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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

'Finnegans Wake' a hot seller in China

The New York Times reports the unexpected news that a new translation of Finnegans Wake into Chinese has become a bestseller.

The BBC has a story on the same phenomena (thanks for the link, Nick Helweg-Larsen).

From the BBC dispatch: "Joyce's Ulysses was warmly received when it was first translated in the mid-1990s.

"But some critics say the latest translation, of a work that has divided critics with its stream of consciousness style and unusual language, has pandered to a superficial demand among some Chinese for high-brow imports."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lots of links

Promiscuous Neurotheologist, Vol. 5 (or so) by Michael Johnson.

I like Oz Fritz's description, in the comments, of what many of us are interested in: "the gnostic approach to agnosticism. Experience = gnosis."

Michael Kinsley on publishing a magazine before the Internet age.

How manuscripts were sent from New York City to Washington, D.C.: "If a piece was too long to be dictated by phone, we would order the author to LaGuardia looking, like Diogenes, for an honest man or woman in the Eastern Shuttle boarding area. The author would beg this person to take our precious cargo of words to National Airport (not yet Reagan National) where someone from The New Republic would try to spot him or her and retrieve the manuscript."

Ode to Joy on broken crockery. (Hat tip, Ted Gioia and Roman Tsivkin.)

Great American Novelist tournament. (H/t Roman again.)

Aaron Swartz prosecution actually looking even worse. (Hat tip, Supergee.) Also, see this excellent Harvey Silvergate piece.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The real Vietnam War

Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse is a new book, apparently carefully documented, that reveals that atrocities against civilians during the Vietnam War was much more common than most people realize.

Here is a review in the Washington Post, and here is the "Fresh Air" interview, which I heard on the radio Monday.

The "Fresh Air" site includes a downloadable MP3 and also a transcript.

After Turse stumbled across records in the National Archives that documented many atrocities, his advisor wrote him a check and advised him to make copies of the records right away. Excerpt from the transcript:

So within 24 hours I was in my car and I drove down to the National Archives, and I put every cent that he gave me into copying. And I would copy from the moment the archives opened in the morning until they kicked me out at night, and then because I put all the money into copying, I went and slept in my car in the archives parking lot.

And I did this for a couple of nights, and by the end of it I had the whole collection, and you know, I thought my advisor was being a little paranoid, but you know, it turned out to be excellent advice because sometime after I published my first article on this, the records were pulled from the archive shelves, and they haven't been on the public shelves since.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Living inside our novel

A couple of passages from The Trick Top Hat on "living inside our novel" caught my eye:

The first quote is in a passage in which Blake Williams is talking with Natalie Drest:

"You know, Professor" -- Natalie sits up and gives him a level glance -- "I met a midget once, a nasty little son-of-a-bitch, but he told me something I never forgot. All that exists is metaphor, he said, and whoever controls our metaphors controls us.

"As an anthropologist," Blake Williams said, "I must agree. Are we living in an occult thriller, a porn movie, a philosophical treatise, a sci-fi novel? It depends on which parts of our experience we chose to highlight. That brings us to the question: Are we writing our life-scripts, or is there a Hidden Variable, as the new quantum theories suggest?"

(Pages 274-275 of the omnibus edition of Schroedinger's Cat, in the "The Universe Decides" chapter.)

The second quote is Simon Moon, writing down "the important things he had learned in his out-of-book experience":

1. A novel, or a Universe, is a Whole System.

2. Who we are, and what we do, depends on which novel or universe we are in. Every part is a function of the Whole.

3. It is very hard to remember the whole novel or universe because our horns won't fit the 

[this is where the text says he is "losing the meaning of Mooning"]

Page 322, in the chapter "Wise Guys and Nebbishes."

As more one writer has pointed out, reading a novel is an exercise in creation on the part of the reader; the "Elizabeth Bennet" created in my mind when I read Pride and Prejudice is never the person I see onscreen when I see a film adaption. If we are conscious of what kind of novel were are in, as Blake Williams is, perhaps we can be "co-authors" of our own reality.

