Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

More 'Cosmic Trigger'

The Cosmic Trigger play has wrapped up in London; who knows who is ahead for Daisy and the gang? While we look forward to the BBC miniseries, triumphant U.S. tour or whatever the future brings, here is some news.

The Reality Sandwich covers Daisy's wedding. And you can read the review from Reverend Nemu. 

The recordings of people reading from Cosmic Trigger is being continually expanded and updated.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The inside story of the lost RAW photos

 A couple of days ago, John Higgs wrote that during last weekend's Cosmic Trigger play and festival in Liverpool, a man named Duncan Harvey handed him a thumb drive filled with photographs of Robert Anton Wilson. If you checked out Higgs' excellent article, you can see that he illustrated it with his favorites from the 43 pictures that Mr. Harvey handed him. The photos were all taken in January 1986, but lost to the world until now. 

Harvey was there to attend the play, too. In fact, he loved it. He writes, "Hopefully, the Cosmic Trigger play will get picked up for a deservedly long run on the West End and beyond…. It was brilliantly adapted to the stage and the performances were just fantastic – great cast! It deserves to be seen by many more."

Here is the story of  how Mr. Harvey took those "lost" photos. But before I get to that, let me tell you a bit about Mr. Harvey, who along with his partner Vicky Jackson, is the founder and director of Nomads Clothing, a fair trade clothing company. An excerpt from the company bio:

Duncan and Vicky met while backpacking around India in the late 1980s. With only £200 left in their pockets, they used the money to fill up a trunk of wonderful ethnic clothes and head back to the UK.

They soon returned to India with the profits they had made, mixing business with pleasure; staying at Buddhist retreats, discovering crafts at local markets and picking up gorgeous handmade fabrics along the way. A shared love of India and it's culture inspired them to start up their own clothing company. Inspired by Indian craft, they worked with a designer to create styles perfect for the European market, finding a niche for bohemian fashion with an ethnic feel.

But on January 26, 1986, Mr. Harvey was not a clothing importer. He was young man trying to make a living as a photographer. Duran Duran was maybe the biggest band in the world. Robert Anton Wilson was 54. The Widow's Son had been published the year before. (Mr. Harvey, who lives in Cornwall, has tweaked the pictures since giving the initial roll to John Higgs and has selected his favorites for this blog.) He picks up the story:

I was a young man of 22 and struggling to make a career as a freelance photographer in London. I was particularly attracted to doing work in the music industry (publicity shots, record covers, live work) and portraiture. I was hauling my portfolio of graduate and personal work from one side of London to another, showing it to record companies, magazine editors and agents. A red phone box was my only method of communication, from which I would call my parents twice a week to see if there were any messages or offers. I had a darkroom set up 50 miles away in Colchester with them in case I got work.

So one day in January they told me that an editor from IQ  magazine* had an urgent request for me to fill in for an absent photographer. It had to be that day and could I get to Chelsea by 6 o’clock? When I immediately phoned back the editor and he told me it was Robert Anton Wilson I could not believe my luck nor contain my excitement. (I had been introduced to the Illuminatus! Trilogy by a stoner friend at college who was a good 15 years older than me. He became a mentor and taught me a lot of things. I remember trying to play Illuminatus! The Boardgame with him and his pals – which went a bit over my head at the time).

Armed with my trusty Nikon FM and a couple of lenses, a tripod and flashgun, I public transported myself from my Balham bedsit to the Chelsea Old Town Hall. I thought it would be a good idea to buy a half bottle of vodka to drink on the way, oh and a wee spliff, just to neutralise my anxiety. I had no idea what I was doing nor any experience of anything like this. To me this was a huge assignment and possibly a breakthrough moment for my career in London?

I arrived "just right," "in the mood" and "ready to go." Except that, when I got past the doorman and found the room I was supposed to meet RAW in, he was only just starting the interview with the journalist, with whom nods were exchanged. So I had to wait a while. No problem. I remember doing a reccy of the town hall and being very disappointed with what I had to work with. The lighting was poor and I only had a cheap flash gun – which gives a very harsh direct light.

When I got back, RAW and the journalist were still deeply engaged. I was only over-hearing bits and pieces of the interview. I remember being really nervous, particularly as my time to do the shoot was getting shorter. So I got a pint of beer, which became another pint with another spliff in between. Near the end of the interview the journalist asked him about his ring, which was a massive gold (or silver) spiral – much too large for the finger. I noticed his sweatshirt with the third eye embroidered. RAW was also totally grey and seemed really really old to me.

I was trying to figure RAW out - I knew he was a huge intellect and had written all these books and been a massive influence upon all the counterculture stuff that I loved and celebrated yet he was not like a professor at all – he was so casual and, I don’t know, normal.

Suddenly, the interview was over and it was my turn with Robert Anton Wilson the Philosopher, Mystic, Genius. Hero.


