Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

RAW cites Mezz Mezzrow

Mezz Mezzrow in 1946 (public domain photo)

Chapter Four of Starseed Signals, "Beyond the Conditioned Reflex," had some surprises for me, among them a reference to jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow:

"An example of sensory consciousness can be found in jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow's Really the Blues, in which he tells of a fire in a building where he and some friends were smoking the weed. While everybody else fled, the pot-heads calmly discussed the beauty of the spectacle, the humerous rush of the non-stoned people, and the details of when they should make their own exit. (They did get out alive ....)"

Mezz Mezzrow (1899-1972), apparently not well-remembered these days, was an interesting character.  A white jazz musician, he (according to Wikipedia) decided from the moment he heard jazz he "was going to be a Negro musician, hipping [teaching] the world about the blues the way only Negroes can." He married a black woman, moved to Harlem and, when he was jailed for marijuana possession with intent to distribute he insisted on being moved to the section of the jail housing black prisoners. He was well known for selling marijuana and Louis Armstrong was one of his customers.

Mezzrow was devoted to Dixieland style traditional jazz (he apparently did not embrace later developments such as bebop) and made many recordings, although apparently opinion is divided about his merits as a clarinet player. Some of his recordings are available on Freegal, the library music streaming service, and I have been listening to some of the tracks, and they sound OK to me. 

RAW's implied endorsement of his memoir, Really the Blues, co-written with Bernard Wolfe, makes me want to read it; it seems interesting, judging from the reviews I've seen. 

Later in Starseed, Wilson writes, "The first pot-smoker I ever knew was a black jazz musician who was my friend in the late 1950s" and shares an anecdote from the musician about what smoking pot is like. Whenever I see RAW mentioning his black jazz musician friend, I always wonder if it's a name I would recognize. 

Bonus hipster cultural note 

Diane di Prima in 2004 (Creative Commons photo)

Poet Diane di Prima, a poet originally associated with the Beats, has died; you can read the New York Times obituary or the Washington Post obit.

While I cannot prove that Robert Anton Wilson knew or read di Prima, they overlap culturally in all sorts of ways. RAW certainly was familiar with Beat writers. Di Prima lived for awhile at Timothy Leary's establishment at Millbrook. She also spent much of her life in San Francisco, which in fact is where she died. 

And still, the name nagged at me. Where else had I seen it?

Another synchronicity: After I spilled tea Friday night, my wife gave me something that had been sitting for months on a kitchen chair. It was a holiday card sent to me by Christian Greer, and it had this poem by di Prima:


As soon as we submit
to a system based on causality, linear time
we submit, again, to the old values, plunge again
into slavery. Be strong. We have the right to make
the universe we dream. No need to fear "science"
apology for things as they are, ALL POWER
TO JOY, which will remake the world. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Prop Anon talks to Grant Morrison about 'Illuminatus' (and other RAW topics)

Grant Morrison (Creative Commons photo)

Prop Anon interviews Grant Morrison for Mondo 2000, so you likely will want to read the whole thing, but I will highlight a Q and A about the planned Illuminatus! TV series (if anyone has an update on it, please advise): 

In December 2019, Deadline announced that your partner on Happy! Brian Taylor was going to be the showrunner for Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’ Illuminatus! as a TV show.

There seem to all these great stories of my youth now being made into television shows.

GRANT MORRISON: I think there’s a bunch of challenging stuff coming out and these shows add to that. I think people are looking for new myths to help us make sense of the curious times we’re in. I think you need those kinds of stories and works that are coming at our problems from all angles. Think of the opening of Illuminatus! and it’s though the eyes of a squirrel and through George Dorn and a bunch of other characters. There’s a multi-prismatic viewpoint of the world. And I think the minute they can start capturing that sort of thing in TV, showing it through the eyes of all kinds of different characters with different viewpoints and different world view and reality tunnels, it will be pretty interesting.

It’s the fractalization of the media — that’s what made it all possible. There was a time you just couldn’t get away with any of this. I remember a time I was pitching Doom Patrol to Warner’s and their response was that this is ‘wackadoodle’ and now it’s one of their best and most successful shows. And it’s totally based off the stuff that me and Richard Case did with that comic 30 years ago. Stuff people told me would never be adapted, could never be adapted. I think that the success of things like Doom Patrol, or Umbrella Academy or The Boys shows the way that people’s imaginations have been expanded by more fantastic or quirky shows, opening the doors to wilder and more personal stuff.

