important question regarding the ancestry of Western philosophy. He records an impressive number of parallels between Greek and Indian philosophy, and in particular his analysis of the analogy between Pyrrhonist/sceptic ataraxia and Nagarjuna's 'emptiness' is notable. However, analogies, similarities, parallels or whatever you will call them are one thing, concrete proof of influence and interdependence is another. We do not know enough about the contacts between Greece and India in order to make the interchange of ideas a proven fact. Explicit references in the preserved texts are missing and, unlike durable artifacts, ideas leave no traces in the archaeological remains. Traveling between the two regions obviously did take place. It is not unlikely that it had an impact in the intellectual sphere too, so, like genuine followers of Pyrrhon, Sextus and their adherents, we have reason to continue searching (skeptesthai) for reliable knowledge in these matters. Kuzminski's book points the way."

Pyrrho and other Greek philosophers apparently accompanied Alexander the Great, whose army reached India.

Blomqvist notes that while Kuzminski's book was the first in English to posit a connection between Greek Skeptical philosophers and Buddhism, two previous books had argued for a connection, one in Romanian and one in French.

Here is a publication at Project Gutenberg on Greek Skepticism.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 6

[I'm hoping the exercizes will work for us and I have not made any changes -- Tom]

1. Weather permitting, leave the house, go outside to the street and look around. How much of what you see would have existed if humans had not designed and built it? How much that "just grew there" would look different if humans had not cultivated and encouraged (or polluted) it?

2. Look at the sky. If you can distinguish stars from planets, can identify some of them, etc., try to forget this knowledge and imagine how the sky looks to very intelligent animals without human science. Then look at it again with your knowledge of astronomy back in focus.

3. If a meteor passes, how does it make you feel when trying to see without scientific glosses? How differently do you feel when you allow  yourself to remember what you know of meteors?

4. Go back inside and discuss this:
If all TV shows about the police (about 20 a week in most areas) went off the air and instead we had an equal number of TV shows about landlords, would this change the average American reality-tunnel?
In how many ways would the reality-tunnel change?
What would Americans "see" (or remember that they now tend to ignore? What would they become less aware of? What would they become more aware of?

5. Try to figure out why there are so many TV shows about police and virtually no shows about landlords.
Who decides this? Why have they decided it this way? (Attempt to avoid paranoid speculations or grandiose conspiracy theories, if at all possible.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oz Fritz on E.J. Gold

I spent a good chunk of my morning today reading Oz Fritz's four part blog entries on "How I Met E.J. Gold." Part one is here, and you can take it from there. E.J. Gold is a jazz musician, the  son of famed "Galaxy" editor H.L. Gold and a spiritual teacher recommended by Robert Anton Wilson. He is the author of American Book of the Dead, which Oz highly recommended in a previous post. I didn't know much about E.J. Gold before reading Oz's piece and found the Wikipedia article useful. Oz always makes very interesting connections between music and spiritual consciousness and he does a good job of presenting some of RAW's best videos.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Michael Johnson on the Cosmic Schmuck Principle

Michael Johnson at the Overweening Generalist blog writes about Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Schmuck principle and then shows how the work of various social scientists and philosophers hews closely to the principle. For example, Michael writes about Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow; I wrote about Kahneman previously, relating the book to Wilson's skepticism and model agnosticism. 

It seems to me that Wilson ought to have illustrated the Cosmic Schmuck principle with an example or two of when he himself was a Cosmic Schmuck. It would not have been too damaging to his reputation, I would think, to admit that his criticism of Bob Dylan, for example, was perhaps not the whole story. One of most affecting features of Kahneman's book is the examples he gives of times when he was wrong. For example, he once embarked with several other scholars on a textbook for Israeli schools on how to make good decisions. They discovered after they had begun work on the book that writing a textbook often takes several years. They should have abandoned the textbook at that point, but they persisted and finally completed it -- after several years. By that time, Israeli education officials had lost interest in the book.

Rather than simply insisting that everyone has should give an example of when they were mistaken, I will give an instance of when I was very wrong. After 9-11, I, in common with many other Americans, because so angry at the slaughter of so many Americans that I was ready to  hit back. I supported the war in Afghanistan (which doesn't seem totally irrational to me even know -- I didn't know we'd occupy the country for more than 10 years) and even supported the war in Iraq. Much of my politics since then essentially has been an expression of remorse for my Schmuckiness. 

