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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New edition of 'Coincidance' released

The new paperback edition of Coincidance has been released. The Kindle was released earlier, so now all editions of the new authorized title are available.

The new version has improvements and new material, including a new introduction by Alan Moore and a previously unavailable long interview with Robert Anton Wilson. Important: When I searched Amazon Wednesday morning, the site listed both the old and the new editions. Be sure you buy the Hilaritas Press version. If the book is listed as "unavailable" when you search for it, just try again later; Hilaritas may be busy convincing Amazon that it has the authorized title.

From Rasa, in the Hilaritas Press newsletter announcing the new edition:

"In addition to legendary graphic novel writer Alan Moore’s new introduction, an extensive previously unpublished RAW interview, and amoeba’s great new cover, a lot of less glamorous but noteworthy changes were made. Ninety-eight percent of the graphics have been redrawn, and an embarrassing number of typos have been corrected. An enormous amount of gratitude goes to our intrepid RAW Trust Literary Advisors, principally Gary Accord, Tom Jackson, Mike Gathers, Eric Wagner and Bobby Campbell who helped with editing, proofreading and untangling several head-scratching instances of where the previous editions had a number of graphics in the wrong place! Most of those graphics represent the symbolism Bob discusses in the chapters on James Joyce and so getting it all correct was crucial for apprehending Bob’s meaning."

Next up in the planned publication schedule is RAW's The Earth Will Shake.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Two more "lost" RAW pieces found by Martin Wagner

Cover for the first American edition of the novelization of the "2001" movie. (Via Wikipedia). 

Austrian RAW scholar Martin Wagner has tracked down and published two RAW pieces in the English section of his German-language RAW site.

The first is "2001 The Secret Doctrine Revealed," as written by "Simon Moon" and published in July 1968 in Chicago Seed. It's a trippy, ecstatic reaction to the movie.

The second is "The Permanent Universal Rent Strike," published in 1971, and it's an explanation how how to get to anarchism. "The permanent universal rent strike – which is, together with the permanent universal tax strike and the coining of non-governmental money, the triple solution to everything – rests on a firm foundation in chaotic egotism."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pale Fire online reading group, Week Three

Cornell University, the Ivy League school where Nabokov taught for about a decade.  (Creative Commons photo). 

This week we begin the "Commentary" section of the book. Let's go for about 17 pages, covering the analysis through line 61. In my old mass market paperback, that's pages 45-61. In any edition, read until Kinbote begins the discussion of line 62.

The commentary is essentially a collection of footnotes, and often within them, the book refers the reader to another footnote -- much as in Robert Anton Wilson's The Widow's Son, the footnotes refer to each other.  Eric Wagner says that Pale Fire influenced Wilson when Wilson was writing The Widow's Son. 

Brian Boyd, in his book length commentary on the novel, Nabokov's Pale Fire, says that readers are meant to follow Nabokov's references to other portions of the commentary and gain early information about what is "really" going on.

This is the section which is ostensibly a literary analysis of John Shade's poem, but it doesn't take long for apparently personal material to intrude, often in funny and odd ways. Why is it relevant, for example, on the first page of the commentary, that our critic is repulsed by the "gusto" in which robins in his yard gobble up worms?

And also very soon, the ostensible literary commentary gives us details of the sad story of the Eastern European king Charles, whose reign "will be remembered by at least a few discerning historians as a peaceful and elegant one" (page 46, commentary to line 12).

The "would-be regicide Gradus" (page 46, end of commentary to lines 1-4) will be an important element of the plot.

Page 47, although Kinbote makes a half-hearted attempt to make it sound like he is talking about someone else (he resembles "my disguised king" page 47), it's clear that the professor knows more about the daily life of the monarch than he ought to. It's already possible for the reader that Kinbote "is" (or believes himself to be) King Charles.

Commentary to lines 47-48, I thought the satire on the detailed instructions from landlords was really funny. My wife and I often stay in rented houses, so I could appreciate it. Nabokov never owned a home in the U.S. and often stayed in the rented homes of faculty members away on sabbatical.

Kinbote apparently does not realize how bad he looks when he describes spying on his neighbor.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Robert Shea fought for 'The Dispossessed' to win an award

Robert Shea -- more of an active science fiction fan than Robert Anton Wilson -- was a member of the Libertarian Futurist Society, the group that gives the Prometheus Award.  I'm a member of the group myself. (If you share our goals, anyone is welcome to join).

When I went to Marcon in Columbus, Ohio, in 2015, I chatted briefly about Shea with the founder of the LFS, Michael Grossberg, who told me that when the group had given a Hall of Fame Award to The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin, Shea had been among the members who argued for it.

I know know a bit more about that debate, and Shea's role in it, thanks to a piece written by Victoria Varga and published in Reason Magazine. 

