Monday, February 24, 2014

Illuminatus! online reading group, week one



(First part, till the bottom of the Page 13, "we're closer to the pet shop here." I'm using page numbers in the standard Dell Omnibus edition, but I'll also use quotes to make things easier for anyone using an ebook version.)

The three books of what was originally the Illuminatus! trilogy were published in 1975. The work has pretty much remained in print every since and currently is available as a one-volume omnibus, an ebook and an audiobook.

I read Illuminatus! for the first time in the 1970s, sometime when I was a student at the University of Oklahoma, probably not too terribly long after the three paperbacks came out. I still have those three books. I can't remember where I bought them or how they came to my attention, although if I had to guess, I would blame my libertarian science fiction reading friends such as Steve Browne and Richard Onley.

One account I've found from Robert Anton Wilson about the origin and saga of Illuminatus! is this one "The Illuminatus! saga stumbles along."  In that telling, "Bob Shea and I began the Illuminatus series in 1969, inspired directly by our work as co-editors of The Playboy Fo­rum. The Forum (not to be confused with The Playboy Advisor) deals with civil liberties, the rights of the individual, and abuses of government power. Natu­rally, in addition to a great many intelli­gent letters from people justifiably indignant about real cases of unconstitu­tional behavior by judges and legisla­tors, the Forum – especially in those days – received a lot of paranoid rantings from people imagining totally baroque conspiracies. One day, either Shea or I­ – we don't remember which-asked whimsically, 'Suppose all these nuts are right, and every single conspiracy they complain about really exists.' "

In other accounts, however, Shea is credited with  coming up with the idea of writing a novel. For example, in this interview:

STARSHIP: Can you discuss the genesis of Illuminatus!? How did the idea originate?

WILSON: It started with the Discordian Society, which is based on worship of Eris, the Greek goddess of confusion and chaos. Actually, the Discordian Society is a new religion disguised as a complicated joke, although some skeptics think it’s a joke disguised as a religion. We [Robert Shea, his coauthor] felt the Society needed some opposition, because the whole idea of it is based on conflict and dialectics. So, we created an opposition within the Discordian Society, which we called the Bavarian Illuminati. We got the idea from the John Birch Society and various other right-wing groups who believe that the Illuminati really run the world. There were several Discordian newsletters written in the 1960s, and several Discordian members wrote for the underground press in various parts of the country. So, we built up this myth about the warfare between the Discordian Society and the Illuminati for quite a while, until one day Bob Shea said to me, “You know, we could write a novel about this!” The rest is history.

Illuminatus! was written from 1969-1971 and published in 1975, so it took awhile to get into print. It was written at about the same time as two somewhat similar books, Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed and Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.  The latter two have entered the modern literary canon, but Illuminatus! has not. Sombunall of us have a chip on our shoulders about that. I certainly do.

(Jesse Walker in Reason: "In 1973 Thomas Pynchon published an enormous experimental novel called Gravity's Rainbow. In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published an enormous experimental trilogy called Illuminatus! Both were written at about the same time, and both offered panoramic perspectives on history, liberty, and paranoia.

"Gravity's Rainbow won the National Book Award. Illuminatus! won no awards, save a science fiction prize issued a decade later.")

Sombunall, by the way, is a Robert Anton Wilson coinage that means "some, but not all." The philosophical point is that while for some ears/nervous systems, the statement, say, that  "David Bowie is a great musical artist" may be true,"for others, it may not be true. It recognizes that people are individuals.

I have been re-reading James Joyce's Ulysses, and I noticed this time that Joyce starts out with relatively easy to understand prose and then gets into some very difficult passages. Perhaps as a nod to Ulysses, perhaps not, Illuminatus! starts out with opening sentences that may seem a bit opaque but then gets into an easy-to-follow police procedure, perhaps to reassure readers that they will not be left at sea, after all. The first few pages also show the mix of "literary" and "popular fiction" influences (less usual in the 1970s than now), with passages that sound like Joyce mixing with passages that sound a bit like Raymond Chandler or other mystery writers.  (Actually, when I re-read the first paragraph of the work I was struck by how good it was. I plan to read it aloud to my local book discussion group.)

