Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Santa Cruz synchronicity



My wife and I went out to dinner last night. As we got out of the car in the very cold parking lot in the Cleveland suburb where we live, I noticed the car next to us had a bumper sticker touting the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, Calif. (I thought it might be a mystery bookstore and my wife loves mysteries and goes to such bookstores, but in fact it's a "gravitational anomaly" and local tourist attraction. 

Santa Cruz is of course the city where Robert Anton Wilson once lived, where a "Robert Anton Wilson Day" was proclaimed for July 23 by the local mayor, and where an event was held to celebrate RAW in 2017. 

When we sat down in our booth and began studying the menu, the woman in the booth next to us asked for advice on what to order. In the course of the conversation, she revealed she was from Santa Cruz. There weren't that many cars in our area of the small strip mall parking lot, but it turned out she wasn't from the "Mystery Spot" car.

Don't you enjoy synchronities? I wanted to ask if she'd heard of Robert Anton Wilson, but my wife, wary of embarrassment, said "Please don't."

Friday, February 28, 2020

Scott Sumner on process

(I have decided to periodically reprint pieces by "think for your self libertarians," by which I mean people who, in the Robert Anton Wilson, Robert Shea, Timothy Leary tradition, might lean libertarian but are not content to simply repeat something Ayn Rand said 70 years ago. This is not to say Ayn Rand didn't say some good things. Today I have a piece reprinting a blog post by Scott Sumner, who blogs at The Money Illusion and also contributes posts to Econlog.  You can also follow his automated Twitter account. The Mgt.)


Scott Sumner

Process is (almost) EVERYTHING


By Scott Sumner 

When I do a post on process, people often ignore the content and sound off on what they think of this or that political issue, or this or that candidate. I don’t care what you think about those topics. If the post is on process, all I care about is what you think of process.

If a candidate with identical views to mine, favoring kidney markets, NGDP targeting, drug legalization, carbon taxes, consumption taxes, deregulating housing, ending occupational licensing, etc., etc., were elected president, it would still be an unmitigated disaster if that candidate also corrupted the country and turned it into a banana republic.

If you don’t believe me, look at what’s happening in India after they elected a guy that was supposed to be “good for business."

Countries with a sound political system, say Denmark or Switzerland, will generally do fine regardless of who is elected president. Countries that are banana republics, like Guatemala or Iraq, will be a mess regardless of who is elected. Countries rarely move from one category to the other, but it can happen.

It’s fine to talk about economic issues when the political system is not under threat. But when it is, the only issue that matters is process. Heraclitus said “character is destiny”. For entire countries, you might say “Transparancy International Ranking of Corruption is destiny.”

PS. I do understand the risk that bringing lots of immigrants from banana republics might change the political culture. But in case you didn’t notice, Trump was put into office by descendants of Western Europeans.

PPS. BTW, Don’t worry about the following, as Trump assures us that everything is under control. The stock crash was caused by the Democratic debate:

One day after painting a dire picture at a Wednesday news conference at the White House about the possible effects of the infection, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was directed by the Trump administration to not say anything further about the virus without clearing it first, the New York Times reported.

Fauci first needs to talk to Mike Pence, the resident science expert in the White House.

Source. 

(Footnote: I am not an expert on economics, so I won't weigh on whether Professor Sumner is really "The Blogger Who Saved the Economy." . The Mgt.)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

New Paul Krassner film in the works


Paul Krassner

Any serious fan of Robert Anton Wilson knows that RAW was heavily indebted to the late Paul Krassner, who encouraged RAW's writing career by publishing much of his early work.  In addition, Bob Abel, the book editor who gave Wilson and Shea a huge break by agreeing to publish Illuminatus!, was a Krassner protege.

So I'm very pleased to report a film documentary about Krassner is in the works, details here.

See also "Jesse Walker talks to Paul Krassner about RAW."

Hat tip: Mondo 2000 on Twitter, which you should follow if you use Twitter.




Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A quote from RAW I liked

If Crowley had said, “Do what I wilt shall be the whole of the law,” he wouldn’t have sounded any different from all the other religious nuts of past and present.  Because he actually said, “Do what thouwilt shall be the Whole of the law, he is known as the worst Monster and Madcap in the history of mysticism.  Whatever else this proves, it clearly indicates that most people are desperately looking for some Authority to tell them what’s right and wrong, desperately afraid of taking that responsibility for themselves.

That is from "Racism, Sexism and Evolution," a 1976 essay by Robert Anton Wilson I found on RAWilsonfans.org when I was searching for something else. The whole piece is worth reading.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Widow's Son reading group, Week Twenty Seven


Family Portrait of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette 

Week Twenty Seven (pg. 457-470 Hilaritas edition, Chapter 1&2 Part IV all editions) 


By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

Part IV begins with another scene in the mode of realism. The dregs of society gather to talk about the machinations of great men and debate their merits. Pierre, still riding on an upward tangent, has become a shopkeeper but is still troubled by dog shit. A fitting allegory for life. 

Louis XVI was regarded much as the text and characters indicate.The poor guy had the lowest charisma score of perhaps any monarch in history. 

