Monday, April 24, 2017

'Secret Transmissions' podcast


Jeff Wolfe 

I downloaded the Occulture podcast interview with Jeff Wolfe of Secret Transmissions and enjoyed it immensely.

Jeff talks about his exploration of Ohio burial mounds, how he became interested in the occult, why he went from zine publishing to starting up a blog, his favorite horror movies and how Robert Anton Wilson influences much of what he does. Ryan Peverly is the interviewer and has good rapport with Jeff.

It's pretty long, about 90 minutes. Should be available for the various podcast phone apps. Some of the other Occulture podcasts look interesting, too.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Your April 23rd news


A couple of things from Daisy Campbell on Twitter. Her majesty looks oddly familiar.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Update on moderation policy

I've been relying on Google to email me when a comment needs to be moderated. Apparently this process is not infallible, and I need to check comments folders in Blogger periodically to make sure I haven't missed anyone. If you have posted a comment and you haven't seen it approved in a reasonable time, you can email me. The address is listed under "About" on this page.

I missed a comment from someone I admire and he felt slighted, which I feel badly about.  I didn't want to go to moderation, but I don't know how else to keep out the spam. I value everyone's comments and appreciate the folks who take the time to leave one.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Kinks guitarist is a RAW fan


Dave Davies on Dutch TV in 1967 (Creative Commons 3.0 photo via Wikipedia)

If you are a certain age — OK, if you're old like me — you'll know that the British Invasion wasn't just The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but also included many other fine groups, such as the Kinks, known for hits such as "You Really Got Me" and "Lola." The main songwriter, Ray Davies, is the best-known member, but his brother, Dave Davies, is the group's lead guitar player and an important part of the band's sound.

Via Jesse Walker (a Kinks fan), I learned that the Daily Express, a British newspaper, has a recurring feature in which a celebrity is asked to name six favorite books. Dave Davies was interviewed on April 19, and the six he mentioned include Right Where You Are Sitting Now by Robert Anton Wilson: "Wilson had a very interesting take on the way the world functions. His ideas were a breath of fresh air. Everybody’s vision of reality is different. He talks of understanding the differences and how we should be compassionate about what others think."

Davies' favorites also include Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick.

But wait! There's more! (as the old TV commercials used to say). If you follow the link to the Daily Express, notice the headline under "Related Articles": The Kink's legend's shock claim: I had a message from aliens. 

He said: “You have an experience with a UFO, and you keep those feelings, and then it gets into your subconscious and super-conscious.

“When I investigated what those feelings could be, when I got really into ufology, I could’ve sworn I was having connections with the Dog Star, with Sirius.”

Maybe this guy should do a musical collaboration with R.U. Sirius.

Here is Butterfly Language's take on alien contacts with Robert Anton Wilson, Philip K. Dick and Timothy Leary. 





Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lovecraft takes another posthumous hit



H.P. Lovecraft, a character in Illuminatus! and a literary influence on Robert Anton Wilson, has taken another posthumous blow to his reputation. The World Fantasy Convention has stopped putting his likeness on pins given to nominees for the World Fantasy Award. Previously, the event had stopped using a bust of Lovecraft for its actual award. News via Supergee, who does a great job of keeping up with news of fandom.

It's hard to see how the folks at World Fantasy Con could have done anything else, or even why they waited so long after years of controversy. 

But it's a little more difficult for me to see why there's so much focus on a guy who died in 1937 and who apparently made most of his objectionable statements in private. It seems worse to me when the modern Whacko Puppies guy makes racist and sexist statements in public.

I don't know what to think about the allegations against Arthur C. Clarke (for whom a major award is named in Britain) but there seems to be little doubt that Isaac Asimov spent years groping women at science fiction conventions.  Why isn't there anything negative in Asimov's Wikipedia bio?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Off to Penguicon soon


Ada Palmer

It's so exciting to get to go to a science fiction convention! I still manage it periodically, and the weekend of April 28-30 I will be at the latest Penguicon, in the Detroit area. 

Penguicon is billed as a "non-profit, open-source science fiction convention" and it promotes a great deal of open source culture, such as Linux, and in general has a lot of connections to the modern counterculture; at the last Penguicon I was able to attend, in 2012, I went to a presentation on varieties of tarot cards and listened to Creative Commons hip-hop music from the Scrub Club record label as well as attending more usual offerings on science fiction authors and lore. 

I was delighted to see that this year's Penguicon will have Ada Palmer. Another of my favorites, Cory Doctorow will be there, too. There aren't as many SF authors as at the bigger literary conventions, but there will be other notable writers there, such as John Scalzi, and a guy named Ferrett Steinmetz, who is from the Cleveland area and active on Twitter. I'll be promoting the Libertarian Futurist Society and will likely try to promote this blog a bit, too. 

I never got to see Robert Anton Wilson at a SF convention (or anywhere else), but as I've mentioned before, I met Robert Shea at a worldcon in Boston in 1989, a big thrill.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday links



The Nixon Quantum Hangover. From Butterfly Language. Trump is often compared to Nixon, and Illuminatus! was written during the Nixon presidency.

The Great Letter and the Infinite Process of Self-Embedding. From PQ. Finnegans Wake as a hologram of the universe.

First novels that were the author's best. Via Supergee, who tactfully doesn't add that some would mention Illuminatus!

Two weeks away from the Cosmic Trigger play. 

Adam Gorightly Tweet. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tyler Cowen writes back


John Stuart Mill

Ada Palmer writes in the afterword to her Hugo-nominated novel, Too Like the Lightning, that one of her motivations for becoming a novelist was that "I wanted to add my voice to the Great Conversation, to reply to Diderot, Voltaire, Osamu Tezuka and Alfred Bester, so people would read my books and think new things, and make new things from those thoughts, my little contribution to the path which flows from Gilgamesh and Homer to the stars."

Illuminatus! is about many things, but one of the things it does was carry on a "conversation" with earlier libertarian books and ideas.

It occurred to me when I read Palmer's book that I ought to be more familiar with earlier libertarian and classical liberal writers. I wrote to Tyler Cowen to see if he would give me any suggestions on what I should read, after he had done a recent crowd-sourced interview on Reddit:

I'm a big fan, but I had to work and couldn't take part in the Reddit. I
hope you will forgive me for posing a question by email.

I am planning to do some reading in 18th and 19th century classical
liberals. I thought maybe John Stuart Mills' autobiography and "On
Liberty," some Adam Smith, some Edmund Burke. Anybody I've missed? Any
titles I should not miss? Have you written specifically about this?

Sorry to impose on your time. Even a very brief response -- if you have
time -- would be great.

