Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Anarchist science fiction website
anarchySF is a site that catalogs anarchist or "anarchy adjacent" science fiction, including works that have won the Prometheus Award.
There's a nice entry for Illuminatus!, which begins:
"The Illuminatus! trilogy has more to say about more varieties of anarchism than any other work of sf. It's a remarkable display of intersecting paranoid conspiracy theories, interwoven with elements of Verne, Rand and Lovecraft. A number of central characters are anarchists of one form or another."
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Another image of Robert Anton Wilson from Trans Van Santos. Source.
Trojan War podcast, includes story of Eris and the origin of the war.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
War on some drugs at The Week
William Falk, editor in chief of The Week. (Twitter account photo)
Robert Anton Wilson coined the term "the war on some drugs" to capture the American hypocrisy of putting users in some drugs in prison and encouraging the use of other drugs as a matter of policy. An An American newsmagazine's latest issue embodies the attitude RAW wrote about.
"The Week," a news magazine that's essentially a digest of centrist conventional wisdom, has a roundup of reviews of the new Alex Berenson reefer madness book, Tell Your Children, carefully cherry picked to make Berenson's book sound respectable, rather than the widely-derided piece of crap it apparently is.
That's on page 21 of the current issue, i.e., Feb. 1, 2019. On page 27, the same magazine has a roundup article on recommended "bargain picks" of bourbon, ones that the magazine says are "real finds."
"An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States." That's from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
There's more. On page 7 of the same issue, "The Week" has a piece on allegations that members of the Sackler family pushed for massive prescriptions of OxyContin, the apparently addictive opioid that helped launch the opioid epidemic.
How dare the Sacklers think that it's OK for them to peddle an addictive substance that kills thousands of Americans? That's the job of "The Week."
Obviously (if it isn't obvious), I don't favor bringing back prohibition of alcohol. But wouldn't it make sense to rely upon facts, and fairness, in setting policies in law, or at news magazines?
Monday, January 28, 2019
Events announced for Cat Vincent, Bobby Campbell
Two prominent Robert Anton Wilson have announced up coming events: Ian "Cat" Vincent and Bobby Campbell.
Cat, from his email newsletter, Caterwauling:
"I will be giving a talk and leading a small public ritual on 9 February, at Sheffield's Airy Fairy bookshop. Airy Fairy, aside from having the best possible name for a witch shop, has been running a series of workshops in many areas of magical practice, organised by owner Anwen Fryer Burrows (of the Festival 23 Massive) and OG chaote Dave Lee. The theme of this event is "Magic, Witchcraft, Chaos & Beyond - Real Magic In The Real World", and I'll be talking about The Urban Cunning. Expect a lot on street spellcasting, Landscape Punk (which is psychogeography without the academics), nicking everything not nailed down in urban fantasy and the like. Then, we'll nip down the road, find somewhere with some buddleia and do a thing.
"£23 of your Earth Pounds: we plan to make it a day to remember."
Follow the link for more information. See also Cat Vincent's lecture on "The Occultism of Robert Anton Wilson. " And in the same territory, listen to Gregory Arnott on RAW and magick.
Meanwhile, Bobby Campbell, who joined Gregory and I at Confluence last year, also has an announcement: "ITEM! I'll be at the Big Apple Comic Con @bigapplecc March 9th & 10th, where I'll be premiering AGNOSIS! #2 "Open System Self" :)))"
For more on Bobby, see his Patreon account.
Sunday, January 27, 2019
'The Universe Next Door' a Prometheus Award Hall of Fame finalist
Here's the official press release:
The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected five finalists for the 2019 Prometheus Hall of Fame award.
This year's finalists are:
• "As Easy as A.B.C.," by Rudyard Kipling (first published 1912 in London Magazine), the second of his "airship utopia" stories, envisions a twenty-first century world founded on free travel, the rule of law, and an inherited abhorrence of crowds. Officials of the Aerial Board of Control are summoned to the remote town of Chicago, which is convulsed by a small group's demands for revival of the nearly forgotten institution of democracy.
• "Sam Hall," a short story by Poul Anderson (first published 1953 in Astounding Science Fiction): A story set in a security-obsessed United States, where computerized record-keeping enables the creation of a panopticon society. The insertion of a false record into the system leads to unintended consequences. Anderson, the first sf author to be honored with a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement, explores political implications of computer technology that now, decades later, are widely recognized.
• "Harrison Bergeron," by Kurt Vonnegut (first published 1961 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), a dystopian short story, set in a United States where constitutional amendments and a Handicapper General mandate that no one can be stupider, uglier, weaker, slower (or better) than anyone else, satirizes the authoritarian consequences of radical egalitarianism taken to an extreme that denies individuality and diversity. Vonnegut dramatizes the destruction of people's lives and talents and the obliteration of basic humanity via a denial of emotions and knowledge that leaves parents unable to mourn a son's death.
• "Conquest by Default," by Vernor Vinge (first published 1968 in Analog), Vinge's first exploration of anarchism, offers a story about human civilization being overwhelmed by a superior alien force, told from the point of view of an alien sympathetic to the underdogs, who finds a way to save the humans by breaking up governments into much smaller components. The alien culture uses a legal twist to foster extreme cultural diversity, as characters draw explicit parallels between the plight of humanity in the face of superior alien tech and the fate of Native Americans faced with European invaders.