I discussed Madame du Barry and Beaumarchais all the way back in my post for Week 8. I think, I hope, that what I wrote down still stands as a decent enough commentary on these figures. The Chevalier d’Eon was discussed a little more fully in the post for Week 4. 

Finally Duccio recalls the very true story about Robespierre the student addressing the newly crowned King Louis and Marie Antoinette. He kneeled and recited an address composed in Latin verse and neither monarch seemed to care. It’s one of those funny moments that makes one wonder. As they say on Last Podcast on the Left: be sure to hug your aggressive, strange acquaintances- you never know when it might save your life. 

From Eric: “With this week’s discussion of Beaumarchais, this seemed appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKkJAu16yJ0 .”

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Philip K. Dick on RAW


I don't actually know what Mr. Dick was referring to. Source: Ted Hand on Twitter, and he also has Dick quotes on the McKennas and Timothy Leary.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Obituary for James Joyce's grandson


James Joyce statue on North Earl Street near its junction with O'Connell Street in Dublin, by sculptor Marjorie FitzGibbon. Creative Commons photo. 

I meant to blog about this earlier; Stephen Joyce, the last surviving direct descendant of James Joyce and the famous author's grandson, died on Jan. 23, and the New York Times ran an interesting obituary.   The obit says Stephen Joyce was "the formidably rigid gatekeeper of that Irish author’s coveted literary estate."

This seems to be a charitable way of putting it. The Times obit offers some examples of how Stephen Joyce performed his "gatekeeper" duties:

He rejected the request of one author whose work was being published by Purdue University because he deemed the nickname of Purdue’s sports teams, the Boilermakers, to be vulgar.

When a 23-year-old Irish composer wanted to use 18 words from what his request identified as “Finnegan’s Wake,” Mr. Joyce’s denial arrived accompanied by a spelling lesson (“Its ‘Finnegans Wake,’” he wrote back, apparently deliberately misspelling “it’s”), and added, to boot, “To put it politely and mildly, my wife and I don’t like your music.”

In 1989, Mr. Joyce required Brenda Maddox, the author of “Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom,” to delete an epilogue on Lucia Joyce in exchange for permission to quote other Joyce material in the book.

In 2000, the Joyce estate demanded a royalty payment of $40,000 for a public reading of a letter from Beckett to Joyce to celebrate Bloomsday. The Beckett estate had asked for $30.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Oz Fritz on Led Zeppelin and Crowley


Jimmy Page in 1973 (Creative Commons photo) 

Oz Fritz has a post up on "Led Zeppelin & Crowley." The first couple of sentences:

"After The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album came out, Dr. Timothy Leary declared it the ultimate document to communicate his message, the message of self-directed, personal freedom of consciousness to grow and expand as it will.  Led Zeppelin plays that role for the maps and techniques of consciousness expansion presented by Aleister Crowley, i.e. his system of magick called Thelema.  Speaking from experience, one way to get Thelema deeply imprinted into your DNA and engrained into your body of habits is to listen to a lot of Zeppelin's music."

Related: Oz Fritz on the Rolling Stone list of the greatest guitarists of all time. The magazine put Jimmy Page at No. 3, but Oz would have put him at  No. 2 (below Jimi Hendrix, of course.) (The Rolling Stone list is here.)

Here is a list by Dan Peeke, at Beginner Guitar HQ, of the "100 Best Guitar Albums of All Time." But I note with disapproval the omission of the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers and Cream.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

RAW and the origins of Boing Boing



In connection with the publication of Ishtar Rising by Hilaritas Press, Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing reprinted the piece Christina Pearson, RAW's daughter, wrote for the official email announcement of the book. It's a great piece, which I assume many of you already have read, as I linked to it earlier on this blog. But I also wanted to draw attention to what Mark wrote in his intro:

As you might know, Robert Anton Wilson (1932 - 2007) is one of Boing Boing's patron saints. Raw's humor, skepticism, optimism, and ability to reveal the deep weirdness underlying almost everything were deeply influential to Carla and me when we launched bOING bOING as a zine in 1987. In fact, we kind of started the zine as an excuse to interview RAW at his house in Santa Monica that year. I'm very grateful I was able to get to know RAW, and honored that he wrote a regular column for bOING bOING. I'm also grateful to have become a friend of Bob's daughter, Christina, a delightful person who is active in keeping her father's books in print. Here's an essay Christina wrote about a new edition of Ishtar Rising, a book originally published by Playboy Press called The Book of the Breast. — Mark

I didn't know a desire to interview RAW helped launch the whole Boing Boing publishing empire. You can get that first issue with the RAW interview and other issues at the Internet Archive.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

More on Ishtar Rising


The Burney Relief

A couple of points on the new Hilaritas Press edition of Ishtar Rising:

1. If you search for "Ishtar Rising" on Amazon.com, the first thing that's going to come up is the old New Falcon edition, not the new Hilaritas Press edition with the Grant Morrison intro. Follow this link for the right one.  (The new Kindle and the old one have the same price, but you'll want to buy the new one.)

I pointed this out to Rasa, and he said, "There’s not a lot we can do about that. I’ve spoken to Amazon in the past about this, and they say that, basically, once the book is up for a while, and people have gone to its Amazon page enough, the search results will begin to change. We’ve seen that with all of our re-issues."

