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

Friday, November 30, 2018

Long podcast takes on RAW

Harland Grant

The Dawdler's Philosophy is a podcast that features a scientist, Harland Grant, and a scientist, R.T.P. McKenna, "addressing Big Ideas both original and derived."

The podcast has just launched a new series, "Haunting the Margins," addressing marginalized thinkers, and the first one, lasting two hours and five minutes, is about Robert Anton Wilson. Topics covered include model agnosticism, how thinkers get marginalized, "correct answer machines" and other topics familiar to RAW fans.

The discussion is generally sound, although (1) as Rasa points out at the website, RAW was not, in fact, Jewish and (2) model agnosticism does not mean all models are equally sound. It's more about using a model so long as it is useful, but discarding it if you find a better one.

The podcast is available on iTunes, so many podcasting apps should be able to pull it in.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Apparently, I'm not going to emerge

Peter Thiel (Creative Commons photo)

From time to time, I have fantasized about finding a billionaire who was (1) a Robert Anton Wilson fan and (2) crazy, someone who would be willing to fund this blog so it would be more of a full time project and less like something I have to do part time, fitted in around a full-time job, keeping my wife and cats happy, etc.

This became very slightly less of a fantasy with the creation of Emergent Ventures, a philanthropic organization run by the doughty Tyler Cowen (frequently mentioned on this blog for years) and funded initially by Peter Thiel (who as I've mentioned has been trying to achieve some of the ideas proposed by Robert Anton Wilson). In his blog post, Dr. Cowen wrote, "We welcome the unusual and the unorthodox."

I figured I could give him "unorthodox," so I applied for money,  laying it on thick about Wilson's importance as a thinker, the blog's ability to introduce libertarian ideas to an audience that normally ignores them, the original journalism and scholarship I've been able to carry out such as obtaining Robert Shea's anarchist zines and interviewing Wilson's book editors, etc.

All I know about the review process is that Cowen makes the decisions himself (so, possibly, I was able to get him to read this blog! If so, hope he found something of interest). It was interesting to write out a justification for the blog. I also enjoyed the "Schroedinger's cat" period of several weeks of not having actually been turned down.

But my "No" email from the Mercatus Center duly arrived Tuesday. It says, in part, "We are sorry to inform you that we are not able to fund your request. Due to the large volume of applications, we are also not able to offer individual explanations for these decisions.

"Please do note that our rejection should not be taken as a negative judgment of you or your work. For instance, many requests simply fall outside the scope of our mission, or we believe would be better supported through traditional venture capital or philanthropic investments."

(I've mentioned Cowen a number of times in recent weeks as I waited for a response, but that's just business as usual at this blog, not an attempt to curry favor. I've mentioned him for years.)

Due to the ongoing dearth of crazy billionaires, I am actively exploring and thinking about other options to expand the reach and effectiveness of this blog and related freelance ventures.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Robert Anton Wilson on 'Morality Mania'

Robert Anton Wilson's article "Morality Mania" is another great work of literary archaeology by Martin Wagner, reproduced at Wagner's RAW site.

Written in 1978, it's one of Wilson's more libertarian pieces and also seems to anticipate today's culture wars. It's full of sharp observations. A sample:

Of course, every human society has some system of criminal law. Such laws should be rational and obviously necessary: their function is, as Sophocles said, to protect the citizen from force and fraud. This is absolutely all that a rational mind wants, or will voluntarily accept, in restrictions on personal freedom. My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.

This common-sense, mind-your-own-business theory of law has never been satisfactory to moralists, all of whom are determined to ram their private taboo system down everybody else’s throat. This is because moralists, like psychotics, do not think objectively, but subjectively; they don’t even know what objectivity means. For instance, read any rightwing blast at Larry Flynt and then read the attack on him in Mother Jones for February-March 1978. The same subjective smog, the same inability to see or observe without prejudice, appears in both the paleo-puritanical right and the neo-puritanical left. The moralist cannot perceive anything but his/her own emotions; facts register indirectly, as emotional storms in the glandular system. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

More on Communism, the Beatles and Illuminatus!

A photograph of the Rev. Billy James Hargis. As Adam Gorightly notes, the picture of Jesus behind Rev. Hargis shows Jesus with short hair, apparently in a bid to make the Son of God look more like a patriotic American and less like the kind of long haired hippie who would listen to a Beatles album.  

