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Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Widow's Son reading group -- Finale

 James Gillray’s political cartoon which rather gleefully anticipates the trial of Thomas Paine

Week Twenty Nine (pg. 489-517 Hilaritas edition, Chapter 5,6,&7 Part IV all editions)

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

It was and is widely believed that Clement XIV was poisoned, although Wilson seems to think that the poisoning was not quite as literal as other historians. The doctors who performed his autopsy ascribed his death to scurvy and hemorrhoidal disorders and pointed out he was over 70 years old. Policy failures and the climate around the Holy See as recounted by RAW exacerbated the situation. While searching around I found a wonderfully insane conspiracy book titled AntiChrist that directly links the graffiti and (assumed) poisoning of Ganganelli to the later (re)founding of the Illuminati by (ex?)-Jesuit Weishaupt. The author goes on to state that the Illuminati founded by Weishaupt was merely the refounding of the Alahambros (which should be familiar) which were at one time led by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

An amusing tale about the nature of the papacy comes from a slim volume of stories titled The Twilight of the Gods by Richard Garnett; it concerns the reign of Pope Sylvester II, who was historically accused of being a sorcerer, and his relationship to Lucifer. It is titled “The Demon Pope.”

As we reach the crescendo of the final complete part of the Historical Illuminatus! sequence, (Nature’s God always seemed curtailed by the lack of the implied fourth novel), familiar roles carry us further along the chain of history. De Sade comments in his wry-insane manner about Rome, Wilkes and Burke try to avert war and Empire’s dissolution, Beaumarchais and Diderot don’t need a weatherman, stately plump Benjamin Franklin returns over the Atlantic towards a Continental Congress, while a less familiar character in this Romance, John Adams, proposes that we are in a state of nature.

Hobbes’ state of nature is also summed up in the Latin phrase Bellum omnium contra omnes- the war of all against all where every man has as much right to any other thing as any other. Hobbes predicted much of what would happen during the Enlightenment. The text makes sure to note that the battles at Concord and Lexington were the first time since the religion wars of the 1600s that “peasants” had defeated a sovereign power. Hobbes had learned from the atrocities that drove Grimmelshausen mad and led to Charles I losing his head and Cromwell’s dictatorship; his works accurately describe the breakdowns of society that Duccio recounts in his private history where the will to battle becomes War. John Adams seems to be maneuvering towards the direction of creating another Leviathan that will match the English Crown. The architects and prophets of America are drawing together.

In France the Leviathans of commerce and royalty have grown fat and ready for beheading- in Ireland the situation still hasn’t been resolved over two hundred years later. The world waits with bated breath, especially because of  COVID-19, to see how these motions set in place centuries ago will develop.

And Hanfkopf is woven into his final narrative and goes out like Joseph of Arimathea, another keeper of secrets. 

Sigismundo’s perspective is a little insufferable but understandable considering all that he has been exposed to- instead of becoming an unwilling pawn he decides to embrace the spirit of Rousseau’s noble savage and Crowley’s counter-dedication to Konx Om Pax:

St. Paul spoke up on the Hill of Mars
To the empty-headed Athenians;
But I would rather talk to the stars   
Than to empty-headed Athenians;

It’s only too easy to form a cult,
To cry a crusade with “Deus Vult”—
But you won’t get much of a good result 
From empty-headed Athenians.

The people of London much resemble   
Those empty-headed Athenians.
I could very easily make them tremble,   
Those empty-headed Athenians.

A pinch of Bible, a gallon of gas,
And I, or any other guess ass,
Could bring to our mystical moonlight mass   
Those empty-headed Athenians.

In fine, I have precious little use   
For empty-headed Athenians.
The birds I have snared shall all go loose;   
They are empty-headed Athenians.

I thought perhaps I might do some good;
But it’s ten to one if I ever should—
And I doubt if I would save, if I could,   
Such empty-headed Athenians.

So (with any luck) I shall bid farewell   
To the empty-headed Athenians.
For me, they may all of them go to hell, 
For empty-headed Athenians.
I hate your idiot jolts and jars,
You monkeys grinning behind your bars—
I’m more at home with the winds and stars 
Than with empty-headed Athenians.

It seems to me that Sigismundo is correct that the fourth soul or satori or enlightenment is virtually worthless if not successfully integrated into the whole personality. One of my instructors insisted, like Regardie, that any success in magic is predicated upon rigorous therapy and self-examination. I was frustrated at the time because I wanted hot chicks and to blow old men’s hats off with sylphs but I’m grateful now.

Sigismundo’s hypothesis about the origins of gods is fascinating. I have contended for years that The Fool is none other than the first chimp who took just the right amount of hallucinogenic substance to not poison itself or go beyond comprehension. Or am I just inventing my own grand opera?

Reread Chapter 24 of Part III.