I must have already been prepared for these first pictures I took because they were obviously done on a tripod in the corridor and are looking up the staircase just from outside the bar where the interview happened.

I told RAW just to stand half way up and I started doing all this experimental shit! What was I doing? When I look at these now I am surprised, but then reminded, that this was a normal approach for me at that time. Also I suppose, it was a good ice-breaker. Basically, RAW just stands there and I fuck about with double exposures and zooming long exposure effects etc. I was trying to achieve a ‘quantum jump’ effect. He was very happy to comply.


Here I was using what I had at hand which was a light in a recess of the corridor. The idea was illuminati(on). I remember liking the ‘domeness’ of the composition. Anyway, I think I sold the best negative from this group to I know not who – a publishing agent? If I did it today I would have got a lot closer in.


Out of desperation I notice that above on the ceiling is an architectural circle feature around the light fitting and after loving the ‘domeness’ I am getting carried away now. So I lay on the floor and ask RAW if he would mind leaning over to get himself, mainly his head, in the circle to form a ‘halo’ effect. We start laughing together as he can’t lean over enough while I’m trying to compose the shot. And I’m saying ‘ a bit more over Bob please’. The shot isn’t really working but he was finding it funny which made me lose it even more. I realise I have properly lost it when RAW says to me ‘what are you on?’ And I confessed that I was indeed fucked up, and he knew I wasn’t joking so we laughed some more until I had tears running. That is one of the reasons this day was so memorable to me.


Frame 22

This, as I remember, is a maintenance door that I had earlier found on my reccy. It was in the same corridor by all the rest of the above nonsense. By now Bob has loosened up while I am gathering myself and he graciously mucks about with the door…. He even goes in the fucking cupboard. (Frame22 is JH & my favourite from the whole series). Looking back at them now this could be interpreted as ‘The Door to Chapel Perilous’. Hmm tempting to photoshop the sign on the door….


I stuck around for his talk which he was touring. (I can’t remember what it was – maybe Schroedingers Cat stuff – even though a few years after publication). There is only 1 well focused image here - RAW was animated and walked about the stage with a lot of hand gestures. However, on this night there was a persistent heckler who kept challenging RAW with Christian nonsense. RAW was very patient and did all he could to converse with the heckler to no avail. The heckler wasn’t thrown out for quite a while and Bob just had to get on with his talk with constant interruptions, but he was such a gentleman about it.

By the end of my encounter with Robert Anton Wilson, I found that I loved the man. He was so warm and generous and full of vitality and acceptance. We had laughed together — he had sussed me and it was funny.

The publication went bust shortly after, so I was not paid for that commission. Perhaps explains the original photographer’s no-show in the first place.

Shortly after, in Feb 86, I was contacted by a RAW publishing agent who bought all the negatives off me.

Until 1 month ago I looked in my attic and went through the archive and discovered that was not true.

I had only sold 1 negative frame, and I have since digitalised the remaining 43!

I did not become a professional photographer.

It may not have been IQ. It could have been a different mag called ZigZag that commissioned then went bust.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cheap Philip K. Dick today

I have some (I hope) cool blog posts in the way but in the meantime as a placeholder for today I will mention that Amazon has some Black Friday deals for Kindle that sombunall RAW fans may be interested in, such as Philip K. Dick books on sale for $1.99. (I don't make money from the link -- I'm really just telling you. Book sales are my favorite kind of sale.) I can recommend the Elly Griffiths novels for those who like that sort of thing, and the $2 Italo Calvino is wonderful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

John Higgs on on a cosmic (trigger) weekend

John Higgs' talk at least weekend's Cosmic Trigger events in Liverpool fell through because of organizational difficulties, so instead he turned it into a wonderful blog post. 


When you gather together new-age heads and materialist rationalists, American libertarians and British socialists, the focused and the vague, the serious and the silly, the human and whatever it was that accosted me earlier, it does not sound like a recipe for getting things done. The only thing we all have in common is that we have at some point read Robert Anton Wilson and recognised and valued the impact that he has had on us.

I don't want to try to summarize John's post; I'm hoping you'll just go read it.

No doubt many people "found the others" with ramifications that will become clear over a period of years, but John's post offers one example. A photographer named Duncan Harvey gave Higgs a thumb drive of photos of RAW from a "lost" 1986 photo shoot in London. John's post has some of the best of the photos. (I have reproduced one, above.) More on the photo shoot soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cosmic Trigger play news roundup

Newly-married Daisy Eris Campbell, the new "Eris of the Month" at Adam Gorightly's Historia Discordia. 

Liverpool Confidential reviews Daisy Eris Campbell's "Cosmic Trigger" play and concludes, "Take a bow, Daisy. You pulled it off." The piece also shares much of the news of the weekend, including this bit: "On Sunday, Ms Campbell consummated the 'caper' with a joyous surprise (or drastic action, depending on your world view). She got hitched, at 6.23 pm, to long term partner and actor Greg Donaldson, in the Camp and Furnace. The nuptials were tied in front of an unsuspecting audience that included her mum (actress Prunella Gee), stepdad Tom and two children, Dixie and Django. Everyone sang 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do,' and staggered off into the night."