• Schrödinger's Cat: The Universe Next Door, by Robert Anton Wilson (first published 1979 by Pocket Books), a parallel-worlds novel, draws upon theories from quantum mechanics to explore themes about the evil of violence, particularly political coercion and the carnage of the Vietnam War. The speculative fantasy features alternate versions of characters from the Illuminatus! trilogy by Wilson and Robert Shea, which won the Hall of Fame Award in 1986.
In addition to these nominees, the Hall of Fame Committee considered nine other works: "The Man Who Sold the Stars," by Gregory Benford; "ILU-486," by Amanda Ching; The Mirror Maze, by James P. Hogan; That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis; A Mirror for Observers, by Edgar Pangborn; A Time of Changes, by Robert Silverberg; Daemon and Freedom, by Daniel Suarez, as a combined nomination; The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn, by T.H. White, as a combined nomination; and "Even the Queen," by Connie Willis.
The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include gold coins and plaques for the winners for Best Novel, Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame), and occasional Special Awards.
For four decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor private social cooperation over legalized coercion, expose abuses and excesses of obtrusive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the mutually respectful foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, mutual respect, and civilization itself.
All Libertarian Futurist Society members are eligible to nominate, vote on and help select this year's inductee into the Prometheus Hall of Fame. After the final vote, by mid-2019, the award will be presented at the Dublin Worldcon.|
For more information or to nominate a classic work for next year, contact Hall of Fame judging committee chair William H. Stoddard (firstname.lastname@example.org) at any time. Nominees may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including prose fiction, stage plays, film, television, other video, graphic novels, song lyrics, or epic or narrative verse, within the realm of science fiction and fantasy.
The Libertarian Futurist Society also presents the annual Prometheus Award for Best Novel and welcomes new members who are interested in science fiction and the future of freedom. More information is available at our website, www.lfs.org.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Wilhelm Reich's trustee has died
The Wilhelm Reich Museum. Did RAW ever make it to Maine and visit it?
If you think that Robert Anton Wilson may have exaggerated how badly Wilhelm Reich was persecuted by the U.S. government, I invite you to read this New York Times obituary for Mary Boyd Higgins, who served as the devoted trustee of Reich's estate, preserving his writings and establishing the Reich Museum (which I wondered if RAW had ever visited.)
"An Austrian-born Marxist who had linked fascism with sexual repression, Dr. Reich had the rare distinction of having his writings ordered destroyed by both the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s and the United States government in the 1950s, during the McCarthy era," the obituary observes. Reich died in a federal prison.
With little resources and facing a dire task, Boyd preserved Reich's work for future generations.
"When she was appointed trustee, in March 1959, Ms. Higgins had her work cut out for her.
"She quickly discovered that most of Dr. Reich’s personal papers, which he had wanted sealed for 50 years before anyone could see them, had been stolen; she had to start litigation to retrieve them. He wanted his Maine property turned into a museum; she would need to become an expert in museum design. She also studied copyright law in seeking to have his books republished.
"Another hurdle was paying for it all. The trust had just $823 (less than $6,000 in today’s dollars) for her to carry out his wishes. She would receive no salary."
It's interesting to compare Boyd's work with the efforts of the RAW Trust. Rasa and Christina have taken on quite a task.
I have a New York Times digital subscription (a real bargain if you watch for sales) and the obituary section is one of the best features, a fascinating look at American history. The Boyd obit is by Katharine Q. Seelye. I'd love to have her job.
Thanks to Jesse Walker for calling the obituary to my attention.
Friday, January 25, 2019
Swedish translation of Illuminatus!
Pelle Lindhe contacted me recently to explain that a Swedish translation of Illuminatus! is in the works and will be published soon. Lindhe is the translator.
"The publisher is Vertigo Förlag, a small independent publisher who keep the complete works of our beloved Marquise in print. In Swedish of course. Also other erotica classics and a lot of classic horror as well, including Meyrink, Lovecraft and Poe," Lindhe tells me.
I was curious whether H.P. Lovecraft and James Joyce are available in Swedish. "Lovecraft is translated entirely into Swedish, as well as Poe to my knowledge. Joyce came out rescently (Ulysses), although I consider him virtually impossible to translate. But Erik Andersson, who also made a new translation of Tolkien's ring, seem to have made a proper job according to reviews, I haven't read it in Swedish myself," Lindhe told me.
"We're planning to get the book out before the big book fair in Gothenburg in late September," Lindhe reports.
Thursday, January 24, 2019
New Ken Campbell podcasts
Want to hear"Ken Campbell's Letter to Robert Anton Wilson"?
News from Daisy Campbell:
"Very excited to announce that myself and David Bramwell have been plundering the archive and have managed to piece together audio recordings of almost all of Ken Campbell's extraordinary monologues.
"If you enjoyed Pigspurt's Daughter, you'll love these.
"Four of the twelve episodes are being broadcast on Resonance FM over four Tuesdays (4pm) starting on January 29th, which is when the podcast series will become available on iTunes.
"First up: 'Ken Campbell's Letter to Robert Anton Wilson' featuring Damanhur, Jackie Chan and The Laughing Jesus."
More here, including about Bramwell's "The Cult of Water" production, which I wish I could see.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
A few questions for Scott Apel on the new book
I had a few questions after the publication of the new Robert Anton Wilson book, Beyond Chaos and Beyond, drawn largely from the "Trajectories" newsletter that RAW and D. Scott Apel put out. The ebook is put out by Apel's ebook company and Scott edited the book, so I asked if I could send some questions. He agreed, so here is our interview:
Q. I'm already hearing from RAW fans who are anxious to get their hands on a paper copy of the book. Are there plans to make an edition available in paper, and if so, how soon will that happen?
