Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Samuel Morningstar has published part two of his "Beginner's Guide" to Robert Anton Wilson at Disinfo, this time tackling Prometheus Rising.
The piece includes an outline of the Eight Circuits theory of consciousness and a recommendation that people try the exercises in the book rather than just reading it: "It is, paradoxically, one of Wilson’s least commercially successful books, but its reputation in occult circles is nearly mythic. Which is to say out of a hundred people who claim this book changed their life, maybe ten read it, and only one or two has gone the extra mile to actually try the exercises. That sounds snide, but Wilson himself lamented that most of the people who came up to him and expressed admiration for the book couldn’t name a specific exercise from it. He soon learned to stop asking questions and just accept the compliments when they came."
Incidentally, when I posted about part one of the series, I predicted that Morningstar would follow up with pieces about Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology, so I'm right so far. Part One is worth reading, although the mistake Supergee spotted still hasn't been fixed — he still puts Playboy magazine's offices in New York, rather than Chicago.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
One of Adam's books about Kerry Thornley. More information here.
At the invaluable Historia Discordia, Adam Gorightly reproduces some of the letters he received from Kerry Thornley.
They are an odd mixture of craziness, insight and useful information. I doubt, for example, that Robert Anton Wilson "was connected with a Nazi secret society known as MAAGI6," as Thornley claims. But I believe Thornley's statement that "Wilson introduced me to the individual anarchists–Proudhon, Warren, Tucker, Spooner, Bersodi, Labadie, etc."
Monday, November 20, 2017
Here's a quote from Prop Anon, author of the upcoming biography, Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson.
"One of the greatest things about writing this book on Robert Anton Wilson has been all the great people who have contributed. This is rare. There is such a low 'snake' factor in the world of RAW
It's like a vacation in Ireland."
Doing this daily blog, I've been struck also by kindness and generosity, in general, of Robert Anton Wilson fandom.
Above is the illustration Bobby Campbell did for my online Illuminatus! reading group. When I did the group, Bobby surprised me by creating the illustration and sending it to me to show his support. Many other people have sent me news tips or have otherwise done nice things to help me.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
The name of the band is Chandeliers, described as a "synth musik band" on Twitter, and the new album's name is Law of Fives, the new album is expected out Monday. The above video for the first track has great visuals and you should take a moment to look at it.
The band is interested in Discordianism, hence the album's name, discussion on this radio show.
The band is from Chicago, website here. The band is on Twitter. Also on Instagram as Chandeliers23.
Hat tip: @advantardeodotus on Twitter.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
The Mondo 2000 website has posted a video of R.U.Sirius interviewing Lance Bauscher and Eric Wagner. It's a little under 40 minutes, and I enjoyed it when I watched it Friday night.
R.U. explains, "This lovely video by Satori D adds some great visuals to an interview I conducted with Lance Bauscher, director of the great film Maybe Logic and Eric Wagner, author of An insider’s guide to Robert Anton Wilson shortly before his passing. Enjoy!"
My favorite bit is when R.U. asks his guests for their favorite RAW books (and also answers the question himself). R.U.'s picks come closest to what I would have said; Eric's pick surprised me.
Friday, November 17, 2017
As work continues on the new edition of Coincidance: A Head Test that will be put out soon by Hilaritas Press, Richard Rasa has given me permission to share a bit of news: The new edition will feature a new introduction by Alan Moore. This continues the Hilaritas Press tradition of adding new material as it puts out definitive new editions of Robert Anton Wilson's work.
The people involved with the production of Coincidance have mostly kept quiet about this, although Moore himself let the feline slip out the bag in a recent interview.
Rasa said I could quote this bit from Moore's introduction:
This, for my money, is the most spectacular non-fiction work that Wilson ever penned, breathtakingly adventurous in both its content and its strikingly experimental form. Uncertain and demonstrably uncaring whether it’s a piece of literary criticism, metaphysical discussion or anthology of diverse esoteric writings, this remarkable compendium is best seen, in the spirit of its title, as a glorious accidental dance of meaning, modernism and mythology.
No publication date has been announced for the new edition. I do know that work has advanced pretty far with copyediting and formatting and that Scott McPherson again will do the cover.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Justin Raimondo -- co-founder and editorial director of the important Antiwar.com site -- has posted a column, "I Will Survive," in which he explains that he has cancer, and appeals for support for the website.
Get well soon, Justin!
He is still Tweeting away, which I hope is a good sign.
Antiwar.com remains an important source of news and commentary. Here is a dispatch on the terrible crisis in Yemen.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
New Falcon Publications has just put out a new book, The Eight Circuits of Consciousness, by James A. Hefferman.
The eight circuit model was created by Timothy Leary and is discussed by Robert Anton Wilson in the latter's book, Prometheus Rising. The dedication for the book reads, "DEDICATED to the memory of Robert Anton Wilson Vivat spiritus."
Hefferman explains the book in a YouTube video that's just under five minutes long:
I have not had time to read the book -- I really just heard about it. The paperback is a hefty $29.95, but the Kindle is $8.99. As with other Kindle ebooks, you don't have to own a Kindle to read it; you can use a Kindle app for your smartphone or whatever other device you use. I'll buy the Kindle soon and read it when I can.
