Sunday, June 17, 2018

Antero Alli interviews RAW in bOING bOING

From the Danny Hellman illustration from bOING bOING

I was going through some back issues of "bOING bOING" magazine at the Internet Archive when I ran across an interview of Robert Anton Wilson by Antero Alli, in 1991. I did not see the interview when I checked at, so perhaps the interview is new to you, too. Here is the link to the issue. 

Also, here is a wonderful retrospective on bOING bOING by Mike Dank.  The Internet Archive collection of back issues is here. Some really great stuff. Hat tip: Mondo 2000 on Twitter. 

Excerpt from the interview:

A A: Quantum mechanics is something of a second language for you. How does it help you communicate and live a better life? 

RAW: Quantum physics does help a lot in understanding daily life. The major discovery in this field is that the reality we perceive with our instruments is created by our instruments, partly. It’s not an objective reality. It’s created by our minds - by what instruments to use, what measurements to take, and what experiments to design. That happens in our daily life in the area of our decision- making, which is our instrument ... about what to observe, what to enter into, what to avoid and so on. Quantum mechanics just emphasizes by the magnification of scientific instruments what’s happening all the time, anyway. Modern psychologists, especially those branching out into neurology and perception theory make it very clear that the situation of a brain receiving signals has the same relativity and indeterminacy as you find in quantum mechanics’ “brain plus instrument receiving signals.” Whether there’s an instrument there or not, the brain’s the main creator of what gets organized ... not the only creator but the main one.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

'Beyond Psychedelics' conference in Prague

File under "The rehabilitation of Timothy Leary continues."

From a press release:

Prague, Czech Republic (June 15, 2018) – Beyond Psychedelics and National Institute of Mental Health (Czech Republic), organise the second annual Global Multidisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Substances, Mental Health, Alternative States of Consciousness and Technologies. It is one of the largest events of this type in the world and on June 21-24, 2018 it will gather over 120 world leading psychedelic scientists and researchers to discuss potential, current challenges and future direction of research and use of psychedelics.

The speakers will share the latest in psychedelic drug research. The topics that will be covered will include challenges and obstacles in sustainable Iboga and Ibogaine drug therapy; Toad medicine and ritual use of Bufo Alvarius secretion for mental health; the therapeutic potential of Ayahuasca for people with bipolar disorder, for preventing of suicides, as well as its risks and benefits for trauma survivors; pharmacology, therapeutics and the future of Salvia Divinorum; LSD and Ketamine therapy; Psychedelic Microdosing; Biohacking; using cyberdelics, moistmedia and mixed reality technologies, and others.

More information here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

'Missing' Joyce scholar is alive

The New York Times magazine has an article about John Kidd, a once-famous scholar of James Joyce thought by many to be dead who is actually still alive and living in Brazil. Thanks to PQ for pointing it out on Twitter. 

I'm not a big Joyce scholar, so please bear with me as I drag in one of my own preoccupations.

Jack Hitt's article talks about Kidd's preference for big books:

It’s not just an aesthetic choice for Kidd but a kind of compulsion toward completedness, suffusing not just how he reads literature but also how he talks about it. We discussed “Gargantua and Pantagruel” and “Don Quixote” and “Tristram Shandy.” He considers them all to be “antic” works, his coinage for books that are marked by a “comic take on the encyclopedic narrative just as the ‘Iliad’ is a tragic take on an encyclopedic narrative.” Those novels are playful, like “Ulysses,” but they mean to embrace and comprehend a sense of everything, and it’s this sense of totality and the longing for it that drives Kidd, too.

So did Kidd read Illuminatus!, an antic work with an encyclopedic narrative? Or did he miss it because it was published as science fiction?

I've been reading a book of literary criticism, largely book reviews, called What to Read (and Not) by Tom LeClair.

In his introduction, LeClair expresses a preference for books that are "monstrous," which he defines as "massive, excessive, both unliterary and super-literary, unique in their narrative combinations and linguistic deformations. Stick with them, and they will stick in you, their effect not to be forgotten. To my mind, these big books did what great literature is supposed to do -- exert emotionally and intellectually transforming power." (His examples of such books include Moby Dick and Gravity's Rainbow.)

Since Illuminatus! sounds like the kind of "monstrous" book he is referring to, and since LeClair 's introduction includes his email address and invites readers to contact him, I wrote and asked if he's read Illuminatus! I told LeClair, "The mixture of popular and esoteric literary influences was at the time (mid-1970s) not so usual as now; the book has references to James Joyce, but H.P. Lovecraft also is an influence and appears in the work as a character."

He replied, " I have not read Illuminatus, perhaps because any ref. to Lovecraft scares me off.  Not that I have read Lovecraft."

Well, too bad. I do wonder if many people who would have liked Illuminatus! skipped it because it was published as paperback science fiction.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

My interview with Marlis Jermutus

Marlis Jermutus' painting "Gravity." 

German artist, musician, writer and mystic Marlis Jermutus has exhibited her paintings in the U.S. and Europe as a successful abstract artist. My interest in her increased after I read her memoir, From Now to Now. 

After I read the book, I interviewed her about art and her friendship with Robert Anton Wilson, figuring that many people who read this blog would be interested in reading it. 

A native of Germany, Marlis lives in northern California, near Mount Shasta. Aside from her art and her philosophical studies, Marlis plays in the band Starseed with her husband, Bastian, and with Rasa.  The band is available on Spotify and the other usual online sources. 

Marlis Jermutus and Robert Anton Wilson in a restaurant. Do you want to publish "From Now to Now" in German? Do  you think Germans will be interested in your background as an artist, and in California and the spiritual scene there?

MARLIS: When I wrote From Now to Now, I sat for hours at a time with Rasa. I would tell him my story in German, with some English and Denglisch, and he would type it into the computer, translating my German and Denglisch into English, or correcting my English grammar. Over the past two years we’ve been working on translating the English version into German, and soon we’ll be looking for a German publisher.