If you aren't familiar with it, Reason is the libertarian equivalent of National Review, Mother Jones, the Nation, etc. I'm still waiting for the libertarian equivalent of Fox News, MSNBC etc.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Mondo 2000 on the new Leary book

The new Timothy Leary book, The Most Dangerous Man in America, which I need to try to get around to soon, is taken up in a new interview of one of the authors, Steven L. Davis, by R.U. Sirius. The interview itself is quite interesting, but the implied endorsement also caught my attention. R.U. Sirius was a friend of Leary's and also wrote a good biography of Leary; the interview implies the new book is worth reading.

Here is a striking quote from Davis, which R.U. Sirius highlighted on Twitter: "Tim had to keep shape-shifting to save his own skin. He basically became a pawn of both the far left and the far right (Nixon and his cronies) during this era – and of course when everything ended and he looked back on it, he realized that the law-and-order struggles between the far left and the far right were two sides of the same coin. I think the experience made him suspicious of any alliance after that. Hell, it would do the same to any of us!"

I'm not on board with all of Davis' comments about ending the draft -- it seem to me that ending the draft ended a great evil -- but they are quite interesting.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia! [UPDATED]

Sarah A. Hoyt is a prolific American author of popular fiction in a variety of genres in one of her second languages, English. (She was born in Portugal but now lives in Colorado.) She is a big Robert Heinlein fan and won the Prometheus Award in 2011 for Darkship Thieves, pictured above. (When I brought a copy to my book club meeting, the other members were amused by the cover depicting the heroine, apparently nude, in space. As far as I could tell reading the book, the protagonist, Athena Hera Sinistra, prefers to wear spacesuits and clothing when exiting a spacecraft, but that's SF art for you.)

A.H. Sinistra is back in action in Darkship Revenge, the fifth book of the series, which came out last year with a cover depicting a fully clothed, apparently male character on the cover. (The PC crowd ruins everything, or Hoyt has become a mature, respected artist. Take your pick!) In the first chapter, Athena gives birth while her spaceship is being attacked (Ms. Hoyt likes to begin things in medias res) and she has to come up with a name for the baby when she's busy with various problems, like finding her suddenly kidnapped husband. The choice surprised me:

There was really only one name for her. "It's alright Eris," I said, though she was probably asleep. "We're going to go to Earth and get Daddy back." (Page 20).

Now, Hoyt could have gotten the name from a variety of sources since Eris is a dwarf planet and SF writers usually pay attention to astronomy, but this passage after a scientist hears the name Eris is suggestive:

He cleared his throat loudly, snapped his mouth shut,and croaked "Discordia?"

Of course it's possible Hoyd simply knows that "Discordia" was the Roman form of the Greek god Eris, so it's possible no reference to Discordianism is intended. I'm still reading the book and if I notice anything else, I'll update this post.

UPDATE: Sarah Hoyt says in an email that she has a classical mythology background. "Mostly Roman myth and Greek myth.  It's baked in my bones, as dad read me Roman poetry as a baby. ­čśë"

About the cover, Hoyt says, "On the cover, btw, covers aren't meant to be literal pictures of the book, and Athena does METAPHORICALLY step out naked, leaving all her assumptions behind."

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ursula K. LeGuin has died

Ursula K. LeGuin (with Harlan Ellison) at Westercon in Portland, Oregon, in 1984. Creative Commons photo by Pip R. Lagenta.

Author Ursula K. LeGuin, who wrote science fiction and fantasy and also mainstream fiction and poetry, has died at age 88.  Here is the article in her hometown paper in Oregon.  I particularly liked her classic novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which I've read more than once, and her short fiction. Other folks would likely mention The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven or the Earthsea books.

There is in fact a Robert Anton Wilson connection. In his 1976 interview with New Libertarian Notes, when he was asked about prominent science fiction writers, he said, "LeGuin is great already, and getting better book by book."

LeGuin won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1993 for The Dispossessed. I have been told that Robert Shea was one of the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society who campaigned for it to win.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

RAW didn't like 'The X Files'

Actress Gillian Anderson of 'X Files' fame, at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con. Creative Commons photo by Gage Skidmore. 

An amusing biographical tidbit about Robert Anton Wilson, gleaned from Twitter:

On Twitter, Ted Hand writes, "I learned from @StealThisSingul today that Robert Anton Wilson didn't like X-Files!" (E.g., from R.U. Sirius). Sirius replied, "It's true. He thought the plots were obvious."

I thought the show was OK but I wasn't wedded to it. I would be disappointed if RAW didn't like "Twin Peaks."

I asked R.U. Sirius about "Twin Peaks," but he didn't know. "I know that Tim Leary was a huge fan of Blue Velvet. That's all I got ...." he replied.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Pale File online reading group, Week Two

Two Cedar waxwings, very much alive, pass a berry during courtship. Creative Commons photo by Minette Layne of Seattle, Washington. 

This week. let's read "Pale Fire: A  Poem in Four Cantos." It's a few more pages than we're ordinarily going to do, but it makes no sense to me to break up John Shade's autobiographical poem. Then we can get into the heart of the book, Charles Kinbote's analysis of the poem.

