Monday, May 11, 2020

Nature's God reading group, Chapter Two

A Lady’s Maid Soaking Linens c. 1765- Henry Robert Morland 

Week Two: Chapter Two “Rape Before Lunch” (pg. 15-34 Hilaritas edition)

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

There are wheels within wheels and this chapter is a particularly vicious turn, red in tooth and claw. This violence is carried out on many different levels: the immediate, taking place before Maria Babcock’s eyes on July 4, 1776, socially as we are reminded time and again of English hypocrisy and the empty promises of justice, the perennially relevant, as this account of a rape trial could have been written yesterday, and the karmic as we see various ancestors and incarnations of RAW’s cast of characters represented in the courtroom that will decide upon Sir Vaseline-Foppe Wellington being innocent and turn Lady Babcock into a theological revolutionary.

Right now most of the readers are aware of the cultural shift that has occurred since the beginning of the #Metoo Movement, the 2016 election, and as far back as the so-called #Gamergate mess that seemed to kick the hornet’s nest of mediocre white men: all of which were, or were presented as hinging greatly upon sex/gender relations. Right now most of us are aware of Tara Reade’s accusations against candidate Joe Biden and the many accusations against incumbent Donald Trump; many Americans are left in a moral conundrum. Many Americans are disgusted by the hypocrisy and  glaring partisanship of those who months ago insisted we #BelieveWomen and today are happy to say “I believe him.” Nearly 250 years from the time that Chapter 2 is meant to portray: we’re still in the same fucking mess. And for that matter: I’m just a guy who likes Robert Anton Wilson and I don’t have any solutions.

Indeed, Wilson’s views on women and the Women's Movement were varied: he could write as enthusiastically about the gritty, or should it be slippery?, details of sex as any schoolboy, he considered himself a male feminist yet he could rant about radical feminists along with the best of the Men’s Movement during the Nineties, he was able to point out to a friend who had never understood how women were afraid of men that the same discomfort he felt earlier when a large gay man hit on him was something women dealt with on the regular, he was able to write this chapter which, again, sounds like an account explaining why women don’t come forward sooner or at all. Wilson’s relationship and attitudes towards the various “women’s” issues of the late twentieth century could be the subject of a long essay or book on its own. What is clear is that Wilson had a deep and abiding respect for Woman and women throughout history: if you root for the underdogs, you’ll be rooting for women. I doubt Arlen would have settled for less.

Justine Case, seemingly an earlier incarnation of the music critic who writes essays in The Illuminati Papers and Right Where You Are Sitting Now and the film critic who attends parties throughout The Schroedinger’s Cat Trilogy, is being defended by a member of that vibrantly gray and odd family, the Drakes. Hartford Coke Bacon doesn’t seem to be connected to any of RAW’s fictional characters but does have a pedigree consisting of blood from the famous jurist Lord Coke and the philosopher Sir Francis Bacon.

Just as institutionalized misogyny drilled in to the reader’s head by the confrontation between Justine and her mother after the trial, to really emphasize the classism that is so pervasive in the court of law under the Union Jack, Hartford Coke Bacon is connected with Delia Bacon, anti-Stratfordian extraordinaire. The younger Bacon not only impressed Emerson with her wit but was beloved of many of the Transcendentalists and American literary icons. Upon her death she was praised by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Hawthorne, and Walt Whitman. She was said to be a genius in her own right and a woman of remarkable eloquence. She also thought that Shakespeare’s “philosophical masterpieces” couldn’t have been written by a commoner for the common man and that they were obviously the product of higher class minds for a higher class of audience, the only audience that could possibly understand Shakespeare after all. And this view of Shakespeare is, shockingly, historically inaccurate, disgustingly elitist, and ignores the pervasiveness of culture and ideas. As someone who has taught Shakespeare, I can personally testify that the rarefied approach to his work is ridiculous and ignores the genius of the plays. The anti-Stratford position is often born of a disbelief that a rather unexciting man who simply read quite a bit for his time and needed money could ever produce great art. Which is utter and complete bullshit. For my money, the best of English literature came from an impoverished engraver who everyone thought was goddamn insane.

