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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A bit of Steve Fly news

Steve Fly (when he was even younger) with Robert Anton Wilson. 

Steve "Fly Agaric" Pratt has released his second newsletter to his Patreon supporters (such as me). Here is a bit of RAW news from Steve:

Robert Anton Wilson.

There are a multitude of projects in orbit right now, all directly related to works by Robert Anton Wilson, and the man himself. I'm very excited and optimistic these will all blow your socks off. I hope to revisit the website I co-produced with Chu in 2012: and update one of the world’s first hand-drawn 360 degree virtual environments to include ll the fresh links.

There's also news about music, a new set of Tarot cards Steve is developing, and more. 

Bobby Campbell also has a Patreon account.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

My Halloween reading, and RAW's

I like to read a bit of horror fiction during the Halloween season. This year, I'm reading a story collection, Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Vol. 2, edited by August Derleth, that's connected to Illuminatus! I bought it at Confluence, after Gregory Arnott spotted it in the dealer room and called it to my attention.

Gregory told me the book is mentioned in the appendix, and sure enough, it is, at the end of the appendices, in an entry on "George Dorn's older brother" who "had an adventure with talking dolphins before George did." The entry doesn't list which story, but it's "The Deep Ones" by James Wade.

There are other signs that Robert Anton Wilson read the book. Illuminatus! mentions an oddball "Starry Wisdom" church on the island of Fernando Poo. "The Haunter of the Dark" by H.P. Lovecraft in the Derleth anthology also has a Starry Wisdom church, and Robert Bloch's "The Shadow From the Steeple" also mentions Starry Wisdom, too. (Robert Shea was not particularly a Lovecraft fan; all of the Lovecraft references appear to come from Wilson).

By the way, the first story in the anthology, Bloch's "The Shambler from the Stars," kills a character who is apparently H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft returns the favor by killing "Robert Blake" in "The Haunter in the Dark."

Monday, October 29, 2018

Kerman/Beethoven reading group, Week 12

William Shakespeare (Chandos portrait)

Kerman Week 12 - Voice

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read chapter 7 (pg. 191 - 222) and listen to the fifth movement of Op. 130 (Cavatina), the first two movements of Op. 127, the fourth movement of Op. 131, and the third movement of Op. 135 over and over again. Please comment on this week’s reading/listening and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. Thank you for the terrific comments. One may model a study group of the Beethoven quartets as three study groups. We have entered the final study group.

Pg. 193 – Kerman quotes from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 107, although the two lines quoted
in the book get the line break wrong.

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul

        Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,

Can yet the lease of my true love control,

Suppos'd as forfeit to a confin'd doom.

The mortal moon hath her eclipse endur'd

And the sad augurs mock their own presage;

Incertainties now crown themselves assur'd

And peace proclaims olives of endless age.

Now with the drops of this most balmy time

My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,

Since, spite of him, I'll live in this poor rhyme,

While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes;

And thou in this shalt find thy monument,

When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.

    Shakespeare seems to describe downloading his consciousness into poetry and evading death when he says, “Since, spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rhyme”.

Kerman calls this chapter “Voice”. I wonder if Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice would help one in understanding it. (Did Ultron build another android called the Voice?)

Pg. 197 – Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin? comes from Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio.

Pg. 199 – The Sonata in A flat refers to the piano sonata Op. 110.

Pg. 218 – The measure which Kerman praises so highly comes ten bars from the end of the second movement of Op. 127.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Saturday, October 27, 2018

J. Neil Schulman's 'Fractal Man'

Libertarian SF writer J. Neil Schulman has a new book out, The Fractal Man. Published as an ebook, it's only 99 cents. I finished my copy a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.

The Fractal Man is an alternate worlds novel, featuring different versions of Schulman and his good friend, Samuel Edward Konkin III, a prominent libertarian figure who published many pieces by Robert Anton Wilson in his "New Libertarian" journal. Konkin also is mentioned at the beginning of Wilson's Natural Law, as the editor who published the original version of the piece, "intercut with a running commentary by himself, in the form of numerous footnotes attempting to rebut all my major points."

In our universe, Konkin died relatively young, age 56, in 2004. In Schulman's book, Schulman discovers that Konkin is still alive, when Konkin phones wondering why Schulman hasn't shown up to take the two to a SF convention.

The novel is essentially a series of amusing adventures as the two move from universe to universe, although underneath the comedy the book is rather poignant; Schulman is mourning his dead friend who died too young, and perhaps looking back at some of his own life choices.

