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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 - .”

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


Eric Wagner said...

No wife. No horse. No mustache.

Oz Fritz said...

Yes, the footnotes seem to bleed into the main text both literally and in spirit; bleeding edges. It seems as if two completely different worlds momentarily overlap, the barriers between different dimensions temporarily collapse. It recalls the intrusion of paranormal activity into our accepted space/time physics. Chapter 20 ends with mysterious hammering sounds. 21 begins with Moon flashing back to his interrogation which involved banging, or hammering on a metal bucket placed over his head. In the next chapter, as Gregory noted, the hammering enters Sigismundo's cell with either the paranormal contact or hallucination of the inept, Irish-like Angel hammering on his space/time traveling machine attempting to get it to work.

Sigismundo and James Moon, one from the upper class, the other from the working/serf class, share some common points. Chapter 21 opens with a short bardo sequence. Bardo represents the space in between death and rebirth, more generally, the space in between.

p. 27: " ... he was neither quite "in" the coachman's cottage of Babcock Manor nor "out" among the stars. He was still lost between space and time with the voice chanting in singsong ..." ; "between" is italicized in the book.

Moon's identity got split apart from Seamus Muadhen, he appears a fundamentally different person, no longer the hate-filled revolutionary. The bardo of his past life still haunts him though (p. 275): "All that was left of Seamus Muadhen was these nightmares of the interrogation room and the crazy space between ordinary spaces." The bardo also gets considered as cognate with the subconscious mind. To explore your bardo = to revisit the memories, dreams and reflections of "past lives, " your various past identities of the current organic life.

Alias Bogus said...

I haven't related this directly to these chapters, but I had a small glimpse of something I had missed earlier.

In contemplating the Grail legend, it dawned on me that Carlo’s injury echoes the injury sustained by The Fisher King. You can find many variations of this ‘wounded king’ and how his impotence affects his country (The Waste Land).

Our questing hero (Gawain, Parsifal, Galahad) needs to ask the right question to heal the king and the country. Perceval has been told not to ask impertinent or irrelevant questions, so (the first time) neglects to ask the important question, often described as “Who does the Grail serve?” Another variation? “What ails thee?” (a spear caused the wound, and often the spear/chalice male/female theme comes up). In Wagner, the question comes out as “Who is the Grail?” This seems to relate even more closely to the genetic tale.

If the hero acts, or asks the right question, spontaneously, unprompted, it appears he may discover that he has become next in line to inherit the throne.

I can’t claim to tie this into the whole relationship between Sigismundo and Carlo, but it certainly feels evocative, to me. Especially as the book contains endless series of questions and answers…

Oz Fritz said...

p. 278 Bluejay edition: " – any code would do to deceive the galls; Irish listeners would know at once what the song was really about."

* "Poor Old Woman"

Looking at the code, Poor Old Woman seems one of those odd linguistic machines that contains both a major problem and a solution to that problem when interpreted a different way. Poor Old Woman with the initials P.O.W. = prisoner of war. James Moon seems in a social position much like a prisoner of war as he contemplates the ramifications of wars between the British and Irish. Prisoner of war also can indicate someone metaphorically held prisoner by the fact of war. The different interpretation that indicates a solution comes from the gematria of P.O.W. = 156 = BABALON, THE VICTORIOUS QUEEN. as it's written in Crowley's Sepher Sephiroth.

What follows *"Poor Old Woman" - which indicates a song title in the book - appears a mind melding of "prisoners" of war in Ireland into a love for Ireland through song by personifying it into the divine feminine in multiple material forms - a description of the Thelemic interpretation of Babalon.

What Wilson writes in this regard seems extremely relevant to the current world situation as seen by the mystic point of view:

"... but because She possessed you with Her beauty and Her need, because She was wise beyond mortal woman and you could not let Her die..."

Definitely worth reading and rereading the whole passage (p.278-279) to get a deep sense of this.

