Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bardo Pond's psychedelic rock

I don't listen to rock music as often as I used to, these days; I concentrate more on classical.

Still, I listen to some, and the last couple of days I have been listening to a psychedelic rock band named Bardo Pond.

I feel on firm ground calling the band psychedelic; their albums have titles like "Set and Setting" and "Dilate" and "Amanita," and the music itself sounds psychedelic to me. Here is the video for the song "Tantric Porno":

You can check out their music without having to spend money; they're on Spotify.

Also, the band allows taping, so a number of live performances are available at the Internet Archive.  I can personally recommend Bardo Pond Live at Metro Cafe on 1999-12-09.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rock band Tool endorses Cosmic Trigger play

Tool, the American hard rock band, has endorsed the crowd funding drive to make the Cosmic Trigger play happen.

Under "News" at the band's official site, it says, "Whether you've seen the fnords or not, I Siriusly encourage members of the Tool Family to support a new crowd fund campaign for a stage play (and related three-day festival) based on ROBERT ANTON WILSON'S "COSMIC TRIGGER." Celebrate the life, work, and influence of a counterculture icon by contributing HERE .
For additional information about the RAW EVENT, please visit"

Meanwhile,  Adam Gorightly has added his endorsement, and explains one of the reasons why his Historia Discordia book was delayed a few days: "... part of the delay stemmed from the fact that when he reviewed a test copy of the book, he discovered page 123 had been printed twice."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Talking with the real Simon Moon (one of them), Neil Rest

Neil Rest at Minicon 49, April 2014 in Minneapolis

When Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea were getting involved with anarchist politics in Chicago in the 1960s and early 1970s while working at Playboy magazine, Neil Rest was there. 

In fact, this interview is rather timely for the ongoing online discussion of Illuminatus! because there are traces of that Chicago sojourn in the book, and because Rest says that Robert Anton Wilson told him that the Simon Moon character in the book was based upon Rest, "Wobbly Surrealist" Franklin Rosemont and RAW himself.

Rest in fact turns up by name in a couple of places in Wilson and Shea's solo novels: As "Neal Rest" in Schrödinger's Cat (see below) and in the acknowledgements for Shea's All Things Are Lights (also as "Neal Rest.")

I became aware of Neil (a science fiction fan, active in fandom, as well as an anarchist) when he popped up in the comments for this blog, posting as "Neil in Chicago," so I asked him if he would take some questions by email and he agreed. -- The Mgt.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself -- how old are you, do you still live in Chicago, did you keep up with Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's writings over the years?

I'm 65.  My birthday is December 21, with Thomas a Beckett, Paul Revere, Disraeli, Kropotkin, Stalin, and Frank Zappa.

How did you get to know Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea when they were writing Illuminatus! ? Or did you meet them before then?

I think it was the spring of 1970, near the time I became a full-time SEED seller, I somehow heard of an anarchist conference at Wobbly Hall.  This was after the Wobs had moved from Halsted St. (described in Illuminatus! where Simon Moon's mother hears the gunshots that killed Dillinger) to the big second floor at 2440 N. Lincoln.  I recall that Solidarity bookstore was there too.
There were a dozen or twenty people, and at least from my perspective it was a great success, because it agglomerated an affinity group which was active for the next several years.  Parties, picnics, political actions.  I thought it was terribly funny that by far the longest-running political action was arguing over what to call ourselves.  We invented a site-specific name for each action, signing leaflets with whatever, but could never get close to consensus about ourselves.  Finally, I started calling us The Nameless Anarchist Horde, and that was as much name as the group ever had.  Shea did mailings announcing get-togethers and stuff, and called it The Nameless Newsletter.

I don't know when I found out Bob &  Bob were writing a book.  One of the things I say about Illuminatus! is that one of the few things that's clear about the book is that they stole material anywhere they could find it.  Many of the Horde are in the book, and at least one set of kittens.

Can you give me examples of how members of the Nameless Anarchist Horde found themselves in Illuminatus! ?

I'd have to go back and scan.  I do have a favorite example  There is a mention of three kittens, Clitoris, Penis, and Fred.  They were real; the fire-breathing feminist named her kitten Clitoris; her old man named his Penis in response; and the sweet pot head they lived with in turn responded by naming his kitten Fred.

One of the enduring mysteries of Illuminatus! is which Dell editor bought it. Do you happen to know, or do  you happen to know who might know?

No clue

Someone once told me that Kelly (one of the circle) had a copy of the 500 missing pages, but I eventually asked him and he said no.

Did you know Shea and Wilson from your mutual interest in anarchist politics? Did you feel you knew them well, and which one were you closest to?

That's how we met.  There was some sort of anarchist conference at Wobbly Hall when it was on Lincoln, I think in the spring of '70.  I have no idea how I heard of it, but I'm still in touch with six or eight of the people I met that day.

I'm sorry I didn't work with Shea more.  He was here in the near north suburbs while the Wilsons moved all over the place.  I mostly saw him when Wilson was visiting.  That post office box for Green and Pleasant Publications was Shea.

I was probably closer to the Wilsons.  Here's a clue for you:  If someone purports to have really been close to them, it's only true if they talk as much about Arlen as Bob.  She was very private (someone once told me she had never so much as had a bumper sticker on her car), but she was his equal and partner.  I'm no judge, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if she was more "spiritually advanced" than he.

After they left Chicago, I only visited occasionally, but made a real point whenever I was in California.  It was an enormous house in northeast Berkeley that Wilson first told me about Bell's Inequality (summer of '76, probably).  Someone recently did a history of the odd group who forced the physics world to take note, called How the Hippies Saved Physics. Wilson was their publicist.
And I visited in a little house in the flats shortly before the murder.  I'm tone-deaf to vibes, but even I picked up seriously odd vibes there. [Neil is referring to the murder of RAW's daughter Luna, discussed in Cosmic Trigger 1. -- The Mgt.]

And I may have helped at the end.  As a freelance writer, Bob never had financial security.  You know how broke he died  I was on the phone with one of his caretakers and insisted that they publicize the situation on the net, which they eventually did.  After one week they had to tell people to STOP sending money.

Isn't it true that Arlen Riley turned you on to Sufism?

The 1975 World Science Fiction Convention was in Australia.  I inherited several thousand dollars about a year before, so not only could I go, but I could spend time heading west to make a great circle home.

I spent my last week in the country in the Bay Area.  The Wilsons were in Berkeley, and always on my must visit list, and I did.  Somewhere in the conversation, Arlen asked if we had any Sufis in Chicago, because they were all over out there, and it takes about three years for something to get from Berkeley to Chicago.

After Australia, I spent three months in Indonesia, and then went down Malaysia to Singapore.  I was really hungry for reading material, and being Commonwealth, Singapore had marvelous Penguin book stalls.  (And probably the best street food in the world.)   So when I saw Idries Shah's The Sufis, I picked it up.  Shah seriously blew my mind, and I adore his work to this day, though I gradually learned not to trust almost anything he said about himself.

Incidentally, that's how it came about that I read parts 1 and 2 of Illuminatus! in Singapore, and part 3 in Jerusalem.

Have you read Chaos and Beyond, the "RAW and his circle" anthology? I ask because it has some of Arlen Riley's writings, and I wondered if it offered a pretty good picture of her.

I don't know that I'd ever heard of it.  I see it's collected from Trajectories, which I remember, but didn't follow meticulously.  Back here in Chicago, Arlen had been very active in an "anarcho-feminist" group called Siren, and wrote for/with them, but I don't know of too much else.

