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

Friday, June 30, 2017

Robert Anton Wilson Kitty

"PRAISE BOB! Celebrate Robert Anton Wilson Day, July 23, with this handmade tribute to the original Discordian." For $70 on Etsy.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cosmic Trigger play in Boing Boing

The recently-completed run of the Cosmic Trigger play in London gets a nice writeup in Boing Boing.

The real news, though, isn't revealed until the last graph, which says that on July 23 this year — Robert Anton Wilson Day — there will be events in Santa Cruz.

This coming July 23rd, Santa Cruz will host a RAW celebration — a day of talks to celebrate his legacy, with contributions from Daisy Campbell, Erik Davis and Richard Rasa of Hilaritas Press, and an evening party with legendary DJ Greg Wilson. To receive information and details, subscribe to the newsletter on the website - or just tune in to the signals leading to the party. That's where you'll find the others! Fnord.

That's all I know, but the Cosmic Trigger play folks have promised more details soon, and when I get them, they'll be posted here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Comments update: Join the Illuminati!

Since I instituted the policy some weeks ago of moderating comments posted to the blog, I've blocked a great deal of spam from being posted.

I have been surprised by the number of messages that offer membership in the Illuminati. For its sheer audacity and its naked attempt to appeal to idiots, this one stood out as entertainment:

peter micheal has left a new comment on your post "Masks of the Illuminati discussion part one":

Join the Illuminate cult online today and get instant sum of 5 million
dollars with a free home any where you choose to live in the world and also
get 200,000 dollars monthly as a salary… If you are interested please
kindly fill the following information to this email below

 [Email address redacted]

> Full name………………………………
> Country…………………………………
> State of origin……………………….
> Date of birth………………………….
> Sex……………………………………….
> Address……………………………….
> Phone…………………………………..
> Email address………………………
> Attach Scan I’d card,passport or driver license containing your full
details Tell us little about yourself…Attach scan school certificate.. No
dirty game, no human sacrifices and No evil….is a cut of peace, big aim
Illuminate group our  [email address redacted]

On a serious note, I recently finished a book called Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in the Silicon Valley by a former Facebook employee (among other adventures) named Antonio Garcia Martinez.

Martinez points out that Facebook manages to keep its feeds free of spam and porn. I'm not always a huge Facebook fan, but these seems like a real achievement, especially compared to Google, which simply abandons its users and forces them to weed out spam themselves. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bill Helmer interview coming soon

William 'Bill' Helmer

Adam Gorightly has announced that he will be interviewing William "Bill" Helmer soon about his days at Playboy magazine and his friendship with Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. This is a great idea, and I'm looking forward to it.

In the meantime, you can read Helmer's piece on "The Bizarre Origins But Otherwise True History of The John Dillinger Died For You Society."  

The piece explains how Dillinger (and Helmer) made it into Illuminatus!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Email to the Universe discussion group, Week Seven



By Gregory Arnott, guest blogger

"LSD Dogs and Me"

Concerning RAW's love of our canine friends I thought I'd share a quote from The Universe Next Door (pg. 14-15 Pocket Books Edition):

"There was one species on Terra that lived in very close symbiosis with the domesticated primates. This was a variety of domesticated canines called dogs. The dogs loved the primates very much, and each species had learned a great deal from mimicking the other. The dogs had learned to achieve a rough simulation of guilt and remorse and worry and other domesticated primate characteristics. The domesticated primates had learned to achieve simulations of loyalty and dignity and cheerfulness and other canine characteristics."  

On our robotic nature: 

"There is no escape from our robothood unless and until we first recognize the fact. Only then can we learn to take control of our nervous systems and reprogram our individual realities." Leary and Wilson, Neuropolitics (quoted on page 89) 

& (from Illuminatus! pg. 402) 

"That's why the Zen Roshis say, 'One who achieves supreme illumination is like an arrow flying straight to hell.' Keep in mind what I said about caution, George. You can release at any moment. It's great up there, and you need a mantra to keep you away from it until you learn how to use it. Here's your mantra, and if you knew the peril you are in you'd brutally burn it into your backside with a branding iron to make sure you'd never forget it: I Am The Robot. Repeat it." 

I will testify that the use of psychedelic substances was a drastic experience that I'll never be the same afterwards. While my intake was nowhere as heroic as RAW's I will say that the world presents a lot more seemingly concrete variables than it ever had before. By the time I had tried LSD I had grown my own psilocybin mushrooms and was familiar with tripping; but lysergic acid diethylamide is an experience unto itself.  The revelation of just how baroque and overwrought our consciousnesses are is enough to keep you wondering...I imagine for the rest of my life. 

(On pg. 110 the name Lobachevsky appears in a different font- I don't have my New Falcon edition with me so I am unable to corroborate if this was intentional or not.) 

