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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pound's "The Spirit of Romance"

Over at Overweening Generalist, Michael Johnson has a post on "Gnostic Diffusion Down Through the Ages" that discusses Ezra Pound's book, The Spirit of Romance, which apparently talks about the Cathars in 13th century France and the "courtly love" movement, topics which are focused upon in the Robert Shea novel I just wrote about, All Things Are Lights.

While I try to figure out whether Shea might have been influenced by Pound's book, I wanted to point out that The Spirit of Romance is available as a free download from the Internet Archive.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Maybe "Richard Dawkins" is Richard Dawkins

John Higgs does an fine job of explaining Robert Anton Wilson's ideas, as you may have noticed if you've read his new book, KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money.

Here is another example of Higgs discussing RAW: His July 23, 2009, column for the Guardian on "Happy Maybe Day" explains "maybe logic" and why Wilson advocated an attitude of agnosticism in sifting through theories.

The comments section provides unexpected confirmation for Higgs' thesis that you should never be too sure of yourself.

Higgs' piece drew 134 comments, including from one person who proposed "Can't Be Arsed Day." What does that mean? What language do they speak over there?

Several of the commenters took Higgs to task for his use of a quote from Richard Dawkins, the famous atheist, and then Higgs defended his use on the quote, noting that Dawkins had Tweeted a link to the piece.

Then someone using the name Richard Dawkins (who I will call RichardDawkins1) weighed in, saying that he did feel misquoted. As for the Tweet (from RichardDawkins2), RichardDawkins1 said, "I did no such thing. I wouldn't know how to tweet to save my life."

I will note that as of AD February 27, 2013,  there is a Richard Dawkins Twitter account, seemingly authentic, with 624,824 followers. The owner of the account -- let's call him RichardDawkins3 -- has issued 8,834 Tweets. Perhaps RichardDawkins1 could save his life, after all, if he had to issue a Tweet to remain alive, as he has had (maybe, if he's the same person) 8,834 opportunities to practice the lifesaving maneuver. We report, you decide.

One more bit: Richard Dawkins1 says " 'Maybe Day' is, of course, admirable." So RAW fans can say that Richard Dawkins has endorsed maybe logic. Maybe.

Thanks to Nick Helweg-Larsen for the link. I'm pretty sure it's the real Nick Helweg-Larsen helping me out here, but as Mr. Higgs would tell you, you never know.

More JMR Higgs weirdness here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Has anyone listened to the programs offered at I noticed him on Twitter; whoever runs it appears to be a RAW fan.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Masks of the Illuminati discussion part two

Dell edition, pages 35-76; Pocket Books edition pages 29-64; up to about 20 percent in an e-book (up to Sir John Babcock's answer to the I.N.R.I. question

"Joyce looked at it and at every part of it with a meticulous curiosity that seemed almost obsessive to Babcock," page 45 of Dell edition; RAW believes the cure for boredom was paying closer attention.

"a most singular person," page 46, Lenin.u

"You behold in me," page 48. Leftist statists like to claim RAW as one of their own, but notice how RAW claims Joyce for libertarianism.

"only the madman is absolutely sure," page 48. A succinct statement of Wilson's philosophy, and a restatement of his "maybe logic" philosophy, i.e. the world would be a saner place if people made a habit of qualifying their dogmatic statements with maybe, i.e. "Maybe the economy would be better off if the U.S. returned to the gold standard." Consistent with the workings of quantum mechanics, Wilson suggested using probabilities rather than certainties for many statements. A statement of Wilson's generalized agnosticism."

"a book so vile," page 51, the Necronomicon invented by H.P. Lovecraft. Dan Clore says references to Lovecraft's work permeates Masks.

"another hermetic dream" page 60. Although Masks supposedly originally was intended as "an ordinary detective story," the dream sequences suggest this plan was given up early in the process of writing the novel.

Paragraph beginning with "A true initiation never ends," page 62. Statement of a major theme of the novel.

UPDATE: Wikipedia article on George Cecil Jones.