Incidentally, in the bit about the horns in the second excerpt, RAW is tripped up by the cuts he made in the book; the original version of The Trick Top Hat has a zen parable about a monk who meditates upon the ox, and then achieves illumination when he finds that his horns are so wide he can't leave his cell. It's not in the omnibus editon.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

RAW fans = serious music people?

 I just finished my Schroedinger's Cat class at Maybe Logic Academy under the tutelage of Eric Wagner.

Everyone in the class was very good and made useful comments in the forums. I noticed that one of my classmates in particular, Colin MacDonald, was particularly prolific in commenting and always offered insights.

Colin MacDonald, it turns out, is a modern classical music composer, classically trained saxophone player and music teacher. His Web site is here.

The  more I thought about it, I more I realized that many of Robert Anton Wilson's biggest fans and top scholars have a serious interest in music. Michael Johnson is a musician who has played in rock bands and has wide-ranging tastes. Eric Wagner is a Beethoven expert and seems to know quite a bit about classical and jazz. He easily could have become a musicologist. Many of author Lewis Shiner's novels are about rock music. Steve Pratt plays in a band and seems to be very familiar with rock, electronic music, blues and jazz. PDQ writes about rap music. Oz Fritz is a professional recording engineer who often writes about the intersection of magick and music on his blog. Jesse Walker worked at a student radio station at the University of Michigan. I'm sure I'm forgetting many folks.  I listen to everything. I'm particularly interested in classical music thetse days, but I went through a jazz obsession a few years ago, followed rock very closely for many years (I read "Cream" and used to tape MTV's "120 Minutes" every week)  and also have blues, ska, and other stuff in my collection. I notice most of the other folks are music neophiliacs, too. What should we make of this?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New hope for solar power?

Noah Smith, a finance professor who has studied both physics and economics, has an interesting blog post that argues that solar power is on the cusp of truly becoming much cheaper. It's about to become a breakthrough technology that will have transformational effects, he says. (Debate is lively in the comments, but at the end of the day I think he makes a pretty good case.)

Hat tip, the invaluable Tyler Cowen on Twitter.

Smith is silent on whether cheaper solar technology (and the efforts of companies such as SpaceX to make putting cargo in space cheaper) would revive the notion of space-based solar power, as promoted by Robert Anton Wilson in the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy. I posted a question about that in the comments and will update if I manage to coax a reply from Professor Smith.

UPDATE: No response from Professor Smith, but "Brett" in the comments argues that space based solar is not economically feasible: "It would have to lower the price of cargo to orbit a lot, as in several orders of magnitude. I don't think that's going to happen.

"The costs of not just launching the panels into orbit, but also assembling the array, maintaining it, and replacing panels when they stop would be exorbitant. You could probably build a fair amount of ground-based power plants for the cost of one space-solar array, and it would be vastly easier to maintain the ground ones.

"It's the same type of reason that the US and other powers with nuclear weapons and launch capabilities didn't try putting them in orbit (treaty aside). The launch and maintenance costs are staggering."

Friday, January 25, 2013

About Camden Benares

Yesterday's posting about the new Bobby Campbell cover art for Zen Without Zen Masters by Camden Benares reminded me of something: Robert Anton Wilson praised it highly in the original version of his novel Schroedinger's Cat II: The Trick Top Hat, reprinted in shorter form in the one volume edition of Schroedinger's Cat that's the current version in print.

The original version had a chapter, "Not to Cross," that's chopped out of the later version. It includes a reference to Operation Mindfuck that's on page 171 of the original Pocket paperback.

OM, the chapter explains, is "Wilson's name for the group art-work including the Illuminatus volumes,  Dr. Timothy Leary's What Does WoMan Want? Gregory Hill's Principia Discordia and Camden Benares' Zen Without Zen Masters."

Obviously, that puts Benares' book in some pretty heavy company.

