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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wilhelm Reich in Hell to be staged

A newly-formed theatre company in West Yorkshire in England,2 Pomme D'Or 3 Productions, is putting on a production of   "Wilhelm Reich in Hell," originally written by Robert Anton Wilson, and there's a Kickstarter for it. They are describing it as a "re-imagining of the original play." You can watch a video at the Kickstarter page.

Hat tip, John Higgs.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New documentary needs support

A Kickstarter campaign is under way to promote SecureDrop, a tool for anonymously uploading documents to journalists; see the video, above, for information, and this website. Lisa Rein, who made the movie that this campaign is attempting to promote, is a digital librarian for the Timothy Leary Futique Trust and involved in all sorts of interesting things. Hat tip, Nick Helweg-Larsen.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Robert A. Heinlein

Today, a national holiday devoted to gratitude, I am thankful for the friends I've made through this blog and the many gestures of kindness and support from its readers.

I am certainly thankful, also, for the literary culture of the modern world that offers readers many fine writers; I read a lot of Robert Anton Wilson, many of the authors he admired, and many others he likely did not read or had even heard of. There are many more good writers than anyone can keep up with. One writer I know he did like was the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein. The famous SF writer Theodore Sturgeon certainly was thankful for Heinlein's friendship; here's a wonderful anecdote.  (Via Justin Raimondo on Twitter.)

Sturgeon, by the way, was a RAW fan. 

Bonus: Check out Arthur Hlavaty's Thanksgiving message.

And here's a piece on the importance of gratitude to happiness.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

RAW on why antiwar sentiment toward U.S. foreign policy makes sense

Chad Nelson

If you want a dose of Robert Anton Wilson's antiwar thoughts these days, as the world seems to be becoming more violent and dangerous, Chad Nelson has a pointer. He has a new posting up at the Center for a Stateless Society, "Robert Anton Wilson on Blowback, Anarchy, and Optimism." I listened to the 15-minute clip of a RAW interview he pointed to as I started my day. As Chad writes, "Among the topics discussed in this segment: 9/11 and Pearl Harbor as blowback from American Empire; the 'despised' (aka revisionist) historians Wilson was warned by high school teachers not to read (Harry Elmer Barnes, Charles Beard and James J. Martin); libertarianism, anarchism and contract-based societies; Wilson’s favorite anarchist influences (Tucker, Tolstoy and Kropotkin); globalization, corporatization and the transformative potential of the internet; and how Wilson remains optimistic despite never-ending war."

For more on the revisionist historians that RAW and Chad mention, see Jeff Riggenbach's Why American History is Not What They Say. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Adam Gorightly on Principia Discordia's anniversary

Adam Gorightly, who works really hard in researching Discordian history, marks an apparent anniversary, the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of the Principia Discordia. I say apparent, because as Adam makes clear in his carefully-researched post, pinning down some of the details on the history of the Principia is no easy task.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Preserving the Timothy Leary archives

Timothy Leary archivist Michael Horowitz

I posted earlier on the struggle to preserve the Timothy Leary archives, and now I can report that more information has become available. Lisa Rein is doing a long interview with Leary archivist Michael Horowitz, and a Part 2 has been promised. Hat tip, John Merritt, who is on Twitter.

The whole interview is a great read. Excerpt:

LR: Tim ran for governor of California?

MH: Yes. He was stoked by the Supreme Count ruling in his favour on the Marijuana Tax Act (later reversed, but that didn’t faze him—few things did). He knew that attacking the power structure would be at great personal cost and he would lose battles along the way, but any time he saw an opportunity to spark a cultural evolution, why not give it a shot?

The most radical proposal in his platform was legalizing marijuana and taxing it appropriately. It was a lot like the model adopted by Colorado and Washington 45 years later.

LR: And John Lennon wrote his campaign song?