Arthur Machen exhibition. Link via Dan Clore, who remarks, "Arthur Machen had a big influence on Masks of the Illuminati."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Robert Shea's "All Things Are Lights"

Robert Shea's All Things Are Lights has a snippet of prose at the beginning, a kind of overture, that I'd like to reproduce here:

“How much jousting have you done?”
“A little,” replied the young troubadour.
“A little!” the Templar said ironically. “In tournaments all over Europe, Count Amalric has bested hundreds of knights. Many times he has killed men. Of course, it is against the rules. But he is a master at making it look like an accident.” He looked at Roland with an almost fatherly kindness. “Indeed, Messire, the best advice I could give you would be not to enter the tournament at all.”
Roland laughed. “Such cautious advice from a Templar?”
“We fight for God, Messire. Have you as great a motive?”
“Yes, I do,” said Roland, seeing Nicolette’s eyes shining in the darkness before him. “I fight for love.”

The copyright owner, Mike Shea, has released the book under the Creative Commons license. You can purchase a copy from Amazon in Kindle format, buy a paper book at the same link (used copies are cheap) or download it for free; links for downloading are here and here.

All Things Are Lights is a historical novel of the Middle Ages. It's very straightforward, very different in style from Illuminatus! although I have labeled it a "thematic prequel" to Illuminatus! because it has many of the same concerns. You'll learn a lot about history, secret societies and courtly love if you read it, although it's possible you'll be too caught up in poor Roland's girl problems and survival problems to pay attention to all of those details. It would make a good movie or miniseries.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Various links

Yo La Tengo performing "The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller" on tour (hat tip, Dan Clore at Robert Anton Wilson fans on Facebook.)

Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame) forms new band, Chelsea Light Moving, and releases song about William Burroughs, "Burroughs" as free download. Link is in this post.

Aleister Crowley paintings on tour (lots of images). (Clore again).

Excavation at home where James Joyce used to live. (Via Frater Khabs at the Facebook group).

FBI was monitoring Aaron Swartz's social media accounts. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Congress considering national ID program

The geniuses in Congress, thinking hard about how to solve the immigration program, have a brainstorm on how to fix things: Forcing everyone to have a "high tech identity card" that essentially would function as a national ID.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cory Doctorow's new novel is out

The most important libertarian novel in the last few years (in the broad sense of civil liberties and freedom, not "report to Ayn Rand for instructions") was Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, and now Cory has released a sequel, Homeland. 

(Plug for a group I belong to: The Libertarian Futurist Society, the group that gave Robert Anton Wilson his sole literary award, gave a Prometheus Award to Doctorow for Little Brother. The group gave Illuminatus! its Hall of Fame award. We will now resume regular programming after this brief commercial interruption.)

Reviewing Homeland in the Wall Street Journal, Tom Shippey wrote, "Homeland is as dead serious as 1984, as potentially important a 'novel of ideas,' with a much more engaging central character and an apparently inexhaustible supply of information on everything from brewing coffee to sneaky surveillance and how to defeat it."

I just bought a copy for my Kindle — I think Internet freedom is an important issue, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is — but as with his other books, Cory has released a free Creative Commons version. You can download it here. The link to download Little Brother for free is here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Slate's Yglesias supports basic income guarantee

A proposal to replace or supplement the current social welfare system with a Basic Income Guarantee (proposed by Robert Anton Wilson and various other luminaries, such as Milton Friedman) continues to pop up now and then on the Internet. The latest I ran across was from Matthew Yglesias, the thoughtful economics blogger for Slate. Mr. Yglesias argues that instead of a minimum wage, we should have a guaranteed basic income, paired with an Earned Income Tax Credit. I think he makes an intriguing case.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

'The Secret Life of Plants'

PQ writes about The Secret Life of Plants, a work that he first heard about while reading RAW's Cosmic Trigger. Surprisingly, the documentary based upon the book turned out to have another RAW connection: "The other important thing I want to point out is a funny synchronicity---as I mentioned, I'd originally heard about The Secret Life of Plants through a passing mention in Robert Anton Wilson's synchronicity-filled book Cosmic Trigger. Another memorable part of that book is RAW's discussion of the Dogon tribe in Africa that possesses an uncanny knowledge of the solar system, the universe, and especially the star Sirius. Long before scientific instruments could even prove it, this isolated primitive tribe knew that Sirius had another star orbiting around it. Not only that, they knew this second star takes exactly 50 years to make a full cycle."

