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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The structure of Finnegans Wake, fractal and otherwise

Frost crystals forming a fractal pattern (from Wikipedia's article on fractals). 

The new edition of the Waywords and Meansigns musical recording of Finnegans Wake will be out Tuesday (James Joyce's birthday), but while we wait for that, PQ has two new blog posts up about the book at his Wake blog, Finnegans Wake.

The first post, "What is Finnegans Wake? A Simulacrum of the Globe (Part 2)," argues that the book reproduces the Precession of the Equinoxes (you'll learn some astronomy reading the post.

The second post is "Mathematicians Confirm: Finnegans Wake is Fractal," and after  you read it, you should probably read the article from the Guardian that inspired it.

The Guardian article says that academics ran a statistical analysis of more than 100 litereary works, and found that while many were in the structures of fractals, Finnegans Wake was the most multifractal of all in terms of its sentence structures.

A paragraph from the Guardian article:

The other works most comparable to multifractals, the academics found, were A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar, The USA trilogy by John Dos Passos, The Waves by Virginia Woolf, 2666 by Roberto Bolaño and Joyce’s Ulysses. Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu showed “little correlation” to multifractality, however; nor did Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Friday, January 29, 2016

RAW in Mendocino County

My wife and I like to take a vacation trip every year, typically in the late summer or early fall. Last year we rented a house in Mendocino, California. The top photo shows the view out of our back yard. This was one of my favorite trips, as I thought the area was particularly beautiful. We didn't bother to travel very far the entire time we were though, although we drove a short distance north to Fort Bragg, also in Mendocino County.

In one of those synchronicities that seem to keep popping up in my life lately, I discovered this week that Robert Anton Wilson used to live in Mendocino County. Of course, I knew he had lived in other areas of California.

The email newsletters from Hilaritas Press (sign up for them at the website) have been including stories from Christina Pearson about her dad. Here is the one from the newsletter that came out this week:

I have to say that there were so many events that Bob didn’t write about, that were often major players as our lives unfolded. Like at one point, we were living up in Mendocino County, on an old farm some ten miles north of Fort Bragg, California. We had no car, and there were no buses, so we just hitchhiked back and forth into town. For everything – from grocery shopping to buying thumbtacks to seeing a movie, our thumbs ruled. Arlen (our mom) was so NOT interested, she would say “Why don’t you go, Dear!” And Bob would go… hitch-hiking for milk, cigarettes, whatever! Because we hitched rides, one never knew how long it would take to make a “town run.” Sometimes you could be back in a couple hours, and sometimes, it took all day. 

One day (after an all-day roadside excursion) he brought home a young couple who had given him a ride to the grocery store; after spending some time sharing and talking, they also gave him a ride all the way back to our old farmhouse, where he had invited them to stay a while! Turns out they were radically due to have a baby – which emerged shortly after stopping to stay with us. They moved on, we moved on, but it was wonderful when that child was born! There were so many extraordinary experiences. Some bad, some good, some boring, some outrageous; but all in all our lives were incredibly richly textured, which has made me into who I am today; I must say that I am grateful, as I like who I am today. 

Bob really was very private, often not knowing who our neighbors were, yet out of the blue he might offer a helping hand to complete strangers like the couple above (who of course then became good friends…) Arlen always ran "good people interference” for him; she was really far more social than he was. Truthfully, he was not really interested in “getting know the neighborhood,” like she often was, but he totally adored small groups of friends (and pookahs) gathering around, chatting, brainstorming, getting stoned, watching movies, eating and sharing tales about life, love, the universe, whatever! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

More on the new Cosmic Trigger book

I bought the new Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati ebook late Tuesday night. Here are some initial details:

• It's priced at $9.99 — not super cheap, but not expensive, either. The publication date is listed as Jan. 23, although I didn't notice it until the announcement was sent out. The paperback listed on Amazon is still the New Falcon edition, but the new Hilaritas Press edition is supposed to be out soon.

• The new "Trigger" and two more titles which will be issued Real Soon Now, Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology, were issued by Hilaritas Press, the new publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust. (The official website, with lots of details about the venture, has just launched.) There are a few RAW titles which are still being published by commercial publishers (such as Illuminatus!), but the H.P. website lists 19 RAW titles which will be reprinted. You can check the list to see where your favorites rank in the pecking order. Hilaritas says it also "will be looking for adventurous authors with new works." Be sure to explore the Hilaritas Press website.

• Nothing appears to be omitted from the new edition of Cosmic Trigger. (The original Timothy Leary foreword is included). But depending on which previous edition of Cosmic Trigger you own or have read, you will get one or two bonus pieces.

Everyone gets the new introduction written by British author John Higgs, which explains why Cosmic Trigger, like the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, is a great book which both is utterly of its time and transcends its time. I am a big fan of John's, as you may have noticed, but I thought his piece was particularly good.

The only copy of Cosmic Trigger I've ever seen or read is my March 1978 Pocket Books mass market paperback edition, so I was pleasantly surprised ("delighted" would be a better word) to see  that Robert Anton Wilson wrote a new Preface for the book in 1986, which restates key points of his philosophy and answers some common questions about the book. "From the date of the first printing to the present, I have received more mail about Cosmic Trigger than about anything else I ever wrote ... " he writes. The "new" preface won't be new to anyone who has the New Falcon edition, but it was new to me.