The poem begins with two well known lines:

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure of the windowpane; 

Did you see Supergee's post parodying those lines? “I was the fookin shadow of the waxwing slain. I only said Shade was the shadow of the waxwing slain to be nice.”

The poem begins with vivid images of the death of a bird, and as we read the poem, says Brian Boyd in his book about Pale Fire, "we learn more about Shade's lifelong attempt to understand a world where life is surrounded by death."

Andrea Pitzer in the book The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov calls Shade a "very decent poet" and says Nabokov created "a quintessential American writer whose work lives in the shadow of Robert Frost." Frost is mentioned on page 426 of the post. Nabokov did readings with Frost, once opening for Frost at an event in Boston, Pitzer says.

Boyd identifies where the words "pale fire" come from: Shakespeare, in the play Timon of Athens.

The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
Robs the vast sea: the moon's an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun:
The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves
The moon into salt tears: the earth's a thief,
That feeds and breeds by a composture stolen
From general excrement: each thing's a thief:
The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough power
Have uncheque'd theft. 

(From Act IV, Scene III, lines 472-480)

As Boyd notes, Nabokov tells you the source of the name is Shakespeare: Line 960.

Anybody up for a coincidence? As I was working on this post, about a poem that describes a young woman who dies walking on the surface of a thawing, icy lake (Canto Two), I was interrupted by a work phone call. I had to stop working on this blog post, so I could do a quick newspaper story about ice fishermen being rescued after they fell into the water.

I read the poem again Sunday. Let's read the poem together and discuss in the comments. By the way, comments are still being posted for last week's initial post. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Help save Bill Laswell's studio

From Oz Fritz's blog: "Bill Laswell at the board with pioneering turntablist DXT."

Here is something interesting for those of you into music: A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to save Bill Laswell's Orange Music Studio. 

The page explains, "Bassist, iconic producer, and sonic visionary Bill Laswell becomes the latest legendary talent to fall victim to the vagaries of these crazy times. Beset by health problems while trying to navigate this harsh and uncertain economic landscape, Laswell is struggling to maintain Orange Music, the legendary New Jersey studio that he as helmed for the last 20 years. He is putting the call out to all fans, friends, and fellow artists alike: If you can help, please do so now. No contribution is too small."

The campaign was called to my attention by Adrian Reynolds, who writes, "Musician/producer Bill Laswell has created some extraordinary music, and his collaborators included William Burroughs. The Illuminati are also referenced one way and another in some of his work, and I'm pretty sure there's a RAW sample in one of his ambient tracks."

I recognized Laswell's name as a longtime fan of Oz Fritz's blog. Oz is a music producer who has long been associated with Laswell. See for example this post. Oz in fact participated in the recording session with William Burroughs, and you can read about that, too.

Cover for one of Laswell's albums. Oz Fritz was the engineer for the session.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

RAW Trust news: Jewelry now available, book almost out

Daisy Campbell wearing the prototype pendant based on Robert Anton Wilson's spiral ring. 

Another newsletter from the RAW Trust, which you can read here.

The gist of it: (1) The spiral pendant based upon a ring that RAW wore is now available for purchase. $123, buy here.  If you missed the newsletter giving the background on the pendant and how Daisy Campbell came to be wearing it, above, go here. 

And (2) The print edition of Coincidance: A Head Test will be out any day now. It will be the fifth new edition from Hilaritas Press. As I've mentioned before, it's unusually generous with extra goodies: A new introduction from Alan Moore, and a long, previously unavailable interview with Robert Anton Wilson. I'll follow up when the print book is out; the Kindle ebook is out now. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Guardian's list of top conspiracy novels ranks Illuminatus! number one

James Miller

British novelist James Miller writes a piece for the Guardian on the "Top 10 conspiracy theories in fiction," and he puts Illuminatus! as No. 1. 

1. The Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975) by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
Comprising The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple and Leviathan, this is the cult-fiction motherlode of postmodern conspiracy theory fiction. The authors were associate editors at Playboy and claimed to have been inspired by the letters they received from readers, filled with bizarre plots and paranoid rants. Taking these theories as truth, Shea and Wilson wrote a novel that playfully combines a range of conspiracies – particularly around the Illuminati – in a wacky intertextual collage of countercultural mayhem, including its own religion: Discordianism.

Other authors highlighted in the piece: Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Philip Roth, Franz Kafka, E.L. Doctorow, Roberto Bola├▒o, Marge Piercy and Umberto Eco.

Miller's new novel, Unamerican Activities, sounds as if it were influenced by Illuminatus! Miller watched conspiracy theory videos on  YouTube. and then "took some of these conspiracies and turned them back into fiction – but treated them as literal truth," he says in the Guardian piece.

For more on Miller, see his website. His list of favorite writers omits RAW but includes RAW influences such as William Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Happy Wilsonmas

Robert Anton Wilson in 1986. Photo by Duncan Harvey. More here. 

