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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Leary miniseries may air on HBO

Timothy Leary

When I posted the other day about Timothy Leary's Neurocomics, Fuzzbuddy pointed out in the comments that there was a report in 2006 about a possible Leary movie.  It was supposed to be a Leonardo DiCaprio movie, and as Fuzzbuddy pointed out, the actor's dad had written the Leary comic book. 

Your humble blogger got onto the case, trying to find out if any Leary movies are indeed still in the works, and emails were duly sent out, with some help from Richard Rasa.

Denis Berry, trustee for Timothy Leary's Futique Trust, reported on June 27 to Rasa and myself, "I'll tell you both about the recent contract we signed with HBO for an ongoing series being produced by Darren Aronofsky.  The pilot is in the process of being written & then we'll see how it goes. Fingers crossed."

I also contacted Michael Horowitz, Timothy Leary's archivist, who writes (June 28), "I was a consultant on the planned Appian Way (DiCaprio's production company) biopic on Tim Leary. Sadly, the project never went anywhere.  At the same time, Darren Aronofsky's company purchased the rights to Flashbacks, Leary's Autobiography.   Nothing came of that either.  That was 10 years ago.

"I too have heard that an HBO miniseries with Aronofsky as producer is in the works, but have no news of this going forward. Personally, I think this time it might happen, as TV series,  but I have no connection to the project right now."

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Steve Bellitt's Eris

The Eris of the Month this month at Historia Discordia is from artist, comics guy and RAW fan Steve Bellitt.

I'm inviting you to go over there and look at it, so I'm not posting the piece here. Instead, I've nicked a drawing I liked that Steve did to direct people from his blog to his Twitter account. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

John Higgs talks about RAW

John Higgs 

John Higgs, author of Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the 20th Century, KLF: Chaos, Magic, Music, Money and I Have America Surrounded: A Life of Timothy Leary, talks with The Quietus, a British online and pop music magazine. Much of the interview concerns Robert Anton Wilson. I thought this exchange between Ben Graham and Higgs was interesting:

GRAHAM: One thing that does make me slightly uncomfortable about Robert Wilson is the way that he's sometimes held up as a figurehead for American libertarianism.

This is fascinating, in that over here there are a lot of British socialists who absolutely love Robert Anton Wilson, and over there you get all these American libertarians. These are two tribes who really shouldn't have anything in common. But they just get on great, and it's partly because they've read Robert Anton Wilson and they don't believe that their one singular viewpoint is the one that has to be inflicted on everyone else. You saw this at the Find the Others Festival in Liverpool. There was this great coming together of people who had nothing whatsoever in common except for the fact that they'd read Robert Anton Wilson.

Wilson mocks Ayn Rand mercilessly in a lot of his stuff. In the Illuminatus trilogy, Atlas Shrugged is mocked as Telemachus Sneezed. There was a brief period where he found her interesting, but he quite quickly recognised Ayn Rand for what she was. So you don't get that strain of libertarianism that has this messianic faith in Ayn Rand liking Robert Anton Wilson. You just get people who are mistrustful of the state, but don't necessarily believe in the virtue of selfishness like Ayn Rand did, or anything like that. Robert Anton Wilson always used to say that the left's view of corporations is true, just as the right's view of the state is true. Multiple model agnosticism is not necessarily a political viewpoint; it sort of hovers above them all and it's valuable to everyone on the political spectrum, I think.

More here. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week 12!

Charles Fort 

By Charles Faris, online reading group guest blogger 

Welcome to week 12 of the Group Reading of Cosmic Trigger. This week we are covering pages 91-98, in both the Hilaritas edition & the And/Or.

After a long stretch of “telling the story” the Author steps back from his own story in Beings of Light, talking dogs, more extraterrestrials and other weird critters and offers the Reader some “real world” examples as a comparison/contrast to the sorts of experiences he has been describing from his own life. Along the way the Semanticist continues to invoke the spirit of E-Prime and Relativity that he more directly addresses in Quantum Psychology (the concurrent reading of which book I must say highly Illuminates the reading of Cosmic Trigger), in order, perhaps, to gently “point” in the direction of something which is seemingly “unspeakable.”

Bob compares his experience of “entities” during the summer/fall of 1973 with the collected near-death experiences described by Dr. Raymond Moody and with a trio of UFO/“weird” stories from Jacques Vallee and Charles Fort.

One interesting and enlightening way to read Bob is to look for all of the italicized words in a given section. In this chapter, when Bob is writing about the qualities of “the entities” he italicizes intensely loving. When analyzing the messages received from said entities he italicizes time, the future, and infinity, and then repeats and emphasizes time. When offering a method for making “weird” stories less subjective and more objective he italicizes the phrases certain signals, organized by their metaprogrammer, and an impression, and then generalizes this into the notion that when you think you are doing x, you are receiving signals that your metaprogrammer is organizing into the impression that you are doing x.

More pointing, perhaps.

There are a few more italicized entries in this chapter — one, two, three, thought-projection and cognitive dissonance. I will let you make of those who you will.

One other interesting comparison/contrast occurs in the last paragraph, which begins with a direct reference to Charles Fort, and finishes with an oblique reference to Ambrose Bierce (The Damned Thing), about whom Fort had more than a passing interest.

Ambrose Bierce

All in all what we have here is Mr. Wilson offering up proof that other folks have had experiences at least as strange as his own, and then providing us with some tools to make those experiences seem at least a little bit less “weird,” and perhaps a bit more “grasp”-able.

Starseed opens with the wonderful sentence “The next step in whatever is wrong with me again involved Timothy Leary.” Note the present tense “is” and the past tense “involved.”

This chapter seems devoted to synchronicities between Wilson’s “Sirius Transmissions” and Leary’s “Starseed Transmissions,” with a bit of Crowley and Charles Fort (him again!) thrown into the mix. As Oz Fritz noted in last week’s comments:

P. 90 - “Mostly the Holy Guardian Angel communicated by synchronicity.” This could serve as a huge clue for anyone attempting the “Knowledge and Conversation of the HGA,” as Crowley formally puts it.