Artist Scott McPherson of amoeba fame did the fine new cover for Cosmic Trigger and also did new covers for Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology, which I look forward to seeing.

• Sign up for the email newsletter at the Hilaritas Press website to obtain new announcements. Of course, any news will be noted here.

• There is apparently no Nook edition of the new Cosmic Trigger ebook, or editions is any other format, other than Amazon Kindle. You can read the new Kindle edition on basically any device (smart phone, tablet, computer) using one of the free Amazon Kindle apps if you don't own a Kindle.

• The planned new Cosmic Trigger reading group for this website will be using the new edition of the book. More details soon, after the paper edition comes out.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

RAW role-playing game

Ted Hand, on Twitter, sent out this flyer for a role-playing game that RAW ran in the 1990s.

Does anyone have more information?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Cosmic Trigger ebook published

The new Cosmic Trigger ebook has been published by Hilaritas Press. More details at the official website, which also has just posted a piece by Paul Krassner.  I'll have more information on the new edition on Thursday. (I originally wrote "Wednesday" but my follow-up will run Thursday.)

Wilhelm Reich in Hell show still planned in Leeds, England

As I reported late last month, the Kickstarter campaign which aimed to stage a version of Robert Anton Wilson's Wilhelm Reich in Hell failed to meet its target. (If you don't meet the target on Kickstarter, the project fails and none of the contributors are charged any money.)

But 2 Pomme D'Or 3 Productions has sent out an email, vowing that "The show must go on," and announcing that efforts will continue.

"Now we did say the show would go on regardless and that is still true. We still have the Carriageworks theatre in Leeds booked. We are currently in the process if booking a couple more venues which we will release details of soon," it says.

The project has a website to provide details about the ongoing effort, and it offers some details on the planned production: "Originally written by Robert Anton Wilson and released in 1987. We have been given permission to put on a re-fangling of the original play this year. Commencing with 3 days – 21st to 23rd April – at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds, West Yorkshire."

A support page allows you to buy merchandise to support their efforts. If you pledged something to the Kickstarter, tell them the name you pledged under and you will get "something extra," the site promises.

Monday, January 25, 2016

L. Neil Smith wins lifetime achievement Prometheus Award

L. Neil Smith

[Official press release follows; note RAW reference. The Management].

The Libertarian Futurist Society has decided to present a Special Prometheus Award for lifetime achievement to L. Neil Smith.

Smith is only the fourth author in LFS history to receive a Special Prometheus Award for lifetime achievement. The previous Lifetime Achievement winners were Poul Anderson (2001), Vernor Vinge (2014) and F. Paul Wilson (2015).

Smith has received four previous Prometheus Awards-including the first Prometheus award given by the newly-constituted Libertarian Futurist Society in 1982 to Smith's The Probability Broach.

Sometimes considered one of the definitive libertarian science fiction novels, The Probability Broach tells the story of Denver homicide detective Win Bear, a Native American, who accidentally goes sideways in time, to the North American Confederacy, an alternative future in which the federal government has grown less powerful over time. Likely still Smith's most famous novel, it's part of his seven-book North American Confederacy series.

Smith won his second Prometheus in 1994 for Pallas, set on the asteroid of the same name. The novel dramatizes the struggle for freedom of its hero, Emerson Ngu.

His third Prometheus, in 2001, came for The Forge of the Elders, set on the fictional asteroid 5023 Eris (one of many nods in Smith's work to the Illuminatus! trilogy of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson). It featured alien-like Elders, although they actually originated from Earth. The Baen paperback featured a memorable cover of one of the book's characters hoisting a beer with an Elder. (Smith wrote in a 2007 blog post that the book was his "favorite" and featured one of his best cover paintings.)

Smith's fourth Prometheus was a 2005 Special Award given to him and illustrator Scott Bieser for The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel.

Smith created the Prometheus Award, presenting it in 1979 to Wheels Within Wheels by F. Paul Wilson. In order to transform the one-time award into an annual program, the Libertarian Futurist Society was organized by other fans in 1982 to take over and sustain the awards program. Since the initial award to Wilson, Smith has not played a role in the LFS. The awards were later expanded from Best Novel to include an annual Prometheus Hall of Fame Award (for best classic fiction published or broadcast at least five years ago) and occasional Special Awards.

Smith has attracted attention beyond his immediate core fandom of American libertarian science fiction fans. In all, Smith has written 28 books, according to an official tally published in May 2012 on his blog. Star Wars fans, for instance, know him for his three Lando Calrissian novels.

The Science Fiction Encyclopedia has hailed Smith for writing "fast-moving and often amusing adventures" and describes The Probability Broach and its two immediate sequels as "comedy thrillers."

British novelist and critic Sean Gabb, who also writes as Richard Blake, included two essays about Smith in his book, Literary Essays.  Gabb wrote that in 1985, when he was traveling by train from London to York and suffering from depression, he found a copy of The Probability Broach in one of the luggage racks. Gabb concluded immediately that it was a "great novel," and writes admiringly about Smith's ability to seamlessly integrate opinions into his books without interrupting the flow of the plot with long speeches.