MH: Yes. John Lennon did compose his campaign song, “Come Together, Join the Party,” when Tim and Rosemary joined John and Yoko at the Montreal Bed In to end the war. After it was clear that Tim’s felony conviction had knocked him out of the race, John repurposed the song into the Beatles’ hit, “Come Together.”

Sunday, November 22, 2015

'Woman Finds Out Boyfriend of Six Years Is Undercover Cop Spying on Her and Her Friends'

Police officer Mark Kennedy in his role portraying a radical environmentalist. 

The story is here.  There's also a sidebar from the Guardian about how this was common practice, and the British police saying they are really sorry.

One oddity of the articles, at least for me, is that I could not find any explanation for why police were spying on environmental groups in the first place. In the U.S., lip service is given to the idea that people have the right to engage in peaceful political activities under the Bill of Rights, and police would have to come up with some sort of excuse for engaging in this type of conduct (which is hardly unknown over here.)

Via Jake Shannon at Discordian Libertarians on Facebook.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

H. P. Lovecraft roundup

H.P. Lovecraft

The World Fantasy Award will no longer be in the likeness of H.P. Lovecraft. 

My "social justice warrior" credentials can sometimes be shaky,  but I'm fine with this. An award doesn't have to reflect a particular cult of personality, and it makes sense to make everyone at the World Fantasy Convention feel welcome. I doubt if Lovecraft's legacy will suffer.

Also, Arthur Hlavaty finds a surprising quotation. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Oz Fritz on the Paris attacks

The Eagles of Death Metal performing at the O2 Institute in Birmingham in the UK, a few days before the band's Paris show. I did a double take on the near synchronicity while pulling the photo to illustrate my piece on Oz's post — I thought for a moment it was at the "Oz Institute."

Oz Fritz has responded to the Paris attacks with a new post on his blog, "Freedom vs. Fascism." 

Alluding to the attack on a club where the Eagles of Death Metal were performing, Oz writes, "About six weeks ago I wrote: 'The amorphous violent war/jihad of terrorism from any kind of ideological fanaticism also declares a war against music.'  The attack on music is now as direct and literal as it gets."

In the comments, Tony Smyth mentions Riane Eisler, a writer that Robert Anton Wilson greatly admired.

On the band's Facebook page, which I linked to above, fans who were at the Paris show comment on the band's latest posting. Claude Pfeiffer writes, "Hello I was there in The Bataclan, I have the chance to be just wounded, some friends are dead, it's hard to realize that horror ... " Maxime Douriens writes, "They tried to kill me and my wife while dancing in front of our favorite band, thankfully they failed."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Celebrate these Discordian holidays!

Humphrey Bogart, in whose honor Bogey's Day is celebrated. 

Adam Gorightly has performed a public service by publishing a list of Discordian holidays created by Camden Benares, and when I say "public service," I'm not trying to be funny or sarcastic. Many of these holidays sound like great ideas; when I get a little time, I've going to enter them on my Google Calendar.

May 23 is celebrated as Buddha's Birthday. "Although the evidence that Buddha was a Discordian is circumstantial and anecdotal, Discordians celebrate Buddha’s birthday by saying 'Happy Birthday, Bud'.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Another reason to consider a basic income guarantee

If you want to know why some of us think a basic income guarantee might be the best way to help the poor in the U.S., consider the above chart, which shows the more than 80 federal programs to help low-income Americans. (Source).

Consider that each program has bureaucrats  attached to it to figure out which people are "deserving" and that it's difficult for many poor people who might be reached by these programs to even know that they exist. It's pretty likely that mistakes will be made, and some people will be missed. Why not get rid of as many programs as possible and give people money, while making sure basic health coverage is included?

