Sunday, October 13, 2019

Keeping RAW's work alive

On Sept. 15, I posted an item on Rasa asking people not to pirate Robert Anton Wilson's works. You can read it for reference as I offer these thoughts on protecting RAW's copyrighted material, treating his children fairly and preserving his legacy:

1. Copyright lasts too long in the U.S.; works in 1923 only this year entered the public domain (96 years). Yet any reasonable reform of copyright would protect RAW for  years to come; he died only 12 years ago and his children will be around for a long time. It seems to me copyright ought to last 40 to 50 years or so to balance fairness to a writer's family vs. the public interest. Your own ideal term might vary, but it's clearly too early for Wilson's work to enter the public domain.

2. Sales of Hilaritas Press books directly benefit members of RAW's family, as Wilson surely would have intended. Those are the people who benefit when you buy a new edition of Cosmic Trigger or The Widow's Son. And those are the people you harm when you grab a pirated edition instead.

3. Buying a used book of Wilson's works preserves it as an actively read book.

4. For those of you who can't afford to buy all (or even any) of the new Hilaritas editions, there are public libraries, and nearly all libraries have interlibrary loan to help you obtain titles which are not available locally. Checking out a book also helps authors, living and dead. Libraries have a finite amount of shelf space, they are always adding new books, and so they must cull old titles. The books that are not checked out are the ones that are pulled from the shelf and disposed of, by sale or in the landfill. Checking a book out helps keep that work available for other readers to discover.

5. Much more needs to be done, by Hilaritas and other publishers, to make RAW's work available in libraries. When I search for "Robert Anton Wilson" on Hoopla, the premier digital library service, I get only one result: An ebook of The Illuminati Papers. That's good -- if you haven't read it, it's free on Hoopla -- but where is everything else? Wilson also is largely missing from Overdrive, the major library ebook and audiobook service. I also hope there is an ongoing effort to get Hilaritas' paper titles sold to libraries.

6. Wilson's work is kept alive by grassroots efforts of fans in Great Britain, Austria, Argentina, Italy, the Netherlands and other countries, and in the U.S. by active efforts by folks in California, Ohio, West Virginia, New York City, and many other places. These ongoing activities on behalf of an author who died more than a decade ago and never sold a huge number of books is a literary phenomena. It's news and merits news coverage. Maybe some of you are in a position to offer a news tip to the New York Times or some other news organization. I can suggest interview subjects to any inquiring journalist.

7. Everyone can help, by purchasing reissues of Wilson's work, promoting news about Wilson on social media and participating in other activities. You don't have to stage a play based on Wilson's work or write a new biography to be helpful, although such projects certainly have a nice impact.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

RAW on 'Politics of Psi'

From Martin Wagner.

Part One.

Part Two.

Part Three. 

Age of Psi. 

A bit from Part Two:

A few facts about the OTO, however, are beyond dispute. Aleister Crowley really was a member, ran all the English and American lodges from about 1900 onward and became “Outer Head” of the whole order in about 1920. (The “Inner Head” is allegedly, an extra-terrestrial, or extra-human, intelligence of no known address.) And it is also beyond doubt that Adolph Hitler hated and feared the OTO with a strange passion, which led him to place the entire German membership in concentration camps and outlaw the whole organization.

Hitler may have been worried about the overt encouragement of tyrannicide in the ninth of the OTO principles quoted above “Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights.” Or he may have regarded the occult arts of the OTO as threatening, or interfering with, the occult arts practiced by the Nazis themselves through the infamous Occult Department (Ahnenerbe) under the directorship of Heinrich Himmler.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Widow's Son reading group, Week Eight

Madame du Barry

Week Eight (pg. 95-102 Hilaritas edition, Chapter 15 all editions)

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

I swear that I hadn’t read ahead when I wrote last week’s post, aside from my initial reading years ago, but this is what I touched on that is addressed in this week’s chapter: the conditions of the Bastille, the identity of the man in the iron mask (and the actual material the mask was made of), Nasrudin, and the career of de Sade.

