Wednesday, August 31, 2016

News from Poland: Finnegans Wake adaptation, George Dorn Screams

FIRST WE FEEL THEN WE FALL teaser #1 from jakub wroblewski on Vimeo.

It's always a pleasure to get an unexpected email from an interesting part of the world, but particularly so when the email has interesting news.

Adam Zulawski, consultant managing editor for the English section of Culture.pl, "the biggest and most comprehensive source of knowledge about Polish culture," wrote to me to call my attention to "First We Feel Then We Fall: Finnegans Wake On-screen," by Mikolaj Glinski. It tells the story of the adaptation of Joyce's Finnegans Wake by Polish visual artist Jakub Wróblewski and scholar Katarzyna Bazarnik. After you read Glinski's article, check out the trippy interactive film online. 

Zulawski, a RAW fan, writes, "The author who wrote this Joyce piece, Mikolaj Glinski, has written several about Joyce for the site in the past - it seems Poles have a deep appreciation for the book, trying to approach it in various ways, so our editorial office has tried to cover what we can. Mikolaj also wrote about freemasons after there was a large exhibition of freemason art last year in Warsaw. Apparently, he started receiving very strange paranoid rants from people over social media about it, and still does every so often. Fnord."

Culture.pl has a lot of other interesting stuff. See, for example, Glinski's piece on "11 Great Polish Books You Have to Read."  (I've read one, the science fiction novel Solaris by Stanislaw Lem.) Poland also has more than its share of interesting modern composers, such as Lutoslawski, so I find Polish music interesting.


George Dorn Screams

Speaking of Polish music, the rock band George Dorn Screams, which apparently takes its name from phrase in Illuminatus!, has just released a new album, Spacja kosmiczna. It, and the band's other albums, are available for streaming on Spotify. (I've been listening to it; it sounds good.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

John Higgs on the best nonfiction books about psychedelics


John Higgs 

While searching for something completely different, I stumbled upon a John Higgs article I had never seen before, from back in 2006, a piece for the Guardian on his "top ten" (actually 11) nonfiction books about psychedelics. 

Cosmic Trigger Vol. 1 by Robert Anton Wilson comes in at No. 8, and Higgs includes this sentence: "Anti-drug campaigners should distribute this book in schools, and ask children if they could handle that much madness."


Monday, August 29, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week 21


Horus Errand cover art

By Charles Faris Cosmic Trigger reading group guest blogger 

Welcome to week 20 of the RAWIllumination Cosmic Trigger Reading Group. This week we are covering the final three chapters of PART ONE: The Sirius Connection, including The Horus Hawk and Uri Geller, The Mothman Prophecies, and Doggiez from Sirius. All of this wonderfulness begins on page 172 (Hilaritas Press).

The Horus Hawk and Uri Geller

In my current view, I see Wilson as both guerrilla ontologist and gonzo journalist. Cosmic Trigger, then, tells the story of a particular strain of energy that ran through the time period centered on the 1960’s all the way to the mid-seventies, all told through the nervous system of one Robert Anton Wilson, Brooklyn born iconoclast and autodidact. This particular strain of energy seems connected to the Gnosis and begs the question: “why does the gnosis always get busted?”  Which begs another question: how to avoid the gnosis-busters!


Tim Leary as Prometheus — Note similarity to Prometheus Rising cover

In Bob’s telling, Timothy Leary represents the living embodiment of the Gnosis, busted in public and punished in private, hidden away in cell after cell before being labeled a snitch (Gnosis is a Snitch!), and then belittled in public and quietly kicked out onto the street in dis-grace.

Because he’s RAWsome, Bob also continually introduces us to myriad other hard working, dedicated, passionate dealers in gnosis including Saul-Paul Sirag, Uri Geller, and Dr. Andrija Puharich. Interesting that Bob spends three pages detailing the political struggles that plagued Timothy Leary, before finally transitioning into the Horus Hawk via Saul-Paul Sirag and Uri Geller. There are some fun fireworks when Saul-Paul interacts with Uri Geller, as well as quite a few synchronicities of distinction. I’ve included lots of visual media today to help deepen the experiences of the synchronicities.

Inevitably, Bob has Saul-Paul and Uri toss the topic in the general direction of Aleister Crowley, who performs commendably, allowing Bob to slip in a hypothesis about the cattle mutilations which began in 1968, as well as an awesome Illustration of Nuit framing an image of Ra-Hoor-Khuit sitting in a mystic/symbolic setting, courtesy of the inestimable John Thompson.


Shadow of the Hawk poster 

The notion of sacrifice pervades this chapter, from the dark dealings involved in getting Dr. Leary out of prison, to the sacrifice of cattle, which Bob handily connects to “many shamanic traditions throughout history.”

If you are at all interested in the story of the Persecution and Character Assassination of Timothy Leary as Performed by the Guardians of the American Legal System under the direction of Richard M. Nixon, investigate I Have America Surrounded, a bio by John Higgs, who was first introduced to Bob while researching that book, and happened to write the introduction to the Hilaritas Press edition of this book! I also recommend Jail Notes by Timothy Leary, which gives you an insider’s view of Dr. Leary’s time in prison.

The Mothman Prophecies


John Keel 

As befits a chapter with such a title, The Mothman Prophecies is high weirdness full of cattle mutilations, UFO’s, “extraterrestrial” contact, poltergeist activity, and of course, The Mothman (“a monster with giant red eyes, a human form, and huge moth-like wings”). To top it off we get Men In Black—the sinister spooks who >>SPOILER ALERT<< wear black suits and drive black Cadillacs, identifying themselves as government agents, while giving the impression of being something far scarier. Bob is relying on John Keel for the story here, which involves UFO’s, Contactees, and Three Prophecies, which are just true enough as well as false enough to bring Keel to the conclusion that the “ultra-terrestrials” as he calls them seem “malicious and vicious.”


Firesign Theatre cover

Doggiez from Sirius




Harvey

And so we come to the final chapter of PART ONE: The Sirius Connection, in which our intrepid Author follows the advice of T.S. Eliot and gets back to where he started, with Sirius, only to discover a shaggy dog story full of accurate psychics, LSD-fueled trips to Gaelic fairy-land, an enormous invisible white-rabbit-resembling pookah who communicates through telepathy and synchronicity, and the aforementioned doggiez from Sirius, as well as the solution to the mystery of Joe Malik’s disappearing dogs from Illuminatus!  Whew!

And then connecting it all together with Sirius, of course.


Language and Music of the Wolves 

Alright! We’ve made an awesome journey from Sirius to Sirius with Sideshow Bob as our guide. Please take some time to offer your thoughts regarding this weeks journey, as well as ant commentary you might have regarding the entirety of Cosmic Trigger thus far. Remember, it is your participation that makes this group reading a valuable resource for generations to come!

Next week we dive into PART I: Models and Metaphors (185) through The Sirius Evidence. Until then, enjoy some time with your own personal Sirius, and tell us all about your theories, observations, and experiences.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Robert Anton Wilson on optimism during serious illness

Eric Wagner, author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, kindly shared this email written by Robert Anton Wilson, dated August 31, 2006:

Dear. dear friends,

First of all, I want to thank you for the love & support you have 
given me over the past months.