Concerning RAW's musings, as someone who recently emerged from being a male between 16-24 I will attest to how frustrating and crazed those years were at times ... now with my generation depending upon our parents well into our thirties I think it could be extrapolated this purgatorial time of societal/hormonal pressure has grown longer. Perhaps this can explain the number of young men making horses asses out of themselves arguing for the alt-right. 

The Provoked Wife was a Restoration-era play that dwelt upon gender relations in marriage. 

"Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" is RAW's conspiracy writing at its most streamlined. He pack a wallop of mysteries in this short essay which is well constructed from beginning to end. Considering the scrutiny that the work of Baigent, Lincoln, and Leigh faced (Baigent's name on pg. 123 is also in the odd font) after the release of The Da Vinci Code their work seems to have been mostly discredited...or at least its what "They" want us to think. 

It is a pity that RAW doesn't note Jean Cocteau's work with alchemical symbolism and his magical Orphic Trilogy. It could have helped set the atmosphere a little more. The relationship between Alchemy and Surrealism is documented through the lives and work of Cocteau, Duchamp, Daumal, and Dali...I'm sure there's more links that I just don't know about.

It is also worth noting that frequent commenter on the blog and RAW scholar Eric Wagner edited a poetry journal titled "Noon Blue Apples."  

midnight purple bananas

Next week we'll cover pgs. 129-159 up to "Part III: In Defense of the Damned"

Sunday, June 25, 2017

How the CIA worked with drug traffickers

A new documentary on the History Channel, "America's War on Drugs," apparently tells the story of how the CIA has worked with drug traffickers.  It's available online at the link. I have not seen it yet, but it sounds interesting.

The Intercept has an article about the series:  "The war on drugs has always been a pointless sham. For decades the federal government has engaged in a shifting series of alliances of convenience with some of the world’s largest drug cartels. So while the U.S. incarceration rate has quintupled since President Richard Nixon first declared the war on drugs in 1971, top narcotics dealers have simultaneously enjoyed protection at the highest levels of power in America."

Hat tip, John Merritt.

Supergee also has a related post about a Reason podcast, appropriately tagged "War on some drugs." 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday links

Episode of "Exploring the Bizarre." Features Valerie D'Orazio AND Adam Gorightly!

New England Journal of Medicine survey of the medical effects of providing health coverage to more people. It seems to show pretty conclusively that as many people as possible ought to be covered under Medicaid, or some other form of coverage. Via Tyler Cowen. 

New post by Oz Fritz in his Deleuze/Crowley series. And he likes early Genesis, as I do.

New Nick Herbert poem.

Jesse Walker finds a good one. (Above)

Bryan Caplan ask me anything.

I posted a couple of brief comments on Monday's episode of the online reading group, sorry for running late, it's been that kind of week.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cosmic Trigger play news

Tom Baker as Robert Shea. Pic by Simon Annand

Michelle Olley has sent out an official news bulletin from the Cosmic Trigger play folks who recently completed a successful run of the play in London.

Two bits of news: If you attended the play, please fill out the audience survey (there is an handy button in the message).

Also, there's good news about the play finding an audience. "By the final week, we were completely sold out," Olley reports  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New RAW YouTube channel has lots of material [UPDATED]

Martin Wagner, the Austrian Robert Anton Wilson fan who has become an important figure in RAW fandom because of his diligence, has some fresh news.

Martin has created a new RAW video and audio channel on YouTube. This is a notable achievement because it has a great deal of material that is not currently available at the Robert Anton Wilson Fans site.

Here are links to some specific items:

Robert Anton Wilson Prisoner rap sessions "Many Happy Returns" (1978)

Prisoner rap session "Hammer Into Anvil" (1978)

The Prism Lecture.(1982)

Falcon Press event talk. (1987)

Trajectories #11 "An Hour With Robert Anton Wilson." (1992)

Trajectories #18 "A Summary of My Philosophy." (1997)

Unknown Lecture. (1987)

Bridge Psychedelic Conference Talk. (1991)

Something's Happening with Roy Tuckman (1988)

Something's Happening with Roy Tuckman (1989)

Something's Happening with Roy Tuckman (1990)

Ireland and Irish poetry lecture (1988)

Map of Consciousness (2002). 

KPFA Radio Interview (1989)

Coast to Coast with Art Bell, three hour radio show,  1997, apparently blocked in U.S.

William Reich in Hell (1999)

Richard Bandler seminar first lecture (2000)

Richard Bandler seminar second lecture (2000)

Richard Bandler seminar third lecture (2000)

Preparing for the 21st century (1988)

The channel also has some more well known and widely available material. Again, the channel link is here. 

UPDATE: Forgot to add that if anyone has old audio or VHS cassettes and wants to share with Martin, so he can share with everyone else, please email him at

Monday, June 19, 2017

Email to the Universe discussion group, Week Six

James Joyce

 [This week covers pages 85-104 in the Hilaritas Press edition, e.g. the beginning of Part II to "Get Your New York Garbage Online." -- The Mgt.]                                                                                           
By Gregory Arnott, guest blogger                                                                                                                                                                
I'm sure we're all familiar with the quotes that begin Part II of email to the Universe: they seem to be printed on all of Wilson's books.

"Joyce & Daoism" is an excellent little essay that encapsulates a lot of the overarching themes in Wilson's work. Like "The Celtic Roots of Quantum Theory" and "Black Magick" this essay would work well as an introduction to RAW's thought. Perhaps the most interesting bit about this piece is the date it was penned; a year before his publication in The Realist (where he would similarly attack the masculine aspects of Western religion). Herein RAW lays out his patrist/matrist dialectic which he develops further in Ishtar Rising, The Illuminati Papers, and Coincidance (the book of essays in which it can easily be argued the highlight would be his even more developed exegesis of Finnegans Wake.) When I first read FW nearly seven years ago I used the Coincidance essays as my Baedeker and enjoyed the novel thoroughly. With Father's Day approaching I think it is worth pointing out the work of Carol Loeb Schloss and Alan Moore which has indicated that Anna Livia Plurabelle was based heavily upon Joyce's daughter Lucia (who is my own daughter's namesake). As Joyce worked on his map of time, space, and consciousness he seemed to believe that by finishing his impossible work he might be able to save his daughter who had already been institutionalized as a schizophrenic.

The most interesting point I think RAW raises in this particular essay is that the acceptance in Ulysses is forced and something that Joyce didn't personally feel or accurately express until Finnegans Wake. So there's still hope that I might actually understand the Dao someday. During an interview with Barry Hughart, the author of the ultra-charming Bridge of Birds he cited the Daoist tradition of hiding their teaching in novels during the Confucian hegemony; if we are to understand Finnegans Wake as RAW wishes in this essay a clear connection can be espied.

Another wonderful quote from Mr. Adams disproving the "Christian" origins of this nation.

The "Movie Haiku" section speaks pretty clearly on its own and considering I haven't watched many of the movies herein I have nothing to add. My favorite was Chimes at Midnight, one of my favorite of Welles' performances.

Giambattista Vico 

"He Who Thunders From On High" concerns Vico's theory that our belief in god derives from our primitive fear of thunder. It also contains another one of RAW's brilliant logic experiments that points out that Abrahamic religions must believe in a donut god. This is comparable to the aforementioned Realist essay where Wilson asked the pressing question: how big is God's dick?

In "Get Your New York Garbage Online" RAW seems to be anticipating the text speak that would develop rapidly over the next few years.

Our next reading goes from pg. 105-116 before "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Review of 'Cosmic Trigger' from OTO newsletter

RAW with Grady Louis McMurtry of the OTO

[This is a review of Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger that ran in an Ordo Templi Orientis newsletter in 1978. Martin Wagner, who sent it to me, remarks that it's a real rarity. The newsletter was sent out from Grand Lodge Berkeley, and McMurtry is mentioned in Cosmic Trigger as a guest at a Crowleymass party RAW gave. -- The Management.]

by Robert Anton Wilson, And/Or Press, $4.95.

Having been a follower of the writings of Robert Anton Wilson for the past five years, I was delighted to see "Cosmic Trigger" published at last!

Up until two and a half years ago, Mr. Wilson was a brilliant, yet undeservedly obscure writer on subjects relating to the occult and evolving psychic potentials in the human species.

He first came to my attention in 1972 e.v. through a number of articles written for Gnostica News.

The one thing that impressed me then (and still does) is the originality in his approach to the subject, as opposed to the usual scissors and paste technique of so many authors.

In the fall of 1975 e.v. the "Illuminatus Trilogy" was published.  While I enjoyed this work very much, I felt that it was not a true representation of what Mr. Wilson was capable of producing.
I realized that I would have to wait a bit longer for a truly serious book.

In Oct. of 1976 e.v. (at the time he was writing "Cosmic Trigger") I was fortunate enough to have taken a class in Exo-Psychology from Mr. Wilson.

At that time I got a preview of the information he was correlating for "Cosmic Trigger", yet I had to wait another year before he was able to get the damned thing published.

Probably the most important aspect of "Cosmic Trigger" is Mr. Wilson's attempt to connect a wide variety of seemingly unconnected phenomena into a pattern, into a web of cognitive intelligence.

Rather than attempting to impose a structured view of reality on the reader, Mr. Wilson presents many models of viewing the universe, allowing the reader to create a unique point of view.

Pancakes from outer-space, Aleister Crowley, immortality, Timothy Leary, Quantum Mechanics, multiple universes, evolving DNA consciousness, the Iluminati, LSD, the Dog Star, etc.,etc., begin to form into a unique mosaic of the possible realities beyond the veil of the logical mind.

The book escapes the trap of merely relaying a bunch of unexplainable phenomena, such as was done by Charles Fort.  It also succeeds in transcending the limitations inherent in a guru-chela type of relationship.

The reader is given the impression of being a fellow traveler with Mr. Wilson rather than being the recipient of a lecture from some god almighty authority.