And didn't you like the moment in Nixon in China when Richard Nixon sings, "I was wrong"?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mushroom site comments on Quantum Psychology

At a forum on a site devoted to -- I kid you not -- magic mushrooms, various participants debate the merits of Quantum Psychology, the book that sombunall of the folks who hang out at this site are reading and discussing. I enjoyed the interplay between the RAW skeptics and the RAW fans.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

William Burroughs photos at Dangerous Minds


Dangerous Minds,  the pop culture and lefty blog, has posted a series of photographs of William Burroughs with a variety of other folks.  Some of the pictures surprised me. Kurt Cobain? Hüsker Dü?

I asked for a Robert Anton Wilson picture in the comments, and someone known only to me as "Effy" (no link for more information) obligingly posted a link to the above photograph. (Click on it for a bigger picture.) Thank you, Effy!

Brion Gysin, sitting next to RAW, invented the cut-up technique for rearranging prose. Burroughs popularized it, and then Wilson used it for ILLUMINATUS! and other works. I hope I have that right, this time.

Eric Wagner on RAW and Burroughs is here.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A meeting with RAW, colorized

I often drop by the "Manic Doodlings" cartoon site from artist Steve Bellitt. (For those of you who don't know Mr. Bellitt, he describes himself as a "self-unemployed-indolent-amateur-cartoonist-chronic malcontent and all-around good egg.") Here is his cartoon about meeting RAW, updated and colorized for 2012.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Celebrating Robert Anton Wilson

The blogger FeralTech celebrates Robert Anton Wilson Day (which was Monday) with an essay explaining the origins of the day. 

Excerpt:

July 23rd coincides with the rising of “the Dog Star”, Sirius (the root of the term “Dog Days”) which has mystical significance for ancient cultures from the Egyptians to the Romans, to the African Dogon tribe. For me, it is has always been time for the greatest interaction with the “the cosmos”. The night skies are spectacular. The days are long, but getting shorter- garden and outdoor projects take on a greater urgency. At the same time, the heat, and all of the related malfunctions both personally and technologically that come along with it, tend to add to the “weirdness” factor. Cell phones, computers, cars etc. tend to go “on the fritz”. Animals act strangely. Insects are in full assault on all fronts. This year, the Midwestern drought adds to the biblical (or Mayan) “end times” vibe, while the skies around our little organic compound are abuzz with crop dusters bombarding the corporate monocrop corn/bean fields with pesticides, hoping to rescue what they can from the parched genetically-modified franken-plants.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter Five

[The exercizes for Chapter 5 work fine for an online group, so I've made no changes -- Tom]

1. Let the group look back at Exercize 1 at the end of Chapter Two. Try to decide how many of the propositions there, which I then asked you to force into the two categories "meaningful" and "meaningless" might fit just as well into the category of Game Rules or the resultants of tacit (unstated) Game Rules.

2. Meditate upon the following quote from Lord Russell's Our Knowledge of the External World (page 24):

The belief or unconscious conviction that all propositions are of some subject-predicate form -- in other words, that every fact consists of some thing having some quality -- has rendered most philosophers incapable of giving any account of science and daily life.


Consider the subject-predicate form as a Game Rule.

3. Contemplate the following typical subject-predicate sentences: "The lightning flashed suddenly." "It is now raining out." "I have an uncontrollable temper."

Try to identify the subject, "it" in  the sentence: "It is now raining out."

See how subject-predicate Game Rules influence the other two sentences. Can any of you restate them in  more phenomenological language?

Does any of this help you see the trick in the two-heads (or infinite heads) argument?

Also, we are supposed to give each member of the group a chance to think of a new dualism for dividing up the 13 objects listed in Chapter Four. (The list, with links to photos, is  here.) Mike Smith, a prolific recent commentator, has suggested dividing them into objects that can be used by themselves vs. ones that require something else for use.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Alexander Cockburn, RIP

The often iconoclastic and often funny leftist writer Alexander Cockburn has died; Jesse Walker has a good appreciation up at Reason's Hit and Run blog.