Jumilhac, the warden of the Bastille, was the predecessor of de Launay who was in command of the Bastille from 1776 until July 14, 1789. On that fateful day de Launay was stabbed by the crowd repeatedly and evidently cried out “Enough! Let me die.” before having his head sawn off, affixed to a pike, and paraded through the streets of Paris. De Launay is noted to have been considered a humane gaolor who made conditions better than the wardens the preceded his tenure. Given how conscientious RAW portrays Jumilhac,  de Launay’s fate can be seen as a bit extreme.

I only alluded to Nasrudin in the last sentence of my part of last week’s post but the fable should be familiar with the audience from Cosmic Trigger and other parts of RAW’s corpus. Mullah Nasrudin was a real person who lived sometime around the 13th century who was mythologized into an irascible teacher in the centuries after his death. Gurdjieff referred to the Nasrudin fables in his conversations and his stories were popularized by Idries Shah. (I believe, at least at the time of the writing of Cosmic Trigger, most of RAW’s information about Nasrudin and Sufism came from the works of Shah.) The quote from Old Orfali found in last week’s reading which Adie brought up in the comments seems to fit well with the moral of the Nasrudin parable in this week’s chapter: "He who understands Speculative Masonry,’ old Abraham Orfali said, ‘does not know despair, for every hour brings him new information to be absorbed and utilized."

For someone who cited Orson Welles as a primary influence it isn’t surprising that RAW tends to write in a cinematic style. He does so explicitly in the earlier Masks of the Illuminati and his later film scripts, Reality Is What You Can Get Away With and The Walls Came Tumbling Down are as readable as most novels.  In Chapter 15 the “camera zooms out” from the Bastille and covers much of France before beginning to pan across the Channel towards Britain for the beginning of Part II. During the shot RAW references way too many characters from history for me to fully annotate so I’m going to take a quick crack at them:

• anyone who has read Dumas’ The Three Musketeers or has seen one of the adaptations will be familiar with Cardinal Richelieu as the villain of the story. He was indeed the Minister for Louis XIII who was as ruthless as any politician.

• Denis Diderot was a prominent French philosopher who at the time of our story, 1771, had completed his Encyclopedie and was indeed employed by Catherine the Great of Russia in 1766 as her librarian. He actually wouldn’t visit St. Petersburg until 1773.

• The Encyclopedie was a huge undertaking mostly headed by Diderot that served as a way to disseminate Enlightenment philosophy and wrest control of information away from the Church. It was as unsurprisingly controversial as RAW suggests. 

• Andre Morellet was an economist, contributor to the Encyclopedie, friend of Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire, who translated the writings of Thomas Jefferson and survived the French Revolution, doing better than most of his contemporaries.

• Madame Du Barry had indeed became Louis XV’s mistress in 1769 and whose life seemed to be made for scandal. From the moment of her arrival at the French Court young Archduchess Marie Antoinette despised Du Barry, in 1772 Louis commissioned a diamond necklace for her that put the crown deeper in debt, and while she stayed with the king on his deathbed he encouraged her to leave before his ultimate demise to avoid further scandal. She was confined to a convent after the King’s death and like some of the privileged prisoners in the Bastille was allowed to leave during the day as long as she was back at night. She was freed and lived in exile in the countryside after that. Eventually, during the Revolution, her slave Zamor joined the Jacobin Club; when Du Barry found out about the depth of his involvement she fired him leading to Zamor’s denunciation of his former-”mistress” before the Committee. Du Barry was subsequently brought to Paris and beheaded in 1793. The fate of her remains, like those of our brigands at the end of the Chapter, was being dumped in a mass grave. Louis XVI’s remains had been deposited in the same mass grave earlier that same year and Marie Antoinette’s would join them there soon. However, unlike Louis and Antoinette, I could find no evidence Du Barry’s remains were exhumed and buried elsewhere.

• Jacques Necker was the Finance Minister under Louis XVI who made the government’s budget public in 1781- a controversial move considering the secrecy of the French crown touched on in this chapter. Necker was liked by the public and his dismissal in 1789 was the catalyst for the Storming of the Bastille. He was later brought back into the government before resigning within a year. Surprisingly, he wasn’t beheaded.