Heffernan is on Facebook and lives in Sandy, Utah. He's a member of the Robert Anton Wilson Fans group.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
RAW biographer Prop Anon
No, I haven't been offered an advance look at the book. But R.U. Sirius has just done a new interview with Prop Anon (aka Gabriel Kennedy), author of the forthcoming Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson, and it's very good, full of new information about Robert Anton Wilson's life and suggesting that the new book will be accurate and fair, and won't shy away from touchy subjects such as Wilson's attitudes toward feminism.
I also could not find any mistakes in Prop's statements, a good sign. Prop doesn't strike me as a libertarian, but his discussion of Wilson's libertarian beliefs, and how Wilson differed from more conventional libertarians, is quite good.
Here's a bit, about Wilson and Robert Shea: "Wilson and Shea became fast friends at Playboy. They would hang out together at the bar on payday. They, and their wives, would all hang out, smoke weed, watch TV or listen to records and think of funny sketches that made each other laugh. They had a lot in common: Both raised Irish Catholic, both left the Church young, both seeking to become full time free-lance writers. They both really dug into the Anarchist perspective."
Read the whole thing.
Also, here is a Mondo article about a punk rock documentary Prop appears in.
Monday, November 13, 2017
One of the best science fiction novels I have read recently is The Genius Plague by David Walton, in which a plague created by a fungus threatens to take over the world, to the advantage of the fungus and to the detriment of the human race. The people infected by the fungus become a collective ready to kill and control everyone else. In Robert Anton Wilson terms, the fungus threatens to put everyone into the same reality tunnel. I've nominated it for the Prometheus Award.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
"He walked to the next patch, this one on the ground, and found the same thing -- an area full of fungi, but only this one small patch glowing."
(The Genius Plague, David Walton).
From Bob Stierle in Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook.
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Mug shot of Emma Goldman
Supergee did a post not too long ago on why he hates politics. I have to pay attention to politics because of my day job, so I am reasonably well informed, although if I ever get to retire I hope to be able to not "keep up."
Robert Anton Wilson said somewhere that if voting made a difference, it would be made illegal; a similar statement is attributed sometimes to Emma Goldman.
My chief complaints are these:
(1) Much of politics is a waste of time, in the sense of being political theater. While we engage on loud noisy debates over, say, the exact circumstances in which Christian bakers can refuse service, or whether women working for Catholic employers should have to pay for their own birth control (issues that will ultimately be decided by the courts rather than elected officials), we apparently can't have a serious debate on whether the U.S. should be endlessly at war, or have a gigantic defense budget far beyond what we need to actually defend our shores.
While I think Bryan Caplan exaggerates a little bit, I agree with him that the differences between Republicans and Democrats are not as great as people like to pretend.
(2) I agree with Gene Healy that politics makes people worse. If my Twitter feed is any indication, it certainly seems to make people seem mean and dumb. Of course, I can't stand Trump, but are Democrats any better? They produce people like Amanda Marcotte, who actually makes a living misrepresenting others' views and trying to foment hatred. I can't believe even Democrats like her, or that even Republicans like Trump or Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, although obviously tastes differ.
I realize that for many, misrepresenting the views of others and inciting hatred is the point, but that's not what my favorite commentators do. The sorts of folks I cite here, such as Tyler Cowen and Bryan Caplan, express plenty of opinions, but they don't resort to smearing to get their points across.
Friday, November 10, 2017
Thursday, November 9, 2017
"Advert for the 1985 Dublin World Premiere of Robert Anton Wilson's 'Wilhelm Reich in Hell' from Hot Press magazine." Source.
Nick Herbert poem on the universe next door.
Gurdjieff action figure.
Bobby Campbell mourns Halladay. (British friends and others outside U.S., an American baseball player killed in a plane crash.)
"How the Denver airport became an icon of the Illuminati."
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Projects that use Kickstarter to raise money for projects have to live on the edge: It's all or nothing on the site, and if you don't meet the goal the project fails. I'm pleased to report that the Kickstarter for "Slacking Towards Bethlehem," the planned new documentary about the Church of the SubGenius, met its $199,999 goal. The deadline was Wednesday, and as of Tuesday night, it had reached $202,697. More information here.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Disinfo.com has launched a new "Beginner's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson" series with a Part I article written by Samuel Morningstar.
"In this three-part series, I will present the books I (and other RAW fans) consider the foundation of his work, the bare minimum you need to read to gain an understanding of the man and what he was trying to accomplish. For sanity’s sake, I’m limiting this to just his non-fiction works," Morningstar writes.
Part One is about Cosmic Trigger. It's a nice piece that covers model agnosticism and other matters.
"The other important point that Wilson makes over and over (and people tend to miss) is how vital it is to maintain a compassionate, forgiving, and loving attitude. Compassion is important not only for surviving in a human world where selfish, predatory behavior is rewarded more often than not, but also for navigating the often rocky waters of divine revelation. There’s a reason every spiritual path on the planet places its primary focus on love and forgiveness. This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn, being a natural curmudgeon. I can attest from personal experience that trying to perform magick or run the energy orbits while angry or upset is a great way to screw up your life, including, but not limited to, giving yourself some really spectacular migraines," Morningstar writes.
