Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday links



Latest Cosmic Trigger play news. It's getting close.

Social Justice Kittens calendar.

New Yorker cartoon on the current Internet controversy. 

Video shows how women are harassed on the street. 

Last Orson Welles film may finally be shown. 

When Joyce met Proust.








Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jeet Heer's observation


Jeet Heer

Canadian journalist Jeet Heer on Twitter:

Next he'll be saying that about this website :)

The Tweet is a nice witticism that captures RAW's influence on the modern libertarian movement, not to mention Reason contributors such as Jesse Walker and Brian Doherty.

When I did a little exploring, I discovered that Mr. Heer sometimes writes pieces on comics and science fiction writers, including an old article on Philip K. Dick ("The laureate of radical postmodernism was, it turns out, a stool pigeon.") and this new one, on Robert Heinlein ("While America became increasingly liberal, he became increasingly right wing, and it hobbled his once-formidable imagination. His career, as a new biography inadvertently proves, is a case study in the literary perils of political extremism.")

His Heinlein piece is witty and makes some good points, but his main thesis could use  little polishing. Heer claims the political rot set in by 1957 — "The turning point came in 1957. After that year, Heinlein's books were no longer progressive explorations of the future but hectoring diatribes lamenting the decadence of modernity" — so how come two of the best novels came later? Stranger in a Strange Land came out in 1961, while The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress was published in 1966. Both won Hugo awards and are very popular, so it's not just me who likes them.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 36, Illuminatus! online reading group


Bobby Campbell's artwork for these weekly postings. Thanks again, Bobby!

(This week: "But three hours after Drake's death," page 359, to "It would be interesting to get into mathematics, really deep," page 368.)

This section is all over the place, and it's beyond the abilities of your humble blogger to write a blog post that ties all of it together. But let's look at some of the pieces.

"The fear of death is the beginning of slavery," page 363. Because it is the source of religion? Because it inhibits clear thinking?

In any event, as Jesse Walker pointed out in this blog posting back in 2007 when RAW died, RAW's last written words, on his blog, did not show a fear of death. The last entry reads,

Various medical authorities swarm in and out of here predicting I have between two days and two months to live. I think they are guessing. I remain cheerful and unimpressed. I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.

Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.

Jesse's blog post cites an article about the Marquis de Sade, although I don't know if de Sade's works is where RAW got the quotation.

"He didn't recall TV newscasters being that obnoxious," page 362. And this was before Fox News and MSNBC.

Sexuality, Magic and Perversion by Francis King, page 364. Not only a real book, but it's back in print -- you can even get an ebook.

"AUM, the drug that promised to turn neophobes into neophiles," page 364. In a sense, the Illuminatus! trilogy is a literary form of AUM.

"a tall redhead," page 366. Was Arlen Wilson tall, or is this a reference to somebody else?

"A series of odd questions," page 367. Pages 367-368 are both very funny and very serious. For me, it's one of the best parts of the work. The "odd questions" about U.S. national security policy are in fact a series of very reasonable questions, but ones that seldom get asked. In fact, everything from "What would you think of a man?" to "paranoid schizophrenic" in the long paragraph on page 367 would work fine as the text of a leaflet in a peace demonstration, assuming that any bystanders could be persuaded to read in and to "wake up."

"What is this man not only is feuding with the people on  his blog but involves himself in the quarrels of others in distance parts of the city and even in the suburbs?" page 367. Thank heavens this is merely amusing satire and no longer has any relevance to U.S. foreign policy.

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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

John Gray on H.P. Lovecraft



Anyone who is interested in H.P. Lovecraft will want to read British philosopher John Gray's new article, "H.P. Lovecraft Invented a Horrific World to Escape a Nihilistic Universe." It explores the philosophy behind Lovecraft's writing. It's full of insights and zingers such as this one:

Far from disappearing from view as he expected, Lovecraft has been repeatedly resurrected by successive generations. No one would now write of him as the critic Edmund Wilson did, in the New Yorker in 1945: “The only real horror in most of these fictions is the horror of bad taste and bad art.” The true horror was in fact that of judging Lovecraft by the standards of a defunct literary culture.

Gray also reviews and strongly recommends The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Greil Marcus reviews Illuminatus!



Greil Marcus, legendary Rolling Stone magazine writer and author of tomes such as Lipstrick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century and other books I haven't gotten around to reading yet, reviewed Iluminatus! for Rolling Stone back on Feb. 26, 1976. His official website has now posted the review. Here is the text:

With their Illuminatus trilogy (The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, and Leviathan, Dell paperbacks, $1.50 apiece), Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson have if nothing else brought off the longest shaggy dog joke in literary history. To briefly summarize the more than 800 closely printed pages: a journalist, a sort of modern-day Candide, sets out to investigate some mysterious doings in Mad Dog, Texas, and innocently trips over one of the many feet of the Illuminati, the greatest conspiracy in history—or, to put it another way, the conspiracy that is history. Taking their cue from Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo (“The history of the world is the history of warfare between secret societies”), Shea and Wilson catapult their hero and uncountable other characters through a series of adventures and in transit manage to clear up every conundrum currently bedeviling the Western mind, including the assassination of JFK (brilliantly handled), the death of Marilyn Monroe, the history of Atlantis, dolphin intelligence, the last words of Dutch Schultz (the touchstone of the books), prehistoric cross-continental cultural diffusion, the Loch Ness monster, the fate of Adolph Hitler, the death of John Dillinger, and a lot of other things I’ve forgotten. A hundred pages in I couldn’t figure out why I was wasting my time with this nonsense, after 300 I was having too much fun to quit, and by the end I was eager to believe every word—even if the only conspiracy really at work here is Shea and Wilson’s devilish exploitation of our need to make ordered sense out of everything under the sun; their exploitation, in a world, of the narcissism of rationalism. Anyway, I loved it.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Who REALLY rules? A political scientist answers



Michael Glennon, professor of international law, the Fletcher School, Tufts University. 

The part of the U.S. government that is sometimes referred to as "the national security state" or "the secret government" — the part that I talked about in my recent Illuminatus! online reading entry — usually is the focus of discussion for libertarians, anarchists, hardcore civil libertarians and other soreheads excluded from mainstream political discourse.

Now, however, the topic has drawn the attention of a respected political scientist and academic, Michael Glennon of Tufts University. His new book is called National Security and Double Government. Here is the Cato Institute's summary:

"In National Security and Double Government, Michael Glennon examines the continuity in U.S. national security policy from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Glennon explains the lack of change by pointing to the enervation of America’s 'Madisonian institutions,' namely, the Congress, the presidency, and the courts. In Glennon’s view, these institutions have been supplanted by a 'Trumanite network' of bureaucrats who make up the permanent national security state. National security policymaking has been removed from public view and largely insulated from law and politics. Glennon warns that leaving security policy in the hands of the Trumanite network threatens Americans’ liberties and the republican form of government."

Most newspapers and media outlets are ignoring the book so far, but the Boston Globe ran a piece. The whole thing is worth a few minutes of  your time, but here is the part where Glennon explains the title of his book:

IDEAS: Where does the term “double government” come from?

GLENNON:It comes from Walter Bagehot’s famous theory, unveiled in the 1860s. Bagehot was the scholar who presided over the birth of the Economist magazine—they still have a column named after him. Bagehot tried to explain in his book “The English Constitution” how the British government worked. He suggested that there are two sets of institutions. There are the “dignified institutions,” the monarchy and the House of Lords, which people erroneously believed ran the government. But he suggested that there was in reality a second set of institutions, which he referred to as the “efficient institutions,” that actually set governmental policy. And those were the House of Commons, the prime minister, and the British cabinet.