Lately, however, I have been getting a lot of advice about how I 
should live & how I should face the dying process. I am asking, with 
great love, that my friends no longer share with me their insights 
about my health or when I might die. I have my own instincts about my 
capacity to bounce back and about which activities feed my soul. These 
feelings are very positive, & I don't want my positive gut-feeling 
dampened and confused by the projections of others.

If those who believe I am at death's door are proven to be 
correct, indeed, they can claim a prize at my funeral. Otherwise, I apologize.

Your beloved friend,

Robert Anton Wilson

DON'T PRAY IN OUR SCHOOLS AND WE
WON'T THINK IN YOUR CHURCHES

Wilson died on Jan. 11, 2007.

Richard Rasa comments, "I remember this email. When I was with him, he would often talk about the doctor’s theories, often with disdain. I would often tell him that we all would really be better off if he stuck around for as long as possible. He liked hearing optimistic wishes and projections, especially because the doctors were so often wrong, or bull-headed. Seeing this old email reminds of how much I loved that guy!"


Saturday, August 27, 2016

John Markoff's computer history



Alan Kay in 2008 (Creative Commons photo by Marcin Wichary)

Recently, intrigued by the journey that Timothy Leary (and many others) made from being interested in psychedelics to be interested in personal computers, I finally got around to reading  What the Dormouse Said by John Markoff, on "How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry." 

It was very interesting. The "stars" of the book are Doug Engelbart, whose group invented the computer mouse and made other breakthroughs, and Alan Kay, whose team essentially invented the modern personal computer for Xerox, including an improved mouse and graphical user interface.

Here's is an interesting passage on how Alan Kay dreamed up the idea of a laptop and tablet: 

Kay became a brilliant synthesizer of ideas. Additionally, he was the first person to approach the design of computers from the point of view of an artist rather than that of an engineer. Coupled with an early and profound understanding of the implication of the scaling principle [i.e., the insight the that the rapid growth in the power of processors would make personal computers possible], he also took an important step beyond Engelbart's notion of personal-computer-as-vehicle. He conceived of personal computing as an entire new medium. In thinking about the computer in this way, he remembered reading about the insight of Aldus Manutius, who some forty years after the invention of the printing press established the dimensions of the modern book by understanding that it must be small enough to fit into a saddlebag. The obvious twentieth-century analogy was that a modern computer should be no larger than a notebook. (Pages 229-230). 

It's an interesting book. One irony of my reading decision is that while Markoff documents LSD use in the area and by some of the computer scientists, he doesn't quite convince me that LSD had anything to do with the development of the personal computer in the Stanford area; there were a lot of computer nerds in the area, due to Stanford, the nascent electronics industry in Silicon Valley and defense contractors. In the end, I had the impression that the personal computer developed there because it was where Xerox set up a laboratory, and it was where Doug Engelhart and Alan Kay chose to live and work.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Chad Nelson on anarchism and RAW


Chad Nelson 

Chad Nelson — anarchist, attorney, Robert Anton Wilson scholar, vegan, Pearl Jam fanatic, animal rights activist and senior fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society — is featured in an interview at the Secret Transmissions blog, where Chad holds forth on anarchism.

There are two sections in the interview that mention Robert Anton Wilson; here is one:

What’s the relationship between C4SS and the late Discordian author, Robert Anton Wilson? 

I wish I could find the source, but I remember at one time reading that if RAW were alive today he'd probably most closely align with C4SS politically. I've got to imagine, based on everything I've read from the man, that it's fairly accurate. I think even his non-political thinking contains a lot of overlap with C4SS philosophy. 

I've tried during my time affiliated with C4SS to dial up the amount of RAW exposure. I created a "Robert Anton Wilson Collection" there – which contains "sombunall" of C4SS's references to RAW's work. In almost everything I've written at C4SS, I've given a nod to him, if not outright parroted his ideas, often intentionally. 

I tied RAW to the C4SS in this blog post. 

Chad offers some examples of anarchist principles in action. How about science fiction conventions? They exist as voluntary organizations.

By the way, I'm not an anarchist myself; I self define as "more of a libertarian than anything else." I'm fine voting for Gary Johnson, even if I don't aline perfectly with him. He is "open" to the idea of a basic income and is better on the peace issue than many libertarians give him credit for.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Currencies that are an alternative to money


Tokyo Ramen. Photo released under GNU Free Documentation License. 

At Reason magazine, Jesse Walker posts an article about a topic that RAW was interested in: Alternative currencies.

After noting a piece by Elizabeth Nolan Brown about ramen noodles catching on as a currency, Walker notes six other alternate currencies that Reason has mentioned in articles: T-shirts, cell phone minutes, cans of fish, opium, cocaine and even urine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My interview with Ian 'Cat' Vincent


Ian "Cat" Vincent. (Credit: Photographer Robin LeBlanc, plus Deep Dream.)

I am pleased to present an interview with Ian "Cat" Vincent, a British mage, writer and student of Robert Anton Wilson. Here, Cat holds forth of RAW, Festival 23, Brexit and other subjects. And there's news — Festival 23 will return in two years!

Cat sent me his official bio, but a couple of additional notes: If you like this interview, please see the very interesting one with Dubious Monk; I tried to avoid overlap with it. Trivia about Mr. Vincent (from the Internet Movie Database): "Was the basis of the character 'Romanov' in Diana Wynne Jones' novel 'The Merlin Conspiracy' (2003)."

And new we hear from the man himself:

My current bio:

Ian "Cat" Vincent is a lifelong student of the occult, and a former paranormal protection consultant.

In recent years he has turned his attention to Fortean journalism, with a focus on examining the rise of "hyper­rea"' (fiction­-inspired) belief systems and other pop­ culture manifestations of the occult. He was one of the earliest journalists to write in depth on the Slenderman phenomenon.

His writing has appeared in Fortean Times, the American college text Apocalyptic Imaginary, a monthly column at Spiral Nature and the Darklore anthologies, and he is a a contributing editor at The Daily Grail.

He has lectured on subjects including Slenderman, the life and works of Robert Anton Wilson, the fictional roots of modern paganism and the Westernisation of Eastern beliefs at a range of venues including the Senate House Library, the University of Leicester and the Royal College of Art.

His first book, New Gods and Monsters, on the evolution of pop culture belief systems, will be published in 2017 by Daily Grail Publishing.

Ian is a Fellow of The Institute of Atemporal Studies. He blogs at catvincent.com and he can be found on Twitter @catvincent.

A resume of Ian’s writing and lectures to date can be found here: http://www.catvincent.com/?page_id=1309


RAWILLUMINATION: For those of us who couldn't afford to come from the U.S. to Festival 23, can you describe what the highlights were like? How did your own appearance go?

CAT VINCENT: Very hard to describe! (Here’s my latest newsletter where I try to approach summing the event up...).

Quickest possible summary: in a field of at­ peak 500 people, I did not encounter a single arsehole. I got at least three magical upgrades. People I’d never met before became pals; people I already knew became close; people I loved became immortal. The music was varied and excellent, the art fascinating, the spoken­ word and other performances magnetic. The spirits of both Bob Wilson and Ken Campbell were properly venerated. Possibly the best weekend of my life. And ... they’re doing it again in two years time.

My appearances ... well, I was scheduled to do two, ended up doing five. They seemed to be well­received ...  even the bit where I had the temerity to use Alan Moore’s words to impersonate Glycon!


Cat Vincent with his hand puppet at Festival 23. I don't know the identity of the other other gentlemen. 