2. The cover for the new edition is based on the Burney Relief, thought (by some) to depict the goddess Ishtar.  Here is a link for a cool music video that uses the image. 

Rasa says, "What was a synchronicity for us was that one of the goddesses in this video is based on the Burney Relief, which is likely a representation of Ishtar. A couple of months back I found the Burney Relief and I was playing with it in Photoshop to create a stylized “cutout" version for a small graphic that would sit at the top of each chapter head in the new Ishtar Rising. While doing the final work on Ishtar in the last two weeks, two different people posted that Burney Relief, also cutout. One is in the video above, which came from a FB posting from David Jay Brown. The other one came out of the blue from a RAW fan who regularly sends us bizarre graphics he builds in Photoshop. Last week one of his graphics featured the 'cutout' figure from the Burney Graphic, pretty much exactly cutout the way I did for the book. What is really cool is that I showed my cutout to Scott McPerson, our cover designer, a couple months back, and he decided to do his own version of the graphic. His simple black and white line drawing was so cool that I decided to junk my version, and use his for the chapter heads. That’s also cool because his version is featured on the new book cover! I love those synchronicities! They tend to happen a lot when working on RAW’s books!"

Monday, February 17, 2020

H.G. Wells and the Spiders from Mars tickets on sale now



Announcement from Daisy Eris Campbell:



A work-in-progress of a new show, brought to you by The Mycelium: the people behind Cosmic Trigger, The Play!

We need YOU to help steer this show to its next phase. ALL feedback will be welcomed!
Geniuses collide when invisible muse ‘Ziggy’ crash lands into the Edwardian living room reality of the ‘Godfather of Science Fiction’ H.G. Wells, inspiring him to write his greatest works. But can H.G. surrender to his muse and help provoke an evolutionary leap in the collective imagination?     

What can myth-making genius teach us about the urgent need to alter our cultural narrative?

COULD WE BE HEROES?

A time-travelling one-man fusion of theatre, music-hall and Bowie-inspired songs, with mind-blowing digital sets.

Written by John Higgs (Author of William Blake Now, The Future Starts Here, Stranger Than We Can Imagine, Watling Street, The KLF)
Starring Oliver Senton (Slung Low, Mischief Theatre, Showstopper!)
Directed by Daisy Campbell (Cosmic Trigger, Pigspurt's Daughter, Anamnesis Now!)
Animation by John Horabin (SkateDog Films)
Music by Tim Arnold (The Soho Hobo, BBC London Radio album of the year)
Co-produced by Kate Alderton for The Mycelium


Friday 3rd April 2020 
The Cockpit, Gateforth St, London NW8 8EH
Please note there are two performances- £5 each

1st performance starts at 5.30pm, 2nd performance starts at 8pm. Bar open from 4:30pm
Please arrive at least 30 minutes before the show starts as latecomers might not be admitted.
Join the creative team for scene readings, interviews, artwork and workshopping followed by a 20 minute fully staged extract.

Also, please see this additional newsletter for more events and news. 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Widow's Son reading group, Week Twenty six


The Promethean 

Week Twenty Six (pg. 433-454 Hilaritas edition, Chapter 23&24 Part III all editions) 

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

I am yesterday, today and the brother of tomorrow: these words are from Crowley’s Liber Israfel. Israfel was supposedly based on a manuscript by the sainted Allen Bennett named Liber Anubis which was itself supposedly a translation of a hymn from that disparate corpus of writings known as The Egyptian Book of the Dead, more properly called The Book of Coming Forth By Day. And now, it seems, Sigismundo is allowed back into the light of liberty.

Sigismundo naturally doesn’t trust that his rescuers are who they claim to be at first. He begins to cotton to the situation as-it-appears-to-be after being given the grip of the fourth degree. Earlier in the novel Sir John is lectured after his fourth degree initiation that help may always come from an unexpected quarter. Sigismundo/Joseph has become despondent and had almost given up hope of salvation.

Johann Conrad Dippel was born in 1673 at Castle Frankenstein; he was a man of learning, a theologian, hermetic scholar and an alchemist. The great visionary Emmanuel Swendenborg was once a student of Dippel’s but later rejected him and viciously attacked him as a megalomaniacal opportunist. Dippel believed that hermetic scholarship and alchemy was a truer key to understanding Nature than the then emerging natural sciences and espoused millenarian beliefs about the Second Coming. However, one friend claims that as an adult he despaired of Christ, describing him as “an indifferent being”, and put all of his faith into his alchemical experiments. At one point he tried to buy his birthplace with a vial of something he claimed was the elixir of life. A contemporary myth about Dippel that is pertinent to the incarnation in the novel is that he conducted experiments to transfer souls into cadavers. Nearly a decade before The Widow’s Son was published a popular and controversial idea was proposed to Academia that Shelley had been inspired to write Frankenstein after visiting Castle Frankenstein and hearing the tale of Johann Dippel. Regardless, Dippel - who indeed was said to have died in 1734 - strikes an interesting and undeniably Faustian figure. Dippel claimed a year before his death at age 61 that he had developed a tonic that would allow him to live to 135 - so in the manner of most of the people I admire, he was a dumbass and a goddamn liar but I’m sure RAW would appreciate the life-extension optimism.

