Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
A couple of images I liked
Ian "Cat" Vincent's selfie — wearing a golden apple lapel pin. (Via Twitter.)
Modern variation on the eye in the pyramid. Via Ted Hand on Twitter, who got it from Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook.
Friday, April 29, 2016
A couple of changes in the links
Lucy Steigerwald. Read her column at Antiwar.com
Here at RAWIllumination.net, we aim to be nonpartisan and welcome everyone, regardless of political persuasion. But we also stand for peace and civil liberties, just like Robert Anton Wilson did. I've always included peace and civil liberties links on the right side of the page.
However, I don't think supporting peace and civil liberties is necessarily compatible with supporting Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the current presidential election, so I've made a couple of changes.
I've quit donating to Antiwar.com, at least for now, because I'm tired of seeing Justin Raimondo campaign 24-7 for Trump on Twitter. And I noticed that the latest link article from Antiwar.com on the "Sangha" section was a Raimondo Trump piece, so I deleted the link. I'd like to be able to point you to Lucy Steigerwald's columns at Antiwar.com but I can't figure out how to do that, so instead I've put up a link to the Cato Institute's blog.
I also had a link to Tom Hayden's "Peace Exchange Bulletin" up under "Resources," but the other Hayden endorsed Hillary Clinton. Whatever her virtues, Clinton is a hawk, so I've deleted that link, too, but added left peace activist Joe Scarry to the "Sangha" area.
UPDATE: Angela Keaton suggested adding a feed from Antiwar.com news, so I've done that. In the end, I hope I've strengthened the antiwar links.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
The Puppies, again
It doesn't look like the politicization of the Hugo Awards, the most prestigious awards in science fiction, are going away soon.
The Hugo nominations have been released, and many of the categories are dominated by nominations from the "Sad Puppies" and "Rabid Puppies." You can read the coverage at io9, and File 770 has a table showing which books were nominated by a Puppy faction and which were not. (The "Rabid Puppies" are the Vox Day group, and the "Sad Puppies" are a more moderate conservative bloc.) File 770 covers all of this pretty thoroughly; go there if you want to know more. The Guardian also has a piece (hat tip, Eric Wagner).
Here are the best novel nominees, with the "Puppy" nominated works in boldface:
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I tend to agree with Eric Flint that the Hugos have become largely irrelevant — it's not the 1940s anymore, and the magazines and short fiction no longer rule the genre. (Scroll down Flint's website to see his arguments.) The novels and series of novels is where it's at. Not that I think it's great to screw up the Hugos.
As it happens, I've read the Stephenson and Leckie novels on the ballot and both are excellent. The Leckie is the third book of a trilogy — start with the first book of the series, Ancillary Justice.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
About "space migration" in Cosmic Trigger
Gerard O'Neill. His writings about establishing human settlements in space excited RAW and others.
In his discussion for Week Two of the online Cosmic Trigger reading group, Charles Faris mentions two predictions in Robert Anton Wilson's Preface that have not done well: Rapid progress in "space migration" and in life extension.
I don't follow life extension research very closely, but I noticed a clue last weekend on why RAW missed in his assessment of space exploration.
As Gregg Easterbrook pointed out in a book review in the Wall Street Journal of "Into the Black" by Rowland White, NASA used to be known as a government agency that could achieve spectacular things in a short period of time. The moon landing was back in 1969, not long after the dawn of men going into space.
Since then, Easterbrook writes, the manned space program has been a largely pointless exercise: "The pleasant illusion of a relatively low-cost, reusable launcher started the United States down the path to the aimless space program it has today. The International Space Station was conceptualized to give the shuttle something to do; then the shuttle mission was repurposed to serve the needs of the space station. Today the ISS is the most costly object in human history, with a price tag well north of $100 billion: Its research contributions are negligible, and it has no practical value."
Perhaps when RAW wrote his Preface it was still possible to believe that NASA would get around to doing something interesting.
Easterbrook points out that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have given new hope to space exploration, and I do like to think the next few years will be productive.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Latest 'Eris of the Month'
Over at Historia Discordia, Adam Gorightly has a particularly good piece of art (which I've nicked, above) for his "Eris of the Month" feature. "Eris Provocateur" is by Mylene Cagnoli.
More on Cagnoli here. And here is Adam's Eris archive.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Cosmic Trigger reading group, Week 3
Photo from the 1978 Nova convention in 1978 in New York City
By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger online reading group guest bloggerThis week we are looking at the Forewords by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.
Every time I read the Forewords to Cosmic Trigger I am once again in awe of just how awesome Tim Leary was, as a writer. In just four pages, he expresses so much, so simply, about the essence of what Bob is offering us, that it is very easy to get why Bob held him in such esteem. This is also the piece of writing I wish I could quote, from start to finish, whenever someone wonders why they might read Cosmic Trigger.
Here are just a few of the clues Tim sprinkles into the “set” he offers for How To Read Cosmic Trigger.
Ontology recapitulates phylogeny, i.e. as we develop we repeat the evolution of the species.
This leads to the notion that "the great alchemist, philosophers, mystics, and sages" pre-capitulate, revealing future traits in the evolution of the species.
Lao-tse, Buddha, Gurdjieff, Crowley, all revealed wisdom and consciousness far beyond that of the standard terrestrial hairless ape of their times, as do Cosmic Trigger and its author -- "modern links in this unbroken chain of alchemical philosophers and Intelligent Agents.”
Tim then gets on a riff about Bob's "attempts to correlate inner, subjective vision with the external, objective language of the energy sciences,”and finishes off with the claim that all great writers are "encyclopedic and epic.”
Dante, Boccaccio, Joyce, & Hesse; Gravity's Rainbow, Illuminatus!, Cosmic Trigger, once again Bob gets hauled in to stand with the best of them. Tim goes on to list some of the entries in this encyclopedia: from the Illuminati Conspiracy to the Lee Harvey Oswald conspiracies, from UFOs to the number 23, from Aleister Crowley to William Burroughs.
I love the next line: "In each of these academic references there is an anecdotal flash so that these important names and topics become alive on the page. This is good writing." So true.
His description of the epic aspects of Bob's adventurers also reveals how much the love between Bob and Tim travelled both ways.
My 2 cents
Imagine that you’ve never read Cosmic Trigger, or any other books by Robert Anton Wilson, excepting Illuminatus!, of course. Imagine that it is 1977 and Bob hasn’t written Prometheus Rising, or Quantum Psychology, or even Schrodinger’s Cat! It’s just Cosmic Trigger and Illuminatus!, and you are reading Cosmic Trigger for the first time.
The subtitle of the book is Final Secret of the Illuminati. The first sentence takes us to the “ill-fated day” that Bob first began investigating the Illuminati, and the last sentence announces that he has “learned the final secret of the Illuminati." It’s Illuminati yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and it’s an awesome secret.
There is so much in here of an epic, encyclopedic, and timeless nature that it took Bob 25 years and countless more books to fully “explain” the myriad dusty occult subjects he brings to the surface here. In some ways what we have here is a template for everything else Bob ever did. This book is PACKED! Ten pages a week might seem like too much, especially if you are of the mind to “do the damn exercises,” which I encourage you to try on!