RAWILLUMINATION: How did you get interested in Robert Anton Wilson? At this stage in your life, is there a book or books by RAW you particularly like?

CAT VINCENT:  I was a weird kid even before I got to reading Bob: something of a prodigy (but not having anything I was especially good at, other than Being Weird and reading a lot), the local library gave me adult tickets once I’d read all the kid’s books ...  then closed shelf access once I’d read all the adult ones. I had access to literally any book I could think of. I was reading Crowley, Tim Leary, De Sade and such by the age of ten. So I was well-primed for finding a second­hand copy of Illuminatus! in the local bookshop ... but it was Cosmic Trigger (back then there was only the one) which did the job. I was around 13 and it was barely in print. Between that and the other Wilson ­ Colin (especially The Occult and A Criminal History of Mankind) I was immediately upgraded, and somewhat prepared for a life of magic. Emphasis on the ‘somewhat.’

I always return to Cosmic Trigger and Quantum Psychology. Of the fiction, Masks of the Illuminati and the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles (especially Nature’s God) stand out.

(And now, Cosmic Trigger 1 is back in print, with a new introduction by John Higgs ... and I’m mentioned in it. 13 year old me would be astonished.)



RAWILLUMINATION: Can you please say something about the book you are working on, New Gods and Monsters?

CAT VINCENT: New Gods is in part an expansion of my thoughts on the concept of "hyperreal religion" ­ those belief systems whose adherents freely admit that their source material is entirely fictional ­ as first examined in print by me in my Darklore piece ‘Believing In Fiction.’ It’s also shaping up to be probably the closest thing to autobiography I’ll ever do: my relationship to fiction and magic is, like any spirituality, intensely personal ­ so it’s the only way to both do the subject justice and contextualise it to a possibly skeptical reader.

RAWILLUMINATION: Aren't you interested in science fiction and fantasy? Who are your favorite authors?

CAT VINCENT: Hugely: SF was my first love as a child, even before the occult. (Here’s a piece I
wrote about my early hyperreal love of classic Star Trek a while back.)

Fantasy was, oddly, less so ­ though the appearance of what’s now called Urban Fantasy shifted my viewpoint: I like my fantasy to be almost like my actual life ...  none of that Second World stuff, generally!

Some of my top writers:

Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Diana Wynne Jones, Neil Gaiman, Philip K Dick, William Gibson, Fritz Leiber, Iain (M) Banks, Clive Barker, Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross, Kameron Hurley, Kate Griffin (aka Claire North), Richard Kadrey, Ales Kot, J. Michael Straczynski, The Robinsons ­ Kim Stanley and Spider.

A special place for the extraordinary Andrew Vachss: read his bio, then his books.

RAWILLUMINATION: Can you recommend one or two books of magick to provide a solid grounding for those of us who don't know very much about it?

CAT VINCENT: A tricky one, as my education was hundreds of books and thousands of hours of experimentation!

As a primer to modern approaches, you can’t go far wrong with Grant Morrison’s Pop Magic. I also recommend Ramsey Dukes' SSOTBME! as a solid, skeptical intro to chaos magic approaches. The most fascinating new book on magic for me is The Cunning Man’s Handbook by Jim Baker, which is a revolution (and huge!). Best advice on books for the new mage: read widely, doubt heavily, double check your sources, test them personally. There’s a wealth of information out there, especially since the likes of Jake Stratton­-Kent have both transmitted and contextualised many old grimoires.

RAWILLUMINATION: How has RAW influenced your ideas about magick? Which opinion of his on magick do you think is spot on, and what did he say about magick that you disagree with?

CAT VINCENT: In a word: completely.

As a very young mage with no physical peer group, RAW’s multi­model approach was a revelation. By showing me the multi­model approach (around the same time as this idea was being explored with the originators of the Chaos magic movement) it allowed me to combine disparate elements into my slowly evolving praxis, and it’s never failed me yet.

The part I disagree with? His position of total disbelief. Despite my best efforts over some 40 years, there’s still stuff I believe in. I believe in magic: a Something that sometimes allows altering of perceived reality through indirect means ­ maps being used to change the territory. One might see this as an experiment in choosing one’s belief system ... I must therefore note that in 45 years of praxis, it has rarely let me down.

RAWILLUMINATION: You have kind of a unique perspective on Brexit — if I understand correctly, you shut down your combat magick consulting company because you were afraid of running afoul of EU regulations. Do you plan to restart your business in the wake of the Brexit vote?

CAT VINCENT: I truly did not see this question coming.

I voted Remain in the Referendum. I also got one of the oldest pieces of figurative art in England ­ the Uffington White Horse ­ tattooed on my arm right before I voted (23 June!) because whichever way the vote went, I wanted a piece of Old Albion on my skin ... and my Albion is and will ever be (as Eddie Izzard once put it) a Mongrel Nation.  (See also here and here.)

I also note that a pro­immigration seated member of Parliament was assassinated  by a white supremacist just before the vote ... and the Leave side won. I do not think it’s a huge step to say that was a blood sacrifice on behalf of some very bad magic.

I’m hardly a fan of the EU generally, or politics at all. But I am a xenophile, and I treasure what other cultures have brought to my land. (I am old enough to remember what British food was like before the influx of Ugandan Asians to our shores in the 1970s... *shudder*.) And not only are there no justifiable political or economic reasons for Brexit outside of a nostalgia for a non­existent Imperial golden age, the degree of racial and xenophobic brutality since the Referendum horrifies and disgusts me.

That said ...  no, I won’t be restarting Athanor Consulting. Mostly because, as Danny Glover once said, I’m too old for this shit.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week 20!


Welcome to week 20 of the RAWIllumination.net Cosmic Trigger Reading Group. This week we are covering a couple of pivotal chapters — Mystery Babalon and Leary emerges from darkness and Sirius rises again, located beginning on page 161 Hilaritas. Many thanks to Adam Gorightly for going above and beyond the call of duty last week offering us a deeper look into the slow mental unravelling that can happen whilst wandering about in Chapel Perilous. The contrast between Kerry Thornley and RAW is invaluable for anyone considering a study of magick, the occult, the Illuminati, etc.

Before diving into this weeks reading, I want to replay a few choice quotes from Ishtar’s Walk, which can serve as a time-lapse of our Author hitting bottom and then emerging from the depths.

“Pity assaulted me; I wept.”
“Pity tour at me with claws.”
“Pity and horror.”
“It is an easy step from pity to self-pity.”
“At sunset, The fool got up and went out on the porch and watched the song sinking in the west, doing the Sufi heart chakra exercise, forcing myself to love all beings. I came back to life.”
“I reached a depths of despair and deliberately decided to love the world instead of pitying myself; and, afterwards, I was no longer afraid of anything.”
“Sufism had vindicated that self: the heart chakra exercise works. Perfect love cast out fear. I was beginning to emerge on the other side of chapel perilous.”

And now for our regularly scheduled broadcast.

Mystery Babalon finds our Author on October 12, 1974, hosting a Crowleymas party involving “weird and eldritch festivities” as well as nearly 100 local wizards and mystics. That must have been quite a scene. Our intrepid Author and erstwhile Shaman gets things started pretty quickly, invoking the notion of paranoia, and then flexing his new-found “emerging from chapel perilous” muscles, first by spending 20 minutes on the phone helping one Dr. H (not his real initial!) turn around a bad acid trip, and then spending 3 hours “practicing psychotherapy without a license” while helping another alias (Tom) grok that “he was the programmer of his own computer, and that it had only been a hallucination that made him think the computer was starting to program him.”