This sections concludes with "The Poor Old Woman" then he apparently disavows the whole thing as "A figure of speech. An idea no more substantial than swamp gas." We can see a reversal of this perspective by deciphering "swamp" as 'sw + amp' (I leave the numeric transposition to you to figure out) to indicate a kind of fuel related to the sentence immediately preceding it:

"But you could not remember death and defeat waiting for you down the road, when Her songs called to you; you followed the songs, because you were mad with the love of her." This time literally stating a problem and its solution.

The initials of The Poor Old Woman, TPOW = 165. 165 = "To make them know" also "Assembly." RAW makes the the assembly of his readers know about the beauty of Ireland, the healing through Babalon, etc. In my opinion, what he makes known could be called Theurgic magick or also, the Great Work. 165 rewards looking up for other connections very much related to this, but that I don't have the time to go into now. We find much imagery in these few pages suggesting The Hanged Man.

RAW appears an absolutely brilliant communicator of the Great Work in these recent chapters, I have much more to say about it. Anyone working to keep his legacy alive and flourishing, ipso facto, participates actively in the Great Work.

Oz Fritz said...

Sigismundo encounters an Irish "Angel of the Lord" in Chapter 22. Emerald Green is the color in the King Scale in key number 22 in 777's Table of Correspondences; green seems the color most commonly associated with the Irish. This section ends with Sig musing: "Next it will be little green men with egg in their beards." However, the Angel enters with a blue light dressed in blue. We find blue as the color for the Queen Scale for 22. 22 = Lamed = the Egyptian Goddess Maat, who symbolizes Truth. She could also connect with the Goddess imagery found in Chapter 21 in Moon's reflections of the song about Ireland. Blue is also listed as the Queen Scale color for key number 21 - the only instance in that Table where 2 paths in sequence have the same color.

As Moon contemplates blackmailing Babcock at the end of Chapter 22, he flashes back to that song in Chapter 21 as he realizes a consequence from taking that scurrilous action:

"Ah, Dark Rosaline, the woman shapely as a swan, you will turn your back on me entirely and I will hear no more tunes of glory."

I had the impression that the Irish Angel was short, though that's never actually written. From his clothes and demeanor he reminded me of a leprechaun. He also reminded me a lot of the characters who worked for God in the film Time Bandits by Terry Gilliam.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I loved how the footnotes bleed into the main text in this section; for most of the book, there seems to be no connection between the two, so the bleeding through the wall is very striking.

The publication of "Ishtar Rising" this week is a nice synchronicity with the discussion of the "divine feminine," as Oz puts in, in Chapter 21.

James Moon is split into two with Seamus Muadhen, Sigismundo is split with Joseph, John Babcock is bisexual and has two natures, and the novel itself is split into the main text and the footnotes. For that matter, the solution of the Widow's Son is a dual one, as it involves both the usual Masonic answer and the fact it is code for another meaning. The novel itself has a dual nature in the sense it is fiction but it also has some of Wilson's opinions about seeing the world. (This is perhaps more explicit in Illuminatus!, divided as it is between the fiction section and the nonfiction Appendices.)

Alias Bogus' discussion about asking the right question seems to foreshadow the solution of who the Widow's Son is.

Oz Fritz said...

Great analysis, Tom! Thanks for pointing out the divine feminine expression in The Widow's Son coinciding with the release of Ishtar Rising. Hopefully She is rising. This seems very much related to the cornerstone of the Temple that was rejected becoming the center stone of the arch. Sigismundo stated a few chapters back that the feminine seems what this cornerstone symbolized, rejected by the Church.

Alias Bogus said...

I hadn’t spotted the parallel between the nightmare hammering of torture by bucket, and the comic hammering of the grumpy time traveller, arguing with his machine. Thanks to Oz.


Tom points out the several examples of duality in the characters, which reminded me of this passage (available in various translations) from Goethe’s Faust, Part 1.

"Two souls, alas, dwell in my breast, / each seeks to rule without the other./ The one with robust love's desires / clings to the world with all its might, / the other fiercely rises from the dust / to reach sublime ancestral regions. / Oh, should there be spirits roaming through the air / which rule between the earth and heaven, / let them leave their golden haze and come to me, /let them escort me to a new and bright-hued life!"