I have been meaning to read more about the Dogon and Sirius and haven't gotten around to it. Real soon now, as the fans say.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Masks of the Illuminati discussion part one

Dell edition, pages 1-35; Pocket Books edition, pages 1-29; about the first 10 percent of an ebook such as a Kindle.

My notes will refer to the page number in the Dell edition.

Dedication: "To Graham, Jyoti and Karuna." Graham might be the name of Wilson's son, but the other surviving children when the book was published were Christina and Alexandra. (Patricia, known as Luna, had died, as described in Cosmic Trigger.) Can anyone help me out? UPDATE: In the comments, Rarebit explains that Karuna and Jyoti are Christina and Alexandra.

Note: The Great God Pan is by Arthur Machen. The King in Yellow is by Robert W. Chambers.  The two titles may be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg (and other sources, such as Amazon).

"no wife no horse no mustache" page 4. Phrase that recurs in many of RAW's works. As Joe Malik explains in Schroedinger's Cat, he ran across an article of the same title in Reader's Digest and then refused to read it, reasoning that no real article could be as interesting as the mysterious and evocative  title. As I documented, there apparently really was such an article.

"Sir John Babcock" page 5: A descendant, one assumes, of the Babcocks featured in the "Historical Illuminatus" books.

"what manner of man is he" page 5. There are images of Aleister Crowley wearing a turban. Crowley wrote Clouds Without Water, the "accursed" book that bothers Babcock.

"he was wearing a turban and seemed some loathesomely obese Demon-Sultan" page 5. Image of Aleister Crowley.

"the Russian," page 7. Lenin.

The Black Brotherhood, perhaps not the usage intended, but the name of a group that opposed the persecution of the Cathars. About the Cathars, see  Robert Shea's novel, All Things Are Lights.

"Stately, plump Albert Einstein", page 12. This passage echoes the beginning of James Joyce's Ulysses. 

"Nur der wahnsinnige ist sich absolut sicher" page 20. Only the madman is absolutely sure.

"The figure that staggered into the shadow-dark Rathskeller ... " page 21. Echoes H.P. Lovecraft as Wilson earlier echoed James Joyce. Notice for example the use of the word "eldritch."

"The boy's mother was Lady Catherine (Greystoke) Babcock" and subsequent sentences, Page 27. This sounds like a nod to Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton family, which ties various characters in fiction (such as the Greystokes, e.g. Tarzan's family) into one family. Farmer and Wilson were fans of each other's work.

Suggest supplemental reading: "Joyce's Influence on Masks of the Illuminati," essay in Eric Wagner's An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Significant Events in the U.S.Counterculture

Boing Boings posts a comic on "Four Significant Events in the U.S. Counterculture: 1958 and 1959." Many of you will enjoy the second event, but all are interesting.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Arthur Hlavaty on the 1950s SF classics

The latest issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction, prospering as an electronic publication under the helm of its new publisher, Kevin Maroney, has an excellent review of the Library of America's American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s. It's written by "Supergee," e.g. Arthur Hlavaty.

I subscribe to NYRSF and I read Arthur's piece on my Kindle, but it's been posted at the journal's Web site, so that everyone else can read it, too.

I recommend Hlavaty's piece to anyone interested in SF; you'll read a pithy discussion of Robert Heinlein's career as a novelist and perhaps learn something about Star Wars. The nine novels under discussion are The Space Merchants, Frederik Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth; More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon; The Long Tomorrow, Leigh Brackett; Double Star, Robert Heinlein;  The Shrinking Man, Richard Matheson; The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester; A Case of Conscience, James Blish; Who? by Algis Budrys, and The Big Time, Fritz Leiber. (While I'm generally well-read in SF, I've read only two of these, the Heinlein and the Sturgeon. I recommend both.)