I'm guessing that RAW might have enjoyed some of Cockburn's writings, but can't think of a reference to Cockburn in any of RAW's books, except for this passage, from Chaos and Beyond, written by contributor Timothy Leary. In "How to Publish Heresy in Mainstream Publications," a guide to writing satirical letters to the editor under phony names, Leary writes, "If somebody like me -- or Alex Cockburn, or Noam Chomsky or even Gore Vidal -- were to submit a truly dissident essay, no matter how convincing the facts or witheringly brilliant the logic, there is very little chance that it would be published."


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beethoven -- two quotes and two links

"Anyone who understands my music will never been unhappy again," Ludwig is alleged to have said. Some biographers doubt the source from which we get this; but it doesn't matter. If he didn't say it, he might as well have; the music certainly says it for him. -- Robert Anton Wilson (from "Beethoven As Information" in The Illuminati Papers.

Beethoven's String Quartet No. 16 was the last major work he composed. It contains all the wisdom I'll ever need. -- Roman Tsivkin

Legal download (from Borromeo String Quartet) of Beethoven's 16th String Quartet. Lots more free, legal downloads of Beethoven, Mozart and other RAW favorites here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

No more acceleration of knowledge?

At Reason magazine's "Hit and Run" blog, Brian Doherty writes about Peter Thiel's recent public debate with Google's Eric Schmidt, and about how Thiel repeated his thesis that there has been a slowdown of development of new ideas in many areas of the economy. (This is also the thesis of Tyler Cowen's book, The Great Stagnation.) Writes Doherty, "Especially grim for those of who read too much Robert Anton Wilson in the early 1980s and began beliving in a "jumping Jesus" phenomenon in which our knowledge and mastery of the world would begin doubling in quicker and shorter increments, and whose retirement plans thus depended on the allegedly around-the-corner world of endless techno-wizardry that make energy production and matter manipulation as cheap as a value meal."

Obviously, some of RAW's short term technological prophecies have not panned out; we aren't migrating to space yet, or on the threshold for physical immortality. Perhaps RAW's thesis needs to be amended to note that the acceleration of knowledge doesn't apply to all fields of endeavor. (Cowen argues that the undoubted rapid development of computer technology and the Internet masks a slowdown of innovation in other areas, such as transportation.) Science fiction writer Neal Stephenson (another favorite of mine) has argued that we've failed to "think big" in recent decades; we could go into space now and do wonderful things, but we've become too risk averse.

Then again, perhaps RAW's point remains valid, even if the timetable should not be taken too literally; I  would think that advances in private space exploration such as the SpaceX company, continued developments in the Internet, biotechnology, green energy research, nanotechnology and other fields should be produce something interesting in the next decade or two. Could Thiel, Cowen, et al. be exaggerating the problem because policies that promote innovation are the most promising way to aid the economy?

Last year, I wrote a post noting that Thiel and RAW appear to have many similar interests.

Also at Hit and Run, Jesse Walker writes about the history of anti-Mormon paranoia,  noting that it has largely receded.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Synthetic drug ban already not working

Wired magazine reports that a new federal ban on synthetic drugs is already failing, because the ban can't keep up with the new formulations coming onto the market.

The obvious solution to all of the dodgy new chemical formulations — legalizing marijuana and regulating it — of course isn't on the table. RAW's Guns and Dope Party still seems a long way away. (My regular drug of choice these days is coffee -- I  do drink one beer every few days -- and I own no firearms. I am endorsing freedom, not any particular substances or weapons.)

Hat tip, Supergee.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Maybe Logic Academy news

I noticed when I looked at the Maybe Logic site that the "RAW Retrospective, live symposium, free as can be," previously scheduled for July 23, is now scheduled for Sept. 3. I don't have any other details on what's planned. Eric Wagner's Schroedinger's Cat course is now scheduled for Nov. 19. See the site for details on other events and courses; I noticed an apparently new listing for Sept. 24, "Political Wilson, online seminar with Prop Anon." The Maybe Logic blog still has the earlier dates; perhaps it could be updated with more information?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oz on RAW on reality

Oz Fritz posts a particularly good RAW video (about seven minutes) and offers useful comments. He also has been writing about E.J. Gold. Readers of a certain age will appreciate his tribute to Jon Lord of Deep Purple.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter Four

With apologies to the ghost of Robert Anton Wilson and to Eric Wagner, this is another chapter in which it is difficult to follow the exercizes as written. So I will post one, and pose a question of my own. The first is from the book (I've adapted it slightly and linked to a Picasso)

1. Let every member of the book mentally "acquire" the following 13 items:

a toy fire truck
a Barbie doll
a reproduction of a Picasso painting
a brick
a screw-driver
a hammer
a turkey feather
a piece of balsa wood
a rubber ball
a piece of hard wood, such as birch
a "ghetto blaster" (portable stereo)
a pornographic novel
a philosophical treatise by Bishop George Berkeley

Place these items on the floor and let everyone sit around them. First divide them into two groups: Red things and not-red things. See how many times ambiguous cases arise (e.g., should a book with a red-and-white cover go in the red pile or the not-red pile?

