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.")