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Monday, July 13, 2020

Nature's God reading group, Chapter 10

Week Ten: Chapter Ten “In Pursuit of Wild Pigs” pg. 185-210 Hilaritas edition

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blotter 

Our penultimate chapter covers three years and concludes the American Revolution narrative in the novel. Through the lens of Seamus Muadhen’s experience we are provided with decently accurate accounts of the historical record of those three years. Looking into some of the events mentioned in this novel I found that much of Seamus’ descriptions come from the memoirs of Joseph Plumb Martin, whose words on Washington’s marches are directly quoted on pg. 186. Wilson deserves more credit than he has been given for going back to first hand sources; while those sources occasionally enjoy a dubious credibility, it is generally accepted as a good practice.

Seamus might be wrong about the Colonial Army being the first “bare-arsed” army in history. It is sometimes accounted, although this might be apocryphal, that dysentery was so rampant amongst the fleeing English army that by the time they made their stand against the French at the funnel-abattoir that was Agincourt, many of the longbowmen fought without breeches. Shitting and shooting. I’m sure RAW would have appreciated the parallel.

Washington’s failed attack on Staten Island is reflective of the model modern major general’s fixation on New York since the beginning of the conflict. After his defeat in Brooklyn, the British pretty much had New York City as their base of operations for the duration of the War. Washington actually wanted to focus the campaign that led to Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown on retaking New York from the British.

The Dark Day of 1780 did cause a lot of hubbub amongst the Continental armies and the people of New England. (Seamus’ recollection of the cock’s crowing and whippoorwill songs is taken directly from Joseph Plumb Martin’s journals.) The incident did garner one bon mot for the historical record when Abraham Davenport, a member of the Connecticut Senate, said to his colleagues, who wanted to adjourn over fear of it being Judgement Day: 

“I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”

His remark reminds me of a bumper sticker an uncle bought for me Christmases ago: “Jesus is Coming: Quick! Look busy!”

New England’s Dark Day is actually surmised to have been caused by forest fires that were raging in Ontario. Atmospheric effects before and after the Dark Day, the sun and moon having a reddish hue for example, are typical in such events. While West Virginia was not in the path of the recent dust plume, it is worth pointing out that much of the Southern United States just experienced hazy skies and fantastic sunsets due to dust from the Sahara Desert migrating across the Atlantic. The effects in the Caribbean were even more dramatic.

The Battle of Yorktown was even more fantastically awful than Seamus’ account indicates. Washington is recorded as having struck the first strike of the pickaxe at the beginning of the trench digging, although I couldn’t find anything about him striking three times. It is plausible, and I prefer to believe he did did did. Cornwallis had holed up in Yorktown and had sunk dozens of his own ships to block hostile naval access at the mouth of the York River. After this order he had all of the horses that couldn’t be fed over the course of a siege slaughtered and cast into the river. However, the tides swept the corpses back to shore so there was an overwhelming smell of decay in the air. And it rained and rained. Seamus’ complaints about the precipitation during the war are 100% accurate.

Joseph Plumb Martin’s memoirs also seem to provide some of the details for Seamus’ experience. Like Seamus, Martin was involved in various charges and taking of redoubts; his company cleared the way for Alexander Hamilton’s vaunted taking of a British redoubt. It is generally argued now that Cornwallis’ playing of “The World Turned Upside Down” was a detail added a year after the end of the Siege of Yorktown. However, this is one of those dubious facts that I choose to believe in myself.

And we end with Seamus Moon sailing back to Ireland to take up a new struggle against the goddamned British. And, since we are nearing the end of RAW’s final novel, we are left to wonder what he might have gotten up to forevermore.

From Eric: “A soundtrack for an unwritten sequel.”


Eric Wagner said...

Nice research! Sheldon Cooper tended to knock in a 3x3 pattern.

supergee said...

In my lifetime here have been three multivolume novels that I loved and waited eagerly for the next volume of, but they all ran aground at the end of the third volume. Alexei Panshin’s Anthony Villiers novels, like the Historical Illuminatus, promised a fourth volume on the last page of the third but never delivered. A.N. Wilson* gave us three volumes of the Lampitt Papers, then moved on to other projects and returned and closed the series off with two additional books that lost the first-person narrator and most of the charm.
*Too many Wilsons write. Along with Our Founder, there are A.N., Angus, August, Colin, Edward O., Edmund, F. Paul, G. Willow, and Robert Charles. It is just as well that John Anthony Burgess Wilson lopped off his first and last names for publication.

Oz Fritz said...

Chapter 10 = Malkuth. The song,The World Turned Upside Down suggests the well-known qabalistic axiom, "Kether is in Malkuth as Malkuth is in Kether," though I may have reversed the order of the saying.

