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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Cat Vincent reviews 'Chasing Eris'

I have Chasing Eris by Brenton Clutterbuck on my phone and I've read the John Higgs introduction, but I won't have time to read it until I finish the second Robert Shea Saracen novel, Saracen: Holy War. In the meantime, though, the Daily Grail has published Ian "Cat" Vincent's well-written review, which finds minor flaws but also strongly recommends it. Excerpt:

"As is only fitting for a belief system full of grass roots activism, amateur publishing and a strong sense of the individual, his tale is wandering, subjective and a little ramshackle – but rarely in a way which detracts from a genuine fascination with, and affection for, the people and countercultures he found."

Buy it here.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Confluence wrapup

Bobby Campbell at Confluence.

I'm back in Ohio from Confluence, a science fiction convention in Pittsburgh that was my attempt to organize a "find the others" get together for RAW fans.

The idea, at least originally, was to put together an event that wasn't in California or Britain and could be attended by folks in the Midwest and East. 

I can't claim we attracted a large crowd of people. The effort was organized by Bobby Campbell, Gregory Arnott and myself (I was the original perpetrator). The convention declined most of my attempts to be included in the actual convention programming; I interviewed Prop Anon by Skype from my hotel room Friday, Saturday we met in a coffee shop for talks by Bobby and myself, Saturday night we met in my room for a presentation by Gregory, and Sunday (the only program presented by Confluence) Bobby presented for a convention event, where Gregory snapped the above photo.

We got one person, Jewel-e from the Robert Anton Fans on Facebook, for the Saturday event, and two people joined the three of us on Sunday. The convention's decision not to include any of the Saturday events meant that anyone could drive to Pittsburgh and attend our events for free, but apparently that wasn't much of a lure. 

But it was a great meet-up for Bobby, Gregory and I, none of whom had met in person before,  and we got some great audio recordings that will be posted soon. We liked Jewel-e and were pleased to meet her. 

I stayed in room 823 at the convention, combining I guess the 8 from the eight circuits model and the number 23, but the number was a coincidence. And we have five recordings, comforming to the Law of Fives, but that wasn't calculated, either.

I expect we'll release at least four audio recordings. The fifth is a bit problematic. It includes Bobby's take on the Eight Circuit model, which was very interesting. Unfortunately, the couple who showed up at the event felt compelled to comment at length during Bobby's presentation, and even use it as an excuse for political arguments. The resulting recording, one hour and 41 minutes long, includes pretty lengthy discussions on whether "Christian bakers" should be compelled with sell cakes to gays, the merits of Obama Care, and so on. Not sure what the fate of that recording will be. 

When I told my wife we spent much of our time at the convention giving lectures to each other, she said we were "nerds." In fact, I think the talks were pretty good, and I look forward to sharing them. Of course, when we weren't doing talks, we hung out and talked about RAW related topics: The brilliance of Michael Johnson, aspects of magick, Bobby's do-it-yourself artistic and publishing philosophy, and so on. Gregory and I came away with some wonderful Bobby prints of illustrations from the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles that we bought at the art show. I hung up one of mine when I got home Sunday night. 

This was the first SF con for them, so I tried to explain what a NESFA was, what hard science was. what a "con suite" did, and other unfamiliar terms. My thanks to Bobby, Gregory and Jewel-e for a fine weekend. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

More Confluence photos

Not a lot of hall costumes at Confluence, but I did run into the Wasp, from Marvel comics. I'll have audio available soon from the Confluence talks; in the meantime, here are some of the photos I took.

Apuleius Charlton and Bobby Campbell at the Primanti Brothers, apparently a Pittsburgh institution. I immediately wolfed down all of my sandwich. Apuleius and Bobby ate half of theirs and saved the other half. In completely unrelated news, I need to lose weight.

Jewel-e Anne, a RAW fan from southern Ohio who joined us at the coffee shop, and Bobby.

Bobby at the coffee shop. I gave the manager of the coffee shop a certificate of Discordian enlightenment; not sure what he made of it. I couldn't take photos when Apuleius gave his Saturday evening talk on RAW and magic, because I was using my phone to record the talk, then I forgot to snap photos when we talked afterward.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

At Confluence with the RAW fans

I'm at Confluence in Pittsburgh, where Bobby Campbell is exhibiting his interior illustrations for the Historical Illuminatus! books just republished by Hilaritas Press.  To protect the copyrights of the artists, photography inside the art show is not allowed, but I was given permission to take a photo at the entrance of the art show, and as you can see, Bobby's display is visible from the hallway. Bobby could not get to the convention right away, so Greg Arnott and I saw his display before Bobby did.