D. Scott Apel: Yes, there will be a Print On Demand paperback version, probably within a few months. I have no exact schedule for that at this time. I am just now learning how to turn an ebook into a POD paperback, and since I'm pushing 70, my capacity for learning new shit like this is severely retarded (in the dictionary definition of the word, not in the politically incorrect interpretation). My "test book" is Science Fiction: An Oral History, and I'm already running into problems reformatting that for POD availability. If I can figure out how to format a decent-looking POD book, I want first to translate my novels (if only so my 88-year-old mother, who refuses to read ebooks, can read my work), then eventually Beyond Chaos and Beyond. Best advice I can give at this point is to check back with Amazon in a month or two for hard copy availability. I don't want to release a half-assed, crappy-looking POD version, so potential readers will have to endure my (rather steep) learning curve, I'm afraid...
Q. I noticed that the book is copyrighted both by you and by the Robert Anton Wilson Trust. Is this book published in cooperation with the trust?
D. Scott Apel: Yes. I have Christina Pearson's 100% blessing to reprint the copyrighted material from Trajectories in BCAB. Bob Wilson and I always shared copyright on this material, so I made sure I got the blessing of The Trust before I ever even started working on the book. We agreed that I'd publish Beyond Chaos and Beyond under my Impermanent Press imprint and sell the book for 3 years, at which point the copyright for all RAW-created content to which I own joint copyright will revert solely to The Trust. They're busy now republishing RAW's major works, but sometime within that 3-year window, our plan is that I donate to The Trust all material (audiotapes, videotapes, print, etc.) to which RAW and I shared joint copyright so The Trust will be the sole owners and can do with the material whatever they wish without my involvement. (In the case of Beyond Chaos and Beyond, for instance, I am the sole copyright holder for some of the material included. I would retain the copyright on the 1977 interview, for instance, since it's included in my book of sci-fi writer interviews, Science Fiction: An Oral History, and I would retain the copyright on RAW's essay "Afterwards," which he contributed to my Phil Dick Tribute volume, and to my BCAB essay on my association with RAW -- altho I would grant them the rights to reprint that essay if and when they republish the book. This might be more than you wanted to know, but the upshot is that as soon as The Trust is ready, I will turn over all my RAW material and copyrights to them and be out of the "RAW business" for good.)
Q. You've priced the ebook so cheaply anyone can afford it. I was wondering what your philosophy or your aim was with pricing it at 99 cents.
D. Scott Apel: Well... The 99 cent price was chosen because in order to give away gift copies, I have to purchase them myself. Now that I've accomplished that, I've raised the price to $4.99 for general sale. My novels sell at 99 cents because no one knows who the fuck I am, or if the books are any good, but I figure they might be willing to risk 99 cents to find out. (It's a variation on the internet rule of thumb that's been around for a couple decades: "99 cents is the new free.") But even $4.99 is pretty damn cheap for a book packed with so much info. My reasoning is that I know I'll never get rich off these books, so why not price them so that people can afford them? (I also recall from my days as a home video columnist when, in the mid-1980s, Disney began selling videocassettes of Pinocchio for $14.99, to sell to consumers, when up to that point, most videos were sold to video stores and carried a price tag of nearly $100. Disney took a chance that people would want to own the movie at that price point rather than rent it, and by doing so opened up a whole new revenue category: direct-to-consumer sell-through -- and they earned far more than if they'd just sold the cassettes to video stores at $100 a pop. So I figure there's always the chance that I'll sell three times as many copies of BCAB at $4.99 than I would if I priced it at $9.99, which would be a win-win situation: readers get the book cheap, and I sell enough more copies at the lower price point that I make more money as well. (As much as I want the RAW material out there, I still have to think like a writer and run my business as a publisher. I mean, I spent literally months last year transcribing audio and videotapes and creating BCAB -- and only an idiot would do all that work for free. I might not ever get rich, but I do expect to be paid for my time and effort, however minimally.)
Q. Is there any significant amount of unpublished RAW material left from "Trajectories" and related projects, or does the new book pretty much cover it? Or if the reaction to the ending essay is good, would you consider expanding it into a full blown biography?
D. Scott Apel: Beyond Chaos and Beyond pretty much covers the unpublished RAW material that I have -- at least the best of that material, and the most relevant. Nobody probably wants to read RAW's take on the California medfly problem, for instance, or on brain machines that are now unavailable and obsolete. BCAB might have been a bit longer, but some RAW material we had planned for future (unproduced) issues of Trajectories eventually found its way into his final books, like his haiku, and the introduction to "RAW's Book of Black Magick and Curses." I was disappointed not to be able to include that material in BCAB. On the other hand, I was delighted to be able to include stuff like RAW's comments on The Prisoner from our San Francisco PBS appearances in 1978, which I've had on videotape for forty freaking years, and his comments on Phil Dick from the documentary The Gospel of Philip K. Dick, which I was able to include thanks to the generosity of the film's producer, Mark Steensland.