Moving on, Magick, Technology, or Both? serves as a primarily “evidential” chapter, parsing out a quick argument that UFO’s fail to fit into the Aristotelian either/or of Magick vs Technology. It also contains this gem of a proposal from Brad Steiger that “the only safe generalization about UFO’s is that they always fit into the cosmology of the human observer…” At this point it might be a fair question to ask what is more important to the Author—the Doggiez from Sirius? or Teaching the Reader How to Think?

And then this short chapter ends with a potential answer to the question posed in its title—“Maybe.”

That’s it for this week. Next week we dive into Those mysterious Sufis and A message from Cosmic Central?, pages 98-107 Hilaritas and 98-106 And/Or. As always, engaging with the comments benefits everyone — even last week and the week before etc.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Leary's Neurocomics available free online [UPDATED]

A comic book account of Timothy Leary's theories has been posted online. 

You can also download a zip file of all of the images.

Hat tip, Bogus Magus at the Only Maybe blog.

UPDATE: Michael Horowitz, Timothy Leary's archivist, comments, "Great to see Neurocomics online. Such a brilliant rendition of one of Leary's most important books, and one that Bob responded to in a big way as I'm sure you know. It really began their collaboration."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

More on reading

Pattie Boyd

After I did my post on reading the other day, Michael Johnson and Oz Fritz both responded with comments. Michael talked about his addiction to reading and Oz discussed his own reading style. I appreciated them both weighing in.

Michael writes that he is "obviously addicted to reading" and I think the addiction model of reading is rather undersold. I guess the addiction is more like being a sports addict than a drug addict — you don't see many news stories about people being found dead with reading paraphernalia nearby — but I know that I'm a reading addict. I have to do at least a little bit of book reading every day or I'm not going to be happy, and if I can do more than a little, so much the better. I've resumed using up most of my (pretty long) commute to book to listen to audiobooks, mostly because that allows me to consume more books than I otherwise could.

I'll have to read the Pattie Boyd book Oz mentions. That's what you get when  you hang around readers, the stack of things you want to read grows into a mountain. I gave up reading Beatles books for awhile because I knew so much nothing ever surprised me anymore, but there have been some new ones recently that weren't bad. Patti was in an interesting position to be a witness to rock history, simply because she caught a Beatle's eye.  Check out her photos. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Wilson and Pratt album now available!

A followup to my June 16 post about the new album,  Robert Anton Wilson Meets Steve 'Fly Agaric' Pratt, which combines Steve's interview with RAW with music by Steve and his musician friends: It is now available for download from the usual outlets. I bought my copy today from Amazon digital music, but I also checked and found it on iTunes.

I did not pay sufficient attention to the release date, which was actually June 23, in the future when I wrote this nonsense sentence on June 16: "(It was released on June 23 but I did not know of it until I saw a Tweet yesterday from Steve)." Of course, Steve was promoting an album that had yet to be released but I somehow managed to not grasp that. I apologize to Steve for my confusion and hope he will say "it's OK, mate" in that charming English accent he unleashes on his new release.

Anyway, congratulations to Steve on his new release, which I was able to purchase on Amazon for only $5.99 — two cups of fancy coffee, at least here in the states. As I wrote in an earlier post, the album combines Steve's interview with RAW with music by Steve and other musicians.

P.S. You can also buy it as a physical object audio CD at the usual outlets, too. I just ran a search on Amazon and verified that.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

How do you read?

Janice Weber

I've just finished reading Swing Set, a somewhat unusual sex novel by Janice Weber that I read because I am trying to read all of Janice Weber's books.

And that prompts me to wonder if other people's reading habits resemble mine.

I do read quite a few books that are one-offs — I will read the book, and quite likely enjoy it, but I don't feel a need to read other works by the same author.

But once I discover an author I really like, it is my tendency to read as much of their work as possible. So, since high school, I have read a Vladimir Nabokov novel once every couple of years or so. (I still have a few left). I've read almost all of the fiction of science fiction writer Jack Vance, and a lot of Philip Jose Farmer. I've read every Tom Perrotta and Jane Austen book I can find. I am trying to read all of Neal Stephenson and Iain Banks, but still have a way to go (I discovered Banks relatively late, and also didn't follow Stephenson at first.) I like Richard Powers a lot, and Janice Weber. And of course, I have explored Robert Anton Wilson's work and have been reading Robert Shea's solo novels.

What are your reading habits?

By the way, I know the name "Janice Weber" is less familiar than some of the author names above, but she is both a classical pianist and a novelist, and she's very interesting; you can read my interview with her.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The number 23 in the NBA finals

LeBron James in 2014. (Creative Commons photo by Keith Allison) 

I cannot resist pointing out how the number 23 recurred over and over again in the recently concluded NBA playoffs, which were won by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team I was rooting for.

Here is the box score for the seventh and deciding game, which the Cavaliers won, 93-89. The most points for the Cavaliers was scored by LeBron James, whose uniform number is 23. The most points for the Golden State Warriors was scored by Draymond Green, whose uniform number is 23. James is the Cavs' best player, but the Warriors best player is supposed to be Stephen Curry.

As I remarked Sunday, it was impossible to avoid seeing the number 23 anywhere in the Cleveland area Sunday. Everyone was wearing a jersey or t-shirt with James' name and number on it.

A few days ago, I posted this comment for Week 10 of the Cosmic Trigger reading group:

"Since this section talks about the number 23, I cannot resist pointing out the 23 element in the NBA finals game played Monday, the same days as Charles' post, in which Cleveland won an unexpected road victory against Golden State. Cleveland had its player who wears number 23, LeBron James, but Golden State was missing its number 23, Draymond Green. That may well have cost Golden State the game. Green was missing because he took a swing at the other No. 23, James, in the previous game and was suspended. Green was suspended for Game 5 of the finals, linking 23 (two plus three) to the Law of Fives. After Golden State lost, its series lead was cut to 3-2 (in other words, from Cleveland's point of view, the series stood at 2-3)."