 Jacques Vallee

“And then Jacques Vallee arrived.” Bob immediately kidnaps him into “a room which the other party-goers were not informed about,” accompanied by Grady and Phyllis McMurtry, a couple of young magicians from Los Angeles, and Alias Tom. There ensues a conversation regarding alien intelligences, UFO’s, and extraterrestrials which brings to mind the Sufi tale of “The Elephant in a Dark Room.”

“Jacques said that the evidence emerging suggested to him that the UFO’s weren't extraterrestrial at all,” and that they “always strive to give the impression that they are something the society they are visiting can understand."


Grady McMurtry

Bob asks Grady McMurtry about the extraterrestrial nature of alien intelligences—"Some of the things Aleister said to me," Grady replied carefully, "could be interpreted as hints pointing that way,” although he himself thought the theory of higher dimensions made more sense to him than the theory of actual extraterrestrials.

Bob himself states that he “was inclined to believe the Higher Intelligences were extraterrestrial.”

Alias Tom, a witch as well as a computer programmer (note how Bob used the computer analogy to talk him out of his earlier crisis) said that the Higher Intelligences are “imbedded in our language and numbers.”

There ensues talk of a War in Heaven, Secret Chiefs, and “beings we cannot understand,” which brings to mind the oft-quoted remark by Arthur C. Clarke that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magick.” Pay no attention to that Secret Chief behind the curtain!

The Author then dives into a story about Dr. H (from earlier in the chapter), auras, and Energy from the Sky resulting in a sort of ecstatic chest-pain and/or asthma, in which he ties together Anton Mesmer, Baron Reichenbach, Alexander Gurvich, and Wilhelm Reich as discoverers of “animal magnetism,” “OD,” “the mitogenic ray,” and “orgone energy,” and details a trail of magickal adepts who developed chest pain and asthma after experiencing this energy and/or the “beings we cannot understand”—including MacGregor Mathers, Alan Bennett, Aleister Crowley, and Israel Regardie, who was cured of his condition after undergoing bio-energetic therapy from Dr. Wilhelm Reich. Whew!

Interestingly enough, just at the time Cosmic Trigger was published, Reiki energy, the most popularized form of “energy work,” was just beginning to spread beyond small groups of practitioners in Japan and Hawaii on its way to becoming as commonplace and many other freaky ideas Bob was talking about way back then—yoga, meditation, etc. The Author then finishes the chapter with a Crowley quote which is a bit too enthusiastic perhaps in its prediction of a scientific understanding (and acceptance) of these energies. The energy work itself, however, is vibrant today…

Leary emerges from the darkness and Sirius rises again


William Grimstad's Six Million Reconsidered 

The Author herein introduces the Reader to Timothy Leary’s SMI2LE scenario, Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, & Life Extension, as “the three obvious steps that a reasonable educated God takes.” He then proceeds to mash-up some recent communications from Leary with a series of communications from one W.N. Grimstad, which included an elaborate theory which Bob describes alternately as “Cabalistic Numerological magick” and “rigamarole.” Interesting to note that the title of the chapter partially derives from a tape created by the aforementioned Mr. Grimstad titled Sirius Rising, and that over the past week, Sirius has indeed been rising, after spending 40 days “behind” our sun. Mr. Grimstad, by the way, is an apparent “Holocaust denier” and potential anti-semite, if Mr. Google is to be trusted, something our Author may or may not have suspected back in those pre-internet days.

The finale of this chapter gives the Reader an awesome example of “meaning” (“in the Jungian sense”), tying together Bob, Tim, Grimstad, the San Francisco Phoenix, the S.L.A., and Patty Hearst. Interestingly enough, the birth of Cosmic Trigger The Play involves another beautiful example of Jungian “meaning,” which John Higgs recounts in the introduction to the Hilaritas Press edition of Cosmic Trigger, and which Cat Vincent wrote about in March 2014.

That’s it for this week—please dive in with your own tales of Higher Intelligences, Jungian “meaning,” elephants in dark rooms, etc. Next week we will be examining The Horus Hawk and Uri Geller, The Motorman Prophesies, and Doggiez from Sirius, beginning on page 172, and finishing up Part I.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Portrait of a writer


This is a portrait of Robert Anton Wilson I found on dribbble.com (extra "b" is not a typo), by artist Michael Walters of Chattanooga, Tenn.

The caption says, "Some more low poly love for an American hero, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, psychologist, self-described agnostic mystic, Episkopos, Pope, and saint of Discordianism."

This artwork is available as a canvas print. See also his other products, such as a nice looking "If you can read this, you are a pope" t-shirt or sweatshirt in a variety of styles.  Counting styles and sizes, there are "23 available products" of the pope t-shirt. Check out his other works to see offerings that may interest sombunall of you, such as Aleister Crowley rendered as a cat.

Mr. Walters is the founder and director of Third Floor Labs. "Third Floor Labs is an artistic design and marketing company driven by technology and culture."

Dribbble.com is a "show and tell for designers" site.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

H.P. Lovecraft's birthday today



August 20 is the birthday of the writer H.P. Lovecraft, an influence on Robert Anton Wilson who shows up as a character in Illuminatus!

I confess that I might have missed the happy occasion, but Chad Nelson wrote to me and sent me the above graphic promoting a birthday party in Lovecraft's city, Providence.

Using  your favorite search engine (I use DuckDuckGo — it doesn't track you) reveals other celebrations, including one in New York City.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Thiel destroys Gawker: Two views



If you haven't heard, Gawker.com is shutting down in a few days. Apparently the other Gawker Media sites will continue. The shutdown is the result of the Hulk Hogan lawsuit, which Peter Thiel financed.  (I feel justified in putting up a blog post about all of this here because of Robert Anton Wilson's interest in freedom of speech, although I don't pretend to know what he would have thought about this controversy).

My reaction to this has been dominated by a feeling of pleasure that Gawker finally bullied the wrong targets, but I acknowledge that Thiel's lawsuit raises freedom of speech issues. I've noticed two good blog posts about the case.

Jacob Sullum, a reliably excellent columinist and Reason Magazine writer, pens a piece arguing that "Peter Thiel's Free-Floating Right to Privacy Is Inconsistent With Freedom of Speech." 

Kudos to Sullum for letting Thiel make his argument before attacking it.

"A story that violates privacy and serves no public interest should never be published," Thiel writes. "It is ridiculous to claim that journalism requires indiscriminate access to private people's sex lives....It is wrong to expose people's most intimate moments for no good reason."

One can agree with all of these propositions without agreeing that they should be legally enforceable.

You should read all of Sullum's piece, but here is the heart of his argument:

Thiel's free-floating right to privacy is completely unmoored from property rights, contract rights, or constitutional law. It can be invoked whenever someone objects to a story that reflects negatively on him or complicates his personal life, even when the story is completely accurate, provided that person has the resources to pay for a lawsuit. And as with defamation suits, he need not win to punish his adversary.

Ken White at Popehat, very good at freedom of speech issues, writes:

Gawker's utter destruction produces a feeling of glee in my guts but disquiet in my heart. As I've written before, I'm not sure that the ruinous verdict against Gawker was just, I don't think that the amount of damages awarded was defensible, and I'm concerned that the result was a product of the brokenness of our legal system.

