Monday, June 3, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Fifteen


Louis Philippe Joseph d'Orléans (13 April 1747 – 6 November 1793), mentioned in The Earth Will Shake. See Wikipedia bio. 

This week, please read from page 293 ("From Sir John Babcock's journal: Back in Paris again ...") to page 317 ("But, damn it, why do I feel I've seen those violet Sicilian eyes somewhere before?")

Lots of zingers in this chapter:

"Our class does have a sense of union, and the lower orders are not allowed to hear about such things when one of us is involved," page 204.

"Everybody said Italians were the best lovers; but nobody, anywhere, in history or in legend, had ever said they made the best husbands," pages 301-302.

Lots of interesting discussions and allusions:

"a very private in-joke for fellow Masons," page 304. Sigismundo Celine's references to Masons anticipates Mozart and Beethoven.

The descriptions of the jokes and abrupt shifts in Celine's music reminds me of Dimitri Shostakovich, a composer I can't remember Wilson ever discussing. But Shostakovich got much of his style from Mahler. I know Wilson liked Mahler.

Page 309, "Tuscany and Parma are not Napoli," Father Ratti said. "I am willing to join in this effort, because only by such repeated attempts will we achieve our goals, but I am not optimistic." The whole discussion is a good description of social change; remember when gay marriage and marijuana legalization seemed hopeless?

I haven't even discussed the history of Freemasonry in this section; I don't know enough to add to what Wilson shares.

10 comments:

Mr. Hand said...

Margaret Jacob is a good read on history of Freemasonry. And Godwin, Theosophical Enlightenment, is great on contemporary esotericism.

Dustin said...

V. Vale's REsearch book dedicated to RAW contains a remark by RAW regarding the Masonic ritual in TEWS. His comment starts in page 50 and contains the reference on page 51.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Dustin, I saw that, too, but I loaned out my copy of the book and I don't want to try to quote it from memory; can you quote it or paraphrase it?

Oz Fritz said...

I also recall the mention of Freemasonry in Vale's interview. I'm on the road and don't have it with me. I remember Wilson saying that you can learn about freemasonry in dusty old bookstores and that he revised some of the information when he wrote about it in his fiction.

p. 308 "Order of the Oriental Temple" - the Freemason group our Neapolitan friends belong to appears inspired, at least in name, by Crowley's O.T.O (Ordo Templi Orientis - Order of the Temple of the East). The O.T.O. has been called a quasi-Freemason group because it deviates significantly from the traditional grades and rituals of Freemasonry, especially when Crowley took over and cast it in his own ideology.

Eric Wagner said...

Does the G on masonic temples stand for Godzilla? Do dinosaurs rule the hollow earth? Raymond Burr starred in the original "Godzilla". Later he starred on "Perry MASON". Coincidence? I think not.

Oz Fritz said...

I enjoyed RAW's brilliant description of Sigismundo's Water and Fire sonata - excellent writing on music made even more remarkable by that fact that our beloved author didn't play music himself except on the stereo. It recalled Kerman's book on Beethoven's String Quartets. I would love to hear this music. I'll have to check out Shostakovich. Musically, the description reminded me of a combination of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" and Handel's "Water Music"

p.310: "You are, as always, subtle as a rhinoceros ..." Googling "subtle rhinoceros" brings up:

"A mysterious shaggy giant species of rhinoceros – named the Siberian unicorn due to its enormous single horn – turns out to have survived in western Russia until just 36,000 years ago, according to research published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution."

This rhino had extremely strong toe muscles that allowed it to silently creep up on its prey on tiptoes giving it the element of surprise hence the Neanderthal phrase "subtle as a rhino." "The Siberian unicorn (Elasmotherium) had a single large horn, estimated at up to a metre in length. It was one of many diverse rhino species that once existed."

Eric Wagner said...

Pg. 304 - 305 - The each variation on the water theme in the sonata seems "a little more pathetic than the last, until a definitely dirgelike quality had come into a theme that had seemed at first as wild as a tarantella. The water was becoming a watery grave; the mood plunged down, down, further down, to melancholy and doom." This reminds me of the changes in the cups cards in the Book of Thoth.

Dustin said...

In "Robert Anton Wilson interviewed by V. Vale: Beyond Conspiracy Theory" on page 50 RAW begins an answer to a question regarding there being no more secrets anymore. RAW jokes about all the secrets of Freemasonry being easily found within a couple of days inside a rare bookstore. He goes on to say those curious enough can find them and provides a book where the secrets of the OTO can be found. The specific quote referring to TEWS (I should have posted it the previous week to be more timely) on page 52:

"When I write about Masonic rituals, I generally change them a little, just so people who have read me-if they're going to go through the Masonic initiations-will be surprised anyway. The Masonic ritual in The Earth Will Shake is partly based on initiations of two other occult orders that I was initiated in at one time or another. So anybody who gets initiated as a 1st Degree Mason thinking they are going to go through what I described in that book is going to get a hell of a shock. They are going to find something else is happening entirely. Only part of what I describe is the actual 1st Degree ritual. I don't want to be more explicit than that. As I said, I don't want to spoil the surprise for anybody."

V. Vale's book release coincides with our reading group and has specific insight into TEWS...….Fun stuff!

Oz Fritz said...

Small but unusual coincidence: about an hour or so subsequent to posting on the hoof dexterity of the Siberian Unicorn Rhinoceros (Elasmotherium) in my previous comment, I came across a character who worked as a "dedicated and moralistic rhinologist" in Pynchon's "Vineland." (p. 310) This was Dr. Hugo Splanchnick whose name resonates with Groucho Marx's horse doctor character in "A Day at the Races."

Eric Wagner said...

And Groucho appeared in Pynchon’s Against the Day.