Robert Anton Wilson was born Jan. 18, 1932, in Brooklyn, so if he were alive today, he'd be marking his 86th birthday. I stole the "Wilsonmas" coinage from Eric Wagner.

Although it's been 11 years since his death in 2007, interest in him has not seemed to diminish. I'm still getting comments posted on Sunday's post about RAW's Crowley writings (go see the new comments from the likes of Oz Fritz and Adam Gorightly).  And see Gregory Arnott's recent Tumblr post, linking the Utopians in the novels of science fiction's hottest new writer, Ada Palmer, to the Leary/Wilson SMI2LE project. 

I renewed the registration for another year this week. While my traffic numbers will never impress our friends at Boing Boing, traffic on this site continues to slowly creep upward. It's not bad for a blog devoted to an obscure writer who never had a best seller. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Daisy Campbell news

Daisy Campbell 

Daisy Campbell has released her January "Cosmic Update," i.e. her email newsletter, which you can read here. 

Lots of "find the others" events in the United Kingdom, so you should sign up especially if you live there. Perhaps the biggest news this time is that Daisy is embarking on a solo tour beginning in May, a one-woman show:

Having grown up repeatedly watching my dad's one-man shows (cheaper than a babysitter), I'm now marking the 10 year anniversary of his death with a full-blown Campbellian monologue of my own. 

When Daisy summons Pigspurt (the daimonic side of Ken's personality) through an inadvertent act of gastromancy (the rectal invocation of dead spirits), he goads her to take her story to the end of the line - the Great Gnothing that the Gnostics talk of... The Gap. 

You're a well-connected lot - if you know of/book/own any venues that might be interested in receiving this show from May onwards, please give me a shout. 

Lots of other events, too, including more readings for Alastair Fruish's The Sentence. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Interviews with Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna in 1999. Creative Commons photo by Jon Hanna. 

Anyone out there interested in Terence McKenna?

Spotted on Twitter: "1985 Ad for High Frontiers (predecessor to @2000_mondo) from Issue #1 of Psychedelic Monographs and Essays. Read the first issue of High Frontiers, incl. two excellent and early interviews with Terence McKenna."

Available here.  Via @advantardeodus.

Sentence about McKenna from the Wikipedia bio, in light of yesterday's blog post: "McKenna also expressed admiration for the works of writers including Aldous Huxley,[3] James Joyce, whose book Finnegans Wake he called "the quintessential work of art, or at least work of literature of the 20th century," science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, who he described as an "incredible genius,"fabulist Jorge Luis Borges, with whom McKenna shared the belief that "scattered through the ordinary world there are books and artifacts and perhaps people who are like doorways into impossible realms, of impossible and contradictory truth" and Vladimir Nabokov; McKenna once said that he would have become a Nabokov lecturer if he had never encountered psychedelics."

Monday, January 15, 2018

Pale Fire online reading group, Week One

Vladimir Nabokov in the 1960s. Via Wikipedia, described as being in the public domain in Italy. 

Pale Fire is a Jack-in-the-box, a Faberge gem, a clockwork toy, a chess problem, an infernal machine, a trap to catch reviewers, a cat-and-mouse game, a do-it-yourself kit ... This centaur-work of Nabokov's, half-poem, half-prose, this merman of the deep, is a creature of perfect beauty, symmetry, strangeness, originality and moral truth.

-- Mary McCarthy's review of Pale Fire, quoted in Nabokov's Pale Fire by Brian Boyd.

Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov's 1962, was published seven years after Nabokov's best-known work, Lolita, a best seller that allowed Nabokov to retire from his job as a college professor at Cornell University in Ithaca. Pale Fire is a personal favorite of many Nabokov fans,  including me. Brian Boyd, arguably the world's most important Nabokov scholar, calls it Nabokov's finest novel.

For the first week of the discussion, please read the Foreword. It's only 12 pages of text in my paperback copy of the book.

Pale Fire has an unusual format for a novel. It consists of a poem, "Pale Fire," a poem in four cangtoes ostensibly written by American poet John Shade, that takes up about 25 pages of text. The rest of the book is a discussion of the book by a college professor and friend of Shade's, Charles Kinbote, who evidently, like Nabokov was, is a literature professor from Eastern Europe who has come to America and taken a job at an American university. Pale Fire has a Foreword, the poem itself, a long Commentary section, and in Index.

The Foreward is a good introduction to the book as a whole, and whether you find portions of it funny and interesting is a good clue to whether you should go on with the rest of the book.

The first paragraph is a precise and careful discussion of the physical manuscript of the poem, just as you would expect from an English professor from an upper tier American university, but it's not long until the professor begins to inject himself into the manuscript in inappropriate (and hilarious) ways. In the third paragraph, Kinbote suddenly writes, "There is a very loud amusement park right in front of my present lodgings."

