Monday, April 29, 2019
The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Ten
Frankenstein Castle, near Darmstadt, Germany. Creative Commons photo by Pascal Rehfeldt.
This week, please read from page 189 (the quotations from Patrick Henry and Jean Jacques Rousseau) to page 209 (the end of the March 31 letter from Sigismundo to Uncle Pietro).
There's something thrilling and also quaint about the idea of a book being so "dangerous" that you could get into trouble for having it. l assume that in Sigismundo's day, there must have been many countries where that was the case (and few countries, such as England, where owning a book was relatively safe.) After reading the passages about The Key of Solomon, I tried to think of countries where having certain books in your possession could get you into trouble. Maybe North Korea and Saudi Arabia?
Frankenstein Castle is a real place and Wilson correctly explains the name. Read the Wikipedia article for the various colorful nonsense associated with the castle's history. You can also read about the alchemist Johann Conrad Dippel, who may have inspired some of the Frankenstein story.
Robert Anton Wilson had many different interests, and this particular section of the book shows how he wrote for students for magick, for libertarians and for readers interested in literature.
For students of magick: "Magick is just the art of changing the focus of consciousness at will." (Page 200).
For libertarians: Page 209: "I already begin to understand your ideas about free thought and free markets. By comparison with the general condition of Spain, our own Napoli seems rich beyond measure; what I thought was the abyss of abject poverty at home is the norm in Spain. And, correspondingly, the Inquisition is stronger and intolerance more entrenched."
For literary folk: Aunt Violetta's discussion of The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole. The Wikipedia entry says it is generally recognized as the first Gothic novel, and that the first edition claimed to be the translation based on an old manuscript from Naples.
I am intrigued Wilson took the time to mention the book; I might read the Project Gutenberg edition, or listen to the free Librivox recording.