The usual suspects have been trying to draw attention to Professor Glennon's book, but getting the attention of the public appears to be a work in progress. After I ran across mentions of the book from the troublemakers I follow on Twitter and read the Globe piece, I decided to check it out of the library. I discovered that it's not available from the CLEVNET library system (not just Cleveland, but much of northern Ohio.) Cuyahoga County's library system (28 branches) didn't have it, either, so I enlisted my wife, a librarian, to get it for me using interlibrary loan. She discovered that no libraries in Ohio have it. When I asked her to consider ordering it for her library, she discovered that Baker & Taylor, the main distributor supplying public libraries, didn't have any copies in stock.

So, you can see that buying a copy raises a public safety issue for any library in Ohio daring to do so; why attract the attention of the Illuminati? *

I can't afford to buy the book, but I'll pursue getting my hands on it and will talk about more when I can.

* Yes, I'm kidding.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday links



Things the entire world understands, except America. The dissent in the comments from Facecat also is interesting.

Timothy Leary wanted poster.

From Julian Sanchez: "Inner peace meditation: ~15% of every ideology or subculture, including yours, embodies all the shittiest stereotypes about that group. Accepting this, and feeling no obligation to defend those people or take vicarious umbrage on their behalf, will make you much saner."

Map of Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles.

Latest Adam Gorightly 'Eris of the Month.'

God created the world on Oct. 23 (according to one calculation). Happy birthday, Earth!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cosmic Trigger play news

If you made a contribution to the Cosmic Trigger play funding campaign (I saw a lot of familiar names in the list of donors) you may want to know that the perks finally appear to be on the way. Daisy Eris Campbell posted a series of photos of Twitter yesterday showing the perks being assembled, including this one:


Daisy's caption: "The perk factory workers have arrived."



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

John Wisniewski interviews Adam Gorightly




Some weeks ago, a writer named John Wisniewski wrote to me and asked if I would be interested in an interview with Adam Gorightly. I wrote back and said that although I was doing my own interview I would also be interested in his piece.

My interview ran, establishing for the record that Mr Gorightly is neither a gonzo author  or a crockpot expert, but a very interesting "crackpot historian."

Wisniewski has now sent me his interview, which is interesting and highlights Gorightly's new book about Kerry Thornley, Caught in the Crossfire. The book is referred to in the interview as upcoming, but now it's out -- you can run out and buy it!

John Wisniewski is a freelance writer who has written for L.A. Review of Books, Paraphilia magazine, Toronto Review of Books, Urban Graffiti magazine and other publications. He currently resides in West Babylon NY.

Hi Adam. You have two new books out "Caught in the Crossfire" and "Historia Discordia," a history of the Discordian Society. Could you tell us about Kerry Thornley— who he was?

Thornley was born in Whittier, California in 1938, and throughout his life was an unconventional, free thinking type. In high school he became friends with a school mate named Greg Hill and the two lads cooked up the spoof religion called Discordianism, which was the worship of the Greek Goddess of Chaos and Confusion, Eris. This discovery of Eris occurred with a vision in a Whittier bowling alley in 1958 when time stopped and a chimpanzee appeared. It gets pretty involved to relate it all here but to find out more you can refer to the bible of Discordianism, the Principia Discordia. The history of Discordianism is chronicled in my latest release Historia Discordia: Origins of the Discordian Society.

In 1959 Thornley enlisted in the Marines and in the fall of that year served at El Toro Marine Base near Irvine, California with none other than Lee Harvey Oswald. Oddly enough, Thornley was writing a novel based on Oswald three years before the JFK assassination.

In 1967, Thornley was targeted by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison as part of a JFK assassination conspiracy based out of New Orleans where Thornley had lived throughout 1961-63 during the same period that Oswald had spent time there. Garrison claimed that Thornley had been one of the notorious Oswald doubles—as well as a CIA asset—and that he had met with Oswald during the New Orleans period as part of his supposed JFK assassination involvement, an accusation that Thornley denied.

Garrison’s case eventually ran out of steam in 1970 when the lead suspect in the case, Clay Shaw, was acquitted and around that time the charges against Thornley were also dropped. Over the next few years, Thornley grew to suspect that Garrison might have actually been on the right track with some of his JFK assassination related theories, but that his involvement in the assassination had been that of an unwitting dupe and as a potential fall back patsy if the Oswald setup had gone awry.

All of this is covered in greater detail in my soon to be released Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation. 

Could you name a few other key figures in the History of the Discordian Society? We have mentioned Kerry Thornley and Greg Hill, of course.

Well, of course Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea — the authors of Illuminatus! —were deeply influenced and likewise contributed greatly to the Discordian mythos. Their Discordian nicknames were, respectively, Mordecai the Foul and Josh the Dill.

Another key figure was Bob Newport (are we sensing a trend here with all the Bobs?) Newport was a contributor to the 4th edition Principia Discordia, and become the Keeper of the Sacred Chao (KSC) when the Discordian Archives were passed on to him after Greg Hill’s death. (The original printing of The Sacred Chao emblem is contained within the archives, hence the illustrious KSC title.)

Newport (aka Rev. Hypocrates Magoun, Protector of the Pineal) passed the archives on to me 5 years ago and I became the next in line KSC. These materials led to the Historia Discordia website, Historia Discordia book project, as well as the forthcoming Caught in the Crossfire.

The Discordian Society was birthed in a Southern California bowling alley in 1958, but really didn’t gain serious traction until Hill and Thornley relocated to New Orleans in the fall of ‘61. A couple of key Discordians who helped spread the gospel during the NOLA period were Roger Lovin (whose middle name was Robert—another Bob!) and a fellow named Bob McElroy (yes, another Bob.) Their respective Discordian monikers were Fang the Unwashed and Dr. Mungojerry Grindlebone. Lovin authored several books including The Complete Motorcycle Nomad in 1974.

In fact, a number of the early Discordians were published authors including Thornley, Hill, Wilson, Shea, Lovin in addition to Louise Lacey—aka Lady L, F.A.B. (Fucking Anarchist Bitch) —who in the early 70s wrote her classic tome on natural birth control, Lunaception: A Feminine Odyssey into Fertility and Contraception.

Camden Benares (aka The Count of Fives) is considered a leading authority on Zen and his books have been published in German, Dutch, and other languages. Benares wrote a total of three books in his Zen series which included Zen Without Zen Masters and A Handful of Zen. His third and final book, Riding Buddha’s Bicycle, was finished shortly before his death in 1999 and remains unpublished.


Another seminal Discordian—who I’ve just recently learned much more about—was Tim Wheeler (aka Lord Harold Randomfactor.) Along with his wife, Mary (aka Hope Springs), Wheeler also contributed greatly to the Discordian mythos, and like Hill and Thornley is cited in the Illuminatus! trilogy. Wheeler was a humor editor for William F. Buckley’s National Review, which I suspect some will find rather curious as to why Wheeler was intermingling with those early Discordians, who most would consider more left-leaning than right-wingers. The reality is that the early Discordians were all across the political-ideological landscape—from liberalism to anarchism to conservatism to surrealism—but the one thing that bound them all together was their reverence of Eris…and also smoking pot, which Wheeler was also very fond of. They’ll be much more about Tim Wheeler in coming blogposts at historiadiscordia.com, so stay tuned!


Adam Gorightly with Robert Anton Wilson. 


When and how did you meet Robert Anton Wilson?

I met Wilson in 2001 at his apartment in Capitola, California. This was an interview for my book The Prankster and the Conspiracy, and had been set up with the help of Bob Newport. It was at this time that I was first exposed to some of the Discordian Archives, which Newport brought along with him to the meeting. We had some scotch, ordered a pizza and I later bummed a smoke from Wilson, which we enjoyed from his balcony overlooking the ocean. All in all, a pretty memorable day.