As it turns out, Arthur Hlavaty used to correspond with Benares. This interesting blog post reveals that Benares died in 2000 (read the comments after you read Arthur's post).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Assorted links

Interesting article on Aaron Swartz by Tim Carmody (hat tip, Timothy Lee.)

Maybe Logic review of JMR Higgs' book on the KLF (and RAW).

Toby Philpott posting on "The Great Secret." ("Can it be that the great, supreme secret is absolute agnosticism?")

Bobby Campbell cover art for new edition of Zen Without Zen Masters by Camden Benares.

John Crowley on Giordano Bruno. (Hat tip, Supergee).

A link between the KLF and Twin Peaks? Maybe not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Michael Johnson on the Leary biographies

After I made the offhand comment at one of Michael Johnson's blog posts that I plan to soon read I Have America Surrounded, the JMR Higgs biography of Timothy Leary, Michael responded that Higgs' book it the best Leary biography available, and proceeded to reveal that he had read all of them.

Once I got over feeling depressed over the realization that I will never be as well read as Dr. Johnson, I decided this his comment deserves to posted in a blog post over here. For obvious reasons, Robert Anton Wilson fans have an obvious stake in knowing where to go to find out more about Leary, a huge influence on Wilson's writings. Here are Michael's comments, with links to the books he is referring to:

Leary said everyone gets the Tim Leary they deserve, or something like that. I'd read at least four bios of TL before Higgs's and his was the first one that reflected the Leary I felt. I never met Tim.

The Leary I got through film footage, RAW's books and Leary's own large and uneven oeuvre finally glinted through with I Have America Surrounded. 

A difficult-to-find bio by underground press writer John Bryan (Whatever Happened To Timothy Leary?, pub while TL was quite alive and healthy), was the previous best bio I'd read.

The Leary that shows through in BH Friedman's Tripping was an interesting Tim, as were parts of Charles Slack's Timothy Leary, The Madness of the Sixties, and Me, which has Slack as a Harvard colleague and admirer, but not so much the evangelical drug stuff: more the irrepressible Irish modern-day Bruno/Zelda Fitzgerald of the 60s, very disappointed to track Leary down in Switzerland to see TL doing smack. When he encounters TL (who knows what the real story was with Hauchard?) doing smack, it reminded me of Mr. Bernstein coming to a darker understanding of Charles Foster Kane.

The Rbt Greenfield bio is one of the weirdest biographies I've ever read: incredibly well-researched, but seeming to miss the point totally. It's hard for me not to think that Greenfield blames his Sixties for being derailed by Leary, which to me is ludicrous. Greenfield goes a long - inadvertent? - way in showing that alcohol was the drug that brought Tim down, not LSD.

I enjoy the Leary I got in Flashbacks and other autobiographical writings.

There are little fugitive articles (pun intended) by people who knew him that are filled with, as Pound said, "luminous details." I forget who wrote a little piece about partying with Tim, and someone puts on a Billie Holliday song and Leary starts crying for the sheer pain in her voice.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reading 'Masks of the Illuminati'

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I plan to re-read Masks of the Illuminati in 2013 and asked if there would be any interest if I hosted an online discussion of the book. Reaction was positive, so now it's time to talk about how to do this. I will offer suggestions below, and you can tell me if they are reasonable or need to be modified.

Masks seems like a good introduction to Robert Anton Wilson's fiction; the newbie can commit to just one book, rather than having to tackle a trilogy. It's also a relatively conventional book, at least compared to Illuminatus! or the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy. Some of you have suggested it's a good introduction to his work. At the same time, there's plenty of substance for serious RAW fans.

Like all of RAW's fiction, it remains readily available. You can buy a trade paperback or get a digital edition on Amazon. There's a Nook version, too. Or you can hunt up a cheap used copy (Amazon will help you do that) or check it out of the library. (Checking out books from the library is a good way to support helping your favorite writer become known. Books that are checked out are less likely to be "weeded out" from the shelves when a library buys new books.)

