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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Fiction recommendations

The Prometheus Award judging committee (on which I serve) is wrapping up work in choosing a slate of finalists; we'll announce the finalists in a press release (which I'll reprint here) and invite the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society to read the finalists and vote on a winner.

I won't discuss our deliberations, but I can talk about works of fiction I personally recommend. I've already written about Gnomon by Nick Harkaway and The Fractal Man by J. Neil Schulman; here are some other titles I liked.

All Systems Red, Martha Wells, first of the Murderbot Diaries series. About a security bot that calls itself a "murderbot" because of an unfortunate incident in its past.  It won the Hugo and Nebula for best novella, so apparently other folks liked it, too.

Causes of Separation, Travis Corcoran, very libertarian science fiction novel set on the Moon. Exciting and fun. It's a sequel to last year's winner, The Powers of the Earth, which you should read first.

Kingdom of the Wicked: Rules and Kingdom of the Wicked: Order, Helen Dale. Two-part novel alternative history novel, set in a Roman Empire which has undergone an industrial revolution, set in a Roman province where Pontius Pilate must preside over the trial of a Jewish holy man accused of terrorism. A really good work of fiction, with clever reworkings of many familiar New Testament stories.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Beyond Chaos and Beyond update

The new RAW book, Beyond Chaos and Beyond, is still only available as a Kindle ebook, but Scott Apel assures me it will available soon as a paper book. He writes, "Since I published the ebook of Beyond Chaos and Beyond, in January, I have been diligently working with my own books to transform the ebooks into Print On Demand books. This has taken a lot longer than I'd expected, but I'm plowing ahead, and learning more about how to create a good-looking POD version with each new entry.

"The upshot is that BCAB will probably be the next ebook I convert into a POD book, so (barring obstacles, of which I have encountered many while learning the POD format process), a print version should be available sometime around the end of April or early May."

Apel's book of interviews I have previously recommended, Science Fiction: An Oral History, which includes a RAW interview and which I recommended, is available now as a paperback, although you can still get the Kindle version for just 99 cents.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Big Think takes on Illuminatus!

Big Think, an online publication that purports to offer "Actionable lessons from the world's greatest thinkers and doers" which "make the Big Think audience smarter, faster," runs an article on the Illuminati and the Illuminatus! trilogy by Mike Colagrossi, "Behold, the '70s sci-fi book series that popularized the Illuminati conspiracy."

It's not a great article. When I read sentences such as "It wasn't until some two hundred years later that Robert Anton WIlson would resurrect this run-of-the-mill society and turn it into the conspiracy we know today," I wondered if Mr. Colagrossi actually had read the trilogy, or even the first few dozen pages of the first book, which cites many other writings about the Illuminati.

On Facebook, Richard Rasa wrote, "Well, I love to see any press about RAW. This is a little thin, but good for an audience that never heard of RAW. This line, 'Authors Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's intent was to sow chaotic disinformation just for the satire.' is simply wrong. Illuminatus! is a lot of things, but one thing it is not is 'just' for the satire."

Thanks to Jesse Walker and Nick Helweg-Larsen for making sure I didn't miss the piece.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Douthat channels Jesse Walker

Many RAW fans have read Jesse Walker's The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory (with good reason!). Walker is himself a RAW fan, and there's a chapter in the book on how Robert Anton Wilson uses conspiracy theories in his work.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat cited Walker by name and built his latest column around Walker's concept of the "radical center."

Jesse has been making the case for years that, as Douthat puts is, "a politics of paranoia can manifest itself not just on the far-left and far-right fringes but in the very heart of the American establishment." Douthat also makes interesting points about where most of the skepticism about Russiagate came from. I sometimes strongly disagree with Douthat, but this seems like one of his better columns. Would have been nice if he'd slipped in the title of Jesse's book.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

'Tomorrow Never Knows'

I've been listening to the audiobook of Rob Sheffield's excellent book about the Beatles, Dreaming the Beatles, and I've just finished the section on Revolver, my favorite Beatles album (even better when you hear the whole album, not the truncated version originally released in the U.S.)

Revolver is the album that has "Yellow Submarine," which of course is referenced in the Illuminatus! trilogy by the Leif Ericson, and also the album that has "Tomorrow Never Knows," which according to Sheffield is a song John Lennon wrote after getting copies of three books at London's Indica bookshop: The Portable Nietzsche, The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Timothy Leary's The Psychedelic Experience. 