Let the 13 objects be divided  into another two groups -- useful objects and toys. See how many ambiguities arise. (Does art belong among toys? Does pornography?)

Each week, as long as the group continues, let somebody think of another dualism and divided the 13 items into two piles according to that new dichotomy. [Each week, I will ask one person who had been participating to do this -- Tom.]


Note each case where two things fall into different groups according to one dualist system fall into the same group according to another dualist system. (E.g., balsa wood and hard wood will fall into the same group if one divides "wooden things" from "non-wooden things" but will fall into different groups if one divides "things that float" from "things that do not float").

Note how the Aristotelian argument "It 'is' either an A or a not-A" appears after you have found several things that belong on the same side of one dualism but on opposite sides of other dualisms.


Some suggestions for other dualisms: "educational things" and "entertaining things," "scientific things" and "non-scientific things," "good" things and "bad" things, "organic things" and "inorganic things."

See how many odd and imaginative  dualisms the group can create.

At this point, an obvious fact seems worthy of special emphasis. Actually doing these exercizes  in a group, as suggested, teaches more than actually reading about them.


2. Robert Anton Wilson writes, "Joyce's Ulysses mutated the novel by describing one ordinary day, not as an "objective reality" in the Aristotelian sense, but as a labyrinth in which nearly a hundred narrators (or "narrative voices") all report different versions of what happened. Different reality-tunnels." Please give another example of a novel that uses this strategy.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Herbert Hoover's secret history of World War II

Robert Anton Wilson was interested in revisionist views on World War II, but here's a secret history he never got to read: The one by Herbert Hoover.

Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of World War II and Its Aftermath argues that the U.S. should have stayed out of World War II, and that Franklin Roosevelt maneuvered to get the U.S. into it. It's been ignored by mainstream book review outlets since it came out last year, and I only finally stumbled on to a review a couple of weeks ago.

Here is a review from The American Spectator. Here is a discussion on a Lew Rockwell radio show.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Prometheus Award winners announced

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced the winners of the Prometheus Award, and I'm pleased to report that the award was a tie, and is being to given to two really good books: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (which I nominated, as one of the nominating judges) and The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman.

The Hall of Fame award went to E.M. Forster for his long short story, "The Machine Stops." Not a bad name to set up alongside Wilson and Shea. (When I told my wife about the awards yesterday, she commented that we should have given a Hall of Fame award to Ray Bradbury. He died after the awards process had been pretty much wrapped up, but in fact the LFS gave a Hall of Fame Award to Fahrenheit 451 back in 1984.)

Official press release follows:

* The Libertarian Futurist Society will hold its annual awards ceremony for the Prometheus Award during Chicon, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held August 30-September 3 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

* For the second time in its history, there's a tie for the Best Novel award. The two winners are The Freedom Maze (Small Beer Press) by Delia Sherman and Ready Player One (Random House) by Ernest Cline.

The award for Best Classic Fiction (the "Hall of Fame" award) goes to "The Machine Stops", a short story by E. M. Forster, written in 1909.

* At its award ceremony to be held at the WorldCon in Chicago, the Libertarian Futurist Society will present plaques and one-ounce gold coins to Delia Sherman and Ernest Cline. A smaller gold coin and a plaque will be presented to "The Machine Stops". The specific time and location will be available in the convention program.

This was the first Prometheus nomination for both Sherman and Cline. Sherman's credits include five fantasy novels and editing two collections. Ready Player One is Cline's first novel; his official bio includes a variety of odd jobs, poetry slams and writing screenplays.

Delia Sherman's young-adult fantasy novel focuses on an adolescent girl of 1960 who is magically sent back in time to 1860 when her family owned slaves on a Louisiana plantation. She's mistaken for a light-skinned slave fathered by a plantation owner. She endures great hardships, commiserates with others suffering worse, works in the household and the fields, and sees the other slaves demonstrating their humanity in the face of incredible adversity. In the process, she comes to appreciate the values of honor, respect, courage, and personal responsibility.