Frankenstein, or Actually, It’s Frankenstein’s Monster, is one of those novels that some people are forced to read in school or believe that they know through cultural osmosis but is definitely worth revisiting often. The novel is a mess of ideas and contradictions that not only exemplifies Romantic literature and philosophy but the eternal crises of “progressing” humanity. Shelley, not her husband, was the superior wit. (Not to mention that she single-handedly created the genre of science fiction.) Ingolstadt figures strongly with Frankenstein as the location of Victor Frankenstein’s studies and his monster’s birthplace: Shelley almost certainly chose Ingolstadt because of its connection to Herr Weishaupt and His Merry Men.

Dippel von Frankenstein and Sigismundo is a satisfying conclusion to the mind-bending action of the third Part that can only be followed up with something like Chapter 24. A few observations:

When Sigismundo begins to think that the key is to Stay Drunk All The Time I was reminded of Baudelaire’s advice which I have tried to follow and also that after seeing how his relationship with alcohol played out in the previous novel, I’m hoping he doesn’t pursue that train of thought.

This sequence, I believe is meant to be funny:

“What do you feel when you look at the stars at night?” Frankenstein asked.
“The same as anybody else. Feelings that I cannot put into words.”
“Not the same as anybody else. Try putting it into words….” and so forth.

I'm pretty sure RAW/Frankenstein is playing a trick on the reader who is almost invariably going to identify with Sigismundo as Frankenstein lists all the ways that he is special. I would especially imagine the type of person who would be reading this novel in the first place would love to relate. We’re all the Fairest.

The idea of the Enlightened Despot is an old one though I do think it is interesting that two of my favorite series, this one and Terra Ignota, both play with this idea. If you enjoy The Historical Illuminatus! Chronicles I heartily recommend checking out Ms. Palmer’s novels as they are the closest material I can think of.

The following chapter is a hodge-podge of Gnostic fragments, Biblical verse, and the Author’s ingenium. I have tried to think of something to add and I cannot summon up anything worthy. This is the Gospel According to St. Wilson the Evangelist and it is a perfect encapsulation of Chesterton’s absurd good news or Pascal’s Night of Fire. Read and Read and Read it.

“The foxes have their holes and the birds have their nests, but the Living One does not stop and rest.”

The ankh is actually a representation of a sandal strap and the Egyptian form of “god” was conjugated as a verb.

“That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” Genesis Chapter 6

Maybe Dippel was onto something.

“Believe in the Stars.”- Kenneth Parcell, another Immortal

From Eric: “For the soundtrack I have chosen Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis conducted by Jascha Horenstein. This piece seems to fit the mystic Christianity of this section. Man, this section of the novel blew me away when I first read it during the carefree Reagan years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmjSzSc2bxk

Saturday, February 15, 2020

More news from Hilaritas


QTR from Bad Trip Designs on Vimeo. See third item below. This is the first I've heard of this guy's videos and it's quite exciting. The video says simply that it is based on writings of Robert Anton Wilson, but much of it seems taken from the exercizes for chapter one of Prometheus Rising. 

(Rasa, from the newsletter announcing the new edition of Ishtar Rising):

~ This is huge news: The Illuminatus! Trilogy is coming to television! Hivemind, the production company behind The Expanse and Witcher, is partnering with writer-director Brian Taylor (Crank, Happy!) and the European production company Kallisti to adapt The Illuminatus! Trilogy. This has been a secret project that we've been so eager to blab about! Also part of the Kallisti team is Scott McPherson, cover designer for Hilaritas Press books. We're very optimistic!

~ Tom Jackson (of rawillumination.net), along with Bobby Campbell and Gregory Arnott, what I think we are now calling the East of the Rockies Cabal (from our perspective in the West), will be commanding a RAW Trust table at the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) in Columbus, Ohio this coming August. They will be representing the RAW Trust and Hilaritas Press and will be offering other goodies to be announced . . .

~ We had a great meeting with young film-maker Pat Bird of Bad Trip Designs (http://www.badtripdesigns.com), discussing the development of short video clips to introduce RAW titles. We're looking forward to what comes of this new connection. You may have already seen this first short video: https://vimeo.com/354107109

~ Bobby Campbell has a friend who runs a Coffee Roasting business, and Bobby's idea is to design a number of special RAW-themed Coffee blends. He's thinking of waking up in the morning and brewing a cup of "Cosmic Trigger!" We'll keep you posted on his progress!

~ RAW Translations!
Coming out this year at various times, there will be a:
- Russian translation of Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy
- Bulgarian translation of Quantum Psychology
- Italian translation of Sex, Drugs, & Magick


Friday, February 14, 2020

Rasa replies to the 'trolls'



Posting on Facebook on Feb. 11 by Richard Rasa (I could not find the post or posts he is responding to):

BOB WOULD HAVE WANTED YOU TO BUY HIS BOOKS.

By Richard Rasa

How do I know that? Because he told me personally.

Yesterday after Derik Davis and Chonk Lamar started a jihad against Hilaritas Press and me personally, I had the thought, "Fuck it all. If a large number of RAW fans feel like it's okay to make life harder for RAW's children, and all the kind folks who work with the RAW Trust, then why should I bother?"

But then I thought, why should I let trolls give me a headache? RAW was a close friend, and for years I have been volunteering my energy to support RAW's daughter Christina, in first, sorting out her dad's affairs, and then in building up Hilaritas Press so RAW's books would not go out of print, and we could finally respect his wishes by publishing editions of his books that he would have loved. It's a fuck of a lot of work, and Christina tries to send me a salary for the full time job I have taken on, but because publishing for small publishing houses depends on a very slim margin, I am still basically working pro bono.

The trolls think my interest in supporting RAW's work is all about money. What fucking assholes. I'm as certain as I can be that RAW would share that sentiment. I don't think that on my own. I get that impression from RAW himself, RAW's daughter, and from the many other folk who were his friends who are regularly selflessly pouring their energy into helping our efforts at insuring RAW's legacy.

Without our efforts, RAW's books would go out of print, and the copies that he hated, because of typos and other errors, would be duplicated endlessly by disreputable characters like Derik Davis and Chonk Lamar who think they are being "edgy" and modern when really all they demonstrate is a total lack of compassion and intelligence.

I don't like to insult people, but I like to be honest, and on more than one occasion RAW advised me to be less forgiving of the people RAW labeled "assholes." He said to me, don't bother with them. They want to be miserable, and if, after you try to reason with them they prove to be too thick to melt, then tell them to "fuck off." RAW had an enormous amount of patience and compassion, but he had zero patience for assholes. I made the attached meme after re-reading an old email from RAW where I was describing my efforts to reason with a fundamentalist, and RAW suggested I not waste my time. I should follow his advice more often.

So, click Like if you'd like Christina and me to continue republishing RAW's books, and you support our effort. I only respond to ill-informed trolls because I feel the need to stick up for what RAW asked of us. I really loved that guy, and when we last talked about his legacy, his post-polio was so inhibiting that he had a very hard time moving his muscles just to speak. He was so caring that he actually apologized to me because he thought it was an effort for me to follow his garbled speech. That nearly brought me to tears.

I've been an artist all my life, and so I never made a lot of money. The small savings I have now is slipping away as I work full time for the RAW Trust, and Christina tries to send me what she can from our very small profits. It is not enough to live on, so the idea that I have a "cash cow," as the trolls so insensitively suggest, is actually just a cruel insult. If I complain about people taking RAW's books and bootlegging them, it is only because I care about his legacy. One of the trolls sent me a couple articles that supposedly supported his view that we should give away the eBooks. However, the two articles did not support the troll's thinking at all. Pointing that out went nowhere, and so today I'm immensely tired of this kind of bullshit. All of what Christina and I do for the RAW Trust and Bob's memory and legacy we do out of love. If you think otherwise, then, sadly, you have to suffer with that cruel misconception. I hope you recover and help us improve the world with some authentic RAW energy.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Christina remembers


Christina Pearson (Facebook photo) 

One of the highlights of the email communiques from Hilaritas Press are the pieces that Rasa usually coaxes out of Christina Pearson, RAW's daughter and the trustee of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust. The Ishtar Rising email announcement is no exception; you get to read Christina's vivid memoir of what it was like growing up in Chicago when Dad was an editor at Playboy magazine (she was in sixth grade or so and had 3-4 regular male friends:

One day one of the boys, Alan, needed to come in to the house to use our bathroom, and unbeknownst to me, had peeked into Bob and Arlen's bedroom. Where, GASP, he saw the huge collage of women's breasts made with magazine photos Bob had meticulously cut out and adorned one wall with. (He WAS writing The Book of the Breast, at the time you know...) Their bedroom was a large room, today we would probably call it a master bedroom although it did not have a bathroom of its own. My parents slept on a bare mattress on the floor at one end of the room, with one dresser, a couple of bookcases, a card table with Bob's typewriter on it, and a folding chair for him to sit on. The collage was the only thing decorating the whole wall. As far as young Alan was concerned, it was a MIRACLE!

One has to assume much of Illuminatus! was written at that card table.   Lots more at the link, including discussion of why Ishtar Rising is one of her favorites of her father's books. Buying a copy is on my "to do" list for today.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hilaritas releases Ishtar Rising


After a great deal of work, Hilaritas Press has released a new full color edition of Ishtar Rising, featuring a Grant Morrison introduction.

Some of the announcement from Rasa:

"We are really excited to present the new edition of Robert Anton Wilson's profoundly relevant treatise on the nature of Matrist vs. Patrist societies, Ishtar Rising: Why the Goddess Went to Hell and What to Expect Now That She’s Returning. RAW wrote extensively about his encyclopedic examinations of different aspects of the human condition, but he saw this one conflict as fundamental and far too often ignored by scholars. As even RAW admits, the first iteration of this book was originally a sneaky method of presenting a largely taboo topic to an unsuspecting audience. We offer our most loving and lasagna-filled gratitude to Grant Morrison for looking into that story and writing a spirited and timely new Foreword. Grant seemed especially suited to this project. We think you will really enjoy his essay!

