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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

RAW's interest in spirals

The above is a photograph took of the wall in Robert Anton Wilson's last apartment, in Capitola. Rasa explains:

"RAW's daughter Christina told me that Bob always made murals of his favorite graphics on a nearby wall. The photo of his living room wall just above the TV was taken when he was in Capitola where he lived for the last years of his life (we used the photo in the first RAW Auction). I was amused when I went to visit him one time and saw a goofy photo of one of our favorite neighborhood deer that I had sent him. Among other items on the wall is the "Disney" cartoon published by Paul Krassner, a photo of Bob and his son Graham, a photo of Bob and Arlen eating dinner at an Italian restaurant, a "Just Say No to Thugs" photo with Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney, and the Ace of Cups Tarot card from the Crowley Thoth deck, but that Tarot card has a spiral added to it. "

Rasa was looking at it the other day, but  one thing puzzled him. Why did that Tarot card have a spiral on it?

Christina Pearson, RAW's daughter, came to the rescue with an explanation, and with her permission I share the answer here:

"Ah, yes!  Bob was aware of the spiral from early on in life when he began to read Joyce; it was just reconfirmed over and over again in his studies as how important the spiral is in nature, alchemy, and consciousness. What is so funny is during Bob's last year, when moneys were running low, Eddie Nix came up with the idea of selling individual tarot cards from the Crowley deck (Bob's favorite), each imprinted with a stamp that Bob himself imprinted. (Back-story comment: that stamp was made by Eddie carving a potato half, with the spiral on Bob's ring). And each and EVERY card was hand-stamped by Bob himself, who really enjoyed the process. Eddie probably had to carve a number of potatoes as wee sent out a lot of cards!   This was done because although Bob could no longer sign his name as he had difficulty holding a pen, he could absolutely push down on the carved half-potato!"

Thought some of you might want a better look at one of the photos. Bob Wilson and Arlen Wilson at an Italian restaurant in Capitola, photo by Bastian.

Note: I originally wrote that Rasa took the wall photo; he did not (see photo) so I've corrected the post.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Harlan Ellison has died

Sad news for old time science fiction fans (such as me): Harlan Ellison has died. So many memories this brings back, such as when my copy of F&SF arrived in the mail with "The Deathbird" on the cover, and times I heard  him speak at SF conventions.

And also at my alma mater. When I was a student at the University of Oklahoma in the 1970s, my friends and I formed a science fiction club, and we applied for money from the student government to bring in speakers. We brought in Robert Silverberg and Jerry Pournelle and Roger Zelazny, but the writer who drew the biggest crowd was Ellison. My old friend Richard Newsome says this was in 1977.

I was in the car that picked him up at the airport in Oklahoma City to bring him to Norman. When we got to Norman, we passed by a car in a ditch. Ellison suggested we get out and push it out. Most of the others in the car were not enthusiastic, but Ellison insisted, so we got out and pushed it out. That was Ellison: When he made up his mind about something, he did it.

The night before we spoke we had a party in his honor, and somebody (not me) asked him if he had read  Illuminatus! and liked it. He had and he did. He said it was funny.

Here is the LA Times obituary.

I nominated Ellison for the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2009. He finally won the award in 2015, and made a gracious acceptance video. (When it was time to present the award at Marcon, there was some kind of technical problem that prevented us from showing the video, so instead I read from a transcript of his remarks.)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jesse Walker wins an award

Jesse Walker (in Kalyves, Crete, checking out a possible Illuminati symbol). Facebook photo. 

Jesse Walker has won a Southern California Journalism article for his excellent article "The Indestructible Idea of the Basic Income."  If you missed it earlier, maybe read it now.

I blogged about this earlier, explaining how this relates to Robert Anton Wilson's ideas. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

When PKD met RAW -- D. Scott Apel weighs in

Philip K. Dick 

Back in 2012, I put up a blog post about the time that Philip K. Dick met Robert Anton Wilson,  at Octocon II, a science fiction convention in Santa Rosa, Calif., in October 1978. 