Sheffield says that Revolver is the best album the Beatles ever made, which means, he explains, that it's the best album any band ever made.

A bit of synchonicity: Before I wrote this, I posted a comment by music person Oz Fritz, who mentioned Nietzsche.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Five

Mural of Venus from Pompeii

This week, please read from page 90, "The horror came quite unexpectedly, one day as he was returning from school," to page 103, the end of part one, "I tell you my three souls are all sick ..." That's only about a dozen pages, but I think it's logical to conclude part one. We still haven't gotten that far, so perhaps other readers can still be persuaded to join us.

Part One ends with some surprising revelations. I don't want to put any spoilers here.

But perhaps I can point out an interesting reversal of expectations: One of the "bad guys," the blonde man, sounds like RAW:

"Every national border in Europe marks the place where two gangs of bandits got too exhausted to kill each other anymore and signed a treaty. Patriotism is the delusion that one of these gangs of bandits is better than all the others." (Page 95).

The drug that Sigismundo is given is belladonna, about which RAW has a lot to say about in Email to the Universe, in the chapter "La Belle Dame Sans Merci."

It begins, "The four weirdest and scariest drug stories I know all involve belladonna, a chemical for which I now have the same sincere respect as I have for hungry tigers, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, the IRS and Dr. Hannibal Lecter."

What follows are four very frightening stories, three involving friends (one is William Burroughs), and one involving RAW himself, when he made the mistake of taking belladonna as a tea while living on Ohio.

It really sounds like something you shouldn't mess with. "Bella donna" means "beautiful lady"  and Wilson's title comments on the seductive and destructive power of the drug by referring to the famous John Keats poem.

Oz Fritz has been posting many comments to these chronicles. I recently read an article in the New York Times about classical conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, and a quote from the article about how concerts have "the power of the ritual" reminded me of some Oz' writings about music on his blog.

The full quote: "There’s a certain moment when you go off line and someone curates a space, with a piece, and the power of the ritual. You have this moment, along with many others, but still a finite experience. It happens in real time, but it will never happen again, and you were there. You can let yourself go. And I think that’s actually a real liberation. We are going to need that more than ever before.”

Of course, that "finite experience" in the moment was the only way to listen to music in Sigismundo's day.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A new Silverberg anthology

Robert Silverberg

I like the idea of appreciating old SF masters while they are still alive. Here is a review of a new Silverberg anthology of time travel stories, written by Rob Latham and published in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Via Arthur Hlavaty. 

My favorite Silverberg novel is A Time of Changes. When I read the review, I realized I need to read Up the Line. 

Silverberg is now 84. Years ago, when I was in FAPA, Silverberg was still active. I don't know if he's still there, or how FAPA is faring. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

More on the Rev. Raymond Broshears

Raymond Broshears

Adam Gorightly goes deeper into JFK assassination lore with the final installment of his series on Raymond Broshears, "The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00006: A FOIA Treasure Trove." This one explores the connection between Broshears and would-be Gerald Ford assassin Sara Jane Moore, among other topics.

One odd bit: Steve Jaffe, an unofficial investigator for Jim Garrison, was involved in the conspiracy movie Executive Action. Adam says he was a producer; Wikipedia lists Jaffe as a "technical consultant." Oddly, Wikipedia links to a Steve Jaffe is a composer, and apparently not the same person.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Physics experiment echoes RAW's thought

Eugene Wigner

Headline on an article from the MIT Technology Review: "A quantum experiment suggests there’s no such thing as objective reality."

It could also have said the experiment suggested that observation can create a reality.

"Back in 1961, the Nobel Prize–winning physicist Eugene Wigner outlined a thought experiment that demonstrated one of the lesser-known paradoxes of quantum mechanics. The experiment shows how the strange nature of the universe allows two observers—say, Wigner and Wigner’s friend—to experience different realities."

The article goes on to explain how recent advances in quantum technology have allowed experiments to test Wigner's thought experiment, and that Massimiliano Proietti at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and some colleagues recently carried out an experiment in observing the polarization of a proton.

"The experiment produces an unambiguous result. It turns out that both realities can coexist even though they produce irreconcilable outcomes, just as Wigner predicted."

Wigner is mentioned in Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy.

Thank you to Roman Tsivkin for spotting this and posting on Twitter. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Andrew Yang talks about the UBI

Andrew Yang, left, and Kmele Foster. 

Many people are running for president as a Democrat these days. Perhaps the most interesting candidate is Andrew Yang, who is making the UBI a central plank of his platform. 