Incidentally, one of the other local Cleveland teams, the Cleveland Indians, who as I write this are atop the American League's Central Division. Michael Brantley, an outfielder who is currently injured, is widely considered the Indians' best position player. As you can see, he wears number 23.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week 11!

                                                Buckminster Fuller, genius and contactee

By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger online reading group guest blogger 

Welcome to week 11 of the group reading of Cosmic Trigger. This week we are covering pages 79-91, in both the Hilaritas edition & the And/Or.

We lead off with Sirius Rising which is focused on the theme of Contact — extraterrestrial, interstellar, planetary consciousness, or what-not. It is valuable when reading this section to remember something that Bob writes in Cosmic Trigger II, on page 62 of the New Falcon revised 2nd edition:

“Between 1969 and 1973 I was doing a lot more Acid than I admitted in the first Cosmic Trigger [because Timothy Leary, Wilhelm Reich and Viet Nam encourage a sensible person to exhibit caution in their public statements]…and I was combining it with both Positive Thinking and traditional Cabaistic Magick. That is, for some Trips I would play a hypno-tape with positive suggestions on it (“I am at cause over my mind… I am at cause over my body… My mind abounds with beauty and power…”), and for other Trips I would use the exercises in Aleister Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice to enter Virtual Realities.”

Bearing in mind that the Shaman has been doing this sort of thing for FOUR YEARS while also living a jam packed life—working at Playboy, writing Illuminatus! with Bob Shea, raising 4 kids, quitting his job and moving to Mexico, etc — all in the midst of the insane cultural climate of the country at the time (Nixon, “The War,” the assassinations of King and Kennedy, the incarceration of Leary, shootings at Kent State, etc) and we can begin to form a picture of a man pushing himself to the limit, and then transcending that limit and pushing himself up against another one. Over and over.

Given that this chapter is about diving in way over his head, there are quite a few words of caution here — the concealment of his frequent use of LSD (because Police) as well as his advice regarding the reader’s potential use of LSD — “Stay AWAY from black-market acid, my friend; don't let these experiments lead you astray… use organic plants whose purity is known, such as the peyote cactus or the psilocybin mushroom.”

Andrea Puharich neurologist of professional repute (with Uri Geller)

Bob is also careful to check the sanity of his experiences against other intelligent people. He lists five prominent scientists by name and claims that another reliable scientist knows of at least 100 other unnamed scientists who have had contact experiences.

Woven into the Tales of Contact are the continuing adventures of Timothy Leary, now captured in Afghanistan by “American agents.” This little piece of information allows The Author to reveal more of his new-found “psychic powers,” and to express his realization of “how much I cared for that brilliant but incautious man.” Note the contrast between Bob’s caution and Tim’s lack thereof.

Jack Sarfatti was encouraged to study physics by an “extraterrestrial”

As the Author dives deep into “Contact with Sirius” he also offers us a cornucopia of alternate selves including the Skeptic, the Oracle, the Shaman, the Neurologician, The Yogi, the Mystic, the Poet, the Satirist, the Robot, the Wizard, the Investigator, and the Researcher.

This is certainly one of the most Cosmic, Mystical, Wow Man sections of the entire book, and if psychedelics had been legal Wilson could have definitely sustained a career as a Psychedelic Copywriter. As it stands, though, the idiocy of our legal system brought us a better Bob than that, and the next chapter, The Holy Guardian Angel, offers a more grounded analysis of the Cosmic Trips described in Sirius Rising.

Right out the box Bob states that he was “living in a belief system where almost anything might happen and probably would.” He cuts back to the sub-title of the book with the phrases “last illumination of the Illuminati” and “the final secret.” And he acknowledges that he is deep in the Chapel Perilous underground, “laid, relayed, and PARlayed, fucked, flustered, and far from home.”

The cautionary spirt remains as Our Hero realizes he needs to check his ability to communicate with “the hive,” and when he succeeds at that the Shaman and the Skeptic “confer at length” and he continues with his experiments.

In the course of the narrative we meet the Young White Hipster, the Neuro-metaprogrammer, the Struggling Writer, and the Libertarian Hedonist, although interestingly enough, Bob continues to frame the “extraterrestrials from Sirius” (or the Holy Guardian Angel) as external independent entities, not to be confused with the various aspects of himself.

Lots of synchronicities, some subjective and others objective, which Bob seems to attribute to the Holy Guardian Angel, and quite a few messages which lead The Author to create one of my favorite lines in the book: “I must admit that most of these messages were nauseatingly moralistic and childishly optimistic by the standards of our cynical, swinish and despairing age.”

That line could almost be Bob channeling Hunter S. Thompson, and the assessment seems pretty spot on for most of the channeled material I was consuming in the 1980s. And of course, we’ll be moving on from there pretty damned quick!

Next week—Beings of light…through Those mysterious Sufis, pages 91-102 Hilaritas, 91-101 And/Or.

Don’t forget to dive into the comments! There is always good stuff in there progressively building throughout the week and beyond! Last week Oz Fritz enlightened us about “Wilson’s Twist” on Crowley’s method of “achieving and transcending religious visions,” and we got some “inside information” from Eric Wagner about how to use Pound’s Cantos to initiate Contact with Aphrodite!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day!

At my wife's urging, I have taken the day off for Father's Day. Normal posting resumes tomorrow with the resumption of the Cosmic Trigger online reading group.

P.S. Today is the final, deciding game of the NBA finals, so everywhere in the Cleveland area you can see people wearing No. 23, LeBron James' uniform number.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Vice discovers Discordianism, plugs Festival 23

Nice photo of John Higgs and Alan Moore from Vice's article. (Photo by Eric Drass). 

Vice discovers Discordianism in an article by Scott Oliver. "Inside the Resurgence of Discordianism – the Chaotic, LSD-Fuelled Anti-Religion," tells the story of the development in Discordianism in the U.S., then shifts to the United Kingdom with the Ken Campbell production of Illuminatus! and explains how the Brits have taken the lead in reviving Discordianism with Daisy Campbell's play and related events. The piece serves as an advance for Festival 23, quoting various interesting performers booked for the festival.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Eric Wagner on Barry Smolin's new novel

[Today's guest post is by Eric Wagner, author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, an English teacher in the Los Angeles area and, like Wilson, a James Joyce devotee and general lover of literature. -- The Management.]

