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Monday, December 30, 2013

What I read this year -- the RAW connection

Every year, I post a list of the books that I read during the past year. This year, I will list first the books I consumed in 2013 that might interest many RAW fans, with a brief explanation for why, before I post the whole thing. I also read three books by Robert Anton Wilson, but it's pretty obvious why they'd interest a RAW fan. I've also left out some libertarian books, although anything with a libertarian slant could interest some RAW fans. "Constellation Games," for example, my favorite SF novel this year, features anarchist aliens. My "Best Books of 2013" blog post, featuring contributions from Roman Tsivkin and yours truly, is here.

Seven Shadows, L. Wayne Benner. I bought this book because Benner, a former prison convict who did time with Timothy Leary in California, collaborated with Robert Anton Wilson in an essay, "The RICH Economy." I finished the book feeling ripped off. Wilson is mentioned in exactly one sentence. There is a bit of material about Timothy Leary that seems to be true. The heart of the book is a dramatic narrative of a prison escape by Benner that as far as I can tell never actually took place -- Benner made it up.

Beethoven, Maynard Solomon. Biography of the famous composer that Robert Anton Wilson has referred to. There's some discussion about the relationship between Beethoven and members of the Illuminati and the Freemasons.

Chamber Music, James Joyce. Book of poetry from early in the career of the writer who was probably RAW's main influence.

Invented Religions, Carol Cusack. All about modern new religions such as Discordianism, the Church of the Subgenius, the Church of All Worlds, etc. Really interesting.

I Have America Surrounded, J.M.R. Higgs, excellent biography of Timothy Leary, sympathetic but not blind to Leary's faults.

The United States of Paranoia, Jesse Walker. History of conspiracy theories in America, with a whole chapter on Robert Anton Wilson and ironic uses of conspiracy theory.

Sketches Old and New, Mark Twain. Collection of short works, most of which hold up quite well. RAW was a huge Twain fan.

Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed. RAW also liked Reed's work a lot. This is a novel about warring secret societies, written at about the same time as Illuminatus!

Pause, Play: A Higher Consciousness Handbook, K.P. van der Tempel. Lots of references to RAW's work.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln. Heavy influence of RAW's novel, The Widow's Son.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce. Should be useful for my re-read of Ulysses.

Feel free to mention your own "RAW related" books you read recently.

And here is my list of what I read in 2013. I haven't attempted to distinguish between books read for the first time and books that I re-read. Also, some of these were consumed as audiobooks:

Books read 2013

1. Seven Shadows, L. Wayne Benner.
2. The Unincorporated Future, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin.
3. Beethoven, Maynard Solomon.
4. The Trick Top Hat, Robert Anton Wilson.
5. Listen to This, Alex Ross.
6. Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson.
7. Chamber Music, James Joyce.
8. Free Culture, Lawrence Lessig.
9. Francona, Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy.
10. The Sign of the Four, Arthur Conan Doyle.
11.  Constellation Games, Leonard Richardson.
12. Homeland, Cory Doctorow.
13. Invented Religions, Carol Cusack.
14. Coolidge, Amity Shlaes.
15. Masks of the Illuminati, R.A. Wilson.
16. Kill Decision, Daniel Suarez.
17. Sex at Dawn, Christopher Ryan and Cecilda Jetha.
18. I Have America Surrounded, JMR Higgs.
19. Arctic Rising, Tobias Bucknell.
20. Death of  Yesterday, M.C. Beaton.
21. Pirate Cinema, Cory Doctorow.
22. The First Church on the Moon, JMR Higgs.
23. The Drowned World, J.G. Ballard.
24. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick.
25. Chop Suey, a Cultural History of Chinese Food in the U.S., Andrew Coe.
26. The United States of Paranoia, Jesse Walker.
27. Light from a Lone Star, Jack Vance.
28. The View from Penthouse B, Elinor Lipman.
29. Inferno, Max Hastings.
30. Some Remarks, Neal Stephenson.
31. Sketches New and Old, Mark Twain.
32. In the Woods, Tana French.
33. On the Razor's Edge, Michael Flynn.
34. The Secret Sentry, Matthew Aid.
35. After Thermopylae, Paul Cartledge.
36. The Phoenix and the Mirror, Avram Davidson.
37. Musings from the Bay, James Milton Hanna.
38. Coming Apart: The State of White America: 1960-2010, Charles Murray.
39. Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed.
40. Tampa, Alissa Nutting.
41. Bleak House, Charles Dickens.
42. Weaponized, Nick Mennuti and Guggenheim.
43. Nine Inches, Tom Perrotta.
44. Pause, Play: A Higher Consciousness Handbook, K.P. van der Tempel.
45. Five Against Arlane, Tom Purdom.
46. The Things from the Lake, Eleanor Ingram.
47. Those Who Hunt the Night, Barbara Hambly.
48. Too Loud a Silence, Bohumil Hrabal.
49. Going Clear, Lawrence Wright.
50. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln.
51. Coincidance, A Head Test, Robert Anton Wilson.
52. Average Is Over, Tyler Cowen.
53. The Stress of Her Regard, Tim Powers.
54. Generosity, Richard Powers.
55. Six Armies, John Keegan.
56. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce.


Drew said...

I think I read the fewest books I ever read this year. I have been mainly extracts from books necessary for my course.

The two that stick in my mind are the Labyrinth of time by Michael Lockwood

Which is a non-fiction book explaining the many-worlds theory and a new concept of time, a good companion piece to that is the chapter in David Deuscthe book the fabric of reality called Time: the first quantum concept.

and the first part of the 'cornish trilogy' by Robertson davies called 'bred in the bone.' Oh and Hemingways the old man and the sea.

I read others but these ones stood out to me.

fyreflye said...

My own reading overlaps yours in the RAW, Joyce, Wright, Dick, Doctorow, Doyle, Anderson, Higgs and Ballard books. I'd recommend more Ballard, especially the shorter fiction.
You might also like Doctorow's prequel to Homeland,
Little Brother. And of course all the Sherlock Holmes stories.