The book is also a very personal biography of the author.  It is a personal account of his unfolding consciousness.

Mr. Wilson goes beyond portraying second hand experiences, and explains many personal experiences with "THEM" in a most objective and non-dogmatic style.

I consider this book to be very important in the work of propagating the Law of Thelema.  This is one of the few books out to explain the importance of the work of Aleister Crowley beyond the usual "occult" category.

"Cosmic Trigger" is going to be read by a lot of people who normally would not be attracted to the occult, and will thus be an excellent introduction to Crowley to many people who normally wouldn't approach the "Great Beast" with an eleven foot pole.

The book does much in dispelling the malignant shadow of the "demon Crowley" which has been fostered on the general public for so long.

The book is also of special interest to those of us working with the O.T.O. through the auspices of Hymenaeus Alpha.

Cosmic Trigger contains many interesting tales about the Caliph, even though Grady's name was inadvertently spelled "McMurty" throughout the book.

(correct spelling: "McMurtry". Also, note that "Stephen McAuley" is not "Stephen McCaully's" correct name either.  Such errors are easy to make.
I blew the spelling of the Caliph's name on the caption of the photo on page 17 of this Newsletter!  Not only that, but Hymenaeus is incorrectly spelled on the Copyright notice for Issue #1 ... A note from your chagrined Editor.)

Oh well, Mr. Wilgus never claimed omniscience.

In the interest of historical accuracy, it should be noted that the story on page 161 of "Cosmic Trigger" concerning the Abramelin and Enochian entities got a bit jumbled.

Aleister told Grady that it was the Enochian Angles who "bite" and the Abramelin Spirits who "come for you," rather than the other way around as recorded by Mr. Wilson.  Nevertheless the essence of the transmission came through.

On the inside of the back cover, it is claimed that Mr. Wilson is a member of O.T.O.

To prevent any misunderstanding it should be noted that Mr.  Wilson was not initiated through the auspices of the Grand Lodge in Berkeley ("Possibly Franco-Haitian?")

A good friend of mine recently asked Mr. Wilson who he was initiated by.  He replied that he was initiated by a person in Virginia who broke with Mr. Grant.

He also stated that he was given the IXth degree by this person in return for elevating this person to the exalted position of "Grant Master of the Bavarian Illuminati."

Knowing Mr. Wilson's sense of humor, I tend to classify this story in the same file as the mysterious pancakes from Outer-Space.  I'm sure it would be interesting to the readers of this Newsletter if Mr. Wilson should verify, or retract this story in time for the next Newsletter.

"Cosmic Trigger" is a very complex and interesting book.  In a short review it is difficult to accurately convey it's many brilliant facets.  All I can say in conclusion is pick it up and decide for yourself.
It's going to be with us for a number of years.

by Frater Iakasa 93

P.S. If after reading "Cosmic Trigger" you have yet to discover the "final secret" of the Illuminati, read Mr. Wilson's introduction to "Zen Without Zen Masters" by Camden Banares.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

'Fernandoo Poo will not become another Laos'

"Fernando Poo," the President of the United States told reporters even as Atlanta was calling for all-out war, "will not become another Laos, or another Costa Rica."

"When are we going to get out troops out of Laos?" a reporter from the New York Times asked quickly; but a man from the Washington Post asked just as rapidly, "And when are we going to get our troops out of Costa Rica?"

"Our Present Plans for Withdrawal are going Forward according to an Orderly Schedule, the President began; 

Illuminatus! page 70 of the omnibus paperback

I know there are critics of Illuminatus! who call it a product of its time, but it seems evergreen to me. The above passage scarcely seems like satire. I worry that the U.S. policy of endless war has become normalized.

U.S. to send 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

I Tweeted the above link, with the comment, "Some news for the libertarians who supported Trump." I got seven retweets and 16 likes, which made me feel I wasn't completely alone.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Science fiction book news

1. The folks who give out the Prometheus Award (full disclosure: I am one of them) have created a new blog and are posting book reviews of the five finalists on the Prometheus Award ballot (more disclosure: While the blog is a group effort, I am chairman of the blog committee, i.e. more or less the editor). So far, we've posted reviews of books by Ken MacLeod, Johanna Sinisalo and Lionel Shriver. There's also an interesting essay by Eric Raymond. More reviews will be posted soon, and look for lots of science fiction related content for people who like to read.

2. Tor Books, arguably the top SF book publisher, is offering John Scalzi's Old Man's War through June 21 as a free ebook download. This is apparently monthly program when you sign up for the email list. Phoenix Pick also offers a monthly pay-what-you-want ebook program. (Look at the top right of the home page.)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Return to SMI2LE?

 Yuval Noah Harari (Creative Commons photo via Wikipedia)

A recent book has revived the SMI2LE program promoted by Timothy Leary and also promoted by Robert Anton Wilson, according to Alastair Fruish, the British writer.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by the Israeli writer Yuval Noah Harari was published in Hebrew in 2015 and came out in English translation last year. According to the Wikipedia article on the book, "Harari prophesies the replacement of humankind with a super-man, or 'homo deus' (human god) endowed with supernatural abilities such as eternal life."