The Miranda Complex, Volume 1: Munchkinland by Barry Smolin

Guest post by Eric Wagner

When I first started reading this wonderful novel, I wondered whether Mr. Smolin would reference the Miranda in Shakespeare’s Tempest. He did, of course, in the first three pages, but more importantly he also referred to Proust. One can see this whole novel (and perhaps the whole trilogy) as a massive Proustean memory. The novel begins in 1979 where the protagonist has just finished his first year of college. He then recollects his interactions with the admired Miranda from 1972 to 1976. The recollections seem largely realistic and/or accurate, except for the tendency of many of the characters to misremember the name of a character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This phildickian memory flaw suggests the 1979 consciousness of the narrator may have reshaped some events of the narrative. Also, the failing mental health of his next door neighbor may have warped some aspects of the reality of the novel.

This fascinating periplum journey through a Jewish-American adolescence reminds me of somewhat similar voyages: the various writings of Louis Zukofsky (born 1904) and I, Wabenzi by Rafi Zabor (born 1946). Taken together they provide an interesting history of the twentieth century. Zukofsky’s “A” provides many pictures of his own childhood, and his Little for Careenagers gives a fictionalized version of the childhood of his son, a violin prodigy. At first I didn’t think the novel reminded me of Portnoy’s Complaint (another Jewish-American voyage), but the persistent masturbation theme made me change my mind.

When I moved to Southern California in 1998 I found myself spinning the radio dial while traveling our lovely freeways. On Sunday nights I kept coming across this cool DJ with a Grateful Dead show. Now, I had grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so while not yet a Deadhead, I had absorbed a certain amount of Dead culture. Well, I starting making a point of listening to the show on Sunday nights and found myself becoming more and more fascinated by the Dead and by the DJ, Mr. Barry Smolin. The show also featured contemporary jam bands and “miscellaneous psychedelia”. Barry introduced me to a ton of great music and made me fall in love with rock and roll again. I remember one night he played The Madcap Laughs by Syd Barrett. It seemed like just the right music at just the right time for me. The Miranda Complex uses music to establish the soundscape of the seventies as well as the consciousnesses of the characters. I found myself thinking of Syd Barrett and wondering if the next door neighbor’s mental illness might shape the novel.

Speaking of mental illness (ha, ha, ha), I find myself writing this while listening to Mr Smolin and Double Nought Spy Car’s contribution to the Waywards and Meansigns second Finnegans Wake Project. What great stuff! I highly recommend you check out both Barry’s novel and music.
Bloomsday, 2016

P.S. The Madcap Laughs includes a song with lyrics by James Joyce. Perhaps I exist in the novel too, insanely obsessed with Pink Floyd and the Wake. Man, this recording of the Wake rocks!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New release: 'Robert Anton Wilson Meets Steven 'Fly Agaric' Pratt'

From Steve 'Fly Agaric' Pratt via Twitter  comes the news of a new release from Iron Man Records, Robert Anton Wilson Meets Steve 'Fly Agaric' Pratt. (It was released on June 23 but I did not know of it until I saw a Tweet yesterday from Steve).

The new release preserves Steve's interview with RAW back in 2002; for a long time, Steve had misplaced part of the interview. He explains, "In 2015 I was digging for a minidisc of DJ Fly material for use on my Fly By Night radio shows, produced for Radio Free Amsterdam. While sifting through the discs I noticed one with writing in light pencil that read: R.A.W 10th September 2002. I popped it into the player, and to my delight it was the first half of the interview. I edited and boosted the sound files to the best of my ability, and added a selection of music from friends and past collaborators, resulting in what you hear right here."

You should read Steve's whole post about the encounter, which offers a charming portrait of my favorite writer: "“Would you be so kind as to grab me a coffee, it’s in the pot” he said. “Sure”. I fetched a mug, which had a quote from Hannibal Lecter printed on it, filled it with black coffee and set it down on the table, sitting opposite Bob."

I'll buy a copy as soon as I can; as of this writing, it hadn't popped up yet on Amazon, at least in the U.S.

See also my 2012 interview with Steve, one of my favorite interviews I've ever posted here; you can see a photo of Steve with RAW, also the photo that ran in the "New York Times," showing Steve serving customers in an Amsterdam marijuana shop.  And if you've never done so, take a look at his RAW360 tribute site. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Listening to Mozart

Scene from The Magic Flute by artist and designer J. Matthew Root. (Source). 

While I tend to think of Beethoven as Robert Anton Wilson's favorite composer, there's no doubt he loved many others, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart appears as a character in the "Historical Illuminatus" books. In the piece "Credo," included in Right Where You Are Sitting Now, Wilson writes, "I believe in Bach, the creator of heaven and earth, and in Mozart, his only begotten son, and in Beethoven the mediator and comforter; and inasmuch as their gods have manifested also in Vivaldi and Ravel and Stravinsky and many another, I  believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of error and mind everlasting."

In his book Listen to This, music critic Alex Ross writes about how he decided to listen to every note of Mozart music available, transferring a 180-CD collection of complete Mozart issued by the Phillips record label to his iPod. Listening to the whole thing took Ross three months. He concedes that airport public address announcements and the like were a distraction.

I am not as ambitious as Ross, but I have listened to Mozart for decades. The kind of folks who read this blog will likely be interested in his opera, The Magic Flute, but lately I have been concentrating on the solo piano music — I like solo piano.

There are so many ways to listen. I am a big fan of the Hoopla library service, and I've been listening to Alfred Brendel's generally reliable Mozart recordings. (Hoopla does not have everything, but it does have an enormous music library to stream to your phone or tablet or whatever, and it also has movies, TV shows, ebooks, comic books and audiobooks. Check and see if you library has it, or if you can get a library card that provides access to it.)