As for my essay on our 30-year association... I think I've said everything that I wanted to say. There's virtually no chance of my ever even expanding on that, much less attempting a biography. Not my territory; not my long suit. I stated a couple of times in that essay that it wasn't a biography, but just a memoir. A biography is an entirely different kind of beast, one with which I am both unprepared and unwilling to wrestle. (Simply attempting to unravel the chronology of where Bob and Arlen were living during that 30-year period boggled my mind, for instance.) And Bob covered much of his own biography in his Cosmic Trigger trilogy. I have no interest in researching and writing a biography of RAW. I have, however, frequently bugged my wife, the incredible Catherine Inslee, to write about her association with RAW during the final decade of his life...but she's got other plans. She's threatened many times to write an essay called "How I Both Saved and Killed Robert Anton Wilson," and through her I am privy to some awesome stories about his final months when she was one of his caregivers...but I have to respect her decision not to share whatever stories and revelations and intimacies they exchanged during his deathbed days. (I am, however, committed to continuing to prod her into sharing her stories...to the point that when she recently emailed me an article about immortality, her subject line read "Live Forever...Annoy Me Longer.")
Q. This is not directly related to the new RAW book, but I have bought some of your other books and plan to buy more, and I assume other folks who read my blog might, too. I am confused about the Killer B's books -- are some of the bigger, more expensive ones omnibus editions of the cheaper ones? Or do all 8 Killer B books review different movies, and do we need to buy all 8 to get all of the reviews?
D. Scott Apel: Wow. First of all, thank you for buying some of my books! I would definitely suggest you read The Uncertainty Principle? in which Bob and Arlen are characters (along with Phil Dick). As for the Killer B's movie guides, you are absolutely correct in your assessment. The "core" volumes are Killer B's Vol 1 and Vol 2. These are combined into a single volume in Killer B's: The Hive. The cheaper spinoff volumes are genre-oriented and collect all the titles in a specific genre from KB 1&2 into a single, less expensive, volume...so if your only interest in "unseen cinema" is science fiction, for instance, you can purchase Killer B's: Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror for $1.99 instead of spending $9.99 for KB: The Hive to see all the SF movies recommended in the omnibus volume. (I hope the descriptions on Amazon and iBooks make this clear.)
These genre-based volumes were an experiment, to see if people would risk $2 for a book specifically devoted to a genre in which they were interested versus risking $5 for a film guide that included buried treasure from all genres. The only reason I published these genre guides is that they were very easy to assemble once Vol 1 & 2 were published -- mostly just a matter of cut-and-paste. Since I haven't seen any sales for these genre guides, however, I have to assume that the experiment was a failure -- or at least that the experimental results indicate that no one is interested in genre film guides. So I learned a lot with just a little effort -- and since the books will be online forever, they might eventually yield some sales.
Altho you didn't ask -- and I feel like ranting -- I should mention that the single greatest problem with all ebooks is marketing/publicity. Every reliable source I've read about how to market ebooks centers on one method: social media. I'm not a fan of or a participant in social media so I'm left with no viable methods of publicizing my books. I want to direct people to Amazon or iBooks to my books, not create a YouTube video about my books to drive people to my books, since then I'd have to find a way to drive people to my YouTube video instead of driving them to my ebooks directly -- which seems like an unnecessary step: a complication, not a solution. Same with Twitter: How am I supposed to get followers on Twitter to drive them to my books on Amazon? I'm not alone in this dilemma -- I have a couple of friends also who have no clue about how to publicize their books without social media.
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Notes and updates on the new book
Yesterday I shared the unexpected news of a new Robert Anton Wilson book, Beyond Chaos and Beyond. The introductory price was 99 cents, now it's $4.99. You can refer to yesterday's post for an accurate summation of the book's contents offered by its editor, D. Scott Apel. I've asked Scott a few questions; that interview will run Wednesday. I've been looking at the new book and starting to read it, and here are a few notes:
1. The interview with Robert Anton Wilson, conducted by Apel and Kevin Briggs, is very good and particularly useful for its insights into Illuminatus! It appeared in an earlier book, Science Fiction: An Oral History, Apel's book of interviews with science fiction authors including Philip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, Roger Zelazny, C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Norman Spinrad and Wilson. That book is 99 cents; I recommended it in this blog posting in 2014.
2. The copyright says "Copyright 2019 D. Scott Apel and the Robert Anton Wilson Trust." The book's introduction is dated July 2018, but I only found out about it late Sunday night, so the preparation of the book took place quietly for months. More on the copyright in tomorrow's interview.
3. The book has a section of Wilson's comments on Philip K. Dick and explains how Apel introduced Wilson and Dick to each other at a science fiction in 1977, so Dick fans might be interested in the book, too.
4. There's also a section on Wilson discussing movies, including an article about his 10 favorites (which tacks on an unexpected 11th), and also a piece on 10 books RAW thought everyone should read.
5. Apel's concluding essay "Bob and Me" has many candid stories discussing a 30-year friendship.
6. A print on demand paper edition will be issued, probably in a few months. More on that Wednesday, too.
I have reading duties for the Prometheus Award, so I'm reading the new book only in small bits, for now. For more background, see my 2017 interview with Apel.
Monday, January 21, 2019
New Robert Anton Wilson book
D. Scott Apel, Robert Anton Wilson's collaborator on the "Trajectories" newsletter and Chaos and Beyond: The Best of Trajectories has just published a sequel to that book, Beyond Chaos and Beyond: The Best of Trajectories, Vol. II, a 99-cent ebook for Kindle. (If you don't own a Kindle, you can read it on your phone or tablet using an Amazon Kindle app.) (Note that Chaos and Beyond is out of print but that Hilaritas Press has scheduled a reprint edition.)