The cover of my 1977 original paperback edition (second printing) says "Dell SF." The fact that The Eye in the Pyramid was published as a science fiction paperback original (like many of Philip K. Dick's novels) probably explains by itself why it generally wasn't reviewed by literary magazines, book review sections, etc.

The cover art for the three original paperbacks was by an artist named Carlos Victor Ochagavia. To give credit, the identification was made by this guy,  I think his name is Lex Berman,  in this blog post.  More about Ochagavia here.  (He was born in Spain but lived in Argentina from the age of two, except when he studied in New York.)

A few annotations:

(Dedication) "To Gregory Hill and Kerry Thornley." The two founders of Discordianism. Kerry is also Lord Omar Ravenhurst, or Lord Omar.  Adam Gorightly's biography of Thornley, The Prankster and the Conspiracy,  remains in print. Hill is also Malaclypse the Younger.  For more on Discordianism and its founders, see Gorightly's Historia Discordia website. which has been publishing much of Greg Hill's archives. The Church of the Subgenius is sometimes considered a spinoff of Discordianism.

Ishmael Reed quote from Mumbo Jumbo: Reed is a well-known American writer and Mumbo Jumbo, his best-known work, was written at about the same time as Illuminatus! and has a plotline about a battle between secret societies. As I note here, the quotation from Mumbo Jumbo used in Illuminatus! is not word for word but is a paraphrase.

Page 7, "The first trip, or Kether." From the Kabbalah. For more on the Kabbalah and Illuminatus! see Eric Wagner's An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, specifically the chapter "Appendix Samekh."

Quotation at the beginning of Page 7: As mentioned, Lord Omar is Kerry Thornley.

Page 7, "Fernando Poo," a real island. 

Page 8, "Nkrumah Fubar," first use in the book of a suggestive name. "Fubar," acronym for "fucked up beyond all recognition." Compare with "snafu," as in the Snafu Principle.  For more on Wilson's use of names, see page 43, Cosmic Trigger, Vol. 3: "Then we went to Westminster Abbey and I paid homage to Ben Johnson, the man who inspired some of my own flights of nomenclature by giving his characters names like Face, Waspe, Epicure Mammon, Fastidious Brisk and (the first parody of an anti-smoking fanatic) Zeal of the Land Busy ... "

Page 9, "Hagbard Celine." First mention of perhaps the main protagonist, other than Simon Moon. Note that Hagbard CelinE's name has HCE, initials of the Finnegans Wake protagonist.

Page 10, "Numbly, dumbly, mopingly, gropingly out of the dark," Joycean language, similar to the love of words and sound in Ulysses.

Page 13, this sentence always jumps out at me: "You see a thousand faces like his on the street every day and never guess how well they are carrying their tragedies." The heroic quality of everyday life is a major theme of Ulysses.

Next week: Pages 13, from "we're closer to the pet shop here" to  page 23 "rather close to the Weatherman faction."










52 comments:

Arthur Hlavaty said...

"I'd die down over his feet humbly dumbly, only to washup"--near teh end of Finnegans Wake

gacord said...

I first came to RAW and the trilogy around 1990. After numerous "philosophical" discussion at work where I moved art, a fella handed me this massive book and said, "Here, you need to read this. It's acid in book form." NOTE: I've never dropped so I can't compare the legitimacy of this statement.

It's been a while since I read it with my eyes (I like the audio book) and was delighted when I started reading and clearly heard Ken Campbell's gravelly voice narrating inside my head.

When I read the "Numbly, dumbly..." line it felt very Joycean to me, too. It set my mind to traveling. Saul, a jew much like Poldy. Joyce, ever groping in the dark yet his art seemed to create light. Back to Saul, (the cut up effect already mirroring my mind... or is it vice versa?) As we will see unfold Saul, seems to struggle with a bit of "am I dreaming, am I not, what is real, what is really going on here". For newcomers to the book, that's not a spoiler...I don't think.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Arthur Hlavaty: One handicap I have in this discussion is that I still haven't read Finnegans Wake. (I'm still plugging away on re-reading Ulysses and will finish this week.) So I'm dependent on folks like you.