Adam Gorightly recently posted "The Raymond Broshears Files Part 1: Welcome to the Garrison Investigation Funhouse," about a rather colorful character associated with the Garrison probe of JFK's murder, and when I posted about it, I talked about the connection between Broshears and the Rev. Billy James Hargis, an evangelist in Tulsa, Oklahoma (where I grew up) who was also an explicit anti-Communist. I once attended a service at Hargis' Christian Crusade church (as part of a comparative religion class in the Unitarian church my family belonged to), and I knew a kid at school whose family went to the church. I then went off to college at the University of Oklahoma and read Illuminatus!, which has a reference to a Christian Crusade publication by David Noebel, Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles; An analysis of the Communist use of music, the Communist master music plan.

Adam has now done a follow-up post at Historia Discordia, "Addendum to 'The Raymond Broshears Files Part 1' ” which discusses Rev. Hargis and which includes a particularly great prank letter that Robert Anton Wilson wrote as a purported fan letter to Noebel (the letter is by "the Rev. Charles Arthur Floyd II" representing an apparent religion, the "Decided Ones of Jupiter the Thunderer.") The letter points out that while Noebel has done fine work, he has "only scratched the surface of the music problem," noting that Beethoven was a high ranking member of the Bavarian Illuminati, "and his music, especially the Fifth and Ninth symphonies, is entirely worthless and seditious, being full of libertine, libertarian, anarchistic, Illuminated Seer ideology." (Wilson may have only been joking -- I don't know -- but the Jan Swafford Beethoven biography goes into considerable detail about how the Illuminati actually influenced the Ninth Symphony and other works. It is my impression that Wilson thought he was only joking when he wrote Illuminatus! and only later discovered the Beethoven-Illuminati ties, but I can't give you a citation; can someone help?).

If the name "Charles Arthur Floyd II" is nagging at you, Charles Arthur Floyd (aka "Pretty Boy Floyd,") was a bank robber from Oklahoma who as shot to death, age 30, in Ohio. "Pretty Boy Floyd" is a tune by Woody Guthrie, covered by many other musicians, that has the great line, "Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen."

David Noebel is apparently still alive. His classic expose, Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles, is available at the Internet Archive, apparently as part of an FBI file obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Kerman/Beethoven reading group, Week Sixteen

"Coversheet of Beethoven's Op. 130 as published in Berlin on June 2nd, 1827." (Caption and illustration via Wikipedia).

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections 1 – 3 of chapter 10 (pg. 303 - 327) and listen to Op. 130 repeatedly. Please comment on this week’s reading/listening and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. Kerman emphasizes this quartet’s problematic nature due to the fact the Beethoven decided to remove the original finale and publish it separately. Please keep in mind that Beethoven contemplated breaking up the Hammerklavier and the Ninth Symphony in a similar fashion. Beethoven sometimes felt ambivalent about his most radical compositions.

I love how Bob Wilson wrote about the Hammerklavier. Op. 130, with its original ending, seems the quartet analogue for that sonata, ending with an earth shaking, unprecedented fugue.

Pg. 321 – “And the Great Fugue, Schindler’s Monstrum aller Quartett-Musik - who would have thought of yoking this giant with a midget like the Presto second movement?” I once saw the Phoenix Suns play the Washington Bullets when 7’7” Manute Bol and 5’3” Muggsy Bogues both played for the team. They would often come off the bench at the same time, and, with their bright blue and red uniforms, I found the visual effect quite trippy.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Trump administration targets pot legalization groups [UPDATED]

National Institute of Drug Abuse graphic showing the increase in drug overdose deaths in the U.S. 

Drug overdoses from hard drugs have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans in the past decade, and the problem is getting worse nationally. As my link shows, 2017 was a record year for deaths nationally (and also, I might add,  in Ohio where I live.)

The Trump administration has shown little interest in genuinely dangerous drugs but instead is using the IRS to target groups that advocate for the legalization of marijuana. This blog post reprints a Wall Street Journal article (which at the WSJ is behind a firewall) that gives the details. Tax exempt status is a really big deal in the U.S. for nonprofits, so this is a significant (and also illegal) act of government repression and an attack on free speech.

Hat tip, John Merritt.