This is the artwork that Rasa posted at the Hilaritas Press announcement. Greg explained many of the symbols and details in Bobby's work to me, and pointed out the Ouroboros at the top of the picture.

Also Friday, I interviewed Propaganda Anonymous (with some help from Greg) on  Skype about his upcoming biography of Robert Anton Wilson. It was a meaty interview, lasting about an hour. I've made an MP3 audio file of the interview which I'll release soon.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Interview with Richard Powers

Something for people who like fiction: A new interview with Richard Powers! About books that he likes. And he endorses science fiction. "The more 10-foot reptilians who somehow speak English, the better." And he loves A.S. Byatt's Possession, a book I loved, too. (The "parallel lovers" plot in Possession echoes Powers' The Gold Bug Variations, which came first.) Thanks for spotting this, Supergee.

Off to Confluence.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

RAW on Crowley's 'Do What Thou Wilt'

Another discovery by Martin Wagner: Robert Anton Wilson's article which unpacks Aleister Crowley's famous (or infamous) credo, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." Rather than try to summarize it, I will simply point you to it.

If you follow Martin on Twitter, you can find out right away when he's posted a new discovery. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

RAW day celebrations

I celebrated RAW Day on Monday with my scoop on the editor who bought Illuminatus! but a lot of other people marked the day, too. Here are a few things that caught my eye, and I'm sure I missed plenty.

Rasa does lots of good memes, but I especially liked the above.

Eric Wagner posted this photo on Facebook Monday, writing, "Some of my Wilson and Leary books. Happy Maybe Day. Happy birthday Monica Lewinsky.

Rasa sent this out on Monday. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Find the others in PIttsburgh update

It's time to come to Pittsburgh and find the others! This weekend, in and near the Confluence SF convention. Here's an illustrated guide and update.

Friday: I will interview Prop Anon at 4 p.m. I can't give you a location yet, as I apparently will have to do so in my hotel room, but connect with me via social media (@jacksontom on Twitter) and I'll try to let you know when I know. Or try email: tom.jackson (at) Or if you know Bobby or Greg, contact them.

Saturday:  2-4 p.m. RAW coffee talk, with Bobby Campbell and me, details above. I will talk about Robert Shea. Bobby has two talks he can offer, one on his adventures illustrating "Historical Illuminatus" and one on the Kenneth Noid-Dominos Pizza incident.

9 p.m. -- Greg Arnott will talk about RAW and magic, in my hotel room. Exact location to be announced at the coffee event, or contact me via Twitter or email.

Sunday: 3 p.m., presentation by Bobby Campbell at the convention, "Living in a RAW World."

Art: The convention art show will feature Bobby Campbell's new illustrations for the three Historical Illuminatus Chronicles books just released by Hilaritas. Confluence is the only place to see Bobby's exhibition anywhere in North America in 2018.

The rest of the time you can hang out with us or enjoy what promises to be an excellent convention, featuring the prominent writer Catherynne Valente, Geoffrey Landis, Mary Turzillo and others.

Thanks to Bobby for the wonderful flyers.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Three Bobs and the origin of the Illuminatus! trilogy

Editor and author Bob Abel. (Photo courtesy of Mr. Abel's son, Doug Abel). 

Editors are in many cases the unsung heroes behind the literary classics that we love. Dune by Frank Herbert, for example, considered a classic and never out of print since it came out in 1965, was rejected by more than 20 publishers before Chilton, best known for automotive manuals, took a chance on it. Who was that forgotten editor?

I'd wondered for years who the editor was at Dell who decided to publish the Illuminatus! trilogy -- an odd literary work, written by two unknowns.

Well, now I know. You know who two of the "Bobs" are who were involved in Illuminatus! -- Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea -- but this article is about editor Robert "Bob" Abel (1931-1981), a former Dell Publishing Co. and Warner Books editor and former sidekick of Paul Krassner at The Realist. Abel, also a published author, was only 50 when he died and left behind literary agent Carole Abel and two young sons.

So Illuminatus! is really a story of three "Bobs." And without Bob Abel, there would have been no Illuminatus! Publishing that book launched the literary careers of both Wilson and Shea.