I like RAW's fiction best of all, but I like the nonfiction, too. Let's see if I can guess the other two titles Morningstar will cover. I'm going to say Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology. Probably not Cosmic Trigger II, my personal favorite among the nonfiction works.
More on Samuel Morningstar.
Monday, November 6, 2017
Mug shot of Ezra Pound, when he went into captivity in 1945.
"Some critics I respect (Hugh Kenner, Robert Anton Wilson) love him; others (Christopher Hitchens, Clive James) do not; and the latest book about him—The Bughouse, by David Swift—suggests an explanation. Swift says that bad poetry is hard to write about, and there is much of that in Pound, but the good parts are good enough to keep the critics busy," Supergee observes. "As the title suggests, The Bughouse deals with Pound’s years in St. Elizabeths Hospital (which is now headquarters for Homeland Security; you can’t make these things up) after World War II."
The conclusion? "If you are interested in Pound, this is a part of the story well worth reading."
Sunday, November 5, 2017
There's a Kickstarter going on, ending Wednesday, for a Church of the SubGenius documentary. At present, it's a bit short of the the goal. Lots of goodies for those who chip in.
This purports to be a documentary that will "tell the true and unabridged story of the Church of the SubGenius."
The Rev. Ivan Stang plays is straight in an interview about the planned film with Texas Monthly, although unfortunately no one thought to ask about the influence of Discordianism or Robert Anton Wilson.
Still, it's an interesting interview. At one point, Stang (explaining why he's playing it straight this time) says, "Another thing is, look what happened to other put-ons when nobody was around to say, 'Hey look, this started as a put-on.' Scientology, the Mormons, the entire New Age basically sprang from joke pamphlets done by a couple guys with fake names four hundred years ago. A lot of people don’t know that history. I’m acutely aware of it, and I don’t want the church of the SubGenius to turn into Scientology. There’s people who would do that. Who would actually try to make it into a little army, where certain types of thinking is correct and incorrect."
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Pipzi Williams on Twitter often Tweets haiku that references the work of Robert Anton Wilson. Three recent examples:
it's not one of mine
elmyr has forged a haiku
no. wait. is this mine?
#haiku @AsiaArgento xxxxxxx.
a yes, no, maybe, so what,
bollocks, and fuck me
no fucking first line
no wife, no horse, no mustache
nothing else matters
Friday, November 3, 2017
Butterfly Language author Val D'Orazio
It is really yourself that is the final arbiter. If you keep yourself as the final arbiter, you will yourself be less susceptible to infection by cultural illusion. Now, the problem with this is that it makes you feel bad to not be infected by cultural illusion because it’s called alienation…the reason you feel alienated is because the society is infantile, trivial and stupid. And so the cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation.
I really like the above quote. Because it reminds me that I need to get around to reading more Terence McKenna. Because I feel alienated, particularly so these days, from many of my fellow Americans. I can't forgive Republicans or the Republican Party for making Donald Trump president, but the left in the U.S. often seems just as mean and dishonest as the right. I'm also irritated by many libertarians, at least the ones who have become Donald Trump fans.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Transatlantic Fan Fund free ebooks. New on the site, according to Dave Langford's Ansible: "Running Amok in the Fun Factory_ is an anthology of favourite UK convention reports selected and introduced by Graham Charnock. _Temple at the Bar_ by sf author and early UK fan William F. (Bill) Temple, edited and introduced by the ever-industrious Rob Hansen, collects Temple's humorous fanzine writing from 1938 to 1960 -- with many a dig at his good friend Arthur C. 'Ego' Clarke. Further titles are on the way, including at least one December release."
Speaking of Clarke, the Collected Stories — all of his short fiction, a huge anthology — is $1.99 for Kindle in the U.S. this month.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Illumination day for Supergee.
T.S. Eliot rejects Orwell's "Animal Farm."
Bryan Caplan on open borders.
Isaac Asimov on libraries.
Some conspiracy theories are true, Dag Hammarskjold edition.
Fund raising campaign for magazine for money burners.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Monday, October 30, 2017
Simon Posford. Public domain photo by digitalex
Musician Simon Posford (aka "Hallucinogen") of psychedelic rock outfit Shpongle is interviewed by 303magazine.com. Guess who's a fan of:
303: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
SP: Robert Anton Wilson, maybe, who wrote Cosmic Trigger, which had a huge effect on me. Raj also had a big influence — Youth as well. Many, many people. Bill Hicks, as well as my dad. [My dad] was a very positive inspiration.
I don't follow pop music closely, but he's been associated with Youth and with Ott, both of whom have been mentioned in this blog.
More here at the interview.
Hat tip, Advantardeodus on Twitter.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Ken MacLeod. (Creative Commons photo by Patrick Nielsen Hayden.)
Haven't we all had the experience of trying to read someone we "should" like, and discovering that we can't? I usually read a bit of horror fiction for Halloween, but I ran in to this phenomena a couple of days ago when I tried to read Hauntings by Vernon Lee. She's supposed to be great, she was recommended to me by critic Michael Dirda whose recommendations I often agree with, but I just couldn't get into her long sentences and finally gave up.