D. Scott Apel has now weighed in with his own memories of the event, disputing certain facts reported by other parties. You should go back to my original blog post to get everything, but for your convenience, here is the account Scott recently at my blog entry:

Scott Apel said...
My my, how peoples' memories play tricks on them! In the interest of historical accuracy: I attended Octocon II in Santa Rosa in 1978, accompanying my friend Robert Anton Wilson and to perform some interviews. Phil Dick showed up uninvited--hardly as a GoH--simply because he was living in Santa Rosa at that time with a lovely woman named Joan Simpson. Kevin Briggs, my late friend and collaborator ("Science Fiction: An Oral History") and I had interviewed Phil a few months earlier, and I brought him up to Bob Wilson's room and introduced them. (The full story, including RAW's take on the event, can be found in my book "Philip K. Dick: The Dream Connection." The book also contains a very funny story of how we introduced Phil to Leigh Brackett that weekend.) While the esteemed editor David Hartwell might recall a party in his hotel room that ended up with RAW and PKD, I recall the events very differently: the PKD/RAW meeting was private, save for Briggs and me; Hartwell may be thinking of a party I attended that ended up with PKD and Theodore Sturgeon deeply in conversation--a conversation that began with Ted saying to Phil "I've waited 15 years to have this conversation with you..." In our interview with Ted later that same day, he explained, "It was a fascinating experience, when you three [Phil, Briggs and me] walked in here and I launched into this." Hope this clears up a few of the misconceptions in previous correspondents' recollections of the event.

Incidentally, the book Scott mentions is quite good. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A 'Finnegans Wake' Pantheon

Two Finnegans Wake fans mentioned in PQ's piece: Joseph Campbell and Jean Erdman, in 1939 or so.

PQ has a new blog post up, The Pantheon of FINNEGANS WOKE (or Why Read Finnegans Wake? Testimonials from Famous Wakeans) which chronicles the various famous writers, musicians, critics etc. who have been fans of James Joyce's book. Robert Anton Wilson is one of the writers cited, and in fact part of an interview with RAW inspired PQ to write the paper that he turned onto a blog post. PQ is inviting folks to add others in the comments, and I've already chipped in.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A few questions for Brenton Clutterbuck

Brenton Clutterbuck

Brenton Clutterbuck's Chasing Eris describes  his journey around the world to meet other Discordians. The book features a foreword by John Higgs and an afterword by Professor Cramulus.

Buy it here.

A few questions for Brenton: You wrote in "Chasing Eris" about your journey to connect with Discordians around the world. How far did you travel? Did you journey start in Australia?

Brenton Clutterbuck: I did start in Australia - I was living out in the middle of nowhere when I started the work, but I had friends and family in Brisbane, where Dr Jon Swabey resides. He was responsible for the Apocrypha Discordia which I kind of think is a really nice place to point to as the turning point from 'traditional' Discordianism to 'contemporary' Discordianism, in terms of texts. The journey went Brisbane - USA - Brazil - Argentina - Back to Aus - England - Scotland - Ireland - Finland - Poland - Germany - The Netherlands - Home. How did you get the idea to "chase Eris"? Was it hard to explain what you were doing to your friends and family, or did they understand?

Brenton Clutterbuck: It was a bit of a challenge to explain to friends and family, but 'it's a writing project' tended to suffice. I do have a knack for helping someone understand what Discordianism is in 20 seconds of less after quite a bit of practice. The idea came from a real mix of things.
- I was lost in what I was doing at the time and needed to do something dramatically different so I didn't go mad.
- I had read some Seth Godin and was really into the idea that finding an exciting niche was an excellent approach to making something exciting the people want.
- I was also really into Art of Memetics, and it has the idea that you could make an Egregore out of a group of people who shared an experience - and thought that visiting people could be that experience.
- I wanted to travel.
There were probably other reasons that came and went over time, but these were the ones that led me to START the process, and from there the process kind of felt like it wanted to do its own thing.