I've also been listening (via Amazon's digital music service) to a VoxBox complete Mozart solo piano collection by Walter Klien, which I bought for 99 cents in February. It was a great bargain, although the price has now been raised to $9.49. The Wikipedia biography of Klien says, "He was much admired for his crystalline tone and projection of detail in his interpretations. His clarity of playing suited the music of Mozart and Schubert in particular." Although Klien's versions are reliably pretty, he can also bring power when he needs to.

The Big Mozart Box from the Bach Guild, which includes some of the more crucial piano pieces, is available on Amazon digital music for $2.99. There is also a Big Mozart Piano Sonatas for 99 cents, played by Jeffrey Biegel, that's just 99 cents. I can't comment on it because I just discovered it (and bought it).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

RAW's poignant goodbye

Robert Anton Wilson in 1991. Wikimedia Commons photo by frankenstoen

Eric Wagner, author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, sent me the following email, posted by RAW to his email list:

Date: June 18, 2006 at 5:08:36 PM PDT
Subject: Fare Thee Well, My Honey, Fare Thee Well....

"Death ain't much."
--Errol Flynn on his deathbed....

I may yet recover but it doesn't look like it.
Cheer up - the World is full of Wonder.

"Most people are as happy as they decide to be."
--Abraham Lincoln

I've had a good life - "a fucking incredible life" my daughter says,
and I have no regrets.

I forgive everybody who has ever hurt me, and I ask forgiveness of all I have ever hurt.

Don't be afraid.... and don't clutch.


As this was sent out several months before Wilson actually died, I asked Eric for some context. He explained, "Bob had gotten kicked out of hospice for surviving too long. His health had declined for years. I think you friended a guy on Facebook who helped take care of him.  Bob hated staying at the hospital."

You can read some of RAW's last blog posts.

Eric also shared two haikus from RAW from a message dated June 19, 2006:

Well what do you know?
Another day had passed
and I'm still not not.

Uncertain Curtain?
I Won't swallow that Poe.  No
curtain's uncertain. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cosmic Trigger Online Reading Group, Week Ten!

Aldous Huxley

By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger online reading group guest blogger

Welcome to week 10 of the Group Reading of Cosmic Trigger. This week we are covering pages 70-79 Hilaritas edition, 71-79 And/Or. 

We begin with A Discordian signal from Aldous Huxley, deceased,  in which The Materialist begins his experiments with Crowleyan techniques for mutating consciousness and winds up with a “cryptic and ambiguous” message from Aldous Huxley. 

First off, Bob bans the use of the word “I” and bites his thumb hard whenever he lapses, entering an altered state in 7 days. He announces that he is a psychic and gives tarot readings, although this trick takes 2 years to deliver anything impressive. He also dives into “Crowley’s method for achieving and transcending religious visions.” This method is further elaborated upon in Chekovian (never reveal a loaded gun unless you are going to use it) and/or Nietzschian (Eternal Recurrence with a twist) style a few pages later when The Space Lady returns once again.

Bob claims that working with these techniques resulted in his becoming skeptical of skepticism, and achieving ecstasy and “contact” without drugs. I would be interested is what methods our readers have used, and what results they have achieved thereby.

In The Net or the Network Bob ruminates of Jano Watts’ Net and notes that Aldous Huxley was a friend of Jano and Alan Watts, as well as Tim Leary. Huxley died same day as JFK. Kerry Thornley, the "2nd Oswald," named his son Aldous Wilson Thornley after Huxley and Bob, and Aldous had originally been turned on to peyote by Aleister Crowley, who styled himself Epopt of the Illuminati. 

Wilson traces another chain with Alan Watts, who introduced him to Zen Buddhism in 1957, Leary in 1964, and Crowley in 1971, leading Wilson to ponder if he was part of "a Net of coincidence or a Network of adepts."

Dimitrije Mitriniović

Then Bob deftly wraps these two chains around each other (double helix?) by mentioning that Watts had been “initiated into a magickal order” by one Dimitrije Mitriniović, a “rascal guru in the tradition of Crowley and Gurdjieff.”

Key line for me: Alan Watts describing himself as neither a “Guru or a philosopher or even a teacher…I am merely an entertainer.” This seems, as much as anything, to be a fair description of Old Bob himself. An entertainer adept at planting seeds, perhaps.

The Lady of Guadalupe sees Bob quitting his job at Playboy, moving to San Miguel de Allende, first municipality in Mexico to be liberated from Spanish rule. Bob digs into the Illuminati connections of Father Hidalgo, leader of the liberation, and from there steps into the eternal re-occurence of The Space Lady, this time in her guise as The Lady of Guadalupe

"The Shaman's whole family had now become involved in yoga and magick; weirdness was commonplace." The picture Bob paints of his family life in Mexico is touching and telling—a glimpse into the micro-world of The Author, which he balances with a short description of the crazed events happening in the world at large — “Nixon and Kent State and Cambodia and  everything.” And central to it all, Tim Leary’s struggle to remain out of jail, which seems to an emblem of just how hopeful the world appears to Bob at any given moment.

A key passage here is his daughter Luna’s description of how the metaprogrammer works—“You believe in ESP, so it happens around you. You don't believe in levitation, so it doesn't happen around you.” These two sentences, ingested with the proper set and setting, could replace the entire corpus of Bob’s work on programming and metaprogramming. Any thoughts the readers has on the efficacy of simplicity vs elaborateness would be gratefully received in comments!

Standard of Father Hidalgo, Father of Mexico, featuring The Lady of Guadalupe

With so many obscure references dropped like little seeds within the pages of Cosmic Trigger,  I’ve noticed that one advantage the reader of today has over the reader of 1977 is that it doesn’t take days and days in a library to (sometimes vainly) follow up on Wilson’s leads. A few of those which I found to be both interesting and enlightening were Alan Watts’ rascal guru Dimitrije Mitriniović, and Father Hidalgo, so I am including links for both of those characters. 

And that about wraps up this weeks reading. Next week we will dive into Sirius Rising and The Holy Guardian Angel, pages 79-91 in both of the editions I am referencing. Please feed the conversation with your comments, questions, and cross-talk, and most importantly — Do The Exercises! (And tell us what you got!)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Michelle Pfeiffer as Eris?

