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Monday, July 7, 2014

Illuminatus online reading group, Week Twenty

This is an actual logo for a U.S. spy satellite. (Article here.)

(This week: Page 194: "The sub's engine was vibrating pleasantly" to "when you're lost out here," Page 204.)

This week, we get a good dose of the paranoia about government in Illuminatus! in the form of a lecture that Hagbard Celine gives to George.

"But they can rule by fraud and eventually acquire access to the tools they need to finish off the job of killing off the Constitution."

"What sort of tools?"

"More stringent security measures. Universal electronic surveillance. No-knock laws. Stop and frisk laws. Government inspection of first-class mail. Automatic fingerprinting, photographing, blood tests, and urinalysis of any person arrested before he is charged with a crime. A law making it unlawful to resist even unlawful arrest. Laws establishing detention camps for potential subsersives. Gun control laws. Restrictions on travel. The assassinations, you see, establish a need for such laws in the public mind. Instead of realizing that there is a conspiracy, conducted by a handful of men, the people reason -- or are manipulated into reasoning -- that the entire populace must have its freedom restricted in order to protect the leaders. The people agree that they themselves can be trusted." (pages 197-198).

Illuminatus! was written in 1969-1971 (allowing for late changes during the editing process), but this passage still has bite:

"More stringent security measures" -- Obama's efforts to control leaks 'most aggressive since Nixon', report finds. (Nixon of course was the president when Illuminatus! was written.)

"Universal electronic surveillance." The NSA collects telephone call records for almost everyone inside the United States.

"Government inspection of first class mail." Email is what most people use today for first class mail. If you encrypt your email, to try to preserve the same sense of privacy a first class envelope is supposed to provide, the NSA will store a copy of your message. 

"Restrictions on travel." The U.S. government maintains a no-fly list and does not allow people to challenge it or find out why they are on the list. 

Honestly, wouldn't it be great to read a passage from Illuminatus! and say, "Man, things were bad under Nixon, but it's lots better now."

Tethys, page 196, ancient Greek goddess of the sea.

"Here they suckered the middle class, whose true interest law in laissez faire free enterprise, to follow the Weishaupt slogan of 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.' The catch, of course, is that where equality and fraternity rule, there is no liberty." Pages 199-200. Hagbard sure sounds like a hardcore libertarian here.

"They bumpted him off after it was published, you know." Page 200. George Orwell was only 46 when he died from tuberculosis.

"Legion of Dynamic Discord," page 203, a real Discordian group created by Kerry Thornley (citation).

(Next week: Page 204, "Behind the golden door stood the lovely black receptionist," to page 214, "And speaking of war, the enemy lies ahead.")


Unknown said...

I was at most a soft-core libertarian and I'm less of one now, but I agree with that line about Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. I think of it as a Choose Two, and I go with balancing Liberty and Fraternity.

fuzzbuddy said...

The latest potential surveillance threat to privacy sounds like CISA:

Chad N. said...

I shouldn't have assumed that all RAW fans and folks who are reading Illuminatus are either hardcore libertarians or outright anarchists. Kind of nice to see some diversity! At the risk of forcing you to classify yourself, where do you put yourself on the political spectrum, Arthur?

Unknown said...

Some unholy blend of liberal and libertarian.

Oz Fritz said...

p.194: "The sub's engine was vibrating pleasantly..."

sub = 68. The rest of this paragraph could also have multiple meanings.

p.196: "Instead, I put the ocean on television." said Hagbard"

- seems like one theme of this book if the ocean refers to the Collective Unconscious.

"The submarine illuminates the sea around us ..."

"The radiations are of a type that is more readily conducted by the hydrogen in water than by any other element."

- Also true in magick with the element of Water.
submarine = sub + marine = 68 + water

" The result is that we can see the ocean bottom almost as clearly as if it were dry land and we were in a plane flying above it."

p.203" "Hagbard shook his head. 'What's serious about a yellow submarine? It's right out of a rock song..."

- obviously refers to the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" The jaunty chorus of that ditty could be the soundtrack for another main theme of Illuminatus! as explicitly expressed by Simon Moon in the prologue to "The Golden Apple" linked to by Tom in Week 17.

Eric Wagner said...

Would page 195 act as a sexism trigger point for sombunall readers?

I agree with Tom that the passage on page 197-198 seems an accurate prediction of Bush/Obama post-9/11 America. "The assassinations, you see, establishe the need for such laws in the public mind" easily becomes "9/11, you see, establishes the need for such laws in the public mind." Not that I think the US planned 9/11, but things have worked out as if it had.

pg. 202 - I find it interesting that Wilson later came to prefer the term infofilia to neurofila, sorta how Leary changed Exo-Psychology to Info-Psycology.

fuzzbuddy said...

Pg. 195. Stella Maris referred to as the Black Star of the Sea. "Maris" is Latin for "Star of the sea", and Stella Maris is a black woman.

Pg. 204. “You’ve got to run very fast to catch up with the sun…”
I really don’t know who, how, or what is happening in this scene, anyone?

chas said...

Fuzzbuddy--I'm pretty sure that Barney Muldoon's hypnosis session will circle around again later, just as George's "walk(ed) on down the hall" from page 195 circles back on page 587, which we'll get to in early March 2015.

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