In any event, it seems like a good idea to give people a reasonable time to hunt up a copy of the book, particularly if someone cannot afford to buy a copy, so how about if we begin the week of Feb. 17?

Then there's the question of the pace to set, and how to host the discussion.

I don't want to rush through the book, but I don't want to drag out the discussion for months, either. Would eight weeks be reasonable, e.g. a pace of less than 40 pages a week, or is that still a bit too fast?

I think perhaps the form of the discussion could be like this: At least once a week, I will post about a section of the book. Everyone is invited to post comments. All of the "Masks" posts will be tagged, so that it's easy to look at them all together, and I also will post all of the links together in one place, as I've done with the Quantum Psychology discussion. I reserve the right to put up additional Masks posts during the week, either with my own thoughts, or using a comment that I want to "promote" from the comments into a separate blog posts. I may also consider emailing questions about aspects of the book to some of my favorite bloggers, then posting a link to their posts, if they bite.

What do you think?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Michael Johnson on Kerry Thornley

I thought I had a fair idea of what the Kerry Thornley story was about, until I read Michael Johnson's article. I hadn't even heard of the Gorightly book, which I'll now have to read.

Here is a good sentence from Michael's piece: "If this material is new to you and it seems like I'm making it up...I often feel like I'm making it up, but it's true."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Housekeeping matters

I've updated some of the links on this page to include material recently posted on this blog that is worth a permanent link.

The "Feature Articles and Interviews" links now includes RAW's interview with Bucky Fuller, a RAW letter in "No Governor" (Robert Shea's fanzine), my interview with JMR Higgs on his book on the KLF (and Robert Anton Wilson) and RAW's "Truth Comes on Swift Wings" article. (Links to the Bucky interview, RAW letter and "Truth" article all have been added to

"Resources" now includes

"Sangha" has added "Finnegans, Wake!" which is the new PQ blog.

As always, I welcome  your suggestions on what I should be writing about or linking to.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A graphic

Really, I'd been planning to quit posting about this case. Sorry! (Hat tip, Supergee.)

Lessig on Swartz is here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

RAW's birthday

Today we celebrate what's his name's birthday. Or at least Bobby Campbell celebrates, over at Only Maybe. Thanks, Bobby!

UPDATE: Today is Internet Freedom Day. A free ebook is available (today only.) Hat tip, Julian Sanchez on Twitter. (He's essential on Internet freedom issues.)

UPDATE II: Free book (also today only) on copyright reform. Hat tip, Timothy Lee (@binarybits on Twitter.)

Rob Pugh tribute here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why Aaron Swartz matters

Am I the only one who wrestles with how much time and attention to pay to politics? Sometimes I wish I could just tune it all out. When Michael Johnson puts up a new post at Overweening Generalist, I usually feel compelled to read it right away, or (if I'm at work and I'm busy) at least skim it. When I saw his latest post, on the political scene, I put off reading it for a couple of days -- not because I thought I would disagree with it, but because I was sure I would agree with 90 percent of it, and feel helpless rage. (And when I read it, sure enough ... ) Michael himself seems to understand my ambivalence; in one of the comments on his post, he writes, "Every now and then I have to VENT on this stuff; I could write 3 articles a day on similar aspects of this Friendly Fascism (see underrated book by Bertram Gross from around 1990), but no one's paying me, and besides, I don't attain any sort of catharsis when I write on this subject. I only feel worse from having to confront "all that" for 75 minutes, in a concentrated fashion. "

But I still can't help but think that Internet freedom really matters, and it's worth fighting for. Techno visionaries such as Robert Anton Wilson and the Boing Boing crowd have recognized that the freedom that still reigns over much of the Internet is something special, and something worth defending.