And yes, I think Germans would be interested. In recent years the Germans became much more interested in their own stories about the war, what for years many people did not want to talk about at all. In the 1970’s, Germany had a similar psychedelic revolution of thought as what happened in America, and through that change in perspective a lot of young Germans became more aware of social injustice and the need for an evolution of consciousness. That was expressed in art, in music, in philosophy, in spirituality and in politics as well. In addition, Germans have for a long time had a romantic fascination with America, especially the Wild West. California, in many ways is the new wild west many Germans look to.

Robert Anton Wilson and Tom Sperlich, the European literary agent for Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary,  in a Berlin restaurant in 1992. How did you come to know Tom Sperlich,  Timothy Leary's and Robert Anton Wilson's literary agent in Germany? How did you meet Wilson, and what did you think of him when you met? Did you introduce Wilson to Rasa? 

MARLIS: Tom Sperlich was in our friend-circle in Berlin. Because I had read a lot from both Tim Leary and Bob Wilson, we had a lot to talk about. When Tim came to Germany to speak in Hamburg at a large outdoor gathering downtown and again later that day at the university, after the university event, Tom invited Tim, my husband Joachim and me out to dinner at a famous and elegant restaurant in Hamburg. The Hamburg Bürgermeister had told Tim, the day before, he would only be allowed to speak if he did not talk about drugs. Tim agreed, but then went on to tell the crowd about the whole conversation with the Bürgermeister, which included a lot of talking about drugs. In the restaurant we sat at a table that was in a private alcove up a few steps, but Timothy Leary in Hamburg was big news and most everyone at the restaurant recognized him as we came in. We talked a lot about Tim’s reception in Hamburg during dinner, and after dinner, at the table I rolled a dessert joint to go along with our coffee. I handed the joint to Tim and he took it without comment, like it was on the menu. Soon big clouds of smoke were coming from alcove. The waiter came over, and for a moment we all had a nervous flash. He ignored the smoke and just turned to Tim and said, “Dr. Leary, we want you to know that we really appreciate you dining at our restaurant tonight.”

I met Bob the first time in Berlin when I was still in prison and had a weekend off. I attended a speech Bob gave at the Technische Universität. Privately later, we were talking in a small group, but I didn’t understand a word of his soft Brooklyn accent. I had read his books and so I knew something about what he was saying but at that time I was more watching his body language and seeing his soft humility and his humor.

Years later when my English was better, and we had become close friends, I still sometimes had trouble with some words he said, but often Rasa would translate in the moment. When my husband Bastian and I moved to California we started visiting the Wilsons regularly. That’s when they lived on Brommer Street in Capitola, just outside Santa Cruz. Rasa was bi-coastal, visiting us a few times a year for a month or three each time. When we first brought Rasa with us on a visit to Bob and Arlen, really nothing special happened, we sat around like always. Arlen was doing most of the talking. Bob agreed with pretty much everything she said, and made a few comments, but mostly just sat comfortably looking content and happy to have Arlen in his life. When Rasa and Bob started talking with each other, mostly about Bob’s philosophy, I could see that Bob liked Rasa’s honesty, intellect and humor. Later he really appreciated Rasa’s responsibility, things like helping Bob with his computer, later working with the publisher on the Email to the Universe graphics. [For more on Rasa and his efforts on behalf of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust, please see my interview. -- The Mgt.] You are a vegetarian and you are also careful about when you eat. Robert Anton Wilson was an omnivore. Did you ever discuss food with him? 
What kind of food did he seem to like?

MARLIS: We never discussed food, but Arlen got the idea from her daughter, Christina, that a vegetarian diet would be a good idea. We ate dinner with them a lot, and the food was always vegetarian. If Arlen cooked a lasagna, it would be vegetarian. If we went out to a restaurant, and we went out a lot with them, usually to a favorite Italian restaurant, Arlen would order for Bob. He sometimes had a preference for something, but she would always order the vegetarian version. It could be that with meat eaters they ate meat, but Arlen did like being a vegetarian. I don’t think Bob cared what he ate so much. Christina one time said that you could give him a cheap hamburger from a greasy diner and he would take a bite and say, “Hmmm. Delicious.”

Another of Marlis Jermutus' paintings.  Are you better known as an artist in the U.S., or in Germany? Did being known as the "prison artist" help you become well known quickly? (As she describes in her book, Jermutus went to prison in Berlin after being caught up in a drug raid but nonetheless began becoming known as an artist). 

MARLIS: The newspaper articles about me getting special permission from the prison authorities to attend a gallery opening of my work certainly helped to bring my name to a wider audience than abstract artists usually get, but really the effect of that good publicity was more important to me as evidence to later show the judge reviewing my prison record. I wanted to show that I could be "successfully integrated back into society," and I think that did help later with the judge’s decision.

While living in Germany and Ireland I had many exhibitions with a lot of press coverage, but being known means being there, and I’ve been living in America for almost two decades now. Since 2000, I’ve had one or two exhibitions every year, and have been fortunate to have buyers for my art. The Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir, California held a retrospective of my art in 2014, featuring examples of my art from forty-four years of painting. 

Marlis at the Hirschhorn in Washington, D.C.  Rasa says you are "addicted to museums" and will drive for hours to attend one. What are your favorite art museums in the U.S., and who are your favorite artists, European or American? (My favorite art museum is the Hirschhorn, a modern art museum in Washington, D.C.)

MARLIS:  In Europe, the museums I most liked to visit were nearby, like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Escher Museum in Den Hague, the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg, the National Staats Galerie in Berlin and the Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, also in Berlin. In America, I’ve gone many times to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Hirschhorn and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In California, I am a member of Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, and I visit there often.