Years ago when I read one of Samuel Delany's nonfiction books, i discovered that he cannot ever finish anything written by Brian Aldiss. (I love Brian Aldiss). Ken MacLeod, the excellent Scottish science fiction writer, wrote an obituary/appreciation for Robert Anton Wilson after Wilson's death but confessed, "Recently I picked up the Illuminatus! trilogy again and was perplexed to find that I couldn't get into it."
I personally find Illuminatus! very easy to read; the structure and the plot are unusual, but on the sentence level, the works seems clear and interesting. But as RAW would say, my nervous system is not the same as yours.
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Logo for the Daily Grail, which y'all should check out, if you haven't already.
Adam Gorightly has recently become a Daily Grail columnist. His latest is "SPOON-BENDING SPOOK? URI GELLER CLAIMS TO HAVE INVESTIGATED THE JFK ASSASSINATION FOR THE CIA."
The JFK angle is new to me, but some of what Adam writes about will sound familiar to those of you who have read Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger.
The Daily Grail has been revamped into a nice new design and regularly features pieces that sumbunall of you will enjoy. It seems to be a nest of RAW fans.
Friday, October 27, 2017
A house in the small municipality of Arden, Delaware, built in the style of town founder Will Price. (Information here.) Wikimedia Commons photo.
In the essay "Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective," reprinted in Robert Anton Wilson's Email to the Universe, RAW approvingly mentions the 19th century political philosopher Henry George, as follows, in a passage listing various Utopian schemes that he'd like to see tried: "I am still fond of the system of Henry George (in which no rent is allowed, but free enterprise is otherwise preserved)..."
The wording of Wilson's article suggests that none of the Utopian schemes he liked had ever been tried. So I was surprised to read Jesse Walker's excellent article, "Delaware's Odd, Beautiful, Contentious, Private Utopia," which reveals that a town in Delaware, Arden, and several other towns in the U.S. were founded based on George's principles.
Jesse explains that George was "a 19th century economist who argued that government should be financed solely by a tax on land values. No income tax, no sales tax, no tax on the improvements to a property—just one tax on land."
The town is still run largely on Georgian principles. A private land trust owns the land, and people who lease the land support the town government by their least payments: "The trust collects rent from the town's leaseholders and, as the sole property owner, it pays everyone's county and school taxes. The rest of the rent goes to the municipal government. That bundle of money makes up the vast majority of the Arden budget—usually about 90 percent of it—though the town has a few additional sources of income, such as the rent for the antenna on the water tower (and, yes, the state's street aid). The county provides some services, and the rest are done either internally, as with the volunteers who run the local library, or by companies that contract with the village, as with the business that collects the trash. The big decisions are made in town meetings."
There are a couple of passages in Jesse's article (published in Reason magazine but available online at my link) that could be read as quiet shout outs to Robert Anton Wilson fans, such as this sentence: "The Alabama town of Fairhope had been established on the same land-trust model in 1894, and several similar experiments were launched in the first few decades of the 20th century—enough for the Single Tax settlements to have their own baseball championship, which Arden won in 1923." 1923 has a 23 and also conforms to the Law of Fives as it adds up to 15, although of course Jesse could innocently explain he had no control over when Arden won its baseball championship. The Illuminati also put in a brief appearance. Is is Jesse's fault the town has been mentioned as a haven for the nefarious secret society?
BONUS! Jesse on the partial release of the JFK assassination files.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
David Bramwell (from his official website.) I don't know who his friend is.
The BBC has an article posted online, "The accidental invention of the Illuminati conspiracy," which, apparently relying heavily on the theories of David Bramwell, argues that the obsession with the Illuminati in the world of hip hop was generated by Discordianism and the popularization of it in Illuminatus! by Robert Anton Wilson (mentioned by name) and Robert Shea (relegated to "another Playboy writer," a particularly clear example of Shea being erased from the record despite his own importance as a writer.)
The article by Sophia Smith Galer mostly moves on to discussing why many people believe conspiracy theories, but I'm more interested in whether Illuminatus! really had such a large effect on popular culture. I'm pleased that it has sold a reasonable number of copies and remains it print, but it never seemed as ubiquitous to me as, say, Stranger in a Strange Land or Lord of the Rings or Dune.
I decided to ask for a second opinion from the guy who "wrote the book" on conspiracy theory, so I emailed Jesse Walker, author of The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. (The book has a chapter on Discordianism, and if you read this blog, you should hunt up a copy.
I emailed Jesse a link to the BBC article and asked, "Do you think it's plausible that 'Illuminatus!' gave rise to all of the Illuminati paranoia of today? I am skeptical, but I thought I would seek the opinion of the guy who wrote the book on conspiracy theory."
He replied, "All of it? No, of course not. Not even all the Illuminati obsessions -- you can trace a lot of that back to the trilogy, but I think there were more significant sources for the hip hop Illuminati stuff."
In any event, pretty cool to see the BBC talking about Illuminatus! Wish I could hear a BBC announcer talking about it.