Brenton Clutterbuck with his Chihuahua friend, Tiny Tim. Having seen the (Discordian) world, where do you live now? Are you back in Australia? 

Brenton Clutterbuck: I am back in Australia, in Far North Queensland, where I teach English and Japanese. It's a bit of a less frantic pace here. After the big trip I was wanting to put down roots to build something longer term - my partner and I here host regular events, including a poetry based open mic for a few years. Meeting all of these Discordians, who was the person who seemed, at least at first, to be the most "normal"? 

Brenton Clutterbuck: I have no calibration for normal any more. Everyone I meet, especially the 'normal people' seem deeply weird. I met people into aliens and Illuminati theory, low key running cults, practicing Magick, but aren't most cultural practices as least AS weird as any of that?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Robert Shea on how to write well

Robert Shea

Martin Wagner kindly sent me several letters Robert Shea wrote to SRAFederation Bulletin, put out by the Social Revolutionary Anarchist Federation. I thought this letter, in which Shea offers advice on how to write well, might be of general interest. This is from Bulletin No. 54; I don't have a date. -- The Mgt.  


Dear SRAFriends,

Regarding the problem of anarchists communicating with non-anarchists, which has been discussed by Bill Hall and Bob Wilson, I agree with Wilson that short sentences and limited vocabulary, a la Rudolph Flesch, do not represent the answer. For one thing, I don't think our communications should be aimed at some mythical entity known as the masses, who are presumed to be able to understand only Dick-and-Jane sentences. As a professional writer and editor, I've long believed that the best way to communicate is to be yourself. If you're a working stiff don't try to write like an intellectual. If you're an English professor, don't try to write blue-collar prose. Write it the way it naturally comes out, and you will find the audience that understands and appreciates the way you write -- or they will find you.

Much of the anarchist writing I've found is natural and makes good reading, especially compared to the dreary Marxoid shit that passes for prose on much of the left or the imitations of Ayn Rand and Russell Kirk that one sees on the right. I would venture the generalization that anarchists tend to be better writers than socialists or archist libertarians because their heads are freer. Inner mental freedom has a lot to do with good writing.

For anyone who wants to improve their writing, I would recommend the essay "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell, which should be available in any well-stocked public or university library. It's one of the best essays on writing, especially political writing, I've ever read. Orwell gives six rules for writing that is free of crap and that communicates honestly what we mean to say: "i) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do. iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active. v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous."

Thomas Jefferson was a lifelong politician and slave-owner, but I believe we can learn something about writing from him. What he said about drafting the Declaration of Independence could apply to a lot of polemical writing, including arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things that have never been said before, "but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor  yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion."

Both Jefferson and Orwell strove for simplicity and clarity, but neither, I think, would submit his work to a readability scoring.

Bob Shea

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Oz Fritz on Pale Fire and 'books that blow your head off'

Oz Fritz has an entry on his blog about "Pale Fire: Books That Blow Your Head Off." 

The phrase about exploding books is taken from a passage written by Robert Anton Wilson. Oz writes, "I have always granted certain books great power.  I would carry them around with me wherever I went believing that I could continue absorbing their contents by osmosis through the proximity of their physical corpus.  I fully resonate with the quote I heard somewhere that 'great books are monasteries.'I like to live in these monasteries for periods of time, absorbing their program then moving on.

"For  about two to three months a year from the ages of 15 - 17 The Lord of the Rings was my constant companion.  This book had the effect of greatly broadening my vision beyond human society's consensual reality, norms and assumptions feeling new neural pathways opening up."

Illuminatus! would be the most obvious example of such a book for me. Lord of the Rings was an important book for me, too, when I was a teenager. (I still like it now, too).

Oz then goes on to discuss Pale Fire in connection with his theory, also discussed by his comments to the recent book discussion group here, that "Pale Fire functioned as a multi-level didactic experiment of an esoteric/transformational nature; magick and bardo training as the Department of Redundancy Department might put it."