Photo posted on Twitter by hagbard celine.

Ben Chalmers has done a blog post that provides another review. And Only Maybe has posted a report.  And Psychedelic Press UK has weighed in.

A Flickr photostream of the play. Looks amazing, wish I could have been there.

A photo Joanne Mallon posted on Twitter

Much of the early reaction was on Twitter; apparently it was such a magical, unusual weekend that no one mentioned Star Wars to Toby Philpott. And Robin Ince wrote, "after a day of Robert Anton Wilson, my next show is going to be all about reality tunnels - starts again in january"

Of course, the play now moves to London. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 40, Illuminatus! online reading group

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, considered by some the founder of anarchism. He was not just being French when he discussed different forms of property, Wilson and Shea explain in the appendix of Illuminatus!

(This week: "Mmm," she said, "I like that smell," page 406, to "The only thing to do was find a hole and bury myself," page 416.)

The discussion on property in this week's selection contains the underpinnings for left libertarianism and also illustrates how referring to the appendix of Illuminatus! can make portions of the main text easier to understand.

Broadly speaking, there are three main groups of anti-government types.  One group consists of traditional anarchists, the folks on the left who don't recognize private property at all. Another group is the anarcho-capitalists, very similar if not identical to the Randians, who recognized all forms of private property, regardless of how it was acquired. Those folks, more or less, comprise the majority of those in the U.S. who refer to themselves as "libertarians."

The third group would be the left libertarians, the folks who fall into the slogan "markets, not capitalism," the kind of folk who hang out at the Center for a Stateless Society. They recognize that modern capitalism cannot be distinguished from the power of the state, and that not all forms of private property deserve equal respect.

While almost all anti-government folks agree on many issues — e.g., freedom of speech, non-intervention in other countries, live and let live in personal lifestyles — the disagreement on property crops up in all kinds of ways. For example, it's a factor (although not the only one) in the disagreement between "vulgar libertarians" and more leftist libertarians on whether a basic income guarantee is a good idea.

"Property is theft because the Illuminati land titles are arbitrary and unjust. And so are their banking charters and railroad franchises and all the other monopoly games of capitalism — "

"Of state capitalism. Not of true laissez-faire." (page 411)

The stoned discussion between George Dorn and Mavis perhaps is made more clear in Appendix Zain, Property and Privilege, which quotes Proudhon and explains why property, in different contexts, is theft, liberty and impossible. "Proudhon, by piling up his contradictions in this way, was not merely being French; he was trying to indicate that the abstraction "property" covers a variety of phenomena, some pernicious and some beneficial." (Page 767).

Notice the use of the word "privilege" in the title of the appendix section. Gross abuse of state power — such as the transportation of people as slaves from one continent to another — still have something to do with the distribution of wealth in the U.S.

Some notes on the text:

sunyata, page 407, in Buddhism, emptiness, the void

satori, page 407, the sudden enlightenment of Zen Buddhism.

"There's no governor anywhere," George quoted ..... That's Chuang Chou, the Taoist philosopher." (Page 408)

"No Govenor" was the name of a series of anarchist fanzines published by Robert Shea. There were 11 issues, archived at the official Robert Shea website. 

A quote from Robert Anton Wilson: "There is no governor anywhere; you are all absolutely free. There is no restraint that cannot be escaped. We are all absolutely free. If everybody could go into dhyana at will, nobody could be controlled -- by fear of prison, by fear of whips or electroshock, by fear of death, even. All existing society is based on keeping those fears alive, to control the masses. Ten people who know [this] would be more dangerous than a million armed anarchists." Can somebody give me the source?

Some "No Governor" discussion from Schroedinger's Cat.

(Next week: "And then it was just like a light bulb in my head," page 416 to page 427, ""Heate die Welt," all repeated, "Morgens das Sonnensystem.")

Sunday, November 23, 2014

'Across the Universe' comet video

I did not mean to make this astronomy weekend, but this was a video I thought sombunall of you would enjoy -- a cover of "Across the Universe" using only a vocal and sounds from the recent space probe's recording of a comet. ("Across the Universe" is a Beatles song, specifically one by John Lennon.)

 The video is from Andrew Huang, an artist I was not familiar with before. Huang writes:

When I first heard that the ESA had not only landed on but recorded audio from a comet, I knew I had to make something out of it. This is my reworking of the Beatles' awesome cosmic ballad "Across the Universe" which, apart from my singing, was created entirely with sounds from the Rosetta space probe's recording of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Check out this video of the sound design process

The original recording "A Singing Comet" can be heard on the European Space Agency's SoundCloud. 

This cover is available for download as part of an entire album produced with the sounds of the comet which I'm wrapping up work on this week. Pre-order it.