Ernest Cline's genre-busting blend of science fiction, romance, suspense, and adventure describes a virtual world that has managed to evolve an order without a state in which entrepreneurial gamers must solve virtual puzzles and battle real-life enemies to save their virtual world from domination and corruption. The main characters work together without meeting in the real world until near the end of the story. The novel stresses the importance of allowing open access to the Internet for everyone.

"The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster was published in 1909. Forster described it as a reaction to H.G. Wells's fiction. The story describes a future in which most people never leave their rooms and interact only through the Machine's video and text facilities. People in this dystopia depend on the Machine for all their needs. When the Machine falls into disrepair and fails, the people are isolated from one another and many die, though Forster depicts it as a hopeful ending with a few wild humans on the surface likely to carry on and learn to be self-sufficient again.

The other finalists for the Best Novel award were The Children of the Sky (TOR Books) by Vernor Vinge, In the Shadow of Ares (Amazon Kindle edition) by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson, The Restoration Game (Pyr Books) by Ken MacLeod, and Snuff (Harper Collins) by Terry Pratchett. MacLeod has won three Best Novel awards, Vinge has won twice, and Pratchett has one previous winner.

The other finalists for the Hall of Fame award were "As Easy as A.B.C.," a story by Rudyard Kipling (1912); "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," a story by Harlan Ellison (1965); and Falling Free, a novel by Lois McMaster Bujold (1988).

The LFS is announcing the winning works so that fans of the works and the writers can begin to make plans for attending the awards ceremonies. Anyone interested in more information about the awards ceremony or other LFS activities at ChiCon can send email to programming@lfs.org.

The Prometheus awards for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame), and (occasional) Special Awards honor outstanding science fiction and fantasy that explores the possibilities of a free future, champions human rights (including personal and economic liberty), dramatizes the perennial conflict between individuals and coercive governments, or critiques the tragic consequences of abuse of power--especially by the State.

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (lfs.org), was established in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin and plaque for each of the winners.

Publishers who wish to submit novels published in 2011 for the 2012 Best Novel award should contact Michael Grossberg, Chair of the LFS Prometheus Awards Best Novel Finalist judging committee online at BestNovelChair@lfs.org domain or via postal mail at 3164 Plymouth Place, Columbus OH 43213.

The Hall of Fame, established in 1983, focuses on older classic fiction, including novels, novellas, short stories, poems and plays. Past Hall of Fame award winners range from Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand to Ray Bradbury and Ursula LeGuin.

Founded in 1982, the Libertarian Futurist Society sponsors the annual Prometheus Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame; publishes reviews, news and columns in the quarterly "Prometheus"; arranges annual awards ceremonies at the WorldCon; debates libertarian futurist issues (such as private space exploration); and provides fun and fellowship for libertarian SF fans. All members of the LFS are eligible to nominate eligible works for its awards, and to vote on the Hall of Fame. Full members are eligible to vote on the Best Novel.

A list of past winners of LFS awards can be found on the LFS web site at www.lfs.org

Friday, July 13, 2012

Notes on ILLUMINATUS!

A web site called TVtropes.com has some notes on ILLUMINATUS! Thanks to Andrew Crawshaw for spotting this and calling it to my attention.


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:

tsogblogsphere
A tale of the tribe
Ettt (email to the tribe)
Only Maybe
Wikispaces.flyagaric
Soundcloud
Fuckbook
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 RAW360.net 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. Bob@raw360.net


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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Michael Johnson on fakery and symbolism

Over at Overweening Generalist, Michael Johnson has an essay on fakery and symbolism and politics. An excerpt from a Robert Anton Wilson interview is deployed to good effect.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Assorted links

Michael Chabon on Finnegans Wake.

The LIBOR scandal reminds Paul Gallagher at Dangerous Minds of the Illuminati.

Michael Johnson thinks Robert Anton Wilson may have influenced Ray Kurzweil's ideas on the singularity.

Former FBI agent says she saw angels at the Flight 93 crash site.