The title, The Pursuit of Wild Pigs metaphorically alludes to a search for the 93 Current. Pig = 93. Crowley touches upon this symbolism in our trusty favorite, The Book of Lies in chapter 83 The Blind Pig. Pig without the letter "i" (eye, therefore blind) = PG = 83. Look up 83 in 777's List of Primes. What it indicates, without the vision, the "eye" provided by the 93 Current indicates working blindly. The 93 Current = a multiplicity yet receives a concise sense of definition when we discover that the phrases, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law," and "Love is the law, love under will," get abbreviated by Thelemites as 93 for the first phrase, and 93 93/93 for the second.

The Notarikon of the caps in the title = 175 = the Spirit of Venus. The Notarikon of the whole title = 245 = "Gall, bile" - a digestive juice needed by those ragged soldiers to eat wild pig. Also, it takes a lot of gall to fight a war mostly cold, starving and over-marched with your bare ass hanging out in the winds. We find other possibly relevant correspondences with 245 in Sepher Sephiroth

Oz Fritz said...

p. 185: "FaithSeamus thought often, ..." In previous comments I've mentioned RAW having gematria with a sense of optimism. Looking up those numbers, 102 and 110 reveals correspondences having to do with Faith. Faith seems different than belief.
"Seamus thought often" = 139. This number with 1 & 39 points back to 39 as it = "The Eternal is One"
39 also = "To abide, dwell."
One way to read this - abide, or dwell in Faith. A significant way to start this account of history as we see the Revolutionary Army go from barely keeping it together to victory.

Gregory notes the coincidence of the recent dust cloud to the Dark Day recounted in the book. At the moment, it seems like we are in a war against a superior enemy and the "US Army" appears bare-assed, or bare-faced with both recurring shortages of PPE in some places and the problems a lot of people have of wearing a mask. Unfortunately, we have no George Washington leading a fight against the corona virus although the fight for the continued reality of the United States may be just as critically on the line as it was back then.

Oz Fritz said...

p. 185: "Was he, like George Washington, another bloody Freemason and involved in heathen magic of some sort?" RAW portrays Washington as a magician in his approach to winning the war.

p. 205: Washington "seized a pickaxe, struck exactly three blows to begin the first trench, and then said, "You may proceed, gentlemen."
"and then said" = 70 = The Devil, male oppression or bondage
"You may proceed" = 130 = "Deliverance"
"The Angel of Redemption"
"gentlemen" = gentle men = men delivered or redeemed from male oppression and bondage.

The "hurrikan" that suddenly comes up on p. 208 that Seamus attributes to Washington's magic and leads to the end of the war appears based on a story concerning Crowley acolyte and inventor of rocket fuel, Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard. I'm curious as to the accuracy of this storm leading to the surrender.

The story goes that Hubbard conned Parsons into investing all his savings in a company having to do with yachts. Hubbard absconded with his money and his wife. Parsons chased him to Florida only to get there shortly before Hubbard took off in a yacht leaving Parsons stranded on shore. Parsons conjured a spirit of Mars, coincidentally, a storm came up and drove Hubbard back to shore where he had to face the accusations. I don't recall exactly what happened, but despite the initial successful magic, Parsons ended up losing everything.

p. 208: "And winds like the wrath of God." The Notarikon of the caps = 4 = Magick; of the whole sentence = 125 = 5 to the power of 3; 5 = Mars.

Rarebit Fiend said...

@Oz- I think Hubbard did get into a little bit of legal trouble but Parsons dropped the matter because Sara Northrup threatened to go to the police over statutory rape. (He had started a sexual relationship while married to her older sister when Sara was 16/17.) The incident really dropped Parsons' standing in Crowley's eyes and Parson quit the OTO pretty soon after the case. He didn't get much of his money back. L. Ron went one to write Dianetics and make that sweet, sweet cash pretty soon after and Sara stayed with him.

I think the "hurrikan" could be a reference to the storm that destroyed the Spanish Armada. Some writers have ascribed the miraculous tempest to Dr. John Dee's subtle magic.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Supergee Do you think "Historical Illuminatus!" begins to run a bit aground with the third book? I'm enjoying "Nature's God" but I'm not sure it's as good as the first two.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Wilson does a nice job of describing the Revolutionary War and the siege of Yorktown, although I am not quite sure I believe the knock three times story or Washington smoking the herbs. The book does a good job of capturing the uncertainty of war. Certainly the British were surprised by the outcome, as much as Seamus was. Gregory does his usual good job of researching the facts behind the chapter and showing Wilson's research.

Wilson was not a particularly nationalistic writer, so I'm struck by his sympathetic account of the American Revolution, rather unlike much of the rest of his work. Even if his account comes largely from the point of view of Irish nationalism, and is probably largely driven by a loathing for British imperialism.

The account also reminds me of what a remarkable achievement it was for the Union army to save the Union and end slavery in the Civil War. To win, Gen. Washington and the colonials mainly had to avoid losing until the British had enough. The South, similarly, did not have to win the war. It only had to avoid losing for long enough to make the North give up, while the North had to actually conquer a large area of land.