Thank you to my patrons for supporting my space music! Hit this up if you want to get the best deal on all my future releases.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The beautiful and mysterious solar system

NASA has just released a new high resolution image of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

From the NASA article (from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) accompanying the release of the image: "Hidden beneath Europa's icy surface is perhaps the most promising place in our solar system beyond Earth to look for present-day environments that are suitable for life. The Galileo mission found strong evidence that a subsurface ocean of salty water is in contact with a rocky seafloor. The cycling of material between the ocean and ice shell could potentially provide sources of chemical energy that could sustain simple life forms."

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Daisy Eris Campbell interview

Daisy Eris Campbell

On the eve of the launch of the Cosmic Trigger play, Psychedelic Press UK publishes a new interview with Daisy. Here's an excerpt explaining why she adapted Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati:

“It’s a non-fiction sequel; it’s a tribute to Robert Anton Wilson, who as far as I’m concerned, is not remembered enough by as many people as he ought to be and alongside the likes of Aldous Huxley, William Burroughs, Alan Watts, James Joyce etc, and that he really is a fantastic counter culture figure…

"It dawned that Cosmic Trigger was the book that Robert Anton Wilson had written directly after Illuminatus! It dealt with all the strange stuff that happened to him as a result of writing the book and I suddenly thought: this could be good…  I’m gonna have to test this to see if the forces that be really do demand this book.” Page 223 of Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger confirmed the answer. “It was all about the time when Wilson had been to visit my dad at the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool. That’s what’s on page 223.

Do you follow me when I say it kinda wasn’t my idea? I remained open and I still do, and this became the entire controlling principle of how the entire show is coming together: it’s based on signs and symbols quite early on in the process.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cosmic Trigger and other links

Emperor Norton I

With the Cosmic Trigger play looming, you can now listen to parts of the book on Soundcloud being read to you.  Part one is read by Jonathan Sellers, director of antiquities for the Illuminati (no, I don't know how you acquire that title.) Part two is Josh Darcy, an actor in the Cosmic Trigger play.

Julian Sanchez on the failure of the NSA reform bill. 

Bill Drummond on five lessons he learned from Ken Campbell.  You have to read this. Apparently, Yoko Ono decided not to appear in the Illuminatus! stage play.

New John Higgs book, but you probably can't read it right away.

William Gibson's favorite books.

Kickstarter for Emperor Norton documentary.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Adam Gorightly interview

Adam Gorightly

I have been reading Adam Gorightly's new book on Kerry Thornley and the JFK assassination investigations, Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and the Garrison Investigation.

I've just published a new interview with Adam at my new books blog at my day job (which I invite all of you to check out, seeing as  how many of you like to read.)


Sandusky Register:  Your new book, "Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation," tells the story of counterculture figure Kerry Thornley, who began writing a novel about Lee Harvey Oswald BEFORE the JFK assassination. Since you already wrote the definitive biography of Thornley, why have you written a new book?

Adam Gorightly: Kerry Thornley, in my opinion, was one of the most fascinating figures to emerge from the sixties counterculture, although his story is not widely known in popular culture and is overshadowed by the more well known characters who left their imprint on the sixties scene, such as Tim Leary, Ken Kesey or Hunter Thompson.

As recounted in Caught in the Crossfire, Kerry Thornley became embroiled in Jim Garrison’s investigation, and because of this — as well as his association with Lee Harvey Oswald — Thornley is most well known in relation to the Kennedy assassination and less for his endeavors as co-founder of the “spoof religion” Discordianism and as a leading thinker and writer of the early Anarcho-Libertarian scene that greatly influenced Wilson and Shea’s Illuminatus!

During the course of research for my 2003 book "The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture," I was introduced to the Discordian Archives by Dr. Robert Newport, who had been friends with Thornley and Discordian co-founder Greg Hill, and portions of these archives were used as source materials for the The Prankster and the Conspiracy. In the years to follow, I was introduced to more of these Discordian Archive materials, including a box of items directly related to Kerry Thornley and the Garrison Investigation. These materials prompted me to write "Caught in the Crossfire" because after reviewing these materials I realized I’d only scratched the surface regarding Thornley and the Garrison investigation in my earlier book.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Oz Fritz on exercising will

Recording engineer and magick student Oz Fritz (seen above at work in a recording studio) has posted a new article on exercising will, "Creativity — To Exercise Will Part 3."  It can also be read as a discussion of the Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson sixth circuit in the eight circuit model, and also can be read as a discussion of the Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel in Aleister Crowley's system. (If you've read RAW's Schroedinger's Cat, you'll recall the discussion there of the Holy Guardian Angel.) In any event, it's very interesting and gives the RAW fan lots of chew on. There's quite a bit of discussion about The Illuminati Papers and a suggestion that maybe Leary and Wilson got it wrong when they defined the fourth circuit.

