Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Learn about David G. Hartwell

David G. Hartwell in 2006

During my long tenure as a science fiction fan and a reader of science fiction (I never "outgrew" SF, I never stopped reading it), I have particularly loved two important editors: Terry Carr (1937-1987) and David Hartwell (1941-2016).

I recently belatedly discovered that the New York Review of Science Fiction, which Hartwell founded and which is now published by Kevin J. Maroney, published a "David Hartwell in Memoriam" issue in February 2016 which is free to download.  So I downloaded and read it on my Kindle. Although it was issued just after Hartwell's death, it is still a useful overview of his importance to the field.

If you don't have time to read the whole thing now, here are three pieces in the issue to check out: "A Selection of Books Edited by David G. Hartwell" (a very partial list that includes Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati), Darrell Schweitzer's "Remembering David G. Hartwell" (a particularly incisive look at Hartwell's importance) and Michael Bishop's "The Stairs Were Also Shelves," which offers a particularly vivid example of Hartwell's editing skills by describing the editing of Bishop's No Enemy But Time: "We spread the novel's chapters, which David had individually tabbed, out on the Hartwells' kitchen table and on the linoleum floor and rearranged them in ways that set its prehistoric episodes next to thematically similar latter-day episodes. In doing so, we created a nonlinear chronology that turned the novel into a kaleidoscope of related word-picture dioramas -- not sometime I could have done alone, or at least not then ... No Enemy But Time landed on the Nebula Award final ballot for 1982 along with titles by Brian Aldiss, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, and Gene Wolfe. Incredibly, it took that year's best novel award."

Speaking of Robert Anton Wilson, Hartwell also was the editor for Wilson's Cosmic Trigger and the three Schroedinger's Cat books, and in 2010 I managed to obtain an interview with Hartwell about that at the World Fantasy Convention. You can read part one and part two of that interview. Read my interview to see what he says about Wilson, but also for his recommendations on the books he edited that he wishes everyone would read.

He was very busy at the convention, but I was persistent in obtaining the interview. He also seemed to remember me, and in fact we had talked briefly at other conventions, and I did a few things over the years for the New York Review of SF. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Week Seven

Composer Anton Webern

Kerman Week 7 – Op. 59, No. 1 – Chapter 4

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read chapter 4 (pg. 89 - 116) and listen to Op. 59, No. 1 over and over again. Please comment on this week’s reading/quartet and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. One may model a study group on the Beethoven quartets as three study groups. We have entered Beethoven’s middle period, his heroic period. I wonder if perhaps we have spent too much time on the early quartets and will spend too little on the later quartets, but I think a week on each quartet will work out OK (with two bonus weeks for the final quartets).

The references to Webern in this chapter remind me of his vast influence on post-World War II composers like Stockhausen and Boulez. I listened to all of Webern’s string quartet music this week. He certainly uses the medium in a very different way than Beethoven did.

Anapest, according to Google, means “a metrical foot consisting of two short or unstressed syllables followed by one long or stressed syllable.” I tend to think of it as an-a-PEST.

The mention of Chapman’s Homer on page 100 refers to Keats’ poem:

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

By John Keats

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

The reference to “a descent into the dark night of the heroic soul” sees the development section of the first movement of the Eroica Symphony as a sort of Chapel Perilous.  I remember in 1983 I heard the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Iona Brown, perform the Eroica at ASU and then I ran across campus to hear a lecture demonstration by Robert Fripp.

Pg. 110 mentions Beethoven’s note about “A Weeping Willow or Acacia Tree over my Brother’s Grave.”.Maynard Solomon suggests this may mean a Masonic brother. We have no evidence that Beethoven ever joined any secret society, but a number of Masons and members of the Illuminati played a role in his life.

On page 115 Kerman says “the links mentioned above.” In 2018 this makes me think of links on a computer screen.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Robert Anton Wilson on Edmund Wilson

Edmund Wilson

Here is a cool find from Jesse Walker: Robert Anton Wilson reviews Edmund Wilson's The Cold War and the Income Tax: A Protest. The review is from The Humanist, Volume 24, No. 1, in 1964.

(Robert Anton) Wilson writes, "The modern world has replaced religious bigotry with political bigotry, priestly authoritarianism with bureaucratic authoritarianism, holy wars with dirty wars, and dogmatic theology and with dogmatic ideology."

As many of you know, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) was a famous literary critic.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

RAW and the Australia rock scene

Rosa Maria

A couple of Australia rock bands, Rosa Maria and Concrete Lawn, interview each other.

CONCRETE LAWN: How did the name Rosa Maria come about?

ROSA MARIA: There’s a wild sci-fi trilogy called Illuminatus! by Robert Anton Wilson. In the book, Rosa Maria was the codename for a psychoactive drug. Everyone should Google Robert Anton Wilson. He was a bloody genius.

Hat tip, @advantardeodus on Twitter.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Oz Fritz on making a spiritual guide

Gilles Deleuze (French philosopher cited in Oz's essay)

"The purpose of this essay is to show how anyone can create a personal Guide to the nonphenomenal side of the evolving human experience," Oz Fritz writes in the new essay on his blog, "Creating a  Spiritual Guide." 

