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Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 64, Illuminatus online reading group

The Greek hero Heracles frees Prometheus from the torment of the eagle, from an Attic vase.

(This week: Page 687: AND THIS IS WHAT IS SAYS: NO REMISSION, NO REMISSION, BROTHERS AND SISTERS to page 697, "For George as well as for you.")

And so now this week we learn who the "real" Illuminati are: Anarchists who reject all authority, in both a spiritual and political sense (in Znore's felicitous phrase, "hermetic anarchists." 

Hagbard explains the difference between the real Illuminati and the Saure version on page 694. The fundamental statements are on pages 689, 695 and 697:

There are no commandments, because there is no commander anywhere. [i.e., "There is no governor anywhere."] All authority is a delusion, whether in theology or sociology. (Page 689).

The ultimate weapon has always existed. Every man, every woman, and every child owns it. It's the ability to say No and take the consequences. 'Fear is failure.' 'The fear of death is the beginning of slavery.' Page 695

And what we're trying to communicate -- the ultimate secret, the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life -- is just the power of the word No. We are the people who have said Non serviam, and we're trying to teach others to say it. Page 697.

Some notes on the text:

Hagbard's mouth fell open in complete, genuine surprise. Page 688. A continuation of the scene on Page 654, the end of Book Four, when Hagbard realizes Joe isn't going to shoot him.

After I read this section, I though some more about why Hagbard tries to set up his own death. Perhaps having been responsible for the death of others, he thought he deserved to die himself. And to remove the temptation to power if he own. And to do the ultimate abdication as a guru.

"Mind you Joe, that's a scientific law, not a moral commandment." Page 689. The sentences in this area of the book are a restatement of the Buddhist law of karma. "there is no commander anywhere," the law of karma is not dependent on an enforcer.

"death is the currency in every empire, Roman or American" page 693. "War is the health of the state."

"Our founder and leader, the man known as myth as Prometheus," page 695. Another synchronicity: I spent the weekend helping to give out two Prometheus Awards (one of them to a libertarian science fiction, fantasy and horror writer named "Wilson"). I read the acceptance speech for the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. The Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, so far as I know, is the only literary award that Illuminatus! ever won. All this in the week when I get to the 10 pages that mention the Prometheus legend.

One of the five John Dillengers

"More surprises," Hagbard answered promptly. Page 697. One of the reasons Illuminatus! can be read over and over is that the text is always revealing surprises. I didn't even think of Dante's Beatrice Portinari until Eric Wagner mentioned the connection in the comments last week. 

(Next week: "And later in the Bugatti," page 697, to page 715, "That was when I really lost identity with the Ringmaster.")


JCG said...

“by the great god acid” p.688
remains me of Machen’s fantastic novel, The Great God Pan, which my colleague at the university of Amsterdam wrote a thought-provoking essay about ( The celebration of acid is one of the largest differences between 1970s Discordianism and its contemporary manifestation.

“Let’s Sit Down …” p.688
@ Oz Fritz, any clue what acrostic/puzzle Hagbard is referencing in this statement?

“There are no commandments” p.689
This passage offers a no bullshit explanation of Discordian metaphysics and the iron clad laws that bind existence in the Discordian view. As Tom mentioned, it is based on an unadorned conception of karma, essentially.

“No because none of us are driving the car it’s the car thats driving us” p.692
General Semantics perspective on the power of language to control thought.

“anybody with eyes in his head should have been able to interpret what’s been happening since the early 1960s. The great and dreaded Illuminati of the past had fallen into the control of a bunch of ignorant and malicious kids.” p.697
I read this as a latent critique of the 1960s Movement, which included the White Panthers, Weather Underground, Black Mask, the Diggers. This passage seems to suggest that these youth movements were rocking the boat too much without any real guidance or goal. However, this seems to run against Wilson and Shea’s ant-war/pro-free love/psychedelic sympathies .

Eric Wagner said...

"Let's Sit Down" - L.S.D.

The "No" makes me think of St. Francis yelling "No!" when he sees the rich people sitting close to the alter and the poor sitting far away in the film "Brother Sun, Sister Moon".

JCG said...

ha, of course. Thanks Eric!

Eric Wagner said...

The discussion of Prometheus on pg. 695 seems like a pointer to _Prometheus Rising_. Also Bob offered a talk in 1988 that dealt with _Finnegans Wake_ The promotional materials had a line like "Finnegans Wake is like the universe itself: Every explanation of it is incomplete. People will always come up with a new, more up-to-date explanation."

fuzzbuddy said...

pg. 688 "Well, sink me." "...SINK is played by Discordians and people of much ilk."
pg. 688 "THE PIGEONS IN B.F.SKINNER'S CAGES ARE POLITICAL PRISONERS". From Cosmic Trigger pg. 37 - "Leary's arch-rival at Harvard, Dr. B.F. Skinner..."
Pg. 691 showing 00005 is the unamed Englishman thrown in the paddy wagon at the Democratic convention. ""My God," the Englishman said. "When do we get out of the teargas area?"
Pg. 692/3 I enjoyed the monarchy joke.
pg. 693. Saint Vitus' dance
Pg. 693. Edgar Cayce
pg. 695 I love "If Atlas can Shrug and Telemachus can sneeze..."
pg. 696 "programmed you" I wonder what the actual programming of Joe consisted of, can't think for now.
pg. 696 "ex-Catholic and an ex-engineering student.." re. Joe - sounds like Wilson.