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Monday, June 23, 2014

Illuminatus online reading group, Week Eighteen [Updated]

Statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen.

(This week: Page 173, “Welcome to the Playboy Club,” the beautiful blonde said,” to Page 184, “I can make bail for this man.”)

A few notes on the text:

"Welcome to the Playboy Club," the beautiful blonde said, (Page 173). Saul finds himself in a strange captivity, apparently held by the Illuminati. This scene reminded me of Sigismundo Celine's weird captivity in The Widow's Son, and the sexual fantasies of Leopold Bloom in the Circe section of Ulysses.

"That we can call these delicate creatures ours/And not their appetites" page 176, from Shakespeare's Othello, Act 3, Scene 3.

"Only the madman is absolutely sure," a frequently cited Robert Anton Wilson quotation, page 176.

"passing the mermaid of the harbor," page 177. On page 99, Rebecca Goodman muses on the statue of the mermaid Saul got her, and wonders how many Danes know it is a representation of Ishtar. The mermaid and its connection to oral sex ("mouth breeder," punning on an early section of the book) recurs on Page 192.

"While there is a soul in prison, I am not free," courtroom speech of Eugene Debs, sent to prison for opposing World War I. Debs did not get out until 1921, when his sentence was commuted by Warren Harding. Libertarian Gene Healy argues in his book, The Cult of the Presidency, that Harding was an underrated president who restored civil liberties after the president of Wilson, a warmonger still praised by "progressives" in the U.S.

Page 180, parody of Shakespeare, "The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven," famous quotation from The Merchant of Venice.

"In 1923, Adolf Hitler stood beneath a pyramidal altar," page 181. In Appendix Lamed, the authors write, "In this connection—and also, en passant, as an indication that Adolf Hitler's link with the Illuminati was not invented for this work of "fiction"— we suggest that the reader look into The Morning of the Magicians, by Pauwels and Bergier." See this Wikipedia article for the book's possible connection to Lovecraft.

"Remember what happened to Ambrose Bierce," page 181, famous American author whose disappearance is still unsolved.


Page 181 has this passage: In Brooklyn, New York, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, returning from a party at which Hart Crane had been perfectly beastly— thereby confirming Mr. Lovecraft's prejudice against homosexuals— finds a letter in his mailbox and reads with some amusement: "Some of the secrets revealed in your recent stories would better be kept out of the light of print. Believe me, I speak as a friend, but there are those who would prefer such half-forgotten lore to remain in its present obscurity, and they are formidable enemies for any man. Remember what happened to Ambrose Bierce. . . ." 

In the comments below, Michael Johnson suggests consulting Dan Clore to see if the letter Lovecraft is reading actually existed. Dan is the guy who runs the Robert Anton Wilson Fans group on Facebook,  but he's also a Lovecraft scholar who wrote Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon, which he says has much of interest to RAW fans. So I wrote to Dan.

Dan replies, "Wilson and Shea just made that one up. I don't think HPL knew that Hart Crane (or their mutual friend, Samuel Loveman) was gay, either. In fact, in a letter Crane referred to 'that queer Lovecraft fellow'-- "

(Next week: Page 184, "MR. KHARIS: Does Mr. Celine seriously suggest..." to page 193, "Did it have anything to do with the weird dream he'd had of the temple in the Mad Dog jail?")


Unknown said...

Coincidentally, I'm 3/4 the way through The Morning of the Magicians right now, and it's possibly my new favorite. The similarities between the work and Wilson's are enormous, and there is a 40 page section (Vanished Civilizations) devoted to Charles Fort/Forteana (wherein they describe Fort's and their "Intermediarism,: which seems to be essentially a form of General Semantics or maybe logic), a chapter praising Machen's Great God Pan...lots of fun stuff. Also, does this sound familiar?: "On February 25th, 1957, a frogman was searching for the body of a student drowned in the Devil's Lake in Czechoslovakia. He came to the surface white as a sheet, terrified and unable to utter a word. When he had recovered his speech he declared that he had just seen a phantom array of German soldiers in uniform lying on the bottom of the lake, together with a caravan of chariots and horses in their harnesses standing upright." (Pg. 195)The Lovecraft connection isn't just possible, however. They explicitly state the connection in one of the Fortean chapters, calling him "the father of what has come to be known as Science-Fiction to which he has contributed some ten or fifteen masterpieces of their kind, a sort of Illiad or Odyssey of a forward marching civilization." (pg. 160)

michael said...