Around the time of our meeting, my friend Miles Lewis was organizing the National UFO Conference (NUFOC) for later that year—the weekend of September 16th in Austin, Texas—and after my meeting with Wilson I’d helped Miles get in touch with RAW to have him speak at the event. Miles had even planned to present RAW with an honorary award at the conference, which of course never took place, as 9/11 screwed all that up and shut down flying for the next few weeks and so it had to be cancelled. I had planned to attend, so all of this was certainly a bummer.

I’ve attached a poster for the event—the greatest UFO conference that never happened—that was illustrated by my good friend Mack White, who also provided illustrations for my book The Beast of Adam Gorightly: Collected Rantings (1992-2004).



Was there a conspiracy surrounding the death of Robert Kennedy?

Well, Kerry Thornley certainly thought there was a conspiracy behind RFK’s assassination, and that the group behind MLK, RFK and the Manson Family murders were the same individuals who had manipulated him in New Orleans. Kerry, at one time or another, placed himself in the center of all these conspiracies — as someone who had become ensnared in this tangled web — and that he was the only one who had really figured out the connections linking all of the assassinations together, which he felt ultimately led to the escalation of the Vietnam War.

As for myself, I can’t claim any certitude in the matter, although the possibility of a conspiracy in RFK’s assassination seems quite likely. RFK’s alleged assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, had all the earmarks of a mind control subject. Sirhan claimed to have no memory of shooting RFK, although he did recall the events leading up to—and immediately following the assassination—as well as his curious encounter with a certain girl in a polka-dotted dress in the Ambassador Hotel ballroom just before the hit went down. Sirhan remembered the girl pouring him a cup of coffee and then after that he went blank, which suggests the likelihood that hypnosis in combination with psychoactive drugs were used to program him.

Sirhan suffered amnesia during the three months leading up to RFK’s assassination. His attorneys put together a psychiatric team (led by U.C. Berkeley’s Dr. Bernard Diamond) who presented the case that Sirhan had been hypnotized and during his period of missing time had written a series of diary entries in an apparent trance state, repeating the phrase “RFK must die” over and over like he was reciting commands that had been drilled into his brain.

Sirhan’s lawyers claimed that his trance states had been self induced, although in the years to follow Sirhan has gone on record stating that he was misrepresented by his first legal team, and has steadfastly claimed that he was indeed the victim of mind control, and that his handler was the girl in the polka-dot dress.

Witnesses observed the girl in polka-dotted dress running from the Ambassador Hotel yelling “we shot him.” One witness to this was a campaign volunteer named Sandy Serrano, who afterwards claimed that she was badgered by LAPD SGT Hank Hernandez into recanting her story.

Ballistic evidence in RFK’s assassination was sketchy, and some sources suggest that Sirhan never got close enough to RFK to have been able to fire the fatal head shot. Many point to a security guard named Thane Eugene Caesar as a likely triggerman.  Also ballistic evidence was removed from the assassination scene (The Ambassador Hotel pantry) that later came up missing or was destroyed, which included ceiling panels and a door jamb, as I recall.

I’ve only scratched the surface here, but if you really want to go deep down this rabbit hole, I’d recommend reading RFK Must Die! by Robert Kaiser and The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy by authors Jon Christian and William Turner in addition to the excellent film documentary RFK Must Die: The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy directed by Shane O’Sullivan.

Adam could you tell us a little about MK-ULTRA, what it is and conspiracy cases are involved with it?

MK-ULTRA was a code name for a series of CIA sponsored covert mind control experiments started in 1953 under a program exempt from congressional oversight. Agents and “spychiatrists” involved in MK-ULTRA tested radiation, electric shock, microwaves, and electrode implants on unwitting subjects, one of whom might have very well been Kerry Thornley, as well as Lee Harvey Oswald.

MK-ULTRA’s ultimate goal was to create sleeper agents that could be awakened by post hypnotic commands ala The Manchurian Candidate. To this end, the CIA tested a wide range of drugs to find the perfect chemical compound in which to achieve their goals. In 1953, the Agency attempted to purchase the entire world supply of LSD from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland. In fact, for many years the CIA was the principal source for LSD. Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg and Jerry Garcia were all turned on to acid via CIA funded projects sponsored by such conduits as Stanford University.

Atsugi Air Base in Japan—where both Thornley and Oswald had been stationed—was one of two overseas outposts where the CIA conducted MK-ULTRA experiments. These activities took place in a group of buildings at Atsugi identified as the Joint Technical Advisory Group, the ultimate aim of which was to establish if drugs, such as LSD, could be used as interrogation tools on enemy agents, and also as a tool for agents-in-training to familiarize themselves with LSD’s effects in case they were slipped a psychedelic mickey. Atsugi, it should be noted, was just one of two locations outside of the US (the other in Manila, in the Philippines) where the CIA, during this period, maintained storage of LSD. Besides Atsugi, Thornley also served with the Marines in Manila. Go figure…

There are also stories that suggest that Oswald was dosed with LSD during this period, which I share in Caught in the Crossfire.

Speaking about MK-ULTRA, was MK involved with The Manson Case as well?

Test-Tube Murders: The Case of Charles Manson by Carol Greene, published in Germany, presents the theory that the “Summer of Love” was not a spontaneous phenomenon, but a planned behavior modification program designed to undermine the 1960’s youth movement ala MK-ULTRA—with the Manson Family the end product of these sinister shenanigans. Greene contends that Manson’s parole officer, Dr. Roger Smith, who worked at the Haight-Ashbury Free clinic and the director the clinic, Dr. David Smith, directed this clandestine operation. The Haight Ashbury Clinic was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and, in recent years, it has been revealed that the NIMH was an MK-ULTRA front funded by the CIA. Which is not to say I can substantiate any of these claims, but they’re certainly intriguing.

After his prison release in ‘67—during the so-called "Summer of Love"—Manson landed in the Haight Ashbury where he began gathering his hippie chick harem around him. There are those who suggest that Haight-Ashbury was a “human guinea pig farm” and the Manson Family were cooked up there in the same sort of test tube cauldron that Carol Greene wrote about. Dr. Louis Jolyon West—an infamous figure in the MK-ULTRA annals—ran a safe house in the Haight where he tested LSD on unwitting subjects during the same period that the Manson Family was being birthed.

Conspiracy researchers Mae Brussell and John Judge also stated as much: that the Manson Family was the product of a covert government mind control experiment engineered to undermine the 60’s counterculture. Brussell referred to all of this as a “strategy of tension” orchestrated to create unrest in the good ol’ US of A and bring about a fascist controlled state.

In the 1980’s, John Judge was corresponding with Manson Family member Patricia Krenwinkel, who stated her suspicion that she’d been a victim of MK-ULTRA. To this end, Judge contended that many of the Manson girls came from high ranking military intelligence families and that they were fed mind control drugs and Manson was given control over them. Meanwhile, Manson’s handlers led him to believe he was some sort of new age messiah, who after Helter Skelter came down would ultimately rule the world. After Charlie’s arrest, he said, “I want to know who was peeing on my leash,” which meant that Manson understood he’d been let out a certain amount, then dragged back in once he'd served his purpose.

Could you tell us more about your new book, Adam. Why was the use of mind control a major issue in the Kennedy assassination?

Once again, I have no definitive smoking gun proof regarding MK-ULTRA mind control in any of this craziness—from JFK to RFK to MLK to Manson. There are connections that can be made which certainly suggest that such scenarios were possible and that it appears Oswald and Thornley were manipulated—and I explore those theories in my latest book. But in the final analysis—in my mind, at least—they remain theories. Ultimately it’s up to the reader to make that leap, and I’m sure some will: that MK-ULTRA or the Illuminati or fill-in-the-blanks with alphabet soups were responsible for the assassinations of everyone from JFK to John Lennon to Joan Rivers. But for me these remain unsettling theories to ponder in those wee, weird hours—in the quiet and the dark.