What's the scene in Schrödinger's Cat in which you appear?

I'm at the big Manhattan cocktail party where just everyone who is anyone is there, and the plot of the story keeps wandering through.  I can't give you a page, but I once copied it into my .sig file.  (Pat Murfin was GST of the Wobblies for a couple of years.)

I had remarkable hair.  There's another point at the party where someone is very startled -- "I just saw a sasquatch on the balcony!"  "Oh, that's just Simon Moon."  One of the bits of Simon which is most clearly me. [He's actually "Bigfoot," page 207 of the omnibus edition. The next paragraph is the other scene that features Neil. -- The Mgt.]

"There is a love that binds it all together, and that love is expressed in primate language as the love of a parent for a child, so Simon was not surprised to find Tim Moon pervading everything, or at least a kind of continuous Tim Moon potential that could be encoded again in another book or that could remain latent for long times, vaguely permeating every book. There were hundreds of thousands of other Wobs there, Frank Little and Joe Hill and Pat Murfin and Neal [sic] Rest and Big Bill Heywood and they were all singing like an outlaw Hallelujah Chorus:
"Though cowards cringe and traitors sneer
"We'll keep the Black Flag flying here"
 -- Schrödinger's Cat [Page 317 of the Omnibus, toward the end of The Trick Top Hat, in the section in which Simon Moon is toking on a pipe and ruminating. It's page 210 of the original paperback of The Trick Top Hat -- The Mgt.]

Would you describe what your current politics are? As a Chicagoan who probably heard of Barack Obama long before most of the rest of us, have you been surprised at how Obama has governed?

How I label my politics varies with circumstance and mood.  Often it's "lapsed anarchist", which is not inconsistent with the delightful "non-Euclidian."

I wasn't aware of Obama until he was already in the state Senate.  He's a South Sider and I'm a North Sider, so he almost might as well be from Milwaukee.  I was taken in; I'm still too regularly gullible, but for a couple of years now, one of my lines has been, "We used to have a name for politicians like Obama.  We called them 'Republicans.'  Jimmy Carter was the last President who wasn't to the right of Nixon."

Did you know "Wobbly Surrealist" Franklin Rosemont very well? Can you talk about how he provided some of the inspiration for the "Simon Moon" character in Illuminatus! ?

Nope.  Didn't know him.  When I saw Bob Wilson, probably later in the summer of '76, I diffidently stoked my ego by saying that I recognized a lot of people in Illuminatus! but not myself.  He  replied, "Simon Moon is a composite."  I'm not sure when, but I eventually found out it was himself, Franklin Rosemont, and me.

Did RAW and Arlen Riley ever talk about their courtship back in the 1950s? Didn't she already have children when she met RAW?

Nope  I can't say for sure if all her kids were Bob's.  Can't remember the question ever coming up.
One of the things I'm sorriest I never pursued is what Arlen did when she worked for Orson Welles (one of Bob's idols).

Why did you tell Robert Shea to begin using a computer for his writings? Were you yourself an early adopter of computer technologies?

Yeah, Shea inscribed my copy of Lights, "To Neil Rest, who helped illuminate the author'" and I said, "WOW!  I have no clue what you're talking about."  "Oh, you were the first person to tell me trhat I ought to be writing on a microcomputer."  And most of those historicals were written on an Apple II.  For me the farthest out thing in the book was to imagine a Cathar heretic.  I really loved that.

This fall, kinehora*, is the fiftieth anniversary of my first programming class . . .  I had the bug when integrated circuits were the cutting edge.

And in case you are thinking of asking, I'm a late adopter of the internet.  I've been on line for only 20 years.

(*a Yiddish anti-curse, literally "no evil eye")

A guy who lists the "Worldcon in the Bermuda Triangle" bid on your resume on Linked In must be pretty cool. 

Yeah, a bunch of "friends" made me chairman of a bid to hold the World Science Fiction Convention on a Carribean cruise.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Douglas Rushkoff endorses 'Cosmic Trigger" fund raising drive

Author and pundit-seer Douglas Rushkoff has a made a video endorsing the Cosmic Trigger Play crowd funding effort:

The Cosmic Trigger crowd funding site is here; some of the perks are in limited supply, so you should contribute sooner rather than later.

Rushkoff's latest book is Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now.  I interviewed him on the occasion of his wonderful digital lifestyle advice book, Program or Be Programmed. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Illuminatus online reading group, Week 14

Hassan Sabbah, leader of the Assassins. 

(This week: Page 134, "Joe stood there looking at the mocking bandit," to page 144 "to see if Danny found this 'Pat' who wrote them.")

In class at Harvard, Hagbard Celine realizes that his unpopular opinions are not welcomed by many of the other students: "As in law school, the other students were disturbed. Hagbard began to understand: they are not here to learn, they are here to acquire a piece of paper that will make them eligible for certain jobs ... "

While I agree that many people go to college and emerge with all of their previous beliefs intact, there are people who see the campus experience as a kind of voyage of discovery. I went to the University of Oklahoma (in 1974) thinking I was a liberal Democrat, and emerged  (in 1978) (acquiring my piece of paper, a journalism degree, one year later) thinking of myself as a libertarian, a person who had peculiar opinions and who sometimes read very peculiar books.

It is interesting to go to college and see RAW's observations on belief systems played out, not only in the diversity of opinion among various folks who are all convinced that they are right, but in the way people change their belief systems. I had one friend who was a various times a Marxist and a Jesus Freak. (He was always into drugs, though, and never had a libertarian phase.) The Marxist bit stuck.

Try as I might, I cannot remember how I heard about Illuminatus! or how I "found the others," the other campus libertarians. I might have heard about Illuminatus! from some of my new friends, or I might have run across it in paperback book rack (then, as now, I was a voracious reader, particularly of cheap science fiction paperbacks.) I wrote to a couple of these guys over the weekend, asking what they could remember. Steve Browne (he has a blog and still calls himself a libertarian, his views resemble the Instapundit's) wrote back: "I remember finding out about the trilogy. My late friend John Aynesworth discovered it and brought it over to my place and read the entire 'Atlas Shrugged' parody 'Telemachus Sneezed' to me and some others that were there, can't remember who." (Many years later, when I was in the 50s, I discovered that John was a fellow member of the Libertarian Futurist Society. In the libertarian movement, there are seldom very many degrees of separation.)

The bit about Ayn Rand is telling. Most libertarians in those days obtained their opinions by reading Rand tomes such as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. There was even a popular libertarian book by Jerome Tuccille called It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand. (Hmm, I see that there is a cheap revised Kindle edition.) 

But not me. I went to a high school on the south side of Tulsa where I was surrounded by conservative Republicans, some of them my friends. (It's the side of Tulsa that had the "Socs," if you've read S.E. Hinton). I was a liberal Democrat who opposed the war in Vietnam, although when I went to college I found I didn't have any affinity, either, with the Marxists who celebrated the fall of Saigon. Reading Illuminatus! was a critical stage in discovering that I was something called a "libertarian."

So for me it began with Illuminatus! and continued with books such as the ones mentioned above and with The Illuminati Papers. Illuminatus! resembled the world I sometimes found myself in, at least when I went to parties. And for other people, I think it began with Illuminatus! too.