UPDATE: Here is a clickable link for the article Joshua linked to in the comments.  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, quoted in the article, lost his re-election bid, a notable loss for the legalization movement, although on the whole the Democratic takeover of the House was a positive.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

New book on conspiracy theories

If your interest in conspiracy theories wasn't sated by reading Illuminatus!, or by reading Jesse Walker's excellent book The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory (a history of conspiracy theories in the U.S., including a chapter, "Operation Mindfuck," that discusses Robert Anton Wilson and Discordianism), there's a new book that might interest you.

Jesse reports on a new book, Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them, put out by Oxford University Press, an anthology that includes a contribution by Jesse.

Mr. Walker's contribution, "What We Mean When We Say 'Conspiracy Theory'," is available as a Reason magazine article. 

Incidentally, in a section of the piece debunking a widely-believed newspaper report that described Osama bin Laden as having a lair in Afghanistan worthy of a James Bond villain, Jesse writes, "When American forces arrived at Osama's actual base, they found that the Independent report was a fantasy, something better suited for a legend about Hassan i Sabbah than a realistic assessment of bin Laden's methods and capabilities." Just another little test if you can spot the Robert Anton Wilson reference that creeps into many of Jesse's pieces, like a cameo from Alfred Hitchcock.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Final 'Pigspurt' performance announced

Daisy Eris Campbell (from Twitter). 

Daisy Eris Campbell has announced the final UK performance of Pigspurt's Daughter on Twitter: Dec. 10 at Kerwick Town Hall in the Shetland Islands. Dec. 10 is Ken Campbell's birthday.

No information on tickets announced yet; keep on eye on Daisy's Twitter.   When the date comes a little closer, perhaps you can contact Lerwick Town Hall.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thankful for my readers

I would like to take a moment to express my thanks to everyone who reads this blog.

Whether you've become my friend as a result of this blog, or taken a moment to post a comment, or sent me a tip, or written a guest post,  or written a blog post linking to me, or posted on social media with a link to me, or taken the time to answer my questions, or sent me a book, or simply read a post,  or done anything else to help me, I really appreciate you.

It occurred to me a few months ago that this blog is maybe the only thing I do that I have complete control over. When I'm at work, although I am trusted with a great deal of leeway, I have to make my boss and my publisher happy. At home, it's important to me to please my wife and our cats. (Anyone who has a cat will appreciate the saying that "Dogs have owners, cats have staff.") Even my reading, my favorite leisure activity for decades, is often dominated by work assignments or volunteer activity. The only person I have to answer to for the blog is me.

Since I began this blog, I have had more than two million page views, according to Blogger. I get several hundred  page views a day, sometimes more than 1,000 in a day. These numbers will not impress the folks at Boing Boing or Marginal Revolution or any other the other blogs I read, but given that I am writing about someone who for most readers is an obscure cult writer, it also shows that somebody is interested. If you are interested in Robert Anton Wilson, you are not alone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

War on some drugs podcast

Jacob Sullum (Twitter account photo) 

Yesterday I listened to an interesting Reason magazine podcast featuring Nick Gillespie interviewing Jacob Sullum, who often writes about drug policy. The topic is "Why Can't Psychedelics (and Other Drugs) Just Be for Fun?" Obviously, a provocative title, but the podcast explores who should decide what you can put into your body. Topics include  Timothy Leary, black market vs. legal weed, how to talk to your children and other issues.

I've linked to the Reason blog post about the broadcast, but you should also be able to find Reason podcasts on iTunes and the usual smartphone apps.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

How to read a Kindle ebook

I like "real" books made of paper, of course, and I still sometimes get them, too, but I also often buy ebooks. It's nice to be able to buy a book without further cluttering the house and for certain books, it's very useful to be able to search the text. The price difference between paper and electronic can be pretty wide. A particularly dramatic example: An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson by Eric Wagner is $24.50 on Amazon today for paperback, $4.99 for the Kindle.

One disadvantage of the Kindle edition is that while a Kindle e-reader is great for text, it doesn't do well with illustrations and only renders them in black and white. A good fix is to simply put a Kindle app on your smartphone and download a copy there. When I recently read Eric Cline's 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, I read the text on my Kindle but used my phone to look at the maps. That worked very well.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Week Fifteen

Kerman Week 15 - Fugue

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read chapter 9 (pg. 269 – 302) and listen to Op. 133 and the first movement of Op. 131 repeatedly. Please comment on this week’s reading/listening and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. I love this chapter, and I find these two fugues endlessly fascinating. The theme of fugue links this chapter with two works of central importance to Bob Wilson, the Hammerklavier and the Ninth Symphony.