" In the lingo of Leary's model: creating (or discovering - depending on how you view it) a Guide to the post-terrestrial neurological circuits, circuits 5 - 8.  No indoctrination or adaptation of a specific belief system is required except a general one that allows this possibility.  The method involves learning how to read signs.  How one ascertains and signifies the signs opens a potent path of self-discovery," he writes.

Oz discusses skepticism, the Holy Guardian Angel, True Will, Qabalah, creating a lexicon and synchronicities, citing Robert Anton Wilson, among others. I've bookmarked Oz's post on my phone, so I can easily re-read it. He ends on a hopeful note: "Any interested party can receive insight and guidance into their spiritual evolution, their expansion of consciousness simply by paying attention to what goes on around them, no specific ideological system necessary."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

John Clute on Wilson and Shea

John Clute at the London Worldcon in 2014. (Creative Commons photo)

Once of science fiction's best book critics is John Clute. I'm reading one of his collections of reviews now, Scores.

Clute wrote many of the entries for the wonderful Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. The third edition is online, available for free, and one of the glories of the Internet.

And as Charles Faris recently pointed out to me in an email, the entries on Robert Anton Wilson and on Robert Shea are both written by Clute and are well worth reading.

A couple of sentences from Clute's Wilson piece: "It might be thought that Wilson, like many writers of his generation, would slip into Virtual-Reality venues when attempting to manipulate levels of perception; but ultimately he refused to supply comforts of that ilk, for in his work there is no centre to the labyrinth, no master waiting to reward the heroes of the quest. Most of Wilson's later work was nonfiction, and addresses with a packrat omnivorousness the splendours and miseries of the Western mind, always with the clear intention of fomenting autonomous thoughts in his readers."

The Robert Shea entry doesn't mention All Things Are Light; I wrote an email to Clute pointing that out but got no reply.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Patricia Monaghan's 'Physics and Grief'

Timothy Leary, Robert Shea, Patricia Monaghan, Jeff Rosenbaum, Gillie Smythe at an Association for Consciousness Expansion gathering in Cleveland. 

The late Patricia Monaghan, Robert Shea's widow, wrote a superb essay on how she dealt with her grief after the death of Shea.

I'm not the only one who thought it was pretty good "Physics and Grief," originally published in a magazine called Fourth Genre, was reprinted in a 2005 Pushcard Prize anthology. The anthology is a "best of" from little magazines and small presses.

In the essay, Monaghan describes Shea's harrowing death in 1994 from cancer:

I had been crying for months, ever since Bob had finally died, fighting cancer to the last. The six months before his death were exhausting. For three months I was his sole caregiver; then, during his final hospitalization, I visited him two, three, even four times each day. Economics forced me to continue working, so I had neither physical strength nor emotional resources left when he died. 

You learn quite a bit about Shea from the essay -- Monaghan writes, "One thing I loved about Bob was this: he had more integrity than any person I'd ever met. That integrity remained to the end."

But the main subject of the essay is about how Monaghan found that study physics, particularly quantum mechanics, helped her cope with her grief. (She mentions Nick Herbert, apparently one of the writers she read.) Monaghan describes various theories of quantum mechanics that helped her think about the mystery of Shea's life and death.

I can't really summarize the argument without violating copyright by quoting large chunks of the essay, but here is one bit: After Monaghan explains one theory, that the universe is a "great thought," she writes,

Whatever part of that great thought once appeared as Bob Shea still exists, I believe, somewhere in the network of this universe. He has only "departed from this strange world a little ahead of me."

If you've read Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger, you probably remember the bit about Aldous Huxley's attempt to communicate with his widow after he died. There's a similar thread in Monaghan's essay, in which she calls about Shea to help her find a set of keys that she lost. I won't give away the ending.

Monaghan herself died in 2012, also after a long battle with cancer, so her essay is both part of her literary legacy and a way to come to terms with her death.

If you want to read Monaghan's essay, you can hunt up and read a copy of the 29th edition of the Pushcart Prize anthology, which reprints the best of small presses and journals. It was edited by Bill Henderson and has a copyright of 2005. The ISBN for the hardcover is 1-888889-40-3. A competent librarian using interlibrary loan should be able to get a copy of the book in your hands.

The essay originally was published in Fourth Genre, a nonfiction journal published by Michigan State University. You can purchase a paper copy or a secure PDF by going here. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

H.P. Lovecraft, the Houdini connection

Harry Houdini in handcuffs in 1918.

If you are reading this blog, you  probably know that H.P Lovecraft influenced Robert Anton Wilson. You may not know that there was a connection between Lovecraft and escape artist Harry Houdini. I certainly didn't.

From the Guardian: "A long-lost manuscript by HP Lovecraft, an investigation of superstition through the ages that the author was commissioned to write by Harry Houdini, has been found in a collection of magic memorabilia.

"The Cancer of Superstition was previously known only in outline and through its first chapter. Houdini had asked Lovecraft in 1926 to ghostwrite the treatise exploring superstition, but the magician’s death later that year halted the project, as his wife did not wish to pursue it."

H.P. Lovecraft in 1934

The Guardian article says that Lovecraft and Houdini shared a common interest in combating that they saw as superstitious beliefs. Read more of the Guardian's article.

