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

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Penguicon snapshots

Cory Doctorow and Ada Palmer

Penguicon has been a fine convention experience, although as with the other Penguicon I attended, in 2012, I have had the experience of attending a convention where I don't know anyone very well. (When I lived in Oklahoma for years, going to conventions meant seeing old friends again).

Penguicon is reliably a very interesting convention. I went to lots of programming, particularly events featuring Cory Doctorow or Amanda Palmer, and also got to speak for a couple of minutes with another author I like, Leonard Richardson.

Ada Palmer, nominated for the Hugo Award for her excellent book Too Like the Lightning, shortly after the end of the opening ceremony. 

Ada Palmer let the audience examine a 450-year-old book at one of her events,  letting us pass it from hand to hand. She explained that books in those days were much sturdier, and it would be fine so long as we used reasonable care. This is the title page.

I wore a Boing Boing "FNORD" t-shirt all day Saturday and wore a badge with on it, but nobody has said anything about either, as of Sunday morning. I guess there aren't a lot of RAW fans here. I did see a guy Friday wearing a T-shirt that seemed to have Discordian elements.

Ada Palmer's new novel Seven Surrenders has a chapter set in Ingolstadt, with the sentence "The Earth sill shake." That's not a RAW reference, she said. The chapter is set in Ingolstadt because that's where Frankenstein is from. She has a copy of the Illuminatus! trilogy in her library but hasn't gotten around to reading it.

Scene from the Libertarian Futurist Society (and Friends of Armed and Dangerous) party. Eric Raymond is gesturing on the left. I don't know the name of the dude on the right, but he taught me you can make a pretty good dip from avocado, cream cheese (softened to room temperature), salt and garlic. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Not available in any store!

Adam Gorightly has commissioned the manufacture of some Discordian patches, based upon a design from Greg Hill.

You can't buy the patch, but you can attempt to earn it from Adam. Details here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Greg Arnott to lead 'Email to the Universe' discussion

Gregory Arnott. (Photo courtesy Mr. Arnott) 

The Email to the Universe online reading group will begin soon, on May 15. It will resemble past online reading groups (archived at the right side of this page). There will be a blog posting, and everyone else will be invited to post comments.

Greg Arnott has volunteered to serve as a guest blogger and lead the discussion. Mr. Arnott has handed over the first post to me. He'll handle all (or most) of the rest of the postings, setting the pace, inviting guest bloggers if he sees fit. He can  deal with it however he lives, and I'll post in the comments along with everyone else (reserving the right to do separate blog posts if there's something I want to talk about.)

I've enjoyed Greg's posted comments to this blog and have corresponded with him. He's a serious student of literature and has wide-ranging interests, and I'm sure you'll find him an interesting guide. He attends West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va., pursuing a graduate degree.

I've asked Greg to say a little bit about himself, and he obliged:

"I was born and raised in the Mid-Ohio Valley. After undergrad I ended up drifting across the States before settling in Colorado for a spell. I returned home to pursue my MA.

"The summer that I graduated high school I was gifted a copy of The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Over the next week I couldn't put it down; I would sneak away from working the register at the family pharmacy to go read it in the basement. The book dazzled me: I laughed, grew frustrated, learned to question everything, I think I was even frightened a few times. I would soon devour Masks of the Illuminati and Cosmic Trigger. Wilson serves as a touchstone and aspirational point.

"I spend my free time reading, babbling back and forth with my daughter, gardening, kayaking, or playing with my cat.

"I think reading the poem/essays in groups of three, occasionally altering that pace so we don't cross the separate Parts during the same week, would be a reasonable pace."

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A couple of news items

Rehearsal for Cosmic Trigger play, via Instagram. The goddess with the red hair is actress Kay Alderton, as Arlen Wilson. Over her right shoulder is Oliver Senton (RAW, Joseph Malik, Barney Muldoon)  Tickets. 

New Cosmic Trigger play Instagram account. Via Claudia Boulton's reliably interesting Twitter account.  

Nick Sand, who made Orange Sunshine LSD, has died. Good article here. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

PQ on returning to Waywords and Meansigns

Waywords and Meansigns, the project to put James Joyce's Finnegans Wake to music, is putting out a third edition, and PQ is taking part again, joined by members of the Finnegans Wake reading group in Austin, Texas.

Here's a quote from PQ:

"It gives me great satisfaction and hope for humanity to know that so many people all around the world (contributors come from 15 different countries) have been immersing themselves in Joyce's great cosmic love letter, puzzling through the psychedelic dream opera and working to capture its inspired essence through music. The more people spending time reading and enjoying Finnegans Wake on this planet, the better. Its power of upliftment and enlightening humor is nuclear."

You can read my 2015 interview with PQ and Steve "Fly" Pratt on their contributions to the first edition.

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.

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 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.


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.