For the rest of our literature roundup we have a reference to that ungodly tome, Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded which consists of more than a thousand pages of letters as a servant girl fends off unwanted advances from her employer, Mr. B, who then reforms at the end of the novel and they get married. Samuel Richardson’s popularity is striking for modern readers, most of whom find his novels unwieldy at best and unreadable when honest. He also had his critics at the time, one of whom was Henry Fielding, famous for his (infinitely more readable) The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, wrote a parody An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews. In Shamela, the position of Pamela from Richardson’s novel is built on lies; in “reality,” she is much as Hartford Coke Bacon tries to portray Justine Case, a lewd woman who is bent on entrapping her beneficent master. Happily Mr. B’s name is revealed to be Mister Booby. There are wheels within wheels. We also have a delightful example of RAW writing in the style of Daniel Defoe: aside from being scarily accurate RAW is imitating James Joyce, who imitated Defoe during that most difficult chapter of Ulysses, “The Oxen of the Sun.” Alan Moore would later go on to imitate Defoe’s prose in Jerusalem.

At the end of the chapter Sir Vaseline Foppe-Wellington is released to his own devices which will see him syphilitic and delusional, the Judge easily hangs a starving man the next day, and Justine Case hopefully finds safer accommodations at Babcock Manor. Next week we’ll move across the Atlantic to the new world and some casual conversation between two of the least casual characters in these novels as the wick is lit to blow up the world order. See you then!

From Eric: “I thought this song would work:


Eric Wagner said...

Bob opposed stereotypes and prejudice. He pointed out the stereotypes and prejudice of some feminists.

supergee said...

One possible explanation for the less savory parts of Wilson’s attitude towards women: He mentioned in an interview that during his childhood his mother was out of her mind for several years and would beat him for no particular reason and that thereafter angry women frightened him.

Rarebit Fiend said...

@Eric- well that blew my book pitch out of the water. Excellent!

I really don't want anyone to misunderstand me, I mostly agree with RAW on most topics. I also have as much respect for Andrea Dworkin as I have for her bosom ally Jerry Falwell. The excesses of rhetoric and idealism have alienated many people and set back humanity's progress.

@supergee- I believe I've heard this mentioned before, perhaps by yourself. I strongly suspect my relationship with my mother certainly shaped my various "instinctual" feelings towards women in the same manner that my relationship with my father influenced etc. I appreciate you sharing this bit of biography/context.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

This chapter seems very topical, as Gregory mentions in his excellent posting. I was struck twice on how well it connects to the present moment.

The first assault that Justine Case testifies about in court sounds strikingly like the Tara Reade accusation against Joe Biden. I'm sure other folks reading this chapter must notice that same thing.

There's also discussion about two Daniel Defoe books, "Robinson Crusoe" and "Moll Flanders." But Defoe also wrote "A Journal of the Plague Year," which obviously also connects to the present. I recently wrote to an old friend who lives in Brooklyn and asked how he was doing. He told me he's doing OK although he can't see his girlfriend right now and added, "If you are looking out for more reading matter I heartily recommend Daniel Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year." I'm reading it for the first time now. Fascinating and suddenly very relevant."

Oz Fritz said...

The irony of this chapter: witnessing a travesty of Justice imposed upon a woman named Justine Case whose first name obviously suggests Justice. Wheels within wheels or levels inside levels, a literal travesty upon Justice (Justine), the travesty of Justice in this particular case with the clear bias shown toward the male defendant, and the abstract travesty of Justice in a general sense hearing of a poor person sentenced to hang for the "crime" of being hungry and stealing a loaf of bread.

This chapter also presents multiple levels of PAIN. The physical pain of the rape, the pain of Justine in present time as she gets forced to relive the experience in gruesome detail, the pain of Maria witnessing these events.

The esoteric subtext here indicates unbalanced male energy wreaking havok, causing pain.
Chapter 2 = Chokmah, the Father archetype. It begins: "The Italian Englishwoman or English Italania ..." I + E = 15 = Aiyn = The Devil = the card expressing unbridled male energy in the
Tarot. The Sherlock Holmes detective in me reverses 15 to get 51. 51 = Terrible; Pain; Failure.