@Gary Acord I hadn't made the connection until you pointed it out. But yes, Poldy is a Jew exploring Dublin and Saul is a Jew exploring a very unusual case.

What was your emotional reaction to reading Illuminatus! I remember being blown away.

Eric Wagner said...

African explorer Richard Burton called his autobiography Wanderings in West Africa from Liverpool to Fernando Po.

I don’t know if I’d consider Gravity’s Rainbow or Mumbo Jumbo canonical. Some feminists consider Reed a misogynist, and The Crying of Lot 49 seems the Pynchon novel of choice to assign as college reading. I love Reed and Pynchon, but I don’t see Reed in any college textbooks. “Entropy” by Pynchon has made a number of textbooks. No Wilson or Shea in any, though, alas.

(I find it an interesting coincidence that I have Beethoven’s Op. 130 playing as I read on page 7 about Dealey Plaza.)
One can see the whole book as an April Fool’s joke. I think the book begins in 1976.

(Any of you watching True Detective? Man, I love that show.)

Parallel between Saul and Tim Leary with the suicides of their first wives.

The reference to Egyptian mouth-breeders on page 12 makes me think of how Isis resurrected Osiris.

zero said...

Regarding the naming of Hagbard Celine: there are a few other characters in the trilogy (and possibly in some of RAWs other fictions?) with the initials HC - off the top of my head I can only recall Harry Coin, but at the time (76 ish) it was apparent enough to make me wonder.
In other works RAW talks about something he calls 'the shaving mirror moment - a sudden realisation or moment of enlightenment that can occur during the most mundane of activities, ie shaving. It was whilst I was shaving one day that I happened to notice that the taps (faucets) in front of me were labelled H & C... And so I came to the conclusion that RAW had set up this little shaving mirror moment as a demonstration of the effect and as a huge joke. I hope he did...

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Eric, Well, to cite one example, Harold Blooms list of the "Western Canon" includes Mumbo Jumbo and Gravity's Rainbow and omits Illuminatus!

http://sonic.net/~rteeter/grtbloom.html

Arthur Hlavaty said...

I haven't read Finnegans Wake either (a few efforts), but I know some quotes from it.

Eric Wagner said...

Good point, Tom. I'd forgotten Bloom included those books.

gacord said...

I've read the Skeleton Key right through, but the Wake, I typically dip in and out of, often with Virgilian intent.

@zero you forgot the water. In French water is eau giving us the final E in your Hot & Cold Eau(water) (linguistic nerds please ignore my lack of l' sometimes we must stretch)

@Tom, well that's actually a big question. I was already a paranoid conspiracy dork by the time I got to Illuminatus!. I think mind blown begins it, but it also amped my senses (in more ways than one) and I saw conspiracies as frequently as 23's. Took a while get regain (or did it?) perspective.

@Eric, well, it does begin on April 1... at least, that's the day that is mentioned at the beginning of the narrative. When it actually begins... um... does Kether actually BEGIN? or even END for that matter? NOTE: I have yet to read your book, perhaps you cover that.

Feejee Press said...

Of course, the very first Joycean reference is a hat tip to Finnegans Wake and its very first word "riverrun"...

Book One's "Verwirrung," variously translated from the German as: chaos, confusion, bafflement, puzzlement, etc., is a pun for FW's "riverrun." Allowing RAW to start Illuminatus! with a Joycean pun style right out of the gate.

And from there it only gets more involved. ;-)

Gary said...

Interesting. I was attending a group in KC reading pages of Finnegan's Wake until the beginning of the year.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Zero There is also Harold Canvera, in "The Golden Apple," whose right wing editorials become more interesting after he has drunk the "free tomato juice."

pitr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drew Zi said...

One of my favourite phrases here is "inscrutable Talmudic countenance".

This chapter is inundated with water symbolism.

pitr said...

Because of some of the other comments/thinkings above, the paragraph on page 13 about the mouth breeder fish really stood out for me.