"We also want to thank Greg Arnott and Chas Faris for their dedicated help in editing and proofing Ishtar Rising. As always, a mountain of thanks to our intrepid cover designer from amoeba, Scott McPherson. Scott didn't want any special recognition for this, but I can't resist noting that he designed a wonderful interpretation of Ishtar from the ancient Burney Relief, a Mesopotamian terra-cotta plaque, circa 1750-1800 BCE. He used that design for the cover of the new edition, but we couldn't resist making it a part of the book's interior design as well.

"RAW's daughter Christina values this book as one of her favorites from her dad, precisely because of the insightful exploration of that 'fundamental conflict' – the rise of the "Goddess" in a Patrist society (more on that below!). As part of our effort to make this an edition that RAW would have loved, she spent countless hours over the last months on this project."

Much more here, including a piece from Christina.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A great YouTube video


Here is a video from YouTube I am posting (about 18 minutes long) because I believe Robert Anton Wilson would have enjoyed it and sombunall of his fans will like it: "Happy Birthday" performed in the style of 10 composers by musician Nahre Sol. A wide variety of composers are represented, including Bach, Beethoven, John Cage and Steve Reich.

Monday, February 10, 2020

New meme from Rasa


A new meme from Rasa; here is the source material. Here is the source material., a video where RAW discusses relief from his illness. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Widow's Son reading group, Week Twenty Five


Anna Liffey in her new location

Week Twenty Five (pg. 415-432 Hilaritas edition, Chapter 21&22 Part III all editions) 

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

Our protagonists are drawn closer together psychically, in the case of Moon emotionally. Moon’s discombobulated thoughts give way to two long soliloquies on hate and idealism as he wanders around in the pre-dawn gloam. (Moon’s short remarks about living somewhere where the sun doesn’t come up at three in the morning and missing half the day is an example of how RAW can deftly point out basic perceptual differences between populations. Coming from a mid-Atlantic latitude, while I am duly grateful as the days become longer, the rash of daylight that takes place at the antipodes of the world has always seemed slightly horrifying. Last year’s Midsommar uses the lengthened day to great disconcerting effect.)

Moon’s greater understanding of Ireland’s situation makes it harder to blindly hate the agents of his misfortune as he apprehends them as cogs in a miserable machine. I can relate to this as I am currently disgusted with some policies I have been dealing with- but the more I have looked for a person to despise and blame the more I have found people with their hands tied and just as frustrated as I am.

While Moon reflected on Ireland I found myself thinking of my Home and wishing more of her sons and daughters felt the loyalty I did to Her.  I am often confused that my neighbors don’t realize that we are an occupied people, mere proles meant to scrape by in a glorified industrial colony. I wish we would someday rise against our ineffectual, bought and sold government and elect someone other than corporate shills and religio-maniacs but I doubt that day will come soon. Instead we suffer a brain-drain as those who can leave and those who remain behind do a great job imitating the undignified poverty and breeding habits of the 18th-Century Irish. Alas, I doubt that most of my “countrymen” appreciate the beauty of our home as much as an Irishperson enjoys Green Eire. Does anyone revere the Ohio like the Anna Liffey? Where is our dancing spirit?

A perhaps-interesting synchronicity is that I have read three books this week that took the time to relish Homer’s address to Rhododaktylos eos.

De Selby seemingly makes a leap from the footnotes into Sigismundo’s cell as he wrestles with and hammers at his recalcitrant machine. (The footnotes are keeping up their bizarreness quotient as we are reminded randomly of Bill Patterson’s ears and the fact that a whale is not a fish.)

Despite Moon’s inner conflicts, at the end of our reading he seems set on a path to make himself into a villain.

From Eric: “With all the hammering in this week’s reading, I chose the Hammerklavier Sonata by Beethoven - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKlLPe86Flk .”

I personally like this selection as it brings together our novel with Schrodinger’s Cat. 


Saturday, February 8, 2020

New Yorker 'Eris' headline


Adam Gorightly confesses that he missed the above headline when it first appeared, and I have to admit the same thing. More from Adam here at the excellent Historia Discordia. 

Friday, February 7, 2020

Review: At the Heart of the White Rose



Sophie Scholl. (Public domain photo colorized by Iain Spence)

Book Review: 
At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl (edited by Inge Jens), Plough Publishing House, 366. pp, 2017.

By Iain Spence
Special guest blogger

I first heard of Sophie Scholl in the 1980s when I mixed with German Greens involved in the anti-war movement. They’d taken her life as added inspiration for their Non Violent Direct Action (NVDA) against nuclear bombs. Both Sophie and her brother Hans were executed by the Nazis for being part of The White Rose collective. The siblings carried out non violent resistance against the Nazis during the war producing leaflets calling for civil disobedience.

We are now blessed with the first translation of Sophie and Hans’s diaries from German into English, released by Plough Publishing House. I was spellbound by their diaries and letters as they show both youths to be deep thinkers with much clarity and humour. Not surprisingly the diaries tell us nothing about the actual activities of The White Rose collective but there is enough added commentary by the editor to help put their personal writing into perspective. Whilst young Sophie wasn’t "psychedelic"(Hofmann took his famous bike ride just 2 months after her death), she was a nature lover who hugged trees and wore flowers. Another biography describes her looking a little strange and child-like in her first train journey to university, again with a daisy in her hair.