Finally were brought together with the only main character I’d feel comfortable buying a drink for and a figure whose belated appearance buries the dog of his implicit involvement with almost every larger historical theme in the novel. The Narrator neglects to mention that Thomas Paine’s trip across the Atlantic was sponsored by none other than the enterprising Dr. Franklin and its peril. The ship that Moon and Paine are aboard has a case of typhoid being passed around and some will die, Paine himself will have to stay in the care of Franklin’s physician on his arrival in the colonies. Paine will immediately become a citizen of Pennsylvania and take over editing duties of a paper for Franklin where he will write an anonymous missive against slavery in the Colonies. Paine will of course incite the colonists’ ire against the British Crown further along the path towards battle. No less than the radical/conservative John Adams would state that “without Paine’s pen, Washington’s sword would have been raised in vain.”

After his first American sojourn Paine would come back to England and then Paris where he would defend and praise the Revolution, be sued in absentia for libel against none other than radical/conservative Edmund Burke, and fall prisoner thanks to Robespeirre’s paranoia. Paine would be released to travel back to America thanks to the machinations of James Monroe and died a hugely controversial figure who advocated for deism, universal rights, and the overthrow of all the old Kings and Popes. While there is no real evidence for Paine ever becoming a Mason, his philosophy could be said to have further Masonic goals more so than any other contemporary.

Moon has tried to redeem his blackmail and heads, along with Sigismundo and the world’s attention, towards the New World.

Thus we close The Widow’s Son, Robert Anton Wilson’s personal favorite of his novels, and will open again under the auspices of Nature and Nature’s God. Nature’s God begins with a foreword by none other than our own Eric Wagner, “Bewitching Rhetoric,” and was penned on Walpurgis Night 2010. I propose that we come together for the first reading group to discuss Eric’s forward on on Walpurgisnacht 2020 and continue with the first Chapter “Murder in Clontarf” on Monday May 3rd.

As a note: I should have included the factoid in my post for Week Nineteen that Mary d’Este makes a cameo in RAW’s Masks of the Illuminati as a co-conspirator of Crowley’s who helps pull the wool over Sir John Babcock’s (the descendent) eyes during the final London chase scene as Miss Sturgis, Isadora Duncan’s secretary.

Thank you to Tom. Thank you to Alias and Oz and Eric and everyone else who contributed, and to Rasa and Christina for their support. I’ve loved reading your thoughts. Thanks to anyone who read!

From Eric: ““To two scoundrels in an unpredictable universe”, and to all the other scoundrels out there, a concerto by Vivaldi: .” 


Rarebit Fiend said...

I must apologize for repeating "none other than" and mention that my wife stipulated magic did get me at least one hot chick.

Eric Wagner said...

I regard Nature’s God as complete, although the series remains incomplete. Man, ten years have passed since I wrote that intro. Thanks for a great job, Gregory. Joyce named one of the four old men in the Wake Matt Gregory.

Alias Bogus said...

As I went out one morning
To breathe the air around Tom Paine's
I spied the fairest damsel
That ever did walk in chains
I offer'd her my hand
She took me by the arm
I knew that very instant
She meant to do me harm

Depart from me this moment
I told her with my voice
Said she, but I don't wish to
Said I, But you have no choice
I beg you, sir, she pleaded
From the corners of her mouth
I will secretly accept you
And together we'll fly south

Just then Tom Paine, himself
Came running from across the field
Shouting at this lovely girl
And commanding her to yield
And as she was letting go her grip
Up Tom Paine did run
I'm sorry, sir, he said to me
I'm sorry for what she's done

As I went out one morning

supergee said...

Sylvester II was a mathematician as well as a pope, and some historians believe that’s where the rumors of occult activities started. Judith Tarr’s Ars Magica is an excellent novel about him.

Oz Fritz said...

Really great last post, Gregory! The Crowley counter-dedication seems most apprpos. The suggestion to reread Part iII Chapter 24 ties into something I will comment upon though I don't know if there will be time this morning.

I will start with the ending because the penultimate phrase in the book, "Paine said cheerfully," seems one of the most important messages in the book especially considering the likelihood that we seem to be entering one of the most painful times in American history, at least since 9/11 with the impending explosion of the coronavirus. RAW experienced a great deal of pain in his life, this phrase perhaps can be seen as advice for pain management. Anybody working upon an initiatory path will experience more pain as their sensitivity increases. True, they also experience more joy, love beauty etc, but also more pain. As the mechanism or circuit that feels increases its capacity, it feels everything more, not just the good stuff. That fact seems often overlooked.

Appropos of today's post by Tom, the final phrase of the novel, "in an unpredictable universe" - the initials, i + a + u + u add to 23. More later when I get time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to everyone here for keeping this study group going over the months. As a quiet viewer I just wanted to say I enjoyed it much even though I never contributed. Looking forward to the next one : )
Iain Spence

Alias Bogus said...

I put the Dylan lyrics up, as they were the first reference to Tom Paine I came across (British schools don’t teach much about wars we lost), and Dylan, like RAW, often offers tit-bits up, to send me off on a snark hunt of research. The first time I heard of Ezra Pound?