As I drove to work today, I listened to an interview of Yang by Kmele Foster on the "The Fifth Column" libertarian podcast. Foster is a libertarian skeptic, but he gives Yang plenty of time to talk. 

You can learn more about Yang from his website and his Twitter account. You can follow Kmele on Twitter, too; that's where I found the above photograph. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday links

Young Orson Welles. 

New documentary on Orson Welles.

Butterfly Language launches Patreon. 

Andrew Yang, the UBI candidate. 

"Some moderate, common-sense proposals I don't expect any major candidate to endorse." From Bryan Caplan.

W.H. Auden on no-platforming Ezra Pound. "This incident is only one sign—there are other and far graver ones—that there was more truth than one would like to believe in Huey Long’s cynical observation that if fascism came to the United States it would be called Anti-fascism."

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Ralph Metzner has died

Ralph Metzner has died. He carried out psychedelic research at Harvard with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass.) Wikipedia bio here.

R.U. Sirius says, "I'm sorry to learn of the death of Ralph Metzner intrepid explorer of consciousness, author, environmentalist & part of the original Harvard psychedelic project w. Timothy Leary & Richard Alpert/Ram Dass. He used to drop by the Mondo house occasionally. A lovely gentle presence."

Here is a podcast that features Metzner.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Four

The Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini. "Out of the most Catholic of all countries, in the most Catholic of all centuries, Sigismundo Malatesta had created this symphony in marble and gold to hail his own private gods: against all the laws of probability and history, the first pagan temple in a thousand years." Page 79. 

This week, please read from page 68, "There was a piece by Scarlatti, a Sonata in D Major, that was like the human soul trying to free itself from the vegetative and animal souls" to Page 89, "Nobody knows what they are really plotting, they are as enigmatic as cat's eyes."

"...chiefly, it was Venus he saw ... There was only flesh and light and joy: golden flesh and clear light and pagan joy." Page 77.

Gemistus Pletho, whose remains were interred at the Tempio Malatestiano. "He was a chief pioneer of the revival of Greek scholarship in Western Europe.[5] As revealed in his last literary work, the Nomoi or Book of Laws, which he only circulated among close friends, he rejected Christianity in favour of a return to the worship of ancient Hellenic Gods as well as ancient wisdom based on Zoroaster and the Magi." See Wikipedia article. 

The phrase "time out of joint" is from Shakespeare's Hamlet, but also evokes the Philip K. Dick novel. " ... time has been stretched out of joint, not by horror this time, but by ecstasy." Page 81

Sunday, March 17, 2019

RAW's 'Introduction to a Malign Fiesta'

The news of the latest atrocity makes Martin Wagner's latest discovery more relevant: Robert Anton Wilson's introduction to Dark Destiny, Proprietors of Fate, edited by Edward E. Kramer, an old horror anthology.

This is a really good piece.


A phalanx of intelligences and powers, all differentiated, some cooperating and some competing—the view of the ordinary person about ordinary day-to-day reality—ultimately describes the cosmos better than any monotheistic or atheistic oversimplification. We can call these intelligences and powers “gods” or “goods” or “demons” or “evils,” if we will, but those remain merely our own prejudices. Each entity has its own view of the situation—just as an old rat, in Burroughs memorable phrase, has decided opinions about wise guys who stuff steel wool into rat holes.

In other words, one and zero do not differ by very much—one god or no god, who really cares?—but infinity and zero differ very greatly. And we seem to live in a world of infinite complexity, infinitely many intelligences, infinitely competing and cooperating entities, very few of whom give a fried fart about human hopes and prayers.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Finnegans Wake roundup

From artist Carol Wade: "I am delighted to announce, the premier exhibition of "riverrun", a visual response to #FinnegansWake by James Joyce. The exhibition will be held in the Waterways Visitors Center, Grand Canal Dock in conjunction with @5lampsarts" (It's in Dublin, part of the Five Lamps Arts Festival. More information here.)

From Derek of Waywords and Meansigns: "In case you haven't heard, Finnegans Wake turns eighty this year -- published 80 years ago, May 4, 1939 -- & we're celebrating with a big weekend event in Dublin, May 3rd through 5th at the Joyce Centre. I hope some of you can join us for this "Finnegans Wake-End". And I'm curating an installation at Trinity College, April 11-13, as part of the Wake Symposium there."

From PQ: "Carvings in the Claybook: A Reading of Finnegans Wake pgs. 18-19."