"What I got from The Probability Broach was my clearest perception yet of what libertarianism should be about," Gabb wrote. "Yes, we believe in free markets, and in enterprise, and, so long as there must be a government, in certain constitutional safeguards. But this is all supportive of the true argument for liberty - which is that it allows us to have a really good time for a very long time."

Including their Lifetime Achievement awards, Anderson, Vinge, Wilson and now Smith have all been recognized five times with various Prometheus Awards.  (The only author to receive more awards from the LFS was Robert Heinlein (1907-1988), with a grand total of six.) Visit to see a comprehensive list of Prometheus Award recipients and for more information about the Libertarian Futurist Society.

The special awards ceremony will take place in 2016 at a time and place to be announced. Check the LFS website ( for updates.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

More synchronicities

Singer Jenny Lewis

So, a few days ago I checked out an album called More Adventurous by a band named Rilo Kiley. Not sure why the band popped in my head and why I checked it out on Hoopla; I had heard one of their songs in a coffee shop years ago and always meant to listen to them more closely. I enjoyed the album and when I looked them up on the Internet, I noticed that the woman whose distinctive vocals give the band much of its sound is named Jennifer "Jenny" Lewis.

My wife and I like to watch British murder mysteries, so yesterday we watched an Inspector Banks episode called "Strange Affair." The murder victim found shot to death in the opening scene is a character named Jennifer Lewis.

Lately, I keep running into this stuff and I don't know what it means. About a couple of weeks ago, I wrote to Ted Gioia, the critic and author. It was the first time in months I had had occasion to email him (I was trying to get him interested in the latest John Higgs book, Stranger Than We Can Imagine).

Then I got around to reading the latest Michael Johnson blog post, and discovered it was largely about Ted Gioia. 

Gioia is a big deal jazz writer (I read his book on jazz a few  years ago) and I told Gioia that I'd thought of him when I heard a nice tribute to the late Paul Bley on NPR. Gioia wrote back on Jan. 6, "I wish I had time to write a Paul Bley tribute, but The Daily Beast told me they wanted an article on David Bowie's new album instead. So I've been working on that.  But Bley is a personal hero, and I spent lots of time studying his music during my formative years." Then on Jan. 10 Gioia's piece became very topical when we all heard that David Bowie had died.

I suppose all of this is "just a coincidence," but it's interesting that it keeps happening.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cosmic Trigger reading group update

As I had previously announced that the next online reading group would be devoted to Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati, I would like to offer an update. I have been waiting for the publication of the new edition, in paper and as an ebooks, by Hilaritas Press, the new publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust, which is bringing out all of the books that formerly were kept in print by New Falcon. Cosmic Trigger is the first of the new editions, and I have been assured it will be out soon. I want to support the RAW Trust, so I've been waiting for it to come out; when it does, I will announce it, and soon will follow up with details about the reading group. I've consulted Charles Faris, who will lead the reading group, and he's on board with this timetable.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

David Hartwell (1941-2016)

David G. Hartwell, who was known for his colorful neckties

My favorite science fiction book editor, David Hartwell, has died. I am not up to the task of explaining why he was a very important editor — there are many people who know more about his career — but please let me mention a few things.

As this blog has a particular interest, let me first cover our parochial connection. Hartwell was the editor of Pocket Books from 1978 to 1983. He was the editor for five of Robert Anton Wilson's most important books: Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati, Masks of the Illuminati, and the three Schroedinger's Cat books: The  Universe Next Door, The Trick Top Hat and The Homing Pigeons. You can read my 2010 interview with David Hartwell.  RAW and Philip K. Dick apparently met for the first time, or at least had their first serious conversation, in Hartwell's hotel room in California. (Part two of the interview is here.)

But as much as I obviously love Wilson's writings, it trivializes Hartwell's achievements to dwell on that too much. Hartwell was a hugely important science fiction book editor, who edited books by many of your favorite writers, and mine. Some of them: Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Philip Jose Farmer, Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, Charles Stross, Guy Gavriel Kay. I am leaving out the names of a great many other writers, although not intentionally. I have not been able to find a list anywhere of the books that he edited. 

I suspect that Hartwell will largely be remembered as the editor for Gene Wolfe, much as Maxwell Perkins is remembered for being Thomas Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway's editor. Wolfe is often considered the best, or one of the best, living science fiction writers, and Hartwell edited nearly all of his books, including Wolfe's famous The Book of the New Sun series. 

When I interviewed Gene Wolfe early last year, Hartwell supplied me with a quote about Wolfe's latest book, A Borrowed Man. I loved the book when I finally got around to finishing it last weekend, and in fact I sent a short email to Hartwell on Tuesday, telling him so. (He was an extremely busy man and he hardly knew who I was, but whenever I needed to write to him about something — for example, to ask a question about Robert Anton Wilson — I always got an answer.)

There are many story collections that Hartwell edited, including reprint books and a long running "Best SF" series. He also founded and for many years was the publisher of The New York Review of SF, to which I have occasionally contributed. He wrote an excellent book about science fiction called Age of Wonder. 

When I went to science fiction conventions, I always made a point of listening closely to him and attending his panels. At one convention, I heard him offer advice on how to shop for novels. Take the book off the shelf, he said, and read the first page carefully. Then take another book off the shelf, and read the first page. Keep doing that until you find something worth buying and reading. 