Pg. 272 – Kerman sees the first movement of Op. 131 as a clue to the music Beethoven might have written if he had lived longer. Phil Dick said the same thing about the new ending to Op. 130. (I sometimes think of “I’ve Got a Feeling” as a clue to the sort of music the Beatles might have made if they didn’t break up.)

Pg. 274 – I find it interesting that Kerman finds the Op. 131 fugue Beethoven’s most accomplished. I love the reference to Alice’s White Knight on this page.

Pg. 276 – The connection with Bach “Art of Fugue” makes me think of Goedel Escher Bach, another Wilson favorite.

Pg. 300 – I like that Kerman comes right out and calls Op. 131 Beethoven’s greatest quartet. I don’t know if I agree, but I like his forthrightness.

Pg. 302 – Kerman emphasizes the power of repeated listenings. Kerman wrote a wonderful textbook called Listen, and he often emphasizes the power of listening, for which one needs neither virtuosity nor a deep knowledge of music theory.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Beethoven's best string quartet?

The Orion String Quartet

As Eric Wagner's discussion group The Beethoven Quartets by Joseph Kerman continues, tomorrow's post is devoted to Beethoven's Grosse Fuge and the first movement of Opus 131. There's further focus on Opus 131 in a couple of weeks.

If tackling Kerman and all of the quartets was a bit much for you, this might be a good time to tune in.

The String Quartet in C Minor Opus 131 was Beethoven's favorite of the late quartets; as Eric points out, Kerman says Opus 131 is Beethoven's greatest string quartet. I rather like it, too, and as Eric mentioned recently, RAW often brought up Beethoven's late quartets.

You can listen to (and download) a live performance from the Gardner Museum by the Orion String Quartet.  There is also the Alban Berg Quartet on YouTube.

Note also that the Free Music Archive has lots of Beethoven and other music and is closing soon. If you want to check it out, better hurry.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Moorish Orthodox Church archive launches

Cover for an issue of the Moorish Science Monitor

Christian Greer has announced he has launched the Moorish Orthodox Church of America archive, devoted to preserving radio broadcasts and other cultural productions of the group.

Greer explains:

This page is designed to provide an archive for the material culture of the The Moorish Orthodox Church of America. This diminutive church emerged in the first half of the 1960s on the Upper West Side of New York City, and before long, its members became embedded in the network of religious fellowships, esoteric sects, and street crews that populated the larger New York City bohemian scene. This psychedelic enclave provided fertile ground for the Moorish Orthodox Church of America (henceforth MOCA), which soon produced its own publications, and radio shows. It also operated its own temple/head-shop (known as The Crypt) on W. 103rd street. In addition to focusing on their own spiritual self-cultivation, members also doubled as "righteous dealers" who dispensed the "sacrament" of LSD to their brothers & sisters. The church worked alongside dozens of other heterodox mystical sects, as well as an army of psychedelic evangelists, to seed wide-spread spiritual illumination, and their combined efforts produced an exuberant culture of religious experimentation that soon spread across America, and points beyond.

More about the church on Wikipedia. 

The archive includes many radio programs featuring Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), thought to be lost. You can listen to them on Greer's new site.

One radio program featured Robert Anton Wilson, Greer writes:

Over the course of Robert Anton Wilson and Peter Lamborn Wilson's two-hour on-air exchange, they offered an intimate look at the obscure persons, ideas, and events that characterized psychedelicist radicalism as of 1987. During their conversations, these men traced the genealogy of their own illuminated politics, beginning with early 20th century individualist anarchism, up through the psychedelic era (both had spent time at Millbrook), and far into the future, which they imagined in cyberpunk terms.  It was clear, even then, that their lively conversation represented an invaluable literary document, as it elicited a sizable response from listeners. In fact, the demand for copies of the show prompted WBAI to issue special cassette tape recordings as a premium for its highest-level contributors.

Greer is cleaning up the audio for that show, which will be posted soon. I'll let everyone know here when it's available.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thursday links

Tyler Cowen (Creative Commons photo). 

Where the secret societies are. (Atlas Obscura, via Supergee).

Six antiwar demonstrations that got little coverage.

Missing Piece of Antikythera Mechanism Found.

Your brain on microdoses of psilocybin.

Fiction sales are dropping. 