The rest of the Foreword mixes appropriate discussion of the matter at hand with personal anecdotes that introduce the reader to Kinbote and his situation and to his friend and late colleague, Shade. There's soon an indication that the book involves much more than an academic monograph on a poem: "...I was forced to leave New Wye after my last interview with the jailed killer." (Page 4. All of my page numbers are from an old Berkley mass market paperback; I hope the page numbers will be at least close to whatever edition you are reading.)

A few notes on the text:

Page 4: Note that Kinbote refers to having to find "a new incognito." He writes the Foreword from a motel in Cedarn, Utana, a fictitious Midwestern state.

Page 7: The Foreward has totally inappropriate references to Kinbote's sexual interest in young men: A girl student is "pulpous," but a boy is "delicate" and "rather wonderful." When the department chairman on Page 9 calls him in to discuss a complaint by a boy to the student's advisor, Kinbote laughs "in sheer relief" to find out it's only about Kinbote's disparagement of another professor.

Page 10: Another premonition of what's to come: A woman in a grocery store tells Kinbote, "What's more, you are insane."

I enjoyed the passages which highlight Nabokov's gift for vivid description, as in the view from a New York skyscraper, "in the midst of a vast sunset (we sat in a cell of walnut and glass fifty stories above the progression of scarabs)" Page 4.

"... the suburban house (rented for my use from Judge Goldsworth who had gone on his Sabbatical to England" (page 5). Nabokov himself never owned a house, but instead stayed in the homes of absent college professors and in other temporary lodgings. He lived from 1961 until his death in 1977 in a hotel in Montreaux, Switzerland.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Still more on the reputed 'lost' RAW book about Crowley

Aleister Crowley

If you tuned in recently, you may have noticed my recent blog post about references in RAW's letters to a book about Aleister Crowley that he apparently finished and was apparently about to publish in the 1970s, although in fact it never appeared.

In the comments, Van Scott adds, "Way back when I first discovered RAW I went to the library and looked him up in a massive volume that I believe was called “Books in Print. “ I showed that he had published a book called “Do What though Wilt.” I don’t remember what year that was. Also, RAW mentions the Crowley book somewhere in Cosmic Trigger I."

And Adam Gorightly, also in the comments, writes:

"In my files I have a print out of a long Crowley article by RAW, which I believe I downloaded from the old RAW Fans website when Joe Matheny was running it. I don't think the article is online anymore, although I haven't looked recently. It probably could be considered a short book, I guess.

"I'd have to pull it out to tell you exactly, but I think it was around 40-50 pages and was some of the same material that appeared in an article RAW wrote on Crowley for The Realist, although I think this printout contains more material than was in The Realist article. Not certain, though, it would take a little research to figure that out.

"The Revisionist Press is an interesting connection because Revisionist Press published a very rare hard copy edition of Principia Discordia in or around 1976, and it now seems pretty clear that it was RAW who arranged this publication. This makes sense because during that period RAW was holding on to The Discordian Archives for Greg Hill, and so RAW would have had the original copies of PD that could be used for duplication. According to letters I've seen between RAW and Hill, RAW had the Discordian Archives in his possession between the years '74-'75."

I did a quick look and did not see a long article about Crowley in the essays section at, although I did find this article on The Law Is For All, originally published in Gnostica and reprinted online at this blog. Finally, Jesse Walker, in the comments in the recent post, helpfully points to the article about Crowley in The Realist, published in 1971. 

What to make of all this? I wrote to Richard Rasa, co-publisher of Hilaritas Press and essentially the "CEO" of the RAW Trust's enterprises. (Christina Pearson, executor of the estate, is in my analogy the "chairman of the board.") Here is Rasa's reply:

Interesting post. Sadly, I think your comment sums up what we might know:

RAW did a poor job of archiving his papers, so I don't know how much is available.

I’m cc’ing Christina, but I don’t think any more RAW writings exist in his papers, aside from letters, but I don’t really know.

I’m also not sure of the ownership status of what Adam might have. A 40-50 page article would certainly be interesting to see, and probably of interest to the Crowley community especially.

Sorry I don’t know anything further.

Perhaps there are enough Crowley writings in RAW's uncollected articles and interviews to put together a book, with editing and commentary from an expert such as Oz Fritz. By coincidence, Oz has just posted a new article at his blog, on the occult transmissions of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze.  and if you read the post and others, you can see Oz's familiarity with Crowley's work.

Friday, January 12, 2018

John Higgs begins email newsletter

An announcement from one of my favorite writers, John Higgs: "Social media being what it is, I'm starting a newsletter. The first one doesn't go out until Feb 2nd, but if you're a keen bean you can sign up now." I've signed up; the rest of you lot can sign up here. It's supposed to go out once every six weeks.

My wife gave me a copy of Watling Street, John's latest, so know I can finally read it. It's a history of an old street in England and was never published in the U.S., apparently on the grounds that nobody in the U.S. is interested in anything from England. This seems strange to me, as it is hard to avoid hearing news about Prince What's His Name's engagement to the American woman, What's Her Name, but any case I can finally read the book now when I get time.