The use of parallel universes recalls Schroedinger's Cat a bit, and in fact, RAW and the Cat trilogy  is name checked in the text. Looking at the possibilities implied by parallel universes, Schulman writes, "To me, this means the entirety of existence -- God and his fractals -- might as well be viewed as a multi-versal Schroedinger's Box -- and the Cat is whoever has the superposition to write the plot.

"I wish I could tell this joke to my old friend, Robert Anton Wilson.

"Or did he tell it to me?"

I asked Schulman via Facebook if he was in fact friends with Wilson. "Yes, I was friends in my real life with Robert Anton Wilson. He endorsed several of my books including Alongside Night and recommended my book The Frame of The Century? to his editor at Harper Collins (to no avail -- she was unwilling to publishing anything that didn't assume Simpson was the murderer)."

The Fractal Man has an amusing chapter in which in one of the universes next door, Schulman acquires a lot of money and launches a libertarian film studio. I suggested to Schulman that his film studio had overlooked a miniseries of Illuminatus! 

"You're right, Illuminatus! would be on the production roster of Paraversal Pictures -- on oversight on my part," Schulman replied.

There are quite a few jokes in the book about libertarians and life at science fiction conventions. The book has one reference to Donald Trump that I thought was quite funny.

Eric Raymond wrote a review of the book. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Psilocybin may become approved treatment for depression

Creative Commons photo via Wikipedia. 

Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson didn't live to see it, but it seems the taboo on using psychedelics for mental health treatment really is being lifted.

At Reason magazine, the reliably excellent Jacob Sullum reports that psilocybin is being recognized as a "breakthrough therapy" for treating depression. The news "represents a welcome return to empiricism in an area of public policy long driven by irrational prejudice," Sullum writes.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The North Dakota pyramid

A Safeguard ABM system missile site radar. (Public domain photo by Craftsman2001). 

Here, you go, RAW fans -- a big "eye in the pyramid" you can look at from behind a fence, conveniently located in Nekoma, North Dakota. It's part of an ABM system built at great expense and quickly abandoned. Read about it from Atlas Obscura. 

Meanwhile, a local jobs agency has bought the site, which includes less interesting stuff besides the pyramid. "The Job Development Authority is hoping a big name company like Google will move servers into the pyramid." Meanwhile, Wikipedia has a history of the program, if you are curious. 

Hat tip: @Stargazer_KEA on Twitter. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Must-read 'new' RAW interview

Martin Wagner does is again, unearthing another RAW interview. "Half Witness at the Trigger: An Inter-Review with Robert Anton Wilson," an interview by Dean Gengle, appeared in The Advocate, the gay publication, in February 1978.

This is a particularly good interview.  (And did RAW really once live in a commune?) A few highlights:

I’ve noticed that when I’m most happy and high I get strange input from others who seem to want to penetrate that happiness with all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t be happy. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
Robert Anton Wilson: I agree with Don Juan. Almost everybody is a black magician. The whole art of life is just to not let them bring you down. Once you figure it out you find that everybody or nearly everybody in one way or another is looking out suspiciously for signs of happiness; and whenever they see it they pounce in one way or another: paranoia, depression or something that’s your fault, which, once you’ve attended to, will bring you down into their misery.

I’m trying to understand sexuality as it connects with various forms of ritual, both practically and theoretically. Could you talk a little bit more about ritual?
Robert Anton Wilson: When I first got started on consciousness work, or whatever you want to call it, I was not into ritual at all. I was very heavily into Zen meditation and I regarded ritual with a great deal of contempt. Then I went through a complete turnabout and I decided that meditation just wasn’t for me, but I was getting tremendously good results with ritual once I started working with it and, for a while there, I was going around telling everybody: “Oh, fuck meditation, it’s a waste of time. Ritual is where you get the action.” And finally it dawned on me that that’s just me. I’m a novelist. I think novelists are particularly prone to get good results out of ritual because every novelist is to some extent a frustrated actor, a playwright, a playwright/actor/producer. You’re trying to put on a show in your own head that will become real in the head of the reader, and so novelists, I think, are prone to be good magicians, whereas other types of people might find meditation much quicker.

There is also a bit where they discuss the nature of the universe and Wilson says, "Eddington said it’s more like a great thought than a great machine. But the latest physics seems to really indicate that it’s more like a great acid trip than a great thought."