I read Charles Murray's book on the basic income guarantee earlier this year and can recommend it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Suing the Illuminati doesn't work

Apparently, when you file a lawsuit against the Illuminati you should not be too surprised when you lost. In Foy v. The Super-Rich Members of the Illuminati, Foy lost. Via the Volokh Conspiracy; when Eugene Volokh posted it, he wrote in the header, "Guess who wins."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sean Gabb on the Paris attacks

Sean Gabb

Sean Gabb tries to get everyone to calm down and think things through:

There have been large Moslem communities in this country since the 1960s. In this time, fewer than a hundred people have died in specifically Islamic terrorist attacks. I know that I am ignoring the death toll in New York and Madrid and Paris. But I am discussing my own country, and, even if there is a large attack in London, it will not compare in its nature with the Sinn Fein/IRA insurrection.

Doubtless, the large number of Moslems settled here brings other problems. But they have no territorial demands against us. They remain attached to their countries of origin. Many retire to these countries. They often see their stay in this country as temporary. Their religious leaders are more forthright in condemning terrorism than the Irish Catholic hierarchy ever was. Most of them do not want to kill us. Those who want to convert us believe they are doing us a favour. By the standards of our own recent past, the Moslem threat – so far as it really exists – is trivial.

Read the whole thing. He explains why imposing universal surveillance won't work.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

My reaction to Paris

I agree with this Tweet. Also, resisting the impulse to drop even more bombs in Muslim countries. My own modest proposal is that we quit dropping bombs and stop making war over there.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Illuminatus! on Jeopardy quiz show

Eric Wagner, who trained for the Jeopardy quiz show by becoming an expert on Robert Anton Wilson. 

Illuminatus! question on Jeopardy. "Pyramid," of course. 

Illuminatus! was involved in the answer to a question on the Jeopardy! quiz show in the U.S., on a show that aired on Thursday.  (Under "Literary Structure." Hold your cursor over the prize amount to see the answer.)

Hat tips, Bobby Campbell (who kindly made the graphic that I used to illustrate this blog post) and Michael Johnson.

Speaking of Jeopardy!, I can now offer definitive evidence that reading the works of Robert Anton Wilson makes you smart. How smart? Smart enough to win a quiz show!

We know Jeopardy champ Eric Wagner as the author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, but he's also a guy who walked away with $12,001 as a Jeopardy champion. The Jeopardy archive identifies Eric as "a high school English teacher from Corona, California." Eric won on Nov. 30, 1999, but lost on the next show, probably to another RAW fan.  I wish I could see the shows.

Friday, November 13, 2015

John Higgs talks about his new book — and what's he's writing next

John Higgs

One of the great pleasures that has resulted from putting out this online publication has been getting to know the writing of British author John Higgs. One of his British friends once wrote on Twitter about his soft spoken speaking style. In his books, Higgs is always clear and precise, but his straightforward prose transports the reader into some very interesting and different places.

His new book, Stranger Than We Can Imagine: An Alternative History of the 20th Century, chronicles the last century by focusing on ideas, rather than wars, economics and political events. 

His other books include two works of nonfiction: The KLF: Chaos, Magick and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds and  I Have America Surrounded: The Life of Timothy Leary and two novels: The Brandy of the Damned and The First Church on the Moon. He lives in Brighton with his family. 

When I asked John if he would describe the book to my readers and tell me what he's working on next, he immediately agreed. 

RAWILLUMINATION: Obviously, there are other histories available of the 20th Century. Can you say something about what you bring to the table, and why you wanted to do this book for years?

JOHN HIGGS: There are a fair amount of accounts of the 20th Century, that’s true. Most were written in the late 1990s, but society has changed so much since then that they already seem like products of another time.

Most of those books take the view that it was politicians that shaped the 20th Century so, in order to tell the story of that era, you tell the story of politicians and the great geo-political shifts of those years. They tell a story that goes from World War One to the great depression, World War Two, Hiroshima, the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But strangely, that story doesn’t seem to lead into the modern networked world we’re in now. It’s like we’ve skipped a groove and are already in a different story, with the old one already feeling academic and almost irrelevant. Those books explain the point of history when David Hasselhoff performed on the remains of the Berlin Wall, and the delighted German people went ape in response. Which is all for the good, but understanding German appreciation of the Hoff doesn’t really feel that relevant anymore.