From the publisher's blurb:
For over a decade (1987-1997), Robert Anton Wilson, co-author of the Illuminatus! trilogy and author of The Cosmic Trigger, published a quarterly newsletter, Trajectories: The Journal of Futurism and Heresy, full of original articles, unpublished fiction and outrageous opinion. The 1994 book Chaos and Beyond collected the best essays from the first ten issues of the newsletter; this sequel, Beyond Chaos and Beyond, preserves the best of the final issues, including an excerpt from RAW’s unfinished sequel to Illuminatus!, transcripts of audio and video issues, and transcripts of the several videos featuring RAW produced specifically for his globe-girdling fan base.
Additional material includes a rare 1977 interview with RAW; a major essay on Philip K. Dick, as well as RAW’s comments from a PKD documentary; transcripts of RAW’s 1978 PBS appearances discussing The Prisoner; and a 30,000-word essay by the editor detailing his 30-plus-year association with Wilson.
Beyond Chaos and Beyond is essential reading for hardcore fans of Robert Anton Wilson’s extraordinary work and life.
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Greg Hill and the Psychedelic Venus Church
Greg Hill's Psychedelic Venus Church membership card, from the Discordian Archives.
Adam Gorightly has a new blog post up cowritten with Mike Marinacci at Historia Discordia documenting a countercultural connection between Greg Hill and the Sexual Freedom League: "The Discordian Society Meets the Psychedelic Venus Church."
"During the late 1960s and early-70s, the Discordian Society’s own Greg Hill interacted with a wide range of counterculture figures, including such luminaries as Rev. Jefferson Fuck Poland, co-founder of the Sexual Freedom League (SFL)," the article explains.
Poland apparently is still alive, according to this Wikipedia article.
Saturday, January 19, 2019
Bobby Campbell on editing RAW's prose
Hilaritas Press is doing its best to copyedit Robert Anton Wilson's works as it issues new editions, but that's not always easy, as Bobby Campbell explains.
Friday, January 18, 2019
Oz Fritz on Steve Pratt's 'Tale of the Tribe' book
At his blog, The Oz Mix, Oz Fritz has posted an entry on the new edition of Steve Pratt's book,
Fly On The Tale Of The Tribe: A Rollercoaster Ride With Robert Anton Wilson. The book is available on Amazon and to Pratt's Patreon supporters.
Oz is an alum of Robert Anton Wilson's "Tale of the Tribe" online course and he strongly recommends Pratt's book:
This book is also one of the rare (so far), and invaluable primer books for the writings, philosophies and methods of Robert Anton Wilson. For that alone, I highly recommend it, but there is much else too. We get a cast of philosophical and scientific heavyweights and a synopsis of some their prime ideas and practical contributions to human development - the Tale of the Tribe. Among others, we hear from Nietzsche, Alan Moore, Claude Shannon, Giordano Bruno, Giambattista Vico, Buckminster Fuller, Wilhelm Reich, Korzybski, John Lilly, Tim Leary, Ernest Fenellosa, Jung, Yeats, Aleister Crowley, Marshall McLuhan, Orson Welles, Paul Krassner, John Sinclair, and of course, the Tale of the Tribe's first two stars, James Joyce and Ezra Pound.
Sombunall of the subjects include:
What is the Tale of the Tribe? and its corollary, what do we do with it?
What is art? We are all artists.
Eprime and certainty; the effects of language on consciousness.
King Kong, his sister Hong, and Guerilla Ontology.
James Joyce/RAW inspired geo-mapping APPS - I suspect this one brilliant idea alone would revolutionize the consciousness of whomever used them.
The contribution of Chinese ideograms to the Tribe.
Holometic Retribalism, a Fly neologism which seems a portmanteau of hologram and hermetic.
The influence of psychedelic drugs on the Tribe.
Quantum entanglement and spooky action at a distance.
FOTTOTT is full of amazing quotes, the large percentage from Wilson, but many from other conspirators that serve to fill out and substantiate this vision of the Tribe. Perhaps my favorite parts are the email and interview transcripts between Fly and RAW and any personal exchanges they had as it presents new light on the venerable sage.
Read the whole thing.
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Arthur C. Clarke in 1965 (Creative Commons photo by ITU pictures)
Trump AG nominee won't go after legal marijuana businesses.
Sometimes drug prohibitionists listen.
Digitized anarchist publications available on the Internet. No Governor is missing.
Was Nietzsche a Discordian?
Cat Vincent announces event.
Another piece on the solar sail theory of Oumuamua. The astronomer being interviewed says he never read Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Slate Star Codex on conspiracy theories
One of my favorite bloggers, Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex, takes on conspiracy theories. He argues that a little thought can help people figure out which ones are plausible.
The Basic Argument Against Conspiracy Theories goes: “You can’t run a big organization in secret without any outsiders noticing or any insiders blowing the whistle.” If we keep this in mind, I think we can resolve some of the awkward tensions above.
For example, the CIA definitely has fixed elections in foreign countries. Is this a conspiracy theory? No. The CIA is not secret. Everyone knows the CIA exists and does nefarious things, even if we don’t know exactly which nefarious things it does. There is no need to keep the CIA secret. It can advertise in public “Wanted: people who are good at doing nefarious things”. And if somebody whistleblows, they will not receive the thanks of a grateful country. They’ll probably just be arrested for leaking classified information, while everybody snoozes. “CIA discovered to have fixed Gabonese elections” is probably a page 5 story at best.
I think “The CIA is plotting to fix the 2020 US elections” is a conspiracy theory, with all the unlikeliness that implies. Although the CIA exists openly, fixing US elections would take a powerful conspiracy within the CIA. You would have to hide it from the idealistic young recruits who come in hoping to make the world safe for democracy. You would have to convince all the other CIA agents to hide it from Congress, from the other intelligence services, and from any CIA agent who wasn’t on board. And a whistleblower really would receive the thanks of a grateful country. Although the CIA gets the advantage of existing publicly, the intra-CIA conspiracy to fix elections doesn’t, and so the Basic Argument strikes it down.