More on this next time.

Alias Bogus said...

Like a lot of people on the planet, I identify strongly with the Irish part of my ancestry (the Moriarty clan) and was brought up to think of “the English” as those other people.

I moved to Wales (from London) 25 years ago, to at least get into a Celtic culture. Brexit re-affirmed that many of the English have some unpleasant traits. The character of Sir Vaseline Foppe-Wellington so closely evokes Boris Johnson (and his 5? 6? 7? children) that I find it uncanny. His boorishness, sense of invulnerability, of entitlement, etc. get captured entirely accurately – nothing much changed since the 18th Century. A Brexiteer Conservative politician recently suggested that the UK should “abolish” Wales (as a separate country, with its own government and laws) so it would again be properly ruled by the Conservative government in London, so he could go to the beach! [In England the lockdown is being softened, to allow city folks to invade the countryside, but in Wales we have not yet allowed people to travel that far for leisure activities.]

Gregory mentioned Bob mimicking the style of Defoe (and its relationship to the Oxen of the Sun chapter in Ulysses) – I confess that the interminably long sentence also brought to mind the Penelope chapter, where Molly Bloom thinks in exactly such a stream of consciousness… and, indeed, Maria Babcock even considers that Defoe “did seem to be making a unique effort to understand a woman’s perspective on the world,” within that very sentence.

Oz Fritz said...

Great comment Alias Bogus, especially the last paragraph which appears to provide one solution to the problem I'm about to state.

p. 22: "...but she noticed they were both enjoying this ritualized cockfight even if they did not understand it.

p. 28: "Yes, my lord. He said something I couldn't understand, I still don't understand it."

Understand = Binah, archetypal Woman.

Chapter 2 portrays the pain and disaster of an energetic Chokmah, archetypal male energy, without the influence and balance of Binah. The Tarot card Justice shows a woman holding scales in most decks indicating balance, also associated with Truth. Crowley changed the name to Adjustment for his deck. Rather than a woman holding a set of scales, the scales are large and abstractly arranged as if they are part of the Woman representing Truth and Justice, as if the Woman herself symbolizes balance. RAW illustrates the concept of unbalanced male energy through a literal attack on Justine (Justice & Balance), first physically with the rape, then mentally with the attack on her character in the courtroom.

As below, so above, this kind of destruction and pain can manifest in psychic ways while challenging or obstructing the alchemical accretion of substances.

Sir Vaseline Foppe-Wellington; S + V + F + W = 78
I have come to associate 78 as a number sometimes indicating depletion of substance and vitality.
78 = The breaker, dream
Angel of Mars

We find a man sentenced to death the next day for stealing one loaf of bread. In The Widow's Son RAW used bread as a metaphor for spiritual substance. From this symbolism, we can deduce that Foppe-Wellington, and the system that enables his debauchery, steals spiritual substance. He appears only one manifestation of a universal problem.

This chapter title = "Rape Before Lunch" - why lunch? I don't recall any mention of the time of the assaults. l + u + n + c + h = 99; 99 = Clay of Death, Infernal Abode of Geburah.
Geburah = Mars. It connects with the Angel of Mars corresponding with the gematria of the rapist, 78.
78 = 6 x 13
13 = Death (# of Tarot trump)

To me, this suggests the nature of the substance stolen.

Oz Fritz said...

p.32 right after the all male jury finds Foppe-Wellington not gulity:

"Maria thought, Well, one could expect men of property to stick together. But then she thought, And one might also expect men to stick together."

This appears verbatim from the book with "property" in italics. Not sure why the words "well" and "and" get captitalized; not sure if this indicates typos or if intentional for some reason unknown to me.

property = prop + er + ty.
prop = 430 = Nephesch, the animal soul of Man
Covered with mist; darkness, twilight (recalls the title of chapter 1)
er = to err, or error
ty = 19 = The feminine glyph
An enemy
Was black

The phrase "to stick together" turns up twice in those two sentences; t + s + t = 78 (see previous comment). "Stick" seems another image for the bludgeoning or sharp, pointy, cutting effect of an unbalanced phallus.