Part of the fun of reviewing a work of this sort is to second-guess the choices that the Library of America made; Hlavaty says the obvious omission is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, but he surmises, surely correctly, that a Bradbury collection must be in the works. Fahrenheit aside, he doesn't see any clear mistakes, although he argues for the inclusion of The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov. I would have pushed, instead, for The Dying Earth by Jack Vance. I'd like to believe Dying Earth is omitted because Library of America is planning a Vance collection, but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Masks of the Illuminati

Robert Anton Wilson's work, like that of his favorite composer Ludwig van Beethoven, falls pretty clearly into three periods, and Masks of the Illuminati  dates from the middle period, corresponding to Beethoven's second or "heroic" period. I would date RAW's middle period as 1969-1985; 1969 is when he began work on the Illuminatus! trilogy and 1985 is the copyright date for The Widow's Son, Wilson's last great novel.

Masks has a 1981 copyright date. Interestingly, the copyright date for  The Earth Will Shake is 1982, suggesting a period in Wilson's career when he concentrated on writing relatively straightforward novels.

I could not find much material on the Internet that sheds light on Wilson's purpose and tactics in writing Masks. In this interview, he explains that it was his attempt to follow an established commercial template: "I can't write a formula book. I tried once, that was Masks of the Illuminati. I started out to write an ordinary detective story, and then my imagination ran away with me and out came Masks Of The Illuminati which is a detective novel but hardly an ordinary one."

Masks originally was published in 1981 as a Timescape Book, an imprint of "Pocket Books, a Simon & Schuster of Gulf and Western Corporation," according to the title page. My Pocket Books copy has 294 pages. It was reprinted by Dell Books as a 355-page book; the text appears to be identical, with the page difference accounted for by the fact that the Dell edition is printed in larger type.

Robert Anton Wilson's Boswell, Eric Wagner, tells me that as far as he knows, there is no difference in the text between the Pocket and Dell editions. Wagner's book, An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, includes an eight-page essay, "Joyce's Influence on Masks of the Illuminati."

Dan Clore (proprieter of Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook) says, "RAW was clearly deep into Lovecraft at the time he wrote Masks, not just HPL's own work, but using Supernatural Horror in Literature as a guide to earlier weird fantasy." Dan recommends his own book to learn more.

Wilson's editor for Masks was David G. Hartwell, the prominent science fiction book editor. When Hartwell took over as editor of Timescape, he inherited a number of books purchased by his predecessor. Hartwell had the power to dump any books he didn't like, but he was a Wilson fan and went on to publish the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy, Cosmic Trigger I and Masks of the Illuminati. Alas, he remembers little about Masks, other than "I liked it and I was pleased to publish it at the time."

The online discussion group for Masks of the Illuminati starts Monday. I'll stretch out the discussion a little longer than I originally planned to cover 10 weeks, just to make it easier to have a detailed discussion and to let people keep up (or catch up.) I'll divide the book up into 10 sections, using both the Dell edition and the Pocket Books edition to provide a guideline. Next week, for example, read up to about page 29 in the Pocket Books and up to about page 35 in the Dell. You could read it this weekend, as I will, if you want to be able to post comments Monday.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Conspiracy theory TV show launches today

Zero Hour, a new TV show on the ABC network in the U.S., airs its first episode tonight. It's about the editor of a magazine called Modern Skeptic who stumbles into a long running effort by the Rosicrucians to hide a Big Secret from people who shouldn't get their hands on it (such as the Nazis.) The plot about a CSICOP-type person becoming involved with a secret conspiracy sounds like a nod to Robert Anton Wilson, but I have no proof, so I won't elevate that observation into a conspiracy theory of my own. The show stars Anthony Edwards from ER, who has avoided TV series but agreed to give Zero Hour a go after reading the oddball script.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

'Man in the High Castle' miniseries planned

I don't know when we get the Illuminatus! miniseries, but apparently a miniseries is in the works for Philip K. Dick's classic novel, The Man in the High Castle, which won the Hugo Award in 1963 and impressed me mightily as a teenager.

Details are scarce so far, but apparently it's going to air on the Syfy Channel. Or as New York Times staffer Dave Itzkoff writes "No air date or casting information was immediately announced for 'The Man in the High Castle,' but feel free to consult the I Ching while waiting for further developments."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Another warning against 'gurus'

Although Robert Anton Wilson certainly had the ability to listen and to learn from others, he was scathing on the subject of elevating a teacher to the status of a guru.  Here is one saying attributed to him: "A disciple is just an asshole looking for a human being to attach itself to."

