Monday, April 7, 2014

Illuminatus! reading group, Week Seven

The Illuminati symbol that everyone in the United States takes with them everywhere they go.

The Greek goddess Eris, known to the Romans as Discordia, from a Greek vase. She appears to George Dorn in a dream. 

This week: Page 63 ("Dad was the first to recover") to Page 73 ("he began thinking of alternate plans.")

A section of Illuminatus! rich in wit and in allusions! Let's see if we can tease out a few references:

Page 63 "that grin that always drove the cops crazy ... strange clear blue of his eyes ... " So apparently Simon Moon's father resembled Timothy Leary in some ways.

Page 63, Joe Hill, American labor organizer, tried and executed for a murder he probably didn't commit; famous for writing in his last letter, "Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize... " At the time Illuminatus! came out, many readers would have known the song about Hill that Joan Baez performed at Woodstock (it was on the live album), the song that Simon Moon quotes.

Page 64, Walpurgasnacht, spring festival six months after Halloween. 

Page 64, H.P. Lovecraft, a real band based in Chicago.

Page 64, Padre Pederastia, for an anecdote about the Chicago priest who inspired the character, see "Chimes at Midnight" in Cosmic Trigger Vol. III.

Page 66, "Nobody home," the Buddhist doctrine of "not self" or "no self." The Wikipedia article explains, "In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses (including the mental sense) are not really 'I' or 'mine,' and for this reason one should not cling to them."

Page 68, "Hail Eris." Discordian greeting. Eris, the major goddess in Discordianism, was the sister of Ares, the god of war. The Trojan War was her fault. The origin of the war involved a golden apple.

Page 68, "thirteen colossal levels ... One Enormous Eye ... "

Every American carries a picture of this  everywhere they go,  in their wallet or purse, near their photos of their loved ones.

Because,of course, the drawing of the eye in a triangle, atop a thirteen-stepped pyramid, appears on the back of every $1 bill, on the other side from George Washington, with the words "Annuit Coeptis" ("He has favored our undertakings") and "Novus Ordo Seclorum" ("New order of the ages.") The latter slogan, and the eye in the pyramid, etc., often is associated with the Illuminati.

Page 69, "Frank Sullivan," alias of John Dillinger. Citation from the July 23, 1934 issue of the (St. Petersburg, Fla.) "Evening Independent."  July 23 is celebrated as "Robert Anton Wilson Day."

Page 69, Bernard Barker, Watergate burglar.

Page 70, Knights of Christianity United in Faith. Just wanted to enjoy the acronym for a moment; the name parodies the Knights of Columbus. Years ago, some friends of mine recorded a punk rock song, "If You See Kay," perhaps not knowing they were citing James Joyce's Ulysses.

Page 70, "When are we going to get our troops out of Laos?" Thanks to American presidents such as the current Nobel Peace Prize winner, the satire in Illuminatus! remains evergreen.

Page 71, "Lief Erickson," e.g. Leif Ericson.

Page 71, "The Mgt." the Midget, conducting his own bit of OM.

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


Arthur Hlavaty said...

The Crying of Lot 49 includes radio station KCUF.

"Revolutionaries are dead men on furlough." Who isn't?

JCG said...

p.64 : "The next step beyond anarchy […] Real Chaos"

This sentence subtly introduces a line of thinking that will develop throughout the rest of the trilogy, namely, that traditional (conventional?) anarchist thought has been superseded by a new paradigm of anti-authoritarianism, which integrates the imagination, psychedelic consciousness, and occult knowledge.
Discordianism represents this new paradigm insofar as it takes the anarchist critique of domination to an ontological level, and thereby undermines authoritarianism at the root. Essentially, it is, in some major respects, a politicized formulation of Daoism. As such, Cops, the law, and the nation-state are not self-evident ontological "truths," but projections on chaos that have been, and are, willed into existence. In the words of Robert Shea paraphrasing Zhuangzi: "There is no governor anywhere."
This paradigm of individualist esoteric-anarchism has been variously termed "Post-anarchy anarchism" (by Hakim Bey), "ontological anarchism" (by RAW), and Post-Anarchism (by various academics). It is also the basis for Chaos Magick, at least in its American iterations.

Hakim Bey's formulation of Post-Anarchy Anarchism is here:

p.66: "more precisely SimonMooning"

This line seems to come from Wilson's friend, Alan Watts, who made the same point concerning nondualism here:

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@JCG, RAW lavishly praises Hakin Bey in "Chaos and Beyond," as I'm guessing you may already know.

Thanks for dropping in to comment this week and last week.

JCG said...

Thanks Tom! To your point, in addition to doing a few speaking engagements with RAW, PLW also praised his work in a few zines. As far as typologies go, I like to think of RAW being an anarchist esotericist and PLW/Hakim Bey being a esoteric anarchist...