Vatican accuses media of imitating The Da Vinci Code in coverage of the latest scandal. The media are trying to imitate Robert Anton Wilson, of course.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Discussion: Chapter 3, Quantum Psychology

I really enjoyed reading Chapter 3 of Quantum Psychology, but here I run into a problem I brought up a couple of days ago: I don't really know how to do the exercizes that seem to have been created for people physically together in the same room.

Eric Wagner avers that all of the exercizes can be done on the Internet. I am  very sorry to disappoint Eric, who after all suggested this format and likely knows much more about RAW's philosophy than I do, but I am not smart enough to figure out how to do that and will in the end have to do the best I can.

So, begging everyone's pardon for those who disagree with me, I will jump to the third exercise and then add a question of my own, taken from the text:

(1) Oscar Wilde said, "All art is quite useless." Discuss.

(2) RAW, discussing  Claude Shannon's famous equation for information content in a message, wrote, "Norbert Wiener once simplified the meaning of this equation by saying that great poetry contains more information than political speeches." Please post a short poem that you consider great (or a short passage from a great poem) and say something about its information content.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

More on James Joyce

One of my favorite writers at "New Yorker" magazine, Louis Menand, pens an interesting article on James Joyce. Like others I've read lately, Menand thinks the new Gordon Bowker biography of Joyce, while taking advantage of recent scholarship, is inferior to Richard Ellman's.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Sixth Century libertarian?

I have lately been immersing myself into sixth century Byzantine history, and I am currently reading The Secret History With Related Texts, by Prokopios (usually rendered in  English as "Procopius") translated by a brilliant classics professor at The Ohio State University named Anthony Kaldellis. Pretty far afield from reading Robert Anton Wilson, or so I thought.

But it turns out that Prokopios had a tolerant attitude toward religion, and belief in general, that is strikingly modern, and also reminiscent of RAW.

You'll no doubt remember the famous quote from RAW encapsulating his philosophical attitude: "My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about everything."

This quotation is related not just to Wilson's personal philosophy, but to his libertarianism. If you can't be sure of being right about anything, you can hardly be justified in coercing everyone else to behave, or believe, as you would like them to do.

Now, compare that RAW quote with a passage from Prokopios' The Wars of Justinian that is translated by Kaldellis:

I think it is insanely stupid to investigate the nature of God and ask what sort it is. For I do not believe that human beings have a sufficiently exact understanding of merely human things, far less of anything that bears on the nature of God. Therefore, I will keep a safe silence about these things, with the sole intention of not allowing honored teachings to be disbelieved. For I would say nothing else about God than that he is entirely good and holds everything within his power. But let each say about these things whatever he thinks he knows, where he is a priest or a layman. (5.3.5-9).

Allowing everyone to express his own opinion is a pretty bold statement in favor of freedom of thought. I also like the statement about how it is impossible to understand "merely human things." This is an even more remarkable quote if you know enough Byzantine history to grasp the context. Prokopios' Wars was published during the reign of the Emperor Justinian, who envisioned the empire as a kind of totalitarian theocracy. He enthusiastically persecuted pagans, Neoplatonist philosophers, heretics, homosexuals and anyone else who failed to meet his definition of a model citizen of the Roman Empire. It was also Justinian who shut down the school of philosophers in Athens that had existed for centuries.

My description of Prokopios as a "Sixth Century libertarian" in the headline of this post probably seems like a stretch, but Kaldellis, contrasting the political views of Prokopios and Justinian, remarks in the preface of the book, "We have here an archetypical conflict between a classical conservative-liberal on the one hand and a revolutionary ideologue on the other." (For those unfamiliar with libertarian terminology, a "classical liberal" is a kind of moderate, limited government libertarian. The folks at the Cato Institute essentially are classical liberals.)

I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Robert Shea's historical novel All Things Are Lights, essential a kind of thematic prequel to ILLUMINATUS! The hero of the novel, Roland, is dragooned into King Louis' crusade against the Moslems in Egypt, although he secretly believes that all religions have about the same amount of truth and falsehood. This seemed like an anachronistically modern attitude when I read the book last year, but now I am not so sure.

Whether you buy my opinion that Prokopios was a kind of early libertarian, or at least an early civil libertarian, he was undoubtedly one of the first revisionist historians. His Wars of Justinian stuck mostly to the official line on Justinian's wars against the Persians, the Vandals and the Goths, but his Secret History (which could not be openly circulated when Prokopios was alive) offered a scathing, alternative view of Justinian and his tyranny.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Andrew Crawshaw's ILLUMINATUS! bibliography

Andrew Crawshaw has done a series of postings on one of his blogs, Drafts, which seek to provide a bibliography of ILLUMINATUS! A very interesting effort.