Glenn Greenwald has a long post about the Aaron Swartz case and notes:

"In most of what I've written and spoken about over the past several years, this is probably the overarching point: the abuse of state power, the systematic violation of civil liberties, is about creating a Climate of Fear, one that is geared toward entrenching the power and position of elites by intimidating the rest of society from meaningful challenges and dissent. There is a particular overzealousness when it comes to internet activism because the internet is one of the few weapons - perhaps the only one - that can be effectively harnessed to galvanize movements and challenge the prevailing order. That's why so much effort is devoted to destroying the ability to use it anonymously - the Surveillance State - and why there is so much effort to punishing as virtual Terrorists anyone like Swartz who uses it for political activism or dissent."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

RAW on Mozart

"It sounds like as Mozart's music. All as mechanical as clockwork and yet as free as a dream ... "

-- Robert Anton Wilson

(From The Trick Top Hat, in the chapter "The Universe Decides," from the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy. Spoken by the character Natalie Drest.)

I know that Robert Anton Wilson loved Mozart, but it's much harder to find comments about Mozart from RAW than it is to find comments about Beethoven. So I was pleased to run  across this passage, which I think captures Mozart's achievement in a few words: He stayed within the classical forms of his era, yet somehow he could transcend them with his genius.

After I read that passage, I put my book down and listened to this recording (a free download from the Gardner Museum) of Mozart's Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478, by the Nash Ensemble. It's a wonderful piece. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grave of Emperor Norton

If you travel to the San Francisco area,  you can actually visit the grave of Emperor Joshua Norton, "Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico." He's mentioned in Illuminatus!

Hat tip, John Merritt.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Death of an Internet activist

Well, the government has claimed another victim. As you perhaps already know if you pay attention to Twitter or to sites such as Boing Boing, Internet inventor and activist Aaron Swartz has died.

Some of the better articles and tributes include Glenn Greenwald's and Tim Lee's.

I'm more conservative on matters of copyright than Swartz was. I'm well to the "left" of Congress -- I think it's absurd that everything written by Sinclair Lewis after 1923 remains under copyright. Lewis died in 1951.

But I'm more conservative on such matters than some of my friends. I support copyright for living authors, and recently dead ones. I've repeatedly said that Robert Anton Wilson fans should buy his books or check them out of the library, rather than simply obtaining pirated copies from the Internet.

But the lengths that the U.S. attorney's office went to in prosecuting Swartz is insane. JSTOR did not favor prosecuting Swartz, yet the prosecutor insisted on filing charges that could have brought a 35-year prison sentence. The prosecutor who targeted him, Carmen Ortiz, is rumored as a Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts. 

Swartz suffered from depression, so this is another sad story about a man with an illness who failed to get the help he needed. Yet his family clearly believes that the prosecutor's persecution contributed to his death.

Note: Jeremy Weiland is all over this on Twitter.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

'How to Conquet Death on the Internet Part 3'

I suggest taking a few minutes to read one of Oz Fritz's best blog entries, "How to Conquer Death on the Internet Part III." Lots of good advice, even if you're not quite ready to tackle death yet.

And many good sentences. Here is a paragraph I read while sitting on my couch in a Cleveland suburb:

My first memory of considering life after death happened when I was a child of about 7 or 8.  I was in church in Cleveland listening to a priest deliver a sermon about getting a job after death. He said that we put a lot of time into preparing a career for our children in life but how often do we consider what work we will do after death?  Even at the time this seemed a radical idea coming from one of society's Bastions of Authority.  My answer popped up right away, 'Oh that's easy,' I thought, 'I'll be a Guardian Angel.'  I was a little more naive in those days, maybe.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Michael Johnson on Birchers and the Illuminati

Michael Johnson, who has been very prolific lately, has a new posting up on Birchers, the Illuminati and Unistat Political "Reality." I particularly liked his material on the Illuminati scare in early America.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Immersing myself in Beethoven

Partially because of the influence of Eric Wagner's Schroedinger's Cat class and partially through an existing inclination, I've been immersing myself in Beethoven lately. I've just started the second revised edition of Maynard Solomon's Beethoven. I also plan to read the Beethoven book that Roman Tsivkin recommended to me, Beethoven: His Spiritual Development by J.W.N. Sullivan (available free here) and to read the book that Eric suggested for me, The Beethoven Quartets by Joseph Kerman.