Friday, March 15, 2019

Erik Davis followup

As a followup to the posting the other day on Erik Davis' new book, High Weirdness, Erik knows the old dissertation his book is based upon is out there, but hopes you'll wait for the book. In a comment to my post the other day, he wrote:

"Having labored on the revision of High Weirdness for at least as long as the dissertation took, I'd of course like to believe that my effort was worth it in a better book that is worth the wait.

"In terms of RAW I added material more than I removed it, and more importantly, smoothed the ideas and improved the lingo that carries them forward. The dissertation was like a sloppily wordy first draft with lots of secondary material crammed in, and without the cherry on the top of yummy prose.

"Caveat Downloador."

I plan to wait.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

War on some drugs news

The above video shows police in Bolivar, Missouri, searching the hospital room of a stage four pancreatic cancer patient. No marijuana was found. The hospital did apologize later. You can read Reason magazine's account,  although I should warn everyone that Reason is a libertarian magazine, and I was recently told on Twitter that libertarians have an "obnoxious emphasis on personal liberty."

The police chief is unhappy about the "negative feedback" the department received on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Burgess prize for 'Pigspurt' review

Jason Watkins (Twitter image). Congratulations to Mr. Watkins. 

Didn't get a chance to see Daisy Campbell's production of Pigspurt's Daughter because, for example, you couldn't afford to travel from the U.S. to Great Britain?

You can at least read an award-winning review of our Daisy's one-woman show. Jason Watkins, "a special needs teacher and tutor for pupils out of education based in Otley, West Yorkshire," has just won this year's Observer/Anthony Burgess prize for arts journalism. Read his article, published in the Guardian. 

The opening paragraph:

In naming his daughter after the Greek goddess of discord and misrule, maverick director/actor/playwright Ken Campbell gave her a lot to live up to. Pigspurt’s Daughter, a solo show by Daisy Eris Campbell to mark the 10th anniversary of her father’s death, is a window on a remarkable parent-child relationship bound by a love of logic-defying overstimulation and an aversion to anything routine or everyday.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Three

The tomb of Virgil in Naples, mentioned in this section of the novel. Creative Commons photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta.

This week, please read from page 43, "It was only a day later that 'Mr. Drake' contacted Sigismundo" to page 68. "Uncle Pietro guessed his thoughts. 'It is always that way in conquered nations,' he said sadly." As I am giving passages as well as page numbers, readers can purchase the Hilaritas ebook and use that, if they wish.

In a comment for Week One, Eric Wagner wrote, "This novel has seven sections, each with the name of a tarot trump. One could model these chapters as corresponding with the seven chakras, the seven days of the week, the first seven circuits, etc."

This section is named "The Fool," and it is in this section that Sigismundo realizes he is a fool and learns the Cosmic Schmuck principle.

After Sigismundo learns that he is a fool, Uncle Pietro lectures Sigismundo on the first three circuits in the Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness: "Actually, there are potentially at least eight souls" (page 66).

Many of the characters in this novel are the ancestors of characters in the Illuminatus! trilogy -- Sigismundo Celine and Hagbard Celine, Mr. Drake and Francis Drake, and so on. Neal Stephenson did something very similar later with Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle. Probably just coincidence, although there is no way to know as Mr. Stephenson makes himself essentially unavailable to questions from fans, journalists and other such nuisances.

Eric also remarked in the first week, "Everything in these first couple of pages seems in-between. The book starts with the protagonist,Sigismundo Celine, half asleep, in-between a dream and awake to his environment. The priest appears in-between changing the material of a wafer of bread into the spiritual body of Christ. When the Uncle gets assassinated, for those few moments until it finishes, he goes between life and death. In-betweenness seems an important concept, to me."

Sigismundo is a teenager, in between being a child and an adult, and is therefore working particularly hard to emerge from Dante's dark wood and figure things out, with Uncle Pietro serving as Sigismundo's Virgil.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

I'm putting up links for the reading group

Sigismondo Malatesta. See Wikipedia biography. 

I've created a list of links for the episodes of our The Earth Will Shake reading group at the top right of this page. My blog entries haven't been any great shakes, but I'm in awe of the quality of the comments posted so far. Please let me know if there's anything else I should be doing to support the group.

We're only going about 20-25 pages at a time, so if anyone wants to jump in and catch up with us, that shouldn't be hard. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Scary 'Masks'

On Twitter, writer Lincoln Mitchell poses a question:

"Twitter: What's the most terrifying fiction book you've ever read?