Oh well, how deep we dive down the rabbit hole is, of course, a personal matter. Rest assured you’ve got plenty of seasoned traveling companions.
Next Week—Prologue: Thinking About the Unthinkable, pages 1-14.
Our guest blogger, Charles Faris
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Tulsa's Council Oak
Tulsa Council Oak tree
In a blog post in 2014, I mentioned the fabled Glastonbury Tor, a place in England where John Higgs and others scattered a portion of Timothy Leary's ashes. (From Wikipedia: "The Tor seems to have been called Ynys yr Afalon (meaning "The Isle of Avalon") by the Britons and is believed by some, including the 12th and 13th century writer Gerald of Wales, to be the Avalon of Arthurian legend."
Last week, when I visited Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I am from, I visited another interesting place, the site of the founding of the city. The Creek Council Oak Tree is where Tulsa was founded by a group of Creek Indians (Muskogee Indians) after the Trail of Tears. From Wikipedia:
In 1836, after their arrival, the Lochapokas chose an oak tree on top of a hill that overlooked the Arkansas River as the site of their council ground. They lit a new ceremonial fire, using coals they had carried on their journey, established a busk ground, where all council business would be conducted.
The oak tree on the site is supposed to be the same one.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
New Steve Fly Pratt music release has a RAW track
Did a little shopping this morning — just bought a digital copy of the new album Occupy by Dr Marshmallow Cubicle.
The band's drummer and one of its main songwriters is my friend Steve "Fly" Pratt who has a big group of RAW related websites and blogs, among them the extraordinary RAW360 site, which you really should go take a look at today, if you are not familiar with it.
The album was released on April 23 on Iron Man Records. Fly is based in Amsterdam and has been playing with the band for quite awhile now.
Fly says "The Track titled 'The Law Of Acceleration' features fly reading words by Robert Anton Wilson, from Cosmic Trigger I."
I listened to the track and noticed I enjoyed the drums. I asked Steve who his favorite drummers are. "Max Roach, Billy Martin, Alan Hertz, Owen Hart Jr., Mike Clark, Stevie Wonder, JoJo Mayer, Zakir Hussain," he replied.
Occupy is available from iTunes and the Amazon digital music store and probably lots of other places, too. More on the album here. There are lots of YouTube videos of the band.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Cosmic Trigger play tickets go on sale Saturday
From Daisy Eris Campbell's email list: Early tickets for the 2017 revival of the Cosmic Trigger play in London will go on sale Saturday.
Here's the official word, says Ken Show in an email:
As you may know we (you+us) plan to revive Cosmic Trigger Play in 2017.
We're launching a super-earlybird ticket sale for final night of the London run of Cosmic Trigger Play. On this special day only will be mind bending pre-show extras and entry to an after show shindig that you are not going to want to miss.
These tickets are for a show just over a year away. You may wonder why we are selling them so far in advance.
We are applying for FUNding! By pre-selling 123 tickets now and fast, we'll prove to the Cosmic Keepers of the Purse that there is an audience for Robert Anton Wilson-related theatre. Praise Bob!
THE LINK TO BUY YOUR TICKETS WILL GO LIVE AT 5.23pm THIS COMING SATURDAY 23rd APRIL 2016 WHEN WE WILL SHARE IT HERE, ON FACEBOOK AND ON TWITTER.
Wake thyselves beautiful wonderful golden children of the cosmos. The time is near. The adventure is about to begin again, (Fin-in-egan).
More here, at the official site (which I assume will have the link).
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Michael Johnson on 420
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
PropAnon, the man behind the new RAW bio
Gabriel Kennedy, also known as musician and rocker Propaganda Anonymous. He explains, "That wall behind me is the outside engravings at New Grange — the prehistoric Neolithic monument located in County Meath, Ireland. Bob wrote about visiting this site with Arlen when they were living in Ireland in his Cosmic Trigger 2. Like most things Bob it's a fun story."
A few weeks ago, TarcherPenguin announced that Gabriel Kennedy, also known as the musical artist Propaganda Anonymous, had received a book contract to write the first biography of Robert Anton Wilson.
I didn't really know him, although I had seen him over at Maybe Logic Academy, so I contacted him via Twitter and asked if he would be willing to let me interview him to publicize the book. He was game, and as you can see was generous in answering my questions.
Mr. Kennedy, a rapper, musician and multi-media artist, says on his Facebook profile that he also is a writer, "in the vein of Robert Anton Wilson, Norman Mailer, Jimmy Breslin, and Jane Jacobs." Some of his work has appeared in Boing Boing, Reality Sandwich and the Maybe Logic Quarterly. His 2010 EP, SQUAT THE CONDOS, is considered a precursor to the Occupy movement. His stoner rock band, HAIL ERIS!, has just released its first EP, Fuck Satan, HAIL ERIS! Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson is his first book.
RAWILLUMINATION: The title that's been announced for your book is "Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson." So you are planning to both write his biography and explore his ideas, correct? Is there a particular "angle" you want to take?
PROPANON: Yes, I am exploring most of RAW's bigger ideas in the book through a biographical context. As for angles, I suppose one angle I am presently working with is that of "everyday heroism.'" Bob loved the work of Joyce, Joyce's Ulysses praises the mythic quality to the most banal of days, and myths always need heroes. I am applying this principle to Bob's life, and presenting the heroic journey of Robert Anton Wilson. Within this framework, I pay special attention to Bob's family life, especially the love he and his wife Arlen shared. There are a lot of great stories here, and I will share them in Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson.
Within the book there will be a critical presentation of Bob's ideas. I'd like to show the development of his thoughts over his forty year writing career. Bob knew very earlier on what he wanted to say, and over the years he kept unpacking and further clarifying his perspective. He had a unique philosophical method, which sought to synthesize so many interesting thinkers. This is worthy of intense scrutiny. Chapel Perilous will lay out RAW's major "thought crimes," breaking them down in my own language.
RAWILLUMINATION: How did you get interested in RAW? What are some of your favorite books of his?
PROPANON: I first became interested in RAW my senior year of high school when classmate, and future Bizzaro fiction writer, Bradley Sands, showed me his copy of Illuminatus! Trilogy during math class one day. I read the back cover, immediately got my own copy, and spent the summer of that year deeply immersed within its pages. Roughly a year later, I read Prometheus Rising and Cosmic Trigger Vol 1 and was blown away again. I spent years collecting nearly all his books, and studied them. I read them, re-read them, scrawled on index cards long hand notes in all night writing fits fueled by coffee, cannabis, & inspiration. Then after that I would read RAW's books again. Twenty years after Sands showed me Illuminatus!'I can say that I have spent more time studying the work of Robert Anton Wilson than any other writer. I am still reading his books. I can't shake the guy. Bob loved art that he found inexhaustible, this is one thing he loved so much about James Joyce and Ezra Pound. He too was able to create inexhaustible art, and that's not easy. I consider him a kindred spirit, like George Carlin, and I am always finding new aspects to appreciate in his writing.
A few of my favorite of RAW's books, off the top of my head, are Cosmic Trigger 1, Illuminatus!, Prometheus Rising, The New Inquisition, Quantum Psychology, TSOG, The Widow's Son, and Everything Is Under Control.