If you are really interested in conspiracy theories, read Jesse Walker's book.
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Did RAW read van Vogt? Should I read him?
A.E. van Vogt circa 1963 (via Wikipedia)
As I've mentioned recently, I've been reading Astounding, the interesting book by Alec Nevala-Lee that's about John W. Campbell Jr., and also Campbell's three most influential writers: Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and L. Ron Hubbard.
Various other interesting science fiction figures crop up in the text. There's an interesting "naming names" chapter which talks about which SF writers embraced Scientology (A.E. van Vogt and Theodore Sturgeon, particularly) and which ones thought it was nonsense from the word go (Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp, for example). A depressingly large number of people bought into Hubbard's ravings.
I've read very little van Vogt (just whatever's in the SF Hall of Fame volumes put out years ago at the instigation of the Science Fiction Writers of America, to cover the time period before the Nebulas began) but I got curious from reading Astounding, so I looked up van Vogt on Wikipedia.
I learned that he made a big impression on Philip K. Dick, that van Vogt was interested in Korzybski and General Semantics, and that van Vogt's famous novel, The World of Null-A, refers to non-Aristotelian logic. I also learned that van Vogt drew much of his work from dreams.
All of this seems suggestive to a Robert Anton Wilson fan. Did RAW read van Vogt, have RAW's fans read van Vogt, and should I read him?
Monday, January 14, 2019
The Earth Will Shake online reading group announced
A few weeks ago, I floated the idea of doing an online reading group for the Historical Illuminatus! books, and reaction was good.
So let's do it. Let's have a reading group for The Earth Will Shake, and go on from there.
I suggest starting on Feb. 25; as with other online reading groups, there will be a posting every Monday, giving everyone the rest of the week to post comments.
I've had some guest bloggers leading many recent online reading groups. I'm inclined to take this one myself, although if there were a volunteer eager to lead the discussion, I certainly would listen.
If you are new to the blog, you can sample other online reading groups on the right side of this page, but the basic idea is this: A weekly blog posting is put up, and then everyone else is invited to weigh in using the comments. I have had to institute comment moderation to block all of the hire-a-prostitute-in-India spam posts, but I try to check for comments regularly and try to approve anything legitimate. If you choose to participate by putting up a post at your own blog, I will link to you.
I figure Feb. 25 gives everyone time to hunt up a copy (preferably the canonical Hilaritas Press edition, but do what you can afford) and to wrap up whatever other current reading project is on your plate.
What pace makes sense? The Masks of the Illuminati reading group did about 35 pages a week, and covered the book in 10 weeks. The Hilaritas Press edition of The Earth Will Shake lists it at 398 pages. Would about 40 pages a week to cover it in 10 weeks make sense? I don't want to dawdle but I don't want to overwhelm people with an unreasonably fast pace, either.
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Guns and dope links [UPDATED]
Violent crime has fallen in Colorado and Washington, even as marijuana use has risen. For context, see first link.
In the spirit of Robert Anton Wilson's Guns and Dope Party, some links:
Good Twitter threat on the new Alex Berenson 'Reefer Madness' book.
UPDATE: German Lopez at Vox -- hardly a libertarian -- weighs in. I'm going to read the book he recommends.
Marijuana legalization is more effective in reducing drug smuggling than a border wall. (Cato Institute).
Canada is dealing with a marijuana shortage. In a rational world -- not the one we live in obviously -- Oregon could deal with its surplus by exporting to Canada.
Expanding background checks for guns will do little to aid public safety. (Jacob Sullum).
A couple of links with no guns or dope:
John Higgs fan shirts are a thing.
Review of the new Adam Gorightly UFO book.
Saturday, January 12, 2019
'New' RAW interview
Martin Wagner does it again, with a posting of an interview of Robert Anton Wilson that appeared in 1991. The interview is by James Wallis.
I particularly liked this bit about authorial intent:
So if your writings do have an intention, what is it? Obviously with books like Quantum Psychology, their intention is quite clear but is there a subtext? Do you want to alter the mind of the late twentieth century?
Robert Anton Wilson: And the twenty-first, yeah. At my most ambitious I want to make as big a revolution as Voltaire or Marx or Nietzsche, only I hope mine will be totally wholesome. Of course, that’s hoping for a lot. On a more modest level, I just hope I give some people some good laughs, cheer them up and make them a little more optimistic because the world is suffering from terrible depression. It’s a global illness.
Friday, January 11, 2019
Bob Wilson, 'amiable crank' [UPDATED]
A new book, Questioning Minds, reproduces the edited correspondence of two important modernist critics, Hugh Kenner and Guy Davenport. Hugh Kenner was a prominent James Joyce scholar (there are references to him at PQ's "Finnegans, Wake" blog), and it turns out that Kenner knew Robert Anton Wilson. Here is a bit from the book, apparently from a letter by Kenner:
Have hooked onto an amiable crank named Bob Wilson, formerly of the School of Living in Ohio, now at Antioch Bookplate Company in Yellow Springs, O, who is loading me with Pound-Fuller-Wright-China-Korzybski-Gesell tieups. These Utopian absolutists make me nervous.
Hat tip: Jeet Heer, via Jesse Walker.
