Wednesday, August 5, 2020

UFOS making a comeback in 2020

A purported UFO in Passaic, New Jersey in 1952 (via Wikipedia)

One of the oddest things about 2020, an odd year, is the way that UFOs and speculation about contact from aliens has made a comeback. "Flying saucers" have seemed old-fashioned in recent years. Yet here is a New York Times story (published on July 23), "No Longer in Shadows, Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit Will Make Some Findings Public," which includes those Navy videos you've probably heard about. And here is Vox, with "It’s time to take UFOs seriously. Seriously." 

Slate introduces a note of caution with "It’s Still Not Aliens." And as Slate notes, the New York Times issued a long correction which didn't get as much publicity as the original story (part of the correction: "An earlier version of this article inaccurately rendered remarks attributed to Harry Reid, the retired Senate majority leader from Nevada. Mr. Reid said he believed that crashes of objects of unknown origin may have occurred and that retrieved materials should be studied; he did not say that crashes had occurred and that retrieved materials had been studied secretly for decades.") Still, it remarkable how the subject is suddenly being taken seriously. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Musings on RAW, Leary, Dick etc. at

Val D'Orazio's blogs tend to come and go (Butterfly Language, as far as I can tell, is no more and has been deleted) so I missed the fact until now that she launched a new blog,, in April. Lots of musings on RAW, Timothy Leary and Philip K. Dick, and some reprints from the earlier blog. "On the Future of Humanity in Space" is an interesting new post. 

Val's other blog is Fantasy Merchant.

Monday, August 3, 2020

RAW's 'Serpent Power'

If you've checked out New Trajectories, the publication Bobby Campbell put together for Maybe Day, then you've likely read Gregory Arnott's essay "Ewige Schlangenkraft," which references Robert Anton Wilson's article, "Serpent Power." 

"Serpent Power" has now become easier to read, thanks to Martin Wagner's RAW site. Here is part one, and here is part two. 

How the article became available is a nice example of the collaborative nature of RAW fandom. 

I tracked the piece down in 2011 after seeing it mentioned in Cosmic Trigger. Bobby Campbell turned my original TIFF files into an easier to handle PDF version, which you can download here.  And then Martin made it easy to read on the web.

It's a cool article. Ted Hand mentioned to me this weekend he had his "mind blown" after reading it. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

News and notes

1. The Worldcon has ended; ConZealand did a good job of largely replicating the convention experience with an online convention. Here is a list of the Hugo Awards; Arkady Martine is a worthy winner for Best Novel, even if I slightly preferred Seanan McGuire' Middlegame I was the moderator of a panel on the Prometheus Awards. Via the art show, I discovered New Zealand artist Emma Weakley

2. A few more copies of a very interesting, very rare John Higgs book, Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, are becoming available.  More details here on how to get it. 

3. I am planning to do a "Robert Shea week" on this blog. I will do all of the posts myself, if necessary, but if anyone else would like to do a guest post, consider yourself invited. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Jean Cocteau and RAW

Jean Cocteau in 1923

The blogger at RAW Semantics spots something interesting -- the fact that Robert Anton Wilson cited Jean Cocteau as playing a "major role" inspiring Cosmic Trigger III -- and attempts to figure out why Cocteau was important to RAW.

Years ago, after I discovered surrealism but before I really got into David Lynch, I saw Cocteau's movie Orpheus So I was interested on one of the points RAW Semantics uncovered: "... in a BBC2 documentary on Surrealism presented by David Lynch (‘Surrealist Cinema’, BBC Arena, 1987 – part 1/part 2). Lynch says: 'in my opinion, Cocteau is the heavyweight of Surrealism'."

I reach a search for "Jean Cocteau" in An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson (I bought the ebook so I could do such searches) and found one reference; Eric says there is an entry for Cocteau in Everything Is Under Control, one of the few RAW books I don't have. 

Addendum: The links RAW Semantics provides to the BBC show are very interesting. The quality of the video is not very good, but many of the films Lynch mentions apparently are available on the Internet, e.g. Man With a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov.