Monday, December 17, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Coda

Photo by Cameron Mourot on Unsplash

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger 

I think Oz wrote the coda to this group. Please check it out at his blog. (Tom wrote about it last Friday.) I hope you had a wonderful Beethoven’s birthday yesterday. Thank you for participating in this group and allowing me to share one of my favorite books with you.

Richard Rasa has shared that Bob Wilson did not want to get channeled. I do not have strong beliefs about survival after death, and I have not had any strong feelings of communication from Bob since his death. I have wondered how he would have responded to stuff in our world over the past 11 plus years: the Obama presidency, the lost Orson Welles film, etc. I know he loved Beethoven immensely, and I suspect this reading group would have pleased him.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Happy Beethoven's birthday

An 1815 portrait of Beethoven by Joseph Willibrord Mähler

Happy Beethoven's birthday!

Eric Wagner's final Beethoven reading group post will run tomorrow.

Eric had a striking statement in his last post: "I consider these quartets as perhaps the greatest music ever written."

Probably Beethoven's nine symphonies are his most popular works. The 32 piano sonatas are probably the works I listen to the most often.

As Robert Anton Wilson noted at least once (I can't give you a citation), the string quartets are what Beethoven worked on at the end of his life. The last symphony, the Ninth, premiered in 1824. The last piano sonata, the very interesting No. 32, opus 111, dates to 1822. String Quartet No. 16 dates to 1826. Beethoven died March 26, 1827. As this Jan Swafford piece notes, the last piece Beethoven completed was a new ending for the No. 16 quartet.

Update: Martin Wagner points out today is Philip K. Dick's birthday, too.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Today's arts craze

The pastoral Whataburger that you come to Texas hoping to find. 

Robert Anton Wilson fans have a lot of competition as we labor to bring his novels and essays to the attention to the public. The latest craze on Etsy? Paintings of Texas fast food chain restaurants, set against beautiful natural scenery. I actually kind of miss Whataburger up here in Ohio, but don't look for a print of this painting on my wall. Via art hipster Supergee. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Oz Fritz's tour notes

Simrit Kaur (Creative Commons photo by Fiz327)

Partially inspired by the ongoing Beethoven discussion group led by Eric Wagner and partially by his work being on tour as the sound mixer for the world music artist Simrit, Oz Fritz has a new post up at his blog. 

At one point, Oz Googles Bob Dylan and Beethoven and pulls up these lyrics, from "Tombstone Blues":

Where Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped their bedrolls
Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole
And the National Bank at a profit sells roadmaps to the soul
To the old folks home and the college.

Oz writes. "The title 'Tombstone Blues' obviously suggests death.  Old folks home suggests death lurking close by.  A college gives education.  The Invisible College educates invisibly. Educate yourself about death; make a roadmap to the soul.  I submit that Beethoven's music contains similar instructions.  A lot of great music seems didactic in a multiplicity of different ways along the lines of a spiritual education, an education into the mysteries of death and the life that follows.  Every SIMRIT concert does, different each time."

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christina's RAW Christmas memories

Christina Pearson at RAW Day in 2017. (David J. Brown photo.)

[Robert Anton Wilson's daughter, Christina Pearson, remembering past Christmases from the Wilsons. Reprinted by permission of the RAW Estate from the recent announcement that replicas of Robert Anton Wilson's spiral ring are now available for order. -- The Management]

A Wilson Christmas Tale…

Winter Greetings! This morning as I was carefully unwrapping our Christmas Tree ornaments, I began to contemplate the history of Christmas in our family. I also realized that the only area of my whole life that is actually organized, is how I treat these ornaments!

Looking back, it seemed that there were always catastrophes that occurred on a regular basis on holidays – like the time my father (Bob) was perched on a ladder putting the star up on top of a fully decorated 6 foot tree, only to have the ladder slide into the tree, and down the whole kaboodle went! It was QUITE the show - Bob yelling, the cat meowing, dog barking, my baby sister crying, Arlen (my mom) rushing in and adding to the hysteria… ah, yes!

Or while cooking holiday meals, my mom would wear totally outrageous (for cooking) clothing, that would inevitably have a big drooping hanging sleeve immersed in gravy, or catch fire, get stuck in the oven door; always something!

This morning as I thought back to calm and not-so-calm winter celebrations of Christmas, I remembered one in particular; I was 8 years old, we lived in New York City, and I was very, very sick. This was back in 1964. At the time, Bob was working for several tabloids, writing “junk,” as he called it, and we lived on the 11th floor of a big old apartment building on West End Avenue in Manhattan. We didn’t have much money, but my grandmother had died the year before, leaving a small inheritance amount to my mother and her sister.

This small inheritance had given Bob and Arlen the opportunity to move back to New York City, which they literally jumped at the chance to do; enough with the “back to the Land” phase, that had landed us in Ohio, back to the city where we belong! Just after being let out of school for the holiday break, I had come down with a terrible bout of Scarlet Fever as soon as we were let out of school for Christmas break Just figures… Anyway, it was Christmas Eve, and I was burning up with a very high fever. The doctor had already come and gone, making a house call (yes, they really used to do this!) in the middle of the night to assess me and administer medication. Mom had me lying on the couch in the living room, so she could keep an eye on me and give me regular sponge baths in an attempt to bring down my temperature.

I remember very little, except I was super ill, and something magical was happening! As I lay there on the couch, sweating and rolling incessantly, Bob was hard at work across the room. That night he built us a “Troll House!” I guess you could call it a doll house, but it really was for our little troll dolls that we loved dearly. And let me tell you something! My dad was SO not a good crafts person, even though he had been trained as an engineer. He took 6 similar cardboard boxes, and attached them so three were on top, and three below. He then “wallpapered” the inner walls with an assortment of patterned papers, ran a string of Christmas lights through as ceiling lights, and cut little doors in between the “rooms.” When you stood back, what you saw was 6 rooms, fully open to you.

During this unusual production of Bob’s (he did NOT generally try to do any type of crafty projects), I do remember hearing a lot of strange sounds emerging from him as he struggled to get these box rooms in order; at the time it seemed totally normal for him to be growling… squealing, and randomly swearing; but looking back, it may have been my fever but I will never know for sure!

My parents then proceeded to fill each room with little toy furniture, with Arlen periodically running over to the couch to bathe my whole body with rubbing alcohol. For me, I was swimming in the scent of the alcohol, while my eyes were dazzled by the little blinking tree lights now adorning our “doll-house.” It was the most magical thing I had ever seen, and it was the night I learned that Santa Claus was really my parents.

Interestingly enough, it was not a disappointment or let-down to discover the truth about Santa; instead I could FEEL the love rolling off them both as they worked to care for me and create this little fantasy doll-house in honor of the Celebration of Light being born in the midst of Darkness.

I treasure this memory, however distorted it was from my illness; that night I learned about love manifesting as action, a lesson I have never forgotten.

   All my love, Christina

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Steve Pratt publishes new 'Tale of the Tribe'

At the end of TSOG: The Thing That Ate the Constitution, Robert Anton Wilson outlined his plans for a book, Tale of the Tribe.

He never completed it, but Steve "Fly" Pratt published a book on the subject late last year, and now has just released a new edition, Fly On The Tale of the Tribe: A Rollercoaster Ride With Robert Anton Wilson. It is on Amazon and available to his Patreon supporters. 

Steve explains, "Late last year I hastily self-published this book about influencers on Robert Anton Wilson and about the tale of the tribe. Recently, new additions, chops changes stops, and spins were edited in. I must confess, the text was a little messy before, now it's straightened out somewhat I'm happy to spread the word."

Excerpt from the "Note From the Author" in the book:

"Sticking to a slightly strict interpretation, in the attempt to be precise from the get-go, the tale of the tribe is taken here to describe three things:

"1. An unfinished, unpublished book by Wilson.

"2. The 8 week class called Tale Of The Tribe led by Wilson in

"3. An epic poem including history, two examples of such a magnum opus are the Cantos of Pound, and Finnegans Wake by Joyce. Each a wild jungle of experimental language, global epics in a whole new style, to be explored with an open mind over a long period, and to challenge aesthetic, ethic, historic and moral prejudice at the same time. Complex authors their complex work to deal with it. This ain’t a coca-cola ad."

Cover by MVP Bobby Campbell.

I have a copy of the new edition (I'm a Patreon supporter) and hope to read it soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

RAW on what artists do

Photo by Vuitton Lim on Unsplash

A movie theater is the best place to learn the true meaning of Plato's parable of the prisoners in the cave, who accept shadows as reality. Every artist who moves us, from a movie maker to Beethoven or Shakespeare, is a bit of a hypnotist. In this sense, that seemingly stupid and mechanical contraption we call "society" must rank as the greatest artist (or hypnotist) on the planet. -- Robert Anton Wilson

(Cited in Facebook by James Heffernan. From Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth, the "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" chapter. Heffernan is the author of Nonlocal Nature: The Eight Circuits of Consciousness. )

Monday, December 10, 2018

Beethoven/Kerman reading group, Week Eighteen

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

Kerman Week 18 – Op. 135

This week please finish the book and listen to Op. 135 and the last movement of Op. 130. Please comment on this week’s reading.

I hope all goes well. People often roughly divide Beethoven’s work into three periods. The quartets fall into these periods quite nicely. At the end of each period he tends to look backward and compose in a somewhat Haydnesque manner. One can see this in Symphony #2, Symphony #8, and both works in this chapter, Op. 135 and the new ending to Op. 130.

Pg. 362: “Muss es sein” means “must it be?” “Es muss sein!” means “It must be!” Bob Wilson plays with this in Schroedinger’s Cat.

Pg. 362-363: Pantalone, Spavento, and Brighella come from commedia dell’arte. Melusine refers to a water spirit. I had forgotten that Proust’s narrator compares Gilberte to Melusine. Wikipedia says “Melusine appears to have inspired aspects of the character Mélisande, who is associated with springs and waters, in Maurice Maeterlinck's play, Pelléas et Mélisande, first produced in 1893.  Claude Debussy adapted it as an opera by the same name, produced in 1902.”

Pg. 373: I like Riezler’s notion of seeing both versions of Op. 130 as organic. This reminds me of model agnosticism. The two versions of the quartet seem like two universes. One doesn’t have to prefer one to the other or question the artistic validity of the quartet as a whole as Kerman does. Of course, Kerman does a great job of illuminating the wonderful things Beethoven does in both versions of the quartet.

Pg. 375: Kerman says of contemplating the Beethoven quartets, “it has a way of shutting out other prospects.” Often when I finish this book, I don’t know what to listen to next. I consider these quartets as perhaps the greatest music ever written. Where does one go from here?

Pg. 376: I love the reference to “chthonic powers” – very Lovecraftian.

Pg. 379: When he discusses the personalities of individual quartets, it reminds me of how Crowley discusses getting to know the 78 tarot cards as individuals over the course of a lifetime.

As Schroeder would say, only six days until Beethoven’s birthday.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

RAW reviews 'Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Growers Guide'

Another big discovery by Martin Wagner: Robert Anton Wilson's book review of Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Growers Guide by Terence and Dennis McKenna (writing under pseudonyms), published in August 1976.

A couple of excerpts:

Only narcs and the major drug dealers, that oddly symbiotic alliance, can possibly oppose the self-evident intent of the authors, which is to teach the reader how to make pure, undiluted, 100 percent safe neurochemicals at home, and thereby avoid the hazards of the black market.