Cowen is a busy dude, but he did write back:

Hume, Tocqueville, Spencer's Social Statics,, Bastiat, the Edmund Silberner book, for a few...Founding Fathers too if you don't already know that stuff...

When I thought about it, it occurred to me I ought to add a couple of writers who were big influences on RAW, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker.

When I mentioned my reading project to Ada Palmer (while trying to arrange an interview), she offered some suggestions:

If you want more Enlightenment reading, I highly recommend the various editions of excerpts from Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary which are around, or his Letters on England.  Major moments in the formation of liberal ideas, in the best way.

I read Mill's Autobiography, and I'll probably tackle his On Liberty next. Adam Gopnik did a nice piece on Mill for the New Yorker, if you want a refresher on why Mill is interesting.

Cowen's latest book, The Complacent Class, is on my Kindle. It's what I'll be reading next when I finish Palmer's Seven Surrenders.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Blog news

I've had a policy for several days now of moderating blog comments. This is not because there has been anything wrong with the people who post actual comments -- I have been very lucky at this blog -- but because I had run out of ideas on what to do about the spam that has afflicted the blog posts.  I have done my best to be prompt about approving comments, but please forgive me if I am away for awhile because I'm asleep or because of some other reason.

Confirming that this was probably the least-bad solution to my spam problem, I've rejected a lot of spam comments the last few day, including a lot of Indonesian spam, and a surprising number of messages recruiting new members for the Illuminati. The latter would be more exciting if the messages would be at least literate and plausible. I don't have time to manually remove all of the existing spam, but I'll probably try to chip away at it a little.

I have also tinkered with the site and edited some of the features, i.e. for example the collection of links to Robert Anton Wilson resources is expanded and rearranged a bit. I've tried to make it easier for visitors to find stuff and realize how much is here by now. As ever, suggestions are welcome.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Too Like the Lightning book club discussion



Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer  is the most interesting science fiction novel I have read so far this year. I was pleased it was named a finalist for the 2017 Hugo Awards. (I've heard good things about the other nominees but haven't read them yet.) I'm reading the sequel, Seven Surrenders.

Greg Arnott, a RAW fan who contributes comments to this blog, is also a serious reader and a student at West Virginia University, and he is leading an OTO book club discussion about the book via Skype, beginning May 1, and readers of this blog are invited. Here are the relevant details from Mr. Arnott:

Come join me in the year 2454 where nation-states, the nuclear family, gender, and war have been abolished. In a world that some readers have condemned whilst making others wistful for Utopia. Explore the ideas of Voltaire, Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau during a point in humanity's crawl up from the slime where the earth can be circumnavigated in five hours and where public religious sentiment has been outlawed. Come and join me in a world that is tantalizing and terrifying; one that is ultimately a projection of our own society’s qualms and aspirations.

The first book is Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer. 

We will be covering approximately 8-9 chapters per session. Please have the chapters read prior to the Skype call.

Technical:
To join in we ask that you make us your contact on Skype by searching our ID which is pittsburgh.thelema. Once you do this we will confirm you as a contact. At 8PM EST the discussion begins. At this time call in (with just audio, no video) and we will add you into the group call. 

This is Tom again. The 11th chapter of Seven Surrenders is set in Ingolstadt and includes the sentence, "The Earth will shake," an amusing synchronicity for RAW fans. The series can be read as a battle between competing conspiracies, and the ban on religion that Greg mentions can be read as a ban on belief systems. Just thought I'd toss that in. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Robert Anton Wilson (and Bill Nighy) in the Guardian


Bill Nighy. Creative Commons 2.0 photo by GabboT

British actor Bill Nighy has enjoyed a long career and became well known finally for his role as a veteran rock star in the romantic comedy Love Actually. But he actually began professionally in the Ken Campbell production of Illuminatus! and that's mentioned in a long article about Nighy in the Guardian.  The sentences relevant to this blog:

His first London stage roles were as part of Ken Campbell’s Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool, a company given to staging 24hr-long plays without any rehearsal; his debut National Theatre appearance, in an adaptation of The Illuminatus Trilogy, was further enlivened when the books’ co-author Robert Anton Wilson arrived backstage and started doling out LSD to the actors about to perform, an experience he tactfully describes as “extraordinary”. 

I tried running some searches and can't make out whether Nighy played any of the main characters in the book, but Nighy, who seems like a great guy and an interesting person (those qualities don't always inhabit the same body, obviously) seems to inspire long writeups, such as this one in the Telegraph, which has more about the Illuminatus! experience. 

What helped Nighy most, as “a chronically self-conscious” young actor, was working with Ken Campbell, who was too avant-garde to believe in rehearsing. “Ken’s catchphrase was: ‘Rehearsal? You’re all grown men!’,” Nighy recalls. With Campbell, Nighy performed in Illuminatus!, which Peter Hall saw in Liverpool in 1976 and booked to open the new Cottesloe Theatre. “It was eight hours long,” Nighy laughs. “The intervals were sometimes longer than the play. The audience and the actors would go to the wine bar together. By the end of the show, everybody was seriously chemically undermined. It was hilarious, one of the longest jokes ever told.” The play, described by Brian Aldiss as something Bertrand Russell and Genghis Khan might have dreamed up while rewriting Monty Python, had 450 speaking parts. “Ken would say: ‘You’re playing a man in Yorkshire who’s seen a UFO, you’re playing a man in 16th-century Bavaria who’s had his tongue cut out, you’re playing a Chinese ambassador, you’re playing a man who smoked opium with Ouspensky and a Gestalt therapist called Ralph in California.’” 

The Guardian article is via the Cosmic Trigger play Twitter account,  and please note that Claudia Boulton says, "Well we are rehearsing every scene in Cosmic Trigger at least once!" (More on Claudia). 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Timothy Leary on narcotics and booze


Timothy Leary 

A few weeks ago, as I was researching a blog post, I noticed something in the Wikipedia biography of Timothy Leary: "He was noted for his strong views against the use of drugs which 'dull the mind' such as heroin, morphine and (more than occasional) alcohol ... "

Given the ongoing opioid-opiate epidemic (pretty strong in Ohio, where I live) and the fact that alcohol abuse remains a big problem right now, this seems quite prescient. I wanted to know more, but I didn't know where to look in Leary's books. So I wrote to two Leary biographers. (What a weird world this blog has created for me, that I know two Timothy Leary biographers well enough to write to them.)

John Higgs suggested Flashbacks, Leary's autobiography, and The Politics of Ecstasy. R.U. Sirius also mentioned Flashbacks. 

I put both books on hold at one of my local libraries, and The Politics of Ecstasy arrived first. It turned out to have an introduction by Sirius. I wasn't really sure I would actually read all of it, but it was so energetic and entertaining I read the whole thing. (My copy was the abbreviated Ronin Press edition, with many chapters of the original title published as a separate book, Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out.)