I've just started the Solomon, but the "Introduction to the Revised Edition" has a paragraph that mentions several topics that Solomon believes merit further research. It includes this: "It also seems to me that it may be time to take stock of the threads that connect Beethoven directly or indirectly to Freemasonry; there is now sufficient evidence to hypothesize that Beethoven remained influenced by Illuminist and esoteric trends in Freemasonry after his departure from Bonn, even though there is no indication that he actually belonged to a Masonic lodge."

In related news, the Bach Guild's new Big Beethoven Box is available for 99 cents from Amazon. It's a nice mixture of the familiar and the less familiar. I bought it yesterday but I haven't had time to listen to it yet.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Matheny releases 'RAW Pack'

Joseph Matheny has released a "RAW Pack" Torrent of four audio and video works. The four include two audio CDs I bought when Matheny originally released them: Robert Anton Wilson Remembered (featuring Douglas Rushkoff, Antero Alli, Tiffany Brown, David Brown, Zac Odin, Joseph Matheny and Alan Meridian, and Robert Anton Wilson: The Lost Studio Session (a recording lost for 15 years and finally released, recommended.)

There's also a collection of recordings, TAZ: Temporary Autonomous Zone (Rob Bresny, Hakin Bey, Nick Herbert and RAW, brief snippet of Matheny) and a video, Robert Anton Wilson: The "I" in the Triangle. There's also two electronic books, Ong's Hat by Matheny and This Is Not a Game by Dave Szulborksi. More details here, from Matheny's posting at

Matheny says he'll be releasing more material in 2013.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pravda reveals Tolkien's Illuminati secrets

The ironically-named Russian newspaper Pravda (the paper's name means "truth") appears to have survived the Soviet era and recently published an article revealing J.R.R. Tolkien's connections to the Illuminati, as revealed in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. This sounds like satire, but apparently the guy is serious. Hat tip, Jesse Walker.

Monday, January 7, 2013

'Our own godhood'

Michael Johnson has an interesting post that examines a passage on The Widow's Son on how "we do not know our own godhood."

Michael writes:

So: with Wilson, there seems to be some sort of continuum of invention of words: here they flow into us, as if by revelation. But because we have decided to entertain this idea of where language comes from, and how it works in our lives, many of us have suffered needlessly. This passage also seems to imply that it's imperative that we not only figure out how we're "swindled" by language, but to own the god-power in ourselves (the only place "god" really exists?) and use language creatively, actively, to take back the power of language and to use it to better our lives.

Bonus: Michael demonstrates that RAW read Philip Jose Farmer (an old time science fiction writer who was a staple of my  youth) since way back.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A scientist studies immortal lichens

Anne Pringle

Robert Anton Wilson's prediction that physical immortality might arrive soon didn't work out well for him or the rest of us, but scientists continue to look at whether it's possible. Via the New York Times comes this article about a scientist at Harvard named Anne Pringle who is trying to figure out why lichens in the genus Xanthoparmelia appear to never age. (Despite my headline, they aren't always immortal. They can be eaten by other lichens or simply fall off a wall.) Dr. Pringle is a mycologist who, the Times article records, drives a Prius with a "Mycologists Have More Fungi" bumper sticker.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A TV episode

I guess he didn't make it up.

(Phrase featured in Schroedinger's Cat trilogy and other works.)

P.S. Did you notice it was Episode 23?

Friday, January 4, 2013

More Illuminati on the Internet

Type the word "Illuminati" backwards, add a .com on the end, hit return, and see where on the Internet you wind up! Here's looking at you, kid, and eavesdropping on you. (Hat tip, Gary Acord on Twitter.)