And a place where Wilson says he held back some of his experiences when he wrote Cosmic Trigger I: "I left out some of the more incredible things that I could have put into Trigger. "

Kudos to Dean Gengle for a good interview.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pot legalization still makes sense to me

A Mr. Nice Guy marijuana store in Depoe Bay, Oregon. 

I don't like to get too political at this blog -- I strive for an "everyone is welcome" vibe, as opposed to just welcoming my own tribe -- but as Robert Anton Wilson wrote a lot about the "war on some drugs," perhaps I'm not going too far afield if I try to explain why I still think the legalization of marijuana is a good idea.

I say "still" because I've noticed a bit of a backlash recently against legalization in places like, and in a "Marijuana in Canada" recent posting by Tyler Cowen on his Marginal Revolution blog.  Most Americans favor legalization according to public opinion polls, but apparently I'm not one of the cool kids. (That happens to me a lot).

After linking to a New York Times article which included the (in my opinion, absurd) claim that marijuana was likely to become as ubiquitous in Canadian foods as corn products such as corn syrup, Tyler wrote, "I increasingly believe that decriminalization will prove a more stable solution than outright legalization."

I link pretty often to Tyler Cowen on this blog, and I admire him as a "think for yourself" libertarian who considers the evidence and is willing to take contrarian stances, but on this issue I disagree with Dr. Cowen and believe that doctrinaire libertarians have it right.

There are obvious problems with decriminalization. For one thing, in states such as Ohio which have passed decriminalization, people who have even small amounts of cannabis are still treated like criminals. Yes, it's like a traffic ticket, and you aren't tossed in jail, but you are still treated like a petty criminal.

And selling the stuff still can get you sent to jail and the penalties in many places are still unfair and enforced in a racist way. Here is a case in Mississippi that showed up in my Twitter timeline after being retweeted by Alex Tabarrok, Tyler Cowen's co-blogger.

My exposure to places were legalization has taken place is pretty limited, but I was on vacation in Oregon for a few days, where there are dispensaries, and here is some of what I noticed:

(1) When you go into marijuana stores, you first enter a small foyer, where you have to show a photo ID to prove you are old enough to get into the room where marijuana is for sale. This happened to me in two places and I'm close to qualifying for Social Security (and look it), so apparently there are no exceptions to this rule.

(2) Marijuana apparently is sold exclusively in Oregon in such places. It's not like alcohol, which  you can buy in many places in Oregon, such as supermarkets. I didn't watch much TV or listen to much radio, so I don't know if any advertising is allowed, but the impression I get is that pot isn't "in your face" in Oregon for people who don't want it. You're not going to walk by the marijuana aisle at the Safeway.

(3) We stayed at an Airbnb place and in a rented condo, both of which had "no smoking" rules but were silent on alcohol consumption. Again, the impression I get is that marijuana is legal and tolerated, but that open consumption is not encouraged. The tourist literature we sent for touted Oregon wine and beer; I don't remember seeing anything from the tourism bureaus promoting the pot shops.

(4) Marijuana is taxed, apparently generating income for public services, and apparently laboratory tested for safe use (i.e., no foreign substances, you can figure out what dose you are getting etc.)

Which of these aspects of legalization would a reasonable person object to? And why is decriminalization supposedly better?

Washington, D.C., does not allow the legal sale of marijuana, although it does allow use and possession. I recently interviewed pot historian Emily Dufton and asked how that's working out:

Q: You live near Washington, D.C., which has an unusual policy — possession and use of marijuana is legal, but sales are not. Does this rob Washingtonians of the "best part" of legalization, i.e., you can closely police whether it's sold to minors and whether it's correctly packaged and sold without funky additional ingredients?

Emily Dufton: Absolutely. I think DC has a terrible system of legalization. One quote I used in my book called it "the dealer protection act of 2015." In short, it lets most anyone get into dealing small amounts, through the "gift economy" or just through outright sales, but doesn't provide any real oversight or regulation on the plant itself. Despite legalization, consumers still have no real idea of what they're getting. Were there pesticides used? Sprays? Is there mold? Who is it being sold to? How old are they? No one knows. And with no taxes being paid on the drug, our local government isn't benefiting at all — another extension of how Congress keeps too strong a hold over the city. The DC law does allow adults to grow their own plants (some other legal states, like Washington, do not), but overall it's a mess.