Leary is a very vivid writer. "You read this page, light hits your eyes, and your brain sees squiggles of black and white which are words. Do you believe that you are really reading what Timothy Leary wrote? Does this pattern of black and white lines lead you to believe in the existence of a seed-bearing, soul-carrying human being, Timothy Leary, who sat one New Year's Day at a wood-grained desk littered with notes, clippings, books, loose tobacco, coffee cups, ashtrays, looking out a picture window at the silver-gray expanse of the Pacific Ocean, writing these lines?" (pages 31-32)

And it turned out there was quite a bit in the book about opiates and alcohol. "Alcohol dulls the mind game and produces emotional stupor." (Page 42.)

Here are a couple of provocative paragraphs:

"It is of interest that the heroin addict and the illuminated Buddha end up at the same place. The void. The junkie is a deeply religious person. The alcoholic is, too. Thus our physicians and psychiatrists have no luck in 'curing' addicts. If you see an addict as a social misfit, a civic nuisance who must be rehabilitated, you completely miss the point.

"To cure the junkie and the alcoholic, you must humbly admit that he is a more deeply spiritual person than you, and you accept the cosmic validity of his search to transcend the game, and you help him see that blackout drugs are just bad methodology because you just can't keep holding the 'off' switch and that the way to reach the void is through psychedelic rather than anesthetic experience." (Page 43.)

Well, that takes care of the stigma problem! Leary's emphasis on psychedelics seems a bit dated - later on, he got more interested in personal computers - but if you read this as "feed your head rather than blacking out," as I choose to, it holds up just fine.

All of those quotes are from the introductory essay, "The Seven Tongues of God," originally delivered as a lecture at a meeting in Lutherans in 1963, that I thought was the best piece in the book. There is quite a bit in it about Leary's seven-circuit (later eight) model of consciousness, which he apparently developed years before Robert Anton Wilson wrote about it in Prometheus Rising. 

A couple of other good Leary digs at alcohol and narcotics:

[From the section that relates each of the seven circuits to a particular drug]:

"7. The Anesthetic State is produced by narcotics, barbiturates, and large doses of alcohol. Anyone can reach the void by self-administration of stupefacients. Most Americans know just how to pass out.

"6. The State of Emotional Stupor is produced by moderate doses of alcohol. Three martinis do nicely." (Page 45.)

And from an interview with "Playboy" magazine: "The lowest levels of consciousness are sleep and stupor, which are produced by narcotics, barbiturates and our national stupefacient, alcohol." (Page 136).

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Comment moderation has begun

I've decided reluctantly to take the advice of PQ, posted in the comments yesterday, to turn on comment moderation for this blog. I don't like to have restrictions on comments; I've been very lucky to avoid trolls and abuse of commenting privileges, with the notable exception of the spam that I've had to put up with. Google apparently just won't take action against spam. I promise to avoid censorship and to promptly approve all legitimate comments.

Normal blogging will resume tomorrow.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Still under siege from spam

Can somebody who understands Blogger better than I do tell me how to report spam from the likes of that Pak Alesky guy, who constantly harasses me with his spam?  (See yesterday's post.) When I click his name and try to report abuse, Google tells me, "To report a comment, please select the Report Abuse option on the applicable comment." I can't find the option, and blocking him does no good. I'd appreciate any help anyone can offer.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Latest war news



So we've launched missiles at Syria. I'm against the latest war.

The Tweets from Antiwar.com have been pretty good lately; if you are on Twitter, you should consider following and giving those folks a signal boost. Same for Facebook, etc.  I agree with this, but Justin seems to be in the minority there. (I have been shocked by how many white male libertarians decided that being a white male was more important to them than libertarianism; I still self identify as (more or less) a libertarian, but many libertarians disappoint me these days.)


Saturday, April 8, 2017

R.U. Sirius interviewed by Rushkoff



R.U. Sirius thinks his new interview by Douglas Rushkoff on the Team Human podcast may be his best interview ever. This was a good enough recommendation for me, so I downloaded it to my phone (using the Podkicker Android app) and listened to it on the way to work. Lots of interesting discussion about transhumanism, Peter Thiel, the meaning of "counterculture" in the current age and the shattering of consensus reality. Also, quite a bit of discussion about Sirius' music. I do think these guys are a bit too pessimistic. Technological breakthroughs are almost always the toys of the rich at first, but they tend to diffuse to ordinary folks like me. I have a smartphone, too, although I still can't afford an iPhone!


Friday, April 7, 2017

Let's start the 'Email' reading group in May



Reaction seems to be favorable to Wednesday's post suggesting an Email to the Universe reading group in May and a Pale Fire reading group later in the year.

So, let's start the Email reading group on May 15, conforming to the Law of Fives; posting the items on Monday and giving folks all week to post a comment seems to work. Unless someone wants to volunteer to lead the group, I'll take care of it myself. Our official text will be the new Hilaritas Press edition of Email to the Universe, available both as an ebook and as a paperback.

Should be fun, I hope!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Another comics person who loves RAW — Dave Sim


Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim (public domain photo via Wikipedia)

Our British friend Adrian Reynolds kindly wrote to me recently to tell me about his interview with Dave Sim, a major comics figure and also a RAW fan. Adrian writes:

"When comics and RAW are mentioned, the go-to writers are Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. Back in 1993, I interviewed indie comics creator Dave Sim. He, with background artist Gerhard, created the 300 monthly issue story Cerebus, which starts off as a Conan pastiche starring an aardvark and becomes a rich and complex work taking in politics, religion, and gender. Along the way Sim expressed views about women that many claim are misogynistic, and I can see why they'd do so. But reality is more complex than that kind of reductionism. For one thing, some female comics creators including Colleen Doran have said he was very supportive of their careers. For another, Sim also had mental health problems, and it's my experience both as someone who's been sectioned and worked with mentally ill people for some years that for some people experiencing such illness it can coincide with the expression of ugly beliefs."

I know little about the comics world, so I contacted Val D'Orazio, a comics professional and RAW fan  and the blogger at the excellent Butterfly Language blog (which Adrian, as it happens, called my attention to) and asked for feedback on Sim. She wrote, "Dave Sim is a pretty big deal in the world of comics as a comic creator, and his 'Cerebus' is a HUGE influential comic book. Not quite 'Stan Lee' but maybe 'Stan Lee' -like in the indie comic sphere."