Hat tip, Ted Hand.

Ted remarks, "Houdini deserves a lot more attention as a central Bob Wilson concern. Bob is following in his footsteps and using magic as a metaphor for the manipulation of reality."

"Houdini is a big deal in the Schrodinger's cat trilogy," he notes. Ted sent me a passage to illustrate and remarked, "Breaking out of the trap of (dogmatism) being one of the central RAW concerns."

Monday, September 17, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Week Six

La Malincolia

Kerman Week 6 – Op. 18, No. 6 – The Last Third of Chapter 3

By Eric Wagner, special guest blogger

This week please read sections four and five of chapter 3 (pg. 71 - 86) and listen to Op. 18, No. 6 over and over again. Please comment on this week’s reading/quartet and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. We have reached the end of the Op. 18 quartets. When I first read this book in 1991, this section blew me away. I photocopied the music for “La Malinconia” and put in over my desk at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital where I worked at the time.

I do find myself going back to the table of contents over and over again because I do not remember the keys of the Op. 18 quartets. When Kerman refers to the F-major quartet, I go back to the table of contents to see, oh yes, Op. 18, No. 1.

I love the comment Kerman makes on page 76 before he begins his close analysis of “La Malinconia”, “(And about time, the analytical-minded read may grimly exclaim.)” The rest of the Op. 18 quartets blur together in my mind, but “La Malinconia” continues to fascinate me. Alas right now, it seems a perfect mirror for my psychological state in trying to stay caught up on my paperwork at work.

Tom asked me about my 11:32 Beethoven piano sonata project from six years ago, so I’ve attached an old blog:


The Seer of Cleveland asks, "Can you explain again why you are listening to each sonata 11 times? I know you explained that before, but I can't find the answer."

I find it fascinating how much access we have to music in 2012 C.E.  For most of human existence, to hear music one had to hear live people (or birds, dolphins, waterfalls, etc.).  During my lifetime I've mostly heard recorded music.  Now, I love recorded music, but I think in a McLuhanesque sense our whole relationship with music has changed over the past 150 years.  (I love Paul Schrader's essay on the film canon which deals tangentially with this issue -  .)  I remember reading an article about a guy who said his father had a life goal of hearing all nine Beethoven symphonies.  The father traveled all over Germany to accomplish this goal.  Now with recordings one can easily listen to all nine in one afternoon.

I have mostly used music as background for the past thirty or so years.  I have it on while driving, reading, working, etc.  I have tried over the past few years to spend more time just listening to music.  In Finnegans Wake the number 1132 shows up over and over.  The fact that the Big B had written 32 piano sonatas nagged at me for years, and I decided to listen to each sonata eleven times.  I find it hard to find time sometimes, but over the past two years I've made it through the first 23 sonatas.  I find it a wonderful legal means of consciousness alteration much like reading great poetry out loud.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

David Yallop has died

David Yallop has died, at age 81.

Yallop's conspiracy theory book about Vatican skullduggery and the possible murder of Pope John Paul I, In God's Name, is mentioned by Robert Anton Wilson in Cosmic Trigger II, The Widow's Son, Coincidance, and possibly other places, too.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Dublin Worldcon

The next worldcon is going to be in Dublin (August 15-19, 2019).

Is it just me, or does this sound like the coolest literary vacation ever? You get all of the worldcon stuff, so you get to see cool science fiction authors, but you also are in Dublin, so you get to visit James Joyce's haunts, etc.

I doubt I can afford to go, but if I win the lottery, I'm going to go and take some of you guys with me.

2020 worldcon is New Zealand, which also looks out of reach. 2021 may be Washington, D.C., which looks doable.

Friday, September 14, 2018

War on some drugs notes

I've gotten interested in the marijuana legalization movement (as I mentioned earlier, Michigan has legalization on the ballot this fall), so I thought I'd share some recent articles and sources of information I've run across.

I've started listening to a weekly podcast, Marijuana Today, which covers the movement coast to coast. They are generally quite good, although last week's episode, an interview with Massachusetts pot commissioner Shaleen Title, should have pressed her a bit harder on her state's delays in getting legalization carried out. I've linked to the website, but you should be able to snag it using your favorite podcasting app.

Mike Riggs apparently is Reason magazine's "pot correspondent," and a couple of his articles caught my eye. "I Have a Cannabis Problem. I Still Think It Should Be Legalized" is an interesting opinion piece. "How to Legally Buy Weed In D.C. Without Actually Buying Any Weed at All" explains Washington, D.C.'s oddball marijuana rules, where the substance is legal but can't be legally sold.

Finally, I have just finished listening to an audiobook version of Emily Dufton's recent book, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America. As the title suggests, it discusses the decriminalization movement in the 1970s, the backlash led by parent groups and Nancy Reagan in the late 1970s and 1980s, and the ongoing legalization wave. Dufton's book is scholarly, lively and evenhanded and I recommend it if you want to know more about the politics of the issue.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Timothy Leary TV series in the works

I recently wrote an article and put up a blog post recommending The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD  by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis. I thought it was one of the best nonfiction books I'd read in recent months.