UPDATE: Here is my previous blog post, which I'd forgotten, on RAW writing to Kenner, and see also the comments.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Brenton Clutterbuck launches Patreon account
I can't quite bring myself to post his butt logo on this blog, so you'll just have to follow the link, but globetrotting Australian Discordian and Chasing Eris author Brenton Clutterbuck has announced he has launched a Patreon account. If you join and support him, you get a copy of his book and other productions. (He is using "Cluttered Butts" as the account name, rather than his name, so that's what you should search for at Patreon.com if you mislay the link. Australian marketing is interesting). Details here.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
When Stravinksky came to hear the Bird
Charlie Parker in 1947. (Public domain photo)
Posted because I think Robert Anton Wilson would have enjoyed this story about Charlie Parker, too:
The house was almost full, even before the opening set — Billy Taylor’s piano trio — except for the conspicuous empty table to my right, which bore a RESERVED sign, unusual for Birdland. After the pianist finished his forty-five-minute set, a party of four men and a woman settled in at the table, rather clamorously, three waiters swooping in quickly to take their orders as a ripple of whispers and exclamations ran through Birdland at the sight of one of the men, Igor Stravinsky. He was a celebrity, and an icon to jazz fans because he sanctified modern jazz by composing Ebony Concerto for Woody Herman and his Orchestra (1946) — a Covarrubias “Impossible Interview” come true.
As Parker’s quintet walked onto the bandstand, trumpeter Red Rodney recognized Stravinsky, front and almost center. Rodney leaned over and told Parker, who did not look at Stravinsky. Parker immediately called the first number for his band, and, forgoing the customary greeting to the crowd, was off like a shot. At the sound of the opening notes, played in unison by trumpet and alto, a chill went up and down the back of my neck.
They were playing “KoKo,” which, because of its epochal breakneck tempo — over three hundred beats per minute on the metronome — Parker never assayed before his second set, when he was sufficiently warmed up. Parker’s phrases were flying as fluently as ever on this particular daunting “Koko.” At the beginning of his second chorus he interpolated the opening of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite as though it had always been there, a perfect fit, and then sailed on with the rest of the number. Stravinsky roared with delight, pounding his glass on the table, the upward arc of the glass sending its liquor and ice cubes onto the people behind him, who threw up their hands or ducked.
From the book Jazz Modernism: From Ellington and Armstrong to Matisse and Joyce by Alfred Appel, which sounds like a book RAW would have enjoyed.
Via this posting at Open Culture by Colin Marshall.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Tribute to "Saint Robert Anton" from Trans Van Santos.
December Eris of the Month at Historia Discordia.
Reason's Jacob Sullum dissects the latest "reefer madness" piece, this time in the New York Times.
Independent bookstores are growing in the UK.
Podcast featuring Adam Gorightly.
Cat Vincent on optimism.
Monday, January 7, 2019
More JIm Garrison probe weirdness
In "The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00002: Odd Sects and Wandering Bishops," Adam Gorightly explores some of the con men who were somehow fingered as "CIA assassins" and the like by DA Jim Garrison.
Here is Adam, writing about one of the criminal masterminds Garrison targeted, a guy named Thomas Edward Beckham:
Beckham followed his mentor’s lead by getting into a number of scrapes himself. In February of 1961—during Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks—Beckham went AWOL, and in short order found himself in the stockade. As is typical in such cases, the Army figured it best just to let him go. Beckham resurfaced later that year in New Orleans where he was arrested for vagrancy.
In 1962, Beckham was running a scam called the “United Cuban Relief Missionary Force” that was subsequently dismantled by the FBI. As part of this con, Beckham sported a clerical collar, pretending to be a Catholic priest, while soliciting donations that he apparently pocketed. That same year he was charged with the rape of a minor, and a second vagrancy charge. Some priest.
Adam thinks that a literary hoax -- a purported translation of the Necronomicon, apparently by a guy named Peter Levenda -- was influenced by Illuminatus!
Sunday, January 6, 2019
New Buckminster Fuller biography announced
Buckminster Fuller (Creative Commons photo)
Alec Nevala-Lee, a Robert Anton Wilson fan and the author of a new book on John Campbell Jr. and his major authors, Astounding, announced on Dec. 31 that he will end daily blogging, but not before making an announcement that will interest RAW fans:
I’ve confirmed I’ll be spending the next three years writing the book of my dreams, a big biography of Buckminster Fuller, which is something that I couldn’t have imagined a decade ago.
Fuller of course was a big influence on Robert Anton Wilson.
Here is a blog post from Nevala-Lee discussing his plans for the book.
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Archive of fact magazine
A posting at the Boing Boing website by RAW fan Mark Frauenfelder reports that there is an online archive of 22 issues of fact magazine, where Robert Anton Wilson served as editor and where some of his articles ran.
Mark illustrated his piece with a picture (pictured) of the Ronald Weston article, "Of Transcendental Beauty and Crawling Horror," which as RAWIllumination.net readers and Martin Wagner fans know, was written by Wilson. Mark did not know that, however, until Michael Johnson pointed it out to him in the comments.
Hat tip, Nick Helweg-Larsen.
Friday, January 4, 2019
Young Robert Heinlein sounds like RAW
Alec Nevala-Lee's Astounding is pretty exciting for a science fiction fan, but Robert Anton Wilson fans might be interested, too.
I hope you enjoy synchronicities, because I ran into one this morning after I got out of bed.