So this book is an attempt to make sense of the present, and to do that the focus shifts to the science, art and culture of the 20th Century. This tells a very different, and I think more useful, story. It also allows me to tell the story of those years through the people who are largely missing from other histories, be that Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven, Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons or Benoit Mandelbrot.

RAWILLUMINATION: Did signing a contract with a big commercial publisher for "Stranger Than We Can Imagine" allow you to take your time and thoroughly research the new book? 

JOHN HIGGS: I think it was a number of contracts with a bunch of different publishers around the world that allowed me to do it justice – foreign rights sales do seem to be the only way for someone who writes non-fiction to keep a roof over their head, and you can only do that with good agents on your side. Having a big publisher did give me some perceived credibility, though, which was absolutely invaluable. I’m not accustomed to being taken seriously, so I’m making the most of it while it lasts.

RAWILLUMINATION: Why will fans of Robert Anton Wilson want to read your book?

JOHN HIGGS: I really hope they do, RAW was so integral to the thinking that went into the book, and you’ll find a lot of people who influenced him in there, from Einstein and Crowley to Korzybski, and even Emperor Norton I, which is probably pushing it a bit for a book on the 20th Century.

Bob was all over earlier drafts – one of which used the word ‘sombunall’ throughout, for existence, but weirdly, when the book was eventually done, he had fallen out of it. Which was odd for me, because I’m hardly shy of talking about RAW. It was as if the book had fully absorbed him and his insights, until he wasn’t there anymore. The final draft argues that multiple-model agnosticism was the logical conclusion of the 20th Century – and by that point talking about Bob had become repeating myself.

Bob was the scaffolding that this book was built around. It’s tidied away when the thing’s presented to the public, but it couldn’t have been built without him.

RAWILLUMINATION: Will you be doing a book tour of the U.S. to promote your new book?

JOHN HIGGS: I would love to, but there’s not one on the cards at the moment alas. I had a great time in Spain and Canada when the book came out over there, and I always love going to America. I’ll have to find some other excuse to come over – perhaps tied to the burgeoning plans to bring the Cosmic Trigger play over.

RAWILLUMINATION: You just finished visiting an "an unconsecrated graveyard for medieval prostitutes" as research for your new book. Nothing to see here I guess, so we'll move along. Seriously, what is the new book about, and when will it be out?

JOHN HIGGS: That was on Hallowe’en – and the graveyard was Crossbones in Southwark, London, near Shakespeare’s Globe. For 500 years the Bishop of Winchester was in charge of the prostitutes of that area, who were known as Winchester Geese. They were given unconsecrated pauper’s burials, despite working under the protection of the church, and there are 15,000 forgotten souls in that particular mass grave. Their story has been brought to light by a remarkable poet and visionary called John Crow, who’s 20-year-long campaign has led to an apology and blessing from the church.

It’s one of the stories that will be in a book about Britain I’m now writing, called Watling Street. Whereas Stranger Than We Can Imagine was my attempt to make sense of the time that made me, this is my attempt at understanding the place that made me. It’s a book that started growing when I realised that the original Star Wars films were shot, at Elstree, on the same road where Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales takes place. There’s something amazing about that, and the more I explore it the more amazing it becomes. That will be out in 2017.

RAWILLUMINATION: Will you have a new work of fiction out soon?

JOHN HIGGS: There’s one on the go, but ‘soon’ may be optimistic. I won’t say too much about it now, but yes there will be another novel at some point. Possibly before Watling Street – but that’s not a promise! It’s currently called The Next World.

For more, see John's website.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Follow Gordon White on Twitter

Via following a link on a Tweet from Ian "Cat" Vincent,  I found the Twitter account of Gordon White, and I liked it so much, I am not only following it, but posting about it here to call it to your attention.