If you read my 2011 Jesse Walker interview, you can see he went through a political evolution similar to mind. Here is a passage from that interview: "Illuminatus! is one of the first forthrightly libertarian books I read. I've joked that the great invisible divide in the libertarian movement is between the people who were transformed by reading Atlas Shrugged in high school and people who were transformed by reading Illuminatus! I never went through a Rand phase, so you can put me firmly in the Illuminatus! camp."

Jesse says he jokes about it, but even now, I think the Rand fans tend to be a little more "right" than the RAW fans, although many libertarians would cite both as an influence.

In the 1970s, when one became a libertarian, one usually went on to read various movement books. For me, those books included For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard, The Incredible Bread Machine and Rand's anthology, For the New Intellectual, still the only Rand book I've ever read.

It's interesting to me that Illuminatus! fans tend to fall in different camps. I don't remember that my friends and I talked about magick or Kabbalah, or even reality tunnels. I don't remember any particular interest in Timothy Leary. Libertarians in those days favored legalization of drugs, of course, but when I think about it, I realize that the libertarians I knew were not, in fact, the biggest druggies of my acquaintance. We were all involved with the nascent Libertarian Party. The biggest surprise to me in writing this blog is that not many RAW fans seem terribly interested in libertarianism. Perhaps it's a testimony to the man that he had so many different interests, and people pick up on them in so many different ways.

So, how did you discover Illuminatus!, and what effect did it have on you? 

Some notes on the text:

"it seemed to him a frieze and a freeze in time: a moment that would linger, as another stage in illumination," pages 134-135 this sounds to me like Zen, the Buddhist path to sudden insight. 

"But more years had to pass .... and  Joe had to plan the bombing of his own magazine with Tobias Knight," page 135. This is apparently in 1969-1970. According to the handy Iluminatus! timeline in Eric Wagner's An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, the bombing took place on April 23, 1976.

"Tequila y Mota Street," page 136. Named after the ruling dictator, Captain Ernesto Tequila & Mota (page 18) but I did not realize until now that "mota" is slang for marijuana.

"The SAC bases," page 137, the Strategic Air Command, the bombers  in the U.S. Air Force deployed to drop nuclear bombs.

The Book of Lies, by Aleister Crowley, written under the pen name of Frater Perdurabo.

Hassan i Sabbah, leader of the Assassins. Perhaps this is a good time to mention that according to the Wikipedia article, he had an associate named Malik: "Hassan's austere and devoted commitment to the da'wa brought him in audience with the chief missionary of the region: ‘Abdu l-Malik ibn Attash."

"Jesus Christ went by on a bicycle," page 142. LSD discoverer Albert Hofmann rode home on a bicycle during the first intentional acid trip. See the reference to Jarry on page 143.

"they are here to acquire a piece of paper that would make them eligible for certain jobs," page 144. For the concept of signalling, go here. An amusing British perspective on signalling in American colleges is here.

(Next week: From page 144 "ILLUMINATI PROJECT MEMO #15" to page 154, "and you're going to tell the judge that, in exactly those words.")

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday links

Many of these deserve a separate blog posting of their own, but I am trying to get caught up and have many things to post about, so please forgive me.

Michael Johnson on various kinds of logic. Don't forget to read the comments, too; Michael's bit about the Jains is lovely.

Adam Gorightly discusses Week 13 of the Illuminatus! online reading: "Bavarians, Beethoven and Bloodshed." You gotta read the hoax letter.

Chad Nelson on "Libertarianism As Direct Experience." Includes discussion of RAW's SNAFU principle. It's posted at the Center for a Stateless Society website; I mentioned to Chad that the center's political principles often seem pretty close to what RAW espoused. "Yea, I agree with c4ss aligning pretty closely with RAW's politics.  A lot of Benjamin Tucker influence.  Wish there was more of that amongst libertarians," he replied. I need to get around to reading Benjamin Tucker.

One of the perks for the Cosmic Trigger crowd funding. (See Saturday's post.)

PQ on Joseph Campbell on how to read Finnegans Wake.

Response to Michael Kinsley from Glenn Greenwald.

Is that angel holding a hot dog? Via John Merritt. (John believes the others are holding mustard and ketchup jars. But shouldn't the angel hold the hot dog rather than the bun?)

NASA releases free ebook on communicating with aliens.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cosmic Trigger crowd funding campaign launches

As previously announced, the Cosmic Trigger play crowd funding campaign began on May 23, at Indiegogo. (The details came in too late to make yesterday's post.)

I went to the site and contributed  23 pounds after the campaign began. There are many different levels for donations, all the way from one pound to 23,000 pounds, and many different perks of interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans, including artwork and books signed by the likes of John Higgs and Adam Gorightly. The page also has a list of the folks who are involved in the production, with short bios for each.

The official Cosmic Trigger play website is here; it also has a link to the crowd funding campaign. Lots of other information on the site, including confirmed cast members. Oliver Senton has been cast as Robert Anton Wilson.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The 23 Enigma and the Law of Fives on NPR

My day job is that I'm a reporter for the Sandusky Register newspaper. Yesterday, May 22, I interviewed a lady in Sandusky named Mary Perry. The trigger for the story was that the next day, May 23, would be the 20th anniversary of her heart transplant.

Well, she had to have it sometime.

But when I was sitting in her living room, she suddenly remarked, "23 is kind of a good number for me and a bad number for me." Then she told me about all the events in her life connected with 23: The birth of her mother, the birth of her son, the death of her son and other events. I asked her if she'd ever heard of the 23 Enigma, and she said no.

Today, as I drove to work, I listened to a podcast of "This American Life." The specific podcast was "No Coincidence, No Story." It did not occur to me I was listening to the broadcast on the 23rd day of the fifth month. I have a backlog of "This American Life" podcasts on my smartphone, and I have been listening to them every day, clearing away the backlog and freeing up space for a library audiobook I want to download soon.

It's a great episode of my favorite podcast, filled with crazy coincidences, but what I wanted to mention was this: The show's guest narrator, Sarah Koenig (filling in for Ira Glass) mentions a family that was at a Thanksgiving dinner and realized that six of them have names with 23 letters. Later on, referring to another story, Koenig says, "Coming up, don't lift that manhole cover. That's 23 letters, by the way."

Elsewhere in the podcast, Koenig explains the title of the show, which comes from a Chinese phrase from a friend of hers. The Chinese phrase has five words, as Koenig explains when she tells one of the people she is interviewing: "I have five words for you, Jeff." So the title of the show on coincidences conforms to the Law of Fives.

When I came to work, my phone was flashing, so the first thing I did was check my voicemails. The second message came from Mary Perry's daughter. Transcript: "It was just kind of a weird thing. Me and my mom were talking tonight and we remembered that there was also another lady waiting for a heart transplant that had the exact same name as my Mom except for  her middle name was different.  Her middle name was Louise. It was Mary Louise Perry. And she died one or two nights before Mom got her heart. And she was also Dr. Bott-Silverman's patient.  It was just a weird thing that she had the exact same name except for her middle name. "

Thursday, May 22, 2014

More privacy news

A couple of followups to Sunday's post on keeping your privacy online, and then I'll try to shut up about the subject, at least for  a few days:

(1) Version 1.0 of TAILS has been released. This is version of Linux, designed to run from a USB stick or a live disk, that is designed to protect your privacy on the Internet. It's been used by Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Bruce Schneier, etc. I use it quite a bit. You can read about TAILS in Wired and at Gizmodo. Computerworld has a detailed writeup.