When Robert Anton Wilson was interviewed by New Libertarian Notes, he talked about his love for the work of Robert Anson Heinlein: "Heinlein has been an idol to me for more than 20 years. He can do no wrong, no matter how much he loves wars and hates pacifists. (I'm the kind of anarchist whose chief objection to the State is that it kills so many people. Government is the epitome of the deathist philosophy I reject.)" Wilson was well aware of the coincidence of their middle names; in The Universe Next Door, which features alternate universes, Wilson's byline is given variously as "Robert Anton Wilson" and "Robert Anson Wilson" and Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon is (approvingly) mentioned in the text.
I have been reading Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee. For an old science fiction fan like me, it's kind of like reading the backstory behind classic anthologies such as The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol. 1, edited by Robert Silverberg. And as you can tell from the title, it's not just about John Campbell Jr. and Astounding Science Fiction magazine -- the reader learns a lot about Asimov, Heinlein and Hubbard. ("Jack Parsons" appears many times in the index, but I haven't gotten to that part yet.) (When I was in high school, Asimov probably was my favorite author. I didn't know about his hobby of grabbing and manhandling every woman within reach at SF conventions until many years later.)
Yesterday, I read chapter 5, "The Analytical Laboratory 1938-1940," and I noticed several observations about Heinlein, early in his SF writing career, which might interest Wilson fans. Heinlein became interested in General Semantics and Alfred Korzyzski, Nevala-Lee writes, explaining that Korzybski is best known for his aphorism, "The map is not the territory." An early unpublished novel, For Us, the Living, was structured "around his interest in a proposal for a universal basic income." An early novella, "If This Goes On--" featured a character warning that Americans need to "wake up" from their conditioning: "The American people have been conditioned from the cradle by the cleverest and most thorough psychotechnicians to believe in and trust the dictatorship which rules them ... " (pages 110-114)
But getting back to what happened when I got out of bed. I had made up my mind to write about Astounding last night. When I got up and went through my morning ritual of moderating comments on the blog, I was "astounded" to see that "Alec" had left a comment to yesterday's post. He wrote:
Glad to hear that you're enjoying Astounding!. I'm not sure if you knew this, but I'm a big RAW fan:
For a while, I thought about writing his biography, but it sounds like someone else beat me to it—and I can't wait to see the result.
Well, I didn't know that. Mr. Nevala-Lee's blog posting deserves a separate posting here, but you can go read it now.
Addendum: On Twitter, Mr. Nevala-Lee writes, "Wilson doesn't turn up in the book itself, but I often thought about him as I was writing it. (Among other things, the epigraph from Crowley in Chapter 10 was taken straight from Cosmic Trigger.)"
Thursday, January 3, 2019
Book links from me and other bloggers
Happy new year, Chris Difford, and thanks again for the interview! My wife and I saw your pal Elton John in concert last year.
Books that Arthur Hlavaty read last year. I have started Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee and it is wonderful so far.
Books that PQ read in 2018, pieces he wrote, favorite films, favorite hip hop albums, favorite podcasts and some travel photos.
Arthur, PQ and I all read The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon, and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis. That book also is included in my "Top Ten Books of 2018" blog post, which you'll want to read if you missed it, because PQ has just posted his top five books in the comments! Also, see Van Scott's top ten books, and post your list, too.
Last year, I wrote about books quite a few times in my day job at the Sandusky Register, and as this is a blog that attracts readers, you may want to read some of my more interesting dispatches. You can read my feature about a forgotten Sandusky teen poet who is the subject of a new book (quite an unusual literary story), my interview with Chris Difford of Squeeze (and his comments on ten Squeeze songs!), my article about cartoonist Tom Batiuk of "Funky Winkerbean" and "Crankshaft" fame, my piece about Robert Kennedy Jr.'s new book, my article about Ohio's poet laureate, Dave Lucas (I read his book, "Weather," which is quite good), and my piece on Paula McLain, author of "The Paris Wife" and other books.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Oz Fritz on a new Kenneth Grant book
Oz Fritz reviews (and recommends) a new book about Kenneth Grant, Servants of the Star and Snake, edited by Henrik Bogdan. Oz notes that Grant is mentioned 11 times in Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger and says, "If Wilson acts as a spiritual progenitor of sorts for me, then Kenneth Grant seems like an Uncle from the same lineage."
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Robert Anton Wilson on facing the future fearlessly
With the beginning of the new year, it seems appropriate to steer you to "Facing the Future Fearlessly," Robert Anton Wilson's article from the Summer 1980 issue of Magical Blend. It's the latest rediscovery from Martin Wagner, and happy new year to Martin, and danke schön all of his good work during 2018!
If there is any place where our much-publicized “free will” can act, it is precisely in the interstices between the present and the future. We cannot change the past—except insofar as it changes by being transcended, when we forgive it, or, even more, understand it—but we are all co-creators of the future. We all literally create our own future, minute by minute, as we go along; and, by the multiplication of energy (“karma”) we are all creating our collective future synergetically. That is, to assume that only the “bad guys” (whoever they are) will determine the future is to assume the non-existence or non-effectiveness of love, hope, intelligence and many other qualities that are known to exist and to be effective.
There is nothing esoteric about this. Very concretely, you can, right now, think of somebody who hurt you once, and you can plan an elaborate revenge. Think of such a person, but do not go ahead with the vengeance scenario. Instead, make a conscious act of forgiveness. If you are new to Consciousness Work, just realize that bad energy is depressing to hang onto, and forgive only because you want to get rid of the bad energy. Make a decision either to not think of that person again or to think of them impartially, the way you think of rocks, because carrying around bad energy drags you down.
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