The prosaic explanation is here, but of course that's just what They want you to believe.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nick Herbert's greatest hits

Nick Herbert, perhaps the most interesting "hippie physicist" featured in David Kaiser's How the Hippies Saved Physics, has put up a blog post looking back at his past year of blogging, including his first contact with the Galactic Telepaths. Herbert and the other "hippie physicists" are featured in Robert Anton Wilson's books, particularly Cosmic Trigger 1. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

L. Wayne Benner's "Seven Shadows"

I bought L. Wayne Benner's book, Seven Shadows, because I knew he had collaborated with Robert Anton Wilson on Wilson's article, "The RICH Economy," that's reprinted in The Illuminati Papers, and because he had collaborated with Timothy Leary. In addition, Benner had other interesting elements in his life story: He was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping TV and film star Leon Ames for $50,000 in ransom.

Well, you'll learn more about the Ames incident if you read this news clipping than if you read the book; Benner doesn't even bother to identify the victims.

And if you were thinking of buying the book to learn more about Robert Anton Wilson, here's the entire text of the book dealing with Wilson:

"Timothy also introduced me to Robert Anton Wilson. Over the next several years Robert and I wrote some articles and papers on RICH, an economic alternative for America."

There's a vivid portrait of Timothy Leary, although I doubt you'll learn anything about Leary you didn't already know. I will say that the discussion of Leary sounds truthful and is interesting.

Benner's book is a self-published, raw, unedited manuscript replete with spelling errors and obvious holes. You'll have to read it carefully, for example, to figure out that he grew up in Minnesota.

His habit of leaving out full names (Leary and Wilson are two of the few exceptions), specific dates and other hard facts make it hard to verify some of  his best stories.

For example, the centerpiece of the book is an account of how he escaped from Folson Prison when he was being driven from the prison to a court date. In Benner's account, he overpowered the guard, took the guard's gun and drove the car away despite being in chains. He then evaded a police chase despite having to drive the car while still in chains and took a family hostage. The next day, he forced the family to drive him to an airport, where he planned to hijack an airplane but was surrounded and captured by police. He doesn't give a date for any of this, but the book says he was sentenced to an isolation cell as punishment in spring 1971, so it would have to be early 1971 or sometime in 1970.

I could not find any articles about this when I searched Google News. The Wikipedia article on Folsom prison mentions several escapes, but not Benner's. Did it really happen? Maybe.

Benner's book says that he was released from prison on April 1, 1975. A few pages later, he describes a stint in New York City, including a memorable evening when "I traveled across the Brooklyn Bridge with Woody Gunthry [sic] on our way to meet with Bob Dylan."

Woody Guthrie died in 1967. Maybe Benner meant to say "Arlo Guthrie."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Books Update

(1) I enjoy reading other people's book lists, so I liked Rob Pugh's list.

He highlights three books at the end of his list. I plan to read one of them, You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos by Robert Arthur. And I really enjoyed American Gods by Neil Gaiman when I read it several years ago.

(2) When I asked a couple of postings ago if anyone had read any of Graham Carroll's books, I got an email from Nathaniel Foltz from Kent, Ohio, who liked both of them. He writes:

"The Illuminati Kid is about a guy named Bomber Harris who kidnaps a person named Ballard and has him tape record the story of the Illuminati Kid who was Bomber's friend. Bomber tells Ballard how the world is controlled by the Illuminati and reptilians. He also goes into many spiritual concepts and consciousness. Bomber only kidnapped Ballard to show him how naive he is and change his perspective.

"The book contains a lot of cursing, which I didn't mind, and there are a lot of humorous moments throughout the book. I have read several conspiracy books and it was great to read a fiction book that contains the truth in it. I thought the book was amazing and revolutionizes the field of conspiracy.

"Illuminati Rock God is about a band named Setopia who basically sells their souls to the Illuminati for fame and fortune. The lead band member Alec Grant wants out but the others are enjoying it. Alec finds out that he is in too deep and runs off to the forest where he lives with a survivalist. Once again another amazing book that has truth beneath the surface of a well written story.

"I highly recommend both books. They are gems that I hope more people will find and read. I can only hope more authors will take the approach that Graham Carroll has taken on conspiracies. I am looking forward to more books by him."