Higgs' official website is currently down, but a new and improved version will rise from the ashes in a few days.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Antero Alli Eight Circuit news roundup

Antero Alli (from his Twitter account)

Antero Alli has rolled out his annual course on the Eight Circuit model written about by Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson and himself. Details here. 

Also, in case you missed it, Alli recently posted interesting new comments on my Nov. 15 blog post on the latest book on the Eight Circuit systemThe Eight Circuits of Consciousness, by James A. Hefferman. 

Alli wrote: "Listening to Jimmy discuss the 8CB model reminds me of the confusion many have who study this system. And that would be how these 8 circuits don't actually exist in the body/brain per se. The 8-circuit model posits a system representing various states of consciousness and functions of Intelligence in the body/brain feedback loop. The chakras, which the 8-circuits have often been erroneously associated with, refers to a biological network of energy centers linked with specific glands and bio-systems innate to the physical body and energetic bodies; the chakras don't refer to a symbolic system.

"My main point here would be how the 8-circuit model posits a SYMBOLIC system, not a biological nor a neurological one."

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Country star warns about the nefarious Illuminati

Charlie Daniels (Creative Commons photo via Wikipedia) 

As I blogged earlier, I thought the Taco Bell commercials about the Illuminati were funny, but country and western star Charlie Daniels warns that the secret society is no laughing matter. (Many American readers of this blog will remember Mr. Daniels' biggest hit, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," in which the Devil plays a more interesting solo but is defeated by Mr. Daniels, anyway, in a fiddling competition).

Mr. Daniels, a college football fan to judge from his Twitter feed, was watching Monday's championship football game between Alabama and Georgia when he apparently saw a Taco Bell commercial. He Tweeted, "Hey Taco Bell The Illuminati is not a frivolous subject."

As of Tuesday afternoon, he had 11,507 retweets and 32,380 likes. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

More on RAW's mysterious unpublished Crowley book

Aleister Crowley

Saturday's blog post, about letters from RAW to Timothy Leary, mentioned a book about Aleister Crowley that RAW apparently wrote but never got published. I also published in 2013 a letter to Green Egg from RAW, referring to his "forthcoming book on Crowley."

After Saturday's post published, Jesse Walker wrote to me to share a little bit more information:

"From one of the Leary letters:

'The second enclosure, an intro to Crowley, is due for publication this Fall from Revisionist Press in Brooklyn, maybe right in them middle of the ILLUMINATUS! volumes. I think you will find much of this quite provocative of new perspectives.'

"Revisionist Press was Herbert Roseman's project. In the late 1960s, according to an item in *The Libertarian Connection*, it was going to publish three Wilson books; they never appeared. I think one was claled something like *Authority and Submission* and one was called something like *The Light in the Cave*; I can't remember the third. I once asked Wilson about those books. He said they didn't materialize because Roseman never paid him.

"I don't think they were ever written in full. It sounds from Leary letter like the Crowley book was. I'm gonna guess the material was eventually recycled in some other volume(s), but who knows? Maybe there's another unpublished Wilson book out there."

Jesse sent a followup email: "Correction: In the '60s, *Roseman* was going to publish those books; at that point I don't think Revisionist Press was a thing yet."

The Green Egg letter referring to the "forthcoming" Crowley book was published Feb. 1, 1974.

The "Dear Mr. Brown" letter Jesse quotes above would also seem to indicate planned publication in the mid-1970s.

I'm not sure what else is know about the Crowley book. RAW did a poor job of archiving his papers, so I don't know how much is available.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Pale Fire online reading group begins Jan. 15

Vladimir Nabokov in 1973

When I was a high school senior, back in the 1970s, the teacher in my creative writing class assigned us to read Vladimir Nabokov's early novel, Despair.

My high school teachers back in Tulsa must have been a pretty funky bunch -- some of my other assigned reading in high school included Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.

In any event, I really liked Despair, and it got me interested in reading Nabokov. Over the next few years, I read more Nabokov novels, such as Lolita and Pale Fire, and more obscure ones such as King, Queen, Knave and Glory.

Nabokov has to overcome many dangers in order to become the mature novelist who wrote Lolita and Pale Fire. He was born into a wealthy family in Russia, but his family fled in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution. At first, he lived in Berlin. Eventually, he married a Jewish Russian woman and had a son. Germany became an unsafe place for a family with Jews, and even moving to France could not keep Nabokov's family safe.

As the Germans began to overrun France in 1940, Nabokov finally managed to secure an exit to America. Andrea Pitzer writes in The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov: "The Nabokovs' American visas were finally issued on April 23."

Once in the U.S., Nabokov led a financially precarious existence for years, cobbling together a modest income from part time teaching jobs and freelance writing. He finally obtained a full time job as a college professor at Cornell University. Lolita, published in 1955, was a best seller, and allowed Nabokov to become a full time writer.