Michelle Pfeiffer. Creative Commons photo by Jeremiah Christopher

I have a question from a reader, which I'm sharing because I haven't found anyone so far who can answer it.

Greg Carden asks, "I have been a huge fan of RAW since about 1989 CE or so, his writings & performances have vastly shaped my reality tunnels (after largely demolishing the previous one).

"Anyway, I have been trying to track down a reference Mr. Wilson made, I believe in an interview. As I recall, he said that his ideal image of Eris was Michelle Pfeiffer.

"I have scoured my books, I know I read it somewhere, but so far to no avail. I've asked all my friends who are also RAW fans, but no one knows where he (may have) said this. It's not important at all, I just wanted to reference the line in a small project I'm thinking about doing - it's mostly now a matter of losing sleep while racking my brain, searching out every RAW interview I can find online to search, and a bit of OCD."

Intriguingly, Richard Rasa notes, "I do know that Michelle Pfeiffer provided the voice of Eris in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven SeasBut maybe someone in casting was inspired by Bob’s statement."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Michael Johnson on why Korzybski has faded

S.I. Hayakawa 

In his post about John Barth (mentioned Tuesday on this blog), Arthur Hlavaty wrote that while a Barth revival may never happen, "I, however, am loyal to many of the dead fads I once followed (General Semantics, Games People Play) ... "

Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics is indeed not the force that it once was, and at Overweening Generalist, Michael Johnson speculates on why the thinker who was a big influence on Robert Anton Wilson, Robert Heinlein and others appears to have faded, in the post, "Why Korzybski Waned: Some Educated Guesses." 

I've never read any books about General Semantics. If I'm reading Michael correctly,  S. I. Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action wouldn't be a bad place to start. Michael says it is "a delightful read" and explains the RAW connection to Hayakawa.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Timothy Leary's copy of 'Prometheus Rising'

Richard Rasa, the metaprogramming director  of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust, has just posted the above photo on the Cosmic Trigger 1 page at the Hilaritas Press website. As you can see, it's a copy of Prometheus Rising autographed to Timothy Leary and his wife. (As I've mentioned before, Hilaritas has just put out a new authorized edition of the book, in paperback and as an ebook.)

There's a story behind the photo. Mr. Rasa explains,

"In 2012 I was working on a Timothy Leary project in the Leary Estate's preparation for updating their Futique Trust identity. We had a meeting at Bruce Damer’s place at Ancient Oaks, where he has in his Digibarn, a segment of the Leary Archives that never made it to The New York Public Library. The Leary Estate asked Bruce to catalog it and keep it in his Digibarn, which also holds his astounding collection of early computers. The Leary archive material is a lot of stuff NYPL probably would not have wanted, like his personal books, tapes, records, etc. including his living room chandelier that Bruce is holding in the photo below. While we were roaming around in the archives I found Tim’s copy of Prometheus Rising that had been given to him by Bob. I snapped a photo of the inscription. That’s David Jay Brown’s fingers holding the book."

Marlis Jermutus, Bruce Damer (holding Tim’s living room chandelier) and David Jay Brown - in the Digibarn - August 2012

Timothy Leary material in the Digibarn

I want to visit the Digibarn. More about it here.

Thanks, Rasa!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Arthur Hlavaty, and Robert Anton Wilson, on John Barth

John Barth

Arthur Hlavaty did a recent blog post on John Barth, a favorite writer of Arthur's and also a favorite writer of Robert Anton Wilson.

"I fear that John Barth is a literary Nehru jacket: once the darling of Academe, now just another cis het white male. His work could profit from the kind of extensive and intensive study Brian Boyd gave Vladimir Nabokov, but I fear that will not happen," Arthur writes, before going on to talk about his favorite among Barth's tales, Tidewater Tales.

As for RAW, see this letter to Robert Shea's No Governor fanzine; Wilson's favorite Barth novel was Sabbatical,  but he liked Barth's other books, too:

I can't answer Arthur Hlavaty's question about what John Barth thinks of my novels, but I can easily answer his second question. I enjoy Barth's books enormously. I think his Sabbatical covers the malaise of our time better than professional spy-thriller writers like Ambler and Le Carre have ever done. Just because one is never sure if the CIA killed the man on the boat or is trying to kill the hero, Sabbatical leaves one with precisely the sense of uncertainty and dread that has hung over this nation since democracy was abandoned in the National Security Act of 1947 and clandestine government became official.

Sometimes I find it astounding that we have lived under fascism for 40 years while continuing the rituals of democracy -- and that hardly any "major" novelist has tried to grapple with this issue. I salute Barth for his subtlety and the eerie atmosphere he creates in describing our increasingly Machiavellian world. To be brutally frank and eschew false modesty, I think only Mailer, Pynchon and myself have captured the terror of the situation as well as Barth did in that book.

Oh, yeah, I like Barth's other books, too. Sabbatical just happens to be my favorite.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week Nine!

By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger reading group guest blogger

Welcome to week 9 of the RAWIllumination group reading of Robert Anton Wilson’s classic psycho-spiritual auto-biography — Cosmic Trigger (aka Cosmic Trigger I). This week we are covering pages 60-70 in the new Second Edition published by Hilaritas Press, an imprint of the Wilson Family dedicated to Liberating the works of Pope Bob as well as (eventually) bringing us the works of other authors of related spirit. (That’s 61-71 And/Or 7723) Chapter-wise we begin with Jim Garrison and the Illuminati, continue with Operation Mindfuck, and conclude with The Horrible Secrets of the Wicked Aleister Crowley.

Our readings this week are pivotal in the over-arching story of Cosmic Trigger, which is The Author’s journey through Chapel Perilous. Wilson finishes introducing the major cast of characters, foreshadows his entry into Chapel Perilous, aligns himself strongly with the Discordians (thereby revealing how engaging in an elaborate and extended practical joke—or guerrilla ontology—can bring about extremely unintended results).