"Not just a horror novel you enjoyed reading, but one that actually freaked you out and haunted your dreams?"

Answer from Ron Hogan:

"Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati, which came out back when the Illuminati was still actually goddamn mysterious and creepy."

Hogan is a writer and editor.

Friday, March 8, 2019

More on the new Erik Davis book

A little more information has come out on High Weirdness, the new Erik Davis book that is "An exploration of the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson."

Above, you can see the cover. Also, the release date, at least in the U.S., is July 23. That's Robert Anton Wilson Day.

Here again is the book description:

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

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

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Listening to Scarlatti

Vladimir Horowitz

Eric Wagner mentioned in the comments that he's been listening to a lot of Vivaldi, Telemann and Scarlatti as we read The Earth Will Shake.

I've been listening especially to Scarlatti. I've always enjoyed him when I ran across his music, but this seems like a good time to concentrate on him for a few days.

When I looked up the Wikipedia entry, I discovered that Scarlatti actually was from Naples.

Robert Anton Wilson wrote about his love of Scarlatti in Cosmic Trigger 2: (in the "The Call of the Wild" chapter):

1. I like peace, quiet afternoons, the prose of James Joyce, chess, and listening to the sonatas of Scarlatti with my eyes closed while stoned on marijuana.

2. Most people like booze, football, violent noisy movies full of gore, and increasingly frequent wars.

3. I have finally admitted that I can't change most people, so I want to get away from them and live with the minority who share my own eccentric tastes.

There are many recordings of Scarlatti's sonatas, both "old school" with harpsichord and also with piano, including plenty of recordings available instantly through the public library digital music services. Freegal, one of those services, has Vladimir Horowitz' excellent recordings. Hoopla, the other one, has a nice recording from András Schiff.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Medical news: Genesis P-Orridge and Diana Trimble

From Jason Louv: "Genesis P-Orridge Needs Your Help"

As you likely know, Genesis P-Orridge has been battling leukemia for the last year. A few days ago, she was admitted to the hospital, as she was unable to breathe without oxygen. Gen's lungs have become blocked with fluid, which her doctors had previously attempted to remove with a suction needle. This failed, as the fluid has become too viscous and thick. Gen now needs to undergo full surgery to clean out her lungs—a serious and potentially life-threatening procedure.

Without Genesis, Magick.Me would not exist. She is my primary teacher—Genesis trained me in magick from the ages of 21 to 27, in the same manner and method that William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin trained her in magick in the 1970s. That is my primary lineage. Other important lineages were added later, as I trained in more systems, but this is where it all began. Because of Gen's investment of time and love in training me, Magick.Me now exists in the world.

More broadly, it is very likely that without Genesis, occulture and the widespread interest in magick simply wouldn't exist. Gen's decades-spanning work in liberating consciousness is why occulture exists as a social movement, rather than the activity of a few isolated individuals. That includes everything from creating industrial music in the early 1970s and championing acid house in the 1980s, to popularizing Austin Spare's sigil method, advancing Burroughs and Gysin's occult methods for breaking social control, and forming Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth to liberate magick from the British establishment and bring it to working class people around the world. These are all activities for which Gen already paid a high price, culminating with being forced into exile from Britain in 1991.

More here.

Meanwhile, R.U. Sirius has emailed out an appeal, "Please Help the Medical Fundraiser for MONDO 2k Cover girl, featured artist and contributor Diana Trimble"

Diana Trimble (some of you know her) was a contributor to several issues of MONDO 2000 magazine and appeared on the cover of issue #2 where she was also a featured subject. She is a brilliant vocalist and songwriter, an accomplished performer with international credits, an investigative journalist and prolific recording artist.

You can learn more about her  — and her recent hospitalization — on the GoFundMe page.

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Two

Francesca da Polenta, enjoying her ill-fated love affair with Paolo Malatesta. (Francesca da Rimini (1837), by William Dyce.)

This week, please read from page 20, "Sigismundo said good morning to everybody without looking at anybody," to page 43, "where were found the avatars of Satan himself, the violent against God and man."

I looked up some of the references in this section:

Naples has a long entry on Wikipedia; as Wilson says, it was a Greek, like many cities in southern Italy.