Although Lolita is Nabokov's best known novel, Pale Fire, published in 1962, is my personal favorite, and also influenced Robert Anton Wilson's use of footnotes in The Widow's Son, according to Eric Wagner. We'll begin the exploration of the book on Jan. 15.

Nabokov never owned a home anywhere. On 1961, he and his wife moved into a hotel in Montreaux, Switzerland, and he lived there until his death in 1977.

Nabokov was born in Russia and wrote in both Russian and English. (The earlier novels such as Glory and Despair were written in Russian and later translated into English.) In his 1964 interview with Playboy magazine, Nabokov said, "I am an American writer, born in Russia and educated in England where I studied French literature, before spending 15 years in Germany. I came to America in 1940 and decided to become an American citizen, and make America my home. It so happened that I was immediately exposed to the very best in America, to its rich intellectual life and to its easygoing, good-natured atmosphere. I immersed myself in its great libraries and its Grand Canyon. I worked in the laboratories of its zoological museums. I acquired more friends than I ever had in Europe. My books — old books and new ones — found some admirable readers."

Let us hope that Nabokov would consider us "admirable readers."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

When writers connect

Cover of one of Charles Henri Ford's books. 

As you can probably tell, I have a soft spot for writers who seem great but who have not, in my opinion, found the audience that they deserve.

One of the writers I like, besides Robert Anton Wilson, is Charles Henri Ford, a now-obscure (probably always pretty obscure) writer who was in Paris after World War I and spent the 1960s associated with Andy Warhol's circle in New  York City. I like Ford primarily for his surrealist verse of the 1930s and 1940s, anthologized in the collection Flag of Ecstasy: Selected Poems. And as you might guess from the fact that we're about to begin an online reading group for Vladimir Nabokov, I'm a longtime fan of Nabokov, although you can hardly say Nabokov is a neglected writer.

Reading The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov by Andrea Pitzer, I realized that although Ford is not mentioned in the text, it seems likely that Nabokov and Ford had met, or at least been in the same room on occasion. Pavel Tchelitchew, a Russian surrealist painter, was the longtime companion of Charles Henri Ford. He also was the Paris roommate of Sergei Nabokov, Vladimir Nabokov's brother. Tchelitchew also was a friend of Edmund Wilson, Nabokov's friend, and may have seen Tchelitchew when Tchelitchew visited Wilson.

I don't know how many of my favorite writers Robert Anton Wilson knew. I do know from that Wilson and science fiction writer Philip Jose Farmer knew each other, or at least liked each other's work.  I enjoy Alan Watts, and he and Wilson were friends, something Daisy Campbell depicts in her Cosmic Trigger play.

Did Robert Anton Wilson ever meet Vladimir Nabokov, or have any connection to him? When I though about this, I did come up with one possible connection: Playboy magazine, where Wilson worked from 1965 to 1971.  Nabokov was interviewed by Playboy in 1964 and his writing often appeared in the magazine, so it seems like that both RAW and Nabokov both knew one of Playboy's editors.

I know that RAW was interested in surrealism, but if he ever read Ford, that would be news to me.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Letters from RAW to Timothy Leary [UPDATED]

Start the new year off right by reading the Robert Anton Wilson letters to Timothy Leary that Austrian RAW scholar Martin Wagner has posted to his new website.

Very interesting.

A couple of bits:

In a letter dated May Day 1974, noted as the "198th anniversary of the founding of the Illuminati," RAW gives the full original title of Illuminatus! as llluminatus! or Laughing Buddha Jesus Phallus Productions Presents or Swift-Kick Inc. or Telemachus Sneezed or The Untidy Ape: A Head Test. 

The same letter also has a good restatement of the SNAFU principle:

 "The SNAFU Principle holds that 1. Communication is only possible between equals. 2. In any relationship based on inequality, miscommunication steadily exceeds communication. 3 Progressive disorientation of all parties then results. (This is the cybernetic foundation of libertarian politics.)
You will readily see how the Bateson-Szasz communlcatlon-Jam theory of "mental illness" fits in here; most eccentricities are attempts to communicate outside the authoritarian game those messages which are taboo within the game."

Something for you Eight Circuit fans, from the undated "I believe in Higher Intelligence" letter: "A major discovery: Kazansakis's modern sequel to the Odyssey has the closest correlation with the first seven circuits of any book I've ever read, mystic or scientific."

There are also references to a mysterious "introduction to Crowley" book that RAW completed and thought was going to be published, and to Devil's Masquerade, apparently the original title of Masks of the Illuminati. 

You'll make your own discoveries, based upon your own interests.

UPDATE: Martin says his source was this area of the Internet archive. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Bobby Campbell's new comic

Amid the news of the release of Bobby Campbell's RAW Art by Hilaritas Press — the first release of a publication by Hilaritas by someone not named "Robert Anton Wilson" — I did not want it to get lost that Bobby has released a new comic, EITHER/OR: Psychonaut Comix in Black and White.