(2) A new webmail service called ProtonMail that's supposed to make encrypted email easy has just gone into public beta. It now has a waiting list — the servers got overwhelmed by new users — but you can sign up to get an invite when more accounts become available. I want to try it, but I didn't find out about it in time, so I'll have to wait like everyone else.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What drives this blog (well, one thing)

As I pursue the quixotic project of blogging Illuminatus! 10 pages at a time with  y'alls help, I wanted to refer to the same edition that everyone else uses. (My personal library has the original three 1970s mass market paperbacks). So I checked out a copy via the Sandusky Library from Cleveland Public Library, using CLEVNET, a local library consortium.

I've reached my maximum number of renewals, so I have to give it back. No problem, I thought. I would just check out a copy from the local branch library where I live, Berea, Ohio. It's part of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, a metropolitan library system in Cleveland that has 27 branches. Sari Feldman, the library's executive director, has just been elected the president of the American Library Association.

Except that when I ran a search online in the library catalog, I made an unpleasant discovery. The library system did not have a copy of Illuminatus! In fact, it did not have anything by Robert Anton Wilson or Robert Shea.

The effort to secure a place for RAW in the literary canon obviously has a long way to go. It's part of the reason why I blog.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Illuminatus Online Reading Group, Week 13

Diogenes searches for an honest man. Painting attributed to JHW Tischbein. 

(This week: Page 124 "Simon parked the car and held the door open" to Page 134 "his old impudent grin flashed wickedly.")

There are many famous stories told about Diogenes the Cynic, the Greek philosopher who helped launch the Cynics, the ancient Greek philosophical movement that Simon Moon ties to the anti-Illuminati movement of the Justified Ancients of Mummu.

Some of Diogenes' interactions were with some of the age's most famous people. Alexander the Great came calling one day when the philosopher was sunning himself. Alexander asked if there was anything he could do for the great thinker. Yes, Diogenes said -- move out of the way, so I can continue to enjoy the sun. Alexander remarked that if he were not Alexander, he would like to be Diogenes — a remarkably fatuous remark, given the conqueror's vast appetite for taking control of large areas of land and killing remarkably large numbers of people. (If you like Hitler, Napoleon, Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun, you'll love Alexander). Diogenes remarked that if he weren't Diogenes, he'd like to be Diogenes, too.

Plato once provided a definition of man as a creature without feathers who walks on two legs. Diogenes responded by plucking a chicken and bringing it to one of Plato's classes as an example of Plato's men. The definition of man was changed to add "broad flat nails," but the sense that the definition had been fatally punctured has echoed through the ages.

Even if you don't follow classical culture closely, you have probably heard the story about Diogenes carrying a lamp with him everywhere he went, even during the day. When he was asked what the lamp was for, he explained it was to try to find an honest man.

Simon Moon gives the Cynics as an example of one of the groups in which the Justified Ancients of Mummu sought to resist the Illuminati. Diogenes certainly rebelled against many of the strictures of society; he said that nothing that was not shameful when done in private would be shameful if done in public, too. Cynicism means "dog like," and it was applied to Diogenes (and his followers) for his "shameless" lifestyle, says British classical scholar John L. Moles in the third edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary*. Compare with Simon Moon talking (page 64) "We won't be human beings, the way apes are apes and dogs are dogs, until we fuck where and when we want to, like any other mammal. Fucking in the streets isn't just a tactic to blow minds; it's recapturing our own bodies." Shades of the Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"

 Professor Moles, who wrote the entries for "Diogenes," "Cynics" and "Crates," in the 3rd O.C.D., explicitly links "hard" cynicism to anarchism in his Cynicism piece ("The Roman authorities inevitably clashed with 'hard' Cynics (qua anarchists)," p. 418.

The Cynics had a huge influence on classical philosophy. Mole writes that Stoic ethics are essentially Cynic ethics, and that although Epicureans issued polemics against the Cynics, Cynic ethics were a big influence on Epicurean ethics. (Stoicism was founded by Zeno, a follower of Crates. Crates, Moles explains, "notoriously enacted Diogenes prescriptions regarding free and public sex in his relations with Hipparchia, with whom he shared a Cynic way of life." ) This seems like a good place to mention that historical novelist Richard Blake, who sets his novels in Late Antiquity, one of my obsessions, links Epicureanism to classical liberalism, i.e. libertarianism. 

 A few notes on the text:

"Lie down on the floor and keep calm....Diogenes the Cynic" pages 125-126. Alas, after combing through Internet sites and the Oxford Classical Dictionary, I've found no evidence yet that Diogenes said that. I also wrote to Richard Blake/Sean Gabb for help, as he is a classicist, and he said, "I don't think Diogenes said that, though he might have." I've written to another British classicist; if I get a response, I will update this post. [Update: John Moles, professor of Latin at Newcastle University and I believe the same person cited above, says, "Rings no bells. Idiom sounds phony. Don't believe it's authentic." Maybe John Dillinger just wasn't much of a classical scholar.]

I can say, however that Scott Piering said "Lie down on the floor and keep calm" on the KLF song, "Last Train to Trancentral."

"Mummu," page 127. Sumero-Babylonian god and embodiment of entropy, or so says Wikipedia.

"Justified Ancients of Mummu," phrase often used by the KLF. For more on the KLF, a British pop group, and how it was influenced by Robert Anton Wilson, see the very interesting book by JMR Higgs. 

"they got the MC-5 to cut a disc called 'Kick Out the Jams' just to taunt us with old bitter memories" page 128. Kick out the Jams by the MC5 is a fairly famous rock music album and song; the Wikipedia article says that the KLF sampled the song. John Sinclair was the MC5's manager.

"Christian Crusade of Tulsa, Oklahoma" Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles, Page 128, a right-wing, anti-Communist church in Tulsa which really did put out the titles described in Illuminatus! As a teenager growing up in Tulsa, I once attended a church service presided over by the founder, the Rev. Billy James Hargis, as part of a comparative religious class for my Unitarian church, so I knew the reference was real when I read Iluminatus! for the first time as a college student at the University of Oklahoma. The church also opposed sex education in the public schools. The church went into decline after two students at his American Christian College allegedly discovered, on their wedding night, that they had both had sex with Hargis.

Scotus Ergina, page 132, aka Johannes Scottus Eriugena, Irish theologian, philosopher and poet. His statement, "All things that are, are lights" was used for the title of Robert Shea's excellent historical novel, All Things Are Lights. 

"look what Beethoven did..." page 133, the Fifth Symphony is arguably the best-known masterpiece of classical music. The dramatic score certainly sounds like the work of a composer who had achieved illumination.

"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," page 133. For what it's worth, John Lennon swore that he had never noticed the initials when he wrote the song and that it was inspired by a drawing by his son of a classmate named Lucy.

"Osiris is a black god." page 134. I've struggled to understand this; does it mean that Osiris is a god of death, and therefore also a god of resurrection? Somebody help me on this.

* After my wife bought the expensive third edition as my main Christmas present one year, they rushed out a fourth edition.

(Next week: Page 134, "Joe stood there looking at the mocking bandit," to page 144 "to see if Danny found this 'Pat' who wrote them.")

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Protecting your privacy online [UPDATED]

Julia Angwin (photo by Deborah Kopaken Cogen)

UPDATE: TrueCrypt is no longer recommended; see this article.]

[This is a reprint of an article on ProPublica by Julia Angwin, author of the new book Dragnet Nation.  Her advice on how to protect your privacy online is so good and so succinct I wanted you to see it. Please notice that I am not "pirating" the article; ProPublica allows anyone to reprint its articles if you meet its terms and conditions. -- The Mgt.]