Jim Garrison

Jim Garrison and the Illuminati continues the story of Kerry Thornley and Discordianism, and Bob ties KT to Don Quixote, another wanderer in The Chapel, with JG playing the part of a Jolly Green Windmill I suppose. “Naturally [Bob gets] drawn into the controversy.” That word “naturally” seems very telling to me. The bit about “the establishment press” vs “the underground press” reminds me of The Discordians vs The Illuminati etc.

Irony runs deep in this passage toward the end of the chapter: “…if the New Left wanted to live in the particular tunnel-reality of the hard-core paranoid, they had an absolute right to that neurological choice. I saw Discordianism as the Cosmic Giggle Factor…” Kerry Thornley, the object of much of that paranoia, winds up going down the same road, despite his status as co-founder of Discordianism. Whew.

A few nuggets from this chapter —

• The first law of Discordianism: convictions cause convicts (whatever you believe imprisons you).
• Practical advice from The Sage: Read one or two periodicals from outside your reality tunnel every month.
• “As the fool always does before the doors of chapel perilous swing shut behind him.”

Operation Mindfuck continues with “Discordian Revelations” which “seem to have pressed a magick button.” Is this “magick button” somehow related to a “Cosmic Trigger”? At any rate, here we get more omens, weirdness, and synchronicities, as well as Bob and Bob starting work on Illuminatus! We also get 2 paragraphs on the origin of the 2 finger peace sign, and I’m still not sure just how much Bob is yanking our chains with this. Perhaps it is the chapter title that moves me to distrust this particular tale (completely).

At any rate, in the very next paragraph Kerry Thornley is linked to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (which seems, puff, appropriate), who are “honorary Discordian saints, belonging to the Order of Quixote,” and we learn another Discordian law: “Imposition of Order = “Escalation of Chaos.” 23 cc indeed.

Alan Watts (photo from 

The Horrible Secrets of the Wicked Aleister Crowley really aren’t that horrible, of course, and they certainly stand as a primary inspiration to The Skeptic, who is steered in their direction “one day in 1970” by Alan Watts (the Crowley-Watts connection will be fleshed out next week), who recommends The Eye in the Triangle: An Interpretation of Aleister Crowley, written by Dr. Israel Regardie, former Crowley secretary and current (at the time) Reichian psychologist. Soon our hero is connecting the dots between Crowley’s Tantric magick and Reich’s bio-energetic psychology, as well as Crowley’s “astral” energies and Reich’s “orgone energy.” Soon Wilson is reading all the Crowley he can get his hands on as well as corresponding with Dr. Regardie.

Ultimately this leads to the fateful day in 1971 when Bob, who does the exercises, enters Chapel Perilous while reading chapter 69 of The Book of Lies. Apparently oral sex can be a method of meditation as well as a technique for producing a permanent change in neuro-physiology. Soon Bob is tossing around all sorts of compelling phrases such as “sex magick,” “polyphase orgasm,” and “the Ascent of the Serpent,” as well as the notion that marijuana + tantra = Permanent Rapture Circuit.

“I finally had the secret of the Illuminati” says the man who has just wandered into Chapel Perilous and hasn’t heard the door swing shut behind him. Notice the (dis)similarity between that phrase and the subtitle of this book.

“The Crowleyan System,” as Bob sees it, ties together Western occultism, Eastern yoga, and modern scientific method (which includes Timothy Leary and Wilhelm Reich). Regarding Crowley, Wilson is careful to distinguish between the Man and the Method, and in this way creates the Wilsonian System, which updates and clarifies the work of Wicked Old Aleister, libertarianizes it, and infuses it with a strong dose of Maybe Logic. Of course, this is work for a future Bob, who must first go through the trials and tribulations of his journey through The Chapel.

Okay—that’s it for this week. Please add your insights and revelations in the comments. Next week we will “be” covering pages 70-79 new (71-79 old)—A Discordian signal from Aldous Huxley, deceased + The Net or the Network + The Lady of Guadalupe. Until then—Do the Exercises!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Charles Murray on the basic income guarantee

Charles Murray

Charles Murray, who wrote a book on his proposal for a basic income guarantee which I discussed here,  is coming out with a new edition of the book, In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State.  

Murray has a piece in the weekend Wall Street Journal which outlines some of his arguments for his proposal, which calls for a basic income of $13,000 a year — $10,000 cash in monthly payments and $3,000 for health insurance.

Excerpt from the WSJ piece:

When cars and trucks started to displace horse-drawn vehicles, it didn’t take much imagination to see that jobs for drivers would replace jobs lost for teamsters, and that car mechanics would be in demand even as jobs for stable boys vanished. It takes a better imagination than mine to come up with new blue-collar occupations that will replace more than a fraction of the jobs (now numbering 4 million) that taxi drivers and truck drivers will lose when driverless vehicles take over. Advances in 3-D printing and “contour craft” technology will put at risk the jobs of many of the 14 million people now employed in production and construction.

The list goes on, and it also includes millions of white-collar jobs formerly thought to be safe.

I can offer an example of what Murray is talking about. For years, newspapers had a group of employees in a section called "the backshop" that would physically assemble the pages of the newspaper, pasting up copy on boards, which would then be photographed to be made into printing plates.  That page assembly is now done on computer. At my old paper, the backshop people at first worked on computers and helped build pages, but there's no reason that can't all be done by the editors themselves, eliminating the middlemen between the newsroom and the printers, and at my current newspaper in Ohio, editors simply build all of the pages themselves as part of the layout and editing process.  Of course, newspapers and the jobs they supported are being steadily decimated by the Internet, but before the net caught on, the backshop folks are a whole category of jobs wiped out by technology.

Switzerland has just rejected a UBI proposal; I suspect the plan was too generous to win widespread support. Unemployment is only 3.5 percent in the country, so to some extent, the UBI there is a solution to a problem that hasn't arrived yet.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Robert Anton Wilson had a talk show, and Camper van Beethoven did music for it

David Lowery plays with Cracker in 2006 (photo by Zopheus, released into the public domain.)