And the line:

"That's one of the great things about collecting fish: you get to appreciate the wonders of nature."


Perhaps an analogy towards what collecting/learning about conspiracies is like?

Oz Fritz said...

I look forward to beginning Illuminatus! again when I get back home in a few days. It will mark my 5th or 6th run through it.

At a talk Bob Wilson gave in NY in the late '80s or early '90s he said something to the effect that Illuminatus! functioned as "a guide to Cabala" - among other things no doubt.

I get a lot out of these group readings. Never spotted the "riverrun" reference before or the FW line Arthur quoted. The phrase Drew mentioned directly relates to my current location. I also love the line pitr posted about collecting fish. Hadn't realized all the water symbolism before which I'll look out for when I start reading.

I posted something about symbolism in the opening pages of Illuminatus! awhile back on my blog. Will try to find a link for that.

michael said...

One of the other HCs that will show up is Hugh Crane, who seems to have been in the international news quite prominently lately.

michael said...

Oh yea: the idea of Illuminatus! as being mapped onto cabala, or being isomorphic to it, and how this plays out?

It's covered beautifully in Eric Wagner's book on RAW, _An Insider's Guide_.

When that came out, I was compiling 40 4x6 cards on notes on Illuminatus! in order to understand it better. I knew cabala played in it, but had not delved into it deeply enough in order to understand it as a structural device for narrative. Eric, knowing RAW, really got the goods on this the Source himself. If Eric's book ONLY had the cabala stuff and how it works in The Book That Shall Not Speak Its Name, it would be worth buying, or even stealing.

The participator in this group reading of the the Terrible Tome are advised to read _An Insider's Guide to RAW_, pp.117, 121, "Appendix Samekh" which covers riverr...excuse me, Verwirrung, or "Chaos."

Bobby Campbell said...

@Feejee Press - I love the idea of Verwirrung as a pun on riverrun! Great catch.

I'm listening to the audio book version this time around. Ken Campbell's performance is terrific.

Have been thinking about the differences of audio vs. text. Audio seems maybe less immersive in some ways, but it also has some unique dramatic properties. You lose the asynchronous/idiosyncratic flow of close textual analysis, but gain the performative connotation of inflection.

For example, the character of James Patrick Hennessy is really wonderfully brought to life, and the line Tom highlighted, "and never guess how well they are carrying their tragedies," hits just that much harder.

For Illuminatus! there's a particularly interesting medium/message shift between audio/text, in print the narrator's voice is subjectively created within the reader's head, in audio it is objectively heard as an external voice, a subtle but important distinction, maybe!

Eric Wagner said...

Michael, thanks for the kind words. I think this will become comment #20, unless someone else posts in the next few moments. It looks like this read-through has generated a lot of interest. My original paperback of the first volume of Illuminatus! started falling apart, so I tore it apart and put it in my cut-up bag.

Oz Fritz said...

Great way to recycle literature, Eric. Illuminatus! likely generates unusual cut-ups I wonder if Shea and Wilson incorporated that technique into their opus?

I enjoyed all the comments not just the ones mentioned. Thanks again to Tom for this meeting of minds.

Lots of water in my environment these days. Apropos to the first chapter, it seems. Stayed at the Marina hotel and watched the wind blow strong waves along the Mediterranean shore this afternoon. As I write this a multi-spout, multi-color fountain sequences through a choreographed water dance in this high aesthetic food court lounge at the airport. Just about to fly over the ocean, or rather the plane will, I'll just tag along for the ride. 21 and counting...

Oz Fritz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gacord said...

Was thinking more about that Saul/Bloom leap I saw. We meet both men at waking, or there about. We take a trip with both men to the bathroom. Of course one is a quick wash-up the other and extended shit. Both contemplate and day dream whilst in there. Both leave (as will be divulged later in both cases) a groggy, sex craved wife behind in bed.

@Oz, safe travels. Stay dry.

Scott said...