One of Mr. Crawshaw's entries has a footnote referring to Ishmael Reed as "aka Robert Anton Wilson." Kidding, I think, but it inspired me to look up Reed's Mumbo Jumbo on Wikipedia, and it sounds like an amazing novel and very possibly an influence on ILLUMINATUS! I will have to hunt up a copy.




Thursday, July 5, 2012

Next chapter of Quantum Psychology

Monday is scheduled to take up Chapter 3 of the exercizes from Quantum Psychology. This chapter looks particularly difficult to adapt for an Internet discussion; does anyone have any suggestions? Should we just skip to question three?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

RAW and pataphysics

Robert Anton Wilson mentioned pataphysics quite a few times in his writings. I  admit to  not really understanding pataphysics, but my ignorance was diluted when I read Michael Moorcook's review of a new biography of Alfred Jarry, its inventor. (Hat tip, John Merritt).

Here is a Maybe Quarterly article that explores the " 'pataphysical side of Robert Anton Wilson."


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Governor signs jury nullification law

The governor of New Hampshire has signed a new law that allows juries to weigh the law, as well as the facts, in deciding a case, a concept known as "jury nullification." Robert Anton Wilson was very interested in jury nullification and wrote about it -- for example, in Chaos and Beyond, an underrated book that has gone out of print.

Here is a good blog post by Tim Lynch that discusses the concept in general and the New Hampshire law in particular.

Thanks to John Merritt for calling this to my attention.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter 2

This is the second of the weekly get-togethers to discuss chapters in Robert Anton Wilson's Quantum Psychology and to attempt to do the exercizes (as well as they can be done, in cyberspace, as opposed to actually getting together in a physical space.)

Exercize 1. Let each member of the group classify each of the following propositions as meaningful or meaningless:

A. I hauled the garbage out this morning.

B. God appeared to me this morning.

C. I saw a UFO this morning.

D. This table-top measures two feet by four feet.

E. Space becomes curved in the vicinity of heavy masses, such as stars.

F. Space does not become curved at all; light simply bends in the vicinity of heavy masses, such as stars.

G. Defendants are innocent until the jury pronounces them guilty.

H. The umpire's decision is binding.

I. "History is the march of God through the world." (Hegel).

J. In the act of conception, the male and the female each contribute 23 chromosomes.

K. The devil made me do it.

L. My unconscious made me do it.

M. Conditioned reflexes made me do it.

N. A church is the house of God.

O. Anybody who criticizes the government is a traitor.

P. Abraham Lincoln served as president between 1960 and 1968.

2. Where disagreements arise, attempt to avoid conflict (quarrel) and seek to understand why disagreements must arise in judging some of these propositions.

Please post your answers in the comments. We'll start on No. 1 first.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Robert Anton Wilson and William Burroughs

I am interested in a now-obscure  poet named Charles Henri Ford. The other day, as I read a chronology of Ford's life, I noticed that he had known Brion Gysin and William Burroughs. Gysin came up with the "cut-up" technique for rearranging prose, which Burroughs popularized and which Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea used in ILLUMINATUS!, and Wilson in other works. William Burroughs appears as a character in ILLUMINATUS!, in a section describing the demonstrations during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Burroughs also is credited by Robert Anton Wilson as the first person to notice the 23 Enigma.

Ford was a surrealist poet and later a photographer, moviemaker and "collage poet" who hung on in Paris in the 1930s with the likes of Gertrude Stein and was later part of Andy Warhol's circle in the 1960s.

It occurred to me that a having a tie to William Burroughs was a feature that links a great deal of disparate avant-garde, so I asked RAW expert Eric Wagner, for his "Ask Eric" blog, about how close RAW was to William Burroughs. Eric answered my question and also describes his own interactions with William Burroughs ("I found him the most intimidating person I ever met.")

Eric also writes that William Burroughs told Eric he had read RAW and a science fiction writer named Philip Jose Farmer (both favorite writers of mine, as it happens.) Farmer once wrote a story called "The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod," which was a Tarzan story, written as if William Burroughs had written the Tarzan stories, rather than Edgar Rice Burroughs.