Abel was a friend of Robert Shea for many years, and it was this friendship that helped get Illuminatus! off the ground.  Shea mentions him in an interview by Neal Wilgus, published in the fanzine Outworlds (issues 28/29) in 1976:

Wilgus: Since you and Wilson were both editors at Playboy at the time ILLUMINATUS! was written, I'm wondering why Playboy Press didn't publish it. Or was that too close to home?

Shea: At the time we got the idea for ILLUMINATUS!, Playboy Press wasn't publishing original novels, and a very good friend of mine, Bob Abel, was an editor at Dell. I was looking for an opportunity to write paperback fiction, so I wrote Bob a letter briefly sketching about half a dozen ideas for books, of which a book about the Bavarian Illuminati was one. He thought that one had the most possibilities, so Wilson and I did three sample chapters and an outline and sent it in. On the strength of that we got a contract and began writing the book.

Abel had left Dell when it was time to edit Illuminatus! for publication, so Abel apparently did not work on the book. Two other Dell editors, Fred Feldman and David Harris, edited the manuscript and turned it into a trilogy of paperback originals, shaping it for publication and also making cuts that Wilson and Shea complained about.

But who was this "Bob Abel" who got the book published? After I found the Shea interview, I wanted to learn more. The New York Times published a brief obituary (three paragraphs) after Abel died. His widow, Carole, still lives in New York City and let me interview her, and his friend, Krassner, also answered my questions.

Carole Abel raised his two sons while making a living as a successful literary agent. She talked to me and faxed me copies of two of Abel's old resumes, as there is very little biographical information about him online.

Abel was an important player in New York City's publishing and literary scene, an author, an important book editor and and a trusted co-editor for Krassner at "The Realist."

Some of what he accomplished is largely unknown. According to Abel, it was her husband who really wrote The Happy Hooker, a bestselling call girl memoir by Xaviera Hollander.

"He wrote the book for her. And then they did a couple of other books. She was kind of a character," Carole Abel said.

Abel has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Connecticut, and a master's in journalism from Boston University. He moved to New York City and married Carole in 1959.

Bob Abel was an expert in American popular culture. He wrote The Beer Book and The Book of Beer (it's too bad he didn't get to see the rise of the craft beer movement) and edited two books of cartoons, The American Cartoon Album and (with David Manning White) The Funnies: An American Idiom.

"I got to know most of the New Yorker cartoonists," Carole Abel said.

Paul Krassner. (Creative Commons photo by Heidi De Vries.)

Abel's knowledge of cartoonists was helpful to Paul Krassner when Abel was Krassner's trusted assistant at "The Realist," Krassner's seminal publication. Abel was an editor at the publication, but Krassner didn't use normal editorial titles. Abel was "The Featherbedder."

Krassner explains, " 'Featherbedder' was his title among other staffers. For example, John Francis Putnam, the art director of MAD magazine, was 'Dirty Old Man.' My assistant, Jeannie Johnson, was my 'Scapegoat.' She became my 'Scapemate' when she became my first wife. Bob Abel and I became close friends in the process of his filled-with-variety contribution to The Realist. He brought in cartoonists who leaked with irreverence. Not to mention journalists and satirists alike, fake news in its time. Bob brought in clippings I missed that were essential for my pieces, and he also wrote a column of offbeat media. Although he worked at home, we had meetings at my East Side office loft, where he gave me thoughtful advice. Appreciation was the name of the game. Oh, yeah, and my title was 'Zen Bastard.' "

Abel and Shea both worked for magazines, so that may be how the two men knew each other and became friends. (As far as Krassner knows, Abel and Robert Anton Wilson did not know each other). Carole Abel recalls her husband working for "girlie" magazines, and Shea also worked for such magazines. Shea was an editor at "Cavalier" magazine and Abel contributed to it.
Abel was perhaps most prominent as a book editor.

He was senior editor for Dell Publishing from May 1968 to July 1972. He bought books not just for Dell Books but for the company's Delta and Delacorte Press divisions. Aside from acquiring Illuminatus!, he published books such as The Happy Hooker, Scientology: The Now Religion (a groundbreaking expose by George Malko that drew the cult's wrath) and Saint Abortionist: The Legend of Dr. Spencer by Paul Krassner.

As executive editor at Warner books from 1972 to 1975, Abel put out paperback reprints of books such as All the President's Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and The Palace Guard by Dan Rather and Gary Paul Gates. As editor-in-chief for Manor Books in 1977 and 1978, he created a line of historical fantasies, "Time/Past Editions," about which I've been able to learn little.