If you missed Part One and Part Two, Oz has a good synopsis in the latest installment that brings you up to speed; you can read the new article as a stand alone. Or if you want the full dose, you can sit down and read all three. I re-read part one and read part two and part three in one sitting last night; it took me about an hour, but it was a very entertaining hour.

P.S. In light the Illuminatus! passage discussed in yesterday's blog post, I was amused that when I posted a comment to Oz's latest article, I had to "prove I'm not a robot." Not sure I can prove that, but I managed to post the comment.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 39, Illuminatus online reading group

Poet T.S. Eliot, who wrote the memorable phrase, "Humility is endless." 

(This week: Page 398, "The Indians were a band of Shoshones," to page 406, "even though he was now convinced it was the system he himself had been growing toward for many years.")

"Humility is endless." I certainly felt plenty of humility when I read this section twice and realized I could not really think of much of anything to add to Hagbard Celine's lecture on the dangers of egotism when one believes one has found enlightenment. Help me out on this one, guys and gals! But I can at least help with a couple of the references.

"I've read T.S. Eliot, and now I understand him. 'Humility is endless.' " (Page 402).

George Dorn is quoting from "East Coker," from Eliot's Four Quartets.

Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire

Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

"He felt sorry for the woman who had written that: Pitiful modern version of the maddened Saint Simon on his pillar in the desert." (Page 403)

For once, my interest in Late Antiquity pays off; I recognize the reference to the very strange life of Saint Simeon Stylites (about 390 A.D. to 459 AD), who for many years lived on top of a pillar; good Christian pilgrims seeking his wisdom would have to climb up to talk with him. Notice that while many modern people would simply consider the saint a raving lunatic, in his day the saint was considered a very holy and a very enlightened person. Shit Head, Holy Man, indeed ("He wondered what the H.M. and S.H. stood for," pages 404-405.)

(Next week: "Mmm," she said, "I like that smell," page 406, to "The only thing to do was find a hole and bury myself," page 416.) 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cosmic Trigger play update

Daisy Campbell's Cosmic Trigger Play will be staged later this month in Liverpool and London. Get your tickets.

The Independent gives Daisy a nice writeup. A bit I didn't know: "Ms Campbell said that after his death [Ken Campbell], theatre-makers contacted her about restaging Illuminatus! 'I thought: ‘No, I don’t want to do that, I want to do a sequel; some kind of bridge that would be mine,' she said."

Hagbard Celine and James Cauty have both done images of the Leif Ericsson to promote the play. (Cauty is above, Celine below) If Cauty's name doesn't quite ring a bell, see this. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Four Essential RAW books?

But does it seem "essential?"

The Robert Anton Wilson fans who run Ultraculture on Wednesday published an article by Maher Zaidi on "The 4 Essential Robert Anton Wilson Books for Blowing Your Mind."

Zaidi's picks are Illuminatus!, Cosmic Trigger 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati, Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology.

This seems to be a reasonable list, but many of us would at least add the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy. Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth  and The Widow's Son seem essential to me.  I also like the collections of short pieces, such as Email to the Universe and The Illuminati Papers.

RAW also is included in Ultraculture's article on "8 Celebrities Who Practice Chaos Magick."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

About that $3,125 in the backyard ...

Adam Gorightly has published another entry on his Historia Discordia website about the Illuminatus! group reading effort, and he's cleared up a puzzling point.

Remember back on Page 368 of Illuminatus!, when Harold Canvera buries $3,125 in his back yard in an attempt to join forces with the Illuminati?

It turns out that 3,125 is 5 to the 5th power, conforming to the Law of Fives. Adam goes on to explain how all of this relates to an Operation Mindfuck flyer, the one pictured above.

Anyone who's a RAW fan should give Adam's website a look.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Trouble at New Falcon?

Christopher Hyatt

If you follow Robert Anton Wilson's publishing history, you will know that many of his books remain in print through the efforts of New Falcon, a small press which specializes in "occult" matters. There was some sort of schism following the death of New Falcon leader Christopher Hyatt, and so now there are two publishers, Original Falcon and New Falcon. I don't pretent to know all of the details, or even many of them.

New Falcon is run by a guy named Michael Miller, who is Hyatt's son.  I have been told that it is the same Michael Miller who is in the news.  See also here.  The Los Angeles Times story is here.

UPDATE: More information here, from someone who apparently isn't a fan of Mr. Miller. If New Falcon wants to send me a statement, I will post it here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Guns and Dope Party rises again?

Robert Anton Wilson's Guns and Dope Party was a libertarian party in California that attempted to form a coalition of gun nuts and potheads. (The point, if it isn't obvious, is to unite right wingers and left wingers under a common "mind your own business" banner.) There's still an official page, which has its own URL but is sponsored by the official RAW website.