Of the artists I like, German artists Boyce, Richter, and Kiefer. In America, I like all the avant garde, and especially Agnes Martin, Jackson Pollack and Pat Steir. I love the work of many other artists, mostly abstract, and of course, I like my own art. I love the feedback, at an exhibition opening, when a viewer connects to a painting. What they see in an abstract painting means something to them. On some level I have inspired an emotional or rational response. I don’t care which. I just enjoy that they enjoy connecting to the art. What advice would you offer to people thinking of moving to California? (In From Now to Now, she describes deciding to move to California someday under the influence of the writings of Timothy Leary). 

MARLIS:  If people want to come to California they should be comfortable with new ideas. You may not like all the ideas, but California is fast in changing, so maybe you just wait a while and a newer idea will come along. There are a lot of opportunities for widening your consciousness here, aside from new ideas and experiences in art and science. California is beautiful, and sitting alone in such majestic, even bombastic, nature can give you the space and perspective to explore the experience of who you are separate from all the noise both inside and outside your head.

Video about Marlis Jermutus made by Rasa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A question about a Shea novel

I've begun reading a Robert Shea historical novel, The Saracen: Land of the Infidel.

One of the characters is a Jewish warrior from Sicily named Lorenzo Celino. quite a freethinker for the time. He has no religious faith despite his Jewish background and says, "I think myself better than no man, and no man better than me." He tells one of his leaders, "But you must understand that if I accept you as our leader, it is of my own free will. I am still my own master."

I am struck by the similarity between the name "Celino" and "Celine," as in Hagbard and Sigismundo. Are we meant to suppose that Lorenzo could be an ancestor, or a relative? Or is the similarity of the surnames a coincidence?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Monday, June 11, 2018

Monday links

How Finnegan's Wake brings out the child in all of us (from PQ). 

The History of James Joyce Music.

More on Nancy MacLean.

What Brits really say. I'll let any Brits reading this blog tell me if this is correct. 

RIP Gardner Dozois. 

"If you hate Twitter, it is your fault for following the wrong people (try hating yourself instead!).  Follow experts and people of substance, not people who seek to lower the status of others." More Twitter advice from Tyler Cowen. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

See the world from your computer

A stretch of road in Sweden at

It's become fashionable to complain about the Internet and find little good about it, but websites continue to arise that show what the technology can do. Globe Genie is a virtual teleportation site that shows Google Maps' Street View photos around the world; if you are at a destination you like, you can move the viewpoint around and roam around.

Faro Mangiabarche in Italy, via Global Genie. 

Via Recomendo, a weekly email newsletter that has six brief recommendations a week, from RAW fan Mark Frauenfelder and a couple of other folks. I recommend Recomendo; subscribe here.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Meme I liked

This is good in itself, but also compare with Robert Anton Wilson's statement, "The totally convinced and the totally stupid have too much in common for the resemblance to be accidental." Via @BookChat on Twitter; I think @advantardeodus put it on my timeline. If you are curious who Jaggi Vasudev is, go here. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Video tribute to Timothy Leary

Where in the Universe is Timothy Leary? by the late German digital artist Brummbaer apparently has been available on YouTube since 2013, but it was new to me when I found out about it this week, and so possibly it will be new to you, too. It's an excellent tribute to Leary and  you should take eight minutes to watch it if you haven't seen it already. When you see the credits at the end, you will notice that Rasa helped with the sound and with music.

After Brummbaer died, his friends Rasa, Bastian and Marlis scattered his ashes on Mount Shasta in California, watch Rasa's video.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A timeline for Discordian history

Adam Gorightly

Discordian historian Adam Gorightly is the author of such essential books as Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society, Caught in  the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation, and The Prankster and the Conspiracy:  The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture. I own and have read all three.

Adam also has been working for years at his Historia Discordia blog and has even written guest blog posts for this blog. He has now put together a Discordian Timeline which puts these Internet articles into a chronology, allowing readers to browse different eras of Discordian history and put specific areas of interest into historical perspective. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Keep it flying!

Keaton Patti (from his website)

On Twitter, a comedian named Keaton Patti writes, "I forced a bot to watch over 1,000 hours of infomercials and then asked it to write an infomercial of its own. Here is the first page."

The first page:


A more fuckable man uses a saw to cut up a pile of teeth


Just watch.

The man continues to saw.


Keep watching.

The man continues to saw. 


Any second now.

The man's saw explodes. After the smoke clears, there is a delicious plate of lasagna on top of the pile of teeth.

These teeth can stay! 

Whatever product makes that happen is never mentioned. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

RAW mentioned in article about "Roseanne"

Roseanne Barr (Creative Commons photo) 

As every American knows, and probably large numbers of people elsewhere, the ABC network in the U.S. recently canceled the "Roseanne" TV show after the star sent out an apparently racist Tweet. I won't get into the chatter on Twitter about whether she knew the person she was Tweeting about was black, whether we should allow she is mentally ill, etc.

I mention all this only because in a May 29 article by Eric Karnes on The Blemist website, there's this paragraph:

"Barr was obviously over the line, but she’s been saying crazy bullshit on Twitter for ages. She’s been pushing this insane QAnon conspiracy theory about… I saw a chart posted by one of the people who believes it and Atlantis was on it. Atlantis. Somehow it has something to do with Hillary Clinton protecting pedophiles in the basement of a building that doesn’t have a basement, but by way of Atlantis. It’s basically the newest face of the old Illuminati conspiracy, but without the winking and laughing coat of paint Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson gave it in the 70s with The Illuminatus! Trilogy."

I guess what's interesting is that Eric thought enough of his audience would recognize the reference. 

Hat tip: @advantardeodus on Twitter.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Review: From Now to Now by Marlis Jermutus

Cover of From Now to Now. The cover image is from Jermutus' painting, "Particle and Wave."

This seems like a "find the others" book. I recently finished From Now to Now, a memoir by the German-born artist and musician Marlis Jermutus. 