Apparently other people liked it too, because an anonymous person recently sent me a link to this announcement that the book is going to be made into a TV series. 

"EXCLUSIVE: Star Thrower Entertainment has acquired rights to Bill Minutaglio and Steven L Davis’ book The Most Dangerous Man In America. In what I hear was a competitive situation, Tim and Trevor White’s Star Thrower bought the book, originally published in January and subtitled Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD, with plans to develop it into a limited series."

More here.

Thanks, anonymous person!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Status update — comment moderation

Google finally fixed its comment system a few weeks ago, and renewed sending me email notifications of comments that needed to be approved, but that didn't last long. The notifications stopped, and I'm back to having to constantly log on to Blogger to moderate and approve comments.

I am sorry that comment moderation is necessary, but without it, I would have to allow constant posting of very offensive spam, including frequent advertisements for prostitution services in India. As it is, I'm stuck with a lot of bad stuff on old blog posts, which I don't have the time to go through and weed out. At least I can avoid adding to it. I do periodically check for comments that need to be moderate, so if you have posted a comment, please be patient. It will be posted.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

'Cordwainer Smith's' story

Cover of Galaxy, featuring a Cordwainer Smith story.

A profile of Paul Linebarger, who wrote unusual science fiction under the name "Cordwainer Smith." If you have a background in classic science fiction, you may have read "Scanners Live in Vain."


"Scanners Live in Vain" represents just one day in the 14,000 years of the future history Linebarger imagined in his stories, notebooks, and manuscripts—similar in scope to Frank Herbert's Dune. Smith's future history, called The Instrumentality of Mankind, is meticulously arranged so that stories don't simply dovetail with each other but sometimes occur simultaneously. Contemporary Algis Budrys marveled that "what appear to be loose ends or, at best, plants, are in fact integral fragments of other parts which will not take on their intended function until he later lays down the main body of that part." The only thing hindering Smith, Budrys said, was being constrained to "describing infinity in finite time."

Via Supergee. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Kerman/Beethoven reading group, Week Five!

Beethoven in 1803, painted by Christian Horneman

Kerman Week 5 – Op. 18, No. 4 – The Middle Third of Chapter 3

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read section three of chapter 3 (pg. 65 - 71) and listen to Op. 18, No. 4 over and over again. Please comment on this week’s reading/quartet and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. We near the end of Op. 18 and Beethoven’s early quartets. After week six we will take a quantum jump into Beethoven’s middle period, often referred to as his heroic period.

Doing this week’s reading I marvel at the amount of scholarship people have devoted to Beethoven’s life and work over the past two centuries.

Joseph Kerman wrote a wonderful essay on Beethoven’s minor mode pieces, “Beethoven’s Minority”, included in his collection Write All These Down. Beethoven had something of an obsession with the key of C minor, especially as a young composer, as Kerman discusses in this week’s reading.

When Kerman refers to Mozart’s C minor Concerto, he means #24, K. 491.

Kerman sees this quartet as the weakest of all the Beethoven quartets, so we have nowhere to go but up. I look forward to joining you there. In my own listening I find myself going back and forth between this week’s quartet and Chopin’s Mazurkas.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

More wild JFK probe information from Adam Gorightly

Adam Gorightly, Discordian historian and the author of the book Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and the Garrison Investigation, has posed a new article on an unusual person who was caught up on the JFK investigation. The piece is called "The Raymond Broshears Files Part 1: Welcome to the Garrison Investigation Funhouse." Raymond Broshears sounds like a character in Illuminatus! but was a very real person who told some very wild stories about the assassination that appear to be largely untrue.

May I add a footnote? Adam writes,

"In the late 1950s, Broshears graduated from Lee Bible College in Tennessee, and later studied under the fire and brimstone southern Baptist preacher, Billy James Hargis. George Mendenhall of the Bay Area Reporter later discovered that Hargis excommunicated Broshears when he discovered his sexual proclivities."

What this passage refers to is that Broshears is gay. But Hargis  himself lost his career because of allegations he seduced students, both male and female.

Hargis ran a church called the Christian Crusade, in Tulsa, where I grew up. But what I wanted to point out was that Adam's passage about Hargis connects Broshears to Illuminatus! The Illuminatus! trilogy mentions a pamphlet called Communism, hypnotism and the Beatles;: An analysis of the Communist use of music, the Communist master music plan. That may sound like satire, but it was a real publication, put out by Hargis' Christian Crusade.

Friday, September 7, 2018

RAW interviews Timothy Leary

Another great find by Martin Wagner: An interview by Robert Anton Wilson of Timothy Leary, "Leary trades Drugs for Space Colonies." To RAW's credit, he presses Leary on the accusations that he was a "snitch," but there's lots of Leary techno-optimism, too. Sample:

Wilson: In your unpublished book, The Game of Life, you say that we can learn more from science-fiction than from the Buddhist and Hindu scriptures. Were you serious when you wrote that, or just being provocative?

Leary: I’m always being provocative. To provoke new thoughts in one’s contemporaries is elementary evolutionary courtesy. The Oriental forms of brain science are historically very important and certainly nobody who wants to understand the nervous system can avoid a basic study of those traditions. I spent nearly a decade mastering them. But to me, and to those who have kept moving, those traditions are outmoded now. I want to personally apologize to anyone who has been led into the Hindu trap because at one time I was using that model. My whole philosophy is based on metamorphoses, which is the law of evolution. We should all keep moving from rock to rock, from habitat to habitat, from model to model, from planet to planet. The fact that we were once using Oriental models to describe higher brain function doesn’t mean we have to be stuck on that rock forever. The search for a Perfect Master is only recommended if your goal is to become a Perfect Slave. Sci-fi has much more exciting models than anything in the Vedas.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Beethoven at the Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner (from the museum's website) 

If the ongoing Beethoven discussion group has stimulated your interest in listening to chamber music from Beethoven and other composers, I have a lead for you. The Isabella Stewart Gardner art museum in Boston has the wonderful habit of putting its chamber music performances on its website as free MP3 downloads for everyone. 

Lots of Beethoven to listen to, and I particularly recommend the performance of Opus 69, the Cello Sonata in A Major, by Laurence Lesser and Russell Sherman, which I was turned on to by my favorite classical music blog. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Happy anniversary, NIck Herbert!

Nick Herbert (Creative Commons photo by Mr. Herbert)

Everyone's favorite hippie physicist (well, my favorite, anyway) has put up a long blog post celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Quantum Tantra blog. He writes,

During its life QTB has published 495 posts which have received more than 500,000 views. The blog is mainly a kind of diary of the major concerns and accomplishments of Nick Herbert and his alter ego Doctor Jabir 'abd al-Khaliq.

Nick's primary goal is to father a brand new physics (Quantum Tantra) which will connect us all with Nature in a more direct and intimate way. This quest has generated dozens of pages of quirky quantum tantric poetry but no concrete physical results as yet. But I continue to pursue this "impossible dream". 

His blog posts lists many of his most memorable blog posts, so it's a good way to get caught up. I couldn't find a link for my favorite, so here is a link to "Nick Meets the Galactic Telepaths."

Incidentally, Herbert studied physics at The Ohio State University. Robert Anton Wilson also once lives in Ohio and I live in Ohio now. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Happy Labor Day from Jack Parsons

NASA JPL Tweeted this out yesterday with the caption, "Happy #LaborDay!
We hope that like these JPLers, you find time to unwind from hard work. Here, the early rocketeers of the lab take a rest during their first rocket motor firing in 1936."

Sharp-eyed Adam Gorightly Retweeted this into my timeline -- probably after noticing that the guy on the right is Jack Parsons.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Beethoven Quartets Kerman reading group, Week Four

Eric Wagner's music bookshelf

Kerman Week 4 – Op. 18, No. 5 – The First Third of Chapter 3

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger.

This week please read sections one and two of chapter 3 (pg. 54 - 64) and listen to Op. 18, No. 5. Please comment on this week’s chapter and continue to comment on previous weeks’ chapters.

One might see this quartet as Beethoven’s deepest homage to Mozart, patterned on a piece one might see as Mozart’s deepest homage to Haydn. Kerman sees Beethoven looking backward here in an effort to figure out how to leap forward. A strong indication of the leap forward will come in the finale to Op. 18, No. 6, and the actual leap will come with the Eroica Symphony.

The Yeats scholar Ian Fletcher once told me, “Sometimes you have to go back to the day before yesterday.” One can see this in Beethoven’s fascination with the church modes at the end of life, as well as in the Ramones’ love of the Beach Boys.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

'Final' Orson Welles movie to be released

From Boing Boing comes this news: "Come November 2, you will have the opportunity to see Orson Welles' final film on Netflix and in select theatres, a work titled The Other Side of the Wind. Netflix purchased the footage in March 2017, nearly 50 years after this "notoriously unfinished" feature began production."

More here. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Robert Anton Wilson's 'Wild sex freaks'

One of the illustrations from "Wild Sex Freaks of History."

Martin Wagner has uncovered yet another (probable) Robert Anton Wilson piece, "Wild Sex Freaks of History."

For context, this is one of his "schlock" pieces (see this essay, "The Anatomy of Schlock"), but as Martin points out, the article does have this rather Wilsonian observation: "While some of these sexual eccentrics are distinctly ugly and even dangerous, some of them, there is no denying, are rather attractive, and history would have been duller without their presence. Except for those of sadistic inclination, these people did less harm that the average politician; and even the sadists actually caused less bloodshed than many an idealistic statesman. Although we could do without another Messalina, it is to be hoped that the future will not cease to provide Cleopatras and Eleanors."

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Literary tastes change

Over the years, literary tastes tend to shift. This was brought home to me a few weeks ago when I was hanging out with Bobby Campbell and Gregory Arnott at Confluence in Pittsburgh, and Gregory remarked that he expects interest in Ezra Pound to fade in university English departments. Pound's interest in fascism just doesn't play well, Gregory explained.

I've been reading a new book about an obscure modernist-surrealist poet, Charles Henri Ford (1908-2002) who I've long been interested in. (The book is Charles Henri Ford: Between Modernism and Postmodernism (Historicizing Modernism) by Alexander Howard, and so far, I think Howard is doing a great job.)