When I first saw the wonderfully exotic covers of the trilogy at the PX of MCAS Cherry Point, NC in early 1976, I had no inkling of how dramatically my life would be influenced by RAW's books. As each new book came out I would explore the ideas and authors he presented, following the threads to new and exciting territories.
While I have read Illuminatus! multiple times, I am looking forward to a leisurely group reading with insights into ares that I have overlooked.
-Scott

michael said...

I'm totally fascinated by the lines of thought in Bobby Campbell's comment, above.

To those of us who are very familiar with Illuminatus!, we know more about Who seems to be addressing us on the first page and following pages ("For instance, I'm not even sure who I am...").

It seems worth pondering the effect of the writers' use of POV and what it does to our consciousness.
Here's a link that I think sheds oblique light on what's going on with POV/voice/tone in the first few pages:
http://litreactor.com/columns/the-benefits-of-free-indirect-discourse

Neil_in_Chicago said...

re: "Nkrumah Fubar"
I always assumed "Nkuumah" was from Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana and first Prime Minister of Ghana.
The topicality of the names has expired for many.

Drew Zi said...

In Warslavicks Pragmatics of human communication he analyzes the idea of how the instances of communication between people becomes embedded in the context of the conversations itself, and if the subject becomes about the context itself, the context becomes embedded in the context, and we lose sight of what it is we are talking about. He analyzes particularly a text called Who is afraid of virginia wolf, where the husband and wife duo aren't quite sure if they hate eachother or if it is just part of a game they are playing, the game became part of the game.


Act two in that play is called Walpurgisnacht.

I cannot find the exact quote but I think it was actually Virginia wolf who talked about the recursive layers of people talking, for example someone talking about someone talking about them talkking about someone else etc and if the recursion gets deep enough you cannot follow the subject, I think the "deepness" was about 5 layers. This links in with strange loops and narrative embedding.

Drew Zi said...

The names in illuminatus are very telling. Nkrumah's name means Ninth born son, and Howards name means Noble Watchman.

S.W. Thompson said...

Hope I’m not too late to the party… Just a few last-minute tidbits.
Saul Goodman seems a reference to the pacific anarchist Paul Goodman (Gestalt Therapy comes up later in the book) via the biblical Paul.
I’ve been on a bit of a Baudrillard kick lately, drawing lots of parallels btwn R.A.W.’s various interests, especially Korzybski, and J. Baud’s concept of simulation/simulacra. I figure Illuminatus! fits right in.
Found an essay in this collection that cites the immanentizing of the eschaton in the trilogy, but preview omissions curtail any further commentary. Has anyone read it? I’m trying to get my hands on a copy.
http://books.google.com/books?id=EuKJAgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=post-Secular+Philosophy:+Between+Phil&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Tk0NU9qMFMvksAT3uoGICw&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=robert%20anton%20wilson&f=false

Loving the Verwirrung pun. Can't wait to see what else the group read generates.

Drew Zi said...

The link between the Anarchist Goodman and the Fictional Goodman seems to overt for it to be accidental. It also seems to be an allusion to the journey of Saul on the road to Damascus, maybe implying that although Saul (the fictional Goodman) has a great intellect he has yet to be enlightened.





Feejee Press said...

So I've never heard the audio book version of Illuminatus! by Ken Campbell...

Is this youtube his reading or some other effort? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fytpA9nZX3w.

The reason I point it out is the narration leaves out the quotation from the The Honest Book of Truth, which is odd.

Also, as a teaser, some interesting info about The Honest Book of Truth will appear tomorrow morning (Feb 26) on Historia Discordia.

Drew Zi said...

Whoever uploaded the video seems to have taken it out himself. I have the audiobook and it is in there on my copy.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Michael, I guess I assumed "I'm not even sure who I am" was the authors speaking in a different voice.

The link you put up on Free Indirect Discourse was very interesting.

Bobby Campbell said...

Right on, @Michael!

I tend to be susceptible to the things I read shaping how I think. When I read something w/ a distinct voice my stream o'consciousness tends to imitate the style. Reading feels to me like a form of synchronized thinking.

So when I read the line "I'm not even sure who I am" it doesn't feel all that far removed from thinking the thought "I'm not even sure who I am," which then rings true and creates a kind of resonance between my thinking and the narration. Mutagenic literature!

