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.")


Sean Gabb said...

Thanks for the double mention.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...


I'm glad you came by. The Richard Blake historical novels ("Conspiracies of Rome," "Terror of Constantinple" etc.) are a really vivid (and fast-moving) evocation of a fascinating period of history:

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I included Richard Blake, Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea when I did a posting for my day job on my favorite historical novels:

fuzzbuddy said...

Pg. 124. The Fugs "Rameses the second is dead, my love"
Pg. 126. The Seven Tablets of Creation. The wikipedia date is different to the one in the book.
Pg. 127. Getting back to the official religion of Marduk, it was based on usury. - see John Higgs' "The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds" book.
Pg. 128. Never trust initials H.C.
- eg. Harry Coin, Hagbard Celine...
Pg. 130. LIKE A TREE THAT'S PLANTED BY THE WATER. - Not mentioned indiscussion yet, I don't think. But, 1968 Democratic Election, Chicago.
Pg. 131. Flatland.
- See the book “Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension” by Michio Kaku, for a good explanation.
Pg. 134. Norton Lodge in Frisco.
- San Francisco JAM cabal.

JCG said...

p. 125 "They fill their books with obscene words..."

the character of Smiling Jim, at least in this scene, reflects not only William Buckley Jr.'s shit eating grin, but also his side of the exchange he famously had with Allen Ginsberg on his conservative talk-show Firing Line.
@ 2:40-5:20

(historical tidbit, Kerouac knew Buckley when he was at Horace Mann Prep School, and later hung out with him when Kerouac was at Columbia. Kerouac, Vanity of Duluoz, Penguin, 2001, pp. 46, 71. Kerouac was also on Buckley's show at one point; it was late in the author's career and he was visibly drunk.)

p.129 "'All law and order' is a kind of temporary accident."

here we are getting an anarchoid political motif that will repeat throughout the text, and Discordian texts in general. For example, the title of Robert Shea's No Governor! zine refers to the line attributed to Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi) on the inside of the zine that states, "there is no governor present anywhere"

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

After I read JCG's comment, I was able to find a clip of Timothy Leary on Firing Line:

JCG said...

@ Cleveland Okie: Nice find! As to RAW's response to Leary's persona/wardrobe at this time, see Cosmic Trigger p.41

p.127 "The official story was that Mummu..." I really enjoy the history of the Discordian movement avant la lettre. Being a common strategy for the internal legitimization of religious authority, it opens discordianism up to more conventional modes of analysis. (Just a hunch, but I think Shea authored this section...)

I have not seen this topic mentioned yet, but has anyone thought of a criteria we could use to make educated guesses as to who authored what section? Is much known about their editorial process? Is there a galley proof/manuscript?!? (On a related note, is there a RAW archive?)

The only basis I employ is based on intuition informed by my familiarity with RAW's style as made evident in his other trilogies.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...


You've raised a big sore point with me. There is no RAW archive. There is no manuscript. I doubt that there is galley, but I don't actually know.

Wilson and Shea apparently did nothing to secure their literary papers, and the Wilson estate hasn't done anything, either. I've blogged about this several times. Sample postings:

Eric Wagner said...

Pg. 128: "Actually, the Illuminati own the companies that put out most of the rock." I find it interesting that many young people in 2014 believe this about hip hop.

Eric Wagner said...

Today's Word of the Day: Leviathan -

Oz Fritz said...

p. 130: "He took a deep breath and repeated the Formula '23 Skidoo'
It helped a little but he still wanted to get the hell out of there..."

For the second or third time in this chapter "23 Skidoo" gets mentioned followed by someone "getting out" of something. Crowley defines 23 Skidoo as "Get out" in the 23rd chapter of "The Book of Lies" and also gives a formula which he associates with the word "OUT"

Let's look at that formula by quoting the end of ch.23:

"For OUT is Love and Wisdom and Power.
If thou has T already, first get UT.
Then get O
And so at last get OUT."

From the commentary to that chapter:

"O is the Yoni; T the Lingam; and U the Hierophant."
(12)O = Ayin, 'The Devil of the Sabbath.' U = Vau, The Hierophant or Redeemer. T = Strength, the Lion
(13)T, manhood, the sign of the cross or phallus. UT, the Holy Guardian Angel; UT, the first syllable of Udgita, see the Upanishads. O, Nothing or Nuit.

The Chandogya Upanishad appears the one in question, I'll quote briefly:

"Now that gold-bright person who is seen within the sun...(more flowery descriptions)... whose eyes are like blue lotuses - their name is UT, for they have risen above all..."

As I interpret this formula:
"If thou has T already..."