Bramwell, BTW, has a book out, The Haunted Mustache, that looks interesting.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Photo by Mohammad Metri from Unsplash.com
I have been doing a bit of volunteer copyediting for Hilaritas Press, helping to get Coincidance: A Head Test ready for publication. In the introduction to the "Interview with Sean MacBride," Wilson writes, "....yet the Golden Dawn has more to do with the publication of this anthology at this time than most readers will guess."
Can anyone tell me what that statement means?
My illustration is a photo from Unsplash.com, which makes thousands of excellent photographs available for free use, without copyright restrictions.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Marilyn Monroe reading "Ulysses." See the piece about her in Robert Anton Wilson's "Coincidance." Source.
He's not the only one.
DEA fears stoned rabbits.
Kevin Williamson on "The White Minstrel Show."
America's forever wars. A rather good New York Times editorial.
The LA Review of Books on Rushkoff's Aleister and Adolf.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Scott from Wisconsin, who has helped this blog before, recently read 2023: a trilogy by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (e.g., Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty) and kindly wrote to me to share these thoughts:
"Imagine a book co-authored by Tom Robbins & Neal Stephenson about the intersection of one of your favorite authors (RAW) and a band (KLF) that utilized touch-points from that same author.
"Having first read the Illuminatus Trilogy back in 1976 and subsequently immersing myself in all the threads from the rest of RAW's work since, I probably got about 2/3's of the references listed in 2023.
"Using my current standard of: 'Was it time well spent?' I would say yes, I enjoyed it."
"Was it time well spent?' seems like a good metric to me. Thanks, Scott!
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Sean Young. Creative Commons photo by Luke Ford.
On Twitter the other day, I remarked that actress Sean Young hadn't gotten much sympathy after being sexually harassed by Warren Beatty during the filming of "Dick Tracy." (She was fired from movie after she resisted his advances.)
I remembered too late that I should have checked to see if she's on Twitter. She's there, as @seanyoung23.
I'm pretty sure it's the famous one ..... sounds just like the Sean Young on Facebook, linked to from the official site.
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Sketch from pinned Tweet at the Linda Joyce Franks Twitter account. A self portrait?
James Joyce fans who also read RAW are likely to know that Wilson's Coincidance: A Head Test (new edition out soon from Hilaritas Press) includes four meaty essays that discuss Joyce's Finnegans Wake. When I did my recent interview with Znore of the Groupname for Grapejuice blog, he referenced that. "It's a shame that those essays have not been seriously considered by the academics," he told me.
But I wanted to point out that one of those Coincidance Joyce essays, "Death and Absence in Joyce," devotes most of its attention to Ulysses and makes many good points. If you are taking RAW's advice to read Ulysses 40 times, the piece is worth your attention.
Eric Wagner in his RAW tome suggests that readers new to Joyce should start with RAW's novel Masks of the Illuminati and Joyce's children's book, The Cat and the Devil.
My edition of Eric's book even has cover art by a Joyce -- the visual artist Linda Joyce Franks.
Friday, October 20, 2017
Although most of the books I read are ones I've never read before, I do have the habit of re-reading books that I consider classics, or at least particularly enjoy. I've read Illuminatus! several times and other RAW books more than once. I re-read Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun about a year ago. And now I'm re-reading Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. (As I write this, I'm nearing halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring.)
There are references to The Lord of the Rings in Illuminatus! For example, Epicene Wildeblood, describing a review he is preparing for a book that sounds very much like Illuminatus!, proudly trots out the insults in the text, including, "If the Lord of the Rings is a fairy tale for adults, sophisticated readers will quickly recognize this monumental miscarriage as a fairy tale for paranoids."
Both "trilogies" are in fact a single literary work, published in three volumes for economic reasons. Both can be described as works of fantasy. Both have appendices. I'm just guessing, but I wonder if Wilson and Shea worked in references to Tolkien because they hoped Illuminatus! would become an instant classic on the order of The Lord of the Rings.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
A natural followup to yesterday's review of an important antiwar book, Scott Horton's Fool's Errand, is the recent Peter Quadrino blog posting/essay, "Waging Peace from the Inkbattle House: Finnegans Wake in the Shadow of War." The essay posted on the blog is actually the full version of the presentation PQ made at a Joyce conference.
As we seem to be in a time of endless war, as highlighted by Horton's book, with the possibility of worse to come, PQ's discussion of the composition of Finnegans Wake on the eve of World War II seems timely.
As is usual with PQ, he pays careful attention to the text:
Shem the Penman, emblematic of the author of the Wake, composes “o peace a farce” (FW 14), a piece of farcical art that is a force for peace, leading us to wonder “Is the Pen Mightier Than the Sword?” (FW 306) Hiding up in his “inkbattle house” (FW 176), Shem cunningly attacks the powers of “awethorrorty” (FW 516) with his comedic art ...