I am leaving a lot out. His death is of course terrible for his family and his friends, but it is also terrible news for the world of literature and for serious readers. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Five nominated for Prometheus Award Hall of Fame

Cover for the first edition in hardcover of Donald Kingsbury's "Courtship Rite"

[Editor's note: This is the award that Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson won for Illuminatus! Here is the official press release from the Libertarian Futurist Society. I'm a member and sit on the board. I did a recent blog posting on three of the books mentioned here.  -- The Management].

The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected five finalists for the 2016 Hall of Fame Award, given in recognition of a classic work of science fiction or fantasy with libertarian themes. This year’s finalists are

Manna, by Lee Correy (published 1984): A novel about the economic development of space in the twenty-first century, and about competing economic philosophies that shape it. One of its most interesting aspects is the setting: the United Mitanni Commonwealth, an imaginary small East African country founded on a distinctive vision of personal freedom of choice.  Correy’s hero, a former American aerospace officer, is drawn into the Mitanni struggle both for a vision of the future and for simple survival, while discovering the customs of his new homeland.

Courtship Rite, by Donald M. Kingsbury (published 1982): A novel set on a planet in a remote solar system, where human colonists struggle with a harsh environment. The author, a mathematician, explores the mathematical concept of optimization in biological evolution, in political institutions, in culture, and in personal ethics—through linked dramatic struggles over political ambition and the creation of a family.

“As Easy as A.B.C.,” by Rudyard Kipling (published 1912): One of Kipling’s two “airship utopia” stories, set in the year 2065—but the utopia is an ambiguous one. Striking for its vision of a future that looks back in horror at the lynchings and racism of Kipling’s own time. Compact and evocatively written.

The Island Worlds, by Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts (published 1987): A novel of asteroidal rebellion against a corrupt and oligopolistic Earth. Unusual in its portrayal of an internally divided liberation movement with conflicting ethical and strategic beliefs.

A Mirror for Observers, by Edgar Pangborn (published 1954): A novel of conflicting factions of Martian refugees working in secret to influence humanity toward enlightenment and self-destruction. Notable for its vision of a future United States with two entirely new leading political parties—a constitutionalist party and a fascistic Organic Unity Party—and of its reaction to an engineered plague. Pangborn offers no radical solutions; he focuses on personal ethics, and he shows reasons for despair and then turns back to hope.

This year’s finalists were selected from a slate of fourteen nominees; three of them appear as finalists for the first time. Also nominated were the Firesign Theater’s “I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus,” James P. Hogan’s The Mirror Maze, Murray Leinster’s “Exploration Team,” C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, O.T. Nelson’s The Girl Who Owned a City, Rush’s 2112, Robert Silverberg’s A Time of Changes, T.H. White’s The Book of Merlyn, and F. Paul Wilson’s Hosts.

Hall of Fame candidates are nominated by the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society. A committee of judges selected finalists, which are voted on by all members to select each year’s winner. Any work first published more than five years ago is eligible.

The Hall of Fame award will be voted on together with the Best Novel Award. The two awards will be presented together.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Eight circuit model pops up in Grant Morrison comic

Today is Robert Anton Wilson's birthday; he would have been 83. 84. (sorry, thought it was still 2015 for a moment).

And here is a reminder of his continued relevance, sent to me by Dan. This is from Grant Morrison's Pax Americana comic book, published in November 2014 as part of his recent Multiversity series, and it features a character talking about the Timothy Leary-Robert Anton Wilson eight circuit model, in terms of color coding:

Dan explains, "I'm reading (comic writer) Grant Morrison's Multiversity right now, and I found a section in it, specifically the comic Pax Americana, where he uses RAW and Leary's Eight Circuit model and applies it to civilizational growth. It caught me off guard, even though I know that Morrison was influenced by RAW. Attached are the pictures of the panel in which the Question (Steve Ditko's Randian vigilante; Moore modeled Rorschach after this character in Watchmen) goes on the aforementioned monologue about the Eight-Circuit model."

I'm not a comics expert, but Morrison is of course the guy who did The Invisibles, which was influenced by RAW.

Thanks, Dan!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Two views of 'Stranger Than We Can Imagine'

John Higgs' "Stranger Than We Can Imagine," published in the U.S. without getting a lot of attention, has just gotten two new book reviews.

The Wall Street Journal's review (by Steven Poole) ran Saturday; the lead to Poole's review picks up on Higgs casually brilliant observation that reports of UFOs suddenly declined in the smart phone era, when if they existed proof should have been plentiful in an era in which everyone carries around a camera. Mr. Poole didn't like the book quite as much as I did, but he does state that Along the way author and reader have fun." And I agree that the chapter on science fiction was particularly good.

Michael Johnson also has written a review and says that the book is vital. Michael says the book speaks to three different classes of readers and explains who they are. "There are no dull moments in this book," Michael says, and I agree; I read through it pretty quickly.

I'll try to get my own review posted soon.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A new edition of Waywords and Meansigns

Musician Mike Watt

The Waywords and Meansigns logo 

Remember Waywords and Meansigns, the recording issued last year that set the entirety of Finnegans Wake to music? I did several posts about it, and also featured this interview with two of the contributors, Steve "Fly" Pratt and Peter Quadrino. 