“Praise be to Nero's Neptune, the Titanic sails at dawn
Everybody's shouting, "Which side are you on?!"
And Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot fighting in the captain's tower
While calypso singers laugh at them and fishermen hold flowers”

And speaking of obscure research, have you heard the story about the Pope having to prove he’s a man (possibly because of Pope Joan)? He supposedly had to sit on a chair with a hole in the seat, so a young cardinal could feel (or look) and then call out ‘testiculos habet et bene pendentes’. (‘testicles he has and well-hung ones’).
It seems perfectly possible these ‘myths’ contain no truth, and may just form the basis of scurrilous rumours, but they amuse me. Maybe propaganda from humanists and Protestants, or even rival Popes – as various people claimed the top spot, at times.

I have felt very grateful that Gregory did the heavy lifting, when it came to pursuing details of the various “real” characters who appear in the story…

For people in the USA, I can only say that “the Tories” remain as unpleasant (evil?) as they appear here, and they have managed to re-activate the Irish question (which had been solved with EU membership for both countries) with their Brexit nonsense…history sure feels on a loop, rather than a progression.

I love the way Bob eases Siggy out of the story, for now, with a letter from Philadelphia (the city of Brotherly Love), declining any role in the prophecy/bloodline/conspiracy, and looking for a new role in life. W.C. Fields was born there, and did jokes about it his whole life: in a movie, when about to get hanged, his last words? "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

Not sure why Eysenck gets a dig, in the footnotes, he was a real hardline (CSICOP-type) skeptic, but then found correlations between astrological rising signs, and people’s careers.

Hey ho. I know RAW didn’t find astrology that interesting. Funny, as Crowley appears to have ghost-written most of Evangeline Adams’ books. And Antero Alli has a wonderful take on it. Me, personally, I find the work of Stanislav Grof and Richard Tarnas interesting. But hey, Siggy doesn’t have any outcome fixed in the stars…
'Gimme Shelter': Weathering the Storm in an Archetypal Cosmos

Oz Fritz said...

The pain management advice I suggests comes from the penultimate phrase in the book, "Paine said cheerfully," seems connected to the "accelerating crescendo of light, love, liberty and laughter" that the Bishop of Munster encourages on p. 316. The virtue of laughter also gets extolled in the Crowley essay, Liber CL De Lege Libellum I recommended earlier in the section on Love: "... and making of Laughter itself a sacrament adjuvant to Love, even as in the Wine of Rheims is sparkle and bite, like as they were ministers to the High Priest of Intoxication." De Selby and others suggest that the Marx Brothers functioned as high Sufi initiates,

Alias Bogus, I thought of that Dylan song too upon discovering Tom Paine in our adventure. That song was the first I ever heard of this architect of Revolution.

The discussion leading to the grain wars that begins on page 331 of the Bluejay edition appears connected to the metaphor of bread as world creation we saw in Part III Chapter 24. It begins: "In France, bread had remained at four to six sous a loaf ..." The phrase, "six sous a loaf occurs three times and the date May 6 occurs three times resulting in the number 6 turning up six times on this page. The initials of this phrase, s + s + a + l = 151 = "The Fountain of Living Waters."
"sous" = 196, the same as ISSSV = The crown (corona), summit, point. 196 also = 14 squared. 14 = Daleth = Venus, a counterpoint of Mars who rules this chapter, 5, and all the wars, revolutions and assassinations discussed in it.
"loaf" = 107 = "Egg." Egg appears self-explanatory though it also carries a great deal of mystical significance for Thelemites of the Kenneth Grant persuasion, whom I respect. Grant and Wilson wrote favorably of one another and their respective occult research.
"four to six" which starts the whole show off, indicates the path of Yod connecting Chesed with Tiphareth. Yod = The Hermit = the Intelligence of Will = 210, a significant number indicating how to work for the production of bread that I believe Eric Wagner has explained elsewhere.

Oz Fritz said...

p. 330: "Someone with common sense and moderation has to go to Philadelphia and head off the catastrophe." This sentence forecasts the introduction of Tom Paine whom we meet in Chapter 7 on his way to Philadelphia. Paine wrote two pamphlets very influential upon the American revolution, the first one being Common Sense

"'I am a wife deserter,' said Tom Paine" jumping into the story. Paine has connections with Crowley. They both wrote pamphlets called The Rights of Man..; Paine for the French Revolution, Crowley during the height of WW II. It also appears accurate to describe Crowley as a wife deserter. In RAW's Crowley 101 class, we learned that Crowley referred to himself as an asshole in coded fashion in The Book of Lies. This congrues with Paine calling himself a scoundrel. Tom Paine's name has gematria significance related to scoundrel/asshole.

In Chapter 6 Sigismundo laments of "all varieties of magical politics. A great deal of magical politics occurred and probably still occurs among Thelemites. A relatively recent book, One Truth and One Spirit by Keith Readdy illustrates an obvious example. He makes the contention that only one iteration of the A.'. A.'., amongst many, appears legit. De Selby and others might argue that this contention of "One Truth," running throughout the book, occludes the multiplicity of Thelema. I find Readdy's political stance a serious flaw in an otherwise interesting and informative book. The Fourth Way too, probably all magical Orders with humans in it bump into C2 territorial issues not infrequently.

Sigismundo says: "I will not even be truly amazed if I someday discover that the function of the Priory is to provoke students to escape from it and seek their own paths." Portions of Sigismundo's new found philosophy in this chapter appear a short exegesis on "Do what thou wilt."