From Now to Now, an autobiography and a spiritual memoir, depicts Marlis coming to be more aware after years of spiritual seeking of what she refers to as her Higher Self. Marlis is a member of the band Starseed (the other members are Rasa and her husband Bastian Jermutus) and you may have seen Rasa's photos of her interacting with deer near Mount Shasta California.

Marlis is born in Germany during World War II. Her father is sent to the Russian Front and never returns. As she grows up, Marlis experiences the food shortages and hardship that Germans went through after World War II. (Her book acknowledges that many people do not want to hear about German suffering as a result of the war; it is undeniable, however, that many people in Germany too young to share any blame for Hitler's rise suffered during the war or after it.) Marlis suffered from sexual abuse when she was young. She was trained in what Americans would call "home economics," i.e. to be a housewife. She eventually discovered Eastern philosophies and a wide variety of music and art, despite her working class background, and became a successful abstract artist. She married four times. The apparently least conventional fourth marriage, to Bastian, 16 years younger than she,hasnow lasted for decades. She is Rasa's best friend.

Marlis Jermutus with Timothy Leary in Hamburg, Germany, in 1982

One section of the book discusses how the home of Marlis and her third husband became a kind of salon for offbeat intellectuals and rock stars. On pages 159 and 160, Marlis talks about learning about Timothy Leary's eight circuit theory of consciousness after Exo-Psychology was translated into German. Marlis also met Leary and gave him one of her paintings, and decided to someday move to California because she was excited about Leary's ideas.

Marlis' tone is very candid and direct, but also shows compassion for other people and for herself, a tone she calls "loving honesty." One of my favorite passages was on  pages 128-129, when she confronts a friend who is a heroin addict:

Suddenly I said to him, "Okay, so you do heroin because of your parents. You think that because you do  heroin the whole parents issue goes away? No, it becomes worse because you never do anything, you are simply escaping, but only half. Every time  you fix, you always come down again, and then need to escape again. In time, your whole body becomes more and more ill, and your relationships with people are still there, only they too become worse and worse. You can't change your parents, but you can change yourself, if you want to." I paused for a short moment. "So, if you want to change, then change. If you want to keep shooting heroin, then why suffer for so long, and make others around you suffer? Why not just sit down and keep shooting and shooting, and soon you are not just half way escaping, but you are completely gone! Dead." As an absurd afterthought I added, "What do you do then?" I knew he was sensitive and thoughtful, and clever enough to listen to my harsh logic. My words were harsh, but while sitting with me in our living room, he was, in a way, suspended in a very accepting and loving field. I didn't tell  him he was a bad person for doing heroin. I was simply honest with the guy. He loved that loving honesty. The next time I saw him some days later, he already looked different. His eyes were more aware, and he seemed more confident. He told me that he simply stopped. He said he couldn't get my words out of his head."

Marlis Jermutus, hanging out with one of her wild deer buddies. From Rasa's website,

The last few chapters of the book describes how Marlis developed a sense of peace after settling in northern California. A wide variety of gurus and teachers who influenced her appear in the book.  I never heard of most of them (except for Rajneesh, the Mercedes Benz guru, who RAW mentioned) but all of them seem to have Wikipedia bios.

The most colorful of the spiritual guides Marlis mentions is Jasmuheen, nee Ellen Greve, an Australian woman who claims to live only from light and breath, without food. Marlis writes, "She became the world's most famous supporter of the philosophy called Breatharianism. I resonated deeply with their fundamental idea." Marlis liked the idea of living only on light and she turning her kitchen into a sauna after she didn't need to cook anymore, and she also liked the idea of saving money. "This would have been a perfect time to live on light, saving so much money and time on getting, preparing, eating and digesting all that food every day, but living on light is both easier and more difficult than you think." In the end, Marlis decided to keep eating food. This seems to me to be the correct call.

You should check out Starseed on Spotify and elsewhere, and look at Marlis' paintings. 

I can recommend her fascinating memoir to sombunall of you who read this blog and will likely be interested in many of the same topics she writes about.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Meme I liked

Rasa does a lot of RAW memes; this is one I particularly liked. (Follow him on Facebook for more).

About this one, Rasa says, "Don't think that Bob did not believe in anything. He believed in degrees of certainty. He had a very high degree of certainty that if he left his office, he could walk to his kitchen and make a cup of coffee. He had an extremely low degree of certainty that 'God has a willy'."

Saturday, June 2, 2018

'Historical Illuminatus' news from Hilaritas, and Paul Krassner!

Rasa has sent out another newsletter from the RAW Trust, and he reports that the Hilaritas Press reissue of the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles will be out soon:

"Meanwhile at Hilaritas Press, our intrepid RAW Trust Literary Advisors are helping us unravel a few typographical mysteries as we edit The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles. Both the eBooks and Print editions are finished for Volumes 1 and 2. Volume 3 is going through it's 3rd proofreading — one of the final steps. We plan on releasing all three volumes of the trilogy simultaneously, or at least very quickly in consecutive order. No firm publication date yet, but we are getting very close!"

Rasa also has just published "The Funny Side of 1968" by Paul Krassner at the Hilaritas Press blog. It's an excerpt for Krassner's new book, Zapped by the God of Absurdity: The Best of Paul Krassner. 


I was a guest on the Joe Pyne show on KTTV in Los Angeles. He was a mean-spirited right-wing interviewer. His questions were vicious. “Well, Joe,” I said, “if you’re gonna ask questions like that, then let me ask you: Do you take off your wooden leg before you make love with your wife?” Pyne had lost his leg as a marine in World War II. Now his jaw literally dropped, the audience gasped, the producers averted their eyes and the atmosphere became surrealistic as Pyne went through the motions of continuing the interview. On another occasion, he asked Frank Zappa, “Your hair is so long. Are you a girl?” Zappa replied, “You have a wooden leg. Are you a table?”