Here's a story from the New York Times about a Zen teacher who took advantage of his female followers. Here is a sentence:

In the council’s report on Jan. 11, the three members wrote of “Sasaki asking women to show him their breasts, as part of ‘answering’ a koan” — a Zen riddle — “or to demonstrate ‘non-attachment.’ ”

Apparently the teacher also was into groping.

The anecdotes about the Zen teacher are rather reminiscent of the stories about Isaac Asimov that emerged years after Asimov's death. Asimov was a favorite writer of mine,  particularly when I was a teenager.

I suspect Asimov would not get away with it now.  (He died in 1992). Interesting that science fiction fandom is more enlightened than the world of Zen Buddhism.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The PKD and RAW canon

I was on the road Sunday but still managed to spend some time using Twitter for its best and highest use -- discussing Robert Anton Wilson. The exchange of Tweets started with Ted Hand, reliably one of the better reasons to be on Twitter. The exchange went like this (I have tinkered with the chronology by putting Ted's Philip K. Dick Tweet first, although it actually followed his RAW tweet:

Ted Hand: PKD must-reads: Ubik, Eldritch, Valis trilogy, RFA, Castle, Androids, Scanner, Time Out of Joint, Crap Artist, Martian Time-Slip, Maze, Flow

Ted Hand: RAW must reads: all 3 trilogies (Illuminatus!, Schr. Cat+Historical) Cosmic Trigger, Prometheus Rising, Crowley+Cabala articles, Coincidance.

Me:  I'd have to add Masks, Illuminati Papers, CT2 & Email to Universe.

Ted Hand: Masks and Papers are pretty essential, glaring omissions, yeah. I left the latter two CT's off, what's in #2 that you dig?

Me:  I like the multiple plot lines, the Buddhism, the renunciation of suicide, straightforward prose. Really different from other books.

Gary Acord: While I think it best to read all 3 CT's, if I had to pick just one, I agree with Tom, CT II really hit me the most.

Comment: While I enjoyed Cosmic Trigger 3 (particularly the Robert Shea tribute) it didn't strike me as quite as essential as the other two.

I also liked this exchange Sunday:

M1K3Y: Turns out it takes a whole lotta effort and energy to free yourself of the civilizational myth you're birthed in. Who knew?

Ted Hand: Robert Anton Wilson used the metaphor of a gravity well to explain this difficulty. I think it apt.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Michael Johnson on William Burroughs

Over at Overweening Generalist, Michael Johnson has written an interesting roundup of ideas about the writer William Burroughs. (Burroughs' birthday was Feb. 5). Johnson documents some of the ways that Burroughs influenced Robert Anton Wilson.

Burroughs' work popularized the cut-up prose technique invented by Brion Gysin. Although I don't see a mention of Illuminatus! in this article about cut-up technique from Wikipedia, Illuminatus! would probably count as a prominent example of the technique. Wilson also used it on other occasions.

Friday, February 8, 2013

'Hippie physicists' at it again

Nick Herbert and Jack Sarfatti, two of the hippie physicists described in David Kaiser's How the Hippies Saved Physics and Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger 1,  still believe that sending signals faster than light may be possible. (Kaiser's book describes how they pursued it and laid the groundwork for quantum cryptography instead.)

The latest proposal for FTL signaling comes from Demetrios Kalamidas, described by Herbert as a physicist who "who has a degree from CCNY and is currently working at New York nanotech company Raith USA."

Herbert explains the proposal here. Sarfatti discusses it here and here.

Sarfatti writes, "This may be a historic event of the first magnitude if the Fat Lady really sings this time and shatters the crystal goblet. On the Dark Side this may open Pandora's Box into a P.K. Dick Robert Anton Wilson reality with controllable delayed choice precognition technology. ;-)"

And he writes, "This technology, if it were to work is as momentous as the discovery of fire, the wheel, movable type, calculus, the steam engine, electricity, relativity, nuclear fission & fusion, Turing machine & Von Neumann's programmable computer concept, DNA, transistor, internet ..."