At the time of his death, Abel was involved in various freelance ventures and was editorial director of Harvey, a new men's magazine he had helped create.

Who knows what else Bob Abel would have been able to accomplish, or if he would have played a role again in the careers of Wilson or Shea? He died young, from cancer. His death occurred on Dec. 21, 1981, according to a brief obituary in the New York Times, and he was only 50. He had been quite sick for about two years.

He left behind two young sons, Douglas and David, and his wife, Carole Abel, who raised the boys and had a successful career as a literary agent, from which she is now mostly retired. She handled books such as The Spirituality of Imperfection, which is still in print, and many books in the "Idiot" series. One of the sons, Douglas, is a film editor who at the time of this posting was working on a project with Michael Moore.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Intelligent dolphins and Illuminatus!

Part Two of "Days of the Dolphin: Cetaceans in Cold War Science and Science Fiction" by Michael Grasso has posted at the We Are the Mutants website, and there's quite a bit of discussion of Illuminatus! Sample:

Another, altogether more playful tale of conspiracy involving intelligent dolphins came in 1975 with the publication of the Illuminatus! trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Illuminatus! could be considered a grab-bag of all the esoteric, political, and historical conspiracies that were bubbling up by the middle of the 1970s, and thus the inclusion of a super-intelligent dolphin named Howard, who’s able to communicate in English thanks to the invention of a seemingly mad, charismatic technological genius (Hagbard Celine), seems not too out of place. In fact, it’s the role that Howard the dolphin plays in the trilogy that’s really interesting. He and his dolphin allies are constantly portrayed as more advanced and evolved than the brutish apes on the surface, who are rushing to “immanentize the Eschaton.” Howard and Celine spar over their respective species’ cultural development. The authors put the provocative (and Lilly-ian) idea in the mouth of Howard that perhaps humans aren’t as advanced as they think they are ...

More here. 

Part Three offers more about John Lilly and mentions Robert Anton Wilson again. Lilly had paranoid visions of being contacted by higher intelligence that were similar to those of Philip K. Dick and RAW.

Hat tip, Jesse Walker.

BTW, here's part of the blurb for the We Are the Mutants website:

"We Are the Mutants is a weekly updated magazine focusing on the history and analysis of Cold War-era popular and outsider culture, with a strong emphasis on speculative (sci-fi, fantasy, horror), genre, pulp, cult, occult, subculture, and anti-establishment media. We cover everything from underground comics and post-apocalyptic fictions to ufology tropes and space disco."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Kerry Thornley article unearthed

Kerry Thornley

Adam Gorightly has found yet another Kerry Thornley piece, "Reprogram Yourself for Freer Swinging." from a newsletter that also has a story by Ray Nelson, the science fiction writer.
"We live in an era of accelerating change," Thornley writes. "Some of us have a harder time adjusting than others do."

Adam has written two books on Thornley, both of them interesting: 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.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

More Oz Fritz on 'Pale Fire'

Sound engineer Oz Fritz in the recording studio. 

Oz Fritz posts part two of his blog article about Nabokov's Pale Fire. Oz shares my interest in coincidences and synchronicities:

Picking up Pale Fire, I was immediately reminded of the death of my father by the amusement park sounds mentioned on the first page.  The death of my father had an incredibly strong impact on me.  The reading of Pale Fire coincided with my body turning the exact age my father was when he died.   This brought the memory of his death into sharper focus to the point where I felt it in my body.  Like Nabokov, my father and I shared the same first and last names.

Nabakov valorizes coincidences in Pale Fire, I am valorizing them here.  The value of coincidences is that they can communicate information and instruction to your evolving self. Synchronicities and coincidences can be considered a pale fire for your spiritual growth.

More here. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Publishing news: Fly Agaric, Brenton Clutterbuck

Steve "Fly Agaric" Pratt has a new book of poetry out, Passport to Brexit (cover above.)

Here's a bit he Tweeted out:

....Analytica Octopus slime reaching
spies politicians, intelligence
big-data companies
let’s tie up the tentacles
contain it
before it crawls up

our leg
and like a deleted scene from Alien....

Meanwhile, Brenton Clutterbuck reports that the paperback of his Chasing Eris is available again.  And you can also buy the new ebook. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: John Higgs' 'Watling Street'

John Higgs' book about Britain's past and present, Watling Street, came out last year, and so I am late in talking about it, although in one sense I am right on time: The paperback and audiobook have just come out. In any event, it's a very good book. (It was not published in the U.S., but Americans can order it from websites such as and The Book Depository.)