Tyler Cowen on marijuana legalization, a May column.   Closer to my own opinion than the Cowen blog post I recently critiqued.  But I suspect actual policy in the U.S. may be closer to Cowen's ideal than he realizes; large sections of eastern Colorado, for example, have no pot stores at all, and residents have to drive a considerable distance to shop legally. I doubt there are any states in the U.S. where a retail marijuana store can open if a town doesn't want it; please correct me if I am wrong

Advice from Tyler Cowen: "You should re-read the best books; you should have hobbies that make you think more, and you should argue for what you think is correct, but also understand it’s likely that you’re wrong." Sounds a bit like RAW to me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Paul Krassner on Lyndon LaRouche

In Reason magazine, the wonderful Paul Krassner reviews Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves, by Matthew Sweet, a book about American deserters from the Vietnam War who wound up in Sweden. Many came under the domination of Lyndon LaRouche. 

LaRouche's crazy beliefs, or more precisely, his ability to get other people to take his crazy ideas seriously, are a striking feature of the American political landscape. Sometimes Donald Trump seems like a LaRouche who can play to the masses.

Apparently the book also shows that the sense of pervasive paranoia during the 1960s and 1970s depicted in Illuminatus! isn't something the authors made up. Krassner, writing about the pressures on the deserters:

"And part of the problem was that the deserters were clearly under surveillance. When many of an organization's members are already damaged people, and when their leader is already subjecting them to psychological abuse, it doesn't do anyone's sanity any favors to have actual good reasons to suspect some of your comrades are spies. As Sweet interviews the men who fled to Stockholm, he finds that several still carry suspicions about one another to this day—and he can't help wondering about some of them himself.

"Sweet never quite solves the mystery of who was or wasn't a government agent, but he paints an engrossing portrait of a place and time where such fears were rampant."

Many people who read this blog likely would enjoy Krassner's Confessions of a Raving Unconfined Nut (see my remarks here, and also here.)

Hat tip, Jesse Walker.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

BBC radio programming notes

Apparently John Higgs (left) likes to pass the time hanging out in London with Stefano Bollani and Terry Gilliam when he's between BBC Radio appearances. (Via Twitter). 

On the evening of November 26, the BBC Radio 4 program "A Good Read," apparently a show in which guests discuss their favorite books, will rebroadcast a 2007 episode that features Ken Campbell talking about Illuminatus! Then on Nov. 27, "Comedian Gráinne Maguire and alternative history author John Higgs talk to presenter Harriett Gilbert about the books they love and want to share."

More details here (for the Ken Campbell) and here (for the John Higgs.)

I can't tune in BBC radio from Ohio, but apparently once the programs air, I can download them as podcasts.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Week 14

Beethoven hard at work on one of Eric Wagner's favorite pieces, the Missa Solemnis

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections 4 - 6 of chapter 8 (pg. 242 - 268) and listen to Op. 132 repeatedly. Please comment on this week’s reading/listening and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.

I hope all goes well. Tom suggested we all name our favorite Beethoven pieces. I would choose the Ninth Symphony, the Missa Solemnis, the last four piano sonatas (op. 106, 109, 110, and 111), and the late quartets.

This week’s quartet features the famous Heiliger Dankesang. Beethoven wrote this in the Lydian mode. Almost all music composed during Beethoven’s lifetime fell into either a major or minor key. This proved true of almost all music during the Common Practice Period, the period in classical music from the early seventeenth century until the late nineteenth century. In the late nineteenth century composers after Wagner such as Mahler, Debussy, Strauss, and Scriabin started pushing tonality to the breaking point. Before the Common Practice Period composers often used other modes besides the major and minor.

If you play all the white notes from C to C on a piano, you get a major scale. If you play all the white notes from A to A, you get a natural minor scale. If you play all the white notes from D to D, you get the Dorian mode, from E to E the Phrygian, from F to F the Lydian, and from G to G the Mixolydian. Medieval and Renaissance music used those latter four modes. Beethoven decided to go back to the day before yesterday to compose the third movement of Op. 132 and used the Lydian mode. (Miles Davis and Gil Evans used these modes in jazz in the 1950’s).

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Emperor Norton plaque restored

The restored Emperor Norton plaque. 

A formerly blackened plaque honoring the Emperor Norton (of Illuminatus! fame) has been restored in San Francisco. The plaque has (mostly) not been on public view for the last eight years, but apparently will be mounted soon at a train station. Here are the details. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

'The Invisibles' coming to TV

Grant Morrison at Comic-Con 

Grant Morrison's comic book series, The Invisibles, is coming to TV.