On the other hand when I hear the audio book say the line "I'm not even sure who I am," I more so react like, "Hey that guy doesn't know who he is."

Apikoros said...

One of my favorite lines in the whole work, mentioned above, is "and never guess how well they are carrying their tragedies,". This line always gets me. I think it is foreshadowing to the great reveal of (Well, I am new to this are we allowed to use spoilers?) who Hagbard really is. He is carrying the greatest burden of all the characters, IMNSHO

It also is just so powerful, and commenting on the Monkey sphere and other ideas that were not in vogue yet. Every character in the trilogy is flawed, even Eris. It doesn't matter though as they are all carrying there inner tragedies...

Scott said...

The Law of Fives
On the first page(7) I count 5 "I am" and on the second(8) 5 more. I took this usage as an example of the Universal Consciousness communicating its presence.

My new favorite line in this opening is now:"The match went out, and shadows moved where nobody stirred."

gacord said...

@Scott, nice!

Drew Zi said...

The numerology is rich in the intro, I think it is richer here than most other places. For instance. The first sentence is 10 words long, which is the amount of sephira on the tree of life. The second sentence is 23 letters long, and it mentions both the fool, and Po breaking apart, which is the 23rd hexagram in the I ching, This hexagram is made up of keeping still and the receptive (like meditating). 10+23=33, which is the last degree in many mystical traditions and links to enlightenment. The narrator is not sure who he is, which happens during meditation.

Feejee Press said...

So, isn't it later revealed in LEVIATHAN that Hagbard's supercomputer FUCKUP is the unknown narrator at the beginning of the book in THE EYE IN THE PYRAMID? And that FUCKUP has been writing the book the entire time and learns his own identity as the narrator from this revelation?

That basically the entire story is a "dream" of the computer's?

gacord said...

@Apikoros, I think FeeJee Press may have answered your question about spoilers there. :) I'm willing to bet mosbunall folks that take part here have already read to the end... several times.

phodecidus said...

"never know how well they're carrying their tragedies"

yeah, I see now that it's a popular line and for a good reason. One I paraphrase probably once every month if not every week or like, whenever I find myself discussing the human condition with my buddies or talking some random jill or joe (lotsa randos back when I worked at the truckstop) through their tragedies.

this quote and, "I never met an uninteresting person," are ones I paraphrase and claim as my own whenever I'm arguing against the typical, "the masses are stupid," bullshit line that seems so popular these days. If the masses are stupid and you question the masses, then why hold an opinion that's so fucking popular?

Greetings and salutations! I'm here! Late for class in my typical fashion but here nonetheless!

Bobby, I listen to audiobooks a lot. I like old time radio shows the most. Harder to pay attention to these days. Yes, less immersive than reading. Audiobooks seemed far more gripping and much less passive in my child-hood but as I became literate they lost some of their imaginary powers. I wonder if the modern world went through this same phase when transitioning from radio to television?

I may not post next week but I will read right along with you folks. Considering turning my computer off for a week or a month... I do this from time to time and I don't own a cell-phone... awfully nice to take a break from the internet!

Oz Fritz said...

Illuminatus! begins with the Purple Sage opening his mouth. Mouth = Pe = The Tower (tarot). Crowley's description of that card connects with 'The opening of the Eye of Horus.' Maybe related to the name of Part I The Eye in the Triangle.

Obvious reference to Shakespeare's 'all the world is a stage' p.8

Really like a line that follows closely after the 'collecting fish' line:

"to have so many college graduates on the Force these days" - maybe a Star Wars pun that predates that series by at least 5 years. Also reminds me of this goup.

Bogus Magus said...

Great to see this lift off.

's all good,man.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Thanks to everyone who is posting comments -- the quality of the comments is very good.

Daddy Eroshka said...

I never saw "riverrun" in "Verwirrung..." (rwirrun) Very cool!

The book begins with a revolving, first-person omniscient narrator, where the "true" protagonist (I) is really 1-being inhabiting different bodies at different times. I won't spoil "who" the 'I' is, since it's explained later...