Watling Street is a very old road that runs from the cliffs of Dover across the island into northern Wales, and Higgs travels down it, writing about the history of places along the road. Higgs goes back to some very old history but also discusses fairly recent events (there's a chapter on Bletchley Park, of World War II code-breaking fame, although disappointingly he doesn't mention Neal Stephenson), but it's not all about history. There's also meaty chapters about two writers that many RAW fans like, Alan Moore and Steve Moore.

Higgs gives a shout out to RAW fans by using the number 23 over and over again, but many of the topics he discusses (the arbitrariness of boundaries, how landowners got their land, the workings of privilege) show what I detect to be the influence of Wilson's thoughts on such matters, and Wilson is mentioned in Higgs' acknowledgements.

At one point in the book, Higgs mentions that cockfighting was outlawed in Britain in 1835. In Oklahoma, the state I lived in for most of my life, it was only outlawed in 2002. (John Monks, a Democratic state lawmaker from Muskogee, was famous for saying that the first things Communists do when they take over a country is outlaw cockfighting.) So if my math is correct, Oklahoma is 167 years behind Britain in terms of social consciousness. Many people in Oklahoma probably would have to admit that is about correct.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The next reading groups

The next online reading group discussion here will be Eric Wagner, leading us through a discussion of Joseph Kerman's book, The Beethoven Quartets.  Of course, we'll be listening to music, too. Eric plans to provide his first weekly piece on August 6, with the group starting work on August 13, and then running for 18 weeks through December 10.

It might be time to make sure you can get your hands on the book, and the ability to listen to all of the quartets; I have put the book on hold at my local library and I've been downloading recordings. If your local library has a music service such as Freegal or Hoopla, you should have no trouble listening to all of the quartets.

Perhaps it's also time to talk about reading groups beyond Eric's. It seems to be we ought to consider going through the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, now that all three books have been republished by Hilaritas. This year is pretty much spoken for with Eric's discussion group, but how about if we go through those novels in 2019?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

'Chasing Eris' now an ebook

Brenton Clutterbuck's Chasing Eris, about his encounters with Discordians around the world, is now available as an ebook. I just bought my copy. It's in the Epub format, which can be read by a variety of apps on your phone, tablet, computer, etc. Access to the paperback version on Lulu has been taken down for a few days so Brenton can fix a couple of mistakes, but it will return soon. Don't forget that the book includes an introduction by John Higgs.

Brenton has composed a poem to celebrate publication of the ebook:

Chasing Eris is now live in Zeroes and Ones

You can fnord in the morning
You can fnord in the night
You can fnord when you want to fnord

You can fnord in the morning
You can fnord in the night
You can fnord on the Internet

Yes you can fnord on the Internet
Don't forget you can get
Without sadness or regret
Without getting all upset
Or pissing off your favourite pet
Or shooting down a fighter jet
Or stealing precious amulets

Saturday, July 14, 2018

What's next for Hilaritas?

With the release of the three "Historical Illuminatus Chronicles" books by Hilaritas Press, the publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust, I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look at how they've done so far, and what's up next.

Here is the list of planned publications on the publisher's home page:

1 ~ Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati (1977)
2 ~ Prometheus Rising (1983)
3 ~ Quantum Psychology (1990)
4 ~ Email to the Universe (2005)
5 ~ Coincidance: A Head Test (1988)
6 ~ The Earth Will Shake (1982)
7 ~ The Widow’s Son (1985
8 ~ Nature’s God (1988)
9 ~ Cosmic Trigger II: Down to Earth (1992)
10 ~ Cosmic Trigger III: My Life After Death (1995)
11 ~ Sex, Drugs and Magick: A Journey Beyond Limits (1988)
12 ~ The New Inquisition (1986)
13 ~ Ishtar Rising (1989)
14 ~ Reality Is What You Can Get Away With (1992)
15 ~ Wilhelm Reich in Hell (1987)
16 ~ The Walls Came Tumbling Down (1997)
17 ~ TSOG: The Thing That Ate the Constitution (2002)
18 ~ Natural Law, or Don’t Put a Rubber on Your Willy (1987)
19 ~ Chaos and Beyond (1994

I've boldfaced the books that have come out so far, and as you can see, Rasa is making good progress. I'm excited to see that Cosmic Trigger II:  Down to Earth is coming up next, as it's a particular favorite of mine. As you can see, definitive editions of some quite interesting books will be out soon.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Find the others in Pittsburgh the last weekend of July

Time to find the others? Here's an update on Confluence, the science fiction convention in Pittsburgh at the end of July, where I can guarantee you'll meet at least three hardcore RAW fans: Bobby Campbell, Greg Arnott and myself. Confluence (July 27-29) [link] is a well-run science fiction convention that has been around for years; the main writer guest of honor, Catherynne Valente, is considered a major figure. I just finished the audiobook of her interesting and unusual novel, Radiance.