RAWILLUMINATION: I've noticed that quite a few rappers and techno musicians are interested in RAW. What do you think are the qualities that attract musicians to his work?
PROPANON: I have not encountered many rappers or emcees interested in the work of Robert Anton Wilson. The only emcee who comes to mind who appears to have read any Bob is NOAH23. I've seen a lot of rappers reading William Cooper or even David Icke more than Robert Anton Wilson. There are lots of psychedelically inspired emcees who are into Terrence McKenna, it seems. LXOR the Explorer, is one Hip-Hop Artist who creates shamanic soundscapes, but has probably read more McKenna than Wilson. Who knows? Maybe that will change.
For Electronic Music and Techno there seem to be a number of artists who are into RAW's work. The techno scene of the 90s was directly inspired by RAW, Timothy Leary, John C Lilly, Terrence McKenna. Those four guys were literally on the scene in some of those Bay Area warehouse parties. They talked so much about technological innovations to liberate your brain, to me that was a major part of the 90s techno scene. However, they never spoke at a NWA, Public Enemy, or Beastie Boys concert. Bill Drummond was directly influenced by RAW. The same with Matt Black from Coldcut. Also too today's Techno scene seems receptive to RAW. Fly and Chu with t4qs.fm are keeping the torch of RAW Science within techno alive.
I think there is a Dionysian quality to RAW's work, especially Illuminatus!, and musicians or people who become musicians pick up on that. Bob has a rock n roll spirit, reading his work is like listening to great music.
The official video for "Kallisti" by the band HAIL ERIS!
RAWILLUMINATION: Tell me a little bit about your band, Hail Eris. Who are the other musicians? How did you hook up with Oz Fritz for the new recording?
PROPANON: Hail Eris! is a Stoner Rock project that I am currently involved with and we just released our first EP, HAIL ERIS! on bandcamp.
The music on this EP is Heavy, Strong, Groove oriented. The other musicians on the record are: Scott Yacovina on Drums, Gabe Saladino on guitar, and Jeff To on Bass. Other absolutely vital musicians involved were Mason Lucas, as well as Joe Mulvanerty and Ham from Black47. These guys helped get the ball rolling, and now the present line up is myself and Laura Kang, aka Thee Semiotic Alchemyst. Working on HAIL ERIS! has allowed another level of freedom in performance, and I think the EP is pretty damn good too. Oz Fritz is a major reason for that.
Oz is a master sound engineer. Having him on board with HAIL ERIS! makes complete sense. We first started building over at the Maybe Logic Academy in 2004. For a couple of years, I didn't even know that he was a legendary studio engineer whose worked with some of my favorite musicians, I just knew him as a super smart guy who knew a lot about Crowley, Float Tanks, among other things. MLA was like that. So many talented people who were able to congregate in cyberspace and really dig into things that I have not seen at any other social network or webzine since. Over the years, Oz and I stayed in touch, and then when HAIL ERIS! finished recording the songs for the EP, Oz entered the picture at the absolute perfect time. Oz brought the strength of his sonic wizardry to the EP and I know Eris is pleased.
PropAnon performs his rap song, "Ayahuasca Metropolis."
RAWILLUMINATION: I know you met Robert Anton Wilson at least once, because you did a good interview with him that I linked to on my blog. What was it like for you, getting to talk to him in person?
PROPANON: Meeting Bob. I met Bob on three different occasions from 2000 to 2003, and also was in frequent contact with him at the Maybe Logic Academy from 2004 until he logged off a few months before he died in 2007.
The first time I met Bob was at the Disinfo.com conference in 2000. This two day conference, held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, was probably the coolest conference I've ever attended. Though the speakers and artists that hit the stage were nearly all saying some amazingly dense things, the atmosphere of the event itself was like a party. Bob was the headline speaker, and was the closing performer on the second night. Before he got on stage Joe Coleman had already blown himself up with fireworks, and Kembra Pfahler's band the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black performed their "Wall of Vaginas." Bob entered the stage dumbstruck and dumbfounded, he wondered aloud how he could possibly follow a wall of vaginas.
The theme of the event was something Timothy Leary once said about what you do after you've turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. After you do all this you should, "Find the Others", and I was surrounded by them. I met Douglas Rushkoff, Greg Bishop, Grant Morrison, Joe Coleman, Genesis P-Orridge, RU Sirius, & Robert Anton Wilson all during that event.
I spoke with Bob in the green room. It was fairly packed, and there was a of talking going on. I saw Bob seated on a couch near the entrance smoking a cigarette. I went up to him, introduced myself, and asked him if he would sign my copy of Illuminatus! I was never big on autographs. I've never asked a celebrity for one, but for writers and artists I have. As I was about to hand the book to Bob, some grizzled old New York City photographer guy asked to look at it. He gave the book a long once over, front cover......back cover...... eyes squinting and very serious, he asked, "What's this book about?" Now, how in the holy fuck can one explain Illuminatus! in a ten second soundbite to someone who's never heard of it? I've gotten better at it over the years, but the 20 year old me at that conference could not. "It's about 800 pages," was my response as I took the book back from the guy and handed it to RAW. Bob laughed and said, "Aha, very good." We spoke for about 20 minutes, and that was pretty amazing at the time. He signed the book, scrawling, "Dear Gabriel. Hail Eris! Robert Anton Wilson" What was cool about the way he signed 'Hail Eris!' was that his cursive stye made that phrase also look like "Dear Gabriel. Have Fun!"
The second time I met Bob was on December 4, 2001. Me and a buddy went to see him speak at the Renaissance Hotel in San Franscico, situated a few blocks from Market street in the Tenderloin section. I'm not sure if Tenderloin is totally gentrified now or what, but in late 2001, there were still people smoking crack in the broad daylight there. I've been through my share of 'hood' zones, but I never had nor have I since, seen people lighting up crack rock at two in the afternoon next to the Bart station. Nonetheless, The Renaissance was a nice hotel, and Bob was giving a lecture there. Just before the event started I ate a weed cookie, and was feeling a bit spacey by the time he was wheeled into the small lecture hall. This was a bit shocking as the last time I'd seen Bob he was walking up and down long flights of stairs at the Hammerstein. He was wearing a shirt with the face of Moshe Horowitz--Moe from the Three Stooges--superimposed upon a picture of the moon, so it looked like the man in the moon has the face of Moe from the Three Stooges. Sounds True had just released 'Robert Anton Wilson explains Everything, or Old Bob Exposes his Ignorance" just three days before this lecture. I bought the eight cassette set at City Lights Bookstore about an half hour before eating that weed cookie, so between the lecture and the tapes, many fun hours of study lay ahead of me.
The third, and final time, I saw Bob was on July 24 2003. It was the day after 'Maybe Logic: the Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson" premiered at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, CA. My mission was to get an interview with Bob, and I was lucky enough to get it. I met David Jay Brown there, and I got to tell him that I liked his books Brainchild and Mavericks of the Mind. He was real cool and nice, and so I asked him if he could help me land an interview with RAW. He said, "No Problem," and the next day I got an email from Bob.