• Catherine II, better known as Catherine the Great was a monarch of Russian who had sex with a horse or something. Anyways, HBO has a series coming out this month with Helen Mirren in the title role that looks great. (HBO please give me money I’ll be your shill.)

• Georges Danton was an early leader of the French Revolution who was either a moderate or a radical depending on who you ask. He was killed on the orders of his bosom friend Rospierre in 1794.

• Jean-Paul Marat was a very angry man with a skin condition that made him need to take baths all the time which must have complicated his career as a writer. He made a lot of people mad which makes his death by stabbing not that much of a surprise. Although he probably wasn’t a very good looking man, what with the debilitating skin condition and all, Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat makes him look pretty sexy. He might have been cleaner than most people at the time: something to think about. He was eulogized by the Marquis de Sade as a martyr of the Revolution though Citizen Sade might have been bullshitting so he didn’t get guillotined at the time.

• Pierre Beaumarchais was as slippery a fish as the text makes him out to be who gained favor as a music teacher in the court of Louis XV before moving into the roles of diplomat and spy. He supplied arms and other sundries to both the American and French revolutionaries, capitalized on the death of Voltaire by publishing his works, and spent some time in exile. Today he is mostly remembered for his celebrated plays mentioned in the text which inspired operas by Mozart and Paisellio. He died peacefully in 1799 which is probably more than he deserved.

• I’m not explaining Napoleon and we’ve already touched on Cagliostro and Casanova.

• Charles Emmanuel III was the Duke of Savoy who did a lot of typical political shit.

• Louis Antoine de Bougainville was a French explorer whose travelogue of the southern hemisphere, Voyage autour du monde- published in 1770, was an early work of biology and anthropology which greatly influenced Jean Jacques Rousseau and Diderot.

• Babcock (fictional), Burke (rea)l, and Watt (real) will all be discussed in Part II. Here comes steam-engine time.

Sartines' version of the Parisian proverb, from having “too many scruples” to being “simple-minded” on pg. 102 is practically relativistic enough to cause a chuckle.

In the final footnote we find out a little more about the chaotic life of de Selby which includes a sprawling refutation of the errors in an 18th century encyclopedia, his rough relationship with Denevue, and the attempted securing of the philosopher’s brain by La Puta.

This week’s music selection from Eric: “This week’s prison setting made me think of the film A Man Escaped which uses the Mozart C Minor Mass to great effect. The prison drama The Shawshank Redemption also uses Mozart effectively, with words by Beaumarchais, by the way. Beaumarchais features in this week’s reading.”

Next week we’ll begin Part II reading from pg. 105-138 (Hilaritas edition) or Chapter 1&2 of Part II all editions. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

New Susanna Clarke novel

Susanna Clarke in 2006. (Creative Commons photo by Patrick Nielsen Hayden). 

Interesting news for people who like to read: Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, is about to finally release another novel. It's called Piranesi and it comes out in September 2020; no cover image is available yet.

Publisher's description: "“Piranesi has always lived in the House. It has hundreds if not thousands of rooms and corridors, imprisoning an ocean. A watery labyrinth. Once in a while he sees his friend, The Other, who needs Piranesi for his scientific research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. Piranesi records his findings in his journal. Then messages begin to appear; all is not what it seems. A terrible truth unravels as evidence emerges of another person and perhaps even another world outside the House’s walls.”

More here, but not much more. 

Susanna Clarke interviews Alan Moore. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

New RAW letters

Another nice Martin Wagner discovery: Letters from RAW to the "SRAFederation Bulletin for Anarchist Agitators." 

Five letters are reproduced. Here is a bit from the "Spooner-Tucker Anarchism" letter:

Bob Shea objects that, since I have rejected anarcho-capitalism and anarcho-royalism, as self-contradictory, I should also reject an anarchist army as self-contradictory. Not at all; it depends on how one defines anarchism. Shea, in his next sentence, defines anarchism as non-coercion, whereas I, following Tucker, define it as non-invasion. A's right to swing his fist ends where B's nose begins. If A refuses to recognize this limit and insists on swinging until B's nose is hit, A has become invasive in the Tucker sense. In ending the invasion, B may be as "coercive" as she pleases without becoming "invasive" in this meaning, since B is resisting invasion. Multiply A by 10,000 and you have an anarchist army. Both are equally coercive, A on behalf of their right of "right to invade" and B on behalf of their "right to be let alone." The former right I deny; the latter right I endorse.

Monday, October 7, 2019

RAW biography update

RAW biographer Prop Anon 

The biography of Robert Anton Wilson by Prop Anon/Gabriel Kennedy is still very much in the works, and I know he's working hard on it. Recently, Prop asked me for contact information for people I have interviewed for this blog, reporting, "I am still (!) hard at work on the RAW biography
and am happy to report that I have uncovered some jewels from RAW's life
that readers may enjoy."

I asked for an update, mentioning that I am hearing from people who are asking about it, and I asked if the delay had something to do with the departure of his original editor.

"I am very happy to hear that people are still asking about the book because I am still writing it.

"To answer your question, it was a bit of both I suppose.

"The editor left Tarcher, but let me keep my rights, so since then I been able to deepen the book in places that needed it.

"I am hoping to have an official announcement about the book by Spring 2020."

Of course, when there is news, you'll hear all about it  here.

In the meantime, you can listen to the interview of Prop that Gregory Arnott and I did; I happen to think it was pretty good.


Sunday, October 6, 2019

A Broadway musical: 'The Golden Apple'

1954 original cast recording of highlights from The Golden Apple 

Here is something I had never heard of before, until yesterday, when I was listening to "Footlight Parade" on WCLV, the Cleveland classical music station: In 1954, an acclaimed musical was produced on Broadway, "The Golden Apple," based on the Iliad and Odyssey, although it is set in the state of Washington in the early 20th century and involves a traveling salesman named Paris and an apple pie baking contest. 

The useful Wikipedia article reveals that the musical was not particularly a hit but received rave reviews and good press coverage and at least one major award. (The lyrics were by John Treville Latouche and the music was by Jerome Moross. Moross also was a successful film soundtrack composer.) 

The musical has periodically been revived and in 2015, the first recording of the entire musical was released. 

I would assume that Robert Anton Wilson was living in New York City in 1954 and that being culturally aware, he had heard of the musical. 

The original cast recording is on Freegal, the library musical service, so I'll download it and check it out. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

New RAW Trust memes

There's been a new batch of memes from Rasa at the RAW Trust. Thought I would share.

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Widow's Son reading group, Week Seven

The vegetative soul or the bio-survival circuit

The Widow’s Son Week Seven (pg. 81-94 Hilaritas Press edition, Chapters 13&14 all editions)

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger 

Welcome back to the 18th Century. We begin with Sigismundo fleeing from Captain Loup-Garou while performing some pretty impression deductive thinking all the while.

When Sigismundo breaks in the couple’s bedroom he thinks of another couple from a famous joke. While I found plenty of jokes about couples being caught in flagrante none of them seemed to demonstrate much savoir-faire as the jokes were along the lines of National Lampoon fare and none seemed to date from before the late nineteenth century. I tried to think of RAW’s favorite comedians, as he was no stranger to anachronism, and  I racked my brain for a memory of something similar in a Marx film and looked through jokes from W.C. Fields and George Carlin. Sadly, I still didn’t find anything that fits the bill. I’m hoping someone will know what it is and make me look like a fool. I stopped searching after I found the following quote from Fields: “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damned fool.”

Much like everyone else in this novel Sigismundo is supremely comfortable making judgments about wide swaths of people. After being squealed upon by the man his rumination that “women get skittish at times like this” cites a similar judgment on the differences between men and women by de Selby. (I was always told danger excites women. And that  they don’t like it really. I’ve been told a lot of things, most of them incorrect.) Humorously, it is revealed that the woman de Selby loved was a lesbian which goes a long way to explain his apprehension of the female sex drive as “intermittent, interruptible, and inchoate.” That de Selby’s love(r?) is identified as a lesbian brings to mind another famous power-couple of continental philosophy, Sartre and de Beauvoir. Their relationship was controversial because of their public openness and the fact that de Beauvoir entertained lovers of both sexes. Though it lasted until his death, Sartre and de Beauvoir’s relationship was tumultuous. Like de Selby, Sartre churned out pages of incomprehensible ideas of which he seemed to be certain, albeit Sartre is much less entertaining and stimulating than de Selby.

