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.")