p.180: abrupt cut back to scene in Chicago, p.150.
Which reminds me: RAW at 1968 Chicago Dem Ntl Convention police riot: see Cosmic Trigger II, pp.41-44, "Coprophilia Among Swine Alleged By Dissidents"

I find the inventory of neurotic-rationalistic items: Kafka's Joseph K opening the law books; Sade's precise mathematical tallies; Nazi obsession with counting everything and recording it...coupled with the Shakespeare scholars's tiff over the line in Macbeth (to lump in Shakespeare scholars here!); ending with Wakean puns on "bank" and "pig" and Pound and "buggering" and the anal-territorial (2nd circ) riffs about odors - complete with the limerick which may have been glossed from Gershon Legman? - all lumped together with capitalism and the cops and the State?

Well, I just find p.180 a wonderfully dense, poetic-prose piece and Poundian, seemingly influenced by Cantos 14 and 15.

I have not seen any proof that Hitler was initiated in the Thule Society in 1923, but his champion and supreme weirdo Dietrich Eckart may have been.

"Der Zweck heiligte die Mittel," trans to "the ends justify the means."

"Pre-Austeric Man in Pursuit of Pan-Hysteric Woman" : Joyce dictating to Beckett what would later turn up in the margin on p.266 of Finnegans Wake. One gloss I like: this echoes Vico's period in history of giants roaming the Earth, not settled in society yet, shitting and fucking in the vast forests everywhere. It wouldn't be a bad headline for a "personal" ad on Craig's List: you might find a literate gal!

Does anyone know if HPL actually received such a letter? Maybe I shd write Dan Clore. It FEELS like RAW-Shea pranking the Reader.

Dr. Besetzung (German: "occupation") Drake's in therapy with. Recall RAW said Drake was the model for the fascist mind, and I think Drake's character and the way he plays out here, pp.181-182: a heavy infl from Wilhelm Reich here.

The following section, narrated by Simon Moon, seems yet another variation on the theme, with the Chicago cops as fascists.

Consider thinking of Drake and the cops along with the ideas about megadeath from an all-out thermo-nuke war: this seems to me one of the deepest structural reasons why RAW went on the become a writer.

Unknown said...

To me Robert Putney Drake is less a fascist than a personification of the view that we are nothing but evolving animals.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@LeviEdwards It sounds like a really interesting book! What does it say about Nazis and the occult?

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Michael, I will write Dan Clore and ask about the letter.

Oz Fritz said...

Saul starts going into a strange space right at the top of this weeks reading; p.173: "Welcome to the Playboy Club" - an interesting pun, people who have mastered these spaces have been called "players."
Play = 121 by gematria = 11 x 11. 11= the general number of magick, energy tending to change, to transform. Saul then meets a Bunny named Virgin possibly indicating his neophyte nature on this initiatory voyage.

p. 173: "The wall closed and Saul had the terrifying feeling that the whole thing had been a hallucination - that he was losing his mind" - you do lose your ordinary mind when you die, the Tibetans would have us know.

Saul proceeds to get confronted by his worst fears - seems like something they might do at a Golden Dawn type of initiatory school. For Saul, it doesn't appear voluntary though we don't know that for sure.

p.177: Suddenly, Saul was in Copenhagen, on a cruise boat, passing the mermaid of the harbor. She turned and looked at him. "This case is fishy," she said - and as she opened her mouth a school of guppies swam out. " I'm a mouth-breeder," she explained."

Fish = Nun = Death (tarot) - this case is death. The rest of what she says here seems very qabalistically/metaphorically useful especially remembering that "out" = a magical formula. The authors even draw attention to this: "Her punning words seemed to conceal a deeper meaning than mere casual references to the Confrontation bombing."

p.180 Just after Saul gets injected with a narcotic or poison: "The wagon started with a jerk: we were off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of arse."

Some people consider me an ass here at different times perhaps because I talk too much? They're probably right. It does seem an interesting coincidence to me, one I couldn't imagine happening with any other book except possibly Finnegans Wake.

