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Monday, April 21, 2014

Illuminatus group reading, Week Nine

"The Destruction of Leviathan," an 1865 engraving by Gustave Dore. (Via Wikipedia).

(This week: Page 82, "You go that way," she said, to Page 92, "the funny business that he and Simon had in mind ...")

This is the section that introduces Leviathan, who is at once a real creature and a metaphor.

Leviathan is mentioned in the Bible, in Chapter 41  the Book of Job, as a mighty sea monster. "Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope? Can you put a cord through its nose or pierce its jaw with a hook?"

A monster in the deep also helps tie the Illuminatus! trilogy to Lovecraft's Cthulu Mythos. As we will see later on H.P. Lovecraft himself appears as a character in the book.

Leviathan also is the title of a book by Thomas Hobbes that argues for strong government by an absolute sovereign. And here we come to the symbolic important of Leviathan: It is the State, the enemy of the libertarian and anarchist heroes of the trilogy.  Although Leviathan is the book is an actual sea monster that Hagbard Celine battles with his yellow submarine, he also is metaphorically the  opponent of the book's protagonists. 

A few notes on the text:

"The sub's my creation ... " Page 83. Hagbard Celine is the Heinleinian competent man. (Robert Anton Wilson was a great admirer of the work of science fiction writer Robert Anson Heinlein. I suspect that Robert Shea was, too, although I cannot offer a citation.) A Heinlein quote:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. (From the novel Time Enough for Love.)

"You trust only the evidence of your eyes and believe what no man tells you." One of Wilson's great themes.

"Kallisti" Page 85. "For the fairest" written on the golden apple tossed out by Eris, the troublemaker.

"If you need a group label for us, we're political non-Eulideans." Page 86.

Atlanta Hope, Page 86. Author of the cult novel, Telemachus Sneezed, discussed elsewhere in the text. A reference to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, but also a Joyce reference, as Telemachus was the son of Odysseus, aka Ulysses.

Page 87, "A.W." Adam Weishaupt?

Page 90, "The universe is just putting us on." See Michael Johnson on life as a black comedy.

Mordecai Malignatus, or Mordecai the Foul, Page 91, Robert Anton Wilson.

Heisenberg, Page 92, Werner Heisenberg, physicist who made important contributions to quantum mechanics. 

(Next week: Page 92 "WE SHALL NOT" to Page 102 "the Angel of Death would pass by their houses. Pat.")


Unknown said...

It amuses me that my two great Influences are Robert Anton and Robert Anson, but the insect quote is one of my least favorites. Specialization makes us civilized and allows us to do more, and insects survive.

fuzzbuddy said...

Pg. 86. Sounds like Sheriff Jim and Atlanta Hope are on the same side.
Pg. 86 - Bobby Campbell's excellent picture of Hagbard Celine.
Pg. 88. - Heute die Welt, Morgens das Sonnensystem. "Today the World, tomorrow the Solarsystem."

Unknown said...

Shea was a Heinlein fan. He contributed to the Heinlein Memorial issue of New Libertarian.

gacord said...

Twice in this chapter we got "clear blue eyes". Once for Simon's dad and once for Drake. For me, that blue is the blue for Chokmah.

Also, pg. 87 St. Jude is, I'm mostly sure but never certain, the patron saint of lost causes. I wonder if that is intended for Hagbard, the Leif Erikson and their mission or for the Bob's and their book, or both, or both plus more.

Eric Wagner said...

When Hagbard talks about Leviathan, he reminds me of Captain Ahab talking about Moby Dick.

I like the Heinlein quote about specialization. He had Lazarus Long say that, and since LL lived over 2000 years, I can see his attitude about specialization.

I love how Bob Wilson created "Robert Anson Wilson" in Schoedinger's Cat.

Yeroshka said...

@Arthur, I agree that specialization is generally a good thing, and we couldn't have done a lot that we have without it. Experts in anything are usually good to have around... The problem is when those experts "over-expertize" (forgive my abuse of language) and forget how to hold a normal conversation or wipe their own butt. "Overspecialization" was a big part of Buckminster Fuller's work, which is widely known to have influenced RAW.

I had a good laugh at the description of Celine's mother's (recessive) Norwegian genes being dominated by his father's Italian genes, on page 83: "My Sicilian father creamed my mother in the genes." Isn't that just lovely?

Self-reference on the line from 83-84: "...I asked, wondering if I was in some crazy surrealist movie... according to a script written in advance by *two acid-heads* and a Martian humorist." The Roberts are the acid-heads; I'm not sure if the Martian humorist is supposed to refer to anything specifically. Maybe Sirius? There's at least another line like this later, the book review that appears in TIL, of TIL itself.

First mention of the classic Discordian game, Sink, on page 86: "Sink me, nobody of this tub agrees with anybody else about anything..."

I love the painting described on page 86, Think For Yourself, Schmuck!

Also on page 86 we learn that Atlanta Hope and Sheriff Jim Cartwright are in collusion, working for "The Four" in the "Order" we'll learn more about later...

On page 88, Hope says, "Brother Beghard, who is actually a politician in Chicago under his 'real' name..." I couldn't find anything searching for beghard+chicago, but Beghard is *almost* an anagram of Hagbard... Beghard-->Hagbard. Does anyone know who Brother Beghard is? Is it Hagbard Celine? Because the "Brother" part of the name would fit that explanation...

Page 91, the line "Mauls of Lhuv-Kerapht United for the Truth," contains a not-so-cryptic phonetic spelling of "Lovecraft." The next section we read draws heavily from Lovecraft's work, starting right at the top of page 94.

The Mauls...for the Truth are a parallel of the Faith." The backwards acronym for the Knights is F*CK. The Maul's backward acronym is TULM... Does that mean anything to anyone?

Neil_in_Chicago said...

re: Heisenberg et al.
Wilson was deeply fascinated by quantum physics. A few years later, he wrote the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy, which is actually a trilogy. It may be his most polarized book, combining shameless self-indulgence with deeply serious scientific speculation. (And the three volumes are bylined "Robert Anton Wilson", "Robert A. Wilson", and
"Robert Anson Wilson".)
In between, he was deeply involved with the crazy Berkeley physicists who championed Bell's Theorem (consistent, again, with his delight with any Irishman who upset English orderliness). Wilson gets a passing reference in How the Hippies Saved Physics, though he was important to the group.

"Martian humorist" brings to mind Stranger in a Strange Land.

And, of course, "sink" is a foreshadowing of the climax of Illuminatus!.

JCG said...

p. 85, "You'll find this submarine is opulently..."
This line inspired me to compare the Lief Erickson to Scientology's Freewinds vessel in the Sea Org

p. 86, "...we're political non-Euclideans"
RAW returned to this concept in an article entitled "Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective" collected in Email to the Universe (New Falcon, 2011)

p.85 & 86 both have descriptions of visual images (the Lief Erickson's 'emblem' and the 'think for yourself schmuck!' painting) that would be enjoyable to see realized.

p.90, "We've got sixty four thousand possible personalities... "
Could this be a tip of the cap to The Leary Circumplex? Seems so.

p. 91, "The Book of Contradictions" seems to be a reference to Crowley's Book of Lies.