Some of what PQ writes has echoes of what I've seen in the writings of Robert Anton Wilson:
The Wake’s anthropological view of warfare and militarism is always scatological, invoked right from the first page with “penisolate war” (FW 3), The Peninsular War where Wellington and Napoleon first clashed. Warfare in Finnegans Wake is reduced to a pissing contest (hence, Waterloo), having to do with the nether regions, characteristic of anal-territorial animal aggression implied by using excrement as territorial marker. As Timothy Leary liked to say, “The only intelligent way to discuss politics is on all fours.” Or as the Wake puts it, “All’s fair on all fours.” (FW 295)
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
If you lean at all toward an antiwar position -- if you are at least open to the idea that the U.S. should not fight endless Asian land wars -- you need to read Scott Horton's new book, Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. I happen to agree with Horton's position, but it's also a well-researched, interesting book, a lively and interesting read.
Here are some of the things you'll learn if you read Horton's book:
• There is nothing particularly Islamic about suicide bombers. It's a tactic used by combatants who have no other means to inflict serious casualties. (
• The U.S. is no closer to defeating the Taliban now than it ever was.
• The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war the U.S. has fought.
• The U.S. could have fought a limited war to get rid of Osama bin Laden and his allies, getting out of Afghanistan within a few months.
• If you serve in the U.S. armed forces, you are not likely to be "fighting for freedom." You will be fighting to subjugate people into the American empire.
• Many U.S. allies in Afghanistan sided with the Russians during the Soviet Union's invasion. The folks in Afghanistan who oppose foreign intervention as the "bad guys" in our eyes, just as they were the baddies as far as the Russians were concerned.
• Many of the people we are killing over there are not terrorists or enemy combatants.
• As badly as the Taliban treat women, they are actually better than many of the folks we support. The Taliban at least are less tolerant of rape than many of our allies.
Horton uncovers endless outrages. I could cite numerous passages in the book; here is one. After describing how the Obama administration in 2016 sought to bolster the Afghan government by purchasing Russian MI-25 attack helicopters from India (to get around U.S. sanctions against Russia), Horton writes,
"India's continued willingness to train and equip Afghan National Army forces in their fight against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network amounted to nothing less than a 'proxy war' between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan, in the words of reporter Charles Tiefer, a proxy war in which the U.S. remains on both sides. All this virtually guarantees the Pakistani state will increase aid to their favored insurgent forces in response. The Americans could not be employing a more self-defeating strategy if sabotage was their actual goal."
Your tax dollars at work! Did you know that India was intervening in Afghanistan, with American encouragement? The book is full of such surprises.
I bought my copy of the book as a Kindle from Amazon for $9.99 — a fair price for a new book.
* Correction: He does in fact mention it.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
In a pretty good-sized review of 2023: A Trilogy at the LA Review of Books, Ron Hogan begins with a good discussion of Robert Anton Wilson before moving on the subject at hand, the new work by KLF folks Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty.
I was hoping for a bottom line on whether I should actually read the book. The closest thing to that I could find in the review was "Indeed, 2023 is not, as a novel, terribly welcoming to readers who aren’t already familiar with the JAMs, and from a classical literary perspective it’s actually something of a mess — but that’s the point."
Thanks to Chris Mayer for writing to me to point out the review.
Monday, October 16, 2017
A brand new Cosmic Trigger Play Newsletter from Meesh (i.e., Michelle Olley) is full of news. You can read the whole thing yourself, but here are salient news points:
-- There will be a "ritual mass burn" of money, Oct. 23 in London, details in the flyer above; and at this link. (Attending the event is free, but you are invited to bring cash to burn!)
-- A nonstop reading of the new novel The Sentence by Alistair Fruish, Oct. 27 in Northampton.
From the Fruish website: "The book is one long sentence entirely constructed of words of one syllable, with no punctuation. We have had very favourable comments from the handful of people who have read it so far. This is what John Higgs has said about it:
“Alistair Fruish’s monosyllabic vision is a trance-inducing ticket to an all too plausible near-future dystopia. It is a bleak, grinding, addictive joy that will restore your faith in writing. Absorbing, inspired and unlike anything you’ve ever read, The Sentence is a fully-formed celebration of the power contained in even the simplest of words.”
The reading will be conducted by Daisy Campbell, and Alan Moore is one the the readers (if the others are listed, I can't find them). Tickets and other details here. Tickets are about 5 pounds; other readings of the book are planned. One hopes the book becomes available in the U.S., sooner rather than later; if I can get details I will update this post.
-- The dream of bringing the Cosmic Trigger play to the U.S apparently is not dead.
From the newsletter: "Safe to say, there is interest in getting the Cosmic Trigger play over to the states. Mycelial spores have been planted and connections made that, with enough love and will, could result in making this dream a reality. More on this soon..."
Sunday, October 15, 2017
I have been to several Metropolitan Opera productions simulcast at movie theaters, but Saturday's production of The Magic Flute was perhaps the most vivid experience yet, with a production that employed puppets, costumes, lighting and other effects to produce a series of often startling scenes. (Blogger has suddenly lost the ability to upload photos today, but see the images and videos at the Metropolitan Opera's website. I have embedded an official Met video from YouTube.)
The Masonic elements of the opera seemed very strong; almost the entire second half is devoted to an initiation of the heroes. Robert Anton Wilson says the opera also has Illuminati ideas, and indeed there is much talk of enlightenment in the text and the use of light in the opera is itself symbolic. There were many suggestive symbols throughout the opera; the "three ladies" carried around masks that looked oddly like aliens. Did anyone else see this?