For White, the brokenness of the legal system is the main point.

But observers seem eager to push the wrong message about that brokenness. The scary part of the story isn't that the occasional vengeful billionaire might break the system and overwhelm even a well-funded target with money. Such people exist, but getting sued by them is like getting hit by lightning. No, for most of us the scary part of the story is that our legal system is generally receptive to people abusing it to suppress speech. 

His piece is also a read-the-whole thing, and let me add that neither piece is terrible long — you can read them both without interrupting your day very long.

UPDATE: The Peter Thiel op-ed is here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review of Alan Moore's new novel


Publishers Weekly runs a review of Alan Moore's new novel, Jerusalem. 

It certainly sounds ambitious. Reviewer Heidi MacDonald writes that the book is written in three parts.  "The third and most difficult part is written in a series of literary pastiches, including a Beckett-like play and an entire chapter written in a language invented by Lucia Joyce, the institutionalized daughter of James Joyce."

Here in the states, the book is released on Sept. 13.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Real Taoism


Taoist rite at the Qingyanggong (Green Goat Temple) in Chengdu.

The New York Times interviews a scholar of Taoism, "China’s only indigenous religion," and the information is surprising, at least for someone as ignorant as me.

A Colorado professor, Terry F. Kleeman, explains that the religion of Taoism and the famous Taoist texts have little in common: "Taoist priests don’t carry around copies of the Daodejing, and that work has little to do with what they teach. They teach a set of rules and morality, but you’ll find little morality in the Daodejing."

And what does the religion consist of? "The world of the dead is like the world of the living. Taoist priests are like cosmic lawyers. They can go up to heaven and extricate the dead from difficulties. Taoism gives you a way of controlling your fate in another world."

Hat tip, Roman Tsivkin. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Listening to Frank Zappa


Frank Zappa (Creative Commons photo by Helge Øverås via Wikipedia bio) 

I've been listening to Frank Zappa lately (I've been a fan of his music for years) and I'm struck by a couple of things (1) He died in 1993, so he's been dead for more than 20 years and (2) He strikes me as being a bit of a kindred spirit with Robert Anton Wilson.

I'm not claiming that Wilson was a Zappa fan (although he once endorsed Zappa's campaign for president).

But it seems to be that both were "postmodern" before the term became widely current, in the sense that they both combined high culture and pop elements. Wilson saw no reason why he couldn't be influenced by Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft, and also by James Joyce and Ezra Pound. Zappa was into rock and blues and R and B, but also jazz and modern composers.

Both appeared at a convention devoted to William Burroughs,  and the "cut-up" technique popularized by William Burroughs and invited by Brion Gysin. Illuminatus! would be the example for Wilson.  As for Zappa, I've been listening recently to the Sheik Yerbouti album, which features songs that end abruptly and an album track list that shifts abruptly from typical Zappa ditties to instrumental jazz rock pieces to spoken word bits with sound effects. Sometimes the shifts appear within the same song.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week 19! Guest post by Adam Gorightly

By Adam Gorightly, guest blogger 

Welcome to week 19 of the RAWIllumination Cosmic Trigger Reading Group. This week the task of shedding some light on The horrors begin (150) and Ishtar’s Walk: a guided tour of Hell (154) fall upon Adam Gorightly, familiar to many of you for his ultra-comprehensive work with the Discordian Archives, otherwise known as the Holy Chao. Adam has written extensively on Kerry Thornley (and many other prominent fringe characters) and his insights on KT and Chapel Perilous should add much to our reading of Cosmic Trigger. Check out some of his pages at https://gorightly.wordpress.com, http://discordia.wikia.com/wiki/Adam_Gorightly, or http://www.adamgorightly.com.

And now without further ado, Mr. Adam Gorightly!


— Charles Faris 

[A brief note from The Management: If you want to learn more, check out Adam Gorightly's books such as Historia Discordia, Caught in the Crossfire and The Prankster and the Conspiracy. I have read all three books and so can personally recommend them. Details here.  And please visit the Historia Discordia website. -- Tom Jackson]

Thanks to Charles Faris for inviting me take the helm for this week’s Cosmic Trigger reading. I ended up writing a lot more than I’d initially intended…but sometimes that happens! (I blame it on the Dog Days.)

We pick up with The horrors begin (page 150 of the Hilaritas edition) through to Ishtar’s Walk: a guided tour of Hell, a section that covers RAW’s lean years after he quit his cushy Playboy job and tossed caution in the wind to devote himself to full time freelancing. This was a difficult period when he went on public assistance (the dreaded “W” word: “Welfare”) to keep his family fed and a roof over their heads in a rundown Berkeley apartment complex with neighbors on either side who appeared to be going off their heads — like so many others who emerged from the madness that’d gripped the country at the end of the 60s — from the highs of the Woodstock Nation to the lows of Altamont, Kent State and the riots of Chicago, which RAW witnessed firsthand. RAW was smack dab in the middle of the cultural sea change taking place — that all of the sudden seemed to have lost traction, like Hunter Thompson’s wave that “finally broke and rolled back.”

Before we knew it, the 70s were upon us and something had changed. So many of the heroes of the movement had either burned out or sold out or spun out. By 1973, the sixties looked a
thousand light years away in the rear view mirror as the lost idealism of that decade bled over into the early seventies. A hung-over generation awoke one morning to discover President Nixon’s “War on Drugs” in full swing, its crosshairs trained on the country’s youth, poor and
minorities; draconian drug laws designed, it seemed, to create a prison state of mind, with
RAW’s good friend Tim Leary — who Nixon proclaimed “the most dangerous man in
America”—serving as the poster boy for all things immoral and indecent.

Amid Watergate revelations of government snooping gone wild, paranoia ran high in a fragmented counterculture, as out of this era emerged a generation of damaged goods—like some of RAW’s loony Berzerkeley neighbors—or his friend Kerry Thornley, who had a job done on his head not only by the “brown acid”, but due to the trials and tribulations of the Garrison Inquisition. Operation Mindfuck had come full circle, it appeared, biting its creator, Kerry Thornley, square on the ass.

Against this backdrop, occasional self doubt crept into RAW’s reality tunnel. Since the whole
world seemed to be going mad, maybe he was, as well…filled with doubts that he’d made the
worst decision of his life quitting Playboy all the while the prospect hanging over his head that he’d never become a successful writer, let alone afford to pay his bills. Also the uncertainty of Illuminatus! was still dangling in the wind, yet unpublished.

In the midst of unsure times, RAW continued his path of self discovery, practicing Sufi heart-
chakra exercises to free his mind of troubles and open himself up to the wonders of the
universe—which all sounds pretty new agey in retrospect, but it was a sign of the times. It was the Aquarian New Age and RAW was at the forefront, not only diving headfirst into those trendy currents, but also examining them with a critical eye. Much the same way Aleister Crowley had done decades before, by examining consciousness (magick) using the scientific method, and at the same time approaching these practices in an unbiased/unconditioned manner, the ultimate goal to metaprogram one’s self and open higher circuits.

“We place no reliance on virgin or pidgeon.
Our method is science, our aim is religion.”

It was a transition period when the counterculture crossed its own abyss — from the social
activism, sexual liberation and drug induced revelations of the 60s — into a state of creeping
dread brought on by Watergate, Cointelpro and the War on Drugs. Out of this madness emerged the New Age Movement, which many of the old guard radical left considered a cop out, people staring at their navels when they should be overthrowing The Man.