At one point in the war both Sophie and Hans wore their hair in the protest style common among radicals in Germany: Sophie wore hers very short in the form of a bob in defiance of the long braids so common among women, while Hans wore his long on the Eastern Front where he served as a pacifist medic. Hans would often get screamed at by his CO to get it cut. Sophie and Hans were very well read – with Hans even quoting Lao Tzu in his anti-war leaflets. I wonder if they also encountered Jung's concept of the anima/animus? To quote Jung in 1939, "In the unconscious of every man there is a hidden feminine personality and in that of every woman a masculine personality." We tend to forget how revolutionary this concept was back in the 1940s. Likewise we forget how young people will sometimes react to the extreme polarisation of gender with the way they present their hair.

I found At the Heart of the White Rose a fascinating read. I’ve reviewed it here as I think it might appeal to RAW readers who’ve been involved in the heady experience of NVDA. Robert gives a good description of his own experiences of civil disobedience in Cosmic Trigger II. It sounds like he was pretty well freaked out by his own first arrest. Few of us however come close to the determination and courage showed by The White Rose collective.

Robert Anton Wilson makes a fascinating comparison between the Flower Child of modern times to Ezekiel’s vision of the "unearthly Angel" (in relation to his quaternity of the Angel, Bull, Lion and Eagle) in Prometheus Rising (p. 55). With her gentle persona Sophie Scholl fits RAW’s description very well. There are also some naive aspects to her personality which the reader can find from reading the book. But Sophie Scholl proved that no matter how gentle and dreamy you may be, you can still maintain a quiet inner strength in the face of a terrifying adversary. I’d also recommend, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (Dumbach & Newborn) for a more detailed biography to their lives. The editor in the Letters and Diaries has kept her bio-comments to a respectful minimum.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Mondo 2000 looks back


The Twitter account for Mondo 2000 is worth following anyway, but it might be particularly interesting right now, as it seems to be looking back on many interesting past incidents involving the magazine; this was posted on Jan. 17:

Another anecdote:

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

New Joyce book goes on sale



A few days ago, I posted about a new book on James Joyce, Joyce and Geometry by Ciaran McMorran. "Providing evidence to confirm much that has largely been speculation, Joyce and Geometry reveals the full extent to which the modernist writer James Joyce was influenced by the radical theories of non-Euclidean geometry," says the publisher's blurb.

I posted about it because I thought it sounded like a book Robert Anton Wilson would have enjoyed but noted that the hardcover costs $80. 

The marketing manager for the University Press of Florida, Rachel Doll, tells me that if you act fast, you can grab the book for $35.

"We do from time to time offer discounts on hardcover books priced for the library market, to make them more affordable for individuals. We are currently offering a discount on this book in connection with the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association. You can order here: http://upf.com/book.asp?id=9780813066288 and use code MLA20 for a discount price of $35, valid through 3/7. Feel feel free to share the discount code and end date with the readers of your blog," Doll wrote in an email.

I asked if there's going to be a paperback or an ebook and Doll replied, "We typically release paperback editions a few years after the release of the hardcover edition, but it depends on the sales of the hardcover.

"A digital version of the book will be available through most academic libraries."

Here is my earlier post, with a longer description of the book.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Widow's Son reading group, Week 24


Week Twenty Four (pg. 403-414 Hilaritas edition, Chapter 19&20 Part III all editions) 

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

Once learned men knew that things fell because it was in their nature to fall, according to the Peripatetic. Once a man was burned at the stake for saying that there might be other Earths that were perhaps themselves inhabited. Once a man knew that the world had begun precisely on an October day in 4004 BCE based on his study of a bastardized translation of a bastardized translation of a bastardized translation. Once a poor engraver’s poetry was said, in the only review of his lifetime, to be “the ravings of an unfortunate lunatic.” Once man said he could split the atom, knowing full well that this was a lie because the idea of an atom was smaller, much smaller, than our primitive tools could ever discern. Once a man thought that he’d explained away consciousness as the meat sweats of glands and pulse. (I do not mention Woman because She was never given enough of a platform to be as Wrong as He.)

Mankind’s wrongness is a blessing in disguise. Because the world that mankind builds always seeks to be correct and being such a flawed Being mankind’s idea of what “correct” might be is almost always so heinously incorrect. Humanity never really shook the stupid so its a good thing our “best and brightest” are usually proven to have a bit of egg on their face. It makes way for the Future, which is where our hopes lie. And someday, perhaps, the last shall be first and this whole barrel of babbling apes will burst into something better.

A smart guy, by my estimation, wrote a few years ago that everyone else was writing history so he better get in on the game. He titled his work True History and it was entirely composed of lies. Partially because of a trip to the moon atop a waterspout, it makes a better case for one of the first works of science fiction than anything by Margaret Cavendish or Voltaire. Our lies often turn out to be better than our truths. We did go to the Moon- we did that against all odds. Once another dude, who I think was pretty smart, wrote that “all art is quite useless,” but another guy, considerably weirder but perhaps as smart, crossed that out and pointed out that “nothing that is useless can continue to grow and thrive.”