A new second edition is going to be issued on Feb. 2, James Joyce's birthday, featuring an all-new cast of musicians and readers. Much of the second edition is already up at the project's website, where you can still obtain the first edition.

Here is the press release sent to me by Derek Pyle:

An all-star cast of musicians have joined forces to create what may be 2016’s most unusual literary project: James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, set to music unabridged. The audio will debut next month on James Joyce’s birthday, February 2nd. 

With an astounding 40-hours of audio, Waywords and Meansigns features original music and readings from punk rock icon Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), Grammy-award winning producer David Kahne (Paul McCartney, Lana Del Rey, Sublime), international artist Kio Griffith, British fringe musician Neil Campbell (Vibracathedral, A Band), and award-winning author Brian Hall. 

The project, dubbed Waywords and Meansigns, will release their unabridged musical adaptation  of Finnegans Wake February 2, 2016. All audio will be distributed freely under creative commons licensing via the project’s website, 

“Finnegans Wake is sometimes called the most difficult book ever written,” explained project director Derek Pyle, “but one of our goals to make the book more accessible. Joyce basically invented his own language to write the book. So yeah, it’s hard to read — but it’s a ton of fun to hear as music!”

Waywords and Meansigns also features original music and readings from Joyce performer Adam Harvey; composer Steve Gregoropoulos (WACO, Wild Stares); bassist Simon Underwood (The Pop Group); composer Mary Lorson (Madder Rose, Saint Low); bassist Hinson Calabrese (Tom Fun Orchestra, Sprag Session); low-fi musician Maharadja Sweets; painter Robert Amos; radio DJ and musician Mr. Smolin.

I wrote back to Derek, noting that the kind of folks who read this blog are pretty hip to the Joyce scene and to culture generally, and might appreciate a complete list of contributors to the second edition, and he obliged by sending the complete track list (the last two are still in post-production but should be ready by the Feb. 2 release date):

I.1 - Mr Smolin & Double Naught Spy Car  - jamband folks. Mr. Smolin is also radio DJ on KPFK

I.2 - David Kahne (Paul McCartney's producer, did Sublime's eponymous album; Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson; the list goes on. He was VP at Columbia & Warner Bros once upon a time too)

I.3 - Steve Gregoropoulos (of WACO & Wild Stares). His chapter includes a bunch of indie LA musicians, like Becky Stark (of Lavender Diamond, and who recorded& toured w Decemberists on their opera album), Kaitlin Wolfberg, Charlyne Yi, Heather Lockie,  ­ Derek Stein , William Tutton ­ , John Ciulik, Elizabeth Herndon, Vince Meghrouni, Justin Burrill ­ , Corey Fogel ­ & Claire Chenette

I.4 - Rio Matchett - British theatre student

I.5 - Neil Campbell, mainstay of British underground / fringe (A Band, Vibracathedral, Richard Youngs collaborator, etc)

I.6 - Maharadja Sweets  - lowfi NYC cassette label cat

I.8 Mary Lorson and Brian Hall. Mary is composer, led Saint Low & Madder Rose bands back in the day. Brian is award winning author.

II.1 - Robert Amos ;  landscape painter, like the resident painter of Victoria (British Columbia). Amos is die hard FW fan. he has recorded unabridged readings of himself, the whole book, just for fun (never released except for this and another chapter in our first edition)

II.2 - Ollie Evans & Steve Porter -  Ollie just finished his PhD on Joyce & performativity @ University of London

II.3 Jenken's Henchmaen, from Italy

II.4 aleorta, project of Daniel Bristow, professor at University of Manchester

III.1 Simon Ross, another British cat who also records as ' cel '

III.2 Kio Griffith,  LA and Japan based visual & installation artist

III.4 Conspirators of Pleasure - Poulomi Desai and Simon Underwood, who run Usurp art gallery in london. Simon was bassist in The Pop Group and Pigbag back in the day

IV.1 Graziano Galati. Graziano is a high school teacher in S Cali. His spiritual practice is reciting out loud 'classics' of literature for 2-3 hours every morning. so recording this was no problem!

I.7 Mike Watt (Minutemen, Iggy Pop & the Stooges) & Adam Harvey. Adam is theatre dude who performs Finnegans Wake - he has entire chapters of the Wake committed to memory (including this one)

III.3 - Hinson Calabrese.  Donnie (Hinson) played bass in Canadian indie band  Tom Fun Orchestra & celtic band Sprag Sessio. he is finishing a PhD on Joyce at University of Western Ontario

Friday, January 15, 2016

Did Joyce write the modernist 'Bible'?

James Joyce

I'm still intrigued by a topic I mentioned Wednesday, intensive reading. Michael Johnson wrote about it the other day on his blog, and I'm having trouble getting it out of my head.

Here is a bit of what Michael wrote:

Scholars of reading like David Hall and Rolf Engelsing have confirmed and drawn out something I'd assumed: around 1750 or so, "intensive" reading — in which a reader reads a book or books over and over — gave way to our modern "extensive" way of reading a book, rather quickly, then moving on to the next thing. I know certain 20th century writers - Robert Frost comes to mind - were known for reading the same 20 books over and over. I think many of us do both types of reading.