No doubt one of the concerns about legalization is that it will encourage more people to use marijuana. I assume that when pot's legalized there probably would be an increase in use, mostly from people who just weren't comfortable breaking the law or who didn't have a connection with a pot dealer.

But I've also noticed the reports that sales of legal marijuana in places such as Oregon and California haven't been as large as expected. That suggests to me that most people who really wanted it were able to get it in the black market, and many of them are still doing so.

This is not to say, by the way, that Tyler Cowen isn't making valuable contributions to the discussion about substance abuse. He's been trying to point out, rightly, that alcohol is very underrated as a problem substance. I heard him say on a podcast that he has completely given up alcohol, and I'm considering that myself. I'm not a big drinker, anyway.

Frankly, if TV advertising for _all_ substances, including beer AND cannabis, was banned, I would probably be OK with that. What I want is a rational policy and a level playing field, as opposed to allowing endless TV ads for a substance that kills 88,000 Americans a year and allowing booze sales everywhere, but continuing to hassle cannabis users and treat them as criminals.

The death toll from alcohol, by the way, does not take into account the amount of crime, often violent crime, committed by people intoxicated with alcohol. Ask any police reporter, at any newspaper, about alcohol and the police blotter.

Footnote: Tyler Cowen has a new book out, Stubborn Attachments, which I have bought, just like I do with his other new books.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Kerman/Beethoven reading group, Week Eleven

Kerman Week 11 – Op. 95 – The Second Half of Chapter 6

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections three and four of chapter 6 (pg. 168 - 187) and listen to Op. 95 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. Thank you for the terrific comments. Kerman refers to this quartet as a “spiritual exercise” on page 169.  I like that. I think of this whole reading group as a sort of spiritual exercise. 

Beethoven scholar Maynard Solomon, whom Robert Anton Wilson frequently cited, co-founded Vanguard Records and signed the Weavers and Joan Baez.

Pg. 169 – mitgefühl means sympathy.

Pg. 171 – Beethoven’s doing away with “conventional bridge and cadential passages of every kind” reminds of how Ezra Pound got T. S. Eliot to eliminate transitional passages in The Waste Land.

Pg. 178 – I love the passage, “The cello is treading on razor blades, and the upper instruments are whispering through their teeth memories of the semitone lament, which, indeed, seems to be frozen into the cello line itself.” I remember the third or fourth time I read this book in 1994, sitting at the front desk at LTJ Dance Arts in Scottsdale, Arizona, feeling blown away by Kerman’s description. I always remember that moment when listening to the second movement of this quartet.

Pg. 184 – I had to look up proleptic, the adjective form of prolepsis, “the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished,” according to

Pg. 185 – The discussion of form here makes me want to reread The Laws of Form, a Wilson favorite.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

An 'Insider' on RAW and Beethoven

As we are currently running Eric Wagner's online discussion group on the Beethoven string quartets and Joseph Kerman's book about them (new entry tomorrow), I wanted to remark that Eric's book, An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, has a good-sized "Lexicon" section, a reference section where you can look up many aspects of Wilson's work.

Included is an entry on Beethoven, here is part of it: "Wilson makes more references to Beethoven's music than to any other music in his books. In Illuminatus! a character talks about the late quartets. Beethoven's late music permeates Schroedinger's Cat: the 'Hammerklavier' gets mentioned over and over again, 'Dr. Raus Elysium' in that novel comes from a pun on the Ode to Joy ('Tochter als Elysium') 'Muss es sein?' comes from the quartet Opus 135, a character calls the Ninth 'unsuccessful tantric sex,' etc.

"Wilson uses Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, along with other music, as soundtrack in both of his screenplays..."

Insider's Guide also has a separate entry on  "Muss es sein?" There are also entries on Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Eric's book is only $5 for the Kindle version, so you can stick it on your phone (using the Kindle app), giving yourself a handy reference book as you work your way through Wilson's work.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Anarchism in the California desert

Slab City. Creative Commons photo. 

Actual examples of anarchist living on the ground are not exactly numerous, but a new book, Slab City: Dispatches from the Last Free Place by Charlie Hailey tells the story of Slab City.

Boing Boing explains,

Slab City is a curious community in the Sonoran Desert about 150 miles northeast of San Diego. Formerly a World War II Marine Corps base, it's now home to around 150 off-the-grid squatters and thousands of temporary campers and RV owners who wait out the winter months before continuing their journeys. The name comes from the concrete remnants of the military base. Author and architect Charlie Hailey and photographer Donovan Wylie documented the anarchic living and structural scene in their new book "Slab City: Dispatches from the Last Free Place." The pictures are a compelling and provocative view inside this not-so-temporary autonomous zone that embodies a curious kind of liberty for its diverse inhabitants. 