Friday, June 1, 2018

Celebrate 'The Prisoner' with RAW

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of The Prisoner in the U.S. To celebrate, Martin Wagner has put together a new "Robert Anton Wilson on The Prisoner"  page bringing together four pieces or videos. Included is a "new" (i.e., just made available again) article from the Berkeley Barb, May 1978.

One bizarre paragraph from the Barb piece:

On April 23 of this year, the San Francisco Chronicle had a story about an attempt to overthrow the government of Fernando Poo, in 1972, financed by English novelist Frederick Forsyth. Illuminatus!, which was written between 1969 and 1971, revolves around the international repercussions of an attempt to overthrow the government of Fernando Poo, and the action begins on April 23 of an unnamed year.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The media rediscover psychedelics, Part Two

At the New Yorker, Emily Witt reviews three books: The Timothy Leary Project: Inside the Great Counterculture Experiment, documents put together byJennifer Ulrich;   How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, by Michael Pollan and Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change, by Tao Lin.

The latter two books were mentioned in yesterday's blog post; I've also mentioned the Leary book elsewhere. 

The Leary has material from the Leary archives at the New York Public Library. Witt writes, "Ulrich’s selections, many of them previously unpublished, round out the trajectory of Leary’s life from professor to guru to fugitive to a nostalgic caricature of himself. The documents span Leary’s days at Harvard to his days as an Internet evangelist, when his aphorism became 'the PC is the LSD of the nineteen-nineties'."

I really want to read the new Leary book.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The media rediscover psychedelics

At Harper's magazine, Nick Richardson reviews two books: How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, by Michael Pollan and Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change, by Tao Lin.

There's a mention of Robert Anton Wilson: "Keen psychedelic hobbyists have adopted a phrase borrowed from the fifteenth-century writer Thomas Malory by the cult novelist Robert Anton Wilson, 'Chapel Perilous,' to refer to the period immediately after a strong trip in which your mind, having been confronted by a quantity of sensory data that directly contradicts normal lived reality, tries to make sense of what has happened. Trips are high-intensity presentations of the eighteenth-century philosopher Bishop Berkeley’s argument for not trusting your senses: If changing your brain chemistry can replace the usual world with a different one, then how can you trust what you usually see? Am I real? ...  For months after my trip I worried that an alien was fabricating my thoughts and projecting them into my mind. My ego was dissolved, but for an uncomfortably long period and not helpfully. Wilson said you come out of Chapel Perilous 'paranoid' or 'agnostic' about most things, which is what happened to me; the other possibility is that you don’t come out at all, which is what happened to my friend Tom."

I found about the Tweet from R.U. Sirius' Mondo 2000 Twitter account, which cautioned "warning... the author of this article is somewhat full of shit." I am guessing this warning refers to sentences in Richardson's review such as this: "Many people, including William S. Burroughs and Ken Kesey, reportedly believed that Timothy Leary was involved in a CIA plot to defang the radical left. Even ­McKenna may have been connected: in one of his talks he seems to say he was approached by the FBI after getting busted for hash smuggling, and that he has been performing 'public relations”'services for them ever since." This seems speculative, to say the least. I don't know much about McKenna, but I've read two Leary biographies without coming away with the impression he was part of a CIA plot

The Pollan sounds quite interesting and I will try to find time to read it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Battling issues with comments

For some reason, Google has made changes in how it handles comments. I discovered the other day that something was wrong with its system for emailing me comments that were awaiting my approval, and I found that a couple of comments from regular readers had been sitting in the system for a couple of days, awaiting approval. I approved them and I'm now trying to check Blogger every few hours for comments.

More recently, I discovered that Google was only allowing comments on my blog from people with a Google account. I've changed the setting to attempt to fix that and allow everyone to comment.

I am reluctant to moderate comments on this blog, but if I did not do so, the posts would be flooded with "join the Illuminati," "here's where to get your escorts when you are in India" and other unwelcome spam. Google has severe spam issues for its blogs it is apparently unable to fix.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Monday links

Flyer for Steve Pratt's James Joyce event in Amsterdam. 

May Eris of the Month at Historia Discordia.

Gardner Dozois has died.

Two new James Joyce books. (Via Roman Tsivkin on Twitter). 

Adrian Reynolds: "You're Not on a Hero's Journey. Deal With It." Reading the essay made me think Illuminatus! is a hero's journey for Joseph Malik.

James Joyce celebration in Amsterdam, June 19-23, featuring Steve "Fly Agaric" Pratt and others. For more information, please go here. 

NOTE: Google's system for notifying me when someone posts a comments appears to be working poorly. Apologies if you posted a comment and it took a couple of days to be approved. I will check Blogger directly every few hours.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Richard Rasa, 70s rock star!

The blonde guy in the middle of this live album by the rock band Sweet Smoke is Rasa. 

If you pay attention to the Robert Anton Wilson scene, you are probably familiar with Richard Rasa, usually known just as Rasa. Rasa puts a lot of energy into running the Robert Anton Wilson 
Trust and Hilaritas Press for Christina Pearson, Robert Anton Wilson's oldest daughter and literary executor. If you know Rasa personally, you know how generous and kind he is. You might perhaps know he plays sitar in the band Starseed.

But although I vaguely knew that Rasa probably had an interesting past, I only recently became aware of his career as a 1970s rock musician, in a band called Sweet Smoke. Sweet Smoke has three albums available on Spotify. Rasa isn't on all of them, but he plays on the live album pictured above.