It's a collection of single panel cartoons, and as the title says, they are all black and white drawings, allowing the art to display equally well on any screen. The cartoons (visual koans? inspirational mandalas?) draw heavily from Robert Anton Wilson, and the figures that inspired him, so in addition to RAW, James Joyce, Timothy Leary, Aleister Crowley and others are quoted, although there are cartoons that for me did not have an obvious RAW connection — even Angela Davis pops up. I have it on my smartphone to provide positive moments.

I got my copy from Amazon, but it's also available straight from Bobby for "pay what you will" (suggested price, only a dollar).

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Hilaritas Press ebook of Coincidance released

The ebook of the new Hilaritas Press edition of Coincidance has been published. The new print edition is expected to soon follow.

This new edition is particularly generous with extras. It features a new introduction by Alan Moore, and also a very long unpublished interview with Robert Anton Wilson.

"John van der Does traveled from France to Ireland to interview Bob. His intention was to translate the interview into French, but only some 20% of the interview was ever published, and the entire original English version has never been published before now," Rasa writes in the newsletter announcing the publication.

Rasa decided to run the entire interview, which features an Afterward by Mike Gathers.

More here. 

I know that Rasa worked very hard on the graphics for this new edition, and I think RAW fans will be pleased.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Books read 2017

1. The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, Lionel Shriver.
2. Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, Vladimir Nabokov.
3. The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World's Most Mysterious Air Disasters, Christine Negroni.
4. Kill Process, William Hertling.
5. Through Fire (Darkship #4), Sarah Hoyt.
6. The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts.
7. The Corporation Wars: Dissidence, Ken MacLeod.
8. Blade of p'Na, L. Neil Smith.
9. Email to the Universe and Other Alterations of Consciousness, Robert Anton Wilson.
10. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke.
11. Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota #1), Ada Palmer.
12. Angeleyes, Michael Z. Williamson.
13. Autobiography, John Stuart Mill.
14. The Politics of Ecstasy, Timothy Leary.
15. Cold Air Return: A Novel, Patrick Lawrence O'Keeffe.
16. Seven Surrenders, Ada Palmer.
17. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, Kevin Kelly.
18. On Turpentine Lane, Elinor Lipman.
19. The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, Eric S. Raymond.
20. Babel-17, Samuel R. Delany.
21. The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream, Tyler Cowen.
22. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1), Becky Chambers.
23. The Chaos Protocols: Magical Techniques for Navigating the New Economic Reality, Gordon White.
24. Troublemakers, Harlan Ellison.
25. Love for Sale: Pop Music in America, David Hajdu.
26. Rose Motel: Fanzine Pieces, 1980-2014, William Breiding.
27. Wolf Moon (Luna #2), Ian McDonald.
28. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, Antonio Garcia Martinez.
29. Flying the Lindbergh Line: Then and Now, Robert F. Kirk.
30. Walkaway, Cory Doctorow.
31. Constantius II: Usurpers, Eunuchs and the Antichrist, Peter Crawford.
32. 50 Great American Places: Essential Historic Sites Across the U.S., Brent D. Glass.
33. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland.
34. Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance.
35. The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart, Lawrence Block.
36. Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes, Harlan Ellison.
37. Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors, Peter Ackroyd.
38. Mrs. Fletcher, Tom Perrotta.
39. Lake Winds Poems, Larry Smith.
40. Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, Jan Swafford.
41. Drug Lord, Douglas R. Casey and John Hunt.
42. The Code of the Woosters, P.G. Wodehouse.
43. Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works, Phil Goulding.
44. The Berlin Project, Gregory Benford.
45. The Cleveland Connection, Les Roberts.
46. Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, Scott Horton.
47. Change Agent, Daniel Suarez.
48. The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien.
49. The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome, Christopher Kelly.
50. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin.
51. The Genius Plague, David Walton.
52. Apostle: Travel Among the Tombs of the Twelve, Tom Bissell.
53. The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, Kelly Harper.
54. The Kind Worth Killing, Peter Swanson.
55. The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin.
56. The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin.
57. Betaball, Eric Malinowski.
58. The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin.
59. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.
60. The Corporation Wars: Emergence, Ken MacLeod.

As in past years, I haven't tried to distinguish between audiobooks and books I actually read, books that I read for the first time and books that I read for the nth time (e.g., The Fellowship of the Ring).

Favorite fiction that I read for the first time: Ada, Vladimir Nabokov; Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer, Mrs. Fletcher, Tom Perrotta, The Code of the Woosters, P.G. Wodehouse (thanks, Gregory Arnott!), The Kind Worth Killing, Peter Swanson. The MacLeod works well as a trilogy.

Favorite first-time nonfiction: The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts (great recommendation, Supergee!), The Politics of Ecstasy, Timothy Leary;  Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance; Fool's Errand, Scott Horton; The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome, Christopher Kelly; The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, Kelly Harper.

Kind of surprised I didn't read any Iain Banks in 2017, but I'll do better in 2018.