Here below are the bits from Adrian's interview with Sim that has to do with Robert Anton Wilson. Full interview here, an overview of Sim and Cerberus here,  and to see Adrian's Dadtown webcomic, go here.  — The Management

From Adrian's preamble to the interview: "I wanted to start the ball rolling in an interesting way, so that it wouldn't be just another interview. To that end, I started by pointing out that it was the 23rd, and that part 23 of Mothers and Daughters had just come out, which tied in quite neatly with the Illuminatus! influence on Cerebus. We chatted a while about this and that, and then started on the interview proper, but the theme of coincidences and Illuminatus! cropped up a few more times and helped shape a wide-ranging discussion that I think we all enjoyed."


Adrian Reynolds

AR   With Sandman in mind, and the Dave McKean-influenced (collage) covers you’re doing…Do you work on something between you, or do you go to a junk shop and find 'Hey - some of that will do!'

Ger   Yeah, that was all Dave's doing - he went out to the used book store, and whatever book presented itself...

Sim   It was really Robert Anton Wilson, because every book that I needed was right at the front of the store in a display, and I looked at them and went 'Yeah — I didn't know what I was looking for but this is exactly it' and then bought those and then foolishly went and looked through the rest of the book store.  And I could feel whatever larger forces there are in the universe going 'What are you doing?' 'Well I'm looking round to see if there's anything else.' 'Well didn't you get what you wanted?' 'Well yeah...'

AR   And a hundred dollars later...

Sim   Yeah, and I was just wasting my time.  I was walking around the store, and they were right there in the front where I needed them.

AR   Also to do with the covers lately, I've noticed a Tarot theme.  172 you've got Astoria as the Lady Pope, 173 Cirin — the Empress, and then I backtracked and thought, aha, 171 — that makes Cerebus the Magician, which we're starting to come through with now...

Sim   I've been sitting on this stuff for 14 years you know.

AR   At what point did it start to gain that scope for you?

Sim   About '79, just after I finished reading the Iluminatus! trilogy.  I sat down and a book on the Tarot came across my path, and I started looking at that and thinking 'Yeah, there's really something here'.  I mean, this is very comic books — talk about words and pictures together, having a specific proportion of this much picture and this specific word at the bottom.

AR   And when they're in a layout they've got a structure as well.

Sim   Yeah!  It is a sequential art.  And then I noticed that, looking at the first ten issues, which were already done at that point, that they corresponded to the Tarot cards.  Cerebus is the Magician on the cover of number one.  The unknown, some sort of spiritual entity/demon, which is exactly the way I tend to view Priestesses, on number two.  Number three — Red Sophia, the Empress.  Number four - Elrod, not really an Emperor in his own way, but the 'last ruler of a dying race', and that's an Emperor.  And then the fifth was Bran Mac Muffin, very close to the Hierophant — the interpreter of rules, telling Cerebus that he is this deity incarnate sort of thing.  Six had Jaka in it — that was the Lovers.

AR   That's what I've been wondering now - who's going to be the Emperor, and is that going to continue into the next book, after Mothers and Daughters has finished.

Sim   No.  Just up to 174 — I'm obvious, but I'm not transparent.  [Laughs.]

AR   [Laughing.]  It's nice to have it there though.

Sim   Yeah - and the effect continues.  I had the dramatic change of location between issues 20 and 21 [of Mothers & Daughters], which I quite enjoyed just as a literary device — I've never seen anyone do this.  You know, now we are seeing everything from his viewpoint because he was here and now he's there and he doesn't know how he got there, and everybody's waiting for the 'Five pages later on somebody walks on with a manuscript and goes [affects melodramatic voice] "Well, while you were passed out..."'' [Everyone laughs.]  You know, I'm not gonna do that - let's make this a genuine mystery here.  And I found out that the Fool card, which I've always given the numerical value of zero, and it has become the new traditional place, used to be between cards 20 and 21.

AR   Really?  I didn't know that.

Sim   I didn't know that either.  I see that in a book and I go 'Aha, alright'.  I don't know what I'm tapped into here, but it's lucrative and a lot of times it's pleasant.

AR   If you've got a choice of ways of looking at the world, you might as well choose the ones that gain you most satisfaction and get a bit of fun with at the same time.

Sim   Yeah.  You have to be careful — you have to realise that there are responsibilities; that you are genuinely creating something, or whatever it is that creates things is using your right hand to create this thing, whatever it is.  And it has an effect, whatever it is, depending on the person - particularly at this point, just sheer gravitational pull, reading 3000 pages of what I'm talking about will change you.  I mean, that was the end of the Iluminatus! trilogy — Wilson flat out tells you that you've been changed by this book, and something inside your head just rears back from that and goes 'No I haven't!', and at the same time there's another part right back there behind him going 'No, we have - let's all admit to it.'  It's the same thing...the story about the cop phoning.  I wasn't there.

Ger   Dave was at a convention or something and I get a call from a police officer in a neighbouring city.  He let me know right off the bat that this wasn't an official police investigation but a friend of his, his son was reading this 'mind-altering literature', and he wanted to know what this was all about.  And I thought 'Fuck, isn't this what literature is supposed to do, alter your mind?'

Sim   You would hope so, but that's a difference in interpretation as well, because most people see literature for entertainment or whatever else.  You know — it should be uplifting, the feelgood movie of the year, the Hollywood happy ending, high concept...


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Let's talk about online reading groups



We  haven't done an online reading group for awhile. I have in mind two that could be done this year.

Email to the Universe, which has just been republished in the definite Hilaritas Press edition, is one of my favorite Robert Anton Wilson books, so I'd welcome a discussion. Maybe in May or June?

Eric Wagner also has expressed interest in an online discussion for Pale Fire, my favorite Vladimir Nabokov novels. The use of footnotes in the book influenced RAW's use of footnotes in The Widow's Son. Maybe start that discussion a few weeks after the Email discussion ends?

I could lead either or both of those, if need be, but I'm also open to having a guest blogger lead the discussion, and I'd participate on the comments, along with everyone else. That certainly worked out well for the Cosmic Trigger discussion, which was led by Charles Faris. (I wrote to Charles at the beginning of the year to see if he wanted to write anything else for the blog. His plans then were  uncertain, but anything he wants to offer would be welcome anytime.) If you are interested in serving as a guest blogger, email me.

What are your thoughts?


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

RAW auction resumes


The RAW memorabilia auction on Ebay disappeared for a few days but apparently has resumed with the posting Monday of a "Maybe Logic" T-shirt. Probably a good idea to keep an eye on the auction for a few days.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Please publish all of the forewords


The Illuminoids by Neal Wilgus, one of many books featuring an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson.

The Robert Anton Wilson memorabilia auction on Ebay recently sold a collection of letters by  Philip K. Dick, and Michael Johnson posted a pertinent comment in a recent posting on this blog:

"That particular volume of PKD Letters 1977-79, has an Intro by RAW I've never read. Used copies at Amazon for $90. The nearest library to the San Francisco Bay Area (where I live) that has it is in Portland.