Hat tip, Jesse Walker.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Exciting book news: 'High Weirdness'

Erik Davis, speaking at RAW Day 2017. Watch the video of his talk. 

Here's a book many of  you will want to read when it comes out next year: High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experiences in the Seventies by Erik Davis.

From the MIT Press summary:

"An exploration of the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terrence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson.

"A study of the spiritual provocations to be found in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terrence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson, High Weirdness charts the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality that arose from the American counterculture of the 1970s. These three authors changed the way millions of readers thought, dreamed, and experienced reality—but how did their writings reflect, as well as shape, the seismic cultural shifts taking place in America?

"In High Weirdness, Erik Davis — America's leading scholar of high strangeness — examines the published and unpublished writings of these vital, iconoclastic thinkers, as well as their own life-changing mystical experiences. Davis explores the complex lattice of the strange that flowed through America's West Coast at a time of radical technological, political, and social upheaval to present a new theory of the weird as a viable mode for a renewed engagement with reality."

Seeing Erik Davis' name on the book only makes the announcement ever more exciting, of course. He was one of the speakers at RAW Day last year in California.  Some of you probably listen to his Expanding Mind podcast.

The MIT Press bio: "Erik Davis is an American journalist, critic, podcaster, counter-public intellectual whose writings have run the gamut from rock criticism to cultural analysis to creative explorations of esoteric mysticism. He is the author of Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, The Visionary State: A Journey through California's Spiritual Landscape, and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica."

More details from MIT Press:

$34.95 T
ISBN: 9781907222764
500 pp. | 6 in x 9 in
10 b&w illus.
June 2019

Hat tip: Jesse Walker.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thursday links

Another one from Rasa. 

Was Gary Hart set up?  Via Supergee. The more I read about Democrats and Republicans, the more I wonder why there aren't more libertarians. Then again, if I understood that, I might also be able to grasp why masses of Americans don't turn away in disgust from the current GOP. 

Jacob Sullum on pot legalization in Canada. If Mr. Sullum isn't the best journalist in the U.S. on drug issues, he is surely a close runner up. I need to find out if he does interviews.

I interview pot historian Emily Dufton. 

"Neo-liberalism has been incredibly successful, essentially delivering on all of its promises of economic growth, declines in poverty, and peace." And see also this. 

What the hitchhiker learned.  Yes, a lot of stuff from Marginal Revolution, which has been particularly good lately, although I disagree with Tyler Cowen on marijuana legalization and will write about that soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Arthur Hlavaty's recommended books [Updated]

Arthur Hlavaty says Catch-22 is "the ultimate Libertarian book."

A couple of months ago, I posted about Arthur Hlavaty's new zine, Archive I: Down by the Old Slipstream, a collection of his writings about fiction that he likes. I really liked it and told you all to read it.

Arthur has now assembled a second collection of his fiction recommendations, Archive II: Back to Live, and if anything, it is even better than the first zine. Here are the first two items, on Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, and on Illuminatus! 

Robert A. Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land. 

The satire hit me first, then the sex, then the Eastern religion. Yes, I know that it’s flawed,  but the good stuff remains. Heinlein was a  Trickster, whose two desires were to make money  and make people think. He certainly succeeded  with the latter, as far as I am concerned. (And I bought all his books.)

Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

I may still have been sane when I finished  Stranger, so I was ready for more, and in 1975  there appeared a trilogy about sex, dope, science  fiction, alternate metaphysics, conspiracy  theory, and libertarianism/anarchism. My tastes  have changed, but then I figured that if they’d mentioned pro football, they would have had everything.

 The book lived up to it: chaotic,  experimental. occasionally simplistic, but full 
of the three things I most read for: people,  ideas, and laughs. As with Stranger, I reread it every year, and I still haven’t worn it down to  the parts that annoy me and “I know that.” AND ALSO Shea went on to write good, solid  historical novels with a beginning, a middle, and  an end in that order, but also with fascinating  characters and small hints of metaphysical and other weirdness. I particularly liked Shike and  All Things Are Lights. Wilson’s novels were more  like Illuminatus!, centered on initiation.  Schrödinger’s Cat was based on quantum theory, among other things. James Joyce, to whom there are many references in Wilson’s other fiction, showed up as a character in Masks of the Illuminati, which actually had a tight plot structure, along with the Wilsonian stuff.

