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Monday, April 14, 2014

Illuminatus reading group, Week Eight

This week: Page 73 ("Suddenly tired and discouraged") to Page 82 ("Mavis pointed to a door that looked like an entrance to an elevator.")

This section might be entitled, "George Dorn meets the libertarians." He also gets to encounter a yellow submarine!

"Sudden tired and discouraged .... " Page 73, James Joyce fans will recognize this paragraph as a kind of parody of the famous scene in the "Nausicaa" section of Ulysses.

"Heroes of fiction ...." Page 73. But of course, Leopold Bloom does. Dorn does not not think of Joyce until a couple of paragraphs later.

"And then the explosion came ..." Page 74. Compare with the explosions Gerty is watching during her "sex scene" with Leopold Bloom: "And then a rocket sprang and bang shot blind blank and O! then the Roman candle burst and it was like a sigh of O! and everyone cried O! O! in raptures and it gushed out of it a stream of rain gold hair threads and they shed and ah! they were all greeny dewy stars falling with golden, O so lovely, O, soft, sweet, soft!"

"Earwicker, Bloom and Craft," parody of Ewige Blumenkraft.

"Schlangenkraft," page 75,  is German for serpent power. For RAW on serpent power, go here. "Hanf" is German for cannabis, so the slogan Dorn is reading is "Yesterday pot, today pot, always pot."

"Yossarian," page 77, hero of Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.

"I believe that government governs best" etc., Page 78. Mavis is a free market anarchist, still the most radical wing of the libertarian movement. The movement encompasses right wing Ayn Rand types (hence Mavis mentions Atlas Shrugged) and left wing types.

George Dorn, by the way, is getting a full dose of what it's like to encounter a libertarian; Wilson and Shea are offering an affectionate, not entirely satirical portrait of a type they knew well. (When I first took Bryan Caplan's "Libertarian purity test," I scored as only a moderate libertarian, but the answer key said, "Your friends probably encourage you to quit talking about your views so much.")

It's worth noting that this section was written in the early days of the Libertarian Party, which fielded its first presidential ticket in 1972.  It holds up rather well as a portrait of the movement today.

"Your kind of capitalist woman was a Nixonette in 1972, and she believes in that half-ass corporate socialist bastard fascist mixed economy Frank Roosevelt blessed these United States with." Page 79. Liberarians hate being associated with big government, corporatist capitalism, hence the vehemence.

" ... material that was gold in color." Page 79. As a hard core libertarian, Mavis embraces the gold standard in an intimate, personal way.

"It was a submarine — a golden submarine ..." Reference to a quintessential Sixties tune; Lennon and McCartney wrote it, but Donovan helped.

Scene from the Libertarian Party's 1996 national convention, as depicted in the Onion.  

For more on the roots of Robert Anton Wilson's libertarianism, see Brian Doherty's excellent Radicals for Capitalism.  For my commentary on the meme among RAW's leftist admirers that Wilson wasn't a libertarian,  see my blog post (and please see the comments, also). 

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


michael said...

Jays! Jackson: you're en fuego here.

What a great post. Thanks!

Eric Wagner said...

Terrific post. I remember having lunch with Bob in 1989 and him saying the Cotton Club Murders had messed up a movie deal for him. He hadn't seen "The Cotton Club," and he seemed delighted when I told him the film dealt with Dutch Schultz.

Re John Guilt and Ayn Rand: On 30 Rock, Jack read from The Fountainhead during Liz Lemon's wedding. I loved that.

Unknown said...

I'm paraphrasing here, but there's a recorded interview where RAW says " I would identify as libertarian, but that was because people didn't understand what I meant when I called myself an anarchist."

fuzzbuddy said...

Pg. 73. "a flash of the Passaic and the gun at my forehead" - from when George Dorn attempts suicide.
Pg. 74. "I'm still still dreaming." - Is the Mad Dog Jail Chapel scene "real" or just happen in a dream?

Oz Fritz said...

p. 80 "Wisdom is wearying, folly is fun" What does a horse with a single long horn sticking straight out of his head suggest to you?"

We are in the Chokmah chapter, a sephiroth aka Wisdom. The path of the fool (folly) connects Chokmah with Kether (the previous chapter).

Back on p.68 we see the same combination: "It all depends on whether the fool has wisdom enough to repeat it"

ALP, mentioned last week, = 111 a number identified with the path of Aleph - the spelling of Aleph in Hebrew = ALP. We learned in RAW's Tales of the Tribe of the strong thematic element of the Fool in Finnegans Wake.

"The Book of Wisdom and Folly" aka Liber Aleph appears one of Crowley's more important books especially with regard to the subject of sex magick.

The 2nd sentence quoted from p. 80 above, "What does a horse..." suggests a sex magick instruction to me.

Oz Fritz said...

Correction: Liber Aleph is called The Book of Wisdom or Folly, not and Folly.

Yeroshka said...

Already mentioned in the Teenset/Moon post from 03/22 but I'll note it here too; "Earwicker, Bloom and Graft," the parody of "Ewige Blumenkraft," is a nod to Joyce: HCE (Earwicker) from Finnegans Wake, and Leopold Bloom from Ulysses.

The Lovecraft references are ramping up; there's a few more in the next week's section I'll post after this. Page 77, "The only rest I'd gotten was fitful dozing in which cyclopean ruby eyes looked at me till I awoke in terror." The word "cyclopean" is used by Lovecraft to refer to unnatural and bizarre (non-Euclidian) geometry/architecture.

Page 78, "'What is John Guilt?' Mavis said. I might have guessed, I thought, a Hope fiend." Tim Leary's autobiography is titled Confessions of a Hope Fiend, itself an apparent homage to Crowley's pseudo-biography, Diary of a Drug Fiend.

Page 80, "What does a horse with a single long horn sticking straight out of its head mean to you?" Just like the Woodpecker is used as a symbol of the male principle/phallus/linga in this section, so can the unicorn be interpreted as a mythical representative of "dong power."

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