"(Sigh)"

Michael raised something that I'm interested in, too. Robert Anton Wilson wrote many introductions for various books, and the ones that I've seen are quite substantial. It's expensive and difficult to read these things, unless pirated copies are posted on the Internet. It would great to gather all of these together in one volume, perhaps with an editor's notes on where they first appeared, what the literary and historical context was, etc.

I wrote to Rasa about this some weeks ago, and he said other folks have suggested it, so I know it's on the radar screen at Hilaritas.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A movie about linguistic reality tunnels?



In the essay, "The Celtic Roots of Quantum Theory" on page 27 of the new Hilaritas Press edition of Email to the Universe, Robert Anton Wilson writes, "According to the Korzybski-Whorf-Sapir hypothesis, the language a people speak habitually influences their sense perceptions, their 'concepts' and even the way they feel about themselves and the world in general. 'A change in language can transform our appreciation of the cosmos,' as Whorf stated the case."

This is usually known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and when my wife and I finally watched the science fiction movie Arrival last night I was surprised to see the hypothesis quoted, and the entire movie essentially built around it, although saying more would be a spoiler. Pretty good movie, too. It is based on a Ted Chiang story, "Story of  Your Life," which fortunately I didn't remember well enough to spoil the plot.

Previously blog mention of Sapir-Whorf is here. 




Saturday, April 1, 2017

A purple pookah (and Rasa and others) visit RAW in the hospital



 A visit to Robert Anton Wilson when he went to the hospital in 2005. The video is a little more than three minutes long.

More here. 

The pookah recently was sold to an Irish fan during the current ongoing RAW memorabilia sale on Ebay. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday links


Nice promotional graphic for the Cosmic Trigger play. 

Many of these are worth a separate blog post, but things are kind of busy lately:

Greg Hill's confuse yourself in five words contest. From Adam Gorightly's Historia Discordia site. I'm hoping for book news from Adam soon.

Speaking of the Rule of Five. (Via Philosopher of Eris on Twitter.)

Alan Moore's top five mystics and magicians. Some names you will recognize if you read Robert Anton Wilson.

Music featuring Alan Moore released. ("Mandrillifesto")

Trump wants to change libel laws. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Prometheus Award finalists announced



The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced the five finalists for the Prometheus Award; I'm pleased to report that I nominated two of them, the Shriver and the Sinisalo. The L. Neil Smith is one of his better books, IMHO, and there's a reference to Illuminatus! in it. Here is the official press release. — The Management. 

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 37th annual Prometheus Awards:
* The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
* The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
* The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins)
* The Core of the Sun, by Johanna Sinisalo (translated by Lola Rogers) (Grove Press/Black Cat)
* Blade of p’Na, by L. Neil Smith (Phoenix Pick)

The 2017 awards will be presented during the 75th annual World Science Fiction Convention Aug. 9-13, 2017 in Helsinki, Finland. The winner will receive a plaque and one-ounce gold coin.

Sixteen novels published in 2016 were nominated for this year’s award, among the largest slates of nominees in the past two decades.

The other Best Novel nominees: Morning Star: Book III of The Red Rising Trilogy, by Pierce Brown (Del Rey); Speculator, by Doug Casey and John Hunt (HighGround Books); Dark Age, by Felix Hartmann (Hartmann Publishing); Kill Process, by William Hertling (Liquididea Press); Through Fire, by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books); Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (TOR Books); Written in Fire, by Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer); Arkwright, by Allen Steele (TOR Books); On to the Asteroid, by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson (Baen Books); Necessity, by Jo Walton (TOR Books); and Angeleyes by Michael Z. Williamson (Baen Books)

Here is a description of the finalists, which were chosen by a 10-member LFS judging committee:

* The Corporation Wars: Dissidence – Robots attain self-awareness and develop a pro-freedom philosophy while dead humans are revived in digital form to fight an interstellar virtual-reality war against the robot rebellion in the first novel in MacLeod’s projected trilogy, which raises intriguing questions about autonomy and free will.

* The Corporation Wars: Insurgence – A ghost soldier and several new characters are introduced in the action-oriented second novel in MacLeod’s trilogy, which dramatizes a more complicated three-sided war between the freedom-fighting robots and two groups of humans.

* The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 – Shriver’s cautionary dystopian drama, informed by an understanding of free-market economics and how coercive government can undermine civilization itself, is set in a 2029 debt-driven apocalypse in which a once-rich family and a once-powerful America have gone bust but the family’s least-successful members prove the most resilient in the face of disaster.

* The Core of the Sun – This dystopian novel, written by well-known Finnish writer Sinisalo and translated by Rogers, is both libertarian and feminist in depicting an alternate eugenics-dominated Finland where the heroine battles an oppressive, manipulative and male-dominated regime that makes women subservient housewives and mothers and bans alcohol, mind-altering drugs, caffeine and hot peppers.

* Blade of p’Na – A wide variety of intelligent alien creatures co-exist in a free and free-wheeling society on an alternative version of Earth – including a sapient dog and his human tracking down a missing bridegroom while investigating mysteries and trying to prevent an interdimensional invasion – in this action-adventure-oriented prequel to Smith’s Prometheus-winning The Forge of the Elders.

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin and plaque for the winners.

For more than three decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, expose the abuses and excesses of coercive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for civilization, cooperation, peace, prosperity, progress and justice.

For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories, visit www.lfs.org. Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is open to any science fiction fan interested in how fiction can promote an appreciation of the value of liberty.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Paperback release of 'Email to the Universe' announced


Not quite St. Francis preaching to the birds, but still interesting: Rasa presenting the new edition of Email to the Universe to California deer. 

Hilaritas Press and the Robert Anton Wilson Trust have officially announced the release of Robert Anton Wilson's Email to the Universe.

What that amounts to is you can buy it on Amazon and be assured  you'll be getting the new and improved Hilaritas Press edition, with new material by Michael Johnson and Paul Krassner, improved graphics and careful editing.

Excerpt from the announcement:

Dear friends of Bob,
The new Email to the Universe Print Edition is now available! This Hilaritas Press edition features a new introduction by R. Michael Johnson, a new Afterword by Paul Krassner, and intrepid assistance with editing and proofreading from Gary Acord and Tom Jackson. Amoeba's Fearless Scott McPherson has created another wonderful cover, and through the wonder of a good print job, for the first time the paperback of Email to the Universe has graphics that don't make the illustrator cringe. I know that for a fact because I was the illustrator (Rasa). The first printing in 2005 was disappointing, to say the least. I was thrilled to see the first proof of this new edition. After comparing the old with the new, I felt compelled to make an illustrative graphic.