Rasa explains, "I first played with Sweet Smoke in 1970 when they first moved from Brooklyn to Germany. I wasn’t in the band, but they liked people to sit in at their gigs. At that time I was playing sitar, and mostly getting into long jams, playing off of Marvin's improvisations. Marvin was an amazing guitar player. I joined the band officially as a guitar player, playing sitar during only one piece in concerts. I was asked to join when a dispute in the band left them without a rhythm guitarist. They were famous in the 'Krautrock' scene (even though not German) from 1970 through 1974, when the band broke up. They recorded three LPs for EMI. I was on the last one." [Rasa is referring to Marvin Kaminovitz. Despite Marvin's obvious talent, I could not find much information about him on the Internet about what he did after Sweet Smoke, until I found this article.  -- The Mgt.]

Official photo of Rasa issued by his record company, EMI.

More information from Rasa:

"Our CDs are copied all over YouTube – not sure why EMI doesn’t get on that, but it probably has given us more publicity than any other venue since there are no concerts anymore.

"The band had a number of strong non-musical influences, like psychedelics, tantra yoga, and the chaos of quantum physics. In most every concert we would purposely slide one piece into chaos, just to see what would happen. At the Berlin concert, because EMI was recording, and LPs were pretty short, we held the chaos to a minimum amount of time. Sometimes those sessions went on for a while and got quite bizarre, but this is a good taste:

"A bootlegged recording made at a concert in Heidelberg is, I think, a better concert than what EMI recorded in Berlin. It's not a great recording (although our guess is that some German audiophile using a portable Uher with a good mic was in the middle of the hall), but the sound is surprisingly good despite all the audience noise:

"I made a couple of videos from my favorite moments of the Heidelberg bootleg:"

I listened/watched both videos. To my ears. Sweet Smoke sounds like a band that might well be enjoyed by fans of bands such as the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers and Santana. I felt sad that I never heard of these guys before (I used to know a lot about rock music.)  The Wikipedia article says, "Noted for their buoyant rhythms, inventive improvisations and complex musical structures, in interviews, the group says their music was influenced by Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane and The Beatles."

Sweet Smoke in concert. 

My interview with Rasa, which I see does touch briefly on his "Cosmic Hippie in Europe" period. It's a very interesting interview, mostly because of Rasa. Note that the former member of Sweet Smoke lives in Weed, California! (The town "gets its name from the founder of the local lumber mill and pioneer Abner Weed.")

Rasa in West Germany was part of an interesting scene which relates more directly to this blog; more about that soon. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The apple of discord in Richard Powers' 'The Overstory'

I just finished reading The Overstory, the new novel about trees by Richard Powers. I'm a big fan of Powers' novels; ever since I read The Gold Bug Variations I've been following him. His new one is one of his best.

I was surprised, on page 162 to see a reference to the apple of discord:

Here's the thing about an apple: It sticks in the throat. It's a package deal: Lust and understanding. Immortality and death. Sweet pulp with cyanide seeds. It's a bang on the head which births up whole sciences. A golden delicious discord, the kind of gift chucked into a wedding feast that leads to endless war. It's the fruit that keeps the gods alive. The first, worst crime, but fortunate windfall. Blessed be the time that apple taken was. 

That's Powers for you: Isaac Newton, the goddess Eris and more, all in one short paragraph.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Lost Atlantis found — In Oui magazine!

Oui magazine, a men's magazine in the U.S. published for awhile by Playboy, featured several Robert Anton Wilson articles, including "Atlantis: 20,000 Theories Under the Sea" by RAW, which ran in the January 1977 issue.

Martin Wagner has now made this article available for everyone to read, and note that it's yet another article that is not available at

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Daisy Campbell adds tour dates

Daisy Eris Campbell has added some new London dates (July 11-14) to her "Pigspurt's Daughter" solo tour. According to her new email, the performances feature "*daemonic goading* *Cathars* *JAMs* *gastromantical invasion* and *ripped off Ken Campbell routines*"

Current tour dates (more to be added)

June 15th, 7.30pm - Ebenezer Presents, Aller, Somerset
June 23rd, 7.30pm - Kunst Gallery, Belper, Derbyshire
July 11th - 14th, 7.30pm - Hampstead Theatre, London
August 31st, 7pm - The British Library, London
September 9th, 5pm - The Hub, Leeds

More information here on tickets, etc.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Full Catch 23 lineup listed

The flyer I've posted here is the full lineup for the 14-hour Catch 23 festival on July 7 in Sheffield in the United Kingdom.  Ticket information here. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

More RAW on the Internet

Another interesting discovery from Martin Wagner: You can search for "Robert Anton Wilson" at Independent Voices ("An Open Access Collection of an Alternative Press) and come up with a lot of RAW material. It will be useful, sometime, to see what doesn't overlap with, and to add to the links there. Includes stuff from Berkeley Barb, The Realist, City Miner and more. Thanks, Martin!

Monday, May 21, 2018

'Simon Moon" writes in!

Martin Wagner, still hard at work in Austria, has put up a new page which has the text for many letters to the Playboy magazine forum that were apparently written by Robert Anton Wilson, under various pseudonyms. Martin notes that in Cosmic Trigger 3, RAW wrote, "Mostly, in the Playboy Forum, we followed the ACLU’s positions, but often we pushed a bit further and sneaked in some anarcho-pacifist propaganda – never in Playboy’s voice, of course, but as the voice of a reader."

The "Playboy" cover, above, is from the issue that features a letter to the editor from "Simon Moon" of Chicago, Ill., explaining the difference between (1) Legitimate laws that protect people, (2) Laws from the "one half of one percent" meant to rig the system and (3) Laws punishing victimless crimes. The image is for the magazine in which Mr. Moon's letter appeared.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A meeting of two authors RAW admired

Arthur C. Clarke in 1965 (Creative Commons photo)

An anecdote from Michael Moorcock about his friend Arthur C. Clarke:

Many years after our first meeting I gave a party where I introduced Arthur to William Burroughs, the Beat author of Naked Lunch. No one expected them to have a lot in common, but they spent the next few hours together, sipping orange juice, occasionally asking for the music to be turned down because it was spoiling their conversation.