As for Caught in the Crossfire, it’s really the story of Kerry Thornley and the trials and tribulations he encountered as a suspect in Garrison’s JFK assassination investigation. The aim of the book is not to present another explanation of who was behind the JFK assassination. There have been a multitude of books that have gone down that road many, many times. My book is more a recounting of what went on behind the scenes with the Garrison investigation and how that impacted Kerry Thornley’s life.

Was Kerry Thornley ever questioned in any other conspiracy trials? Besides the  Kennedy assassination?

Technically, Thornley never testified at a conspiracy trial. He did testify before the Warren Commission, and Jim Garrison believed that Thornley’s involvement with the Warren Commission was part of the Oswald frame-job orchestrated by the CIA.

While some probably envision Thornley’s Warren Commission testimony as being a rather formal affair—presided over by government lawyers and high ranking politicians where he was sworn in and questioned like in some televised congressional investigation—in actuality Kerry just met a couple government attorneys over the course of an afternoon in a very informal setting and provided them with his memories of serving with Oswald in the Marines. Kerry was then able to review a transcript of his testimony the following day and make any changes or corrections he deemed necessary.

As for the Garrison affair, this would probably be as close to a “conspiracy trial” as it got, and once again this wasn’t actually a formal trial, but just one day of questioning before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury. For that matter, Garrison never brought Kerry to trial and eventually dropped all charges against him after the Clay Shaw acquittal in 1970.

Similar to his testimony before the Warren Commission, Thornley provided information to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in the mid seventies, which consisted of a one day meeting with Committee investigator L.J. Delsig. Kerry initiated this meeting because he felt he had important knowledge to share related to the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations. However, Kerry soon discovered that Delsig wasn’t interested in anything he had to share but was more interested in Garrison’s charges, which Kerry had been denying since day one. And so that basically ended any chance Kerry had of stating his case and his theories related to the assassinations and ostensibly ended his HSCA participation.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 35, Illuminatus online reading group


Cover art for the February 1936 issue of Astounding Stories, which ran H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness as a three-part serial. The artist is Howard V. Brown.

(This week: Page 348 "Richard Jung, wearing Carl Jung's old sweater and smoking his pipe," to page 359, "and the sight of that miniature representation of the giant Tlaloc in Mexico City.")

Here is a section which ties together some of the points made in previous section; see for example, the last couple of posts. We get the Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos, the Pentagon, Dutch Schultz's last words (with a key to some of his coded references to the Illuminati) and the National Security Act of 1947.  Once again, fictional and real elements are tied together with Wilson and Shea's Discordianism (or, if you prefer, illuminated libertarianism). And this is the section in which Robert Putney Drake, realizing that he embraced power rather than illumination — he took the bad from what the Illuminati had to offer, rather than the good — helps George flee but accepts his death:

"You go," Drake said. "Down the stairs and out the back, to the garage. Here's the key to my Silver Wraith Rolls Royce. It won't be any use to me anymore."

"Why aren't you coming?" George protested.

"We deserve to be dead," Drake said. "All of us in this house."

"Hell, that's crazy. I don't care what you've done. A guilt trip is always crazy."

I've been on a crazier trip, as you'd call it, all my life," Drake said calmly. "The power trip. Now, move!" (page 352)

and also

"if a cheap hoodlum like Dutch Schultz had a poet buried in him, what might be released if any many looked the old whore Death in the eye? Say that I betrayed my country and my planet, but worse, add that I betrayed Robert Putney Drake, the giant of psychology I murdered when I used the secret for power and not for healing. (Page 354)

Some notes on the text:

"For Petrucho's feast," he explained, Page 348. I'm likely wrong, but I wondered if the authors meant to reference Trimalchio's feast in Satyricon. 

"We now own," page 348. From Wikipedia:

"The 2009 U.S. military budget accounts for approximately 40% of global arms spending. The 2012 budget is 6–7 times larger than the $106 billion military budget of China The United States and its close allies are responsible for two-thirds to three-quarters of the world's military spending (of which, in turn, the U.S. is responsible for the majority). The US also maintains the largest number of military bases on foreign soil across the world."

"Our job," Huxley wrote before death, "is waking up." (Page 350) It's said that the Buddha, shortly after his enlightenment, was asked if he was a god, a magician, a man, questions Buddha all answered "No" to. "What are you?" he was asked. "I am awake," the Buddha replied. Drake has awakened, on this page, in both senses.

Nyarlathotep, page 350, evil god of 1,000 forms in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

"One hundred and fifty-seven, he thought, remembering the last entry in his little notebook. One hundred and fifty-seven rich women, one wife, and seventeen boys. And never once did I really make contact, never once did I smash the walls."  (Page 352.) I remember reading in college that many men make a list of their sexual partners (Drake would think of them as "conquests") if only in their heads. Is Drake realizing he could have used sex for enlightenment rather than just an expression of power?

"The whiteness of the whale," page 353, Chapter 42 of Melville's Moby Dick. "Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way?"

"The very sounds recorded by Poe and Lovecraft: Tekeli-li, tekeli-li. It must be close." Poe: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness.  In the Lovecraft stories, the sound made by the ancient monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos that an expedition of Arkham Universities in Antarctica stumbles upon. As Wilson and Shea point on on Page 331, this is also the story in which Lovecraft hammers on the Law of Fives — the Old Ones have five-pointed starfish heads, their limbs and their architecture is organized into groups of five, and so on.

"the sight of that miniature representation of the giant Tlaloc in Mexico City," page 359. Tlaloc also has appeared on page 9.


Tlaloc

(Next week: "But three hours after Drake's death," page 359, to "It would be interesting to get into mathematics, really deep," page 368.)










Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday links

Wi Fi router that anonymizes everything you do online.  [Update: The project has been booted off Kickstarter. See the link in the comments.]

Good comment on the John Grisham controversy. The Grisham's Law joke is a nice bonus.

If fusion really imminent, finally? Let's hope so, but it's a big maybe. 

Kickstarter for online SF convention. Amy Sturgis, one of the people involved, is active in the Libertarian Futurist Society.

Does progressive rock have occult roots? 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Work in Progress by Nick Herbert

Work in Progress

Nick Herbert


Come for the lunch
And stay for the tantra:
Taking new chances
In life-and-death dances
With creatures
That you barely know.


Come for the truth
And stay for the magic:
Share drugs and kisses,
Hesitations, near misses
With seekers
You meet in the flow.


Come for the sex
Stay for quantum reality:
Learn tricks of attention
In half-sensed dimensions
From teachers
Whose lessons explode.



This poem is from Dr. Herbert's blog, Quantum Tantra, which I have mentioned more than a few times in this space. When I wrote to him and asked for permission to reprint the poem, he sent me a kind reply. "Any friend of Bob's is a friend of mine," he wrote.

You can learn more about Dr. Herbert by reading one of his books (such as Quantum Reality); you can also read about him in How the Hippies Saved Physics See also the official website and this interview. 

Incidentally, when this poem was first posted on Dr. Herbert's blog, Rudy Rucker popped up in the comments and helped Dr. Herbert revise the last stanza. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

'United States of Paranoia' now in paperback


Jesse Walker

Author Jesse Walker is also a Reason magazine blogger and editor, a pundit who sometimes appears on TV, a libertarian and a peace activist. He lives in Baltimore. 

His latest tome, The United States of Paranoia, has just appeared in paperback. As Jesse notes, the new edition has been augmented with a new afterword that discussed the age of Edward Snowden. "So the book is now both longer and cheaper, and it's easier to carry around too," Walker notes. (The ebook text has been expanded, too.) He also points out that it has received good reviews from prestigious publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, the Globe and Mail, the Boston Globe, etc.

Of course, the prestigious blog RAWIllumination.net has endorsed the book, too, noting that its focus on conspiracy theories and its chapter on how Robert Anton Wilson made use of them should interest many RAW fans. See my interview with Jesse for more information. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sean Gabb, meet R.A. Lafferty!