We're really excited about this new edition for all of the above reasons, but also because it's just a fantastic read. The chapters, Left And Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective and The Relativity Of “Reality” seem urgently relevant in our current socio-political maelstrom. And before all the pasta-elevating ideas begin to congeal, you get to the only fictional essay in the book (or is it?), The Horror On Howth Hill, and suddenly nothing is an absolute reality, all is permitted . . .

Thanks so much for all your love and support! 

Lots of love and lasagna to you all!

Rasa, Christina and Olga


Full announcement here. Note the new video and an announcement from the Cosmic Trigger Play folks

Here is the Cosmic Trigger play announcement:

Help Cosmic Trigger Play: Send a Message to RAW from the Future...

Have you ever wished you could tell Robert Anton Wilson something? Maybe what his writings and thoughts have meant to you? Or something like 'thanks for that thing about ePrime' or even just 'thanks' or 'we love you, Bob'? If so, Daisy Campbell would really appreciate your help! Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger, the play, is currently in pre-production. The team are beavering away, gearing up for their 23-date run in London in May. They want to hear - literally - from anyone who has something they would've liked to say to Bob. The message will be used as a vocal overlay on a scene where (spoiler alert!) an elderly RAW is in need of help with his medical bills and the love is pouring in through his letterbox in the shape of $23 checks. If you are up for helping to create this audio Bob Lovebomb, please leave a short message ...

Go to this link for the phone number and information about getting your tickets for the play, which will be in May in London.

One more important note: While you can buy the book from Amazon now, you will provide a higher royalty for Robert Anton Wilson's heirs if you buy the book from the CreateSpace link. The price is exactly the same at both locations, $15.23.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What's going on? Three possible answers



One of the things I loved about Illuminatus! was the sense that all of the characters were trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

I generally feel I don't quite know what's going on, either. I try to stay open to ideas and new information. There's a limit to my open-mindedness to be sure — I'm not likely to sit down and read a book by a Marxist-Leninist, or someone on the alt-right — but I also try to listen to a variety of voices.

Three new books have recently gotten my attention:

Tyler Cowen has a new book out, The Complacent Class. Cowen, one of the few writers who can persuade me to read any book of his that has just been released, apparently argues that complacency, in the sense of an unwillingness to take risks, is one of the biggest problems in the U.S. right now. I have it on my Kindle, and as soon as I finish the next couple of books I feel I must read, I'll read Cowen's book.

Butterfly Language's Val recently reviewed Gordon White's new book, The Chaos Protocols, and recommended it:

I am deep in my second reading of The Chaos Protocols, the 2016 book written by Rune Soup’s Gordon White. It is, quite frankly, the best contemporary book I have found so far to give practical advice and perceptive forecasting on the strange newish world we are quickly finding ourselves immersed in—the world I have given a brief overview in my post “The Road to 2020.”

The Chaos Protocols is a book about finance. It is a book about futurology. It is a “self-help” book of the “career and success” genre. And it is a book about chaos magic.

I've bought it and put it on my Kindle, so we'll see!

Gordon White is interested in RAW; I wrote last year about a podcast he did with Cat Vincent.

Tyler Cowen's blog recently pointed me to a blog post by Ryan Avent, which argues that the main effect of automation is not to leave people unemployed, but to leave them worse off.  “Given the structure of our social safety net, automation tends to increase poverty and inequality rather than unemployment.”  This sounds like an argument for a UBI.

I did not know who Ryan Avent is, but reading his piece convinced me I should get to know him. It turns out he has a book out, The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century. I didn't buy it, but I have it on hold at the library.

Robert Anton Wilson, by the way, was very interested in the effects of automation, and I suspect he would be interested in Avent's work.

Monday, March 27, 2017

RAW memorabilia auction adds more items


Book of selected letters of Philip K. Dick, signed by Robert Anton Wilson 

As expected, the auction of RAW memorabilia on Ebay has added more items, and the auction is supposed to go on for awhile longer with additional things being offered.

I'm not going to keep doing blog posting after blog posting about this, but I did want to make another attempt to make sure people know about the auction. Obviously, when these items are gone, they're gone.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I'm not letting Trump ruin my life



Robert Anton Wilson used to write a lot about how your level of happiness and productivity depended a lot upon you, and not outside events. For example, see this post in which he talks about choosing the novel you live in

Now, obviously, you don't have much of a choice of novels unless you are reasonably healthy and have a decent standard of living. But there are also plenty of people who manage to ruin their lives for no apparent reason.

Val, the Butterfly Language writer, has a post from back in December that I relate to. 

I do know, however, that if you go into 2017 believing that things will be shit and awful and etc., the Universe will kindly oblige you on that notion. And unfortunately, this seems to be the mass zeitgeist at the moment—and many people will help manifest that energy into reality, regardless of whether they ever consciously wanted to.


I really dislike Donald Trump. His budget, which seeks to increase defense spending by $54 billion by slashing domestic programs, many of them actually useful, seems absurd to me. You don't have to remind me that he says a lot of dumb or terrible things.

But I've told my wife that I don't have to hear about every dumb thing Trump has ever said. Who would have enough time for that? More to the point, I want to write, read, listen to music, cook food, travel, and do other things I enjoy, without having to focus all of the time on what Sean Spicer said earlier today. I'm doing my bit to publicize the bad things Trump is doing, through my journalism and social media activity, and I joined groups such as the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation this year as a direct reaction to Trump. But I'm not going to allow Trump to control my life.  


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Robert Anton Wilson in the Los Angeles Times



One of my favorite writers and pundits, Jesse Walker, has succeeded in putting a quote from Robert Anton Wilson into the Los Angeles Times.

Jesse's op-ed piece, "Is the Trump-Russia story an octopus or spaghetti?," attempts to make sense of the current furor over Russia's alleged manipulation of the U.S. election and Russia's alleged ties to officials in the Trump administration. Some good sentences: "It’s not just evidence that’s driving the belief in a Trump-Putin plot. A lot of people really, really want such stories to be true. If you’re one of them, you probably belong to at least one of two groups: people who strongly dislike Trump, and Russia hawks. Conversely, if there comes a point where the evidence of collusion is overwhelming but you’re still strenuously denying it, then you’re probably a Trump supporter and/or a Russia dove."

The piece would rate a mention here because it's about conspiracy theories, a big topic for RAW and for Jesse, the author of the book The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. 

But there's also this paragraph (after a paragraph arguing that conspiracies are "like a bowl of spaghetti"):

"I stole that pasta metaphor from Robert Anton Wilson, a novelist who alternated between espousing and satirizing conspiracy theories. Like spaghetti, he wrote, conspiracies 'contain endless entanglements and overlaps; but to mistake the spaghetti for a coherent and intelligent organism is like mistaking the debris and flotsam on the beach for the outline of an invading army.' It’s relatively easy to find connections, harder to determine whether they’re innocent or shady, harder still to figure out if they add up to a larger master plot."