If you are unclear on Leary's SMI2LE formula, a refresher from the Leary bio on Wikipedia: "He adopted the acronym "SMI²LE" as a succinct summary of his pre-transhumanist agenda: SM (Space Migration) + I² (intelligence increase) + LE (Life extension), and credited the L5 Society co-founder Keith Henson with helping develop his interest in space migration."

I heard Alastair Fruish mention the Yuval book on a podcast as a kind of return to SMI2LE  and I emailed Alastair to ask if I'd heard the title correctly.

He wrote back that I had the correct book, and as far as he can remember, Yuval doesn't mention Leary or Wilson or Leary's formula. 

"But there were similarities with the ideas. It's a futurism book," Fruish wrote.

"I enjoyed it. But not as much as his first one, Sapiens, which also has something in common with some of Wilson's ideas," he wrote. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What inspired Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins 

A website I had not run across before, Archiving Terence McKenna, runs a piece on the books that most inspired Tom Robbins. Among them: Robert Anton Wilson's Sex and Drugs: A Journey Beyond Limits. The other titles are interesting, too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

New Philip K. Dick book

Well, this looks different. The Matrix Control System of Philip K. Dick and the Paranormal Synchronicities of Timothy Green Beckley is a new book, with contributions from Tessa Dick, Timothy Green Beckley, Sean Casteel, "Philip K. Dick with Tim Swartz," Brad Steiger, Nick Redfern, Diane Tessman, Valerie D'Orazio, Brent Raynes, Cynthia Cirile, Hercules Invictus and Joseph Green.

At Butterfly Language, Val says, "If you are a Philip K. Dick fan and are looking for some rarer insights and info on the man—especially in regards to esotericism—this is the book to buy. (don’t let the photo fool you—the book is HUGE!)

"I have two articles in there which are edited versions of PKD posts here—it’s the first time I’ve ever put this type of work in print (outside of my comic book series Beyond)."

Only a paperback was listed at Amazon when I posted this, but from what Val says in her post, it seems that a digital edition will be available soon. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Email to the Universe discussion group, Week Five!

Alfred Korzybski 

By Gregory Arnott, guest blogger

[Today's section is pages 79-82 of the print version, e.g. from "Old Man On a Balcony: Views of Monterey Bay #10" to the end of Part I. I forgot to post that at the end of last week's episode. -- Tom]

With these short entries we finish Part 1 of Email to the Universe and begin to move into some more Advanced Head Trips.

Allow me, my friends, a couple of sophistries:

First: If we are to understand ego and perception in the way that RAW intends, we could consider each of us gods who are in complete control or slaves of their own universe. Thus when we speak to each other there is an ontological conflict. Language is the composite that makes our cosmos and also what allows us to build a bridge between our separate universes; infinite care should be allocated to these divine interactions.

Second: I tried explaining Korzybski's "the word is not the thing" to my five year old daughter this week during a discussion about the Great God Pan and Jesus as "the Lord of the Dance." I asked her to lay out her hand and say "I have a ring in my palm." She did and I asked if there was actually a ring in her palm. "No." I then asked her to put out her palm and laid out of my rings in her hand. I asked her to be silent for a stretch and asked her if there was a ring in her hand although she hadn't said anything. I know this is trite but it seemed to be an effective lesson. 

RAW's short jibe at the dishonorable and happily late-of-this-world rev. Falwell made me think of the disaster that is Abrahamic religion and their sick relations amongst themselves. Until humanity can understand that religion is but one way to regard the world around us it will remain as a poison that divides humanity and obscures the truth. Perhaps by understanding that religion should never be a source of morals (decency shouldn't be regulated by a hypothetical old man sitting on a cloud, i.e. rape and murder are generally bad regardless of whose watching) but rather remain as a metaphysical idiom we could declaw its vicious nature.

Sir Arthur Eddington
Sir Arthur Eddington, who is quoted twice in the closing parables was an early twentieth century astronomer who would have been considered a "science popularizer" in today's lexicon. Probably what endeared this man's works to RAW was his contribution to explaining the implications of Einstein's relativity to the layman.  I'm going to inflict some haikus upon you that I wrote during a walk in Cooper's Rock National Forest recently:

rivulets of sun
midst the shadows and foliage
there dances kether

everywhere -- fern fronds
reminds me of a white porch
where she hung ferns once

a candy corn slug
no, a petal resembling
a sea cucumber

[Next week: Discussion of Part II begins, pages 83-104 in the print edition, through "Get Your New York Garbage Online" in the ebook. -- The Management.]