Oz also talks about synchronicities. As it happens, he talks about them in connection with a conversation he had with a woman from Sandusky, Ohio. I read his post as I was sitting in Sandusky, Ohio, at work. (Although since I was at work, I didn't get to read his post carefully until I was off duty.)

Oz promises to do a follow up post.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A talk by RAW

"How to tell Your Friends from the Apes," a lecture from Robert Anton Wilson that's an hour and half long, is new to me and was posted on YouTube a few months ago by Halvor Raknes. I thought it was pretty good. His description: "RAW's sensational lecture given at the Whole Life Expo. When? I don't know. By the recording quality (and a mention of Bush and Quayle) probably in the late 1980s." Much of it concerns the Eight Circuit model, but there's some material that was new to me.

For those you who find it more convenient to listen to this as an MP3 podcast, I've ripped it and posted a file. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A book about Buddhism

Robert Anton Wilson was interested in Buddhism and familiar with Buddhist philosophy, so perhaps a notable book about the topic that came out a few months ago would be interesting news for some of you. Robert Wright, who has studied Buddhist meditation of the Vipassana school (i.e., a relatively secular version of Theravada) argues that humans are "programmed" to think and act a certain way by natural selection, and meditation helps us become aware of the programming and to at least some extant set it aside. ("Programmed" is my term, not his, but I hope I don't mar his point). It's a quite interesting book; I listened to the audiobook version.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Another reason to buy Brenton Clutterbuck's book

John Higgs clutches Brenton Clutterbuck's new book. 

If you buy it, you get to read John Higgs' foreward! John Tweets, "Postman brings a long, long awaited copy of Brenton Clutterbuck's Chasing Eris, a global Discordian social study which I wrote a foreword for."

Speaking of John Higgs, he's about to put out another email newletter, so hurry up and sign up here. 

More here soon about Brenton's book. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A word about comments

Google's system for notifying bloggers that a comment has been posted that needs to be moderated appears to be seriously broken; it has not worked for a couple of weeks or more. So, instead of being emailed when a comment appears and being able to post it relatively quickly, I have to remind myself to check Blogger throughout the day and see if there are any pending comments that need to be posted. I have a full time job and other responsibilities. If it takes a little while for me to post your comment, please do not take it personally. The blog is just me, and I'm doing the best I can.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Antero Alli interviews RAW in bOING bOING

From the Danny Hellman illustration from bOING bOING

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

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

Excerpt from the interview:

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

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

'Beyond Psychedelics' conference in Prague

File under "The rehabilitation of Timothy Leary continues."

From a press release:

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

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

More information here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

'Missing' Joyce scholar is alive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

My interview with Marlis Jermutus

Marlis Jermutus' painting "Gravity." 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video about Marlis Jermutus made by Rasa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A question about a Shea novel

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Monday, June 11, 2018

Monday links

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

The History of James Joyce Music.

More on Nancy MacLean.

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

RIP Gardner Dozois. 

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

See the world from your computer

A stretch of road in Sweden at

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

Faro Mangiabarche in Italy, via Global Genie. 

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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Meme I liked

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

Video tribute to Timothy Leary

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

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

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A timeline for Discordian history

Adam Gorightly

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

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Keep it flying!

Keaton Patti (from his website)

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

The first page:


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


Just watch.

The man continues to saw.


Keep watching.

The man continues to saw. 


Any second now.

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

These teeth can stay! 

Whatever product makes that happen is never mentioned. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

RAW mentioned in article about "Roseanne"

Roseanne Barr (Creative Commons photo) 

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

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

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

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

Hat tip: @advantardeodus on Twitter.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Review: From Now to Now by Marlis Jermutus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Meme I liked

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

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

Saturday, June 2, 2018

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, June 1, 2018

Celebrate 'The Prisoner' with RAW

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

One bizarre paragraph from the Barb piece:

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