This period witnessed a renewed interest in the JFK assassination, as well as the other political assassinations of the late 60s, as conspiracy buffs began noticing a pattern from one assassination to another, this coupled with a deepening mistrust of government, and a growing Police State, all contributed to The Paranoid Period.

Then Kerry Thornley, high priest of Eris, re-entered my life, dragging the Kennedy Assassination horrors with him. (p.151)


Kerry Thornley during his Sacred Mind Ashram period in Atlanta. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

At this point in the narrative, RAW brings up Thornley’s feud with Jim Garrison, which I’d be
remiss if I didn’t attempt to explain. But don’t tell me I didn’t tell you it gets way convoluted.

Thornley—as weird history instructs—served with Oswald in the Marines for a short period and
due to this association went on to author a couple books about his Marine Corps chum titled
Oswald and Idle Warriors. Garrison conjectured that these books were written as a means to portray Oswald as a commie influenced lone nutter with an itchy trigger finger in order to set him up as a patsy in the assassination…all part of a convoluted conspiracy caper that Thornley (maybe) was party to. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

As to the nature of Garrison and Thornley’s beef, this date backs to Kerry’s association with JFK researcher David Lifton, author of the classic Kennedy assassination tome, Best Evidence.

In his initial discussions with Lifton in 1965, Thornley mentioned how Oswald spoke Russian in
 the ranks at El Toro with a Marine whose name he thought might have been John Renee Heindel.

This revelation (that Oswald conversed in the Russian tongue with Heindel) came as a surprise to Lifton, because he was quite familiar with Thornley’s Warren Commission testimony and the
fact that Kerry hadn’t actually identified Heindel as the Russian speaking Marine in question. In fact, Thornley’s only mention in the Warren Report concerning this topic is a passage where he’s trying to recollect the name of the Russian speaking Marine, and he can’t. In later conversations, Kerry admitted that he’d only recalled Heindel’s name (after delivering his testimony) when he and Warren Commission attorney, Albert Jenner, were having lunch together and Jenner provided Thornley with the name “Heindel.” How Jenner came to this conclusion (that Heindel was the guy who spoke Russian) is unclear, but it stuck in Thornley’s mind only later to be repeated to Lifton. And I haven’t even started getting convoluted yet! Hang on…

Another curiosity concerning Heindel (according to a Warren Commission affidavit) is that his nickname in the Marines was “Hidell", which was certainly a head scratcher, given that fact that Oswald used the “Alec Hidell” alias when he ordered the Manlicher-Carcano rifle allegedly used to kill Kennedy.

In mid 1967, Lifton discovered that our man Heindel was then living in New Orleans, which just happened to be the base of operations for Jim Garrison’s investigation and, in mid September, Lifton contacted Garrison to pass along this info about Heindel.


John Renee Heindel. Photo Credit: House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Not long after, Garrison called Heindel in for questioning, who denied the whole bit about speaking to Oswald in Russian. This led Garrison to somehow arrive at the conclusion that Heindel was lying. In addition, Garrison and his crew uncovered “evidence” that Heindel was seen with Oswald at several New Orleans bars during the summer of 1963. (Whether this “evidence” against Heindel was of any substance is another matter entirely.)

Long story short, Garrison wanted Thornley to travel to New Orleans to "confront" and "identify" Heindel as, you guessed it, the guy who spoke to Oswald in Russian. In the interim, Garrison requested (through Lifton) that Thornley write up a statement summarizing his memories of Oswald and Heindel. To this end, Lifton got together with Thornley (they were both living in Los Angeles at the time) and Lifton prepared an affidavit that Thornley signed and then Lifton afterwards mailed to Garrison in September 1967. Mainly, it was Lifton who behind all of this, and it’s doubtful that Thornley would have pursued the matter had not Lifton insisted.

Garrison’s ultimate plan was to call Heindel before a grand jury, and ask him if he’d ever heard Oswald speak Russian. Previously, Heindel had gone on record stating that he had not, thus it was Garrison’s assumption that Heindel would once again testify to the same tune.

Then — following Heindel’s testimony — Thornley would be called into testify that he, in fact, had heard Oswald and Heindel speaking Russian — or at least that’s the convoluted scenario Garrison envisioned. As a result—according to Garrison’s madcap plan — Heindel would then be indicted for perjury. Ultimately, Garrison envisioned a far grander scenario than simply implicating Heindel as a low level player in JFK’s assassination: his eventual goal was to persuade Heindel to provide detrimental testimony against some of the other suspects in the case, like Clay Shaw.

Lifton’s willingness to cooperate with Garrison on the matter soon soured after he examined the charges against Heindel and came to the conclusion that it was a whole bunch of nothing. When Lifton informed Thornley of these developments, Kerry attempted to distance himself from Garrison’s investigation by sending this letter to the New Orleans District Attorney’s office dated October 30, 1967:

Dear Mr. Garrison,

As a personal favor to Mr. Lifton I spent a whole day with him preparing that damned affidavit. It says everything I know about the subject. I regret that I bothered.

When I said I would speak to you ON MY TERMS, as you had apparently offered to do through Mr. Lifton, I meant it. And since you chose, when I called you the first time, not to deal on those terms, to hell with it.

I have no interest to speak of in this matter and from now on intend to keep out of it, as actions on my part can only in my view stimulate the state to violate the rights of others who for all I know may be innocent. “It is far better to reward the guilty than to punish the innocent,” said Robert Ingersoll, and every time you subpoena an innocent individual you punish him to the extent that you have violated his precious and unalienable right to liberty.

But what you do is your business, sir, and you are welcome to it.


Sincerely,

Kerry Thornley



Thornley’s October 30, 1967 letter to Jim Garrison. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives. 

In late November 1967, Lifton met Garrison in Los Angeles, and at this time,

“[Garrison] now had a brand new hypothesis. Kerry had been rapidly shifted from star-witness- to-be- list, to that of CIA agent/bad guy, who had met with and presumably conspired with Lee Oswald in the fall of 1963. The ostensive vehicle for this shift of position from star witness to culpable defendant was nothing more than a theory of the assassination postulating Kerry’s involvement invented and promulgated by Warren Report critic Harold Weisberg, and some testimony from a local New Orleans character named Barbara Reid…”

 — Excerpt from May 1968 letter from David Lifton to Mark Lane chronicling the Thornley/Heindel/Garrison matter. Courtesy the Discordian Archives. Read PDF here.

Over the next three years, Thornley was repeatedly hassled by Garrison and drug through the mud. Due to all this, “[He] had begun to enter a different belief-system. He was puzzled over many aspects of the case Garrison had tried to manufacture against him, and kept brooding over the details. Basically, the case rested upon what ordinary people call coincidences. Jungians and parapsychologists call them synchronicities. Garrison called them “propinquities” and said they proved the existence of “a conspiracy so vast as to stagger the imagination!” (p.151)

Garrison believed (or theorized or concocted) that Kerry Thornley was part of a JFK assassination cabal based out New Orleans, a notion that Thornley initially dismissed, but later — starting around 1973 or so—he began to suspect that Garrison might have been on the right track, at least in terms of an assassination cabal that both Oswald and Thornley were somehow associated with, or more correctly, manipulated by, and used as unwitting dupes — all of these machinations dating back to their time together in the Marines.