Sunday, June 11, 2017

John Higgs talks to the Psychedelic Detectives

The wonderful British author John Higgs is featured in the latest podcast from the Psychedelic Detectives. It was so interesting I would up staying up later than I had planned last night to finish all of it. John and the PD boys go on for about an hour and 11 minutes. Naturally, his latest book comes up (Watling Street: Travels Through Britain and Its Ever-Present Past, due out July 12 in Britain). But John also talks about Robert Anton Wilson and reality tunnels, his decision to become a full time writer (reminiscent of RAW's decision, as detailed, I believe, in Cosmic Trigger), intelligent optimism and just doing something interesting rather than worrying about if it is impossible, Project Mindfix, his favorite Dr. Who, David Lynch (turns out Alan Moore is a Twin Peaks fan), art that is transformative rather than the same old thing you've heard before,  and his love for heavy metal music. (He and Brian Shields would have much to talk about if they had ever met.) Also what he and the podcasters think of the last couple of "Star Wars" movies, and why John doesn't bombard you with his political opinions on Twitter.

I don't have a U.S. publication date for Watling Street, but the Amazon UK link above says, "This item can be delivered in the United States."

I also can't tell you much about the Psychedelic Detectives; if there's a bio or a useful "About" document somewhere, I couldn't find it. There are two of them, but you mostly hear from one of them, they have a Soundcloud account which lists all of their episodes,  they want you to stream their episodes rather than downloading them, they are on Twitter,  and a bunch of the other episodes look interesting.

Friday, June 9, 2017

RAW in Omni

Martin Wagner, the valuable RAW researcher in Austria, keeps sending me useful information. Here is another hot tip.

Herr Wagner wrote to tell me that Robert Anton Wilson wrote a series of articles for Omni, the slick science fiction magazine, back in the 1970s. They are mostly essays with book recommendations and reviews on that issue's main topic. There's also an essay called "UFO Update."

Here is Martin's list — with links to Amazon, where you can buy electronic replicas!

OMNI Magazine October 1978

OMNI Magazine November 1978

OMNI Magazine December 1978

OMNI Magazine March 1979

OMNI Magazine June 1979

OMNI Magazine December 1979

I bought the March 1979 issue (pictured); it has a RAW review of The Third Mind by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin.  You'll need to read these things on a tablet or smartphone with a Kindle app; they won't load on the Kindles used for reading books.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

UPDATED: Steve Fly on British politics and RAW

Labour candidate Jeremy Corbyn 

UPDATE: If you are curious, May's political party gained more seats in Parliament than anyone else but lost its majority and will have to try to cobble together a coalition to survive.  The election is widely seen as a vindication for Corbyn.  The Liberal Democrats picked up a couple of seats. 


The British election is today. I don't understand British politics. I thought part of the point of a parliamentary system is that, unlike the U.S., you get more than two choices. So how come all I see on Twitter is stuff about Corbyn and May? I am curious about the Liberal Democrats, but commenters the election, such as Sean Gabb, don't seem to be interested in the party.

Steve Fly has a commentary on the election. He sees reading Robert Anton Wilson as at least a partial antidote to social media nastiness:

After studying the works of Robert Anton Wilson for over 20 years, i can't shake this general love for all humanity and the ongoing practice of tolerance and forgiveness, at the heart of his works. When his daughter was beaten to death, and they found the culprit, he and his wife did not call for the death penalty. Instead, they managed to find it within themselves to forgive, and even love the murderer. I wonder why forgiveness can make many people so angry? who continue to bang the drums of retribution? 

I get the impression from social media, especially Facebook, that this angry mob have studied torture techniques, writing without missing a beat, of what they would 'do' to their enemies. Anything like a fair trial, or non-violent punishment is simply out of the question for them. Angry people full of hate want to get even and inflict an equal amount of suffering upon their enemies. The cycle of violence and retaliation continues. The work of RAW has been a countermeasure to this kind of certitude, and hate fueled ignorance. I sincerely wish more people would read his work, and have the courage to act upon it. 

My own feeling is that politics makes people mean and stupid and that there is too much emphasis in modern society in picking your "team" and rooting for it.

Sean Gabb, by the way, is reliably interesting, even if you don't agree with him. Here is a bit from his latest piece: 

Because Jeremy Corbyn is hated by virtually the whole of the political and media class, she [Theresa May] was cried up, through her first ten months in office, as some kind of political giant. She was urged into calling the present election, because everyone important thought it would be a disaster for Mr Corbyn. She obviously believed what she was told, and spent the first week of the campaign smirking at the prospect of a three-figure majority. Then, even the combined BBC and media oligarchs were unable to prevent us from taking a good look at the woman, and concluding that she was probably unfit to run a jumble sale.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Jesse Walker on the UBI

Jesse Walker. See his Reason bio.