When I got to Bob's apartment door, the man who I had seen the night before in a wheelchair, greeted me standing up. He invited me in and walked on two very shaky legs back to his wheelchair in the sitting room. Bob's Post-Polio Sequelae had already kicked in by this time, but I was not aware why he needed a wheelchair. He told me he had it, but it didn't register. He told me that he challenged his body everyday by getting up from his wheelchair and walking around his apartment before he'd have to collapse in his chair. Hearing this, I was convinced that Bob was a badass motherfucker.
As far as the interview itself, I didn't have any set questions. I just had questions. Questions that had been swirling around my mind for years. In reality, the "interview" was just a formal excuse to hang out and talk with Robert Anton Wilson for an hour or two. The result of the interview came out well enough, and it eventually was published, I was told by Mart Kalvet, as an introduction to an Estonian language edition of Illuminatus! Toby Philpot has referred to Bob as a "Senex" — an archetypically wise old man--and he was, but he was also super laid back and funny as hell. Bob had a lot of hilaritas and a whole hell of a lot of truth.
When the interview wrapped, out on the balcony, we were talking literary heroes, and he told me about the time he met Ernest Hemingway. Bob was working at a bookstore in his youth when Hemingway walked in one day and bought a book. While Bob was ringing him up he told him that he was a great admirer of his work.
Leaving Bob's apartment left me with the feeling that I have no reason to ever feel starstruck, insecure, or nervous around anyone. I met the wise old man, and he was cool. Mission accomplished. RAWILLUMINATION: Can you expand a bit on what you mean by a "critical presentation of Bob's ideas"? Do you plan, for example, to discuss which ideas have held up well over the years, and which seem dated? And do you plan to look at the evolution of his politics?
PROPANON: Yes, I will discuss Bob's ideas that have held up over time, and also where he was ahead of the curve. To borrow from Marshall McLuhan's metaphor --who borrowed and added on to Pound's metaphor--Bob's writing was an 'early warning system.' His art was more than self-expression. He was working within deep realms of human consciousness and was able to make some profound connections worthy of more attention. Bob, ever the Non-Aristotelian, has been hard for most theoreticians to pin down. I will also point out where Bob got it wrong, like his predictions of life extension pills by the 90s. All of the critical presentation of his ideas will be contextualized in the events of his life at the time he was writing each book. The goal here is to present the balanced view of the artist and the man. 'Chapel Perilous' will present a fuller view of Robert Anton Wilson than even he described in his autobiographical Cosmic Trigger series. There is a lot he did not put in those books.
Yes, Bob's unique political philosophy, and its development will be a large part of 'Chapel Perilous.' Bob arrived at such philosophical positions as Trotskyism, Objectivism, American born Anarchism, Libertarianism, Minarchism, just to name a few, and the book will have many pages dedicated to his 'Non-Euclidean Politics."
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Michael Johnson on Lakoff and RAW
Michael Johnson has a post up that's an "answer" post to the full Brian Dean article on RAW I posted about a few days ago.
Obviously, I am going to have to get around to reading George Lakoff. I don't know too much about linguistics, but I did run into Sapir and Whorf as a young man, probably still a teenager, when I read Samuel R. Delany's Babel-17. I have that on my Kindle and hope to re-read it soon.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week Two
Amoeba Design image
By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger online reading group guest bloggerWelcome to week 2 of the Cosmic Trigger Reading Group. Today we are looking at the Preface, originally written in 1986 when Bob switched over to New Falcon Publications as his publisher. After noting that Cosmic Trigger is his most “successful" book in human terms, as he had received more mail about CT than about any of his other books, and on lecture tours he got more questions regarding CT than all of his other books put together, Bob offers this raison d’être for writing a new preface:
“This new edition presents an opportunity to answer the most frequent questions and to correct the most persistent misunderstandings.”
Bob then proceeds to launch into an awesome 8 page rant about the seeming inability of sumbanall human beings to wrap their heads around the notion that Bob Does Not Believe Anything.
“It should be obvious to all intelligent readers (but curiously is not obvious to many) that my viewpoint in this book is one of agnosticism.” I’ve read that sentence a hundred times, and I still do not know if he means that a lot of readers don’t get it, or that very few readers get it. Perhaps it is that very slippery element in Bob’s writing that allows me to dip into the well over and over. Or perhaps it is just that it is so damn hard to get it!
At any rate, this preface is full of awesome one-liners and great hints on who to follow and how to get the most out of your reading. To wit:
"Belief is the death of intelligence”, which leads down a rabbit hole following The Copenhagen Interpretation, Model agnosticism, Niels Bohr, Alfred Korzybski, and Alan Watts.
“Cosmic Trigger deals with a process of deliberately induced brain change through which I put myself in the years 1962-1976." Compare this statement to the admission in CT II that he was doing WAY MORE ACID in this period than he let on to, even in this 1986 update.
"Reality is always plural and mutable” and Bob is going to try to patiently explain this “ONE MORE TIME, perhaps more clearly than before.” I laugh out loud at the attitude behind those upper case words, and then the admission hidden in lower case that maybe just maybe he hasn’t been quite didactic enough in the past.
“This book does not claim that 'you create your own reality,'” although if it did, Bob could have had a much more lucrative career (and most of us would have stopped reading him!)
And STILL with the Space Migration! Thirty years later we still haven’t conquered the most basic requirements to even think about something like that—see the March issue WIRED for a comprehensive look at the challenges to life in Space. And yet if there is one area that RAW nudges up against True Believer territory. . .
And Life Extension—“the breakthrough cannot be far away”. Well, maybe two!
Finally, he wraps the whole thing up in a bow with a last dig at “two groups of dogmatists”—the "Fundamentalist Christians and Fundamentalist Materialists”:
“When dogma enters the brain, all intellectual activity ceases.” Thereby once more stating the major thesis of Model Agnosticism—just in case we had missed it!
Please chime in with your insights, favorite bits, self-deprecating stories of former idiocy, etc.
Next Week we will dig into the Forewords by Timothy Leary, P. hD., and I will offer my own two cents on how to make a six month group reading of Cosmic Trigger a most awesome adventure in fundamentally changing your life (once again!). Until then, keep the lasagna flying!
Sunday, April 17, 2016
As others see us
The hamburger is apparently the only food native to America. I guess American style barbecue doesn't count.
David Langford's excellent Ansible newsletter has a regular feature, "As Others See Us," featuring snide (and often amusingly ignorant) comments about the science fiction community.
Seeing how others see the world differently, and essentially live in a different world, relates nicely to the Timothy Leary/Robert Anton Wilson concept of "reality tunnels."
Here are "10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America," from Mental Floss magazine. Here is what sombunall Japanese supposedly think of our food:
American food is flat to the taste, indifferent in the subtle difference of taste. There is no such thing there as a little “secret ingredient.” Sugar, salt, pepper, oils, and routine spices are used for family meals. There is no such thing as purely U.S. cuisine, except the hamburger, which isn’t made at home so much. There is almost nothing special to eat based on the different seasons of the year. Basically, they like sweet, high fat, high calories things.
Wonder what they think of British food?