I don't know what Hall and Engelsing have to say, but I'm guessing that prior to 1750, there must have been significant numbers of readers who concentrated on reading the Bible, and works that were more or less commentaries on the Bible. Even today, it's not uncommon for Christians to read a bit of Bible verse every day, to make reading the Good Book a continuous exercise that never ends.

But isn't this also a description of how James Joyce's readers behave? According to Eric Wagner, RAW's Boswell, Robert Anton Wilson recommended reading Ulysses 40 times.  It's taken for granted that anyone reading Ulysses is going to look for help from a reference book, or at least will get some background on the Internet. And Finnegans Wake obviously was written to be studied, as opposed to being quickly read and tossed aside like a paperback thriller. I'm not enough of a Joyce scholar to know if he intended to write a modernist Bible, but that would appear to be what Joyce did. For Joyce scholars, reading and re-reading him and looking for fresh insights is a process that never ends.

Would it be a stretch to call Illuminatus! a postmodernist Bible? It is certainly a mixture of high and low culture, and one gets the sense reading it that Wilson and Shea tried to write about everything they knew, or at least a significant port of it. I have certainly been able to find plenty to notice when I re-read it, and the Illuminatus! reading group found many aspects of the book to talk about. I would not have known, for example, just how Discordian it was until I read Adam Gorightly's articles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Michael Johnson posts again — twice!

After a long silence, Michael Johnson is a prolific blogger again. He has a post on Robert Anton Wilson's "Jumping Jesus" thoughts, (with a hint at the end on on where his blog's name might come from) and a post "On Ethnomusicality and Universality in Music." 

I exchanged emails a few days ago with Ted Gioia, the first contact I'd had with him in months, and then the next day I read Michael's post, which is largely about Ted Gioia. I liked the synchronicity, a topic Michael talks about.

Also, I liked this bit from Michael:

Scholars of reading like David Hall and Rolf Engelsing have confirmed and drawn out something I'd assumed: around 1750 or so, "intensive" reading - in which a reader reads a book or books over and over - gave way to our modern "extensive" way of reading a book, rather quickly, then moving on to the next thing. I know certain 20th century writers - Robert Frost comes to mind - were known for reading the same 20 books over and over. I think many of us do both types of reading.

I do both kinds of reading, too; I had never heard of intensive reading, although it makes sense in a age of much fewer titles. As I remarked the other day, I listened to a podcast in which Gordon White attacked James Joyce as the worst writer of the 20th century; maybe Gordon isn't into intensive reading?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Oz Fritz on David Bowie

David Bowie

[Promoted from the comments in yesterday's blog post. Please see the other comments in yesterday's post, too. Oz is a recording engineer and knows a lot about Robert Anton Wilson. If reading this post makes you want to read more of his writing, please see his excellent blog. -- The Management]

I recall someone in the online Crowley course RAW gave posting a rumor or anecdote that David Bowie had been seen at a RAW talk in the LA area in the early to mid '70's. I never did discover the actuality of that, but it seems plausible. Bowie lived in LA at that time and traversed similar experimental territory with RAW. They both practiced qabala and magick and both used it in their artistic expression.

Bowie also appeared completely dialed in to the space migration, extra-terrestrial intelligence, Starseed Transmissions gestalt that RAW and Leary were promoting in the '70s. Staring with his first popular single, "Space Oddity," which under the right circumstances really does give the feeling of being way out in Space, then especially on the album "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." "Space Oddity" was released in the summer of 1969 to coincide with the launch of Apollo 11 while Ziggy Stardust was released in 1972 so it seems unlikely that Bowie picked up the E.T. Intelligence subject from RAW and Leary who were undergoing their own experiences around that time and had yet to publish their findings. I don't know how or where Bowie picked up on that meme. He could have, through his experiences with experimental theater and magick, gotten himself hardwired to the source — whatever transmission it was that gave RAW the impression he was in communication with some kind of Intelligence from the Sirius star system. Through his studies of Crowley, Bowie could have been in touch with the ideas put forth by Kenneth Grant who also had theories and inferences regarding extraterrestrials and Sirius. In 1975 Bowie filmed The "Man Who Fell To Earth" his first major role and he played an extraterrestrial. I felt there was much useful information, mood and atmosphere related to E.T. contact in there I remember leaving the theater elated to see the film end with an allusion to an occult symbol when Bowie tips his hat.

Bowie's music became the primary soundtrack and inspiration to whatever Sirius contact experiences I had in the early 80's. One of the weirdest synchronicities involved the song "Starman." It was the first song on side B of a Ziggy Stardust cassette I had. One day I rewound the tape, turned up the volume and began a yoga practice. The next song was surprisingly not from Ziggy Stardust, not David Bowie at all. I went to check the music machine and saw that I hadn't been playing the cassette at all. When I turned up the volume I was turning up the radio which just happened to start that song at exactly the same time.

Bowie was the lead musical figure and guiding inspiration, particularly his Berlin albums with Fripp, Belew, and Eno, to the punk/post punk art scene circles I moved in. A friend was in love with him so in 1980 she flew to New York and got tickets to see him on Broadway in "The Elephant Man." She told the theater manager her story and asked if there was any way she could see him only to be rewarded with a 40 minute private meeting in his dressing room after the show. She said he was very polite; they casually chatted about ordinary things.