The two archive zines and much else are available here. 

Arthur should consider assembling his book reviews into a book, perhaps an ebook, to reach the people who don't follow fanzines.

UPDATE: Fixed the formatting, which I did not have time to do yesterday, and see also my post on finding free ebooks of the Shea novels Arthur recommends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

RAW-influenced Australian group Hedonix

Hedonix (Facebook photo). 

I post from time to time about musicians who wear their RAW influence on their sleeves; the Sydney, Australia duo Hedonix is one that I missed. The band's 2013 album, Guerrilla Ontology, includes the track "The I in the Triangle." 

The band's members are Robert Dilley & Steven Zanuttin. Mr. Dilley says, "My best friend and I have a group/project called Hedonix. We haven't produced anything new in a while, but what we've got might be of interest to RAW fans who also enjoy electronic (particulary psy trance) music. We dedicated our first album (Order out of Chaos) to RAW and named our second one Guerilla Ontology. Just check the tracklists and you'll be able to see which have samples of Saint Bob. You can find the music around the traps to buy but we're also on Spotify. I hope you enjoy! If you do, get in touch and let us know what you thought!"

Source (comment from Rob posted Monday.) 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Kerman/Beehoven reading group, Week Ten

Another photo of the Borromeo String Quartet. Listen to a live recording of Opus 74 from the Gardner Museum. Photo by Richard Bowditch.

Kerman Week 10 – Op. 74 The First Half of Chapter 6

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections one and two of chapter 6 (pg. 155 - 168) and listen to Op. 74 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. The expression “with the Bartók quartets twanging in our ears” on page 161 has always bothered me. It struck me as dismissive of Bartók.

Pg. 163 – Schubert’s song Das Wirtshaus appears in the song cycle Winterreise.

I have never really loved this quartet, but I have enjoyed listening to it this week. Kerman calls this work “a work of consolidation than of exploration” on page 168. Well, the rest of the quartets devote themselves savagely to exploration as we will discover over the next eight weeks.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The hippie physicist talks to Scientific American

Nick Herbert. (Creative Commons photo by Nick Herbert). 

"Hippie physicist" Nick Herbert of Cosmic Trigger fame is interviewed by Scientific American, and it's a very interesting interview. Lots of good questions from John Horgan.

Herbert no longer thinks  that faster-than-light communication is possible. Here is one of his thoughts about physics and mysticism:

Horgan: Looking back, does the analogy between quantum mechanics and eastern mysticism hold up?

Herbert: For many years physics held the distinction as "the subject everyone hated in high school," but Fritjof Capra's Tao of Physics made the subject sexy again and paved the way for such bestselling quantum physics popularizations as Heinz Pagels's Cosmic Code and my own Quantum Reality.

However I am sorry to say that despite immersing myself deeply in the quantum paradoxes and less deeply in meditation and mindfulness, I find them both profoundly mysterious but having little in common.

In his blog post about the interview, Herbert notes that Horgan has published what appears to be an interesting book,  Mind-Body Problems: Science, Subjectivity & Who We Really Are, available free online. Herbert writes, "In this book, Horgan interviews nine specialists representing nine different perspectives on human subjectivity. This book is unusual in that Horgan does not just interview these nine people about their ideas but about their personal lives as well. John's curiosity and desire to really know what's going on entangles himself and the reader in a sometimes embarrassingly intimate connection with some of these scientist's personal lives. For that reason, this book is a lot more lively than your typical psychology textbook."

Saturday, October 13, 2018

What we get for the transporter beam

Ludwig van Beethoven. Earth's bargaining chip? 

Considering that we have been immersing ourselves in Beethoven, I was pretty amused to see this bit (Tyler Cowen is interviewing Paul Krugman for a podcast):

COWEN: Will there ever be interstellar trade in intellectual property? You send your technology to a planet far away. It arrives much later, of course. Or you trade Beethoven to the aliens in return for a transporter beam? Can this work? You’ve written a paper that seems to indicate it can work.

KRUGMAN: I wrote a paper on the theory of interstellar trade when I was an unhappy assistant professor. Are there any happy assistant professors? [laughs] I was just blowing off steam. But it’s an interesting question.