To judge from his recent messages, Gordon thinks the world is a magical place and wants to show that to you, too. Here are a couple of photos he recently shared, with his captions:

(Retweet from History in Pictures: "One of New York Central’s “Mercury” engines in Chicago, 1936"

(Retweet from Caitlin Doughty: "Alaskan cemetery surrounded by a fence made of whale bones.
Photo credit: Valerie McAninch.")

Gordon also has a website which looks pretty cool.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

John Higgs and Alan Moore on Lovecraft and the 20th century

To  celebrate the fact that John Higgs' Stranger Than We Can Imagine is finally available today in the U.S. in all formats, watch the video of Higgs in conversation with Alan Moore about H.P. Lovecraft (Moore says Lovecraft was a modernist) and about the 20th century.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nov. 28 in Northhampton — John Higgs! Alan Moore! Robin Ince!

Sounds pretty good. Next to the "Institute of Corrosion" and "The Portfolio Innovation Centre" according to Google Maps.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A concert RAW would have liked

A concert that combines jazz with film footage of conspiracy theories sounds like something Robert Anton Wilson would have loved. 

It seems to have turned into conspiracy theories weekend for this blog, as I keep running across items to share with you.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (which I wish I lived closer to) is about to present Real Enemies, which "explores America's fascination with conspiracy theories through found footage by film designer Peter Nigrini and music by Darcy James Argue and his 18-piece Secret Society."

The director and writer of the show, Isaac Butler, draws from hundreds of theories and was asked to pick his five favorites for a cartoon; go look at it. 

Also: From the Wall Street Journal, Rob Brotherton's five favorite books about conspiracy theories. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Where the eye in the pyramid (on the dollar bill) came from

Pyramids have been in the news in U.S. politics lately, giving Jesse Walker the chance to explain another fine point of Illuminati symbolism to the readers of Reason magazine's "Hit and Run" blog. Henry Wallace, one of Illuminatus! character Franklin Roosevelt's vice presidents, was, Walker explains,

the man who persuaded the president to add the eye-in-the-pyramid symbol to the country's currency, thus giving ammo to everyone out there who thinks the Illuminati control the money supply.

More here. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Discordian news roundup

Adam Gorightly has posted an excellent Discordian news roundup, summarizing recent events both in the U.S. and in the  United Kingdom. And as always, thanks for the mention, Adam.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Are you serious, Facebook?

R.U. Sirius 

R.U. Sirius got into a spot of bother with Facebook recently — they booted him off under the site's "true names" policy. He's back on, but I think Facebook is in the wrong here, for reasons I'll take a minute to explain.

Now, Facebook's policy is not my policy — I don't care what names people use if they are kind enough to post comments on this blog.

But I do think I understand the impulse behind Facebook's rules. If you've ever posted something on the Internet and been smeared by someone hiding behind a phony name (it's happened to me), then you can understand where Facebook is coming from. People tend to be more responsible in their Internet comments if the comments can be attached to the person. If Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want somebody to call himself "Reginald Rootabaga" so he can call somebody a "racist" or a "Communist" or a "pervert," well, I get that.

But that's not what we're talking about here. R.U. Sirius aka Ken Goffman isn't trying to hide who he is when he uses the "R.U. Sirius" pen name, on Facebook, or anywhere else.  Just the opposite — he wants people who buy books to get to know the name. He posts his photo on his Twitter account, and it's easy to find out more about him. 

If anything, Facebook ought to insist that R.U. Sirius post under that name — because that's the name most people know him as. And it should make the rock star whose memoir I am currently reading post as "Elvis Costello." Most people are not going to know who "Declan MacManus" is. As far as most people can tell, "Elvis Costello" has become  his "true name."

Incidentally, I just checked, and on Facebook, Elvis Costello is "Elvis Costello." So Facebook isn't just silly, it's inconsistent.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Arthur Hlavaty's conspiracy theories

James McCord

I don't mean to turn this blog into a reprint blog for Arthur Hlavaty's best postings, but this is too good not to share: 

Fred Thompson’s death is reminding people that he was the one who asked the question that revealed Nixon’s secret tapes. I loved conspiracy theories even before Illuminatus!, and that’s one of the two things I still wonder about:

1. I still suspect that when James McCord botched the Watergate break-in, letting the burglars get caught, he was acting as a loyal CIA operative.

