Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 61, Illuminatus online reading group


Yog Sototh, the H.P. Lovecraft creature who puts in an appearance in this section of the narrative, as rendered by artist Shane Gallagher. 

(This week: Page 637: In Mad Dog, Texas, John Dillinger and Jim Cartwright looked up from the chess board to Page 654, "Ra Ra Ra." More than 10 pages, but as I write last week, I could not find a convenient stopping place.) 

The passage with the climactic ending to the doings at the rock festival in Ingolstadt nicely illustrates Robert Anton Wilson's theories about model agnosticism; the people who are attending the festival do not perceive the events in the same way. Everyone is trying to figure out "whatever the hell is going on," as znore puts it in the blog post I mentioned yesterday, (In one of those synchronicities that always seem to crop up when you take time to notice them, znore's piece is called, "On the Forgotten Art of Turning Into a Tree." On page 652, Joe Malik has turned into a tree, at least in the eyes of British agent Fission Chips. Znore's essay is about how shamanic visions harden into narratives and received truths, and in one sense, this is what this passage of Illuminatus is about).

The models the authors offer for what happens at the end of the rock festival include (1) The book's dominant model, Eris and the Discordians led by Hagbard vs. the Saure version of the Illuminati; (2) Lady Velkor and her Great Mother, Isis, defeating the Illuminati (page 651); (3) Hagbard freaking out a bunch of acidheads, with no supernatural elements (page 652, "a master con man") and (4) "the final battle between Good and Evil, with Horus on both sides" (same paragraph.) It's likely there are models that I have missed, and more models will likely be suggested as the book continues.

Some notes on the text:

"John Dillinger and Jim Cartwright looked up from the chess board," page 637. I've been very confused about the John Dillinger character; apparently there are three of them.

"Being a woman is bad enough, but being a black woman is worse," page 637. In the midst of all of the action, we get an interior monologue from Mary Lou Servix very reminiscent of Molly Bloom's monologue at the end of James Joyce's Ulysses. 

"He's using what I call the Pentecost gimmick," page 639. Isn't it a novelist's dream to be able to speak to all people in a way they understand, in their own language?

Bible exegete Malaclypse the Elder is referring to a passage of thnb m    , which describes in incident similar to what's happening in Illuminatus! (this is the New International Bible translation of Acts 2 1-13)

2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

When I was in high school, I read a modern English translation of the New Testament all the way through (I hadn't been much exposed to it in church, having been raised as a Unitarian) and was impressed with its power. There's a great section of The Earth Will Shake which reinterprets passages of the Bible; I'll have to write about it sometime. Perhaps it would make sense, some time after these weekly chronicles end, to tackle the Historical Illuminatus books?


Eris, from a sixth century B.C. Greek plate. 

"If whites and blacks and Indians were turning colors all the time, there wouldn't be any hate in the world, because nobody would know which people to hate." Page 646. In my favorite Bruce Sterling novel, Islands in the Net, a substance is invented which allows white people to darken their skin and become "colored people."

"It is possible," he said, "to achieve transcendental illumination," page 646. There's more about this in the appendix, as we will see.

"You shall not have those lives, Yog Sothoth. Page 649. Speaking of "model agnoticism," as I did a few paragraphs ago, is it difficult to come up with the right genre definition to describe Illuminatus! Is it a postmodern literary novel? A science fiction novel? An occult detective novel? A fantasy novel? Or is it, as this (and many other passages) suggest, a particularly long and unusual Cthulhu Mythos novel? And for that matter, is Illuminatus! a "trilogy," or a long novel originally published as three separate books for commercial publishing reasons?

"Very well," said Joe. "My Lord, my enemy."  Page 653. Is this passage, among other things, a theory that Jesus allowed himself to be killed in an effort to avoid becoming a guru, only to become the biggest "guru" of all time? Notice how earlier in the book, Hagbard steps down as a "guru," handing the responsibility off to Miss Portinari.

(Next week: Book Five: Grummet, page 655, to page 670, "and you will not be disturbed.") 


81 comments:

Arthur Hlavaty said...

In 1931, George S. Schuyler published Black No More, which tells the story of a scientist who develops a process that turns black people to white. Some people consider it the first African-American science fiction novel.

Eric Wagner said...

Tom, I agree about Mary Lou echoing Ulysses, especially when she starts repeating "No" instead of Molly's "Yes".

Whenever I think about Bayreuth I think of Oberlieutenant Sigmund Voegel on pg. 647 dreaming of getting tickets to the festival. They have a seven year wait now. I just watched the interesting Stephen Fry documentary "Wagner and Me" which has some nice footage of Bayreuth.

Eric Wagner said...

Tom, I agree about Mary Lou echoing Ulysses, especially when she starts repeating "No" instead of Molly's "Yes".

Whenever I think about Bayreuth I think of Oberlieutenant Sigmund Voegel on pg. 647 dreaming of getting tickets to the festival. They have a seven year wait now. I just watched the interesting Stephen Fry documentary "Wagner and Me" which has some nice footage of Bayreuth.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

(Comment from Supergee, which I'm posting because of problems with the commenting sofware)

There's a third version of Molly and Mary Lou. Vatican Roulette, by David Lodge, ends with a woman's internal monologue with repeated "perhaps."

Oz Fritz said...

p. 638 starting at "I was a whole Lion, ready to devour my enemies" Mary Lou's visions combine Tiphareth with Geburah. For other examples : "Black Power ... Black Christ" and " a female plant with male strength, they are nailing me to the cross (literally)but the cross is inside a spinning wheel of flame..." They are other qabalistic allusions in her visions and she seems to identify with Hagbard.

p.640 The paragraph that starts, " It's a giant black woman ... it's Goethe's Mother Night" shows Mary Lou's visions largely in the domain of Binah.

p. 641 starting with "... and I felt mercy flowing from me like some psychological monthly with water instead of blood." Mary Lou's visions have now entered Chesed.

The path of Teth connects Geburah and Chesed and corresponds with the card Lust in the Thoth tarot. This depicts a nude woman astride a 7 headed beast which she harnesses. She holds something up in one hand like a holy grail and it's surrounded by serpents. The woman = Our Lady 156 who tames the beast. The whole assemblage = Horus which also corresponds with Teth. This may be why Mary Lou flashes on "I am Hagbard Celine" in her Geburah vision, she is speaking from the point of view of the Lust card where she unites with Hagabard; Hagbard = the Beast. In Mary Lou's subsequent vision p. 642 - 643 the very non sequitur line: "... but Hagbard is Horus" gets thrown in as if this might be an antidote to the horrors of war.

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