On libertarian magazine Reason's Hit and Run blog, Jesse Walker and Jason Keisling point out that the ideology of the Guns and Dope Party appears to doing well in at least some areas of the U.S. Using a Venn diagram, they show that there are 16 states which both allow some form of legal marijuana (typically "medical" marijuana) and which allow concealed carry of guns. The sixteen are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Alaska is the most libertarian of the 16: A perfect Guns and Dope state, as it allows unrestricted concealed carry of firearms and has legal pot.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 38, Illuminatus online reading group

Buckminster Fuller, in front of geodesic dome. We encounter him more than once in Illuminatus!, including on page 393, where is he speaking in London, "explaining why where were no nouns in the real world.")

(This week: Page 385, beginning of "The Seventh Trip, or Netzach (The SNAFU principle)" to page 398 "two hundred thousand lawyers working for the bureaucracy these days.")

The Illuminati in Illuminatus! are a  hierarchical group, but the Discordian guerrilla ontologists in the trilogy who oppose them are a decentralized bunch who stick apart. Simon Moon is sometimes in contact with Hagbard Celine, but Markoff Chaney does not seem to be in contact with anyone on the same "side."

Aren't the folks in the movement to keep Robert Anton Wilson's writings and ideas alive in a position analogous to the heroes of Illuminatus! ? We aren't getting very much support from academics. The most prestigious critical journals never found RAW when he was alive, and they haven't rediscovered him yet. We get no funding from the National Endowment from the Arts. There's no Library of America edition in the works. Instead, the "RAW movement" is essentially a bunch of independent blogs and Twitter accounts and websites and authors and artists and musicians and Facebook page operators and computer programmers and who knows who else. We suppose each other as we can, of course, but we operate independently.

In other words, perhaps we can claim to be part of Operation Mindfuck. Illuminatus! is "part of the only serious conspiracy it describes — that is, part of Operation Mindfuck" (page 774). Another section of the appendix describes how Operation Mindfuck operates:

OM was originally instigated by Ho Chih Zen, of the Erisian Liberation Front, who is the same person but not the same individual as Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, author of The Honest Book of Truth. The guiding philosophy is that originally proposed in The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by von Neumann and Morgenstern: namely, that the only strategy which an opponent cannot predict is a random strategy. The foundation had already been laid by the late Malaclypse the Younger, K.S.C., when he proclaimed, "We Discordians must stick apart." This radical decentralization of all Discordian enterprises created a built-in random factor even before Operation Mind-fuck was proposed.  [Ho Chih Zen, sometimes spelled "Ho Chi Zen," and "Lord Omar Ravenhurst" are pen names for Kerry Thornley -- the Mgt.]

And we are all individuals, responsible for our own successes and mistakes. There's a quote from Hagbard Celine's Never Whistle While You're Pissing at the beginning of the section we have just begun, the Seventh Trip, page 385, about how Damned Things, individual human beings, won't fit into the slots bureaucrats and others create for them. Markoff Chaney certainly isn't a good fit in everyday society, but nobody is a perfect fit.

There's another quote from Never Whistle While You're Pissing in the appendix, page 791:

It is easy to see that the label "Jew" was a Damnation in Nazi Germany, but actually the label "Jew" is a Damnation anywhere, even where anti-Semitism does not exist. "He is a Jew," "He is a doctor," and "He is a poet" mean, to the card-indexing center of the cortex, that my experience with him will be like my experience with other Jews, other doctors and other poets. Thus, individuality is ignored when identity is asserted. 

In the recent posting about libertarianism, Fireflye calls me out a little bit, writing, "Since this is a blog about RAW, how is it that no one seems to understand the point that calling ones self anything and banding together with others under any label kills free thought?" His point is well taken, but I would answer that labeling is a tool, a method of "finding the others," even if we have to remain careful not to remain wedded to labels, to use labels and analogies as a tool that can be discarded. The raft has the purpose of crossing over, not of being clung to. 

Some notes on the text:

Hagbard Celine, H.M., S.H., page 385. The abbreviation is for Holy Man, Shit Head. From the Camden Benares Discordian parable; if that seems obscure, see Supergee's blog post. 

Page 385, I'd forgotten that Markoff Chaney attended the same university as Simon Moon, Antioch University (a real school in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where RAW once lived.)

"His Fort Sumter, as it were," non-American readers may not know the South launched the American Civil War with an artillery attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

"Hassan i Sabbah's private formula," page 394. For more on the formula, see page 759.

(Next week: Page 398, "The Indians were a band of Shoshones," to page 406, "even though he was now convinced it was the system he himself had been growing toward for many years.")

Sunday, November 9, 2014

PQ analyzes major work of Joyce criticism

Retired UC Berkeley English professor John Bishop

PQ has now completed his four part analysis of John Bishop's Joyce's Book of the Dark, an analysis of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake which PQ considers definitive. PQ's post with links to all four parts is here. 

PQ writes:

To be honest, I have wanted to write about Bishop's book since I first discovered it, years before I actually read it. One of the reasons I decided to start writing a blog in the first place was so I could eventually share an in-depth look at Bishop's text. (In fact, the title and subtitle for my other blog come from Bishop's text.) I discovered it back in 2009 or 2010, thumbed through it in amazement and was shocked and disappointed to find that the internet contains virtually zero discussion of this great book.