Privacy Tools: Encrypt What You Can

Here are some techniques that anybody can use to protect their privacy online.
by Julia Angwin
ProPublica, May 6, 2014

In the course of writing my book, Dragnet Nation, I tried various strategies to protect my privacy. In this series of book excerpts and adaptations, I distill the lessons from my privacy experiments into tips for readers.

Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the inner secrets of the NSA, he has been urging Americans to use encryption to protect themselves from rampant spying.

"Encryption does work," Snowden said, via a remote connection at the SXSW tech conference. "It is a defense against the dark arts for the digital realm."

ProPublica has written about the NSA's attempts to break encryption, but we don't know for sure how successful the spy agency has been, and security experts still recommend using these techniques.

And besides, who doesn't want to defend against the dark arts? But getting started with encryption can be daunting. Here are a few techniques that most people can use.

Encrypt the data you store. This protects your data from being read by people with access to your computer.

• Encrypt your hard drive so that if you lose your computer or you get hacked, your information will be safe. Most recent Apple Macintosh computers contain a built-in encryption system called FileVault that is simple to use. Some versions of Microsoft's Windows 7 also contain a built-in encryption system called BitLocker. Another popular solution is the free, open-source program TrueCrypt, which can either encrypt individual files or entire partitions of your computer or an external hard drive.

[Since this article was written, TrueCrypt has abruptly shut down. See this BoingBoing report.]

• Encrypt your smartphone's hard drive. Yes -- your smartphone has a hard drive much like your computer does. In fact, your phone probably contains as much --or more -- sensitive information about you as your computer does. Apple doesn't let you encrypt your smart phone's hard drive or the files on it, though the operating system will encrypt passwords and some other files if you use a passcode on your device. Apple will also let you encrypt your phone's backup files on iTunes or iCloud. You can also use Find my iPhone to remotely "wipe," or delete the data on your iPhone or iPad if it is lost or stolen. Google's Android operating system lets you encrypt your phone hard drive.

• Encrypt the data you store in the cloud. I use the SpiderOak encrypted cloud service. If an encrypted cloud service were somehow forced to hand over their servers, your data would still be safe, because it's encrypted using a key stored only on your computer. However, this also means that if you lose your password, they can't help you. The encrypted data would be unrecoverable.

Encrypt the data you transmit. The Snowden revelations have revealed that U.S. and British spy agencies are grabbing as much unencrypted data as they can find as it passes over the Internet. Encrypting your data in transit can protect it against spy agencies, as well as commercial data gatherers.

• Install HTTPS Everywhere on your Web browser. This encrypts your Web browsing sessions, protecting you from hackers and spy agencies that scoop up unencrypted traffic across the Internet. Not every site works properly with HTTPS Everywhere, though an increasing number do.

• Use encrypted texting apps with friends who install the same apps on their phones. On the iPhone, Silent Circle and Wickr offer apps for encrypted texting. On Android, the TextSecure app encrypts texts in transit and when they are stored on your device.

• Use the Off-the-Record Messaging protocol to encrypt your instant messaging conversations. You can still use your favorite instant-messaging service, such as Gchat or AIM, though you'll need to use a software client that supports the Off-the-Record protocol. On Macs, free software called Adium can enable OTR chats, and on Windows, you can use Pidgin. Once you've set up OTR and gone through a simple verification step, you can IM as you usually do. Both parties have to use OTR for the encryption to work.

• Use Gnu Privacy Guard to encrypt your email conversations. Like OTR, if you're using GPG you'll need the people you email with to use it as well in order to encrypt your conversations. I use free software called GPG Tools with Enigmail and Postbox. GPG Tools also works directly with Apple's built-in Mail program. [Using Thunderbird as your email client with the Enigmail add-on is an easy way to use GPG with any platform -- I use it with my Macintosh work computer and Ubuntu Linux home computer. In Julia Angwin's excellent book, which you should all read, she admits that she needed help to get GPG working with Postbox. I believe if she had used Thunderbird she would have figured it out herself. -- The Mgt.]

GPG has some shortcomings — it's difficult-to-impossible to use it with the mail program built into most smartphones, and you can't use it easily with webmail like Gmail.  [Gmail works well with Thunderbird -- see the previous paragraph -- The Mgt.] (Although there are some new web-based mail programs that use GPG called Mailvelope and StartMail that I haven't had a chance to try yet.)

The most difficult part of GPG is that, unlike the encrypted texting and instant messaging programs, you have to generate a secret key and keep it somewhere secure (usually on your computer or on a USB stick). This often means you can only send GPG mail when you have your key with you. Even so, it is incredibly satisfying once you send your first message and watch it transform into a block of numbers and letters when you click "encrypt."

Clarification (May 7, 2014): This post was clarified to specify that Apple's iOS encrypts some files automatically.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A bit of peace news

Lucy Steigerwald 

While I admit to being agnostic about some of Robert Anton Wilson's political and economics opinions (I don't disagree with them, I just don't have an opinion), I have noticed that regardless of his other political evolutions, he always supported peace and civil liberties. That's why I link, on the right side of of the page, to antiwar and civil liberties groups.

In related news,, the peace news and opinion site, is conducting a fund raising drive. They've been spied on by the FBI, they were recently hacked, and they can use the money. If you support peace, or if you support the notion that libertarianism should make a peace a higher priority than, say, tax cuts for millionaires, it's not a bad place to put your money. I gave them $25. I'll do better for them and my other favorite websites if/when I ever become a libertarian mogul. If you're not flush, go check out the site, anyway. It just added Lucy Steigerwald as a regular columnist. (My recent posting on columnist Justin Raimondo is here, just in case you missed it and you've realized your life will be incomplete until you can read it.)

Libertarian economist David Henderson, writing for the Econlog blog, recently posted about how he had formed an informal alliance with a leftist friend for a "Let's Stop this War Before It Starts" rally against war with Russia. These kinds of alliances seem important to me.

Friday, May 16, 2014

You should consider reading Ramez Naam's 'Nexus'

Ramez Naam

Every once in awhile, your humble blogger recommends a novel that sombunall of you might be interested in. I did so last  year when I plugged Leonard Richardson's excellent Constellation Games. And now I'm doing so again be recommending a novel by another emerging science fiction writer. I read a lot of books, and Nexus by Ramez Naam is the best science fiction novel I've read in awhile.

Nexus is a substance, part drug and part nanoparticles, that essentially can be used to implant computers into the brains of its users, enhancing their abilities and allowing them to communicate wirelessly with each other. The government is against the open distribution of the stuff, of course, so the plot is a thriller, with lots of fight scenes, of the struggle between the protagonists, various interest groups, and a ruthless DEA-style organization called the ERD.

The hero is a guy named Kaden Lane, a smart nerd but not a James Bond type (his best efforts to be James Bond, taken in emergencies, tend to fall short). I'm not going to give a detailed plot summary; why take away the surprises? Please take my word for it that while Naam gives you plenty to think about, there's lots going on.

I bring the book up at this blog because I think Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary fans would be interested in a central element of the plot: When a radical "brain change" agent becomes available, who has the right to control it? Or does anyone have the right? The book explicitly invokes the War on Drugs.

And here is a section of the book, in which the hero and a Buddhist monk, who are really talking about the spread of Nexus, discuss the issue by analogy:

"Imagine," Ananda said, "a world where it took most of a lifetime to learn to speak, to learn to read or write, where many never even reached that point." 