I asked the convention if we could have a panel discussion devoted to Robert Anton Wilson, and a few hours in one of the rooms for some RAW programming. My panel request ultimately was rejected. The only official time the convention offered was a slot at 3 p.m. Sunday.

So here are how things are shaking out at this point; much of the RAW programming will be unconnected to the convention, which means that anyone who makes their way to Pittsburgh can take part, without having to buy a convention membership:

Bobby Campbell will have an art show at the convention of his interior illustrations for the new Hilaritas Press editions of the Historical Illuminatus books. It's the only place this year to see the art in North America (please see the flyer below). You will have to have a convention membership to see it and to attend his Sunday talk. 

At 4 p.m. Friday, I will interview Prop Anon via Skype about his new biography of Robert Anton Wilson. I'll probably do this from my hotel room, figuring out some way to let people know the room number via Twitter direct message or text message once I find out. Friday night, Greg and I will likely get together for dinner and drinks at some convivial location, and any other RAW fans in town are invited to join us.

I have reserved space from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Anchor and Anvil Coffee Bar in Coraopolis (the same town in Pennsylvania where the convention is being held); I plan to give a presentation on Robert Shea, and Bobby Campbell has a couple of presentations he can offer, one on his adventures illustrating "Historical Illuminatus" and one on the Kenneth Noid-Dominos Pizza incident.

Saturday night there will be another gathering, probably in a hotel room, and Greg will give a couple of talks, one on RAW as a magician, and one on how RAW's views on marijuana prophesied the wave of legalization sweeping the country. Sunday will feature Bobby's talk.

There should be other opportunities to get together for coffee, meals, etc. I do plan to attend some convention programming, as time permits. 

I had a Skype conference call with Bobby and Greg and they both said lots of interesting things. More than an hour flew by before I had to leave to do my chores (my cat was biting me to remind me it's time for his snack). They've both promised to save some of their best thoughts for Pittsburgh, so if you don't show up, you're fucked.

Flyer for Bobby's art show, exclusive (in this hemisphere) to Confluence. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Supergee on 'The Earth Will Shake'

[Continuing the gala celebration over the publication of the Hilaritas Press editions of The Historical Illuminatus books, here's Arthur Hlavaty's review of The Earth Will Shake from "New Libertarian" Volume 4, Number 13 from April 1985. Thank you to Martin Wagner for sharing it with me. and to Mr. Hlavaty for giving me the go-ahead to share this with you. -- The Mgt.]

New Illuminatus! book!

The Earth Will Shake by Robert Anton Wilson 

Reviewed by Arthur D. Hlavaty

It has been said that the writings of Robert Anton Wilson encourage paranoia. That's at best an oversimplification, but those who believe it are not entirely mistaken, for two reasons:

1 Wilson's writings encourage new ways of looking at the world, seeing patterns which are not obvious to others, and while this sort of thinking can lead to scientific breakthroughs and brilliant new literary approaches, it is also found in paranoids. 

2 The publication history of Wilson's writings, from the five-year delay of Illuminatus! to the present, is enough to raise the possibility of Sinister Forces trying to keep the words from the eyes of the public. (On the other hand, those writings also remind us that we should be wary of blaming on conspiracy that which can more simply and convincingly be attributed to incompetence.)

The work at hand continues that lamentable tradition. The Earth Will Shake was published in hardcover, late in 1982, by J.P. Tarcher. At least, they said they published it. I suspect they released it on a need-to-know basis. Living in a university town, with several good bookstores besides the college bookstore, I never saw a copy for sale and had to go up to New York to purchase it. People all over the country reported similar difficulties. But now, a few months after the announced publication date (of course), there is a paperback edition available. I've seen it.