Saturday, October 14, 2017
UPDATE: After I wrote my post, Branka Tesla sent me this photo taken at sunset. She says, "The photo was taken on Wednesday (10/11) evening from my balcony in Berkeley/Claremont hills overlooking San Francisco. You can see a thick layer of smoke cap over SF Bay."
Fire in Simi Valley, California, in 2003. Wikimedia Commons photo
On Twitter California resident Ted Hand writes, "Fuuuuuck. Voluntary evacuation zone now two blocks away from my house. I'm not staying there, I'm in a safe place."
This blog probably has more readers in California than in any other state. California is a beautiful state and I am always happy when I have the chance to visit. Stay safe, everyone.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Matt Cardin is a writer, editor, English professor and RAW fan who has immersed himself in Wilson's works. He has a particular interest in horror fiction.
I've mentioned him occasionally in this space, but I missed his 2012 blog essay "Initiation by Nightmare: Cosmic Horror and Chapel Perilous" until I saw the Secret Transmissions link on Twitter.
Matt relates how he was plagued by sleep paralysis attacks in the 1990s and at first related it to cosmic horror, i.e. reading Lovecraft, Lovecraft criticism and authors influenced by Lovecraft. (Lovecraft was also an influence on Wilson, as many of you know).
"There was, however, another vocabulary I could have used, and it would have complemented the cosmic horrific one in mutually illuminating fashion. It was the vocabulary of consciousness change and high paranormal weirdness encoded in the idea of Chapel Perilous as explicated by Robert Anton Wilson. But this didn’t occur to me until much later," he writes.
Matt then goes on to explore the concept of Chapel Perilous and the history of the concept in works such as From Ritual To Romance by Jessie Weston.
Cardin's conclusion is sobering:
"We’re all playing with fire, those of us who actively perturb consciousness, and also those of us who have such perturbations forced upon us by powers outside our ken and control. In the words of the weekly closing narration to a classic horror television series, the nightmare aspect of daimonic reality, the aspect that the great writers of cosmic horror fiction have accessed and illustrated in their work, “is always there, waiting for us to enter, waiting to enter us.” This is not mere poetic speech, nor is it mere aesthetic or intellectual entertainment for those drawn to the dark side of fiction, film, philosophy, and spirituality. This is deadly truth.
"Wilson spoke of Chapel Perilous in terms of the perceived arrival of a spiritual ally that helps one through a crisis. But there’s another corridor of the chapel where the ally’s aspect is decidedly darker, and where it’s damned difficult to see and understand him, her, or it as an ally at all. The fact that the classic ally in the Western esoteric and occult traditions is one’s daemon, one’s genius, one’s Holy Guardian Angel, makes this darker aspect of the experience all the more disturbing, for what does it mean when your own “higher self,” the daemon or daimon who, according to the ancient Western understanding, represents the divine template and design for your life — and which in a modern-day context we can metaphorize as the “unconscious mind,” especially in a Jungian sense — what does it mean when this, the most intimate and personal-to-you of all possible psychological/spiritual realities, appears in the form of a demonic, assaulting presence?"
Matt's "Teeming Brain" blog seems very interesting.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Scene from the Metropolitan Opera's production of The Magic Flute
A reminder and a correction: The Metropolitan Opera's broadcast of Die Zauberflöte (e.g., The Magic Flute) will be at 12:55 p.m. Saturday at a movie theater near you, unless you live in the middle of nowhere. See this link to figure out how to find a theater, etc.
As I wrote earlier, The Magic Flute has Freemasonic elements (note the "eye in the pyramid" motif above.) It was Beethoven's favorite Mozart opera.
In that earlier post, I wrote, "Isis and Osiris are invoked in the course of the plot, and the main characters have to undergo an initiation. Given Robert Anton Wilson's interest in Mozart, I'm surprised that he never talked about this opera (as far as I know)."
The first sentence is true (as far as I know), but I now know that RAW did talk about the opera, at least once. RAW stated that the Magic Flute is a Masonic initiation turned into an opera and that the opera has Illuminati ideas.
I can't guarantee a good experience at the theater, but the New York Times seems to like the new production. And here is a positive review.
An adult ticket costs about $25. For those who like this sort of thing, it's a good experience.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
At least of them line up nicely with what many of us learn reading Robert Anton Wilson: " 1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything," and "7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric."
Via Supergee, who is sometimes eccentric in opinion.
Via Supergee, who is sometimes eccentric in opinion.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Monday, October 9, 2017
If you can't get enough JFK conspiracy theory stuff, head over to Historia Discordia, where Adam Gorightly discusses the impending release of until-now secret documents on the John Kennedy assassination, and then explains how some of them relate to Discordianism and Kerry Thornley. Adam talks about the controversy over whether Thornley met Osward in Mexico.
