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

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review: 'Chasing Eris'

Despite some minor flaws, Chasing Eris by Brenton Clutterbuck is a really good book, and everyone reading this blog should hunt up a copy and read it.

Brenton, an Australian, discovers Discordianism and embarks on a globe-spanning Discordian Odyssey to "find the others." He meets an impressive cast of characters. Many of them were new to me, but the people he interviews or listens to also include Adam Gorightly, Robert Newport, Louise Lacey and John Higgs.

Many of his anecdotes are funny, or amazing, or both. He attends PantheaCon and the person he has arranged to interview hasn't arrived yet, "so I wander along to to a talk on Erotic Breathwork and within minutes am grabbing my crotch and touching the chest of a woman I've never met before."

One of the more interesting people he talks to is St. Mae, aka Autumn Tyr-Salvia. One passage describes how she and her friends decided to hold a "generic protest."

"So we had signs that said YES and signs that said NO and signs that said JUST HERE TO MEET GIRLS. Johnny Brainwash being an old veteran protester had a few fantastic slogans, 'A slogan! Repeated! Will never be defeated!' ... " (St. Mae's site mentioned in the book seems to be dead; has it moved?)

Much of the humor about the Discordian scene comes from Brenton's insider knowledge. A passage describes how a British newspaper column by David Holbrook, "Let Us Stop Being Polite About Pornography," condemned a performance of the stage version of Illuminatus! Holbrook did not refer to the play by name. Clutterbuck writes, "In case there is any doubt Holbrook was referring to the Illuminatus! play, the depiction he gives of the unnamed director coming onto stage and yelling, 'if more of you f-ing people would come to this f-king play we might be able to make enough money to put on more like it,' seems to be unambiguously Ken Campbell."

I was very impressed by Brenton's hard work. He starts his investigation of Discordianism by traveling in Australia. He then goes to the U.S., visiting folks in California, Portland, Austin, Houston, Nashville and Atlanta. He goes to Brazil and Argentina, then visits Europe for stops in the United Kingdom, Finland, Poland and Germany. He also obviously spent a great deal of time in other research, including reading online Discordian sites and reading documents provided to him from many sources.

The only criticism I can offer is that because the book is self published, it does have quite a few errors, and could stand some copyediting. None of these errors are fatal, but there are proper names that are wrong, other spelling errors, grammar errors and unclear geographical references, such as a chapter in Nashville that seems to largely take place in Atlanta, and a chapter where it's hard to decide at times if Louise Lacey is in Chicago or San Francisco. Perhaps Brenton could enlist his friends to help him find and stamp out these bugs, such as correcting the spelling of Hilaritas Press and Santa Ana, California.

There are a great many anecdotes about Robert Anton Wilson in the book, and anyone interested in the topics covered by this blog surely would enjoy it. The book includes a forward by John Higgs that makes a kind reference to this blog, and an "Afterfnord" by Professor Cramulus, aka Dan Comstock.

A couple of other reviews: Cat Vincent's review. Also, a review on Goodreads by Alden Loveshade.  

Buy the book here.  It works fine as an ebook, which I bought because it is cheaper; I read it on the Nook app on my phone.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

New 'Eris of the Month'

Adam Gorightly has posted a new Eris of the Month, and it's very striking so go check it out. 

I'm not posting the Eris art, because I want you to see Adam's post, but above is an illustration for the official website for the artist, Noriyoshi Ohrai.

Friday, September 28, 2018 on a libertarian SF novel

Cover of the first edition of The Probability Broach. surprised me by running an article praising The Probability Broach by libertarian SF novelist L. Neil Smith.

I've read several books by Smith, and it's pretty obvious he's heavily influenced by the Illuminatus! trilogy. I have not yet read The Probability Broach, which is often considered his best. The book won the Prometheus Award in 1982.

The article by SF fan Alan Brown is part of a series on "classic science fiction and fantasy books."