It is indeed a splendid dream. Imagine: every Head in the country begins growing his or her own magic psilocybin mushrooms. Funny fungi sprouting everywhere. Millions, then billions of golden-headed darlings bringing the most ancient Mayan secrets to meta-phase nervous systems, coast to coast. The local distributor of mescaline-cut-cut-with-garbage, which he calls LSD, pounds on the door desparately, “Hey, I’m selling blotter at 10 cents a hit this week” — and nobody answers.


The only thing wrong with this book, aside from the price, is that they forgot to mention that you should always absolutely in every case whatever the circumstances play Beethoven’s Ninth during the third hour of the mushroom experience. With earphones and your eyes closed. Then o dearly beloved may you find the Gold of the Philosophers, the Stone of the Wise, the Medicine of Metals, the Rosy Cross, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness. Io Pan Io Pangenitor Io Panphage Hagios Hagios Hagios IAO.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Daisy Campbell on 'Pigspurt' and other matters

"The first #MuMufication brick is laid by @DaisyEris on the pyramid stone for the #ToxtethDayOfTheDead #PeoplesPyramid. She is watched over by Jimmy Cauty, Bill Drummond, @GreenFuneralCo and procession participants. #KLF" (caption from @violetmaze on Twitter)

The Herald, a Scottish newspaper in Glasgow that dates back to 1783, runs quite a nice long article on Daisy Eris Campbell by the paper's theater critic, Neil Cooper. Applause to Mr. Cooper for doing quite a good job. He explains the Toxteth Day of the Dead, which I've seen mysterious references to on Twitter (see brief video, above) and also explains why the final performance of Daisy's "Pigspurt's Daughter" will be in Shetland (on Dec. 10):

The Lerwick date for Pigspurt’s Daughter came about after Campbell “put a call out to various seekers and spores.” One of these was Jeff Merrifield, whose connections with Ken Campbell date back to his tenure at Bolton Octagon running a touring community company. This later morphed into The Ken Campbell Roadshow, whose ranks included Sylvester McCoy and Bob Hoskins.

Merrifield went on to work with the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool, and is the company’s official chronicler. He also wrote a biography of Ken, called Seeker! Now a long-term resident of Shetland, where he creates artistic capers of his own, Merrifield’s invitation to bring Pigspurt’s Daughter to Lerwick was a no-brainer.

“Me and Dad always wanted to go to Shetland to see Jeff,” says Campbell, “but we never made it. Now we’ve contrived to bring Pigspurt’s Daughter there on his birthday with his best mate. I don’t think I’ll make any money, but it’s being done for magical reasons.”

Friday, December 7, 2018

Online reading groups in 2019

We've been doing online reading groups at this blog for years, generally with pretty good participation, and archiving them so that anyone who reads the book after the reading group is done can go back and read the blog posts as he/she reads the book. (I don't know how often anyone does this).

2018 has been something of an anomaly for the blog, as we have covered two books that were not written by Robert Anton Wilson: Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (which, aside from its intrinsic interest to serious readers influenced RAW's The Widow's Son) and we are winding up Eric Wagner's discussion of Joseph Kerman's The Beethoven Quartets. 

For 2019, I suggest we return to Wilson, with the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, or at least with The Earth Will Shake and The Widow's Son. All three books (including of course Nature's God) have been published in definitive editions by Hilaritas Press and it seems to me they deserve some love and attention. I'm particularly fond of The Widow's Son and think of it as a neglected book. We could maybe start with The Earth Will Shake in February and go from there.

This suggestion is not set in stone; you could make a case, for example,  for Prometheus Rising, also available in republication from Hilaritas, and also worth a discussion group. I'm open to ideas and discussion.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Their" self help books, and "Ours"

Via Marginal Revolution: Tim Harford's list of his favorite self help books. 

I always feel like I'm not getting as much done as I'd like to, so I will particularly look at his top two recommendations, Designing Your Life and Getting Things Done.