Lots of other good stories in the piece, available here. 

Hat tip. Supergee.

Bonus: Michael Moorcock on Ray Bradbury. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Scott Alexander on basic income vs.a guaranteed job

Recently, a number of Democratic politicians have been talking about a government program to guarantee that everyone will have a job.

At the Slate Star Codex blog, Scott Alexander discusses a basic income guarantee vs. a jobs guarantee, and argues that basic income seems to be a much better idea.  It's a long post, and you should read all of it, but here is just a little bit:

I have a friend who was stuck on a dead-end career path. His job paid a decent amount, he just didn’t really like where it was going. So he saved up enough money to live on for a year, spent a year teaching himself coding, applied to a programming job, got it, and felt a lot more comfortable with his financial situation.

And I had a patient in a similar situation. Hated her job, really wanted to leave it, didn’t have enough skills to get anything else. So she went to night school, and – she found she couldn’t do it. After working 8 to 6 every day, her ability to go straight from a long day’s work to a long night’s studying just wasn’t in the cards. And her income didn’t give her the same opportunity to save up some money and take a year off. So she gave up and she still works at the job she hates. The end.

Basic income would give everyone who wants to work the same opportunity as my friend – the ability to take a year off, cultivate yourself, learn stuff, go to school, build your resume – without it being a financial disaster.

Basic jobs would leave everyone in the same position as my patient – forced to work 40+ hours a week, commute however many hours a week, good luck finding time to earn yourself a ticket out of that lifestyle while still staying sane.

I think Scott makes a pretty good case.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Jesse Walker discusses basic income

Jesse Walker (Facebook photo)

An article on the basic income guarantee, an idea that intrigued Robert Anton Wilson:

"The Indestructible Idea of the Basic Income," was published in July 2017 in "Reason" magazine by Jesse Walker; Jesse has just learned that his piece is up for a Southern California Journalism Award, in the National Political/Government Reporting category.

This part of the article sounds like a description of Robert Anton Wilson: "There is a current of thought that's deeply skeptical of both the statist forms of socialism and the monopolistic forms of capitalism, and which often fixates on quirky policy ideas—George's land tax, Douglas' monetary scheme—that aim to tame concentrated economic power without concentrating power in the government instead. The basic income fits snugly in that tradition, especially when the payments are presented not as a form of relief but as dividends to the owners of society's resources." (He's referring to Henry George, the land tax advocate, and C.H. Douglas, advocate of a "national dividend.")

Jesse also talks about Milton Friedman's negative income tax. For RAW's interest in all of these ideas, see his essay "Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective," reprinted in Email to the Universe.

There's also this reference in Jesse's article about a guy who influenced RAW's own thinking: "When the LSD evangelist Timothy Leary ran for governor of California in 1969, he declared that the state 'should be run like a successful business enterprise. Instead of extorting taxes from the citizens a well-run state should return a profit. Anyone smart enough to live in California should be paid a dividend'." Leary's idea may sound far out, but Alaska has a form of it, as Walker explains.

The Philip Jose Farmer story Jesse references briefly in his piece is "Rider of the Purple Wage," which also references James Joyce and won a Hugo Award. It's one of my favorite stories; Farmer and RAW were on good terms and liked each other's work. Jesse often writes about basic income for "Reason," but this may be the definitive piece. 

(I blogged briefly about the article in an earlier post; re-reading Jesse's piece convinced me it deserved a longer take.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday links [UPDATED]

Latest Daisy Eris Campbell show going well.  See also the reviews from others that Daisy retweeted.

Here are current official tour dates for her shows (now renamed "Pigspurt's Daughter"):

June 15th, 7.30pm - Ebenezer Presents, Aller, Somerset.
June 23rd, 7.30pm - Kunst Gallery, Belper, Derbyshire.
August 31st, 7.30pm - The British Library, London.
September 9th, 5pm - The Hub, Leeds.

Liverpool dates and further London dates to be announced soon.

Sale on Steve "Fly Agaric" Pratt's discography. 

More "war on some drugs" news. Jacob Sullum does great work, please pay attention to him.

New wiki for Ada Palmer's "Terra Ignota" series. 

Free book on Buddhism. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A work of art I like

I've seen other eye-in-pyramid images before, of course, but I thought this work of art, Tweeted out by Chris Kalis, was particularly beautiful, so I asked about it.

"Its a book cover for ALCHEMY: THE GREAT WORK by Cherry Gilchrist (Weiser Books)," Kalis explained. The artist is Graham Lester.

Kalis, by the way , is an interesting musician, filmmaker and graphic designer whom I follow in Twitter. I like his synth music band, Chandliers. More on the Chandeliers and the band's interest in RAW and Discordianism.  Chandeliers are available on Spotify and Freegal Music, among other places.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

More on RAW social media

Since my posting the other day about "Robert Anton Wilson fans who try to be open and thoughtful as a rule" it has been called to my attention that there are other RAW groups on Facebook which also try to offer a quality experience.

@skelethon23 on Twitter wrote to me, "FYI there's another RAW group on Facebook we (I) created called Robert Anton Wilson Legacy, got fed up with all the extreme political posting, it's a good group, if you're interested, or haven't heard of it already, then there's :Keep The Ravioli in Orbit" and another one called "Robert Anton Wilson Fan Club" and Robert Anton Wilson Group" obviously.  here's the link to the legacy group if you're interested ..." I was and I joined. Link here. 

There's also a "Robert Anton Wilson Discussion Group" on Facebook.

I had followed @skelethon23 for awhile on Twitter. "My other accounts here include  @GathererOfData, @Lokimap, @GaianNavigator, @EldritchCleaver, and @ChoiceOfParadoxthis is a kind of fluff-oriented one, most of them are (i have more) anyway cheers!" @skelethon23 reports.