R.A. Lafferty, interacting with a fan, likely at a SF convention. 

A couple of days ago, I did a blog post on R.A. Lafferty, one of my favorite authors.

Laffety's lifelong hobby was studying languages. He may have been the greatest linguist ever among science fiction writers. Lafferty scholar Andrew Ferguson told me Monday that Lafferty knew six to ten languages well, with a reading and speaking knowledge of about 10 more. Languages Lafferty knew well included Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch. He was pretty good in Gaelic, Malay, Tagalog and classical Greek, had a reading knowledge of modern Greek, and had some knowledge of Slavic languages, Hebrew and Arabic. "He at least sampled many others via language tapes and made headway in most; the one he could never quite grasp was Japanese," Ferguson said.

Many years ago, Lafferty gave me his advice for learning a language. Learn a foreign language by reading the Bible in the language you are trying to learn. It will be written in a simple style, and it will be easier because you already are familiar with the text in English, he said.

My Lafferty blog post was published on Friday. On Monday, in one of those coincidences that Robert Anton Wilson fans love, British historical novelist and science fiction writer Sean Gabb (i.e., Richard Blake) put up a new blog post, "How to Learn Greek and Latin."  Dr. Gabb's secret formula? Read the Bible! Gabb's arguments are similar to what Lafferty told me (excerpt, but read the whole thing):

The pagan classics are always loosely translated. You will not get far as a beginner by comparing the original with a translation. The Bible is different. It is invariably translated out of the original tongues by men who believe it is the revealed Word of God, and that the original must be followed absolutely. St Jerome made as literal a translation from Greek and Hebrew as his language allowed. So did the commissioners appointed by King James. Each version corresponds with the original. Leave aside slight variations between the originals, and each version corresponds with the other. And I had no need of a dictionary – often more confusing than useful for looking up meanings in a language of multiple and often irregular inflections and compounds.

Gabb is about to issue an edition of the "Acts of the Apostles" from the New Testament, with Greek and Latin texts as well as English.

Gabb offers several reasons for learning the two main languages of classical civilization. I will add one more, for RAW fans; they help in understanding James Joyce's works.

Let me offer an example that even I can provide, despite my ignorance of Latin (unfortunately, I only know a little, but I want to learn more). Stephen Dedalus' slogan for his attitude toward church and state is "Non serviam." This is usually translated from the Latin as "I will not serve."

That's accurate, but it also helps to know enough Latin to know that "servus" means not a servant, but slave. (It's apparently the origin of the English word "servile," as in behaving like a slave.) So what Stephen is also saying is that he refuses to be a slave. He is his own master.


Dr. Sean Gabb

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 34, Illuminatus online reading group


The Emperor Augustus, who tactfully allowed Romans to continue to believe they lived in freedom in a Republic.

(This week: Page 334, "Kleopatra?" Simon Moon asked, to page 348, "And what was it Jung had said about power?")

When the Emperor Augustus became the first Roman emperor (27 B.C. to A.D. 14),  officially ending the Roman Republic and replacing it with the Roman Empire, the transition was carefully managed to hide the momentous change. The emperor did  his best to preserve many of the forms of the republic and to pretend that nothing had changed. He did not call himself a king but took the title of "Princeps," first citizen. He showed deference to the Senate, or at least pretended to.

In this section of Illuminatus! the authors explicitly compare the Roman Empire to the United States, suggesting that a similar transition from republican to empire also has been managed.

"Drake remembered his excitement: it was all as he had foreseen. The end of the Republic, the dawn of the Empire ... 

"Drake read what was to become the National Security Act of 1947. "This abolishes the Constitution," he said almost in ecstasy.

"Quite. And believe me, Mr. Drake, by '46 or '47, we will have Congress and the public ready to accept it. The American Empire is closer than you imagine."

"But the isolationists and pacifists—Senator Taft and that crowd—"

"They will wither away. When communism replaces fascism as the number one enemy, your small- town conservative will be ready for global adventures on a scale that would make the heads of poor Mr. Roosevelt's liberals spin. Trust me. We have every detail pinpointed. Let me show you where the new government will be located."

Drake stared at the plan and shook his head. "Some people will recognize what a pentagon means," he said dubiously.

"They will be dismissed as superstitious cranks. Believe me, this building will be constructed within a few years. It will become the policeman of the world. Nobody will dare question its actions or
judgments without being denounced as a traitor. Within thirty years, Mr. Drake, within thirty years, anyone who attempts to restore power to the Congress will be cursed and vilified, not by liberals but by conservatives."

All of this fits nicely with Gore Vidal's novel, The Golden Age, which has been called "the Atlas Shrugged of historical revisionism." 

The National Security Act of 1947, mentioned in the text, created the CIA, and began the creation of the secret national security state, which runs much of U.S. foreign and national security policy without having to worry very much about elections or what Congress thinks.

President Harry S Truman signed the bill, by the way, on a presidential aircraft, the Sacred Cow, oddly serendipidous with the Discordian Sacred Chao. Before he left office, Truman also created the NSA.

Comparisons between Rome and America are dangerous, of course,  but corruptions of power have parallels across the centuries. I would argue that the parallels between the Roman Empire and the American one have hardly weakened. The Roman Empire, as I remarked recently, essentially was in a state of endless war until the western empire fell. Endless war is current American doctrine. 

Some of the institutional pressures are analogous. I recently read Rome's Gothic Wars by Michael Kulikowski, which states that even in the later empire (which was no longer expanding in size), emperors were under pressure to win victories against the "barbarians" to demonstrate their legitimacy. Modern U.S. presidents come under pressure not to appear "weak" and to placate the powerful national security establishment. On the pages of the Wall Street Journal, militarists are the "adults" in Washington, D.C.

Earlier in this section, as a kind of overture to the passages discussing the Roman and the American empires, there is a reference to the massacre of the Melians, a key moment in the passage of Athens, a democracy, into becoming a ruthless empire (page 339.) During the Peloponnesian War, the struggle between Athens and Sparta (and their allies) for the control of Greece, the Athenians in 416 B.C. demanded that the island state of Melos surrender and become part of the empire. In a famous passage in Thucydides unfinished history of the war, the Athenians explain that they aren't going to bother discussing the merits of each side -- it's time for the Melians to accept the realities of power and get the best deal they can (5:89,  Rex Warner translation, I've boldfaced the most famous bit):

Athenians: Then we on our side will use no fine phrases saying, for example, that we have the right to our empire because we defeated the Persians, or that we have come against now because of the injuries you have done us — a great mass of words that nobody would believe. And we ask you on your side not to imagine that you will influence us by saying that you, though a colony of Sparta, have not joined Sparta in the war, or that you have never done us any harm. Instead we recommend that you should try to get what it is possible for you to get, taking into consideration what we both really do think; since you know as well as we do that, when these matters are discussed by practical people, the standard of justice depends on the equality of power to compel and that in fact the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept. 

A little later, there is this (5:94)

Melians: So you would not agree to our being neutral, friends instead of enemies, but allies of neither side?

Athenians: No, because it is not so much your hostility that injures us; it is rather the case that, if we were on friendly terms with you, our subjects would regard that as a sign of weakness in us, whereas your hatred is evidence of our power.

In the end, the Melians refused to surrender, and when the siege was over, the Athenians killed the men and sold the women and children into slavery.

Incidentally, becoming a ruthless empire didn't work out so well for the Athenians; an unprovoked attempt to conquer Syracuse, the most powerful Greek city in Sicily, ended in disaster and resulted in Athens losing the war. The city survived, but it was never again a major power.

A couple of notes on the text:

Page 342, "Campdown Races," we finally learn why the song recurs in; it's what Gen. Lawrence Stewart Talbot is singing as he prepares to commit suicide.

"Godwin ... Mary Wollstonecraft" — the parents of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, sometimes considered the first science fiction novel.