Is it worth the wait? You bet. Like all of Wilson's prior fiction, alone and in collaboration, it offers the interest of complex ideas, entertainingly worked out. More than that, it represents a major improvement in literary merit. It opens with a stunning scene of a murder at High Mass, in which the images of Transubstantiation and Mystical Presence mix with the physical fact of sudden and violent death. The characters, though similar to those in earlier Wilson books, are more fully developed and rounded than ever before. The scene -- 18th-century Italy, with its complex mazes of theological and Enlightenment speculation, revolutionary movements and conspiracies -- is richly delineated.

My one caveat would be that the book is, as indicated on the cover, the first of a series, and thus is somewhat incomplete and openended. Other than that, I recommend the book unreservedly. -- ADH


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bobby Campbell on the Historical Illuminatus books

The above is one of Bobby Campbell's arresting new illustrations from the new edition of The Widow's Son, one of the three "Historical Illuminatus" books that have just been published by Hilaritas Press, the publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust.

Bobby has now written a new article on how to came to do the new illustrations, and there is also new information in the piece that I've never seen anywhere else about Robert Anton Wilson's literary influences as he wrote he first novel in the trilogy.

Bobby notes that  the same week he was listening to an audiobook version of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he noticed a very similar scene from Wilson in The Earth Will Shake about "Sigismundo Celine being indoctrinated into the Catholic version of hell."

When Bobby raised the matter in a Maybe Logic Academy online course being taught by Wilson, Wilson wrote “No writer ever knows consciously all the influences on his work
but I did know the influence of Portrait of the Artist on Earth Will Shake & two others you didn’t mention: Huckleberry Finn by Twain and Intruder in the Dust by Faulkner. Replace religious bigotry with racism and you’ll see the Mississippi/Napoli parallel."

Wilson also wrote, "Huck Finn decides that even if hell exists, he’d rather go there than send Jim back to slavery, the most moving scene in American literature to me; I can’t even write this brief summary of it without tears coming. Siggy makes a similar choice I’m not as good a writer as Twain.”

Bobby's illustrations from the book will be displayed in the art show at Confluence, the SF convention being held in Pittsburgh July 27-29. Bobby will be at the convention, and so will Greg Arnott and myself. More on that soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

HIstorical Illuminatus books released!

The RAW Trust and Hilaritas Press have announced the release of all three of Robert Anton Wilson's "Historical Illuminatus!" books, in print and as ebooks: The Earth Will Shake, The Widow's Son and Nature's God. 

All three feature beautiful new covers by Scott McPherson and wonderful new illustrations by Bobby Campbell (about which more tomorrow). And the marketing features this quote:

"Against the epic backdrop of the French and American revolutions, the inimitable RAW lays bare the secret history of the Enlightenment, while almost casually re-inventing the historical novel in the process. The result is a heady, psychedelic brew of satire, intrigue, magic, high adventure and life-changing philosophy, seasoned with the wry, compassionate humanism which is Wilson's trademark. Astonishing and unforgettable."

Grant Morrison, New York Times best-selling author, Comics Legend,
Chaos Magician, creator of The Invisibles and other great graphic novels

Full announcement here.  I've linked the purchasing pages of the books to their titles above.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dolphins and John Lilly

John Lilly

Days of the Dolphin: Cetaceans in Cold War Science and Science Fiction (Part One) by Michael Grasso does not get around to giving examples of dolphins in science fiction. We have to wait for the sequel, which Grasso promises to offer soon. But his summary of the research of John Lilly leaves little doubt in my mind that Lilly's writings helped inspire the character of Howard the dolphin in Illuminatus! Lilly and RAW were mutual admirers, so I was interested in Grasso's piece. 

Thanks to Jesse Walker for calling my attention to the piece. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

RAW's guided meditation and piece on Proudhon

Martin Wagner's Robert Anton Wilson Archives site has uncovered a guided meditation that RAW wrote. In the piece, published in The Witches‘ Almanac: Aries 1976 to Pisces 1977, Wilson suggests recording the piece and then playing it back while sitting "relaxed but alert." I'll record it and give it a try.