Brown writes:

The Probability Broach was his first novel, published by Del Rey books in 1980. The book takes its main character, a police detective named Win Bear, out of a dystopia with an oppressive government and thrusts him into an exciting alternate world that has very nearly dispensed with government altogether. Smith’s writing voice is witty, snarky, and entertaining, and there is always plenty of action to keep the story moving.

The book is available in various editions, and also as a graphic novel. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

RAW on Cardinal Spellman and sex

Another Martin Wagner discovery: "The Orgasm-Death Gimmick," published in the East Village Other in October 1966. It's written by "Kevin O’Flaherty MacCool," but as Martin says, it's likely RAW. It sure sounds like him.


"Sexual intolerance is the most fervid variety of intolerance. A crusading zeal comes over a man as soon as he finds the kind of ejaculation that suits him best. The faggots will never tire of trying to convert the rest of us. The monogamous repeat, like a litany, that promiscuity is 'immature.' The promiscous, on principle, want to drag every monogamous person into adultery."

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

John Higgs announces new book

John Higgs

John Higgs has announced the topic of his next book. The Future Starts Here: Adventures in the Twenty-First Century will be out in May.

He writes,

There are plenty of books making predictions about AI, VR, climate change, big data and so on, but because they do so from a twentieth century mindset they quickly fall into the trap of lemon-sucking disaster porn. If my book works as planned, it will reboot your assumptions about the future and leave you feeling far more positive and involved in the days ahead. If you’re familiar with my previous books, you’ll see how it couldn’t have been written without doing those earlier books first.

The twenty-first century will, I suspect, be a good test of the validity of what the author Jeremy Lent calls cognitive history. This is the study of how ideas shape history – as he puts it, “culture shapes values and those values shape history”. This notion is of great interest to me because before I read Jeremy Lent I never really knew how to describe my books or what I do. I now realise that all my non-fiction books are attempts at cognitive history, so if it becomes accepted as a Genuine Thing that would help me a great deal. Yuval Noah Harari’s megaselling masterpiece Sapiens is another example of cognitive history, so it seems there’s an appetite for it.

More here. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Learn about David G. Hartwell

David G. Hartwell in 2006

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Week Seven

Composer Anton Webern

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

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

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

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

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

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

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

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

By John Keats

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Robert Anton Wilson on Edmund Wilson

Edmund Wilson

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

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

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

Saturday, September 22, 2018

RAW and the Australia rock scene

Rosa Maria

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

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

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

Hat tip, @advantardeodus on Twitter.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Oz Fritz on making a spiritual guide

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

John Clute on Wilson and Shea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Patricia Monaghan's 'Physics and Grief'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

H.P. Lovecraft, the Houdini connection

Harry Houdini in handcuffs in 1918.

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

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

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

H.P. Lovecraft in 1934

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

Hat tip, Ted Hand.

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

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Week Six

La Malincolia

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

By Eric Wagner, special guest blogger

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

David Yallop has died

David Yallop has died, at age 81.

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

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Dublin Worldcon

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

War on some drugs notes

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Timothy Leary TV series in the works

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

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

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

More here.

Thanks, anonymous person!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Status update — comment moderation

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

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

'Cordwainer Smith's' story

Cover of Galaxy, featuring a Cordwainer Smith story.

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


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

Via Supergee. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Kerman/Beethoven reading group, Week Five!

Beethoven in 1803, painted by Christian Horneman

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

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 9, 2018

More wild JFK probe information from Adam Gorightly

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

May I add a footnote? Adam writes,

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

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

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

Friday, September 7, 2018

RAW interviews Timothy Leary

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

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

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

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Beethoven at the Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner (from the museum's website) 

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

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

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Happy anniversary, NIck Herbert!

Nick Herbert (Creative Commons photo by Mr. Herbert)

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Happy Labor Day from Jack Parsons

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

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

Monday, September 3, 2018

Beethoven Quartets Kerman reading group, Week Four

Eric Wagner's music bookshelf

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

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger.

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

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

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

Saturday, September 1, 2018

'Final' Orson Welles movie to be released

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

More here.