It's often said that you can find everything on the internet. While there's plenty of great material out there about Finnegans Wake, somehow the finest analysis of the Wake was not discussed anywhere. I wanted to change that. It took me an absurdly long time, but now I've finally finished it and web surfers curious about the Wake will be able to experience a surface-skimming glimpse at what makes Bishop's book so special.

I've also provided links to a video lecture of Bishop discussing the Wake, an audio interview with Bishop, and the iTunes University series of free lectures from Bishop discussing modern English literature.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Znore on Buddhism

Statue of the Buddha from what is now Afghanistan, first or second century A.D.

The always-interesting Znore has put up a new piece on Buddhism at his Groupname for Grapejuice blog. He hung a self-deprecating title on it, but it's really stimulating and argues that the Western take on Buddhism sometimes does not go far enough. In it, he argues that the heart of Buddhism is the provisional nature of all belief systems, e.g. reality tunnels. A couple of graphs:

Perhaps all of the ecological problems that Western Buddhism is rightly concerned with are the symptoms of having any sort of worldview at all, not the result of bad science. Buddhism implies adrsti, having no attachments to any worldview, even an enlightened take on ecology.

To have no worldview, to fully embody the fact that all perspectives are empty, is to seemingly invite madness. This is not the case. Madness involves the dogmatic adherence to one belief system above all others. Buddhism demonstrates the provisional nature of all belief systems, including science and including itself.

Ecology may provide detailed models on how matter and energy are circulated within a network, but the demons and deities within traditional modes of thought may, as Jung often repeated, allow insights into human psychology far in advance of our current understanding of the mind.

Anyone interested in Buddhism or skepticism should check out the post.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Robert Anton Wilson in "High Times"

In the wake of Tuesday's victories for pot legalization in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, Chad Nelson sent me a link to an old "High Times" interview with Robert Anton Wilson.

I'm glad to pass it on to everyone, but it raises another matter. The Robert Anton Wilson Fans website, which was the premier archive for RAW interviews and other material, remains down. (Currently the URL is being used as some kind of Japanese cosmetics site.) I continue to hope that Joseph Matheny will bring it back up, but is it time to talk about building another comprehensive "RAW material" site? I don't have time to take that on myself right now, but I'm tossing the idea out there.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A political manifesto from Oklahoma

From the libertarian Kids Prefer Cheese blog, here is the political platform of "Angus," e.g. economics professor Dr. Kevin Blaine Grier at my alma mater, the University of Oklahoma.

People, I am in favor of legalizing drugs, same sex marriage, LBGT rights, and a vastly smaller military. I am also in favor of increased immigration, increased trade, and drastically less regulation on economic activity. I favor increased funding for research into alternative energy, but I do not favor specific investments in specific companies. I favor abolishing the TSA, the BATF, and the Department of Agriculture. I am against the militarization of local police forces. I am ashamed of the size and racial makeup of our prison system. I despise constant government led erosion of our privacy. I would like to replace our weird, patchy safety net with a guaranteed basic income. I favor a single payer approach to providing universal health care. I would love to see substantial, revenue neutral, carbon tax.

I'm struck by two things when I read this: (1) This is the kind of thing that a surprisingly large number of self-identified libertarians believe and (2) although I've read this several times, I can't find anything I disagree with. Oh, rather than embracing single payer, I'd probably prefer a model closer to what Germany or Switzerland have, but I agree with the general point that we should cover everyone, and that single payer would be better than the patchwork we have now.

(And apparently we may not even disagree on that, because in a follow up post Angus writes, "I would prefer to bust up the AMA cartel, somewhat deregulate the practice of health care, increase the supply of doctors (through immigration), and have a free market in health care, but I still prefer single payer over the ACA.")

Angus wrote the post to explain why he doesn't bother to vote. "Oh, and I did I mention I live in Oklahoma? Exactly who I am supposed to vote for?" He could have written, "I live in Ohio," or any of the 48 other states. I suppose he could have cast a useless ballot for the Libertarian candidates, as I do, but apparently he doesn't vote at all. (The party isn't recognized in Oklahoma, so he would have had to vote for "independent" candidates who are actually Libertarians.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Some election results

It's the day after the election in the U.S., and I'm busy, so this is going to be short.

But here are a couple of results that may interest Robert Anton Wilson fans:

(1) Marijuana legalization passed in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. 

(2) Sen. Mark Udall, one of the few Democrats willing to give the NSA a hard time, lost his race for re-election. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Discordian side of National Review

Tim Wheeler and Mary Wheeler aboard the Suzie Wong, William F. Buckley's boat in 1963.

Tim and Mary Wheeler in 1962.