But looking at the list also reminded me that two of Robert Anton Wilson's books, Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology, also are treated as "self help" books by many of his fans.

Note that there is a Quantum Psychology online discussion group archived at this site (look at the bottom right of the page); we probably need to do Prometheus Rising sometime. And see Caroline Contillo on "How Quantum Psychology Changed My Life." 

Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology have both been republished in definitive editions by Hilaritas Press.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Christmas with the Wilsons

From left: Rasa, Christina Pearson, German radio journalist Maximilian Netter, Marlis Jermutus

The RAW Trust newsletter that announced the availability of a replica of Bob Wilson's spiral ring, which I blogged about yesterday, also contained a piece by RAW daughter Christina Wilson about her Christmas memories. Excerpt:

Looking back, it seemed that there were always catastrophes that occurred on a regular basis on holidays – like the time my father (Bob) was perched on a ladder putting the star up on top of a fully decorated 6 foot tree, only to have the ladder slide into the tree, and down the whole kaboodle went! It was QUITE the show -- Bob yelling, the cat meowing, dog barking, my baby sister crying, Arlen (my mom) rushing in and adding to the hysteria… ah, yes!

Read the whole thing. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

RAW estate releases spiral ring replica

The Robert Anton Wilson Trust has announced that a replica of Robert Anton Wilson's spiral ring is now available, as a ring or as a pendant.

From the announcement:

Our silversmith in Rhode Island has given us a reasonable deal on reproducing exact replicas of Bob's sterling silver spiral ring, and we are ready to take orders! When you order online, you will tell us your ring size. If you don't know your ring size, we've included easy instructions on the order page for figuring that out. Each ring will be separately ordered as soon as you complete the online form. Please be patient. It will take some number of weeks for the ring to be finished, sent to us and then packaged for shipping. The first ring orders should be shipping out in January. The price for one ring is $123, the same as the price for the pendant.

Rasa models the pendant. 

Much more at the link, including other celebrity models (such as Martin Wagner), some mystery models, an excerpt from Cosmic Trigger II explaining the ring and a special message from Christina! 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Kerman/Beethoven reading group, Week Seventeen

Cover of the Grateful Dead's "Blues for Allah." 

By Eric Wagner, guest blogger

This week please read sections 4 and 5 of chapter 10 (pg. 325 - 349) and listen to Op. 131. Please comment on this week’s reading.

I hope all goes well. On pg. 325 Kerman discusses Tovey’s ideas about normality. Tovey and Kerman use the word normal in a very different way than Bob Wilson did in “Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal." In fact, the theme of normalcy (in the Tovey sense) runs all through the analysis of this quartet.

Pg. 331: Kareol refers to a famous house in the Netherlands built for Julius Carl Bunge, a big Richard Wagner fan. According to Wikipedia, “there were many tiles in the house with pictures referring to the opera Tristan und Isolde.” (Of course, Wagner called Tristan und Isolde a music drama, not an opera.) I like how Kerman calls the opening fugue a “great machine”.

Pg. 332: I look forward to the film Dominant Preparation with a Vengance with Bruce Willis as Beethoven. “Allegra molto vivace, motherf---er!”

Pg. 334: Dorabella and Fiordiligi – two sisters in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutti.

Pg. 346: Wagner’s “stupendous fiddler” makes me think of the fiddler on the cover of the Grateful Dead’s Blues for Allah.

Pg. 346 – 347: Tovey makes Beethoven and Wagner’s powers of modulation sound like mutant superpowers.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Daisy Campbell/Neal Stephenson news

The details for tickets for the last UK performance of Pigspurt's Daughter Dec. 10 in Shetland are now clear: Tickets are 10 pounds, at the door only. See flyer above. Follow Daisy on Twitter. 

Neal Stephenson is my favorite living writer, perhaps some of you also like him. He has a new novel coming out in June 2019, information here.