Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Beethoven and comics
1. I am working on a blog post that talks about Beethoven. Can anyone point me to a place where Robert Anton Wilson writes about Beethoven, more than a sentence or so, besides the "Beethoven As Information" essay in The Illuminati Papers?
2. I recently read the comic book Beyond: Edward Snowden, written by Valerie D'Orazio, i.e. the Butterfly Language blogger. It's nicely done and told me things about Snowden I didn't know, and also captures my own sense of unease about Snowden's future. I read my copy by checking it out from Hoopla Digital, the excellent digital library service; check to see if your local library has it. For what it's work, it displayed better on my smartphone than on my Chromebook.
3. Speaking of comics, a reminder that Bobby Campbell's Psychonaut Comix is out. Above is an excerpt from it that I retweeted recently. [UPDATED: Forgot relevant link to comic. It's there now.]
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RAW tends to riff on Beethoven from a variety of tropes:
-as Illuminati member (including some wild speculations)
-How his music fits into the 8 circuit system of the brain: (EXs: In Prometheus, RAW marvels that some people can manipulate their 3rd circa symbolic manipulation system in order to decode and perform LvB's late piano sonatas; how the 5th circa shows up in most of LvB's later "major compositions"; how the 9th Symphony and the neurogenetic circuit. RAW riffed on neurogenetic contact with DNA feedback in the 9th symphony in his Weird Trips interview from 1977, etc) Marvin Gardens turns to the 9th "for the long-range evolutionary perspective," p. 295 Trick Top Hat, omnibus ed. There are MANY more riffs off the 9th in various parts of RAW's total oeuvre.
-The Hammerklavier is probably the LvB that gets the second most attention in RAW's writings. See The Homing Pigeons, pp.374-375, in what is an Erisian letter from "Ezra Pound" of the "Fair Play for Fernando Poo Committee" but it's really a short-statured character. However, the sentiments in this jokey letter seem to make an honest statement about an expression of "loneliness" in the Hammerklavier w/in the context of cosmic evolution. (Related: see pp.415-416) Homing Pigeons, pp.425-426: characters discuss Hammerklavier and Symphonies 7 and 8: "We all see and hear through our own filters. To me, the Hammerklavier sounds like an unsuccessful attempt at Tantric sex. And the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies sound like monumentally successful attempts.")
RAW has a lot to say about the Hammerklavier in Homing Pigeons, pp.428-430, Polly Esther listening to it. This passage seems related to the "Beethoven as Sound Engineer" essay, but with Polly's Joycean thinking about the piece and LvB as she listens, a favorite passage of mine: "The music hammered and surged along, carrying her through pain and frustration and loneliness to land, again and again, at things beyond simple feelings, things that she sometimes felt were extraterrestrial or non-Euclidean or somehow beyond normal perception. There are some kinds of knowledge, Ludwig had once claimed, that can only be expressed in music, not in any other art, not in science or philosophy. This was the most arcane knowledge, Ludwig's most intimate secret, and maybe you weren't entitled to understand it until you had been to the strange dark places of the psyche our of which he created it."
RAW's comments about the listening of famous composers in the Historical Illuminatus books, SCT, MOTI, and Ill.Tri are usually of existential-phenomenological character...because what else can you say? The Polly Esther passage seems exemplary writing on music, which is difficult. A comment on this "reality" of an individual's interior "self" in their phenomenological framework/"reality tunnel" when listening: take any one else's reality tunnel and it's "just as 'real' from inside as Beethoven's grandeur is in the existential reality of those inside the classical music coding system." (New Inquisition, p.16)
-as falling on a list of transcendent geniuses like Leonardo and Goethe, etc. (See the long list in Masks, p.60)
-and left-handedness (see Prometheus, pp.98-99 and 188)
-Most of RAW's riffs on the 9th are probably related to a Peak Experience he had on LSD while listening to it. It's related to a sound political system in The Trick Top Hat: "To Justin Case it appeared that the administration was the first government in history to take Beethoven seriously. to him, Hubbard's whole philosophy was obviously derived from the last movement of the Ninth." (p.271, omnibus ed.) RAW liked the Lenin quote about how LvB's music can be dangerous to a proposed violent revolution. He's cited this quote a couple times, and alludes to it in Masks, p.9: "'Did you hear the Beethoven concert while you were in Basel?' he asked cheerfully. 'I have more important business,' the Russian said in his cold curt tone.."
-There are a few riffs that place LvB in an historicist sense. EX: in Prometheus: "Beethoven's 'cosmic optimism' not only expresses the Age of Reason out of which indust-reality emerged; the very orchestras he wrote for were paradigms of industrial styles of organization." (p.257)
In writing about "Making It As A Writer," RAW writes of "egotism and love-of-your-work" and then you need a belief in something greater than yourself that doesn't contradict your self-esteem:
"Beethoven's music is an outcry of passionate commitment to God, Life, Humanity and Ludwig van Beethoven, in equal proportions."
What a generous survey. I will turn it into a separate blog post when I do a series of posts on RAW and Beethoven, probably after we finish the "Email to the Universe" discussion.
Eric Wagner sent me material, and we also exchanged tips on pianists. Eric "Following Rafi Zabor, I love Solomon for 106, 109 and 111 and Schnabel for 109 and 111. I also love Rosen's op. 54 and 106. And Richter's Appassionata."
My current favorite pianists are Sviatoslav Richter (also good for Prokofiev, another of my obsessions) and Brendel. I like Szell for the symphonies, and Amazon digital music has cheap and generally good Beethoven compilations.
Look, for example, in Amazon's digital music, for the Bach Guild compilations. Also, "The Genius of Beethoven: 100 Classical Masterpieces" is $2.69. It has some repeated tracks, so it's not perfect, but for about the cost of a fancy cup of coffee, you get the Rene Leibowitz set of all nine symphonies, a steal.
Great comments, Michael. Brian Shields and I both love Furtwangler's Beethoven's Ninth.
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