If you've come in late, Thornley, often cited in Illuminatus! as one of the founders of Discordianism, knew Lee Harvey Oswald in the Marines. See Adam's blog posts, and his two Thornley biographies.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
The Mysterium by Jo Keeling and David Bramwell ("Unexplained and extraordinary stories for a post-Nessie generation") has just been released in the UK and comes out in the U.S. next May.
Details from the publisher are irritatingly vague, but Ian "Cat" Vincent's latest email newsletter says contributors include himself and John Higgs, so it sounds good. You can read about the Oct. 13 launch party.
Keeling and Bramwell also did The Odditorium, which I belatedly notice is available in the States now and which I'll have to pick up.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Bobby Campbell has a new post up at the Maybe Logic blog about the new artwork he is doing for the three RAW Historical Illuminatus! books being reprinted by Hilartas Press. As I reported earlier, the new editions will reproduce the drawings in higher resolution than the drawings New Falcon ran.
"Presently, The Widow's Son chapter illustrations are proceeding very nicely, as I try to stretch my imagination into a hyperspatial pretzel, so as to do this great work justice. The sketch pictured above [the same one reproduced here -- the Mgt.] is the rather humble beginnings of what eventually became my most complex RAW composition to date :)))
"I've tried to take this opportunity as an invitation to elevate my craft, trying to bring my images up towards RAW's text, meeting on the level, parting on the square, and all that good $#!+."
Bobby also talks about the shows he's been watching and the McLuhan lectures he's been listening to, so check him out.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Nabokov in 1973
I'll start a reading group in January on Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire. Eric Wagner and I have been talking about that for awhile; the book influenced RAW's use of footnotes in The Widow's Son. I meant to start that up this year, but if we begin now, we'll run into the holiday season, when people tend to be pretty busy. I don't really know how many people will participate, but Eric has promised to take part!
I've read Nabokov since high school, and I like to read another of his every couple of years or so; I finally read Ada earlier this year.
Coincidance is the next scheduled book to be published by Hilaritas, and then the Historical Illuminatus books, which would be suitable subjects for the next series of reading groups.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
MC5 in 2005 (Creative Commons photo)
The MC5 have just been nominated to be included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (along with 18 other acts).
I mention that here because there's an amusing reference to the band in Illuminatus! As you will no doubt recall, the Illuminati control all of the companies issuing rock music, and as John Dillinger explains to Joe Malik, "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."
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Bron-y-aur. Bron-y-aur Cottage near Machynlleth, Wales. Where Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote many classic songs for the third and fourth Led Zeppelin albums. Wikimedia Commons photo by "Andy."
Oz Fritz has a nice piece up that I liked about how the music one enjoys helps give people a feeling of being home. Excerpt:
"Like many adolescents, I felt alienated and disconnected from current social expectations and the conventional cultural milieu; any sense of a real kind of home becoming distant, especially after moving out of the parental pod immediately upon turning 16. Whenever I listened to Led Zeppelin back then, and still to this day, I felt closer to being at home. A lot of good music in general invokes the home space, the place of sanctuary."
What do you want to bet that wherever Robert Anton Wilson lived, he made sure to have some Beethoven LPs?
Last night, I listened to one of my favorite Tom Petty albums Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) in my living room, enjoying the music but also feeling sad.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Hugh Hefner. Wikimedia Commons public domain photo by Mark Dunne
Submit to Eris!
Why I've given up watching football. (Mentions PQ).
Supergee on Hugh Hefner.
Video: Rare interviews with Orson Welles
Why she went from left-libertarian to right-libertarian.
Monday, October 2, 2017
From the KLF Update on Twitter: "If you haven’t seen 2023 is in the Kindle Monthly deals."
I followed the link and it's listed at £5.99. I never buy Kindle books from Amazon UK as I'm an American, so I don't know how much of a bargain that is. It doesn't seem to be part of the Kindle monthly deals for the U.S. — it's listed at $10.99 today.
Has anyone out there read this yet? The early reviews from readers seem to be mixed.
Sunday, October 1, 2017
The U.S. government spends millions of dollars to have football players stand during the national anthem.
It would be interesting to come up with a total dollar figure for Pentagon spending on propaganda and entertainment, and then compare that figure with, say, the annual budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. It might show what the National Security state that RAW used to write about really values. I'm not necessarily in favor of having the government pay for art, but conservatives tend to single out only one kind of spending.
Tyler Cowen on the national anthem and the NFL: "The awkward, hard-to-admit truth is that the American national anthem is a form of right-wing political correctness, designed to embarrass or intimidate those who do not see fit to sing along and pay the demanded respect."
Don Boudreaux on the NFL protests. "By the way, I myself never pledge allegiance to any flag or sing any national anthem, although when such statist ceremonies are conducted in my presence I stand for them in order not to embarrass whoever is my host who brought me to whatever event might begin with such ceremonies."
Saturday, September 30, 2017
YouTube interview with Chinese SF writer Liu Cixin. About 25 minutes, very interesting, I watched all of it. He seems optimistic about technology the way RAW was.
Thoughts on the NFL player protests, from Don Boudreaux.
Amazon to adapt Snow Crash, Ringworld. Via Cat Vincent on Twitter, worth following.
Richard Rasa's online alchemy oracle.
Event that features John Higgs, Cat Vincent, others.