Although I know a fair amount about Robert Anton Wilson, I did not know that Robert Anton Wilson once filmed a pilot for his own talk show in southern California, nor that a pretty well known rock musician wrote a theme song for it.

I learned both of those things when I read writer Marc Laidlaw's interview with David Lowery, the founder of two bands, Camper van Beethoven and Cracker.

The interview was done on Dec. 15, 1989, and parts of it were used in a piece in Mondo 2000, the R.U. Sirius magazine. That places the interview when Lowery was in Camper van Beethoven, touring behind the Key Lime Pie album, a little before Cracker, which I often used to see in MTV videos.

Lowery explains that he went to visit a friend in Los Angeles, and discovered he was working on a show that featured one of his favorite writers: "And I go down there and it turns out these guys are doing this Robert Anton Wilson talk show, a pilot for a potential Robert Anton Wilson talk show which is— well, I’ll explain later why that’s great for me. So I sat there and watched the whole thing and it was great, I sort of talked to Robert Anton Wilson afterwards, having read all of his books I wanted to ask him some stuff ... " 

The producer of the show didn't known Lowery although the two often ate breakfast at the same place but eventually learned. "And I kept seeing him at this breakfast place, and then one day I went there and he goes, 'Hey, you know, I heard some of your music and I was wondering if you would do the theme song to the Robert Anton Wilson show, or submit some music for it,' and so I go, 'Oh yeah, sure, I’d be into that.' So I wrote the opening theme, which is the 'Opening Theme' of our new record, Key Lime Pie. But I guess nothing ever happened to that pilot or anything, it’s sort of never been used, but that’s where I wrote the opening theme, for the Robert Anton Wilson talk show."

So, if you like, you can listen to the theme song for the RAW talk show that never quite emerged into the world. Lowery is I understand a little sensitive about being ripped off on the Internet, so let me just say here that I bought a copy legally on Amazon digital music and listened to it while working on this blog post. It's an instrumental with kind of a Middle Eastern vibe; my wife asked me if I was listening to belly dancing music.

There's more good stuff in the interview. Camper van Beethoven put out an album called II & III in 1986; can you guess why? From the interview:

Lowery: I obviously read a lot of Robert Anton Wilson, you know, I’ve read all of his stuff, the Illuminatus trilogy and the related books.

Marc Laidlaw: Are there any clues to these things?

Lowery: Well yeah, our second record II & III ... We had a whole bunch of hotel rooms—we kept getting hotel room 23, cause at that time we’d all stay in one hotel room, we’d all sleep in the hotel room, and so we named our second record II & III, and that was sort of our reference to that.

I've left out a lot of good stuff, but I'm not sure how much I can quote without going beyond fair use. But go look at the interview.

Photo of Marc Laidlaw, from his official website. 

Isn't it neat to suddenly discover that a totally cool musician is a RAW fan? If the name "David Lowery" still isn't ringing any bells, check out this classic video of Cracker doing the song "Low."  Yes, that's Sandra Bernhard in the video.

Hat tip, 'Hyphy Sanders' @t3dy on Twitter. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

English majors: Don't make us study English lit!

Percy Bysshe Shelley, a dead white male cisgender poet I particularly like 

A group of English majors at Yale are complaining about the requirement that they are being forced to take an English lit class, Reason reports:

"The 'Major English Poets' sequence, a mandatory two-course commitment for English majors, is particularly problematic, according to the students. These classes cover Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, and T.S. Eliot. It's not the most diverse line up, to be sure, but it's the one that best reflects history the way it actually happened. Inarguably, these are the most influential poets in the English language," Robby Soave writes.

I thought my English lit survey course back at the University of Oklahoma was one of the best classes I ever took. I got particularly interested in the Romantic poets, and among them, I particularly liked Percy Bysshe Shelley and devoured his work for years. (See, I didn't just read science fiction magazines, and science fiction fanzines, and science fiction paperbacks, so there!)

I'd be fine with requiring students to take a series of courses that would force them to read a variety of writers and voices, but that's apparently not what the students are demanding. If you're an English major, shouldn't you want to read some of the best writing of all time?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

'Groupname for Grapejuice' blog to become book

This should work to toast znore's new project. 

Groupname for Grapejuice, a blog I really enjoy, has announced plans to turn the blog postings into a book. 

Blogger znore says he's hard at work. "I'm selecting a bunch of "posts" from the past few years and squeezing and tweaking them into "chapters." The book will also likely have three new unblogged, wholly booked, pieces: an introduction, one chapter on time and a final chapter on sex. These three will round out the book, complete or tie together a whack of themes, and hopefully provide enough of a draw for people to bother reading a book full of stuff that they might have already seen, or could see, in a blog."

As I posted at the blog, I'm really looking forward to it.

Wasn't sure what to post as an illustration, but I enjoyed this piece on the Grail, so I took an image from that article.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Political news (kind of, sort of)

Gary Johnson

The reliably excellent Lucy Steigerwald, writing for "Playboy" in the new era in which everyone is forced to read it for the articles, explains the alternatives to Clinton and Trump in "Terrified Voters of America: Here are Your Third Party Choices."  She discusses the Libertarians, the Greens, The Constitution Party, the not-yet-actually-existing Bill Kristol Party, and alternatives such as the American Nazi Party and the Prohibition Party.

Lucy's piece does not mention the Guns and Dope Party. Admittedly, whether it actually exists could be a matter of interpretation, but it does have a candidate, a Mr. White Lightning, who has a Twitter account. Mr. Lightning, a recording artist, gave me an update a few weeks ago: "Hey Tommy boi! How ya doin babe!  Just letting you know that me, my boys @BigBallBumpty @Scurvyz  and @swignig just unveiled a new record label called @HonkCollective. Feel free to check it out. Also I have made @VerminSupreme my running mate." The record label has a website. 

Meanwhile, Gary Johnson, who hopes to convince doubters that he is a more viable candidate than the leader of the Prohibition Party, has won the Libertarian Party's nomination.  His vice presidential running mate is William Weld, the former GOP governor of Massachusetts.  There are signs Johnson may actually get some money to get his message out.  Johnson has a website, too.