 At Reason magazine, our friend Jesse Walker does a survey of the history and future prospects for the idea of the Universal Basic Income, and while Jesse doesn't mention Robert Anton Wilson by name, anyone who reads Wilson will recognize many of the names in the article and will learn about many of the people who influenced Wilson's thinking on the matter.  You get Milton Friedman and the negative income tax that Wilson mentioned, Ezra Pound, Timothy Leary, etc. Also a reference to "Riders of the Purple Wage," the Hugo Award winning story by Philip Jose Farmer, who Wilson admired.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Email to the Universe reading group, Week Four!

By Gregory Arnott, guest blogger

So, this week is a doozey. One of the thoughts that has preoccupied me while reading this book is how well it has aged and whether the ideas that RAW introduces are as relevant today as they were a little more than a decade ago. When I first read email to the Universe I was what I would call a RAW-purist and naturally agreed with everything I read- emphatically so. Now that I have changed and am revisiting the text I am finding the reading to be a much more provoking and rewarding experience.

pg 54 In the initial haiku we have a reference to dolphins and their presumably idyllic lifestyle (without money! how nice of an idea) which echoes back to Howard and his compatriots in Illuminatus!

- also, the quote is originally from Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (I’ve only read Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions)
The essay Shocking Hidden Facts About Male Non-Violence was an arduous read for me. Not because I outright disagree with RAW but in today’s delightful iteration of the Culture War this little piece is, if anything, more dangerous than at the time of its writing and later publication. The conversation about feminism and masculinity in our society has somehow accelerated and become more of a muddle.
In light of the recreational and medical Heresies mentioned on pg. 55 that had resulted in so many arrests I’d like to link to an article about how Oakland, CA is taking steps to correct this assault.
On page 56 RAW complains about the brutish perception of men in the context of his androphobia. I would like to point out that much of the brutishness and foolish accoutrements of masculinity are not due to the incorrect perspectives of observes but certain malignant programs in our own society concerning the male gender. Toxic and Fragile Masculinity are concepts worth familiarizing yourselves with that help to pinpoint the flaws that help create the more brutish types of male hominids.
I also enjoy the digs at Amy Lowell, an early twentieth century Imagist poet whose work is widely looked down upon, and Hildegarde of Bingen. I’m not quite in the know about the mediaeval mystic and composer’s history but elsewhere in RAW’s work he talks about how “feminist” historians have tried to raise her compositions unfairly about those of the male Beethoven’s.
I would also say that on pg. 57 I’m not sure that bringing up the masculine nature of the “major,” especially the Abrahamic faiths, does much to help RAW’s argument. The decidedly patriarchal systems of these religions has caused undisputable harm to men, women, and all parts of the spectrum of sexuality. Later on page 86 RAW discusses the differences between “matrist” and “patrist” societies and how the former seems preferable. This is one of my favorite paradigms he introduces to the reader and does so eloquently in Ishtar Rising.  
Today’s dialogue has reduced such protests to the stereotypical response of “Not All Men!” which belies a concern for the wellbeing of a male’s reputation over the very real statistics of rape and violence against women. However, RAW’s point in the next essay shows how such reactions are unhelpful to finding a solution. The classic double-bind that RAW mentions on pg. 58 is another example of the irritating and befuddling position that many progressive males find themselves in today. A particularly distressing example is the case of Professor Brett Weinstein at Evergreen College in Oregon who has been confronted with mob justice and forced off campus because he refused to be excluded from the campus by a minority group simply because he happens to be a white male. I’m sure not even RAW could have foreseen the dramatic changes our increasingly noisey world would have upon our world in but a decade but email to the Universe does seem to be a primer for what was going to happen.
On pg. 59 Wilson brings up Andrea Dworkin who was a radical feminist who made all other feminists look terrible. After she decided that pornography was so evil that she was willing to align herself with the rev. Falwell (who we’ll get to read about next week) I feel she lost all respectability or reason to command our attention. Human-hating-radicalism loves human-hating-radicalism and as witnessed by the collusion between Fascists and Soviets circa 1939 and 2016-17.
More so than his predictions of our near-future immortality the last paragraph written by RAW on pg. 60 seems to be a devastatingly optimistic prediction.  We now live in a world where the various parts of society are more weary and spiteful of each other and an anti-Semite holds the President of the United States’ ear.
Our next haiku repeats a motif from the first insofar as it is composed around the image of an animal, this time the free flying gulls. (Remember that RAW will reference the free-flying feel-good Jonathan Livingston Seagull in the third essay this week.)  
Language, Logic, & Lunacy
“The first rule of politics is to use language precisely. Otherwise, no one understands anybody else, and everything falls into Chaos.”  Given the themes of this book and the references to Count Korzybski I think we might all be able to agree that once “politics” is replaced by “life” we have been given a cornerstone approach to this work and the world.