"I am not even sure who I am... I have found an identity as ringmaster... I am in Nairobi, Kenya, and my name is, if you will pardon me, Nkrumah Fubar... I find and identify a body, a self, a task. 'Goodman,' I say into the receiver..." (pg 7, 8, 8, 10) By the next page, though, it's shifted again. "As Barney Muldoon, I knew how I would feel if..." (pg 11)

Then the narrator steps back and quits the revolving first-person perspective. The 'I' reels in its omniscience a little bit.

From there forth, Saul and Barney's investigation is narrated from a more third-person 'objective' perspective, as the two discuss the bombing of Confrontation magazine's headquarters without any of the inner dialogue or 'I'-self-awareness intermixed in their conversation.

Basically, some kind of non-local consciousness is floating around--dropping into different bodies--and it introduces the reader to two NYC detectives at the scene of a crime.

Daddy Eroshka said...

I was just re-reading for FW references. The last line in this post contains an extremely small spoiler. Proceed with caution.

Illuminatus! loosely revolves around the actions that take place on "Fernando Poo" (not yet explained), an island which played part in helping Immanentize the Eschaton.

Throughout Finnegans Wake, the so-called Golden Apple of Discord are the alleged actions that took place in"Phoenix Park," which is on the island of Ireland."

Fernando Poo, Phoenix Park...

They alliterate together (Fernando and Phoenix, Poo and Park). Both words of 'Fernando Poo' end with the same sound: o/oo; both words of 'Phoenix Park' end with the same sound: k/ks. Both have 11 characters total.

And a really minor spoiler: the actions on Fernando Poo involve military forces. Likewise, in Finnegans Wake, the actions in Phoenix/Finnish/Phoenish/Foenix/Phornix Park involve soldiers.

beowulf1723 said...

p. 8: Kikuyu: a Bantu-speaking people of Kenya…23% of the population, according to Wikipedia. 

p. 9: “And if you should think…” Cp. The first section of “The Call of Cthulhu”: “Reports of unusual anxieties…”.

p. 10: These scenes with Saul and Barney are straight police procedural a la Ed McBain. Also, Saul & Barney parallel Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson (Fedora=deerstalker).

Rebecca Goodman: the resurrection/reincarnation of Sandra Goodman?

Also: in Genesis 24, when the servant who Abraham has sent to find a wife for Isaac first sees Rebecca she is drawing water from a well. More water symbolism.

“mouth-breeding”: should probably be mouth-brooding”.

p.11: “goyische narrs”. Saul’s father would probably have said “goyishe narrenim”.

Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum. One of the Sydney Toller movies.

@ Cleavland Okie: the omniscient narrator carries all the character as part of him. Literary multiple personality?

@Scott: “The match went out, and the shadows moved where nobody stirred.” A sentence that invokes both Chandler and Lovecraft.

fuzzbuddy said...

I'm late for the start of the reading. Looking forward to everyone's comments. I was looking for where RAW mentions who out of him and Shea wrote which characters/parts. This interview mentions Illuminatus! somewhat:
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/various-authors-illuminating-discord-an-interview-with-robert-anton-wilson

fuzzbuddy said...

Great comments all.
I would like to add:

Can we challenge "the truth" of the first statement. "It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton." Does it really happen?

I love the part: "it is certainly some kind of stage in which we all play roles, most of us being very poorly coached and totally unrehearsed before the curtain rises."

Howard the dolphin - There are many instances of Howard and his friend being referred to as dolphins or porpoises. I'm guessing each author called them on or the other. Talking to a friend, we thought dolphins hits the mark more closely with their level of intelligence and social behaviours.

The statue of Tlaloc is 23ft and it apparently rained heavily when it was moved.

"Where are we? Five hours away, I told you-five hours due west, to be precise." I couldn't work out the location of this to fit in with where Atlantis "is" later in the story.

fuzzbuddy said...

I was lucky enough to take the RAW Maybe Logic course on Illuminatus! in 2004. Here's the homeworks he set: https://sites.google.com/site/onlymaybe/course-notes-and-syllabus

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