Kade closed his eyes, tried to picture it.

"Imagine that you could show people a faster way," Ananda continued. "That in a year or two you could show them the basics of language, of literacy."

Kade imagined.

"Would you do it?" Ananda asked.

"Yes," Kade replied.

"Even though it would surely be used at times for profanity or vile speech?"


"Even though fools might read dangerous things written by bigger fools, might follow their instructions and hurt themselves or others?"

"Yes," Kade replied.

"Even though writing might be used to describe weapons that could be used to kill others?" Ananda asked.

"Yes," Kade said.

"Even though charismatic fascists might use the power of speech to stir people up, to incite violence, to stoke hatred, to create war?"

Kade swallowed. "Yes."


"Because I think people would use it for more good than harm."

"Is that the only reason?"

"And because I think it's just good. It's just good for people to be able to communicate more easily. It's just good for people to be smarter, to be more connected, to have access to more of each others' thoughts."

Compare that, if you would, to the Robert Anton Wilson quote in the link, above, to my Constellation Games review.

I should add that the book says all the right things (i.e., things I agree with) about free speech, government lying, freedom of the Internet, and so on.

Cory Doctorow reviewed the book for Boing Boing.  Naam has a website and a Twitter account. 

Nexus is a finalist for the Prometheus Award, along with its sequel, Crux.  (I am a member of the group that picks the award.) The final ballot is generally a strong collection of novels (although I didn't like the Sarah Hoyt book), but I'll be surprised and disappointed if Naam doesn't win the award.

UPDATE: Reason Magazine ran an interesting excerpt from the novel. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A biography of Owsley Stanley

Oswley Stanley, the LSD chemist and San Francisco sound engineer, was one of the more interesting folks to come out of the 1960s counterculture in California. Michael Johnson has a very interesting review of a new book about him.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Today's interesting synchronicity news

In a couple of interesting bits of synchronicity, recent news reports are tracking subjects covered this week on this blog.

The folks at Harvard have succeeded in using public pressure to get a student group to cancel a planned "satanic black mass," Bloomberg news reports.

This blog, of course, just covered an apparently similar ritual in Illuminatus! A sentence from the Bloomberg report: "The school’s administration had worked with students to ensure that no consecrated host, the sacramental wafer that’s been blessed by a priest and is used in the Eucharist ceremony, would be used to re-enact the black mass." A couple of sentences  from Illuminatus! (page 118), "Padre Pederastia handed him the Host. 'I stole this from the church myself,' he whispered."

The whole Bloomberg story is worth reading; check out the priest representing the church that backed the Inquisition lecturing the rest of us on what a college campus should permit. There's a lot of the usual double talk about preserving freedom of inquiry from the college president, Drew Faust (love that last name), who had planned to attend a Catholic church to protest the black mass. Maybe she can look for female priests while she's there.

My informant for the Bloomberg News piece, John Merritt, also pointed me to the news that Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart has died. Information about her is here. 

She was an important figure in the Church of All Worlds, the religion inspired by Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Robert Anton Wilson was intimately involved with those folks and published many articles in the group's journal, Green Egg, some of which you can read by clicking links on the right side of this page. Carole Cusack's  book Invented Religions, mentioned in yesterday's blog post, has an excellent chapter on the Church of All Worlds.

Speaking of Stranger, Oz Fritz mentioned the book in his recent post on his blog on Aleister Crowley: 

 Crowley apparently had direct experience with followers misunderstanding his tantric teachings particularly in reference to the Agape Lodge that operated in Los Angeles around the end of his life. As recounted in The Unknown God by Martin Starr, Crowley basically fired the head of the Lodge, Wilfred Smith.  Though I don't recall the specific reason he gave, he must have obviously thought that Smith wasn't doing a good job.  It seems the Lodge may have turned into a bit of a love cult with Smith placing emphasis more on sexual conquest and endurance than on the postbiological activities, voyages, or magick it's meant to fuel.

Further evidence for this supposition might be found in the science fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.  Heinlein had visited the Lodge, attending at least one party there, and was friends with Jack Parsons who took over the leadership of the Agape Lodge when Smith departed.  Plausible rumor has it that Heinlein got the assignment to write a popular account of Crowley's teachings.  I call it plausible because Stranger does read as an excellent presentation of Crowley's basic gist with the added benefit of only indirectly referring to him once with the mention of The Book of the Law thus avoiding the association of these liberating ideas with his sinister reputation.  In Stranger, Heinlein seems to satirize, ridicule and skewer the whole love cult aspect of the new religion presented by the central protagonist  Valentine Michael Smith.  I suggest that this may have been a commentary on the Agape Lodge. 

Apropos of this, did you see John Merritt's comment in yesterday's blog post? "One other thing: the June publication of the last volume of Bill Patterson’s biography of Robert Heinlein is undoubtedly going to cause a lot of speculation about the origins and meaning of Stranger in a Strange Land to be irrelevant. It should be interesting….. "

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review of Carole Cusack's 'Invented Religions'

Last year, I read Carol Cusack's Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith, her history of modern religions such as Discordianism, the Church of the SubGenius and the Church of All Worlds.

J. Christian Greer, a Ph.D. researcher at the University of Amsterdam, who has taken part in the Illuminatus! discussions as JCG,  has published a review of Cusack's book for the latest issue of "Correspondences," an "online journal for the academic study of Western esotericism." All of the journal's contents are made available for everybody online — there's no firewall.

Greer's review finds Cusack's book a useful early foray into the subject of these odd religions, but he also has criticisms:

Cusack argues for the typological designation 'invented religion'  by way of illustration with chapters dedicated to Discordianism, The Church of All Worlds, the Church of the SubGenius and a final concluding chapter on Jediism, Matrixiism and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. As it is the first scholarly study devoted to these religions, the book marks a notable contribution to the study of new religious movements. Furthermore, her pioneering analysis convincingly challenges the tendency to dismiss religions that openly incorporate fictitious (and humorous) elements into their worldviews. Despite these obvious virtues though, Invented Religions suffers from two serious flaws: first, large portions of it are not sufficiently grounded in primary source research, and second, Cusack's ahistorical, top-down approach distorts the highly idiosyncratic nature of these religions to suit the 'invented religion' typology.

Greer's review was particularly interesting to me in that it attempts to explain the differing agendas of Discordianism and the Church of the SubGenius. Really, read the whole thing.

Mr. Greer's biography page is here. and I intend to explore his papers and conference presentations.  While Mr. Greer is still working on his Ph.D., he already holds three other degrees, including a master's degree in "hermetic philosophy and related currents."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Iluminatus online reading, Week 12 (with special guest Oz Fritz)

Aleister Crowley in Golden Dawn clothing. 

(As much of this section of the work concerns magick, I asked Oz Fritz if he would consider doing a guest post for me, and he kindly obliged. 

Oz is a professional recording engineer who has worked with a variety of artists including The Ramones, Buckethead, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, The Golden Palominos, Tom Waits, Primus and Iggy Pop. Although he is based in California, his excellent blog includes recent dispatches from Mali, Australia and Israel. His album, Oz Fritz: All Around the World received a positive review from Allmusic. com.  He has studied magick for many years and once gave a copy of the American Book of the Dead to Sting. I am sure you will find his post as interesting as I did. -- The Mgt.)

(This week: Page 114 "After being lost for an hour in Hitler's old neighborhood" to Page 124 "but I've felt weird for the last week and a half.")