"Morrison’s newest project with UCP will be developing and writing his long-running comic series 'The Invisibles' for television. Set in 2020, the series follows an elite international cell of occult freedom fighters dedicated to the creation of a better world for everyone by any means necessary."

For a refresher on how Illuminatus! influenced the series, see this excellent Prop Anon interview. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

War on some drugs news

Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

The legalization of marijuana was on the ballot Tuesday in two states; it passed in Michigan with 56 percent voting in favor, but failed in conservative North Dakota, with only about 40 percent in favor. So it seems likely that the legalization movement will continue to advance in liberal or moderate states, but may not move forward in socially conservative states. Libertarian law professor Ilya Somin believes change on the federal level is at least possible. 

Michigan is the first midwestern state to legalize marijuana. The Detroit Free Press has an explainer on what passage means: Possession will become legal by early December, but retail sales are not likely until 2020.

One interesting feature of Michigan is that there is a provision to license small businesses.

"Microbusinesses – similar to microbreweries or microdistilleries – are licensed to cultivate up to 150 marijuana plants and process, package, and sell directly to consumers. They help ensure opportunities for small businesses."

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The space migration dream remains alive

Jeff Bezos (Wikimedia Commons photo) 

The dream of space migration promoted by the likes of Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson remains alive; Elon Musk is perhaps the best known exponent, but Jeff Bezos is further along with his own rocket company than I realized, according to this fascinating Wired magazine piece by Steven Levy.  (The Oct. 15 piece identifies the main leaders of startup space ventures as Musk, Bezos, Paul Allen and Richard Branson. Of course, Allen has just died, so who knows what happens to Allen's effort).

Bezos' Blue Origin rocket company is connected to one of my favorite writers besides you-know-who: 

After Princeton, Bezos put his energies toward finance, working at a hedge fund. He left it to move to Seattle and start Amazon. Not long after, he was seated at a dinner party with science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. Their conversation quickly left the bounds of Earth. “There’s sort of a matching game that goes on where you climb a ladder, figuring out the level of someone’s fanaticism about space by how many details they know,” Stephenson says. “He was incredibly high on that ladder.” The two began spending weekend afternoons shooting off model rockets.

In 1999, Stephenson and Bezos went to see the movie October Sky, about a boy obsessed with rocketry, and stopped for coffee afterward. Bezos said he’d been thinking for a long time about starting a space company. Why not start it today?” Stephenson asked. The next year, Bezos incorporated a company called Blue Operations LLC. Stephenson secured space in a former envelope factory in a funky industrial area in south Seattle.

When Bezos talks about space migration, he sounds not unlike Leary or Wilson:

The solution, as Bezos sees it, is to get off the planet to better exploit solar power, so that the sun’s abundant photons can support the fruitful existence of countless people. (We’d also grow real fruit in space.) “Wouldn’t your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s lives be so much more exciting if there were a trillion humans in the solar system who used more of that output to do amazing things?”

Incidentally, the Washington Post seems to be doing well under Bezos' ownership. 

Thank you Charles Faris for sharing this with me. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Robert Anton Wilson on UFOs

Martin Wagner has uncovered another "lost" Robert Anton Wilson article: "Has Contact Already Been Made? A Synergetic Theory of UFO’s," published back in 1978.

A few days ago, I noted John Higgs' observation that UFO reports had suddenly fallen off in the era of the cell phone, when everyone always has a camera with them. Wilson's emphasis on the subjective nature of UFO reports, as opposed to the assumption that they are literally spaceships from other planets, seems prescient.

Bravo to Martin for another great find.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A business book by RAW fans?

The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets by Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker came out in 2002. The book apparently is a business book that describes how fringe ideas or practices can become mainstream, and both authors are described as futurists. Mr. Wacker died last year.  Both have written other books.

Our English friend Nick Helweg-Larsen emailed me about the book after noticing that Robert Anton Wilson is mentioned in the footnotes, which have a citation from Quantum Psychology on page 128. The cited quotation is from Nick Herbert, quoted as saying, "Reality? We don't got to show you no steeeenking reality."