Here is another part of the reading that caught my eye~

p. 63: "I walked through those walls a million times" …

p.66: "And i walked through the walls and into the Fire"

Since Simon Moon's father was a hardline Bakuninist/ social anarchist whose anarchist praxis consisted of traditional collectivist tactics, it is clear why he would ridicule Moon's "walk through the walls" form of anarchism. Bakunin's opposition to theology was almost creepy in its vitriol, so it makes sense that Moon's father would not tolerate his son's "all power to the imagination" revolution; however, Wilson (I seems like Wilson wrote this chapter…) seems to offer a response, or at least the initial stirrings of a new way to understand "walking through walls," when Miss Mao leans over and mentions Dillinger's escape from Crown Point Jail. This understanding is further extrapolated when Moon passes Padre Pederastia's Zen trial (modeled on the Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch, it seems). In this case (as in the case with the Platform Sutra), "walking through the walls" indicates escaping the prison of one's own conceptualizations, or more specifically, the prison of the ego. Since the image of "walking through the walls" reappears a number of times in the text, we will have to wait and see how the concept is further refined (and undoubtedly defined in regards to exemplifying Discordian thought).

In terms of prisoners walking through the walls, Leary's Starseed comes to mind (1973), as well as a forgotten text by Jack London entitled "Star Rover" (1915). In London's text, the prisoner goes into a trance and astral travels (sort of) as a means to escape the torture inflicted on him by his captors.

Eric Wagner said...

Reading about the Reds in Cincinnati on pg. 70 I thought about baseball. The discussion of the crisis in Fernando Poo used to make me think about Vietnam, but now it also makes me think about Afghanistan and Iraq

Eric Wagner said...

I remember John McCain saying we have to give military support to the freedom fighters in Fernando Poo.

fuzzbuddy said...

Pg. 63. "He's still around, in the back of my skull somewhere." - This reminds me of how RAW talked about Arlen living on in him after her death.
pg. 66. "Anthrax-Leprosi-Pi" same initials as Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP) from Finnegans Wake.
pg. 67 "Oh, man you're stoned out of your mind" - An internal conversation all conducted by George Dorn?
Pg. 68. "I can't give any answer to that that I can recall." - Presumably something Richard Nixon said in his defence at the time of Watergate.
pg. 68. "It all depends on whether the fool has wisdom to repeat it." - Possibly Hagbard Celine and The Dealy Lama talking telepathically or "beaming".
Pg. 70. "Smiling Jim Trepomena." Treponema meaning:

Daddy Eroshka said...

Moon's mother is Molly. Do we ever learn the name of Simon's father?

The King (Stephen King) has a son (Joseph Hillstrom King) who uses "Joe Hill" as his penname. He writes horror too (surprise). That makes him a second-generation horror author, like Moon's a second-generation anarchist. (And it's Simon who brings up Joe Hill in the book). Wikipedia says Joseph Hillstrom King was named after the folk-union hero, but there's no citation. Joseph Hillstrom --> Joe Hill is an easy move, but there's also Hillstrom --> Hell/Hailstorm, which I'm guessing was also intentional. Hellstorm nowadays usually refers to nuclear war (Fernando Poo).

Peter Lamborn Wilson/Hakim Bey is an admitted "pederastria." It's literally woven throughout TAZ. I hope/like to assume that those quoted on the back cover of TAZ (RAW, for example) only read the third part, TAZ, from which the book gets its name, since its considerably sparse on the "pederastria" references compared to the first two parts. Same goes for everyone else that was mentioned in TAZ or has associated with Bey; I charitably assume they didn't fully realize the content/nature of the book. I don't mean to upset anyone; but there are some pretty explicit passages throughout TAZ that speak volumes against Bey's character and elucidate his true authorial intent, and I'd be remiss not to mention so. I won't pollute the comments section with this any further; sorry for the digression. E-mail me to disagree or if you want demonstrative quotes from the book in this regard.

Does "Smiling Jim" Trepomena make anyone else think of Jim Jones, cult leader? Illuminatus! was published before Jonestown, but Jim Jones was in the news before then. Trying to avoid spoilers here: Smiling Jim is the kind of fellow who'd happily kill off a species/The American Dream forever. The character's surname, "Trepomena," ties in with the "creepy virus"/"bug" theme going on with Carmel, Mocenigo, and Maldonado; 'Treponema' is the genus of syphilis.

The TIL site hosted at (/site/onlymaybe) has as few pages for some of the characters. They note that Mao is Chinese for "Cat," so Mao Tsu-hsi could be read "Pussy Sushi." They also say that Simon Moon's father is named Tim, to answer my question above.

Eric Wagner said...

Interesting post, Fuzzbuddy. I missed the ALP, and I didn't know the meaning of trepomena.

Bob Wilson stills seems to dwell in the back of sombunall our skulls seven plus years after his death.

Daddy Eroshka said...

I missed the ALP too! D'oh! So obvious now... I considered bringing up "Kevin McCool," the poet mentioned at the Friendly Stranger, as a possible FW connection (Kevin being one of the Porter sons, and there's Finn McCool), but thought it was too tenuous. But that ALP is undeniable. Good eye, fuzzbuddy!

fuzzbuddy said...

Thanks guys, that's probably the extent to which I can help with any Joycean references though.

Arthur Hlavaty said...

I remember when Joe Hill's first book came out. It was weird for an old pink-diaper baby who grew up hearing Paul Robeson singing "I never died" to see ghost stories by Joe Hill.

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