By Oz Fritz

This week’s reading begins on p. 114 right after the phrase “23 Skidoo…” Besides being old American patois, Skidoo recurs as the title of Chapter 23 in Crowley’s Book of Lies thus reading as 23 Skidoo.  Crowley defines this phrase as “Get out” and turns it into an initiatory practice in that chapter.  As this turned out to be one of the first things we studied in RAW’s online Crowley course, I suspect the pun intended especially since in the next sentence Clark Kent and His Supermen get out of Munich.   Their band name appears an obvious glyph for transformation with the bonus of representing an instantly recognizable image from pop culture.  That they were “lost for an hour in Hitler’s old neighborhood” mirrors the archetypal descent into the underworld or dip into the darkside that seems part of the course on the initiatory path.

Starting toward the end of p.114 we see Simon Moon inviting Joe Malik to a meeting which turns into a sex magick ritual.  The ritual seems to be the authors’ own creation based on Crowley-style magic but viewed through the lens of someone programmed in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Malik calls it a “black Mass.”  He interprets the “God is dead” chant as blasphemy.  “God is dead” could refer to the famous quote by Friedrich Nietzsche which brings us back to Clark Kent and His Supermen, and transformation.  The end of the paragraph in the book where Nietzsche first made that proclamation reads: “Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
p.115: “They were in an elegant apartment…” important for the ritual because it shows what kind of space they were in – “elegant” ie high aesthetic.  Next we see some obvious allusions to other preparations for the ritual, spelled out as it were, perhaps tempered at the end of the paragraph with Joe’s suspicion that it’s for a black Mass.  “… the sounds of the automobile traffic …”  introduces a sense of flow and movement into the environment.  Also automobile = auto - mobile, ie get yourself going.

Readers can make of it what they will concerning the coincidence that these other preparations occur on p.115 which in the Gematria dictionary found in 777 = “Here am I,“  “The heat of the day,“ and  “to make strong;  vehement, eager.”

Next we see the classic Crowley greeting intended to begin all communications.  The priest then gets introduced as “Padre Pederastia.”  To me, this name sounds oddly prescient of the widespread pederasty scandals afflicting the Catholic Church in recent years.  It could also have been inspired by the conspiracy rumor that the Roman Catholic Church power elite originated in the gay cabal power elite behind  the Roman Empire.  When they could no longer control their empire militarily, they learned to control the people ideologically through the Church.

p.116: Simon and his partner draw a pentagram.  Some form of the banishing ritual of the pentagram usually begins a magick ritual as it works to focus and protect.  The method the authors have of making the pentagram here is unique to my experience.   They may have done it this way for the sentence: “A triangle was added to each side of the pentagon, forming a star – the special kind of star.” The triangle suggests Binah, the title of this chapter.  The pentagon may represent the highly combustible energy of Geburah, the Sephiroth right below Binah on the Tree of Life.  The path that connects Geburah with Binah = Cheth = The Chariot from the tarot.   Crowley called The Chariot the formula of this modern age of Horus, a formula you can read about in his Book of Thoth.  This formula also underlies this ritual up to the point where the demon Billy Graham makes an appearance.

The poem from the Wolfman movies Joe remembers on p. 116 looks quite accurate for ritual magick.   You can be as pure and pious as anything and still get overwhelmed by primal energies when launching into those kinds of spaces.   Strategies and techniques exist to not succumb, one of the most basic being the pentagram just given which effectively acts as a shield .
p.116:  “Joe felt a strange, ashy, acrid taste…”  Joe feels a space change, not uncommon symptoms.  He’s no longer in Kansas.

“Ol sonuf vaoresaji”  - the first phrase from the Enochian First Call that translates as “ I reign over  ye.”

The Guardian they have to pass might signify psychic barriers that inevitably occur with these kinds of experiments.  Notice how they get energy when stepping into the pentagram.
p.117: the woman with red hair and green eyes recalls Marjorie Cameron who had the same.  She was the woman who entered Jack Parson’s life during his Babalon working eventually becoming his wife.

Jack Parsons and his wife, Marjorie Cameron

p.118: “the Malleus malificarum” isn’t a grimoire, it’s a medieval treatise put out by the Catholic Church on the persecution of witches, what they do, and how to discover them; seems to have nothing about sex rituals in it.  I suspect Shea and Wilson included it to represent resistance to the operation because in the next sentence Joe sees the protective pentagram.  Malleus malificarum translates as “Hammer of the Witches.”  Hammer = 291; 290 (which can get read as 291) = Thine enemy.

p.119: “She was Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus…”  - seems a common practice in tantra,  to identify with a godform , in this case those associated with Binah.  This also seems closely related to verse 61 in the first chapter of The Book of the Law.

The priest then invokes Lucifer ending with fiat lux – let there be light, also the 3rd verse from Genesis - possibly another Binah allusion?  Powerful energy enters the space then becomes contained by different formulae.  We see an allusion to the Rosy Cross, and also “by Mary’s Son” which sounds a bit odd except  that emphasizing Mary more than her son harkens back to Binah once again.

“- but the distraction of his attention had its cost.” – another key for handling situations such as these.  If you’re a football or basketball player you have to work out regularly to keep your body in shape.   Likewise, if you’re a Shaman, you keep the attention buffed up for when having to play to the max in the big leagues.

The whole Lucifer manifestation sounds a bit gothic and medieval which perhaps the writers acknowledge with the paragraph on p.120 that starts “It was just a room again…”  It’s quite funny that this implied evil turns out to be Billy Graham, the ubiquitous face of evangelical Christianity when I was growing up.  Sounds pretty right to me!

The scene changes right after Billy Graham arrives .  Later we see some interesting notes about Lucifer and lux.   The note that really grabbed me (p. 123): D.E.A.T.H. – Don’t Ever Antagonize the Horn .  Does Pynchon know?  The Horn could = the Hierophant , maybe.  In previous times Crowley or Gurdjieff.  It seems like good advice.  In my opinion, after reading Against the Day (which came out after Illuminatus!), Pynchon definitely knows.  I would even go so far as to surmise that Pynchon put one or two things in Against the Day to directly answer the question ( I suspect) RAW put to him in Illuminatus!

(Next week: Page 124 "Simon parked the car and held the door open" to Page 134 "his old impudent grin flashed wickedly.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday links

55 free literature courses online from Open Culture.

Glenn Greenwald says this is "The NSA story we did with the biggest gap between significance & attention." Justin Raimondo's related column.

A history of pranksters.  One of the chapters in the book is "Meet the Illuminati."

Bill Drummond in the news. I've been puzzled by all the references to UKIP in my Twitter stream; they seem a bit different. I'm puzzled by their self-description as "libertarian"; in the U.S., "libertarians" do not oppose immigration, favor increased defense spending or promote monarchical government. Maybe UKIP is some whacky performance art and I'm not getting the joke?

Interview with Ira Glass of This American Life (my favorite radio show/podcast). It's going to start broadcasting in the UK.

All of Bach for free.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The secret plot to feed us Muslim food!

The secret machinations of sneaky Muslims trying to trick westerners into eating Islamic food hasn't gotten much ink in the United States, but over in Great Britain, the watchdog reporters at the Daily Mail are alert to the vital issue. 

The headline in the paper (in black all capital letters)  is "Millions are eating halal food without knowing it." As Robert Anton Wilson scholar Jesse Walker points out in his excellent Reason magazine post, "Halal food is basically the Islamic counterpart to kosher food, so this is essentially equivalent to a paper breathlessly announcing that "MILLIONS ARE EATING KOSHER FOOD WITHOUT KNOWING IT." Or, if you want to make the barely concealed subtext explicit, "RABBIS ARE PUTTING SOME WEIRD JEW-SPELL ON YOUR MEALS."