Humorously I can add a personal corollary to his definition of ching ming (“be sure brained turned on before setting mouth and motion”); all my problems are caused by not knowing when to shut my damn mouth.
The difference between the majority of positions of power are held by white men and all men hold a position of power is the cause for much of the current political ire today as it was when RAW initially penned this essay. Today, along with terms like “toxic masculinity” and “fragile masculinity,” we have been introduced to the terminology of privilege. I don’t care to pontificate upon my beliefs here but instead ask if this new aspect of the dialectic would have made any sense to RAW. This also isn’t to say that the idea of white- or male- privilege discounts the argument that is made herein: not all white men live lives of luxury or lives that are necessarily easier or better than their female or minority counterparts. While I cannot agree as whole-heartedly with the slant of these two essays (for example, the mention of “Nazi madness” did not make me think of the irksome narratives of Buzzfeed and radical Academia but the disturbing rise of Richard Spencer and his ilk) I think their ultimate point is fire-hardened by the cognitive dissonance caused by the added nuance of eleven years.
I’m exhausted with my ambiguity. I hope I’m not exhausting you, dear reader.
On pg. 66 RAW robs me of my animal motif or perhaps solidifies it for the triumvirate by causing a reverse Anselm arrangement: the real is crowned by becoming imaginary.
Dreams of Flying
I haven’t read The Dream Illuminati.
In consideration of Jungian archetype that appears in so many Saturday morning cartoons I’d like to recount that at the same time I was reading this essay I was in the middle of a popular history, Rousseau’s Dog by David Edmonds and John Eidinow, and came across the following passage:
“The overall impact of Hume’s fusillade on common sense was, and still, most unsettling. Applying the utmost intellectual rigor, he blows away the ground under our day-to-day assumptions: we are like the cartoon dog that runs in midair until he sees there is no ground under his paws. If that was where Hume’s head had led him, with his heart he was almost apologetic. He did not mean to disorient.”  (pg. 134)
I think this is important because Hume is a name we haven’t heard in email to the Universe but whose works are a pioneer of RAW’s own. (In Masks of the Illuminati RAW writes that part of the difference between Einstein and Joyce was that Einstein “betrayed a greater allegiance to Hume, the Master of Those Who Don’t Know” whereas Joyce “stood foursquare behind Aristotle, the Master of Those Who Know.”) I would heartily recommend “An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding” as a supplementary reading to this book. I feel that since Aristotle and his fallacious-yet-pervasive universe play such a vital part in the dialectic of this work (I’m so sorry to use that word twice, I’m not trying to be pretentious, I just can’t think of a better term.) I should recommend one of his works. But I’ll confess ever since my attempt at reading his Politics was the only example of the time writing had lulled me to sleep, I haven’t revisited his work.
Concerning the discussion of Art vs. Science and their respective origins (as well as the origin of Religion) I would not hesitate to point everyone in the direction of Ramsey Duke’s excellent essay S.S.O.T.B.M.E. which was penned during the Seventies but of whose existence I believe RAW was unaware.
The discussion of Stravinsky as a “sound engineer” on pg. 69-70 reminds me of a more modern example: Brian Eno whose scrupulous self-excavating is the stuff of modern legend.
Also on pg. 70 we have RAW’s (to me entirely unfamiliar) definition of “shaman” as “he who walks in the sky.” This does jive with the dramatic sequence in The Teaching of Don Juan where the infamously factitious Man of Knowledge transforms his student into a crow whilst Carlos is under the influence of humidio (a mixture of psychotropic mushrooms and herbs). This is parodied on the Firesign Theater album Everything You Know Is Wrong which is misquoted in Cosmic Trigger.
pg. 71  “of course the universe can count above two” would seem to be a key to the thrust of this tome and a cure to our current stalemate.
pg. 73 I think it is curious that when RAW described 2001 as “the most beautiful, the most haunting” science fiction film I was instead reminded of Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth which draws so heavily upon the Icarian theme.
Gentle reader, please compare the recounted dream on pg. 74-75 and the “absurd good news” with Alan Moore’s account of the night of January 7, 1994 from the essay Unearthing which primarily concerns the goddess of dreams.
“This is it, this is real, this lamp-glow that’s inside the world like torchlight through a choirboy’s cheeks, the mystical experience as Gilbert Chesterton’s absurd good news and it goes on for hours, goes on forever.”
On page 76 we have an interesting discussion of qabalistic concepts. One thing that RAW fails to note is that Elohim is a bisexual term that is perhaps defined as “the gods and goddesses.” It is occasionally described as a feminine plural. Secondly, Crowley never commented on the Middle Pillar Ritual which was developed exclusively by Dr. Israel Regardie. While the quote that RAW provides is derived from the late Eighties work Enochian Sex Magick by Lon Milo Duquette and Christopher S. Hyatt I can't think of or find any direct quotation from Crowley’s work. The closest example I can find is a similar tenor and use of the word “perpendicular” in his Liber O, section 6, which concerns rising on the astral planes.
If we are to “get wise” in the Socratic and hardboiled meaning of the phrase it may be useful to remember the denouement of Socrates’ teaching.
I leave Crowley and RAW the last words. The brilliant Qabalist Will Parfitt once nominated Crowley’s “Introduction” in Magick as the most succinct and potent description of that most secretive Art.