A big if, but it's interesting that they are excited. I don't pretend to understand the physics.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Today's book recommendation

Roman Tsivkin mentioned on Twitter that he's been enjoying Paul Krassner's new book (published last fall) Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Adventures in the Counterculture. 

Pete Townsend once remarked, about British blues musician Alexis Korner, "If only for helping bring the Rolling Stones together, Alexis should be carried round London in a sedan chair for the rest of his life." As I wrote in a previous blog posting, Robert Anton Wilson fans ought to feel the same about Krassner. RAW wrote, in Coincidance, ""Paul Krassner's iconoclastic journal, The Realist, has published more of my writings than any other American magazine, and there was a period in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I might have given up writing entirely if Paul had not gone on publishing my work. I think everybody in the 'counterculture' owes a great debt to Paul Krassner, but I perhaps owe him more than anyone else."

I asked Roman via Twitter if Krassner mentions RAW in the new book. "Oh yes, quite a bit, and I'm only on page 43. Mostly in passing, though. You will definitely, definitely love it. Krassner sent RAW to do a story on Leary at Millbrook, & shortly thereafter tripped for the 1st time (with Leary, of course). He also mentions that RAW was one of the first contributors to The Realist."

Roman also notes that buying the book from Krassner's Web site will let you obtain an autographed copy. For those who can't afford the paper version, there's a cheaper ($9.99) Kindle edition.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

'I Was Manti Te'o'

I'm not trying to trick anyone into reading about football. My ongoing personal goal of boycotting the NFL over what the sport does to its players is coming along nicely -- I even managed to avoid watching the Super Bowl. (My wife actually watched more of the game than I did, a first for our relationship.)

But I would think that any Robert Anton Wilson fan, e.g. anyone concerned over the nature of reality and the "reality tunnels" that each of us live in, has to be fascinated by the unfolding story of football star Manti Te'o and his "fake girlfriend," who by Te'o's account was perfectly real to him, at least for awhile. Slate's article, "I Was Manti Te'o," argues convincingly that while Te'o lied about aspects of the relationship, he apparently also really was taken in.

Here is an interesting sentence from Davy Rothbart's account: "A relationship built on calls and texts can be integrated into a busy life a lot more easily than an actual relationship." But his piece raises the question of what an "actual relationship" is.

Rothbart says that he, too, had a relationship with a man pretending to be a woman and explains how it happened.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Muslim terrorism in U.S. hits record low

So,  how's the latest dire threat to America coming along? Wired reports, "Terrorist incidents from American Muslims is on the decline for the third straight year."

It's not that Muslim terrorism in the U.S. is nonexistent, but it's small compared to other threats and seems to be diminishing, the Wired article says, relying on work carried out by a University of North Carolina sociologist, Charles Kurzman.

"Since 9/11, Kurzman and his team tallies, 33 Americans have died as a result of terrorism launched by their Muslim neighbors. During that period, 180,000 Americans were murdered for reasons unrelated to terrorism. In just the past year, the mass shootings that have captivated America’s attention killed 66 Americans, 'twice as many fatalities as from Muslim-American terrorism in all 11 years since 9/11,' notes Kurzman’s team."

There's also a remarkable dearth of plots that don't involve assistance from law enforcement:

"Law enforcement, including 'informants and undercover agents,' were involved in 'almost all of the Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered in 2012,' the Triangle team finds. That’s in keeping with the FBI’s recent practice of using undercover or double agents to encourage would-be terrorists to act on their violent desires and arresting them when they do — a practice critics say comes perilously close to entrapment. A difference in 2012 observed by Triangle: with the exception of the Arizona attack, all the alleged plots involving U.S. Muslims were 'discovered and disrupted at an early stage,' while in the past three years, law enforcement often observed the incubating terror initiatives 'after weapons or explosives had already been gathered.' "

Of course, one successful plot will revive fear of Muslims, and memories of 9/11 are still fresh in the U.S. Still, the gap between fear and reality is interesting. The fear props up a very expensive Department of Homeland Security and national security state.