Tyler Cowen, in his food book An Economist Gets Lunch, suggested that Indian food fans should seek out Pakistani restaurants, preferably those that have pictures of Mecca on the wall. Tyler's point is that such restaurants would have little appeal for most Americans and so will serve authentic food. At least, that's Tyler's purported reasoning, although I suppose we should not discount the possibility that he's part of a cabal of American college professors trying to smuggle Sharia food into our stomachs.

No food with exotic spices, please. We're British!

Is there such a thing as kosher haggis or halal haggis?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Two interesting documents available on net

Via Nick Helweg-Larsen, I've been made aware of the fact that Timothy Leary's 1966 interview by Playboy magazine is available in a variety of formats on the Internet Archive. Much of it holds up quite well, although the passages in which Leary asserts that LSD is a "cure" for homosexuality will likely raise modern eyebrows.

Meanwhile, Adam Gorightly has posted a PDF of Kerry Thornley's "Book of the Demons of the Region of Thud," illustrated by Roldo.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Final Cosmic Trigger play promotional video

5 of 5 : CTB_05// Will you pull the CosmicTrigger? from amoeba on Vimeo.

This one lasts two minutes, 27 seconds, and it's really cool. Please note that by clicking "Share" at the top right, you can obtain the code to embed this on your own blog/website, or take advantage of other ways to spread the word.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Listening to Daisy, John and Nick

Nick Margerrison (official profile photo)

I did finally get the chance to listen to Nick Margerrison's podcast interview with Daisy Eris Campbell, and the hour-long show (with Daisy taking up much of it) was very interesting. I got a better sense of Daisy's personality, and also managed to get a handle on all of those puzzling references to "rainbow colored knickers," which I couldn't make head or tail of. Nick is a British broadcaster and podcaster; currently, he produces a talk radio show for Jon Gaunt at

Nick's podcasts are available online from the website link referenced above; if you go there, you'll see a link to the iTunes list of his podcasts. This was not particularly convenient for me, as I have an Android phone, but I was also able to find his podcast episodes by searching for "thecultofnick" (one word; searching for "Nick" yielded nothing) on my podcasting app, Podkicker. Some of the episodes seem pretty out there; I haven't tried "How to call down a UFO" yet. But I did listen to episode 030, the interview with John Higgs, which has quite a bit of insightful discussion of Robert Anton Wilson; Nick refers to RAW as a kind of St. Paul of Discordianism. Nick is an avowed Discordian; the episode concludes with a discussion of magick.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Illiuminatus reading group, Week 11

(This week: Page 102 "ILLUMINATI PROJECT MEMO #12) to page 114 ("that mysterious bit of 1929 slang, '23 Skidoo ... ' ")

Who were the Illuminati?

In Illumintatus!, they are the statists, the folks who stand behind all of the most sinister elements of big government. This is the theory offered by John Robison in memo No. 12, the memo that begins the current section of the work that's under consideration, and I recently posted an item about Robison.

But the question of who the Illuminati might really be, and what their secrets were, was an issue that Robert Anton Wilson returned to in other books, particularly perhaps in Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati. (You may have heard that a play based on the book is in the works in England.)

In Cosmic Trigger, Wilson offers more than one answer to the questions the Illuminati pose, but particular emphasis is placed upon one possible answer:

It occurred to me that I finally had the secret of the Illuminati. They were not the fantasy of right-wing paranoids. "The Illuminati" was one of the names of an underground mystical movement using sexual yoga in the Western world. The veils of obscurity and mystery around such figures as Giordano Bruno, John Dee, Cagliostro, the original Rosicrucians (17th century), Crowley himself, and various other key figures in the "conspiracy," had nothing to do with politics or plots to take over the world. It was a screen to protect them from persecution from the Holy Inquisition in earlier centuries and puritanical policemen in our time. (Page 60 of the original paperback, in the chapter, "The Horrible Secrets of the Wicked Aleister Crowley).

There's more about the subject in Cosmic Trigger 1, and Wilson goes on to say that readers can learn more by consulting two of his other books. The current titles for the books, still in print, are Sex, Drugs and Magick: A Journey Beyond Limits and Ishtar Rising.  The Wikipedia entry for Sex, Drugs and Magick says, "It was Wilson’s intention to call the book Sex, Drugs and the Occult, however the 'occult' was removed at the insistence of Playboy head Hugh Hefner." The reference to Ishtar also gives me an excuse to post an image of Ishtar at the head of this blog entry, taken from the Wikipedia article about Ishtar. Notice how Ishtar's figure resembles those of the ladies photographed as centerfolds for Hugh Hefner's magazine, where Wilson worked.

In a useful synchronicity, Oz Fritz has just put up a blog post, "Aleister Crowley's Sex Magick," the references the very same Cosmic Trigger chapter that I mention in this post.

Of course, illumination is achieved in various ways; Oz says, "We all know that reading a good poem or listening to a special piece of music can suddenly open tracks into an expansive mood or set the soul on fire." No doubt others will cite Zen, or meditation, or reading Illuminatus! RAW mentions Beethoven in Cosmic Trigger 1, Illuminatus!, Schroedinger's Cat and elsewhere. Beethoven was associated with members of the original German Illuminati.

Here is a relevant quote from Robert Anton Wilson, from "Beethoven as Information" in The Illuminati Papers: 

Perhaps some mystics have achieved higher levels of consciousness than Beethoven (perhaps!), but if so, we cannot know of it. Aleister Crowley once astonished me by writing that the artist is greater than the mystic, an odd remark from a man who was only a mediocre artist himself (although a great mystic.) Listening to Ludwig, I have come to understand what Crowley meant. The mystic, unless he or he is also an artist, cannot communicate the higher states of awareness achieved by a fully turned-on brain; but a great artist can. Listening to Beethoven, one shares, somewhat, in his expanded perceptions; and the more one listens, the more one shares. Finally, one is able to believe his promise: if one listens to that music enough, one will never again be unhappy."

(For more on Beethoven and RAW, use Beethoven as the search term for the search box at the top of this blog.)

Some comments on the text:

Proofs of a Conspiracy by John Robison, page 102,  available online. And see the article referenced above.

"The Knights Templar," page 106, discussed in Robert Shea's All Things Are Lights, also available online. 

"novelist William Burroughs," page 108. Does anyone know what Burroughs thought of Illuminatus! ?

"Allen Ginsberg," page 108, RAW writes about Ginsberg in Coincidance.

"... the dissenters known then as RYM-1 and RYM-2." This Wikipedia article explains the factions. 

"23 Skidoo," page 114. There is a fairly long Wikipedia article about the expression.  There may be a connection to the Law of Fives: "Perhaps the most widely known story of the origin of the expression concerns the area around the triangular-shaped Flatiron Building at Madison Square in New York City. The building is located on 23rd Street at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, and, because of the shape of the building, winds swirl around it. During the early 1900s, groups of men would allegedly gather to watch women walking by have their skirts blown up, revealing legs, which were seldom seen publicly at that time." (The cops allegedly would order men hanging around to ogle the ladies to "23 skidoo" out of there.)

(Next week: Page 114 "After being lost for an hour in Hitler's old neighborhood" to Page 124 "but I've felt weird for the last week and a half.")