(Next week: Page 348 "Richard Jung, wearing Carl Jung's old sweater and smoking his pipe," to page 359, "and the sight of that miniature representation of the giant Tlaloc in Mexico City.")


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Is Illuminatus! a "geek novel"?

Yesterday, after Neil Gaiman retweeted my Tweet plugging my R.A. Lafferty post, I ran an Internet search to try to figure out if Gaiman is a RAW fan. (I can't find any evidence of that, although Gaiman did post a link to an appeal for help for RAW in RAW's final days. Gaiman commented, "I don't think there's anything right about authors in poverty. Then again, I don't think there's anything right about anyone in poverty.")

In the course of that search, I stumbled across a poll, apparently taken in 2005 by the Guardian, that included Illuminatus! in a poll about geek novels, many of them my favorites. Illuminatus! did not poll very high in the results,  but the guy who put the poll together, Guardian computer editor Jack Schofield, wrote, "And while I'm not surprised The Illuminatus! Trilogy didn't do better, I think more of you should read it -- or at least the first book, The Eye in the Pyramid!"

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A 'fifth columnist' for liberty tells her story



Recently in this space I mentioned Jake Shannon's concept of a "Libertarian Fifth Column," people who, while not necessarily identifying as libertarians, put themselves at risk to expose government violations of civil liberties.

A dramatic example of this kind of thing is the 1971 burglary of an FBI office in Media, Pa., by activists who found papers documenting the FBI's history of spying on and disrupting peaceful protest groups. There's a new well-reviewed book telling the story of the burglary, by Betty Medsger, although I haven't found time to read it yet.

Medsger has now published a follow-up article about the last burglar to come forward publicly, a woman who traveled to the western U.S. and went underground, living under assumed names for years. It's a fascinating article.


Friday, October 10, 2014

R.A. Lafferty poised for a comeback? [Updated]


R.A. Lafferty

For a long time — ever since I was a high school student — I've been a huge fan of an Irish-American writer from a Catholic background who often is identified as a science fiction writer, although his work actually is kind of unusual and doesn't fit easily into any commercial category.

I'm not talking about Robert Anton Wilson (who I didn't discover until college). I'm talking about R.A. Lafferty. (I interviewed him a couple of times over the years and first met him when I was in high school.) He is pretty much out of print, but the Guardian ran a piece on his persistence as a cult author and suggested that maybe he is poised for a comeback. Thank you, Supergee, for spotting this and sharing it on your blog so I could see it.

Here is a bit from the Guardian piece that might intrigue RAW fans and get them interested in RAL. After quoting from Fourth Mansions, one of my favorite Lafferty books, the article writer (whose byline I could not locate) writes, "There's something of the Irish comic tradition in there, the absurdity and surreality of Flann O'Brien, author of The Third Policeman."

He is from my hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Okie SF fans remain among his great champions.

Lafferty's work varies in quality, but I have read the vast majority of it, so perhaps if you want to try it I can make some recommendations if you want to try used bookstores or libraries.

Nine Hundred Grandmothers is his best short story collection, maybe even his best book. Years ago, when I talked to the famous SF editor Terry Carr at a convention, Carr told me he put together the book by collecting his favorite Lafferty stories. Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add? also is very good. Strange Doings also is well regarded, although I like it less well than the other two. Other short story collections probably aren't as good.

The best novels mostly come from early in his career. My favorites are Space Chantey (based on the Odyssey), Past Master, Fourth Mansions, and The Devil is Dead (all published as science fiction fiction) and his historical novel about a Choctaw Indian in Oklahoma, Okla Hannali. I also liked Archipelago (good luck finding that one) and The Three Armageddons of Enniscorthy Sweeney, published as the back half of Apocalypses, a 1977 paperback original that consisted of two short novels.

Update: Another comparison with RAW: There are blogs and websites devoted to RAL. See here, here, here and here.

Update II: Thanks, Neil Gaiman! Loved American Gods.  

And here is another Twitter account: RALaffertyTweets. 




Thursday, October 9, 2014

Groupname for Grapejuice on Hermetic Anarchism

Groupname for Grapejuice, one of the best blogs out there, has a post up, "Hermetic Anarchism and Othering the Other 1," stressing the role of the imagination in liberation. I'm looking forward to Part Two.

His post reminded me a bit of one of my Illuminatus! online reading blog posts, about the section in which Simon Moon talks to his parents about freedom. On page 62 of Illuminatus! Simon Moon says, "You're both wrong. Freedom won't come through Love, and it won't come through Force. It will come through the Imagination."

Znore says he'll reference RAW when he does his followup article. I've referred, above, to his blog, but what he writes are not so much "blog posts" as thoughtful articles, copiously illustrated. Check him out.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maybe we need to build a new Temple of Janus



Roman coin with an image of the Temple of Janus.

In the days of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, the Temple of Janus in Rome's Forum was one of the most important temples. When Rome was at war, the doors were open. When Rome was at peace, the doors were closed. The Roman Empire was very warlike, and the door were almost always open. When they were closed, it usually wasn't for very long.

Maybe some philanthropist needs to build a new Temple of Janus in Washington, D.C., to provide a visual display of the fact that the American empire is almost always in a state of war. There's a good, new article by Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept about this ("Key Democrats, Led by Hillary Clinton, Leave No Doubt That Endless War Is Official U.S. Doctrine.") I wonder which libertarian dug up the Adam Smith quotation for him?

UPDATE: James Risen has been doing a lot of Tweets lately on this general subject, including this one. 


Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 33, Illuminatus online reading group



Howard Philips Lovecraft

(This week: Page 324 (And Semper Cuni Linctus, the very night he reamed his subaltern for taking native superstitions seriously" to page 334 "and tellers turned to stare at him.")

I love how this sections ties H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, and the man himself, into the plot of Illuminatus! There's also a nice nod to the American counterculture in the form of Hermann Hesse. I read Hesse in high school in the 1970s, although unforunately I have not read him since then. And it's a rather nice serendipity that I am writing this entry in October, the season of Halloween, which has become a major holiday and a time when writers such as Lovecraft come into their own.

I like to read at least one horror book each Halloween season, and I've just bought The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack, 40 stories written by Lovecraft and by other writers who also used Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos; by another serendipity, the lead story in the collection is Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness," which Illuminatus! credits as mentioning the Law of Fives (page 331).

This section contains one of the more clear explanations about the connection between the Illuminati (or at least the evil elements of it) and the otherworldly evil creatures who move from other dimensions into the common earthly ones. Hermann Hesse explains:

"As for these powers or being from Thule, they do not exist in the sense that bricks and beefsteak exist, either. The physicist, by manipulating these fantastic electrons — which, I remind you, have to be imagined as moving from one place to another without passing through any intervening space like a fairy or a ghost — produces real phenomena, visible to the senses. Say, then, that by manipulating these beings or powers from Thule, certain men are able to produce effects that can also be seen and experienced." (Pages 328-329).

And of course on Page 333, the Illuminati protect Drake — some Lovecraftian Cthulhu creature associated with the Illuminati get rid of four Mafia "soldiers" attempting to trail Drake.

For more on Lovecraft and the connections to Nazis in German, please see this blog post.

I don't know why Hermann Hesse is not identified explicitly in the text, but I'm pretty certain of my identification — Hesse won the Nobel prize for literature,  lived in Switzerland, and knew Carl Jung. Hesse detested the Nazis and they felt the same way about him -- his work was banned in Germany. All of this matches what we are told about the "famous novelist" who is talking to Francis Putney Drake in this section.

Lovecraft did not live on Benefit Street in Providence (although he did live in Providence), but this section of the novel cleverly references "The Shunned House,"  a story which is based on an actual house at 135 Benefit Street in Providence where Lovecraft's aunt once lived. (Lovecraft actually lived from 1933 to 1937 at 10 Barnes House in Providence, which you can also see in the Wikipedia Lovecraft bio.)