Uncle Pietro mentions that the ancestors of the Malatestas are "the princes of Rimini" who "once had interests that went beyond money grubbing and commerce," page 24. There is a Wikipedia entry for the House of Malatesta that ruled over Rimini.   Some of the Malatestas are famous in literature, the entry says: "Giovanni Malatesta is chiefly famous because he murdered his wife Francesca da Polenta and his younger brother Paolo in 1285, having discovered them in adultery, and the murder is recorded in Dante's Inferno as well as in a story by Giovanni Boccaccio." Rimini is a city in northern Italy on the Adriatic coast. Lines from Inferno referring to the murder are alluded to in James Joyce's Ulysses. 

Giuliano de' Medici, whose murder at age 25 in a Florence cathedral apparently inspired the murder that opens The Earth Will Shake

Guilliame de Medici, mentioned in the text on page 42, is rendered on Wikipedia as Giuliano de' Medici.  He was murdered in Florence Cathedral in 1478, the beginning incident of the Pazzi Conspiracy.  The conspiracy failed, although it apparently had the support of the Pope.

The Carbonari are discussed on Wikipedia as a secret society in Naples and elsewhere, with members who included Lafayette and Lord Byron. The Alumbrados also merit an entry.

"Marta Alla Francia, Italia Anela," page 28. This is another copyediting mistake; it should be "Morte." When you have the correct phrase, you can look it up and read about the two theories about the origin of the word "mafia." 

"Leave murder to the professionals." Page 33. Fortunately, the study of literature can be carried out by amateurs.

I looked up the cathedral where Leonardo Malatesta is murdered, the Cathedral of San Francesco di Paola in Naples. It was built in the early 19th century, according to Wikipedia, so using it as the site of the murder may be a mistake.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Bobby Campbell releases new 'Agnosis'

Bobby Campbell has done an early release of Agnosis! - Book Two: Open System Self to his Patreon supporters (such as me). Here is the link to Bobby's Patreon site.

Bobby's announcement also has a handy reading order for his comic book series and he shares some news:

Beginning in March I'm going to start a monthly newsletter/status updates that will simulcast across all my various digital outlets, on the first Sunday night of the month. Paid accounts/Patreons will get extra preview/work-in-progress material, for whatever it's worth!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

About those Illuminatus! memos ....

Martin Wagner with his daughter. Fraulein Wagner is wearing the Robert Anton Wilson pendant offered by the Robert Anton Wilson Trust. 

That Martin Wagner guy has another interesting post!

You should read all of it, but my favorite bit is where Robert Anton Wilson, responding to a positive review of the Illuminatus! trilogy by one Xavier Hammerberg, discusses the quotations in the memorandums on the first volume of Illuminatus!

However, I must take exception to the paragraph in which Hammerberg says “The authors Akron Daraul and Nesta Webster also existed and did write about secret societies. I have read them both and the quotes are perfectly authentic; but some of the other quotes mentioned are not.”

Unless Hammerberg has spotted some typographical error that somehow got past both authors and the proof-readers at Dell, he is simply suffering from an inaccurate memory. All the quotes in Illuminatus! are accurate and painstakingly fair; nothing has been taken out of context or otherwise twisted. The books and periodicals referenced actually exist and say what we quote them as saying.

Of course, this only refers to the quotes found in memorandums and set off by indented type. In the experiences (or hallucinations) of the characters of our novel, we have bamboozled, confused, misdirected and deceived the reader in every way possible — in the manner of the classic “puzzle”-style detective story. But we have played fair, with the reader, within detective story standards.

In reply, Xavier Hammerberg says he may have been guilty of imprecision but was attempting to make a point about Wilson and Shea's techniques:

"The intended point was to bring out your use of the Lovecraftian device of combining authentic (though obscure) references with products of the imagination, a technique that I admire, but apparently I did  not make that clear. For instance, the Necronomicon citations are perfectly authentic Lovecraft. But unless you and Mr. Shea have made the literary discovery of the century, and are keeping it to yourselves, the Necronomicon would seem to remain unauthenticated."

Friday, March 1, 2019

The dolphins are dopers

This sounds like something that would have been included in Illuminatus! if only Shea and Wilson had known about it at the time: "Dolphins Seem to Use Toxic Pufferfish to Get High." 

Not only that, but it sounds like passing a joint: "The dolphins were filmed gently playing with the puffer, passing it between each other for 20 to 30 minutes at a time ... "

From Smithsonian magazine, hat tip John  Merritt, and it gives me an excuse to reprint, after awhile, the artwork Bobby Campbell created for the Illuminatus! reading group.