I don't have time to read the book right now, but when I looked through the footnotes I found citations from a variety of people in RAW's circle or who knew RAW, including Jesse Walker, R.U. Sirius and Douglas Rushkoff, and references to people RAW was interested in, such as Clifford Irving, Rupert Sheldrake and Joseph Campbell.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman readng group, Week Thirteen

The Grateful Dead in 1980. (Creative Commons photo by Chris Stone). 

Kerman Week 13 – Op. 127

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections 1 – 3 of chapter 8 (pg. 223 - 242) and Op. 127 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. On page 239 Kerman talks about “the extraordinary sense of coherence created by the sequence of movements in Beethoven’s greatest compositions.” (Note that he considers the quartets Op. 127, 132 and 131 Beethoven’s greatest compositions. Bob Wilson would likely prefer the Ninth Symphony and the Hammerklavier Sonata.) I enjoyed Jan Swafford’s biography of Beethoven, but I disagreed with how much he stressed thematic unity as the key to the coherence between movements in Beethoven’s music, especially in his early music. I find Kerman’s more nuanced approach, emphasizing harmony and form as well as melody, much more convincing.

On page 242 Kerman says, “The exquisitely calculated journey leads to a castle in the clouds.” This reminds me of a comment in The Deadhead’s Taping Compendium, Volume I, calling “Dark Star”, “St. Stephen”, “The Eleven”, “China Cat Sunflower”, and “Clementine” “psychedelic castle music” for their Medieval elements.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Cosmic Trigger II coming soon!

An old cover for Cosmic Trigger II. I am looking forward to seeing the new Hilaritas Press cover. 

I have no official news for Cosmic Trigger, Vol. 2, Down to Earth, but I do know it is next in line to be published in a new edition by Hilaritas Press and that Rasa and his allies are hard at work. It is one of my favorite RAW books, and I look forward to an excuse to read it again.

Rasa recently shared a great quote from the book:

Some evenings I applauded a particularly gorgeous sunset and shouted, “Author! Author!” All of us Infidels have our own moments of piety and forget the real Identity of the artist who makes this world so weirdly lovely.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Hail Eris! All Hail the Saucers!

 When I was a boy, I used to love reading books about UFOs by the likes of Frank Edwards, the author of Flying Saucers -- Serious Business. I eventually outgrew my UFO interests, but fortunately Adam Gorightly did not. His upcoming book ‘A’ is for Adamski: The Golden Age of the UFO Contactees (available "before too damn long") seems likely to be a great read.

I base this opinion on Adam's new Historia Discordia article, "Discordianism Meets Ufology Part 00004: Were Gray Barker and Jim Moseley Original Discordians?" about a couple of memorable UFO pranks, including one pulled on UFO "contactee" George Adamski.

The letter in question—signed by the fictitious R.E. Straith, a member of the State Department’s “Cultural Exchange Committee”—informed Adamski that his 1952 encounter with Orthon the Venusian in Desert Center, California, had been confirmed by government officials, and Straith encouraged Adamski to drop by the Cultural Exchange Committee’s D.C. offices whenever he was in town.

Adamski all but wet his pants over this phony State Department endorsement, trotting out the Straith Letter at every opportunity to support his ET contact claims. This prompted an investigation by the real State Department and FBI, who ordered Adamski to stop pimping this cockamamie letter as it was an obvious hoax and there was no such department as the “Cultural Exchange Committee.” Of course this didn’t dissuade Adamski, who claimed that the government was trying to suppress the Straith Letter from the public. But he would not be deterred!

It was John Higgs who pointed out that sightings of UFO encounters suddenly declined in the cell phone era, when everyone walks around with a camera. See the chapter on "Science Fiction" in his excellent Stranger Than We Can Imagine.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Timothy Leary note

Timothy Leary during the recording of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." (Creative Commons photo)

The Butterfly Language blog  has an interesting post up about Timothy Leary, examining his legacy and noting that not everyone is positive about him. Val concludes, "I believe his desire to see humanity free and ready to evolve to the next level was sincere. (but that is me, reading a bunch of books; read books for yourself and decide for yourself)."

Val links to what she calls "an absolute essential short text," an essay by Leary called “The Post-Larval Must Be Very Cautious in Communicating with Larval Humans," which from she got the title of her blog. It is interesting, and it's another discussion of the eight circuit model; does anyone know if it's an excerpt from a book? Is is from Exo-Psychology? And I'm still not clear how we "attain biological immortality, leave the womb-planet, become galactic citizens and fuse with superior interstellar entities."