Thornley — as RAW notes — became obsessed with this whole notion that he’d been manipulated and perhaps even mind controlled and his paranoia grew to the extent where he began suspect that even his friends may have been in on the conspiracy, including those involved in the Discordian Society, like RAW and Bob Shea.

This scenario, among many other crazy things, are discussed in greater depth in my books The Prankster and the Conspiracy and Caught in the Crossfire, so check those out if you want to get increasingly convoluted.

Then, early in 1975, Thornley remembered an odd conversation in 1963 with a New Orleans man whom we will call Mr. M. The subject was — are you ready? — how to assassinate a President and get away with it. (p. 152).

RAW’s reference to a “Mr. M” is somewhat puzzling, as in most of Thornley’s writings he refers to the mystery man in question (who conversed with him about assassinating a President) as a pro-Nazi spook named Gary Kirstein (aka Brother-in- Law) who Kerry — at one time or another — suspected was actually Watergate burglar and CIA big-shot E. Howard Hunt (in disguise.) However — for a short period of time — Kerry suspected that Kirstein/Hunt may have actually been someone named Tom Miethe, another supposed neo-Nazi intelligence community type, so maybe that’s how RAW latched on to “Mr. M.” Or perhaps RAW wanted to avoid libel charges, so just used “Mr. M” instead of Kirstein to play it safe.

Then Thornley read about the case of Robert Byron Watson. (p. 153)

In mid 1975, Thornley came across a series of articles in Atlanta newspapers concerning the case of Robert Byron Watson, a young man who claimed he’d been framed on drug charges due to information he had regarding the MLK assassination — details of which sounded strikingly similar to Kerry’s own experience with certain shadowy characters (Gary Kirstein and Slim Brooks) in New Orleans in the early 60s. Kerry contacted Watson’s lawyers and sent them this memo outlining his knowledge of The Conspiracy:



Thornley’s memo to Robert Byron Watson’s attorneys. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

I must point out that two weeks after Thornley first made his charges against Mr. M. (to the Atlanta police) he was robbed, pistol-whipped and had his I.D. taken. (p. 154).

As a sidebar, I recently discovered that The Discordian Archives (which were passed on to yours truly in 2009) were in RAW’s safekeeping during the period Greg Hill moved to New York City in 1974. Evidently Hill couldn’t afford or didn’t want the hassle of transporting them to New York and decided to leave them with RAW (then living in Berkeley) who became the Discordian Archives curator, so to speak. So the chain of chaotic custody over the years has been this: Greg Hill > RAW > Greg Hill > Bob Newport > Me.

RAW evidently made good use of the archives, utilizing it as source material (it would appear) for portions of Cosmic Trigger. For instance, the inclusion of the thumbprint letter.


Original Thumbprint Letter. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives

RAW attempted to bring some attention to Thornley’s plight by authoring an article called “Assassination Scene Heats Up,” which he sent to Kerry for comment. Download PDF here.

As you can see, Thornley scrawled comments on each page, which became increasingly hostile as the pages turned, because he felt RAW was misinterpreting or not understanding him. However, the main reason RAW penned the piece in the first place was to help Kerry bring some attention to his claims. As far as I know, the article was never published.

Thornley began writing to me regularly about his solution to the assassinations, and insisted more and more often that his life was in danger. I tried to calm him down a bit by reminding him of the difference between theory and proof. It soon became evident, from his subsequent letters, that he was now half-convinced that I was part of the assassination conspiracy team. (p.156)

After sending out his JFK assassination related memos to Watson’s attorneys and other law enforcement officials, Kerry attended an Atlanta house party where he was given some “funny-tasting” marijuana. At this party he talked to a group of individuals about the JFK assassination, one of whom he suspected was RAW.

A few days later, Kerry met again with one of the party goers, who passed him a pipeload of weed that — after puffed upon — blistered the inside of his mouth, making him suspect someone was attempting to poison him. Kerry delivered an affidavit to the Atlanta police describing this incident, dated July 25 th , 1975, along with the pot pipe and its contents:

“I have spoken to several people about the group of very nice people I met at a party at the Celestial Mansion on Flat Shoals Road last Saturday night.

“One person I met there who may or may not have been part of this group (which knew more about the JFK assassination re Gary Kirstein, it seemed, by what they said and the questions they asked me, than I do) was a guy who said his name was Jack Wolverton…

“While we sat in the kitchen rapping, I filled up the enclosed pipe with a few leftover roaches and passed it to Jack. There was a long interval when my attention was directed elsewhere and Jack had the pipe.

“When he passed it back to me, I took a drag and IMMEDIATELY felt a large blister form inside my right check. Puzzled, I passed the pipe back to Jack, running my tongue over the blister. I did not observe carefully whether Jack actually smoked the pipe or merely made a pretense of doing so. When the pipe was returned to me, Eve, who had been out, came in the door. I took another puff only to have yet another blister, pop up right next to the other one at the exact time the smoke made contact with the membrane inside my cheek.

“Thinking it might be some sort of allergic reaction, I commented on it, and passed the pipe to Eve. She took a drag and experienced no unusual reactions.

“I then went into the bathroom and examined the blisters in the mirror. They were dark red blood blisters and each was about the size of a deformed collar button.

“I have had only one other experience with blisters forming instantly from any cause other than direct burns by fire, and that was in Atomic, Biological, and Chemical Warfare School (“Defense” I think they call it, not “Warfare”) in the Marines. That time our instructor demonstrated the effects of mustard gas to us by placing an infinitesimal amount on each of our fingertips—the result: instant blistering.

“I returned to the kitchen and commented that the blisters had formed when I had taken a drag on the pipe. Jack said: “Oh, I don’t think there is any relation.”

Something about the certainty of his unsolicited opinion, something about the tone of voice and timing—too hasty an interjection—has caused me to become very suspicious.

“Earlier I had asked Jack if he knew who those other people were at the Celestial Mansion or understood what we had been discussing. He said “no,” that he had been playing music at the time on his guitar, which was true. He had been playing John Prine songs, which occupy a special place in my heart in relation to the Celestial Mansion because of a very high experience I had there in 1972 upon first discovering John Prine’s music. The whole incident at the Celestial Mansion had been carefully orchestrated by people who knew a great deal about me, people I correspond with, and the JFK assassination, particularly my involvement. I was made to feel as comfortable as possible, and then I was pumped just enough to see if it was Gary Kirstein that I was naming. (Does Kenner, Louisiana, mean anything to you was one of the questions I got asked.)

“On the way from The Plaza to the apartment was when I asked Jack if he knew those other people. He said he did not. I then explained to him what had happened and my suspicions concerning Gary Kirstein.

“Enclosed is the pipe and its contents, along with the plastic bottle the roaches were in before Jack got there, and to which he had no access. It seems to me this material should be analyzed. It was fished out of the trash by me a few days after the incident. Several important witnesses, including Ruby and Shaw died of cancer, for one thing, and some chemicals (nicotine for example) can stimulate cancer…”

In a follow-up memo dated July 27th , 1975, Kerry further addressed the pipe smoking incident:

“Occasionally in the past people have misinterpreted comments I have made which were only suggestive or indicative, taking them for firm opinions. I'm not at all sure whatever gave me those blisters was something intended to give me cancer, specifically. It could have been that stuff (Philip) Agee mentions in a recent PLAYBOY interview which causes a "nasty respiratory ailment." Since the smoke caused blisters in my mouth — which must have been sore in that spot — I didn't inhale much of it. I do seem to have minor throat and lung irritation at this time. Just don't want to seem like more of a crackpot paranoid than I really am after nearly twelve years of bizarre experience relating to JFK's death.