Monday, February 4, 2013

23 signs you read too much RAW

From a post at Disinformation:

1. You like to dine on golden apples and lasagna that has flown over Bologna.

2. You have Lawn Gnomes of Zurich out front on the porch.

3. You sign your name with “fnord” at the end.

4. You got into a heated argument with the staff of about the correct way to spell “coincidence”.

5. You wish you were shorter so you could change your name to Markoff.

6. Is that a reefer I see in your hand? Yeah, I thought so.

7. You can say “sumbunall” without hesitating or blushing.

8. Whenever you put off cleaning for too long you get the feeling that dust bunnies are conspiring to use mind control on you.

9. You have had an OOBE (out-of-book experience).

10. You get anonymous letters from Fernando Poo discussing the relevance of Egyptian Mouth Breeders in James Joyce’s Ulysses and actually understand it.

11. You keep your Pope Card in a Marx Brothers reliquary.

12. You can’t understand why all those street signs name a Buddhist monk (or why you run over so many people at crosswalks and in parking lots).

13. Some nights, you have to count Jumping Jesuses to get to sleep.

14. You go to costume parties in an Illuminati mask.

15. You’re afraid to let your cat out of the house at night for fear it might cause trouble in alternate universes.

16. Things don’t start looking normal until after you’ve tried LSD.

17. Your bomb shelter is a yellow submarine and serves as your summer home.

18. You wake up screaming, “Ewige Blumencraft!”

19. You like to be your own impostor.

20. You find you’ve been tattooed with the message “Property of the Illuminati.”

21. You suspect your cat may be a mole for the Secret Order of the Assassins when you find a dagger hidden under its litter box.

22. You go to Mad Dog, Texas for cheap thrills.

23. You make lists that are 23 items long; no more, no less.

I got this, by the way, via the Robert Anton Wilson community at Google Plus; I don't know if it's new or just new to me. I've added a link to it under "Resources" if you want to check it out or join it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

James Joyce birthday roundup

Saturday was Joyce's birthday, but perhaps the gala weekend celebration (Gaelic weekend celebration?) can be continued to note some of the Internet posts I noticed.

At Robert Anton Wilson fans on Facebook, Roman Tsivkin writes, "James Joyce was born on 2/2/1882. 2+2+1+8+8+2 = 23. Of course, of course." Lots of discussion of the new online Finnegans Wake reading group over there, too.

Here is a post on classic book covers updated for modern times (from where I got the image for this post.) Hat tip, Supergee.

Open Culture points to the excellent audiobook download of Ulysses on its site and to its other Joycean offerings.

PQ has a new post up at his new Finnegans Wake blog.  Oldie but goodie: PQ on "16 Reasons Why James Joyce is the Greatest Writer Ever."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ludwig van Beethoven, capitalist roader

Listen to This, an anthology of pieces by New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, has a chapter on classical music in China that includes these sentences on what transpired during the height of Maoism when Zhou Enlai suggested that China's national orchestra play something by Beethoven for a visit by Henry Kissenger. "Jiang Qing [e.g., Madame Mao] and her comrades proceeded to review Beethoven's symphonies for ideological errors. The Eroica was rejected because of its association with the imperialist figure of Napoleon; the Fifth fell short because it was said to be fatalistic. The Sixth Symphony, with its wholesome evocations of birds and babbling brooks, passed muster."

My hardcover copy of Listen to This, by the way, is a souvenir of the Borders book chain. In the final days of the company's collapse, my wife and I walked into a Borders in Pennsylvania, where the stock was being sold off at everything-must-go prices. In fact, most of the books already were gone, but I alertly snagged the Ross.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Online 'Finnegans Wake' reading group

Levi Edwards aka Mr. DNA has started an online Finnegans Wake reading group at the Maybe Logic Academy forum.

This is kind of a big deal, because while FW discussion groups are available in various hip communities (PQ has one in Austin, Texas,  Eric Wagner has led groups), the new Maybe Logic group makes discussion available to anyone.

The link is here.

Note that you'll need to register for the Maybe Logic forum, but you ought to do that, anyway. (Lots of other discussions of interest to RAW fans.) Joining the FW group is free.

"Everyone is welcome to join and provide whatever they wish!" Edwards says (in the comments for  yesterday's post).

Not sure if I'll have time to participate right away but I wanted to make sure everyone else knows about it.