Ungenderized, T can also represent Will, or simply strong creative energy

"first get UT" = the first major step in Crowley's system, attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. U = the Hierophant, the one who "communicates the secrets of the Temple." So in simple terms, once you have the Will for this kind of work or play, somehow find a guide, the best guide probably = your own Deep Self or in Thelemic terms, the HGA. The full union of U and T gets described in the Upanishad. Note how that description seems congruent with Nietzsche's "Superman" and a previous mention of 23 Skidoo in this "Illuminatus!" chapter comes right before Clark Kent and His Supermen have to "get out" of Munich. (p.114)

"then get O"
Crowley says O = the yoni, also Nothing or Nuit all of which easily correspond with Binah, the "Illuminatus!" chapter we still reside in.

Note that Crowley also associates O with Ayin, "The Devil of the Sabbath",the tarot trump attribution. The Devil in the tarot = the strongest symbol of male energy. This may appear to contradict O = the Yoni and Nuit, but that contradiction might find elucidation in my recent sex magick blog.

Oz Fritz said...

Further down p.130:
"Fuck it," he said, "23 Skidoo."
He walked through the door ..." this whole paragraph seems really good.

door = Daleth, the path that connects Chokmah with Binah. It also identifies the lower border of the top three Sephiroth collectively known as the Supernal Triad. The Supernals (not to be confused with the Supremes who also sing and dance) supposedly show the reality behind the illusion of the world of Maya, or Samsara aka the Dream represented by the Sephiroth below the Supernals.

"straw hat" = another allusion to the top of the Tree.

So one interpretation could be that Dillinger did the 23 Skidoo formula then stepped out of illusion into reality. A different metaphor would say he woke up.

I don't have a strong hit on "Osiris is a black god" which Wilson also put in "Cosmic Trigger" with no explanation. Kenneth Grant offered one in "Outside the Circles of Time" saying that Osiris somehow represented the dwarf star of the binary Sirius pair that was mostly hidden so somehow that's why he's a black god. I found his explanation totally unconvincing.

I'll offer 3 explanations with which I have no preference.

1. It's a meaningless statement put there to be provocative. Lots of superstitious folk get freaked by the word/ideogram "black"

2. The statement "Osiris is a black god" has 5 words, another confirmation of the ubiquity of the Law of 5. Not only is it ubiquitous, it's everywhere! :-)

3. Black is the color corresponding with Binah on the Queen Scale. Osiris got his body chopped up and scattered. Isis, a Binah character, found all the parts and got him resurrected. After losing his body Osiris gets resurrected in Binah whose color appears black. It's an old qabala chestnut called Crossing the Abyss.

4. (I lied) Black absorbs all colors reflecting none. Perhaps this describes the true nature of Osiris or the post it symbolizes.

I've read my fair share of occult literature and apart from Grant's interpretation based on Wilson, have never seen that statement anywhere else except "Illuminatus!" and "Cosmic Trigger"

Drew Zi said...

JCG. There are not that many ways to find out, I think it is even more difficult because they also rewrote each others' sections, as well as adding to them, as far as I know. Wilson also said that most of the melodrama was Shea and most of the satire was him. I would also like to see if we could spot at which parts in the book there were cuts, I made an earlier post suggesting that there seems to have been a cut.

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George jakzin said...

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Rajini said...

John Higgs talks with Rawillumination about his new book on The KLF and RAW. Raw scholars of the highest caliber in

rithika said...

They go back for centuries and maintain the same

Hr. Lindhe-Liedm. said...

The "Osiris is a black God" phrase is from the book "The history of magic by Eliphas Levi translated by Artur Edward Waite.

Omid Naderi said...

دی شیخ با چراغ همی‌گشت گرد شهر
کز دیو و دد ملولم و انسانم آرزوست
show me your face
i crave
flowers and gardens
open your lips
i crave
the taste of honey
come out from
behind the clouds
i desire a sunny face
your voice echoed
saying "leave me alone"
i wish to hear your voice
again saying "leave me alone"
i swear this city without you
is a prison
i am dying to get out
to roam in deserts and mountains
i am tired of
flimsy friends and
submissive companions
i die to walk with the brave
am blue hearing
nagging voices and meek cries
i desire loud music
drunken parties and
wild dance
one hand holding
a cup of wine
one hand caressing your hair
then dancing in orbital circle
that is what i yearn for
i can sing better than any nightingale
but because of
this city's freaks
i seal my lips
while my heart weeps
yesterday the wisest man
holding a lit lantern
in daylight
was searching around town saying
i am tired of
all these beasts and brutes
i seek
a true human
we have all looked
for one but
no one could be found
they said
yes he replied
but my search is
for the one
who cannot be found