COWEN: It could become your most important paper, right? [laughs]


The "Conversations with Tyler" podcast is quite good; there's a wide variety of guests. I like Episode 21, the interview with Cowen himself. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bobby Campbell's new comic book

Bobby Campbell has released a big new comic book collection, WEIRD COMIX #000.

Bobby says, "Weird Comix #0 is 60 pages of discombobulating chaos! Collecting together a wide array of my short form comix, some dating as far back as 2003, some from as recent as this summer, and some an unholy mutant hybrid of both old & new aesthetics."

It's available now for Bobby's Patreon subscribers. I'm one, so I've already downloaded my copy. The public release will be Tuesday.

I've read the first few comics (I have to work today, so I can't read all of it now) and it's some of Bobby's best stuff.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Adrian Reynolds Kickstarter film

RAW fan and overall good guy Adrian Reynolds and his collaborator Tristan Ofield have a Kickstarter for a new short film, Citrus.

Adrian writes, "Tristan Ofield and I took White Lily from a concept through to an award-winning short that can be seen on Amazon prime and touches on some of RAW's concerns.

Now we're back with another crowdfunder for Citrus, which is a more grounded tale in some ways - set here and now rather than in space - and again chimes with themes you'll find in RAW. It's a darker tale, one tuned to our times."

More here. 

Link to White Lily.  His radio play was pretty good, too. Don't miss Press When Illuminated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Another MC5 nomination

The MC5 in 2005 (Wikimedia Commons photo).

The MC5, a rock band from Michigan that is part of the mythology of Illuminatus! have once again been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This year's 15 nominees are Def Leppard, Devo, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Roxy Music, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, The Cure, The Zombies and Todd Rundgren. More details on the awards process here.  I happen to be a Roxy Music fan, though I doubt the band will win.

In Illuminatus!, the Illuminati control the record companies, and John Dillinger tells Joe Malik, ""We were ignoring that front until they got the MC-5 to cut a disc called 'Kick Out The Jams' just to taunt us with old bitter memories."

Note that John Sinclair, who has collaborated with Steve Fly, was the band's manager.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

'Reality is what you can get away with'

"Reality is what you can get away with," the saying created (or at least popularized) by Robert Anton Wilson pops up in "The Constitution of Knowledge," a piece by Jonathan Rauch in the latest issue of National Affairs. (Rauch's piece is about how well institutions are doing in the search for truth in the Trump era; he likes the performance of the courts and the news media, but college campuses not so much.)

RAW's phrase pops up at the end of the first paragraph. It's also the title of a RAW screenplay published as a book that will be republished by Hilartas Press.

Hat tip: Jesse Walker.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Beethoven string quartets/Kerman reading group, Week Nine

The Modigliani Quartet, sometimes called the Amadeo Modigliani Quartet. For the group's live recording of this week's Opus 59, No. 3, go here. 

Kerman Week 9 – Op. 59, No. 3 – The Second Half of Chapter 5

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections 4 - 6 of chapter 5 (pg. 134 - 154) and listen to Op. 59, No. 3 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. On page 136 two lines from the bottom of the page it says, “The piercing viola F# (bar 18)”. That should read “violin F#”. The F sharp appears in the second violin part.

Reading the discussion of the key relationships in the slow movement on page 148 I found myself back in the Pale Fire reading group. I expected to turn to notes where Kinbote explained the real meanings of the development section.

The Lovecraftian in me wonders about the “chthonic tone” of Schubert on page 149.

When we finished the Op. 18 quartets, I went back and listened to all six quartets. I’ve just begun listening to the three Op. 59 quartets again. We have come a long way, but we have a wonderful journey ahead of us, even if Kavanaugh gets confirmed.

Beethoven wrote sixteen string quartets. I associate this with the tarot trump the Tower. P. G. Wodehouse’s novel Leave It to Psmith gives an important role to sixteen flowerpots. Of course, the Hebrew letter peh has a value of 80 and corresponds with The Tower. The silent P in Psmith corresponds with peh, so I associate the numbers 16 and 80 with both Leave It to Psmith and the Beethoven quartets. The Hebrew letter feh (similar to peh) also has a value of 80, and I associate that with the flowerpots in the Wodehouse novel. I think of the Beethoven quartets as sixteen flowerpots waiting for us to explore.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

RAW on Max Stirner

Another find by Martin Wagner: A RAW review of The Ego an His Own by Max Stirner, an edition put out by the Libertarian Book Club.