Of course, "arse" has less obvious, less scatalogical connotations related to the Othello quote on p. 176 that I appreciate and am grateful to read.

p. 178: " While there is a soul in prison I am not free" also echos the Tibetan Buddhism notion that no one gets liberated until everyone gets liberated.

p. 180 "The quality of mercy is very strained.." Mercy = the English title for Chesed

Unknown said...

The Nazi/occult connection takes up about a fourth of the book (I just finished that section last night).
The main focus there is on Hanns Horbiger's Welteislehre (Eternal Ice Theory), which Hitler, Himmler, and thousands of other believed in. According to the theory, the Universe, Earth, and Man exist in a constant struggle between ice and fire. That all of the planets, the Milky Way, etc. are all essentially big blocks of ice--all except the Earth, which is ice and fire. This leads into all sorts of weird shit, like the Earth being destroyed three times before, as the moon would descend slowly towards it, affecting gravity and in turn, creating a race of giants. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but this is what the most prominent members of the Nazis believed. Take a look at the wikipedia for World Ice Theory to get a good idea of it. After that they discuss the hollow Earth theory, which a lot of Nazis, including Hitler and most of all Goering, believed too. According to the theory, we are not on the Earth's surface, but are INSIDE the hollow Earth, like a fly walking inside a bowl. The eternal ice and hollow Earth are very contradictory, and this led to the hollow Earth theorist Bender to be sent to a concentration camp at the behest of the Horbigerians. Pauwels and Bergier also explain how these theories severely hampered the Nazi's progress in the war--although without them, the war may never have happened. For example, the Nazi's believed that they had made a pact with the ice and snow, and so, when entering Russia, they believed that the snow would melt before them, even when all the meteorologists were saying it was going to be a VERY cold winter, etc. They didn't heed any of these warnings, however, because Horbiger's theory dismisses entirely the "Jewish-Liberal" sciences.
The Nazis hampered the progress being made on the V2 rocket--interrupting the actual research being carried out--to to see whether or not these rockets would affect the eternal ice (they planned to send their rockets to the moon). One researcher who led an expedition to prove the hollow Earth theory for them wound up migrating to America and had a large part to do with the development of the hydrogen bomb, and when asked about his past, stated that the Nazis were constantly making him do crazy things and distracted him from his research (their wild theories hampering the actual progress they made).
It's hard to sum up the whole hundred pages, but the main point of discussing the Nazis at all is to lump history into their theory of "Fantastic-realism" (taking the most fantastic elements of reality and embracing them), and to show how radically alien a society could exist alongside a humanitarian/Cartesian world for a few years.
Also, followers of Gurdjieff believe essentially the same thing as the eternal ice theory (Pauwels was a disciple of Gurdjieff, so I presume his knowledge of their beliefs/practices is relatively accurate), both very similar to the ideas put forward in Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds In Collision.

Eric Wagner said...

The scene with Saul seeing images of Rebecca with different sexual partners seems a precurser to "F for Fake."

I wonder what "real secret" Pound whiffed on page 180.

I don't think many guards at Buchenwald attempted to act humanely.

fuzzbuddy said...

Pg. 174. what does Hab’ rochmunas" mean?
Pg. 180. The Englishman = 00005.
Pg. 180. "Abandon hope all ye who enter here" is from Dante's Inferno.
Pg. 180. kid with the broken arm.
- Fred Nanetti (explained on pg. 183) City Councillor Nannetti is a character in Ulysses.
Pg. 184. "AUM" is described later in the book as: "a product of the scientists at ELF— the Erisian Liberation Front— and shared by them with the JAMs. An extract of hemp, boosted with RNA, the "learning" molecule, it also had small traces of the famous "Frisco Speedball"— heroin, cocaine, and LSD. The effect seemed to be that the heroin stilled anxiety, the RNA stimulated creativity, the hemp and acid opened the mind to joy, and the cocaine was there to fit the Law of Fives. The delicate balance created no hallucinations, no sense of "high"— just a sudden spurt in what Hagbard Celine liked to call "constructive gullibility."

Anonymous said...

P. 714: "Saul, Saul,"..."why doest thou persecute me?" From Saul/Paul's conversion story, Acts 9, 4.

"Hab' rochmunas": "Have mercy" (Yiddish).

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