2. Thompson’s question came from a staffer interview with Alexander Butterfield, which to me reads like this:
Staffer: Blablabla
Butterfield: That comes from the secret taping system.
Staffer: Yes, but blablaba.
Butterfield: OMG, I accidentally revealed the existence of the secret taping system that you’re not supposed to know about!
Staffer: Oh! What about the secret taping system?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Arthur Hlavaty on Illuminatus!

Arthur Hlavaty, left, holding forth at Detcon in 2014.

Arthur Hlavaty's Nov. 1 posting on his blog: "40 years ago today, I finally got my hands on the final volume of the Illuminatus! trilogy and read it. Like the authors, I knew that half of it was BS, but I wasn’t sure exactly which half. One part that was true was that it programmed me in ways that weren’t obvious for months or even years, and unlike W.C. Fields and the woman who drove him to drink, I thanked the authors for it."

Arthur's blog post didn't draw any comments, but he also posted on Facebook, and some of the comments were interesting. Neil Rest (e.g., the "real Simon Moon") wrote, " I read parts 1 and 2 in Singapore and part 3 in Jerusalem." Somebody named Sam Thoth wrote, "I grabbed the first volume of The Trilogy at a bookstore in Parkersburg WV during a quick bus layover on my way back home for a long weekend my sophomore year. Finished it late that night and promptly got up early the next day and, drunk with wonder and delight, hitchhiked 40 miles each way to get the other 2 volumes asap."

Forty years ago can't be right though, because that's when I was in college, and that would make me really old. Oh, wait .....

Monday, November 2, 2015

Latest politics news

White Lightning, who previously announced he was running for president as a Guns and Dope Party candidate, has sent me a new statement:

Dear Tommy boy,
I would just like to discredit a previous interview with Big Ball Bumpty about him being my VP. BBB is a registered sex offender and necrophiliac. He is also a sellout. I actually plan on making Vermin Supreme my VP. I am also pleased to announce that through your support, we have gone up 0.001% in the polls. It's a good start. Thanks again!
White Lighting

This is the candidacy that may have inspired a clarifying statement from Guns and Dope Party representatives that the party does not endorse candidates.

Mr. Lightning's campaign seems a trifle unreal to me, but then again, U.S. politics these days seems more like something in a satirical RAW novel than the normal course of business for a democracy.  If you are not an American, you may perhaps be puzzled by the fact that our presidential campaign has been under way for months, even though the election is still a year away. The Republican front runner is an unpleasant reality TV star. The Democratic front runner is an unpleasant careerist, palpably desperate for power, who in the last few months have discarded almost all of her previous political positions in favor of more fashionable ones. The only positions she has stuck to are the ones I find most objectionable — she's a militarist who believes the destruction of Libya was a good idea, and a civil liberties opponent who delights in calling Edward Snowden a "traitor" for revealing how much the government spies on its all citizens.  All of this is trumped, in the increasingly tribal Democratic Party, by the fact that she would be the "first woman president."

Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party has six recognized presidential candidates. I don't know much about any of them.

Oh, and Ohio is voting Tuesday on legalizing marijuana. I'm voting for it, but I'm pretty sure it will lose.

UPDATE: Arthur Hlavaty wrote to me after he had trouble posting a comment, so I'll quote his email here: "The Libertarian race is a sausage fest (all white), and the marijuana vote would set up an oligopoly. My cynicism continues."

Mine does, too, but I'll take a flawed legalization over prohibition; I'm with Nick Gillespie on this.  I'll update this blog post when the results in Ohio come in.

UPDATE II: Pot legalization lost decisively in Ohio, with about 65 percent voting "No."