Oz Fritz said...

p. 16: "... and were quickly and efficiently apprehended and hanged throughout the Empire On Which The Sun Never Sets, and that was the end of their bothersome insurrections.
So Maria was not aware she was becoming a revolutionary, and certainly nothing in her twenty-six years had prepared her for such a role."

The capital letters of the phrase that starts with "Empire...," E + O + W + T + S + N + S = 260
260 = Intelligence of Mercury = communication. The literal meaning of this phrase combined with its gematria provides the image of solar communication
260 = 26 x 10. We discover that Maria is 26 years old at this point in the material world.

It seems this connects with Chapter 26 from the BoL called The Elephant and the Tortoise. On the next page we find "Maria had been reading a chryselephantine overwritten book..." Not knowing the meaning of "chryselephantine" I assumed it a colorful expression for "hugely" or something like that. I connected this with the phrase "... the Elephant upon whom the Universe is poised..." from that BoL chapter. However, it seems RAW plays a trick on the reader as the actual definition of chryselephantine = "type of figural sculpture in which the flesh was made of ivory and the drapery of gold (from Greek chrysos, “gold,” and elephantinos, “ivory”)"

I suggest that one esoteric subtext of this novel concerns sex magick instruction, so far on what NOT to do or what approach NOT to take. This begins with the discussion about the Viking's lice in Chapter 1. Lice and lousey (filled with lice) get associated with sexual impurity by the fact that crabs can get sexually transmitted. The episode of Chapter 2 occurs in Lousewartshire. Although lousewart is a flower, RAW seems to use it in Joycean fashion (louse + wart) to indicate sexual deviance or impurity as we find in The Trick Top Hat (part of the Schrodinger's Cat trilogy:

"The worst pests of all were the Loonies, disciples of Neon Bal Loon, an English eccentric originally born Albert Pike in Gaotu, Wobblysex, Buggering on the Thames, Lousewartshire, England."

And in Masks of the Illuminatti : "All the world is saying that he (F. Lousewart) did impress posterity more through his besotted lechery than through fidelity to the holy bed of Christian marriage." (parenthesis in the original)

All the verses in The Book of the Law are numbered. RAW seems congruent in his instruction with the 26th verse of the second chapter:

"26. I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one."

Maria is 26. Looking at the 26th verse of the first chapter in the BotL we find a superb description of the symbolism Maria represents as discussed earlier regarding The Widow's Son and The Star card. You can find this online.

Both the BoL and the BotL contain significant sex magick instruction. The last paragraph from ch. 26 in BoL suggests a solution for unbalanced yang energy so brutally illustrated here in Nature's God. This seems related to the Hanged Man card. See the quote that opens this comment.

Alias Bogus said...

I remain fascinated by Oz's analysis of the text, but can hardly follow the details, for lack of detailed knowledge of Gematria or Caballa, or Numerology, or whatever.

So I can only pick out one detail, because it resonates.

When we bought this cottage we live in, it was called "Preswylfa" ("dwelling place" in Welsh).

We changed it to "Ty Cariad", which means something like "Dearest House" (I suspect a link between Cariad, and Querida, in Spanish - *Ty* simply means house/home).

So was fascinated to see Oz mention this: "ty = 19 = The feminine glyph"

People who live in only one language, sometimes seem like people with only one can tell I am dabbling in Finnegans Wake, again.

Rarebit Fiend said...

@Alias & Oz- There's a passage in "Under the Volcano" where the alcoholic protagonist is writing a letter and states "I can trapeze around the Tree of Life like a monkey." I've read a lot of Qabalistic literature and I've never come across an author or writer who was as talented as Oz is at literal Qabalah. (The use of gematria, notariqon, and temurah to interpret the world.)

Eric Wagner said...

I love “Under the Volcano”. I plan to reread it this year along with reading Markson’s guide.

Rarebit Fiend said...

@Eric- if you're interested in reading together, let me know when you start. I read it a couple times in undergrad but haven't revisited it. Certainly not with a reference!

Eric Wagner said...

Rarebit, Tom, etc., anyone else interested in an Under the Volcano read through?