I've noticed that although Ford has never had a big following, the way he is "marketed" by the people who are interested has changed. He used to be billed as America's first surrealist poet. Nowadays, the focus tends to be more on The Young and Evil, an experimental novel originally published in 1933 in collaboration with Parker Tyler which depicts gay life in New York City, and on Ford's early role in publishing queer literary works. This fits, I guess, with the general tendency now to give more space to marginalized groups.

So the question I would pose is this: Are there any current trends that could be used to promote renewed interest in Robert Anton Wilson and/or Robert Shea?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Roman Tsivkin's 'Feeling Bookish'

Roman Tsivkin, currently active in our Beethoven discussion group, has launched a new podcast on Soundcloud, "Feeling Bookish." The first episode is devoted to Tao Lin's new book on psychedelics, Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation and Change. Roman is joined on the show by book critic Robert Fay. 

Topics covered include Terence McKenna (Roman says the book is a good primer on McKenna), James Joyce, raw milk and how cannabis affects dreaming. It was very interesting.

There are two more episodes of the show that have been released so far. You can stream it for free fro Soundcloud's website or smartphone app. I'm hoping that at some point there will be a downloading option somewhere.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Bobby Campbell's Patreon account

Via Steve "Fly" Agaric's Patreon efforts, I discovered Bobby Campbell's Patreon account. 

Just $1 a month gets you access to a bunch of comix, with a promise of more to come.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Beethoven Quartet and Kerman reading group, Week Three

Kerman Week 3 – Op. 18, No. 2 – The Second Half of Chapter 2

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

Joseph Kerman

[If you arrived late, Eric is leading us in a discussion of Joseph Kerman's book, The Beethoven Quartets. Not too late to get caught up and join in! -- The Management.]

This week please read section three of chapter 2 (pg. 44 – 53) and listen to Op. 18, No. 2. Please comment on this week’s chapter and continue to comment on previous weeks’ chapters.

Pg. 44 – 45. Kerman refers to Haydn’s Op. 33 string quartets.  These quartets play an important role in Charles Rosen’ The Classical Style. Maynard Solomon’s Late Beethoven has a interesting survey of attitudes towards Beethoven and the Classical and Romantic periods. Some see Beethoven as a protoromantic. Rosen convincingly shows how Beethoven’s music remained rooted in the classical language of Haydn and Mozart even as he stretched that language to its limits in his late music.

Please post your musical biography this week.

I learned to play piano in third grade, acoustic bass in fourth grade, and flute in fifth grade. I wish I had continued with flute, especially when carrying around acoustic basses for decades. I started guitar in ninth grade, and I played viola de gamba a bit in college. In first grade a teacher played us the slow movement to Haydn’s Surprise Symphony, and I loved it. I grudgingly liked Beethoven because he had studied with Haydn. In fourth or fifth grade I discovered Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” in a collection of light classical music my parents owned. I liked that he had the same last name as me. In junior high I had an eight-track tape of famous Beethoven piano sonatas.

The summer after my first year of college I had a cold and stayed home from work one day. I put on Toscanini’s recording of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. I don’t think I’d ever heard it before, and it blew me away. That fall I started hanging out a lot with pianist Jai Jeffreys, and he really deepened my understanding of Beethoven. A year and a half later I started reading Robert Anton Wilson, and his writings on Beethoven changed me forever.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Steve Fly launches Patreon account

Steve Fly's fine video, above, an illustrated reading of Robert Anton Wilson's "Tale of the Tribe" outline at the back of TSOG: The Thing That Ate the Constitution, is a "free sample" for his new Patreon account. Lots more goodies from Mr. Pratt if you throw him a few bucks, including books and music.

There's also a Patreon account for Bobby Campbell, which I'll write about soon. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A Discordian podcast

Jo Sims (Facebook photo) 

Eris Radio recently did a podcast on "Music For Discordians- Stylings Of Jo Sims."  The host, Sean Lawless, read quotes from Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea and played Sims' music. She is a singer and has performed with Planet Nine and Dorothy's Ghost, which I believe is her current group.

I liked her voice and the songs. My favorite tune was "Close To Me" by Dorothy's Ghost, available here. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Robert Anton Wilson on Frank Capra

Frank Capra (Columbia Pictures public domain photo, via Wikipedia)

Young people supposedly don't like old movies, but those of us who enjoy classic cinema love Frank Capra, who directed It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It's a Wonderful Life and many other well-remembered films. 

Jesse Walker -- author, pundit, Reason magazine editor and serious film buff -- recently went through his emails looking for something and ran across a Robert Anton Wilson comment on Capra, which he is kindly sharing with us.

This quote dates to 2004, and RAW is reacting to an article Jesse that sent him called "The Two Capras -- and My Capra" by Ray Carney. 

On 'tother hand, my Capra combines both sides -- a genuine love for American/Jeffersonian ideals and an urgent, at times terrifying clarity about the reality of fascist power in this country... That 'dialectical' vision gives his films their unique intensity, I think...his 'villains' really scare me and I really love his embattled heroes...

Perhaps SILENCE OF THE LAMBS comes closest to Capra in our time. Remove Clarice and it becomes merely depressing; remove Dr Lecter's super-powers and it becomes sentimental. But,  like Capra, Demme sees both sides: wise  innocence and intelligent evil...