I didn't recognize the Wilson quote. Jesse explains:

"It's in "The Spaghetti Theory of Conspiracy," his intro to Donald Holmes' THE ILLUMINATI CONSPIRACY: THE SAPIENS SYSTEM. It isn't on the Web -- well, it sort of is, but the person who posted it cut it off midway through, so a great deal of it is missing:

http://worldtradecenter911.blogspot.com/2002/01/spaghetti-theory-of-conspiracy.html


Friday, March 24, 2017

Cosmic Trigger warning! Get your tickets now!


Michelle Olley has checked in to remind everyone, in an email newsletter, that tickets for the Cosmic Trigger play in London (May 4-27 at the Cockpit) will be going up in price soon. She writes:

COSMIC TRIGGER WARNING! If you've not got around to booking your seats for the play yet, the Early Bird tickets are taking flight in fourteen days' time (not 7 yet - apols for earlier math SNAFU).
Grab one (or 23) for the crazy-reasonable price of £15 - before they go up to £22 on Thursday April 6th.

SUNDAY SALONS
The two Special Event Saturdays are sold out, but we still have some tickets left for our Sunday Salons on May 14th and 21st, hosted by the fine folks from Festival 23 and Breaking Convention respectively. More details on what cosmic goodies are on those days can be found HERE

Buy your tickets here. More information here. 


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fiction notes



I recently finished up serving as a member of the judging committee for the Prometheus Award. Our committee is charged with coming up with a slate of nominees (after reading a pile of books). That will produce a list of finalists, akin to the finalists announced every year for the Hugo and Nebula awards, and then the general membership of the Libertarian Futurist Society will vote on those five (or so) nominees, and select a winner of the Prometheus.

I can't talk about our deliberations and I won't tell how I voted on the nominees, but  after reading a bunch of science fiction novels, I can recommend a few books without giving you a ranking:

The Core of the Sun, Johanna Sinisalo. An unusual dystopia about a totalitarian Finland which bans not only drugs and alcohol, but also hot peppers. The Worldcon is in Helsinki this year, and Sinisalo is the local star. You can read my interview with her. 

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, Lionel Shriver. Leftists got to see what a prominent mainstream novelist could do with science fiction with Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale. Now libertarians get to read an offering from prominent novelist Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin). Her fine novel depicts a family's struggle for survival after the collapse of the U.S. government.

Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer. I found the advocacy of censoring in Palmer's utopia problematic, but I liked some of her other ideas, and I thought this was one of the best SF novels I'd read in the past few months. Read my review. The sequel to this has just come out, and I plan to read it soon.

Arkwright, Allen Steele. An old-fashioned SF novel about a science fiction writer from the Golden Age who leaves his estate to a foundation that pursues interstellar travel.

The relevance to this blog (other than the fact that readers of a blog about an American writer might want to hear about other books to read) is that the only literary award Robert Anton Wilson (and Robert Shea) ever received, as far as I know, was a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for Illuminatus! The Libertarian Futurist Society welcomes new members; find out more here. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

RAW auction on Ebay continues







The Robert Anton Wilson auction on Ebay is continuing. As I write this (Wednesday morning), I see three items listed, two items of clothing and a pillowcase set, but many other items have been promised, so keep an eye on the space.

About some of the items listed: Christina Pearson says, "There are several things I have to locate but here are a few items going up soon:" One very cool thing coming soon – right out of Bobs wallet! His OTO card:

And Christina's short list . . .

1 - Bob’s favorite white twill jacket with his Amnesty Int’l button still attached

2 - Bob’s favorite brown jacket

3 - More Guayabera shirts

4 - A little resin buddha

5 - A swiss army knife

6 - My moms watch

7 - The Orson Wells masterworks vinyl collection of Julius Caesar copyright 1938 or so

8 - More teeshirts

9 - A bunch of random books

10 - Hand of God

11 - Odds and ends



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Email to the Universe paperback now out



The new Hilaritas Press paperback of Email to the Universe has now been published, making it available to those of you who want the paperback rather than the ebook.

Please note that it will take a couple of days or so for it to replace the New Falcon edition on Amazon's website. But if you want to order it right away, you can do so now at the Amazon CreateSpace link. 

And if you are planning to buy the book, even if not right away, you should probably go ahead and use the CreateSpace link, rather than buying it from Amazon's main website. Richard Rasa says, "The RAW Trust receives a much higher royalty for all sales through the CreateSpace store. No idea why. It certainly is not as fancy a page as the regular Amazon Sales Page, so maybe there’s a lower overhead? That’s one piece of pasta I can’t get a focus on."

RAW Trust royalties benefit RAW's heirs. The new edition is superior to the older New Falcon edition — it has new material by Michael Johnson and Paul Krassner and better illustrations — so you'll want to make a point of making sure that's the one you buy.

When the book becomes available at Amazon's main site and other locations, there will be an announcement and I'll note it here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

RAW auction resumes on Ebay [UPDATED]


Robert Anton Wilson, wearing an Escher t-shirt currently being offered for sale on Ebay. 

The auction of Robert Anton Wilson's personal items has resumed on Ebay. As I write this, seven items are being offered, including clothing and other personal items.

UPDATE: More information from Rasa:

Christina gave me a short list and some photos of items. She says, "there are several things I have to locate but here are a few items going up soon:" One very cool thing coming soon – right out of Bobs wallet! His OTO card:

And Christina's short list . . .

1 - Bob’s favorite white twill jacket with his Amnesty Int’l button still attached

2 - Bob’s favorite brown jacket

3 - More Guayabera shirts

4 - A little resin buddha

5 - A swiss army knife

6 - My moms watch

7 - The Orson Wells masterworks vinyl collection of Julius Caesar copyright 1938 or so

8 - More teeshirts

9 - A bunch of random books

10 - Hand of God

11 - Odds and ends

   Many many thanks and may your lasagna fly high!

News from Steve "Fly" Pratt



Steve Fly, creator of the amazing RAW 360 tribute website, recently put up a new blog post that summarizes his RAW-related activities over the years. There's a lot to relate, as Fly is an active musician, a writer of books, a blogger, is musical director for the Cosmic Trigger play, traveled to the U.S. to interview RAW and has done other things I'm probably forgetting. I own two of his albums: Robert Anton Wilson meets Steve 'Fly Agaric' Pratt (his interview with RAW, set to music) and Occupy by Dr. Marshmallow Cubicle (e.g., one of Steve's bands.) I can't keep up with all of Steve's blogs, but I've added another one to the Sangha section.