Both of our protagonists are at a loss. Sir John is arguing with human arrogance and God/Author even knows what is happening to Sigismundo at this point. But at least he gets a pleasant show in the best of RAW fashions: the set dressing should be familiar. The light-skinned blond and the darker brunette- his affection for coitus reservatus, the hanged man and ejaculate. Lovely, old-fashioned stuff just like Grandpa’s stories.

We all live in different worlds. De Selby was right.

I don’t have much else to add this week. You all have been doing an excellent job in the comments picking up the piece I’ve still dropped.

From Eric: “This week’s soundtrack, a version of the EU theme song, comes courtesy of Toby Philpott with the caption, “BREXIT, Stage Left”. I think it fits in with the absurd nature of some of the footnotes in the novel.”

Monday, February 3, 2020

New BBC podcasts I've just downloaded




Daniel Thompson wrote to tell me about two new BBC podcasts that should interest many of you:

"'How to Burn a Million Quid' is a six part series that dramatizes the events surrounding the band KLF and the time they burned a million pounds cash in 1994. It seems to be produced by Ken Campbell, who did the stage play of Illuminatus. The band take the book as their inspiration so they consult it religiously throughout their career. There’s a scene that imagines RAW and Robert Shea at the Playboy offices when the inspiration for writing the good book strikes. Very funny and well produced audio drama.

"The second is an episode of the show “Seriously” called “The People’s Pyramid.”  It follows what the members of the KLF are up to 23 years after they burned the million. They are building a pyramid in Liverpool with bricks containing the cremated remains of 35000 people.  This show is a straightforward documentary with interviews on the street as the group celebrated the addition of more bricks in 2019 and search for a spot to build. It doesn’t have as many overt references to RAW or Illuminatus but the participants discuss some Discordian philosophy with the host and there’s a bit on the 23 enigma. It’s a quick 30 minutes and well worth a listen."

I had missed this, so I'm very grateful to Daniel for pointing these out to me. I've included links above, but you should also be able to download these to your phone from your favorite podcasting app. Try searching for "How to Burn a Million Quid" and "Seriously."

The late Ken Campbell is portrayed in the "Million Quid" series, but he's not actually the producer. Here are some of the credits: "Produced and directed by Boz Temple-Morris. Written by Sean Grundy and Cara Jennings. A HOLY MOUNTAIN production for BBC Radio 4."

Actor Paul Higgins ("The Thick of It," "Line of Duty") voices Bill Drummond while Nicholas Burns portrays Jimmy Cauty. Kevin Eidon is Gimpo, while Jeremy Stockwell portrays Ken Campbell. Alas, I don't know who voices Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea.

I'll listen to these soon and report back.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

'H.G. Wells & the Spiders from Mars'


I love the title, don't you?

Announcement from John Higgs:

"I've written a play called 'H.G. Wells & the Spiders From Mars.' It's a one-man play (well, one visible man) and it stars Oliver Senton, who played Robert Anton Wilson in the Cosmic Trigger play. It's being directed by Daisy Campbell.

"Here's the blurb:

Geniuses collide when an invisible muse ‘Ziggy’ crash lands into the Edwardian living room reality of the ‘Godfather of Science Fiction’ H.G. Wells, inspiring him to write his greatest works: but can H.G. surrender to his muse and help provoke an evolutionary leap in the collective imagination? What can myth-making genius teach us about the urgent need to alter our cultural narrative. Could we be heroes?

A time-traveling one-man fusion of theatre, music-hall magic & Bowie-inspired songs, with razor sharp digital sets.

"It's still in development, but it will be presented as a work-in-progress at the Cockpit Theatre on April 3rd. This will be partly fully staged and partly a readthrough, and I'll be doing a Q&A. More on this next time but for now, if you're likely to be around London on Friday April 3rd, keep the date free."

More John Higgs news from the latest newsletter. 

(The Widow's Son reading group will return soon.)

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A new book on Joyce


Out on Feb. 25, 2020, although confusingly, Amazon says it can be delivered right away: Joyce and Geometry by Ciaran McMorran.

"In a paradigm shift away from classical understandings of geometry, nineteenth-century mathematicians developed new systems that featured surprising concepts such as the idea that parallel lines can curve and intersect. Providing evidence to confirm much that has largely been speculation, Joyce and Geometry reveals the full extent to which the modernist writer James Joyce was influenced by the radical theories of non-Euclidean geometry.

"Through close readings of Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, and Joyce’s notebooks, Ciaran McMorran demonstrates that Joyce’s experiments with nonlinearity stem from a fascination with these new mathematical concepts. He highlights the maze-like patterns traced by Joyce’s characters as they wander Dublin’s streets; he explores recurring motifs such as the topography of the Earth’s curved surface and time as the fourth dimension of space; and he investigates in detail the enormous influence of Giordano Bruno, Henri Poincaré, and other writers who were critical of the Euclidean tradition.

"Arguing that Joyce’s obsession with measuring and mapping space throughout his works encapsulates a modern crisis between geometric and linguistic modes of representation, McMorran delves into a major theme in Joyce’s work that has not been fully explored until now."

A copy of the new hardcover costs $80. I wrote to a marketing person at the University of Florida Press and asked if there would be a less expensive paperback or ebook edition. No response, at least yet.

Ciaran McMorran has a Twitter presence.

Hat tip: Jesse Walker.