-- Robert Anton Wilson

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Hugo Award news

N.K. Jemisin (Creative Commons photo) 

As there is some associational interest in science fiction at this blog, I thought I'd pass on some interesting news: N.K. Jemisin won for best novel for The Stone Sky. She had also won for the previous two novels in the trilogy, which as I understand it as unprecedented. (I really liked The Fifth Season, but I got kind of tired of them with The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky.)

Full Hugo results here. (I didn't read any of the other "best novel" finalists.) You can read some of Jemisin's reflections on Twitter. 

Anyone who is paying attention will notice the prominence of women in the current wave of emerging science fiction and fantasy authors. Ann Leckie is obviously a major writer, too, although my favorite new writer (of any gender) is Ada Palmer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Brenton Clutterbuck news update

Brenton Clutterbuck, author of Chasing Eris, has released a free new mini ebook, United We Fnord: More Discordian Stories from the UK and Ireland that's a supplement to Chasing Eris. It won't be around forever.  Brenton explains,

When Cat Vincent was kind enough to write a review for my book Chasing Eris, he said one thing that stood out to me; my UK chapters focussed on history and were notably lacking in the kind of in-depth description of the people and scenes that are the lifeblood of other chapters.

While it was very neat to wrap up some of the more historical elements of Discordianism in quick succession by following the KLF from England to Scotland, and dealing with Robert Anton Wilson just outside of the UK, in Ireland, I always felt a little bad for not including more of the more personal interviews I completed while in the United Kingdom. So, here’s a short collection of the UK stories published previously in blogs, magazines or not at all.

More news: Chasing Eris has become more widely available. Originally only offered through Lulu.com in a paper edition and also as an ebook (ePub format), it's also now available from Barnes and Noble, from Apple iTunes and from Amazon (but no Kindle, and not if you live in the U.S.). There's also a Barnes and Noble ebook. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Kerman's 'Beethoven Quartets' reading group, Week Two

Portrait of Beethoven as a young man by Carl Traugott Riedel (1769–1832)

Kerman Week 2 – Op. 18, No. 1 – The First Half of Chapter 2

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

Rest in peace, Aretha Franklin.

This week please read sections one and two of chapter 2 (pg. 30 – 44) and listen to Op. 18, No. 1. Please comment on this week’s chapter and continue to comment on last week’s chapter.

Pg. 34. Kerman refers to Mozart’s Symphony in E flat, also known as Symphony 39, K. 543, one of Mozart’s great three final symphonies. Mozart did not give his works opus numbers. A scholar named K√∂chel (1800 – 1877) catalogued Mozart’s works and originated the K numbers. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

I tend to think of Beethoven’s quartets by their opus numbers. When Kerman refers to them by their keys, I usually have to double check the table of contents to figure out which quartet he means. On classical radio they might refer to a quartet as “Quartet X”, as in one through sixteen. This would confuse me, except they mostly play the early six quartets Op. 18, making it easy to figure out which quartet they mean.

Pg. 37. Casta diva refers to an aria from the opera Norma by Bellini.

I listened to this quartet while following along with the score on Thursday, which I hadn’t done for years. It helped me hear the different personalities of the four parts. In classical quartets the first violin usually has the melody, and the second violin often plays this role as well. As a bass player, I often gravitate to the cello part. The viola part fascinates me more and more as I get older. The viola rarely gets the melody, and when it does, it usually only gets it briefly. The novelist Edgar Pangborn said of Bach, “Listen to the inner voices.” I think that also holds true for Beethoven.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Prometheus winner accepts his award

Travis Corcoran

Travis Corcoran won the Prometheus Award this year for his novel, The Powers of the Earth.

When I read the book, I not only enjoyed it, I was sure he would win. I haven't had that experience since Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. 

Corcoran received his award on the ongoing Worldcon in San Jose. He could  be there, but sent an acceptance speech posted on the Libertarian Futurist Society's blog. 

It's an interesting piece which argues (among other things) that leftists have largely taken over science fiction, to the exclusion of other voices.

My feelings about "PC culture" in fandom are more mixed than Mr. Corcoran's. I actually think it's mostly a good thing. I'm not a fan of racism and sexism.

I think it's good that women can come to conventions with an expectation of safety. I don't pine for the "good old days" when women had to be warned not to get into an elevator with Isaac Asimov.

At the same time, I do sometimes see signs that Corcoran has a point, that fandom and SF publishing is not exactly in a "let 1,000 flowers bloom" mode.

Mary Robinette Kowal, a science fiction writer (I don't believe I've read her yet), recently published a Twitter thread on how to do proper programming at conventions.

Although the ostensible subject is "inclusion," she also is obviously concerned with making sure wrong thinking people aren't allowed to take part.

It's necessary to have a "strong and appropriate moderator" who can weigh on on panelists "who would be good fits." If someone volunteers for a panel and they aren't known to the organizers, it's important to vet them to prevent doubleplusungood thought from wandering in: "Sometimes no one on the committee knows them, but research solves that."

Some people simply should "never get on programming":

"We also, honestly, have a Red Flag and Caution field. Red flags will never get on programming. Caution means that we are very careful about the topics that person can go on because they've gone off the rails before, but with the right moderator have things to contribute."