The ever-busy Adam Gorightly has just published a major interview at Historia Discordia that sheds light on Illuminatus! and the Discordian. It's an interview with Mary Wheeler (aka "Hope Springs"), about her and  her ex-husband, the late Tim Wheeler, also a Discordian, who pops up in Appendix Yod of Illuminatus! as Lord Harold Randomfactor.

The interview, "The Secret History of Immanentizing the Eschaton: The Mary Wheeler Interview," was done by Steven Adkins. It is illustrated with photographs from Ms. Wheeler and documents from Adam's Discordian archives.

Read the interview if you want to know if William F. Buckley was familiar with the Discordian movement (spoiler: he was!) and how memes and witticisms generated by Tim and Mary wound up in Illuminatus! For example, the couple helped create the Young Americans for Real Freedom, which are mentioned in Illuminatus!

Tim Wheeler was and editor and writer for the National Review, and Mary warmly praises William F. Buckley in the interview. The interview is a revealing look at the fun-loving, humorous, pot smoking side of the conservative movement. There are also telling anecdotes about RAW and the Sheas.

The above photos are from the Timothy J. Wheeler gallery put together by Wheeler's son, Christopher Wheeler.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 37, Illuminatus online reading group

Photo Eye by Anton Stankowski, one of the photographs featured in Forbidden Games, a current photo exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art 

(This week: "Harold Canvera had not bothered to fill out a questionnaire," page 368, to page 384, "Rebecca. Rebecca. Rebecca.")

A few days ago, my wife accidentally brought him a movie called "The Double" for us to watch. She thought it was a thriller, but it turned out to be quite surrealistic, so she gave up in disgust while I watched it, delighted. Not the least of the visual affects was the depiction of the heroine, played by Mia Wasikowska, who seems more like an angel in her white dress than a "real woman."

I can't seem to get away from surrealism lately; this weekend, I went to an exhibition of surrealistic photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art. (The photograph at the top of this blog post is featured in the exhibition.) And I spent much of my time this weekend watching old videos of "Twin Peaks," including the vivid dream sequence in which FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper finds himself sitting in a room with red drapes and a dwarf, sitting across from an eerily beautiful Laura Palmer who in the dreamworld has come back to life. In "real life," Sheryl Lee seemed almost too beautiful to be real, and even though she was written back into the show as "Maddie Ferguson," Laura Palmer's cousin, her real power in the series comes from a series of luminous images, such as her senior portrait or in the dream scene.

Treating sex as something magical seems like one the key insights of surrealism to me and the magical sense of sex, the way it serves as a connection between two people, something beyond anatomy or physical gratification,  is one of the key points of the lecture Saul Goodman is delivering to his wife even as he makes love to her, concluding the Sixth Trip of Illuminatus! It might be useful to compare Saul's monologue in this section with Molly's monologue at the end of Ulysses. Molly talks about sex and concludes with an ecstatic exclamation that focuses on herself ("and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.") Saul's monologue concludes with his focus on his lover ("Rebecca. Beautiful, beautiful. Rebecca. They don't want us to. Unify. The. Forces. Rebecca. Rebecca. Rebecca.")

"You see, we're trying to break through our skins into each other," Saul explains on page 383.

Saul's monologue seems to connect both with sex magick (a major theme of Schroedinger's Cat) and with Wilhelm Reich ("One scientist knew. He died in prison," page 383.)

A couple of notes on the text:

"the asshole, unfortunately, had turned out to be the Vice President of the United States," page 382, Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon's vice president.

Epicene Wildeblood reviews Illuminatus!, page 381, "I really tear these two smart-asses apart." He's reviewing a novel, not knowing that he's in a novel himself. And are we part of somebody else's "novel"? Twin Peaks does a nice job with this; the characters are in a TV show, but many of them obsess over a soap operation. "And though she feels as if she's in a place, she is anyway," as the Beatles sang in "Penny Lane."

(Next week: Page 385, beginning of "The Seventh Trip, or Netzach (The SNAFU principle) to page 398 "two hundred thousand lawyers working for the bureaucracy these days.")

Sunday, November 2, 2014

'Reality is what you can get away with'

Bono, aka Paul David Hewson, who says, "The world is more malleable than you think."

Saturday is when the Wall Street Journal publishes its book review section, and when I flipped through it, I paused to read Tony Fletcher's review of John Jobling's U2: The Definitive Biography. A couple of sentences in the last paragraph surprised me:

But to those who saw in early U2 an apparent disavowal of punk, a quote from Bono  about seeing the Clash in Dublin in 1977 reveals he had, in fact, paid close attention. "It was very clear," Bono recounted years later. "The world is more malleable than you think; reality is what you can get away with." U2 got away with what others only dream about: to be the biggest band in the world." 

I thought the aphorism had come from RAW. Can anyone tell me where RAW, or Bono, or both, get the phrase?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New book blog

Apologies for the brief bit of self-promotion, but I have launched a new book blog at the place where I work. As this is a blog about a writer, I assume that sombunall of you may be interested.