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Monday, December 2, 2013

Coincidance, Week 12

 On the last page of Coincidance, Robert Anton Wilson goes back to the quotation from Carl Jung that opens the book on page 1.

Before I attempt to get into "The Hidden Variables," (is a "hidden variable" essentially a "maybe"?), I wanted to go to another place in the front of the book to illustrate RAW's wide-ranging literary interests.

In the "Fore-Words," RAW writes, "I have added a running commentary, here and there, which sets these pieces in their historical context, expands them, adds new thoughts, or just exemplifies the sad fact that, like most writers, I cannot resist any opportunity to explain my explanations."

I  like the "explain my explanations" crack, and I have a theory now on where RAW may have gotten it.

Lord Byron's most famous literary work, the book-length poem Don Juan, has an introductory section, too, a sarcastic dedication to Robert "Bob" Southey, then England's poet laureate.  From the second stanza:

And Coleridge, too, has lately taken wing, 
But like a hawk encumbered with his hood -- 
Explaining metaphysics to the nation -- 
I wish he would explain his Explanation.

Perhaps I should explain that Byron was, by the standards of his day, a political radical, and that he attacked Southey for turning his back on his radical past and becoming a conservative; Southey is also remembered  for advising Charlotte Bronte not to write professionally, because "Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life." He was quite the charmer.

I'll note for a moment that Byron's dedication also expresses sympathy for Irish independence and makes a reference to the "dog-star."

I noticed that in this chapter, as in one of the previous Joyce chapters, there are mistakes in the diagrams that are supposed to make understanding the text easier. I wish someone at New Falcon had proofread more carefully.

My favorite section of "The Hidden Variables" begins on page 243, where RAW cleverly relates Timothy Leary's eight circuit model of consciousness to Joyce's "no mind" function, the seven days of the week, etc.

I had trouble understanding the "centering process" referred to in the last sentence; does anyone want to help?

Note: When I drew up the 12-week schedule for the reading of Coincidance, I did not have in mind RAW's discussion of Joyce's system functions of twelves, pages 244-245.


Eric Wagner said...

I agree with your tracing of the Byron reference.

I've pondered that line about the centering process for decades.

Thanks for hosting this read through. I hope to finish the book later today and post some comments.

gacord said...

I'll have a go and just trust that someone will correct me or add to anything that's close.
Throughout the book RAW (as per usual) routinely knocks the reader of balance. We are jostled about and forced to find out own balance (centering) in order to keep up and flow within and between each excerpt. RAW states early on that the Golden Dawn have much to do with this book. In Israel Regardie's introduction to the First Edition of "The Golden Dawn" (page 49-50) he states, "Balance is required for the accomplishment of the Great Work. 'Equilibrium is the basis of the soul.'" Find that sweet spot between yin and yang, hodge and lodge, shem and shaun, etc. and maybe And then one may begin.

Oz Fritz said...

I'll have more to say when I get the time later but for now wanted to note the synchronicity between today's post here and the blog I've been working on a good part of the night, just posted, about books that circle back to the beginning.

It's about half way in:

Coincidances indeed!

gacord said...

I had extra credits and just got Bleeding Edge on audible last week. Haven't started it yet. But wanted to add to the "Coincidance" list. Now off to read Oz.

By the way, did you know Chris Monnastre credits an "Oz" in her introduction to the fifth edition of Regardie's "The Golden Dawn"?

Oz Fritz said...

We are everywhere ... like Agent Smith from the Matrix.

Oz Fritz said...

I like Gary's answer about balance.

My take on the "centering process" -
just before that it says:

"the symbol of the circle or sphere (0) and a centering process ..."

As said before, I've seen a recurring cabalistic theme throughout Coincidance. That theme occurs as a sphere located at the center of the Tree of Life.

gacord said...

Oz, Tiphareth?
I keep going back and looking at the cover, to try and see what you noticed. I see the polarity in the faces (binah & hokmath?), the diamond in the forehead (kether or maybe da'at?) The stars and yin/yangs in the collar could be separating those higher elements from the lower, seems logical. I also see the concentric circles of the background, focusing. Why on the heal? Not sure, Malkuth perhaps, bringing Kether back into Malkuth (and vice versa). Also "i" and "n" are the only two lowercase letters... "in"? Perhaps.

Because I'm a dirty old man AND to keep Joyce present as RAW always did, I see a tit hanging from the pants legs, hanging like a goats tit, just the way Joyce liked them.

I'd love to read what you gleaned from the cover and how that ties in the the full theme you seen from your perspective.

Oz Fritz said...

Yep, Tiphareth distinguishes itself as the center sphere of The Tree of Life.

For me, the shapes of the mouths of the yogis on the cover suggests Tiphareth, and the radiance around the fore figure's head that reaches the entire front cover reminds me of the sun or a star.

Yet the last part of the last sentence seems profound - the process has to be grasped intuitively, the process or function ie the active aspect of this qabalistic theme cannot be expressed by symbols. The symbols seem more like guides to or reminders of the centering process.

I went back and looked at the beginning of Coincidance and found this theme alluded to in the first sentence of page 5. Look up 83 in Crowley's List of Primes in 777 but you need to have the book. I've never been able to find this list online.

Oz Fritz said...

As I see it, this centering process recalls Voltaire's aphorism:

“God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.”

I seem to remember Crowley using this quote in one of his commentaries on The Book of the Law.

Eric Wagner said...

Well, I finished the book today. Thanks for hosting this read through, Tom. I find this book very rich. Joyce's real intentions in Finnegans Wake remain a mystery to me, and I love Bob's attempt to fathom them.

Oz Fritz said...

This group read of Coincidance fits my definition of a school. Thank-you Tom, seems a most valuable service. I had more than the usual number of coincidences during this time.

In the last piece I really like the fossil poem RAW pulled from Finnegans Wake:

tell me all about
Anna Livia, I want to hear all

and the explanation that follows.

Coincidance gave me one of the finest experiences with a RAW book when I gave to William Burroughs. He hadn't seen it, it was still pretty new. I pointed out RAW's use of software cut-ups. When I told him he could keep the book, he responded like a kid at Xmas.