Sigismundo’s pursuit continues as he tries to remember what he has been taught and escape. However, after the bedroom scene, the acrobatics and detours Sigismundo takes brought to mind the famous scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where he races to get home before his parents and I couldn’t get the damn song out of my head.

As Sigismundo realizes he has multiple enemies in Paris, Jean Jacques Jeder makes a return appearance to remind us of the eternal “merde.”

While running Sigismundo curses that “And the cry of that voice and the song of that strange northern bird in the field were part of the music only he could write, if the damned mechanical Newtonian universe were not forever pushing and shoving him from one crazy melodramatic situation to another, if he only had time to sit down and write the music, if murder and insanity and suicide and magicians with evil drugs were not always swarming around him: And now false arrest and professional assassins again (as at the beginning), and he knew there was a mystery beyond all the mysteries he had solved in Napoli, a horror behind all the horrors he had endured and survived.” (pg 85 Hilaritas) I have to note that Sigismundo has better excuses for not getting his work done than I do.

Sigismundo is stopped at gunpoint, takes flight for one brief moment, and is caught again. This time Loup-Garou uses every precaution to make sure Sigismundo is deposited into the Bastille. The Captain notes that some prisoners would attempt to jump into the moat surrounding the Bastille in a last ditch escape attempt; perhaps if the French had simply filled it with alligators and snakes that could have been avoided altogether.

The chapter closes with another vast judgement as Loup-Garou takes his experience with Sigismundo to be indicative of the abilities of all Neapolitans.

The tower marked “F” is the Tower of Liberty on this map of the Bastille. 

Sigismundo finds his quarters in the Tour de la Liberte, which would later house The Angelic Marquis, de Sade. De Sade was transferred to the Bastille in 1784 and would remain there until 1789 -- he was transferred out a mere ten days before the Storming of the Bastille on July 14. While the Bastille was reasonably more comfortable than its horrid reputation, as Sigismundo discovers -- in spite of the cold -- de Sade’s time there was unpleasant. I found that one of the Marquis’ difficulties while imprisoned was constant conflicts with other prisoners, including our friend Mirabeau. It was during his imprisonment in the Bastille that de Sade wrote his most notorious work, 120 Days of Sodom, that “catalogue of perversities,” whose manuscript was hidden in the Bastille. Interestingly Simone de Beauvoir recounts the writings and recovery of 120 Days of Sodom in her influential essay “Must We Burn De Sade?” (For anyone as interested in de Sade as I have been, I can’t recommend reading this essay enough followed by Angela Carter’s The Sadean Woman -- both works critique and defend de Sade from a feminist perspective.)

As the tower had five floors Sigismundo must be occupying a room on the fifth. De Sade would later occupy the second floor. The foundations of the Tower of Liberty still stand, having been uncovered by construction of the Parisian Metro in the 1880s.

The uncovered foundation of the Tour de la Liberte.

The famous “man in the iron mask” and his 34 years in captivity remains a mystery. The terms of his imprisonment; his mask, having only had one jailer, being forbidden to speak with anyone, give plenty of room for the imagination to run wild and many guesses have been made as to who exactly he was. He was proposed to have been Oliver Cromwell’s son Henry, kept imprisoned as a favor to the English monarchy. Voltaire proposed that the person was Louis XIV’s illegitimate brother and seemed to have changed the detail of the mask being made from black velvet to iron. Later, Dumas’ famous novel, Ten Years Later of which The Man in the Iron Mask was one part, would identify the prisoner as Louis XIV’s identical twin. The prisoner’s name was given as Eustache Dauger, who seems to have been a real person involved in French politics in the 17th century. Who knows?

Sigismundo’s psychological analysis of himself and his circumstances is nearly idyllic. His ability to recognize that it is understandable, and therefore forgivable, to experience panic symptoms coupled with his practical efforts to correlate his thoughts and emotions into a workable state of mind is impressive. We can see the negative aspects of the vegetative/first soul or the bio-survival circuit as Sigismundo is left to his thoughts as opposed to the moments where the robot is useful such as when Sigismundo is fighting or fleeing. In this moment of inaction the rational (adult) mind is a better servant than the animal (baby) mind.