See also Russian travel tips, and French travel tips.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Problems with spam
I am being routinely harassed with spam commercial messages posted on my blog entries, and deleting them one by one is laborious. I don't want to make my settings on Blogger more restrictive for posting comments — I want to make it easy for everyone to post, particularly with the launch of the Cosmic Trigger online reading group — but I'm also losing patience. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am trying to mark many of the obvious spam entries as "spam" and hoping that Google will start doing a better job of screening them, but I don't have endless amounts of time to delete the damn things.
Friday, April 15, 2016
The 'Prometheus Rising' bonus
Aside from being carefully edited and provided with new covers, the new Hilaritas Press editions of Robert Anton Wilson's work also have bonus material, at least so far. The new edition of Cosmic Trigger has the new introduction by John Higgs, as Charles wrote in Monday's opening post for the Cosmic Trigger online reading group.
I am writing to you from Tulsa, which I consider my hometown. I'm on vacation for a few days. I flew out here from United. I didn't try to pick the seats for my flights; I just let the airline pick them for me. On the flight from Cleveland to Chicago, United seated me in seat 23E. There was no row 23 in the Chicago to Tulsa leg — it was a small plane — so I was placed in row 13.
Anyway, on the Tulsa flight, I looked at the new ebook edition of Prometheus Rising, which I bought a few days ago, because I was curious about the book's "bonus" feature — an afterword by Richard Rasa.
It's my guess that anyone interested in the Eight Circuit model of consciousness will be interested in the question Rasa raises in his essay, "Apprehending Bob Non-Simultaneously," which explores why RAW switched circuits 6 and 7 from one work to another. RAW followed Timothy Leary's original order (in Exo-Psychology) in Cosmic Trigger, but reversed them in Prometheus Rising, before returning to Leary's original order in Quantum Psychology, Rasa explains.
I don't want to give too much away — after all, I want you to buy the book — but I can report that various Doctors of the Church (i.e., members of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust Advisors) weigh in, including Michael Johnson, Eric Wagner, Mike Gathers, David J. Brown, and Toby Philpott.
The new print edition of Prometheus Rising will be out soon; I will note it here when it's released.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Adam Gorightly enters Chapel Perilous with us
At Historia Discordia, Adam Gorightly takes note of the new Cosmic Trigger online reading group, and promises to weigh in. "As time and inspiration allows, I’ll no doubt chime in!"
Adam's contributions to the Illuminatus! reading group were wonderful, so I'm looking forward to whatever he chips in this time.
We're on a weekly schedule, so Charles should have a new posting ready for Monday. AA
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Tom Shippey on Jonathan Levi's 'Septimania'
Tom Shippey, a fine academic and critic (I read his book on Tolkien years ago) reviews Jonathan Levi's new novel, Septimania, in last weekend's "Wall Street Journal." It sounds like the kind of ambitious novel I really enjoy, and I mean to hunt up a copy at some point and read it. But there's something else that I wanted to talk about for a moment.
Shippey says there is a "hint of Harry Potter" in the start of the novel, and then describes the novel with sentences such as these: " As one of the characters says, 'No one sees Septimania for what it is.' It makes other conspiracy theories seem under-plotted." And also, "One can sum up by saying that the human characters are analogues of the mysteries, and vice versa. The characters’ fates remain mysterious, the mysteries’ solutions are in the hands of the characters." And also, "More than one reading will be needed to digest Mr. Levi’s comprehensive, many-branching vision. It adds new dimensions to the idea of the novel."
Am I the only one who sees a "hint of Iluminatus" in these descriptions? (I notice there's an apple on the cover.) Have any of y'all read Septimania yet?
UPDATE: John Merritt writes, "Septimania's conspiracy connection is not to the Illuminati, but to the Holy Blood, Holy Grail'conspiracy. As you can see from the Wikipedia article, Septimania was the center of the Cathar area, the Cathars being one of the major HBHG connections. The reference to Septimania is in the next to last chapter of HBHG, 'The Grail Dynasty'."
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Mitch Horowitz on the Illuminati
The editor who announced the new biography of Robert Anton Wilson, Mitch Horowitz, has penned a new piece, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Illuminati,"
In the piece, Mr. Horowitz explains who the Illuminati really were and why they were admirable. He discusses Adam Weishaupt and explains other details of Illuminati history that will be familiar to readers of Robert Anton Wilson.
Here is a bit of of the piece, written in question and answer form:
What evidence do we have that the Illuminati still exists today?
None – other than the assertions of irresponsible and, I think, cynical conspiracy theorists, such as radio host Alex Jones.
Of course, the Illuminati are still around — my friends and I are members. But although I follow Mitch Horowitz on Twitter and have written about him here, he doesn't know me, so we can forgive his mistake.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Cosmic Trigger Reading Group, Week One!
The cover of Cosmic Trigger, as it looked back in the day
By Charles Faris, reading group guest blogger
Greetings and welcome to the RAWIllumination Cosmic Trigger Reading Group. This week we are going to crack the cover and dive into the new edition of Cosmic Trigger, published by Hilaritas Press, the new imprint organized by Bob’s daughter Christina and his friend Rasa of the RAW Trust.
Right off the bat I want to offer big thanks Tom Jackson of RAWIllumination for hosting this reading and for giving me the opportunity to facilitate it, and to Christina and Rasa of RAW Trust for all of their hard work creating Hilaritas Press and publishing new editions of a large chunk of the works of Robert Anton Wilson.
As a complete package, the new Cosmic Trigger reads a bit like an archeological text showcasing the discovery of a time capsule from 1977, unearthed from somewhere up in the Berkeley Hills. In reverse chronological order we have the original text and illustrations, complete with Forewords by Dr. Timothy Leary and Afterwords by rebel physicist Saul-Paul Sirag. Nine years later and nine pages earlier we have the preface from 1986 written by Old Bob himself, an obligatory attempt by the author of a challenging text to “answer the most frequent questions and to correct the most persistent misunderstandings.”
Finally and most recently we see on the title page that there is an Introduction by John Higgs, author of Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the 20th Century, which is apropos, as Mr. Higgs has a high professional interest in Bob and Tim, and his lens of introduction leans heavily on the notion of Time.
Cover art for the new Hilaritas Press edition of Cosmic Trigger, the official text for this reading group.
Cover art for the new Hilaritas Press edition of Cosmic Trigger, the official text for this reading group.
This week we are going to take a look at that Introduction to see what kind of a framework it can offer us as we prepare to read and discuss a book that is almost 40 years old, and next week we will dig into Bob’s preface and Tim’s Forewords.
For those who do not have a copy of the new edition, you can find the Introduction by John Higgs here. Just click on the picture of the cover to Look Inside, and then click on the table of contents in order to access a preview of the Introduction.
John Higgs packs a lot into his introduction — Geoffrey Chaucer, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens; the counterculture’s mid-1970’s Northern California heartland; psychedelic drug culture and cocaine-dominated culture; humanity as an immortal interstellar race; The Beatles, The KLF, and Julian Cope; pookah’s and the Sirius Transmissions; and he wraps it all around a notion that truly great books are both completely Of Their Time as well as Timeless.