See also the tracks Steve created with the NinjaJamm app. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Finnegans Wake, the movie



For St. Patrick's Day, Jesse Walker at Reason does a post pointing out that Finnegans Wake was once made into a movie, and then helpfully links to Passages from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. 

Here is the take from UbuWeb: "A half-forgotten, half-legendary pioneer in American abstract and animated filmmaking, Mary Ellen Bute, late in her career as an artist, created this adaptation of James Joyce, her only feature. In the transformation from Joyce's polyglot prose to the necessarily concrete imagery of actors and sets, Passages discovers a truly oneiric film style, a weirdly post-New Wave rediscovery of Surrealism, and in her panoply of allusion - 1950s dance crazes, atomic weaponry, ICBMs, and television all make appearances - she finds a cinematic approximation of the novel's nearly impenetrable vertically compressed structure.

"With Passages from Finnegans Wake Bute was the first to adapt a work of James Joyce to film and was honored for this project at the Cannes Film Festival in 1965 as best debut."

Jesse also explores Joyce's interest in anarchism, which is something that Robert Anton Wilson also has written about.

Lots of other interesting stuff at Jesse's "Friday A/V Club" feature, including "Thomas Pynchon, Sitcom Star" and "USDA to Farmers: Be a Patriot! Grow Cannabis!"

Friday, March 17, 2017


Creative Commons photo via Wikipedia

Check out the new Odditorium podcast that has an interesting interview of Alan Moore by John Higgs.

Mr. Moore makes the case for his big new novel, Jerusalem (which I hope to tackle soon) and talks about his preference for unfashionable forms of art. Comics are now "in," so Moore says he'd like to tackle poetry, which seems unloved these days.

For more on science fiction as a subversive, unloved genre, see this excellent Roz Kaveney essay on science fictions struggle to be respectable. Via the Supergee blog, a good place for keeping up with science fiction news.

Could this be a clue to the subversive charm of Illuminatus? After all, it was published as "only" a science fiction mass market paperback original.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Jesse Walker on Trump the conspiracy theorist


Jesse Walker (self portrait from Facebook.) If you think the article is interesting, hunt up a copy of his book, The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory, which has information about Robert Anton Wilson and Discordianism. 

I have already gotten sick of reading about Donald Trump. I have attempted to instruct my wife that I don't actually need to hear about every stupid Tweet that President Trump sends out, or to have repeated to me every dumb thing he has said. I prefer to pay attention to people I actually like and respect.

But if you think you can read nothing new about Trump at this point, check out Jesse Walker's piece on Trump in The New Republic, "All the President's Phantoms."

After explaining that it's really nothing new for U.S. presidents to believe in conspiracy theories, Jesse explains what is new about Trump: "Trump seems poised to transform presidential paranoia into something new, thanks to two of his most distinguishing qualities: his shamelessness and his cynicism."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Patriots still guard America against Communism, just like in Illuminatus!



If you've read Illuminatus!, you may remember these passages from the first book of the trilogy, in a conversation between Joe Malik and John Dillinger:

"Thanks," Dillinger said modestly. "Actually, the Illuminati own the companies that put out most of the rock. We started Laughing Buddha Jesus Phallus to counterattack. We were ignoring that front until they got the MC-5 to cut a disc called 'Kick Out The Jams' just to taunt us with old, bitter memories. So we came back with our own releases, and the next thing I knew I was making bales of money from it. We've also fed information, through third parties, to Christian Crusade in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so they could expose some of what the Illuminati are doing in the rock field. You've seen the Christian Crusade publications—Rhythm, Riots and Revolution, and Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles, and so forth?"

"Yes," Joe said absently. "I thought it was nut literature. It's so hard," he added, "to grasp the whole picture."

The Christian Crusade and its publications may sound like satire, but Shea and Wilson didn't make them up. I grew up in Tulsa, and visited the church once, as a field trip for my comparative religion class at All Souls Unitarian Church. The church's theology included a vigorous opposition to Communism. The church declined rapidly after accusations against its leader, the Rev. Billy James Hargis.  Back in 1974, to demonstrate that life can be weirder than fiction,  a man and a woman discovered on their wedding night that both of them had lost their virginity to Hargis. I wonder if RAW ever heard about that incident?

Anyway, I recently ran across a new book, The Hypnotic Communist: The Satanic Seduction of America, by W. Calvin Fields III. You can order it from Amazon.

A book by an author named W.C. Fields which inveighs against Hitler as a Fascist Communist sounds like an elaborate joke, but it appears the author is a real person, or at least as real as someone from Texas can be,  with apologies to my friend Gary Acord.

If you can't afford the book just yet, you can pick up some information from the author's blog, where I learned that the Russians did not hack the Democratic Party because, if you think about it, "Why would Moscow need to intervene at all when in reality, they have had one of their own agents running the business of the executive branch for the past eight years?"

I also discovered that the Democratic Party is "the front group for the Communist Party in America." Mr. Fields helpfully provides a citation from his own book to back up this assertion.




Monday, March 13, 2017

New 'Email' paperback almost ready


Proud of the fine cover for the new edition of Email to the Universe by Scott McPherson and how the Guns and Dope Party graphics inside the book now look (much sharper than the New Falcon edition), Rasa has been touting the book to everyone he knows, and even to passing wildlife. He's holding up a paperback proof. The new paperback edition will be out very soon, to complement the already-out ebook.

Richard Rasa's version of events: "I took the print edition in the back yard to take a photo, and Walter showed up. I showed him the book, and I imagine in this photo he is reading the back cover. He probably imagines I’m an idiot."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

John Crowley on Expanding Mind



Do the rest of you guys suffer from "book guilt"? I have meant for awhile to try author John Crowley's novels (such as Little, Big) and I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I try to be as well read as I can, but there are gaps. I'm pretty sure other people have this problem. I once asked a person if that person had read Don DeLillo. "No," the person answered, "and don't tell anyone."

While I have not yet read John Crowley, I have at least finally listened to the podcast interview of him on Erik Davis' Expanding Mind podcast. Here is the site's description: "The award-winning novelist John Crowley talks about fantastic literature, alchemy, and his new translation of the 17th century hermetic classic, The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosenkreutz (Small Beer Press)." I found it very interesting, and I noticed Crowley is strongly influenced by the books of historian Frances Yates, also a big influence on Robert Anton Wilson.

Lots of other interesting things to listen to if you scroll through Davis' podcast archives. The latest episode is titled "Cognitive Liberty."  I'm going to listen to it, too. Description: "Criminologist and law lecturer Charlotte Walsh talks about freedom of thought, neurotechnologies, religious exceptions, and how the role human rights might play in the decriminalization of psychedelics."