In 1983 Bowie hit town with his Serious Moonlight tour. One of my top concert experiences, he definitely fulfilled the role of cosmic prophet/musical hierophant, a disseminator of Higher Intelligence. Through the set design, costumes and, of course, the music he projected a vision of global awareness and peaceful, tolerant, cooperative, diversity. One of the props was a large blue beach ball of planet Earth that they bounced around playing like they were gods. Truly a genius.

Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP David Bowie

#DavidBowie signs autographs for fans from his front room window at his home in Brixton, 1980s. #oldlondon (Source)

So today I wake up, on the anniversary of Robert Anton Wilson's death, to learn that David Bowie has died.

Hard to think of another musician who mastered so many different styles. "Space Oddity" is the best song about going into space anyone has made; "Rebel Rebel" is the best hard rock song I ever heard; "Fame" was one of the best disco songs. No doubt many of you will have your own favorite songs. I was singing "Sound and Vision" to myself after I heard the news.

Ian "Cat" Vincent on Bowie. 

Ted Gioia on the new David Bowie album. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lovecraft site in Providence

Sign for H.P. Lovecraft Memorial Square. Photo by Chad Nelson.

Chad Nelson Tweets this photograph of H.P. Lovecraft Memorial Square, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Chad explains that this is located in the heart of the Brown University campus. A helpful article he sent me explains that his photograph shows a new bronze sign, installed last year using funding by Lovecraft enthusiasts, which has glow in the dark letters. It replaces an older wooden sign at the square, located at the intersections of Angell and Prospect streets. 

I don't know how much is available at Providence for Lovecraft tourists, but obviously there is something.

Chad remarks that the sign is "incidentally only a few blocks from Benefit St., which is referenced in one Illuminatus! scene."

In fact, that's the memorable scene in The Golden Apple, e.g. volume 2 of Illuminatus! which Robert Putney Drake pays a visit to Lovecraft:

Standing before the house on Benefit Street, Drake could see, across the town, the peak of Sentinel Hill and the old deserted church that had harbored the Starry Wisdom Sect in the 1870s. He turned back to the door and raised the old Georgian knocker (remembering: Lillibridge the reporter and Blake the painter had both died investigating that sect), then rapped smartly three times.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, pale, gaunt, cadaverous, opened the door. "Mr. Drake?" he asked genially.

"It was good of you to see me," Drake said.

"Nonsense," Lovecraft replied, ushering him into the Colonial hallway. "Any admirer of my poor tales is always welcome here. They are so few that I could have them all here on a single day without straining my aunt's dinner budget."

He may be one of the most important men alive, Drake thought, and he doesn't really suspect.

("He left Boston by train this morning," the soldier reported to Maldonado and Lepke. "He was going
to Providence, Rhode Island.")

Here's a photo of the "Shunned House" at 135 Benefit Street, where the scene apparently takes place:

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Daisy and company still headed for California

Michelle Olley or 'Meesh'

A new communique issued by Michelle Olley, PR and galleria curator for the Cosmic Trigger Play, reports on the doings of Daisy Eris Campbell and her group.

The main news is that plans are moving forward to stage the play in Santa Cruz, Calif., by July of next year:

So, on the weekend of Saturday January 23rd 2016, we will be gathering somewhere in NW London, to begin making good on our promise to get the play to Santa Cruz, USA, by July 23rd 2017, following a second UK run. We will do this by putting our heads together and getting to work on the practicalities, as well as coming up with ways to keep it Heroic/Magical/Capertastic. 

More details at the link Sign up for future email news at the Cosmic Trigger Play website.

There's some nice bits about the play in the Rune Soup podcast. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Adam Gorightly on his "lost" RAW book

[This is some pretty interesting news, so I'm simply reprinting what Adam Gorightly posted on Facebook -- The Management]. 

By Adam Gorightly

Bouncing off the 8 Circuit Model post, I thought I’d mention one of the more mind blowing discoveries in the Discordian Archives, an unpublished RAW manuscript titled “Starseed Signals" that concerned RAW’s work with Leary in the early 70s on the eight circuits, space migration, life extension and that whole bit.

I’ve been working with the publisher of Historia Discordia (RVP Press) on the publication of Starseed Signals, which hopefully we’ll see some time soon. (I’m not holding my breath though, as this project's been in various stages of development for over 4 years now, so we’ll see!)

Starseed Signals (when and if you actually see it!) will include a foreword and afterword by yours truly, in addition to an unpublished interview tagged on to the end of the book (also discovered in the Discordian Archives) that RAW conducted with Leary (for Playboy) around this same period ('75-76.) This interview was ultimately rejected by the Playboy editorial staff (who included Bob Shea.) Shea assisted RAW in attempting to place the interview with Playboy, but from what I’ve been able to piece together, Playboy ultimately considered Leary old news by this point (the interview was started while he was still in prison, and then finished shortly after his release.) RAW, however, received a kill fee, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss, Hail Eris.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Cat Vincent and Gordon White talk RAW (and much else) [UPDATED]

Twitter photo of Gordon White, "Digital media professional, glutton, writer, unsuccessful wizard"

Ian "Cat" Vincent, British mage (and writer and lecturer)

I wrote a couple of months ago about how I had started following Gordon White on Twitter — not knowing that he was interested in Robert Anton Wilson, but simply because I found his Tweets fascinating.