“Also the "Celestial Mansion" is the old name for a commune which was in the house I still call by that name. It is not the formal name of a business establishment.

“Upon checking, I have discovered that I have a sample of Jack Wolverton's handwriting, for he wrote out his address for me in my notebook last week.

“Finally, concerning Wolverton, please give him the benefit of every doubt. I would hate to dump on him if his only mistake was that of befriending a person who happened to be feeling somewhat paranoid last week.

“I'm still very puzzled about the Celestial Mansion incident of last Saturday night. I continue to feel on a subjective level that the people who talked to me had my best interests at heart. It was as if they were checking me out to make sure I was not involved in the assassination. It was really stupid of me not to ask them how they came to know so much. One person who spoke to me, briefly, during the half-hour or so before the "team" moved in, identified himself as Lew Deadmore.

I find an architect by that name listed in the phone book. One of the members of the "team"—the one who spoke to me most—bore an uncanny intellectual and psychological resemblance to an anarchist writer friend of mine who lives-in California whom I have only met face-to- face once (in 1968), but with whom I've corresponded extensively. I have written him a letter about the incident, wondering if that was him. If it wasn't he'll probably think I've lost my mind.

“I doubt if I have been any too coherent about the Celestial Mansion incident. It requires more detail than I am inclined to deal with, considering the other writing I should be doing about Gary Kirstein. I’ll be glad to answer any questions about it, however. Meanwhile, let me summarize it by saying that I was questioned very informally but extremely skillfully by what seem to be a "team" of five or six people who faded in and out of the crowd at a party. I'm quite sure this really happened and can give hard, objective reasons for so believing it was not just my imagination.”


 Some Further Comments On The Pipe Smoking Incident memo. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives. 

In the above memo, SOME FURTHER COMMENTS ON THE PIPE SMOKING INCIDENT, Kerry notes that one member of the “team” at the Celestial Mansion, “…bore an uncanny intellectual and psychological resemblance to an anarchist writer friend of mine who lives in California whom I have only met face-to- face once (in 1968), but with whom I’ve corresponded excessively.” This “anarchist writer friend” was supposedly RAW.

In RAW’s intro to The Prankster and the Conspiracy, he wrote:

 I remember my last phone conversation with Kerry, during which he announced that just a week earlier I had come to Atlanta, argued with him about my alleged CIA connections, spiked his drink with LSD, and brainwashed him again. I told him that I had not left San Francisco in months, and that if he had a bad acid trip the previous week then somebody else gave him the acid, not me. I insisted on this as persuasively as I could.

Finally, Kerry relented — a bit. “Well, maybe you believe that,”,he said. “But that means your bosses have been fucking with your head and implanting false memories in you too!”

How do you argue that you haven’t had your head altered? “Look,” I said, I’ll put my wife Arlen on. She’ll tell you I haven’t left here in months.”

“That won’t prove anything,” he said with the calm certitude of a Gran Master announcing checkmate. “They probably fixed her head too.”

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. I felt lost in an Escher painting…

Charles Faris again: Thanks for reading—let us know your thoughts and epiphanies regarding this weeks post and reading.Next week we will be covering Mystery Babylon (161) and Leary emerges from darkness and Sirius rises again (168). And enjoy Sirius Rising!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday links


Hard to be sure how your cat is doing. Source, hat tip Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution blog. 

Encounters with Robin Williams. (Via Nick Herbert).

John Higgs on the genius of H.G. Wells. 

The golden apple by Javier Cortina. 

Watching opera at home. 

Discordianism meets Creem magazine.

What are the best symphonies of all time? RAW loved Beethoven, who does well in the poll of 151 conductors, but he also loved Mahler, who also made the top ten.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cat Vincent's Festival 23 report


Cat Vincent, using a sock pocket to add a visual element to his reading at Festival 23

Ian 'Cat' Vincent attended the recent Festival 23 and reports that he had a great time:

The quickest way to describe how extraordinary it all was... at peak there was about 500 people in that field, ranging from heavy RAW/Discordian elements to folk who just wanted to get pilled up and dance their asses off.

I did not meet a single dickhead on that field.

The full report is available here.  The report reveals that Daisy Eris has written a new play! Cat's periodic newsletter, "Caterwauling," will show up in your email Inbox if you subscribe here.  And here is another report on the festival, from Phacemag.

My interview with Cat Vincent, including discussion of Robert Anton Wilson, magick, Brexit and science fiction, will run next week.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Dog Days of summer



We are in the dog days of summer, and that means that the star Sirius is about to "rise," becoming visible over the horizon before sunrise.

A new piece, "A Real Scorcher! — Sirius At Heliacal Rising" by Bob King at Sky and Telescope offers a primer on the subject. Check the supplied link to see when it starts in your area. It looks like in Cleveland I may have just missed it.

Hat tip, Charles Faris, who has become a serious ally for this blog (or a Sirius ally?)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

New China Miéville novel


China Miéville

In light of the fact that this week's Cosmic Trigger section mentions Jack Parsons, I thought this publisher's description of the new China Mievelle novel, The Last Days of New Paris, might be of interest:

1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer—and occult disciple—Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist André Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever.

1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibaut, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts—and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the exquisite corpse.

I haven't kept up with China Miéville — keeping up with every good writer is hard — but I loved Perdido Street Station. Another of his, The City & the City, also is reputedly particularly good, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Parons also is a character in the novel The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A couple of items for you to look at


John Merritt sent me the above flyer for a 1998 "Conspiracy Tour of Texas" featuring Robert Anton Wilson and Ivan Stang. Fringeware was an unusual Austin shop that had all kind of weird items; I used to love getting the shop's catalog.


Jesse Walker, meanwhile, has Tweeted out evidence that the Illuminati are in Reading, Pennsylvania. Or at least they were. The ad ran in the early 2000s, but the place is out of business.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Allen Steele's 'Arkwright'


If you are interested in the concept of space migration, as popularized by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson (among many others, of course), you could do worse than to read Arkwright, the latest novel by science fiction writer Allen Steele.

Steele's novel contains descriptions of real people and real events, such as the 1939 and 1989 worldcons, but his title character is fictional, as are the other main characters. Nathan Arkwright is one of the "Big Four" science fiction writers (in "real life," the big three were Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, all mentioned in the book, which is reminiscent of Clarke), and he leaves his estate to a foundation charged with building and launching an interstellar spaceship. I've read other Steele but I like this one better than anything else I've come across by him. Inspirational and carefully plotted, with memorable characters. The title character's name may be a reference to Richard Arkwright, the "father of the Industrial Revolution." 

Synchronicity watch: In the acknowledgements, Steele mentions the assistance of Geoffrey Landis, a science fiction writer and NASA scientist who lives in Berea, Ohio, where I live, and also thanks his editor, the late David Hartwell, who also was one of Robert Anton Wilson's editors (see my interview with Hartwell, and then Part Two.) So in effect, the book serves not just as a memorial to the great science fiction writers who helped inspire interest in SF, such as the Big Three, but also to Hartwell, too, although Steele could not have predicted this when he wrote the book. The 1989 Worldcon is the one where I met Robert Shea, although unfortunately Steele does not mention the Golden APA room party.