In the course of illustrating both of these ideas Higgs also opines upon Cosmic Trigger as “the story of one man. . . which connects the personal mythologies of a wide network of people,” ultimately offering up Cosmic Trigger as an all-purpose map for navigating tidal waves of meaning as well as deserts of meaninglessness, an ontological swiss army knife, as it were. Wielded by a guerrilla, no doubt.
“It affects people, this book. It can send your life off in strange directions.”
Last week we asked you to tell us how you found Cosmic Trigger (which you can still do!), and this week I’m asking you what you did with her once you found her! Please read the intro and then chime in to let us know what strange directions Cosmic Trigger has sent you in.
Next week we will cover the 1986 Preface (which can be found here if you have an older edition) as well as the Dr. Timothy Leary’s original Forewords. Happy reading and please comment—the deeper the discussion, the deeper the experience.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
The Panama papers: Two views
If you follow the news, you've probably heard about the Panama papers, a huge leak of documents that show how the global elite hid their money.
I've seen a couple of interesting reactions to this.
Steve "Fly" Pratt has a post up, "The Panamamamatrix: Tsarists and Nazis and spooks, oh my!" which sees the leak as a welcome expose of the rich. He writes,
"It seems to me that the 99 % of humanity are justified in the distrust of the 1%, or to narrow it down further, the inner secret sanctuary of international unrestricted finance. The racket, robbing the world, cheating the rest of the 99% of the worlds population out of their equal share of the worlds resources, technological innovations and freedom."
Steve then pulls together clippings suggesting that the folks exposed by the leaks resemble some of the global conspirators Robert Anton Wilson wrote about.
Tyler Cowen, writing at Marginal Revolution, has a contrarian take. He says all of the applause for the leak reflects a lack of respect for the right to privacy.
"Let’s say a group of criminal defense lawyers kept a database of their confidential conversations with their clients. That would include clients charged with murder, robbery, DUI, drug abuse, and so on. In turn, a hacker would break into that database and post the information from those conversations on Wikileaks. Of course a lot of those conversations would appear to be incriminating because — let’s face it — most of the people who require defense attorneys on criminal charges are in fact guilty. When asked why the hack was committed, the hacker would say 'Most of those people are guilty. I want to make sure they do not escape punishment'.
"How many of us would approve of that behavior? Keep in mind the hacker is spreading the information not only to prosecutors but to the entire world, and outside of any process sanctioned by the rule of law. The hacker is not backed by the serving of any criminal charges or judge-served warrants.
"Yet somehow many of us approve when the victims are wealthy and higher status, as is the case with the Panama Papers. Furthermore most of those individuals probably did nothing illegal, but rather they were trying to minimize their tax burden through (mostly) legal shell corporations. Admittedly, very often the underlying tax laws should be changed, just as we should repeal the deduction for mortgage interest too. But in the meantime we are not justified in stealing information about those people, even if some of them are evil and powerful, as is indeed the case for homeowners too."
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Michael Johnson takes on science fiction
Michael Johnson has pulled out his notebook, looked at the jottings there, and written "17 Disparate Riffs on Science Fiction." Quite a few Robert Anton Wilson references.
A couple of riffs that I particularly liked included No. 11, which remarked that "that we inhabit a science fiction world, right where you are sitting now. If you don't often frame it this way for yourself - especially if you've never looked at your current "reality" this way - I urge you to do an experiment and "see" your world this way for seven days."
I sometimes feel this way, too, and I can't get over the fact that my smart phone lets me carry a little computer with me everywhere I go. I'm amazed by some of the apps, such as being able to use Shazam app when I don't recognize a tune. I can't imagine that there are many tunes that Michael doesn't know.
I also liked the reminder in No. 16 that RAW described Olaf Stapledon as "my favorite science fiction writer." It seems like I've heard about Stapledon all my life, without ever having gotten around to reading him! I'll get to it. I looked up the Stapledon entry in Wikipedia and learned that he wrote a novel called Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord.
Friday, April 8, 2016
'The RAW Resurgence' — the director's cut
This is Brian Dean's illustration for his piece at Medium. Check out the return address on the letter!
In my March 23 blog posting, I pointed to Brian Dean's article at Disinformation on the resurgence of interest in Robert Anton Wilson. I mentioned that many examples of that resurgence had gone unmentioned in the article, and the estimable Sue Howard, in the comments, explained that Disinformation
He's now published the original longer version of his piece, which offers a much more more complete picture of the resurgence and which name-checks a number of folks left out in the earlier version, such as the Cosmic Trigger play and Michael Johnson's Overweening Generalist blog. (He also mentions me, although as he had linked to my blog in his original piece, I personally was not unhappy.)
There are still folks left out, but it seems to be that's a testament to the breadth of the RAW revival movement. Any attempted survey probably is going to overlook someone who had contributed substantially to the movement. I should probably make my own attempt to survey the "scene," but I'm worried about hurting the feelings of anyone I inadvertently overlook.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
You can't make this stuff up
From Adam Gorightly, the apparently true story of the government agency that seemed to get its logo from the Illuminatus! trilogy, and its initials from Aleister Crowley.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Prometheus Award finalists announced
[This is the group I blogged about Saturday. This is an official press release that came out this week. Apex just won the Philip K. Dick Award. -- The Management. ]
The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced finalists for the best Novel category of the 36th annual Prometheus Awards.
The 2016 awards will be presented during the 74th annual World Science Fiction Convention Aug. 17-21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.
The five Best Novel finalists (in alphabetical order by author) for this year's Prometheus Award for best novel of 2015:
Golden Son, by Pierce Brown (Del Rey) – Slavery versus freedom is a central theme of the intriguing second novel in "The Red Rising Trilogy," set on a future Mars inhabited by the idle-rich Golds and slave-miner Reds. Questions about trade-offs between chaos and control and whether the ends justify the means are explored as the libertarian protagonist strives to help the Reds revolt and create an equal-rights society only to learn that some slaves actually don’t want to be free. (This is Brown’s first recognition as a Prometheus nominee and Best Novel finalist.)
Apex, by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot) –Set in a future where a substance called Nexus allows humans to connect through their minds, the gripping finale of the “Nexus Arc” trilogy dramatizes a conflict between major world governments, controlled by deceitful and corrupt men who censor truth and spread disinformation, and rebels who seek to bring down these governments by improving communication and enlisting the support of free individuals (both human and human-derived AI). A central question explored is whether it’s better for governments to contain technology, in the name of protecting the people, or to allow technological advancements, even with big risks. (Naam won the 2014 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Nexus, part of a trilogy that continued with Crux and ends with Apex.)
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow) – This epic hard-science fiction novel, about a cataclysmic event that threatens human civilization and the planet Earth, avoids ideology but still dramatizes how a lust for power almost wipes out humanity, while also showing how voluntary cooperation, individual initiative and the courage to face reality and tackle overwhelming problems through reason and private enterprise helps tip the balance towards survival, as a small group – including some of Earth’s bravest and richest entrepreneurs - risk their lives to save mankind. (Stephenson won the Prometheus for Best Novel in 2005 for The System of the World.)