The "Shunned House" at 135 Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island. 

Dutch Schultz died on Oct. 24, 1935, and H.P. Lovecraft died on March 17, 1937 (from cancer, but of course Illuminatus! says that's what They want you to believe.) So the encounter between Drake and Lovecraft has to occur in the latter part of that time range, after Drake has returned from Europe and his conversations with Hesse but before Lovecraft's death. The Bogus Magus timeline places the encounter as sometime in 1936, which would fit. I am also not  contradicted by the Illuminatus! timeline in Eric Wagner's An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson. 

Robert Anton Wilson on H.P. Lovecraft (from the Lewis Shiner interview)

Shiner: Were you a Lovecraft fan before you got into Illuminatus?

RAW: I was a Lovecraft fan since I was about 12. I think it was when I was 12 I heard "The Dunwich Horror" with Ronald Coleman as the narrator. It impressed the hell out of me. I started looking for Lovecraft and I couldn't find any Lovecraft books, but I found a few short stories by him in anthologies. Then when I was 14 I found a whole book of Lovecraft, edited by August Derleth. So Lovecraft has been a passion with me most of my life. I like the way he uses techniques that make you think, "Gee, maybe this isn't fiction." That fascinates me, because doubt lasts longer than faith and provokes thought rather than discouraging it.

Surrealism fascinates me, too. The first Surrealist show, people had to come in through a garden where there was a taxicab, and it was raining inside the taxicab but not outside. When the audience — or victims — got past that, the first thing they saw in the building was a big sign that Andre Breton had hung up that said, "Dada is not dead! Watch your overcoat!" At that point the distinction between art and life had been completely obliterated. I aim for that in all my books.

I like happenings, I like that game I was telling you about earlier. I like to blur the distinctions, because most of what we think is perception is actually projection anyway. I like to make people more aware that they are creating the reality they inhabit. Lovecraft taught me a lot about how to do that, in a literary way.

Here are five places that helped inspire Lovecraft.  And here is a virtual walking tour of Lovecraft's Providence.  For a free complete works of Lovecraft in various ebook formats, go here.  To explore Lovecraft from the perspective of a Robert Anton Wilson fan, see Dan Clore's Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon.  LibriVox has some early works in audiobook form. 

(Next week: Page 334, "Kleopatra?" Simon Moon asked, to page 348, "And what was it Jung had said about power?")


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Meredith Patterson on feminism and empathy


Meredith L. Patterson

Meredith L. Patterson, an American writer and software developer, published a piece in 2011 on Medium. com called "Okay, Feminism, It’s Time We Had a Talk About Empathy," which I read this week as a byproduct of the ongoing "Gamergate" flame warms. I express no opinion on Gamergate, other than that women expressing opinions on the Internet should NOT be targeted with harassment, death threats, exposure of their personal files, etc., but I thought with all of the discussion about women in tech, Patterson's piece was timely. It's all about how labels should not be used to put people into boxes, a continuing concern raised by RAW over and over. Although Patterson is a feminist, she pushes back against the claim that she "should not" feel comfortable in the world of technology. A bit from Patterson's posting:

I’ve learned some lessons all by myself about what kinds of places I feel comfortable in. With all its warts, the tech community is still one of those places. I wish there were someone, anyone I could talk with about why that is, and how it happened, and how to go about making that scale. So it disturbs me, deeply, to hear that I am a “human shield for entrenched misogyny” and that the experiences I cherish “must be challenged and ultimately dismantled.”

She's on Twitter. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Plucked from the comments: Aleister Crowley's anti-fascist magick


Aleister Crowley

Page 309 of Illuminatus! has a manifesto from Aleister Crowley which reads, in part, "Man has the right to think what he will: to speak what he will: to write what he will: to draw, paint, carve, etch, mold, build as he will: to dress as he will." It's a powerful bit of writing; if you skipped over it or can't remember it, check it out. It will only take a minute.

I didn't write about it in Monday's entry because I was too ignorant to have anything useful to say, but Oz Fritz has weighed in with a typically interesting comment. If you follow the link you can read the rest of his comment, but I wanted to quote what he had to say about the Crowley piece:

p. 309 This whole page except for attribution, which is wrong, is from a postcard Crowley wrote in late 1941 and sent to all the prominent people he knew as a magick experiment to fight fascism. He called it "Liber Oz." The whole story gets told in Kaczynski's bio "Perdurabo."

"Oz" comes from a Hebrew word which means courage, strength, or power, I've been told. By gematria courage = 216. 216 = 6 raised to the power of 3 ie 6x6x6. It seems like a good place to include it, right after the dedication to their wives and just before chapter 6.

The incorrect attribution seems very likely intentional to suggest Crowley's "Book of Lies" which also supposedly contains an intentionally wrong publication date as RAW noted in "Cosmic Trigger I." There is a chapter "Oz"(77) in the "Book of Lies." That chapter seems relevant both to the spousal dedication and as a key strategy, if you will, to ordeals that lie ahead on the Tree of Life.

Anti-fascist magick; isn't that interesting? Oz is referring to a book called Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski. If  you follow the link, you'll recognize the names of some of the people recommending the book. Oz himself reviewed the book on his excellent blog. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Reading James Bamford


James Bamford

Jake Shannon, mentioned yesterday, has a passage in his new book Strange Attractor in which he praises what we refers to as the "Libertarian Fifth Column." He explains, "These are the whistleblowers from inside the system, people like Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, who are inside the establishment and when they see something wrong, they let the world know." (Page 86.)

James Bamford makes a similar point in his interesting new piece for The Intercept, "The NSA and Me."  Bamford writes,

"Without adequate oversight, or penalties for abuse, the only protection that citizens have comes not from Congress or the courts, but from whistleblowers. As one myself, albeit in the most minor capacity, I understand what motivates someone to expose wrongdoing masquerading as patriotism. There is no graduate school for whistleblowing and no handbook for whistleblowers. It’s an imperfect science, and whistleblowers learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe all came from different backgrounds and worked in different fields. None joined the intelligence community to become a whistleblower, but each was driven by unchecked government abuse to tell the public what they knew to be true.

"The solution is not to jail the whistleblowers, or to question the patriotism of those who tell their stories, but to do what Attorney General Edward Levi courageously attempted to do more than a third of a century ago – to have the criminal division of the Justice Department conduct a thorough investigation, and then to prosecute any member of the intelligence community who has broken the law, whether by illegally spying on Americans or by lying to Congress."

Fat chance of that under the current administration.

Bamford's article is an exciting chronicle of how he became a whistleblower and fought to keep secret documents that he managed to obtain that exposed some of the NSA's illegal activities.

Bamford also wrote a recent cover story for Wired magazine about his interview with Edward Snowden.

I've read three books on the NSA this year, but the best so far is Bamford's 2008 tome, The Shadow Factory. 

Bamford's on Twitter.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jake Shannon talks to RAWIllumination


Jake Shannon (with his conditioning invention, the Macebell). 

As you might guess from the title, the new book by Discordian Libertarians founder Jake Shannon, Strange Attractor: The Discordian Libertarian Writings of Jake Shannon has many ideas that sombunall readers of this blog might find attractive.

The format of the book is unusual. Part One is an autobiography, Parts Two and Three discuss his ideas on libertarianism and other topics, Part Four has surrealistic fiction and Part Five has poems. The book also has a recommended reading area discussing Robert Anton Wilson and other books readers of this blog might be interested in.

He's also written some other books: ENDonomics: Default, Deflation, Derivatives & the End of the United States As We Know ItPhysical Chess: My Life in Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling (as a contributor to Billy Robinson's book), The Hypnotist: Healer, Head-Hacker, & HeadlinerSay Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling & Modern Grappling , and Tea-O-Conned: The Hijacking of Liberty in America: Exposing the Neoconservative Infiltration and Takeover of the 21st Century Tea Party Movement.