Celine recalls that one of the symptoms of the first soul noted by Orfali is a “desire to tell your problems to somebody older and preferably female.” (pg 90 HP edition) This is something I can strongly relate to. Specifically, after reading this passage,  I recalled the last time I was hospitalized over night -- I was delirious and extraordinarily anxious. When I arrived at the ER it was loud, bright, and the doctors/nurses had very little time to deal with me. Eventually I fell asleep and woke up to a dark, quiet room where I was being covered in a sheet by an older, female doctor. Her assurances delivered in the wee hours of the morning were worth all of the prior ministrations put together. Later while being picked up by my parents and still rather ill, I described the doctor, who I never saw again, as an angel to my own mother.

On pg. 92 we get a pretty pure example of Wilsonian agnostic “logic:”

“Then he thought: Now wait a minute. That is also an inference, a deduction. Old Abraham Orfali had taught him that the worst fool is he who makes an inference, assumes that it is a fact, and does not go on to consider alternative explanations.”

An entertaining and dense footnote is cited at the end of the quotation beginning with a passage of Golden Hours (I, 93) that “[a]ll perception is inferential; all inference is therefore educated guessing.” One of de Selby’s critics believes that his extreme agnostic-bizarro philosophy was born of reading David Hume under the influence of hashish- a pretty reasonable guess to hazard. This theory is also reminiscent of  a passage from The Illuminatus! Trilogy:

“It always starts with nonsense," Simon is telling Joe in another time-track, between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in 1969. "Weishaupt discovered the Law of Fives while he was stoned and looking at one of those shoggoth pictures you saw in Arkham. He imagined the shoggoth was a rabbit and said, 'du hexen Hase,' which has been preserved as an in-joke by Illuminati agents in Hollywood.”

An implicit understanding of the epistemology of Hume brought about in conjunction with hashish, as posited by the maybe-de Selby Le Fournier, reminded me of Crowley’s masterful The Herb Dangerous, specifically the second section, “The Psychology of Hashish.” That essay is a detailed, perhaps-ironically sober assessment of the states of mind brought on by cannabis consumption compared to the Buddhist skandas. As I understand it the skandas are the psychological reactions that the self has to the sensory world. (This is not the dictionary definition.) Here is a passage from the essay, which can be found here or in the very attractive Roll Away the Stone, edited by Israel Regardie:

“This, then, is what happens to the eater of hashish. For each impression he has thousands of glyphs or in the more common effect the images are so multiplied and superimposed that all harmony is lost; the brain fails to keep pace with its impressions, still less to codify and control them. It finds then that from the idea cat to the idea of mouse is a journey through the million dying echoes of cat to the million dawn-rays of mouse, and that the journey takes a million times as long as usual…

"Often, too, most often, one of the 'cat-echoes' will be so loud that the whole chain is shattered; the cat-echo becomes the dominant, and its harmonics (or inharmonics) themselves usurp the throne- and so on and so on- through countless ages of insane hallucination.

"The same criticism applies to space; for in practice we judge space by the time required to pass through it, either by the small angular or focusing movements of the eye or by our general experience. So that if I cross a room, and think a million thoughts on the way, the room seems immense. It is by the tedium of the journey, not by any hallucination of the physical eye, that this illusion is produced.” (Crowley, Roll Away the Stone pg. 108-109)

Compare Crowley’s account of hashish consciousness to Hume’s account of “regular” consciousness in this passage from from Hume’s “Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding:” 

“It may seem at first sight that human thought is utterly unbounded: it not only escapes all human power and authority -- as when a poor man thinks of becoming wealthy overnight, or when an ordinary citizen thinks of being a king--, but isn’t even confined within the limits of nature and reality. It is as easy for the imagination to form monsters and to join incongruous shapes and appearances as it is to conceive the most natural and familiar objects. And while the body must creep laboriously over the surface of one planet, thought can instantly transport us to the most distant regions of the universe—and even further. What never was seen or heard of may still be conceived; nothing is beyond the power of thought except what implies an absolute contradiction.