The Just City, by Jo Walton (TOR Books) – Recognizing that utopian works are one of the sources for science fiction as a literary form, Jo Walton returns to one of the founding utopian works, Plato’s Republic, and enters into a critical dialogue with it. The process she envisions is science fictional — admirers of Plato from across many centuries are gathered together to raise children as citizens of Plato’s ideal city — but the underlying premise is fantasy: the project is initiated by Athena, and taken up by Apollo. Walton’s political themes - including issues of “equal significance” and the difference between genuine and manipulated political consent – are dramatized through a series of striking incidents and well-drawn characters. (Walton won the Prometheus for Best Novel in 2008 for Ha’penny)
A Borrowed Man, by Gene Wolfe (TOR Books) –This intriguing sci-fi murder mystery – which also works as an old-fashioned detective novel and a writer’s meditation on mortality and the desire to produce a body of work that will be remembered - offers a deeply sympathetic portrait of a human clone/slave “book” struggling for his basic existence and humanity in a diminished future Earth where such “books” are treated like pieces of property that can be checked out and ultimately burned. (This is the first Prometheus finalist by Gene Wolfe, one of the most admired sf writers in the field.)
Fourteen novels were nominated for this year's Best Novel award.
The other nominees: Luna: New Moon, by Ian McDonald (TOR Books),
Squirrel Days, by Dustin Costa (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform), The Turing Exception by William Hertling (Liquididea Press), InterstellarNet: Enigma, by Edward M. Lerner (FoxAcre Press), Annihilation Score by Charles Stross (Ace Books), The Miskatonic Manuscript, by Vin Suprynowicz (Mountain Media), The Testament of James by Vin Suprynowicz (Mountain Media), Joe Steele, by Harry Turtledove (ROC) and Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky (http://hpmor.com/)
The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.
Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin and plaque for the winners.
For more than three decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, expose the abuses and excesses of coercive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for civilization, cooperation, peace, prosperity, progress and justice.
For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories, visit www.lfs.org.
Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is open to any science fiction fan interested in how fiction can promote an appreciation of the value of liberty.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Graphic of Eight Circuit model of consciousness
Via Bobby Campbell's "New Trajectories" Tumblr, here is an artistic rendition of the Eight Circuit model of consciousness, which is discussed in Prometheus Rising, newly re-released by Hilaritas Press. I don't know much about the origin of this, but the attributions at the bottom of the graphic mention artist Blueflake and also Ultraculture.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Cosmic Trigger reading group pre-reading post
By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger reading group guest blogger.
Next week marks the start of our group reading of Cosmic Trigger, Robert Anton Wilson’s classic tale of his adventures in Chapel Perilous whilst searching for the Final Secret of the Illuminati. Because every story has a beginning, and because Bob starts Cosmic Trigger with a riff on the deep roots of his own adventures in illuminism, I thought it would be fun to share our own beginning stories—specifically, our own stories of how we came to read Cosmic Trigger and, if this wasn’t your first adventure in the Land of Bob, how you got turned on to The Man in the First Place.
I’ll start — short version:
In the Spring of ’79 I was traveling across country and found myself spending a few days in Boulder Colorado, visiting friends. While leafing through a local Underground Publication I came across a book review that stopped me cold. Something called The Illuminoids, by Neal Wilgus, which purported to reveal the Hidden History of a Secret Organization that had been Manipulating Important Political Events behind the scenes For Millennia, leading humanity to the brink of Impending Disaster that was sure to happen next year or next week or maybe even just 23 minutes into the future.
If that wasn’t enough to get my 21 year old mind buzzing with interest, the admonishment that I’d best pick up a copy before the book, and the author, met the tragic fate of all who dare attempt to expose the doings of The Bavarian Illuminati intrigued me enough to rip out the review and put it in my wallet.
A couple of weeks later I went to my local book store and found a copy in the racks. Right out in the open! I counted out my coins, snapped it up, and went straight home to plow through it — which I attempted to do, although it was quite dense and so full of names and dates that it was all a blur by the time I had finished.
Except for the Introduction, by some guy named Robert Anton Wilson, author of Cosmic Trigger and The Illuminatus! Trilogy.
Wow. That thing hooked into me, like Rod Serling’s Earwig, or the Ceti eel from The Wrath of Khan. Nietzsche, H. P. Lovecraft, LSD (which I had not yet experienced) and the Marquis de Sade — all in the first two paragraphs! What really hooked me in was the colorful four paragraph description of Chapel Perilous, along with a hint that there was much more to say in that regard than Mr. Wilgus had offered up for our perusal.
The simultaneous sense of dread and desire that Bob ignited in that introduction kept my impoverished little monkey mind busy for weeks questioning how much ramen I would have to eat (or not eat!) to save up the $2.25 necessary to dive into the unknown quantity of Cosmic Trigger. Eventually, of course, dinner be damned, I did. And the rest is history.
And now yours, please.
And just for fun, as an appetizer before we get started with our group reading next week, here is that original Introduction to Neal Wilgus’ The Illuminoids. Enjoy. And watch out for the Green Goo Gang!
INTRODUCTIONBy Robert Anton Wilson
Say the magie word and the duck will come down and pay you $100.
It is now nearly 14 years since I first began to investigate the eldritch and awesome legendry surrounding the infamous Illuminati of Bavaria. Since no true horror is without its touch of grotesque irony, it is fitting that my original motivation for undertaking this arduous and time-consuming research was an interest in the paranoid mentality as a factor in history. Little did I suspect that the Illuminati was like that emblematic Abyss mentioned by Nietzsche, of which the eminent philosopher says so cryptically that the deeper you look into it, the deeper it looks into you.
Yea, verily, like the discombobulated narrator of one of the sinister allegories of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, I now know what it is to gaze deeply into the Abyss feel the Abyss gaze deeply into me. It is rather like LSD, actually, and a little bit like peyote, too, but more like a Three Stooges comedy performed by the inmates of the asylum of Pentagon under the direction of the Marquis de Sade.
There are two kinds of stupidity exemplified in most books about the Illuminati. There is the stupidity of the credulous conspiracy-monger, true child of the witch-hunter of yore, who will accuse anyone and everyone on the basis of wild hypothesis and unsupported inference, with no care for the elementary rules of civil courtesy or that famous Commandment which urges that we not bear false witness against our neighbor. This is an old and most murderous kind of stupidity and is the chief destroyer of innocents throughout history
But there is also the stupidity of the True Believer in the revealed visions of the Establishment press, the Establishment universities, the Establishment "experts." This is the stupidity of those who believe all American science is represented in the Scientific American; that all the news that's fit to print really will be found in the New York Times; that the little magazines, the underground presses and the minority parties in politics and philosophy are always wild-eyed kooks or unreliable fanatics. In fact, as a little open-minded investigation will convince anyone who stops parroting official consensus-reality and starts looking around independently, the current Establishment is like any other Establishment in history. It ignores, defames or persecutes really important ideas as often as the Victorian Establishment did, or the 18th Century Establishment, or the Holy Inquisition, or any other group that has enough power to shut up or drown out the signals it does not want to receive.
As the Buddha himself warned on his death-bed, "Doubt everything, and find your own light."