Martin also has uncovered an earlier piece, "Proudhon’s Economics: Socialism without Tyranny." Proudhon is mentioned in the appendix of Illuminatus! The firat paragraph:

Benjamin Tucker considered The General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century Proudhon’s best book—“the most wonderful of all the wonderful books of Proudhon”—and he may well have been right in that judgment. Like many of the greatest works of the last century this “most wonderful book” comes to us from a prison cell: a fact which is probably far from insignificant. It is not without cause that the letters of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the Pisan Cantos of Ezra Pound, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” Nietzsche’s Antichrist, the best poems of Antonin Artaud, Van Gogh’s two or three greatest canvases, Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, and several other of the most significant cultural products of this age, were produced by men who were at the time unwilling “guests of the State.” Nor is it idle to note that some time has been served (unproductively, alas!) by Ford Madox Ford, Nijinsky, Seymour Krim, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jim Peck, and almost everybody else worth a damn as a serious thinker or artist. It is getting to the point where, as Eustace Mullins noted in his biography of Ezra Pound, lack of a police or psychiatric record is looked on, by avante garde, as a sign that a man has sold out.

According to Martin, this was published in" Way Out" in September 1962. It must have been about the time Wilson was arrested and briefly jailed in a civil rights protest in Antioch, an incident he describes is Cosmic Trigger II.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sandusky, Ohio, a Freemason city

Above is the original plat for the city of Sandusky, Ohio, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. A Freemason named Hector Kilbourne laid out the city streets to reproduce the mason's compass and square design. Masons in Sandusky, where I work for the local newspaper, say Sandusky is the only city in the U.S. with a masonic street design. (More information from Mr. Kilbourne's lodge, which still exists.)

I had to work on Independence Day, covering events in Sandusky. That included the masons from Sandusky's Science Lodge 50 holding a ceremony to dedicate two cornerstones that will mark the 200th anniversary of the city, and their lodge. Ohio Grand Master mason, Rick Schau, a 33rd degree mason from Springfield, is the guy in the top hat.  I snapped a picture.

I talked with the masons after the ceremony, and along with my other questions, I pointed out that Sandusky had early German settlers. I asked if there's any indication that members of the Bavarian Illuminati had settled here. They said they didn't know anything about that.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

More basic income news

An academic I've long admired, Michael Munger, has a new book out that discussed the gig economy and makes a case for the basic income. The book is Tomorrow 3.0:
Transaction Costs and the Sharing Economy. Here is the description from Cambridge University Press:

With the growing popularity of apps such as Uber and Airbnb, there has been a keen interest in the rise of the sharing economy. Michael C. Munger brings these new trends in the economy down to earth by focusing on their relation to the fundamental economic concept of transaction costs. In doing so Munger brings a fresh perspective on the 'sharing economy' in clear and engaging writing that is accessible to both general and specialist readers. He shows how, for the first time, entrepreneurs can sell reductions in transaction costs, rather than reductions in the costs of the products themselves. He predicts that smartphones will be used to commodify excess capacity, and reaches the controversial conclusion that a basic income will be required as a consequence of this new 'transaction costs revolution'.

Here is a review.  He also discusses basic income in this podcast, which I'll listen to when I finish my current audiobook.

Also, a New Yorker article on basic income, which references several recent books, including the Annie Lowrey book I mentioned earlier. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Article on 'Prometheus Rising'

"More than just a generic self-help or pop-psychology text, Prometheus Rising is invaluable reading for any student of self-advancement, and alchemical theurgy, although everyone will enjoy and benefit from reading this work."

So says Ansir, in a new piece at the Dark Fragment blog. 

One quibble: Why not post the cover for the authorized Hilaritas Press edition?

Monday, July 2, 2018

Book notes

I have just finished reading Robert Shea's The Saracen: Land of the Infidel. It is a morally complex and very vivid historical novel, set in 13th century Italy. It ends with an exciting cliffhanger. In this post, I explained how to get it and Shea's other novels as free ebook downloads.

I will soon read the sequel, The Saracen: Holy War, but first I am finally reading John Higgs' Watling Street. It discusses the history of Britain, focusing upon a very old road that runs from Dover to north Wales.

I am not far into it, but this paragraph feels like a key:

We have a choice of histories in these islands. Those that are focused on royal houses or social movements are inherently political. Accounts that begin with military victories, such as the Roman or Norman Conquest, follow a victor's script. Watling Street is more neutral, because a road does not care what those who travel along it are planning. As a result, the history of this particular road tells a story quite unlike the histories we are used to. 

There seems to be a quiet shoutout early on to Robert Anton Wilson fans. Higgs notes in the Introduction that as he walks along a road in Milton Keynes on the day of the summer solstice, 23,000 people are gathered in Stonehenge. He notes that Milton Keynes has a population of 230,000. And on the first page of the first chapter, he mentions that is in a tunnel in Dover, 23 meters below the surface.