"But although our thought seems to be so free, when we look more carefully we’ll find that it is really confined within very narrow limits, and that all this creative power of the mind amounts merely to the ability to combine, transpose, enlarge, or shrink the materials that the senses and experience provide us with. When we think of a golden mountain, we only join two consistent ideas—gold and mountain—with which we were already familiar. We can conceive a virtuous horse because our own feelings enable us to conceive virtue, and we can join this with the shape of a horse, which is an animal we know. In short, all the materials of thinking are derived either from our outward senses or from our inward feelings: all that the mind and will do is to mix and combine these materials. Put in philosophical terminology: all our ideas or more feeble perceptions are copies of our impressions or more lively ones.” (Hume, Ten Great Works of Philosophy, pg. 210-211)

Heady stuff.

Also in the footnote we find that Professor Hanfkopf’s ironic accusations that de Selby is a cannabis fiend were countered by Frau Doktor Turn-und-Taxis and that she consequently ended up the object of his ire. It is humorous that Hanfkopf’s role in the scheme is indicated due to postmarks as the Doktor’s name is a reference to the Thurn-und-Taxis family who are notable for having a postal monopoly in the Holy Roman Empire. Thurn-und-Taxis was made even more famous as the ostensibly object of the early Tristero conspiracy that Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 centered upon.

Finally Sigismundo begins thinking about the future and escapes. He thinks back once more to Orfali’s teaching about speculative masonry and determines he will prove that one can escape the Bastille. Maybe the damn horse can fly.

From the estimable Eric Wagner: “Since Sigismundo contemplates his life in Napoli in this week’s reading, I thought something by his childhood hero Domenico Scarlatti might work, Sonata L23 (of course). PS RIP Robert Hunter.” 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Jesse Walker's cheap conspiracies

If  you've been waiting for a dirt cheap copy of Jesse Walker's excellent The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory, your wait is over. It is available for $1.99 on Kindle. I've snapped up a copy. Chapter 9, "Operation Mindfuck," discusses Robert Anton Wilson, Discordianism and other topics.

As I've mentioned before, if you don't have a Kindle, you can download a Kindle app to your phone or tablet to read it.

I shop all the time for really cheap ebooks, and Jesse's book is in Amazon's monthly big ebook sale.  As far as I'm concerned, ebooks are the new paperbacks.

I interviewed Jesse when the book was first published.  It was in 2013, and it holds up well. Excerpt:

It seems to me we are living in very paranoid times, akin to what the country went through in the 1970s. Do you think the timing of your book turned out to be good, perhaps by accident?

WALKER: Many people have said this to me. But as I say in the book, "it is always a paranoid time." If this had come out last year, people would have looked around at all the election-year conspiracy chatter and told me how well-timed the book was. If it had come out the year before that, people would have pointed to the birthers or to the conspiracy theories about the death of bin Laden.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

News from Martin Wagner

Martin Wagner, who has made many old Robert Anton Wilson articles available on his RAW fan site in Austria, is working on an English language site that will make it easy for English speakers to access the RAW articles he has found.

"I think it's time for an English-only site," he told me. "I think people from the UK and US are kinda lost when they go to the German Homepage, also the menu isn't really user-friendly for the English-speaking world."

Martin is busy with his new job and can't give a time for when the new site will launch, but when it launches, it will combine with the established site as two places to obtain Wilson archives on the net. It would likely make sense, at some point, to update with Martin's discoveries.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Attempting 'digital minimalism'

Inspired by Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism, I am attempting a "digital declutter" for 30 days, until Nov. 1. I have deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone and I will avoid them (except if I have to access them from my computer at work, for legitimate work reasons) and I will avoid other unnecessary technology (although I will keep blogging!). (The idea is that after 30 days, you reintroduce tech back into your life in a conscious and disciplined way; you don't necessarily quit Facebook, but you might access it once a week, on  your computer, not your phone,  to check on  your friends.) So please don't take offense if you post some really cool RAW related news on social media and I miss it; email me the news instead, or post a comment.

Addendum: Possibly related comment from Supergee, who recently took the plunge and got a smartphone.