Neal Wilgus is refreshingly free of both kinds of stupidity mentioned above; he really does think for himself; he accepts neither the inflamed hallucinations of the rabid anti-Illuminati crusaders nor the aloof dismissal of the Illuminati by the historians supported by those Establishment institutions which are allegedly funded directly through the Illuminati. Physicist Saul Paul Sirag once defined a true scientist as one "who really wants to know what the hell is actually going on." Neal Wilgus is a true political scientist in that sense. He has no axe to grind. He is looking for the truth and he is neither gullible nor too cynical to follow up on wild possibilities.
I was particularly amused and intrigued to read in English: Introduction the Preface that Neal has been haunted, while re- searching this book, by the same sort of coincidences- synchronicities that have dogged me very seriously ever since I got involved with the Illuminati mystery Such spooky accidents are a sign, as Carl Jung said, that one is approaching a high energy area of the collective unconscious. Dr. John Lilly has proposed more recently (in his Simulations of God) that research in these areas activates a hypothetical group he calls Cosmic Coincidence Control Center. CCCC seems to be working overtime on the Illuminati case these days, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they jostle both Neal and myself a few more times before this book reaches print.
In traditional occult metaphor, the local office of CCCC on this backward planet is known as Chapel Perilous. It's a weird place to be. Like the mysterious entity called "I," Chapel Perilous cannot be located in space-time; it is weightless, odorless, tasteless and undetectable by ordinary instruments. Even more like the Ego, it is possible to deny that Chapel Perilous is really there. And yet, once you are inside it, there doesn't seem to be any way to ever get out again, until you suddenly discover that it has been brought into existence by thought and does not exist outside thought. Everything you fear is waiting for you in Chapel Perilous, but if you are armed with the wand of intuition, the cup of sympathy, the sword of reason and pentacle of valor, you will come through it all safely.
That's what the legends say, and the language of myth is poetically precise. For instance, if you go into that realm without the sword of reason, you will lose your mind, but if you take only the sword of reason without the cup of sympathy you will lose your heart. Even more remarkable, if you approach without the wand of intuition, you can stand at the door for decades never realizing you have arrived. You might even think you are just waiting for a bus, or wandering from room to room looking for something lost, or watching a TV show in which "you" are not involved. Chapel Perilous is tricky that way.
The worst fate of all awaits those who approach CCCC without the pentacle of valor. It becomes, in their terrorized imaginations a gigantic Death Universe inhabited by Wrathful Demons and the unspeakable spawn of the Green Goo Gang. Woe unto these chicken-hearted ones, for they shall suffer for all eternity, within their own gruesome fantasies, in keeping with the Hell Law proclaimed by the late Discordian saint, Ho Chih Zen, to wit, "Hell exists only for those who believe in Hell, and it's just as bad as they can imagine it to be." Or, as the sublime Omar Ravenhurst wrote in "The Epistle to the Paranoids," "If ye lock yourselves up in cages of fear, ye shall never taste freedom.”
One recalls also in this connection the inscrutable words of the somewhat eccentric English poet, Aleister Crowley, "I slept with Faith and found her a corpse in the morning; I drank and danced all night with Doubt and found her a virgin in the morning." It is no doubt another amusing coincidence that Mr. Crowley styled himself Epopt of the Illuminati and published a magazine called The Equinox: A Journal of Scientific Illuminism. Those who are moved to browse a bit in the consciousness-altering manuals of Mr. Crowley after reading The Illuminoids might possibly come to the conclusion that, while Mr. Wilgus has most admirably sketched the architecture of Chapel Perilous, he has not quite fully depicted the many interesting mansions for rent inside.
But that is a minor quibble. This is a damned fine piece of original and fearless historical research and Neal Wilgus is to be commended for his wit and skepticism in a field too often dominated by humorless fear-mongering. His book will be equally amusing to both those who are members of the Illuminati and to those who are still living on the Planet of the Apes.
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Cosmic Trigger survey
Daisy Campbell, second from left, and some of the folks who were involved with her Cosmic Trigger play.
The folks who put on the Cosmic Trigger play are asking people to take an online survey. If you helped the play by attending it in Great Britain last year, or if you contributed to the crowd funding, or if you are new to the play but think you might want to support it, please take the survey. New performances are planned next year in both London and Santa Cruz, Calif. The survey has been up for a while and will likely go away soon, so if you want to help, take it now, or at least soon.
Saturday, April 2, 2016
The literary award that honored Robert Anton Wilson
If you like to read science fiction and if you lean libertarian in your politics, today's blog post is aimed at you! The rest of you can skip it and wait to see what I write about tomorrow.
I have been a member for several years of a group called the Libertarian Futurist Society, which for more than 30 years have been giving out two literary awards: the Prometheus Award, for the best science fiction/fantasy novel of the previous year which deals with individual liberty, and the Hall of Fame Award, which honors a literary work published in the past.
I have posted about the award in the past, and in fact there is a Robert Anton Wilson connection. As far as I know, the only literary award that RAW received when he was alive was a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, given to him and Robert Shea for the Illuminatus! trilogy. (You can read Robert Shea's acceptance speech at the 1986 Worldcon in Atlanta. ( I attended the convention but missed the ceremony. It's a big
I am pleased with the quality of the work we've honored in recent years.
Here are some recent winners:
2015 -- Daniel Suarez, Influx
2014 -- Cory Doctorow, Homeland and Ramez Naam, Nexus
2013 -- Cory Doctorow, Pirate Cinema
2012 -- Delia Sherman, The Freedom Maze and Ernest Cline, Ready Player
2011 -- Sarah Hoyt, Darkship Thieves
2010 -- Dani and Eytan Kollin, The Unincorporated Man
2009 -- Cory Doctorow, Little Brother
2008 -- Harry Turtledove, The Gladiator; Jo Walton, Ha'penny
2007 -- Charles Stross, Glasshouse
2006 -- Ken MacLeod, Learning the World
2005 -- Neal Stephenson, The System of the World
2004 -- F. Paul Wilson, Sims
2003 -- Terry Pratchett, Night Watch
Full list here.
I bring this up to issue an invitation. If you are interested in libertarian issues, and if you like science fiction, you should consider joining the Libertarian Futurist Society and participating on our award.
There are various levels of membership. For $60, the level of Full membership I would suggest, you get to vote for all of the awards. You will likely enjoy the process. Panels of judges select five or so Hall of Fame finalists and five or so Prometheus Award finalists. These finalists are selected from nominations by LFS members. While anyone can call a book to our attention, nominating a book for the Prometheus Award or the Hall of Fame Award is a right reserved only to LFS members.
The Hall of Fame finalists this year are Manna by Lee Correy, Courtship Rite by Donald Kingsbury, "As Easy as ABC" by Rudyard Kipling, The Island Worlds by Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts and A Mirror for Observers by Edgar Pangborn. This year's Prometheus Award finalists will be announced soon. I can't drop any hints, but I've read all of the finalists, and they are good books.
On occasion, we also give special awards, after a vote by the membership. Lifetime Achievement awards have been given, for example, to writers L. Neil Smith, Vernon Vinge, F. Paul Wilson and Poul Anderson.
Please consider joining us, and see this page for more information.
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