Is this sort of vetting common at conventions? I don't really know.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Status update

The inevitable selfie; Ted Hand, left, and me. 

Google's Blogger site has been out of order for weeks, but now, I am finally getting email notifications for comments that need to be moderated and approved on the blog. This should allow me to post comments more promptly, which is useful when a new online reading group has launched.

Ted Hand came to town, and we had lunch in Sandusky. It's always good to meet someone with similar interests; we talked about RAW, Terence McKenna and Robert Shea, among other topics.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Arthur Hlavaty, fiction critic

[Arthur Hlavaty (aka Supergee) is, among other useful qualities, a rather good book critic.

He recently dug through his voluminous back pages to produce a new ezine, Archive I: Down by the Old Slipstream, which reprints past writings about many interesting authors. Arthur should consider putting enough of these writings (or any of his other writings) together to put out a book. Maybe an ebook, maybe also a paper book. Any such volume presumably would include Arthur's writings on Robert Anton Wilson.

It's the best zine I've read in awhile (I can't give you the best example without providing an unforgivable spoiler -- just read it), and you can get your copy here, in a nicely-formatted PDF. 

Here is Arthur's short piece on Barrington J. Bailey, a writer I apparently ought to get to know.

--The Management]

Barrington J. Bayley

By Arthur Hlavaty

Philip K. Dick is dead. No, he’s outside, looking in. A friend called up the other night to announce that he’d heard that Dick had checked out of consensus reality with a stroke.
    I mourn him as the inventor of what is now my favorite kind of sf­the philosophical kind. The emphasis on him as a drug writer has always been a misleading form of sensationalism. I suspect that none of the many people who describe The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (perhaps his masterpiece) as “the ultimate acid book” have ever tried acid. Dick’s subjects are more like metaphysics and ontology. There is little agreement as to which of his books are the best--indeed, I do not always agree with myself on this matter--but Time out of Joint, Ubik, Eye in the Sky, and A Maze of Death remain in my mind.
    Dick leaves a couple of heirs to his tradition. One is my old pal Rudy Rucker, whose Software I recommended last installment. The other is a man who gets a whole lot less recognition than I for one think he deserves: Barrington J. Bayley.
    Bayley is an unusual writer in a variety of ways. One can see him as a strange sort of amphibian, in that he has been most published by New Worlds and by DAW. He is not a writer one seeks out for literary merit, characterization, elegant prose, adventure, or sex. If anything, he can be compared with writers such as Clement, Niven, and Hogan,* who seek to do only one thing in their sf. But while the others speculate scientifically, Bayley deals with philosophical and spiritual questions, matters of the essence of reality.
    Bayley has been largely concerned with the nature of Time in his writings, and perhaps his two best books until now, Collision Course and The Fall of Chronopolis, presented new approaches to this problem. More recently, he has incorporated such occult studies as Gnosticism, alchemy, and the Tarot in his work. A recent collection, The Knights of the Limits, offered a variety of remarkable inventions.
    His latest, The Pillars of Eternity (DAW pb), may be his best. He pulls together a number of themes from his past writing, adds some new and startling possibilities, and ties them all together into a satisfying resolution. If you like philosophical sf, don’t miss this one. [1982]

*In 1982 James Hogan was considered a hard-science writer, rather than a crank.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Shea's 'Saracen' books

I've finished Robert Shea's second "Saracen" book, Saracen: The Holy War. 

The two novels, Saracen: Land of the Infidel and Saracen: The Holy War, are really one work The first Saracen book ends with an exciting scene while setting the reader up for the second book, which ends with a big battle scene. The books offer a very vivid picture of medieval Italy.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the Saracen books feature a sympathetic character, Lorenzo Celino, whose name is similar enough to Hagbard Celine's to suggest a possible link. At the end of the second Saracen book, the reader learns that Celino is related to Roland, the troubadour hero of All Things Are Light

There's also an explicit reference to Illuminatus! in the second book. One minor character is killed by a large dog, his throat "torn out by the fangs of some enormous beast." This echoes the death of the person in Illuminatus! whose throat is "torn as if by the talons of some enormous beast."

Both Saracen books are available as free downloads from the Robert Shea section of Project Gutenberg.  For more free Shea ebooks, see this posting. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Notes and links

Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

Years after Robert Anton Wilson's adventures with the Guns and Dope Party, marijuana legalization is making inroads in much of the U.S. So far, it's been mostly on the east and west coasts, but as my article reports, Michigan will consider legalization this fall. My article also offers a snapshot of the current state of legalization across the U.S.

PQ, seeking distraction from the strain of being a Mets fan, reports that Finnegans Wake has possible references to baseball. 

Tyler Cowen is about to publish a new book, Stubborn Attachments "Think of this book — due out in October — as my attempt to defend and explain why a free society is objectively better in terms of ethics, political philosophy, and economics.  No punches are pulled, this is my account of what I strongly believe you should believe too.  My bottom lines, so to speak."

Memoir of Wayne Kramer. His band, the MC5, is mentioned in Illuminatus!

Love at 23rd sight. Via Daniel Duvall on Twitter.