I've long been a member of "Robert Anton Wilson Fans" and "Discordian Libertarians" on Facebook. (The former was founded by Dan Clore, while the latter was established by Jake Shannon.) I've now joined "Robert Anton Wilson fans who try to be open and thoughtful as a rule" and "Robert Anton Wilson Legacy." To join the latter two, you'll have to answer a couple of questions.

If you are on Twitter, follow @RAWilson23, maintained by Bobby Campbell, and go from there. I hesitate to list more accounts, for fear of the folks I'd leave out. I am @jacksontom.

I actually spend more time on Twitter than on Facebook, and I follow many RAW-related Twitter accounts. But please understand that the time I spend on social media is limited. If you put up a really brilliant posting and I missed it, please do not take it personally.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Bobby Campbell announces new art show

Artist, writer and comic book publisher Bobby Campbell has announced a new art show for 2018, available exclusively in only two events, one in the U.S. and one in the United Kingdom.

Bobby has done new illustrations for the new editions of Robert Anton Wilson's three "Historical Iluminatus" books, The Earth Will Shake, The Widow's Son and Nature's God. That art will be displayed in an art show, "Towards the One," to be exhibited July 7-8 at Catch 23, and July 27-29 at the Confluence science fiction convention in Pittsburgh. The books should be out soon from Hilaritas Press, the publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust. 

The second wave of talent for Catch 23 has just been announced; it includes Greg Wilson and Daisy Eris Campbell. Meanwhile, other RAW programming is planned at Confluence; see the latest update. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Caitlyn Kiernan's 'Black Helicopters'

A recommendation on Twitter by Ian "Cat" Vincent for a short novel by Caitlyn Kiernan:

"Caitlin R Kiernan's novella BLACK HELICOPTERS is a Lovecraftian classic, and explicitly Discordian, with nods to #RAW & Bucky Fuller, even calling on Eris Herself."

Looks like I have something else for my "to read" list.

Here's a link to the expanded edition. 

Kiernan actually lives in Providence, R.I. You can read the Wikipedia bio and visit the official page. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

New RAW group on Facebook

I recently ran across a new (or new to me, anyway) RAW group on Facebook: "Robert Anton Wilson fans who try to be open and thoughtful as a rule." It's a closed group, and I had to answer three questions about RAW in order to join. As the name of the group implies, it's an effort to elevate the quality of the discussions. 240 members so far (you can look at the members list before you join) and you'll see some familiar names.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Come to Pittsburgh, meet with RAW fans!

As I've written before, I am asking RAW fans to who want to meet other RAW fans to consider coming to Confluence in Pittsburgh, July 27-29. Greg Arnott, who led our online reading group for Email to the Universe, and artist and writer Bobby Campbell have committed to coming. In fact, Bobby did the above graphic to help the cause!

Confluence is listing my proposal for a "Robert Anton Wilson in 2018" panel as "likely to occur," meaning that convention program participants may sign up for it. Bobby, Greg and I all have presentations we would like to give, although we don't have a venue yet; we'll figure something out. Confluence has been around for awhile and seems to be well run. Writer Catherynne M. Valente will be one of the guests of honor.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

John Dillinger (and RAW) write in to Playboy

The above images were sent to me though the kindness of Martin Wagner, who doesn't know if RAW wrote the reply to the first letter, but notes "Kevin O'Flaherty" (August '68 issue) was one of RAW's pen-names. At the end John Dillinger himself, who apparently lived in Dallas at the time, steps in to the discussion ..." Note the relevance to Illuminatus! If the image with the letters doesn't get bigger when you click on it, try downloading it and blowing it up to make it legible.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Jack Parsons miniseries starts soon

Strange Angel, a CBS miniseries based upon the life of Jack Parsons, premieres June 14 as "A CBS All Access original series."

Here is the CBS blurb:

Strange Angel, a drama series created by Mark Heyman (Black Swan, The Wrestler) and based on George Pendle's book of the same name, explores the dramatic intersection between genius and madness, science and science fiction.

The story follows the life of Jack Parsons, a mysterious and brilliant man in 1940s Los Angeles, who by day helps birth the entirely unknown discipline of American rocketry, and by night is a performer of sex magick rituals and a disciple to occultist Aleister Crowley.

Strange Angel will be produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Scott Free Productions. Mark Heyman, David DiGilio, Ridley Scott, and David W. Zucker will serve as executive producers; Clayton Krueger will be co-executive producer, and David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Pete's Dragon) will direct and executive produce.

But does Robert Heinlein turn up as a character?

The Parsons book the series is based upon is not the one with an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson.  

Hat tip, Charles Faris.

Monday, May 7, 2018

New 'Chasing Eris' book released

Brenton Clutterbuck has released his new book, Chasing Eris, about the Australian author's worldwide journey to find out about modern practitioners of Discordianism. The book is available for purchase here.  An ebook edition should be available soon.

The book's blurb says, "It's the most influential religion you've never heard of: Discordianism took the world by storm when it was revealed to two young hippies in 1958 or 1959.

"Who would have thought this goofy nuttiness would eventually turn into a worldwide caper involving the assassination of a US President, Timothy Leary, a rubber gorilla, a ten hour play, a million pounds of burnt cash, the German secret service, a pumpkin launching trebuchet, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Charles Manson, twelve arrested New Orleans Mardi Gras participants, a series of murders, Kermit the frog, and an extremely confused Australian who wrote this very silly book?

"Not me, that's for sure."

More from Adam Gorightly at Historia Discordia. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Catch 23 lineup announced

The lineup for Catch 23 (July 7-9, Sheffield, United Kingdom) has been announced: It includes John Higgs and Michelle Olley. Also HENGE, Kermit & the Super Weird Sound, Forest Sounds, Cuckoo Clocks and Super Weird Missionaries.

Tickets here. John Higgs says, "The early bird tickets sold out almost immediately so dithering not advised." (Advice from his newsletter.)