On his Facebook page, Jake says he is a "Hypno-Wordsmith, Catch Wrestling Revolutionary and Anarchist Financial Engineer." He's interested in Zen Buddhism and was the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Utah. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife, Sondra, and their children.

Jake has recently been writing for the Punk Rock Libertarians website. For example, you can read his article on Discordianism, which originally appeared in Strange Attractor.

Jake agreed to take a few questions about his Discordian Libertarians group (a good source of news and discussion on Facebook) and some of his oft-provocative ideas:

Robert Anton Wilson's skeptical attitude toward authority traces back to his childhood, when his severe illness, polio, was successfully treated by a method not approved of by the American Medical Association. Do you see any parallels with your own childhood experiences with serious illness?

When I was nine or ten I nearly died as a result of a gangrene infection from a botched appendectomy. When I got a little older I asked my parents about the incident and they told me they probably should have sued the doctor but they just let it go. When I got even a little older I found that the medical establishment actually had a name for the problem: iatrogenesis.

According to work published by Dr. Barbara Starfield (RIP) in the Journal of the American Medical Association, iatrogenesis,  or 'death by doctor', is the third leading cause of death of Americans, after cardiovascular disease and cancer. She estimated conservatively that 225,000 Americans die due to iatrogenic causes every year. The Institute of Medicine puts the number even slightly higher. If you add in the mortality stats from adverse drug reactions (ADRs), then Western medicine actually kills more Americans than anything else. This is the biggest risk Americans face but hardly any seems to be rallying behind the cause or raising awareness of the issue except for a small handful of us.


So yes, my experiences like this as a kid, coupled with research like this and a healthy interest in bioethics as well as the philosophy and rhetoric of science have all reinforced in me a healthy skepticism of both so-called "skeptics" and "authority" generally speaking. Stumbling upon the writings of RAW in my 20s (I turned 41 this year) really helped me maintain my confidence while vocally expressing my criticisms of scientism and the so-called "skeptics."I've drawn a few serendipitous parallels between my life and that of RAW's in my book but I hadn't really thought about this particular one until you just now asked. Thanks!



When did you form Discordian Libertarians, and why did you form it? Is it a Facebook group, or are there other aspects to it?


The Discordian Libertarians group on Farcebook (intentional spelling) is less than 6 months old as of this writing. I created it for the same reason I've started many of my projects: I was looking for a pre-existing group like it and when I found there wasn't one, I just made one. I have been pleasantly surprised at the response. Since its inception we seem to be growing at a rate of a little more than 100 new members a month. I think because it is such a niche, the quality of the posts and discussions have been quite good so far (knock wood). Given the obvious interest in this project, some of us in the group are already talking about having a gathering of our Libertarian Society of Discordians (LSD) in 2015, possibly in Colorado. I am tentatively calling it Fnord Fest, maybe it will be like a Burning Man for slackers that prefer air conditioning and hot dogs to harsh desert camping. I hope it would consist of lectures, performance art, a DL flea market and other assorted debauchery. I also hope our group can do some epic OMs and Project Jakes too.

I talk a bit about the reason for creating the LSD/DLs in Strange Attractor but the the nutshell version goes something like this; as a direct result of the bad taste left in my mouth after being Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Utah and hosting my own libertarian talk radio show in the most conservative state in America, I needed to do something very different. It had to be something with a sense of humor and something edgier and more subversive. Establishment politics was too serious and way too negative. The LP Utah and the radio station K-Talk were great experiences and full of great people but some of the negativity was too much for me to expose my family to (IRS harassment, stalkers, death threats, etc.) so once my tenure was up, I left both the radio show and LP behind. I had been a part of some Cacophony Society of San Francisco events in my 20s so I wanted to recreate something like that here in uber-conservative Utah. Ultimately I want to create a "Yes Men" comprised of individualist anarchists influenced by RAW. I have quite a long list of pranks but I am still trying to find like minded people to help me fund and execute them. Hopefully DL/LSD grows in that direction but then another part of me equally wants it to schism until there are all these DL cabals comprised of only one member; a cabal with one leader without any followers. I guess we'll see, maybe we can do both?

You define liberty is "what you can get away with," an obvious reference to RAW's "Reality is what you can get away with." Do you see the use of encryption on the Internet an example of carving out liberty for one's self? 

I tweaked RAW's prose thus because I was growing very weary of the fear-mongering and sense of hopelessness I had noticed consuming the "Liberty Movement". I felt it important to inspire optimistic individualist anarchists by shifting their attention to the blessed liberty they already had (and could grow) but were souring it with the pessimism and constant focus on the negative. I speak of this a bit in my "Strange Attractor" book and have reiterated it in a couple follow up blog posts (here and here). I truly hope that "liberty is what you can get away with" becomes a bit of a libertarian mantra reminding people of reasons for libertarian optimism, like encryption.

Encryption is key to individual liberty, no doubt. Remember Shannon's maxim (not me, Claude), "the enemy knows the system." Really, all the secret handshakes in secret societies function the same as an encryption key. I suppose it is safe to assume then that I also believe secret societies can be an example of liberty carving out a space for itself too.

Your book predicts that there will be a total financial collapse of the system that props up the U.S. government. How confident are you about that? Is that still  your prediction?

Yes, there is a coming collapse of the American political economy as we know it but that isn't to sound apocalyptic or to immanentize the eschaton in any way. I am an apocaloptimist actually. As Johan Galtung so succinctly said, "I love the US Republic, and I hate the US Empire." The debt levels of the US Federal government are unsustainable, this isn't really controversial. Both the Congressional Budget Office and General Accounting Office figures corroborate this. The date when the debt to GDP ratio proves that the US Federal government is insolvent arrives shortly after 2020.


My guess is that when this collapse comes it won't result a Mad Max scenario. Instead it will be more similar to the post-USSR economy until, of course, entrepreneurs zip in to fill the service gaps previously provided by the government sector. I am optimistic since the Millennials, those that will be taking the reigns of power after the collapse, seem like a demographic that favors decentralization. I could be wrong though, I mean just look how poorly the hippies did when they inherited the reigns of power. I discuss the mechanics of the collapse in my ENDonomics book, but my prose there is probably too tedious and boring for most reasonable people.

Do you regard taking an antiwar position on U.S. military adventures overseas an important element of the liberty movement? It's an impression I get from your book, but I thought I would make sure.

Yes, I think it is very difficult to be both pro-war and libertarian simultaneously. This is why the combination of sociological recuperation and the Beckian/Palinesque detournement so effectively neutered the liberty elements within the nascent 21st Century Tea Party movement. It was basically conservatarian jingoism that brought the Tea Partiers back under the influence of the Republicans, unfortunately. This theme was given a much longer treatment in my TEA-O-CONNED book.

No one that actually knows my positions would ever call me a conservative but that is the great thing about libertarianism, in my opinion. It serves, as Nozick called it, as a framework for utopia. Meaning, libertarianism is a big tent where both conservatives and revolutionaries can get together to battle their common foe, authoritarians (this was a point made originally by George Orwell).


I do think it is important to make it explicitly clear that libertarianism isn't pacifism though. A libertarian is just a pacifist that will punch you back.

Is there any way to get your Discordian Libertarian postings without going on Facebook, e.g. is there an RSS feed or do you also post on Twitter or a blog?

Not right now, if there is more demand I suppose I will have to spin it off onto its very own blog or RSS feed but right now we have yet to even break 1,000 members in our FB group. In a way, I sort of like staying small since you can avoid political recuperation easier but we'll see. Right now, if you care to join the Discordian Libertarian cabal then the farcebroke page is probably the best place. I do post my Discordian Libertarian aphorisms and essays (thots) on my personal blog at jakeshannon.tumblr.com. Most of my social media links are available at JakeShannon.com.