Gordon has now produced a long "Rune Soup" podcast, featuring an interview with British magician Ian "Cat" Vincent (who also has been mentioned often on this blog, although Mr. Vincent apparently isn't very familiar with me — he seems to think that Adam Gorightly originated the Illuminatus! online reading group). 

Much of the podcast focuses on Cat Vincent's long, strange trip as a magician, and parts of it are quite amazing — Vincent had a consulting business for awhile as a "combat mage" for hire, until the pressure of new European Union regulations made him decide to leave the business! And there's other very interesting experiences. Different reality tunnels, indeed. 

In part of the podcast, White and Vincent give their recommended RAW reading list. Some of their opinions challenge the received wisdom. They both like Cosmic Trigger I and Quantum Psychology, but Prometheus Rising in their view has dated badly and Illuminatus! is not very good. (I disagree about Illuminatus! and my own challenge to the received wisdom is that to me Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth also is very good.) Gordon White also seems to think that The Illuminati Papers is a later work, published by New Falcon. Which book is he actually thinking of? Anyway, do listen to the podcast and see what you think.

UPDATE: After I posted the above, I heard the rest of the podcast and heard Gordon say that James Joyce was "the most overrated writer" of the 20th century, and Cat say that he liked the third book best of the "Historical Illuminatus" books. All I can say is that I beg to differ. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

PQ's year in review

Peter Quadrino, sports analyst and James Joyce critic

I have been highlighting year-in-review blog posts by various folks, and there's one more I want to draw you attention to: PQ's roundup, which features many topics that will interest the folks who read this blog: There's information about his James Joyce scholarship and activism, his forays into hip-hop, his trips to museums to look at modern art, and a list of the books he read during the year, many of which will interest sombunall of y'all. Also a photo of his girlfriend displaying her ability to hit basketball outside shots wearing a dress and a sports coat. No word yet on whether the Cleveland Cavaliers will sign her to counter Stephen Curry in the NBA playoffs. My interview with PQ on his Waywords and Meansigns project is still available. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Nick Herbert's review of 2015

Nick Herbert

"Hippie physicist" (and Robert Anton Wilson pal) Nick Herbert has done a blog posting reviewing his activities in 2015.  I was most interested in his book reviews, but he also covers his poetry, his physics pieces and his music.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Michael Johnson on his favorite books of 2015

Michael Johnson has a new post up, about the books he read during 2015 that he most recommends. Here's the beginning of his review of Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists and the Search for Justice in Science, by Alice Dreger (2015): "This might seem like a weird riff, but right off I'm going to assert readers of Robert Anton Wilson will probably love this book, which I think will prove to be influential in the sociology of science. Especially if those RAW readers liked his The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science."

I do want to read that, but Michael makes me want to read Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class, by Scott Timberg (2015) even more. It's about how the Internet has radically affected the lives of musicians (such as Michael), writers, record store clerks who could tell you what to listen to, etc.

There are reviews of three other books, too, all of which sound interesting.

Michael says he could have written about 15 to 20 other books. I can only hope he'll do a follow-up post.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Three libertarian SF novels

I've been busy the last few months reading libertarian SF novels for the Hall of Fame Committee of the Libertarian Futurist Society, which gives the Prometheus Award and which you should consider joining if you lean libertarian and lean toward reading science fiction. Here are three books by authors new to me which I read for the HoF committee by authors who were new to me, at least at book length:

The Mirror Maze by James T. Hogan is a thriller which dates to 1989. The Libertarian Party (under a different name)  has won the 2000 election, but there are baddies who want to thwart its plans for reform. The characters give little speeches of libertarian wisdom to each other, which I admit I was fine with.  I am probably making this sound like a book no one would want to read, but it's actually a rather good political thriller.

Manna by Lee Correy was a 1984 DAW paperback and I felt nostalgia just looking at the yellow spine. "Lee Correy" is the name used by G. Harry Stine for his fiction. Stine was a big advocate of the benefits of space exploration, and he was cited at times by Robert Anton Wilson. He also was a buddy of Robert Heinlein, and this slim novel would be a good bet if you want to read something Heinleinesque, minus the bloat of Heinlein's later novels.

The Island Worlds by Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts was my favorite of these three; it's part of a series but read well as a stand alone book. The island colonists who live in the asteroids revolt against Earth's oppressive government, because they want to live free on Earth's frontier. Pretty original, huh? But I found this book to be very vivid and loved every word; I want to read the other books in the series when I get time. It's out of print (probably the other two books I mention here are, too) but available as an ebook from Baen books.  And it's not hard to find any used books you want on the Internet, using Paperback Swap (my source for the Correy book), Amazon etc.

I recently reviewed another libertarian SF novel, The Miskatonic Manuscript by Vin Suprynowicz. I expect to be very active with the Libertarian Futurist Society this year, reading a great many books, so I'll likely be posting more reviews like this one.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Cosmic Trigger ebook out soon

Cover of an early edition of Cosmic Trigger. 

Richard Rasa has written to me to report that the ebook of Cosmic Trigger, republished by the RAW estate, should be out in the next few days. Ebooks of Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology should follow shortly. I'll buy the new Cosmic Trigger as soon as it becomes available. The RAW Trust will issue another email newsletter when the first book is published, and I'll report on that, too.