(This is a "promoted from the comments" blog post. It's a comment posted to my Fred Feldman interview, my interview with the editor who worked on Illuminatus! Neil in Chicago didn't respond to my invitation to get in touch, so I don't know any more about him, or what he knows, than what I reproduce here. -- The Mgt.)
I've had a version of the story of the cutting for so long that I'm not sure who (or how many) I got it from.
the early 1970s there was a social circle of anarchists on Chicago's
North Side which, for lack of a name agreeable to everyone, was sort of
called The Nameless Anarchist Horde. This included the Wilson family,
and Bob Shea, and chronologically overlapped the writing of Illuminatus!
Many of the people in the group, including some kittens, are in the
book, and in subsequent things like Schroedinger's Cat.))
I'll call this note a memoir, because it's an honest recounting of my memory.
was set in 1976 to give it a slightly future feel, so it's ironic that
it didn't come out until late 1975. The way I remember the acquisition
story is that some junior editor would read it and say WOW! We've gotta
have this. And a senior editor would say what?? And the junior editor
would burn out, because that's what they're there for, and the
succeeding junior editor would say WOW!! etc.
So it took several
years to get bought, and then it had 500 pages cut, and was cut into a
"trilogy". There were stories about the cutting getting done;
eventually, Shea and Wilson were pulling out pages at semi-random, which
sort of fit into the Brion Gysin "cut up" style anyway. Originally,
the appendices were the full alphabet.
Those cut pages were probably
lost early on. I had heard that one of the Horde had them, but I asked
him years later, and he said no.
Those two Japanese books of
Shea's were Shike: Time of the Dragons and Shike: Last of the Ziinja.
He wrote half a dozen historical novels, and I recommend them all.
a typical bit of minuscule trivia. There was a street gang (much less
toxic than the current sorts) called the Thorndale Jag Offs, who
graffitied their TJO logo all the hell over the place. In the huge list
of bands at the rock festival at the climax of Illuminatus!, they're in
And for the synchronicity freaks – Shea once pointed out
to me that the two great crises in Illuminatus! Were the secret one of
anthrax leprosy pi and the open one of Fernando Poo. When 1976, the two
great crises which fizzled were Angola and swine flu . . .