"This is probably the most disturbing, shocking and generally infuriating book in the whole history of political philosophy," Wilson writes.

From the pages of Jaguar, apparently a vintage men's magazine.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Last few 'Pigspurt' dates coming up soon

The golden apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and it also wears feathers, sometimes. Publicity photo for Daisy Eris Campbell, with theatre legend Ken Campbell. 

If you live in the United Kingdom and you've missed Daisy Campbell's "Pigspurt's Daughter" show, you are down to your last three chances.

The three final dates are The Cockpit, London, Oct. 6; The Old Barn, Bath, Oct. 19, and "unknown final performance," about which, more information likely available soon.

More details here, with links to buy tickets, etc.

Follow Daisy on Twitter.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

RAW cover art, the evolution

Scott McPherson, the wonderful Scottish cover artist for the new Hilaritas Press editions of RAW's work, recently posted some rejected early covers for three titles on his Twitter account, @amoebadesign. Here they are, with the final covers for comparison: 

Prometheus Rising

Earlier proposed version of Prometheus Rising cover

Final Prometheus Rising cover for Hilaritas Press

Cosmic Trigger

Early cover concept for Cosmic Trigger

Final Cosmic Trigger cover

Quantum Psychology

Early Quantum Psychology cover

Final Quantum Psychology cover 

I guess he probably made the right call (I have no information on the possible back and forth with Rasa, who obviously also is a talented artist). But I really like that early Prometheus Rising cover! 

The covers, including the alternate versions, would make a pretty cool art exhibition, and also might work as prints. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

RAW on Kerouac's 'Dharma Bums'

I can't say I was a big fan of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. But now I kind of want to read Dharma Bums, not just because it has Buddhism and interesting Beats in it, but also because of Robert Anton Wilson's interesting review, another great Martin Wagner discovery. Excerpt:

"If you are looking for a story to fill your hours with gimmicks and surprises, go elsewhere (TV will even save you the trouble of turning pages), but if you are looking for a poetic (i.e., simple; i.e., holy) truth about the universe, then read Kerouac, read him slowly, and re-read him carefully. If the word 'God' means anything, every great poem is a partial revelation of the nature of God; and Kerouac has here written a great poem."

Martin, by the way, published the review on Oct. 2, the 60th anniversary of the book's first publication.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A 'long conversation' about RAW?

Kevin Kelly (Twitter account photo) 

I subscribe to the weekly Recomendo newsletter, put out by Mark Frauenfelder and others, that has recommendations on cool things to make your life more productive or interesting. The latest issue had an item by Kevin Kelly about "long conversations":

"A 'long conversation' is a new format for a conference. Two speakers begin a conversation on stage. After 15 minutes one of the two speakers is replaced by a new speaker and the conversation continues, and every 15 minutes for the next 8 hours a speaker is swapped out. (Each speaker converses for 30 minutes.) The day is engaging, unpredictable, passionate, diverse, informative, and entertaining. It’s a format invented by Long Now Foundation that is worth stealing. For an example, here are highlights from a long conversation held at the Smithsonian. "— KK

The item caught my imagination. It seems to me that such conversations don't have to last for eight hours, but that the idea could be adapted for a podcast lasting maybe an hour or an hour and a half. Topics could include single RAW works such as Masks of the Illuminati or single themes such as "RAW and Magick" or "RAW the libertarian." I don't have a lot of spare time these days, but I'm going to try to organize something within a reasonable time and see if it works.

Kevin Kelly was a co-founder of "Wired" magazine and has various cool interests.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Kerman/Beethoven reading group, Week Eight

The Borromeo String Quartet. For a live recording by them of this week's piece, go here. Photo by Richard Bowditch.

Kerman Week 8 – Op. 59, No. 2 The First Half of Chapter 5

By Eric Wagner, special guest blogger

This week please read sections 1 - 3 of chapter 5 (pg. 117 - 134) and listen to Op. 59, No. 2 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. I just attended a talk by a master guitar builder from Fender. I wonder about the whole musical process – the building of instruments, the training of musicians, the recording of music with producers like Oz Fritz, the work of musicologists like Joseph Kerman, etc. I wonder how changes in the world will change the world of music, especially how the wild politcal world of America in 2018 will shape the world of the future. I have listened to this quartet a lot this week, but I have run out of time to write. I hope to write more next week. Please keep listening, reading, and commenting.