[There is more discussion about RAW at the above link -- The Management.]

Thursday, October 29, 2020

New Daisy Campbell news

Daisy is talking to you. 

 Lots of news from Daisy Campbell, including a new "Get Your Show Written" online class for those of you who missed the first class and various shows, events, books and more from her circle; click the link and sign up for her newsletter. "Rural Gothic Samhain Surprise" is on Halloween so obviously it's coming up fast, and it features "Obscure Devon Witchcraft Cases" and "Viking Zombies." 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

More 'Starseeds Signals' notes

1. On Twitter, Charles Faris (who has contributed to this blog, and helped copyedit Starseed Signals) spots something interesting:  A recent article at Far Out describes the day that Bob Dylan met the Beatles. This encounter involved Dylan turning the Beatles on to marijuana, and after getting stoned, Paul McCartney asked for a pencil and paper to write down his resulting deep thoughts. The next day, Paul read what he wrote: "There are seven levels."

This is amusing, because Starseed Signals in Chapter 3 talks about Leary's "7-dimensional game model" and Chapter Four  has a detailed table Leary's "seven levels of energy consciousness." 

In addition, Leary's Eight Circuit model was originally seven circuits, and Chapter Six of Starseed Signals does into detail outlining the seven. 

2. John Higgs' introduction to Starseed Signals mentions the efforts of Elon Musk to make some of Leary's ideas a reality and says it would be interesting to know if Musk read Leary. 

When I interviewed R.U. Sirius back in 2015, I brought up Musk, and he responded with a suggestion I still think is a good idea: You mentioned Leary and RAW's interest in space migration and life extension. It seems to me that Peter Thiel and Elon Musk deserve credit for trying to make these things happen, but I wondered what your take was.

SIRIUS: They do deserve credit. It would be wonderful if there was enough wealth flowing through society at all levels so that some of these things could be crowdfunded — owned and controlled by groups of people from all walks of life (SpaceX works with NASA, so in a sense that is happening via taxes). Thiel and Musk are visionaries (Musk, particularly, strikes me as a well-balanced altruistic entrepreneur) and we’re lucky they’re reaching towards these goals. But it’s also worth noting that there are lots of brilliant visionaries and we need to liberate the potentials of greater numbers of people to make this stuff happen faster.  Post scarcity could lead to crowdsourcing at an undreamt of scale.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

An early review of 'The Starseed Signals' at RAW Semantics

I have stuck to my plan to read The Starseed Signals one chapter at a time, so it will be a little while before I finish the book. Brian Dean at RAW Semantics, however, has already read the whole book and has written a blog post discussing some of the highlights of the book. 

He picks out many highlights. I am having trouble extracting a nut graph that summarizes his review, but perhaps his most significant sentence is this: "I intended reading only part of ‘Starseed’ over the weekend, but I read it all." 

It's not a perfect book so far for me, but it is an interesting one that is giving me a lot to think about and which has many wonderful passages that are finally seeing the light of day after being hidden for decades. So I'll just send you over to Brian's review as I continue to read the book myself. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Prometheus Rising discussion and exercise group, Week Three

[In addition to this blog post, Eric sent me a link to this article, which might help those who, like me are struggling to find a quarter. -- The Management.]

By Eric Wagner, special guest blogger 

Bob designed the exercises in Prometheus Rising to weaken the existing imprints and to help the experimenter become a self-metaprogrammer, reimprinting the nervous system as each individual sees fit.   Originally when I bought the book in 1985 I read up to the end of Chapter 1.  I decided to stop until I had done the Chapter 1 exercises for six months.  Yeah, right.  After some brief attempts to find a quarter, I broke down and read the rest of the book.  I couldn’t bear to let an unread Wilson book sit on my shelf.  I felt like Snoopy in an old Peanuts cartoon where Charlie Brown left Snoopy two bowls of food.  Charlie Brown told Snoopy his family planned to take a trip so he brought Snoopy food for tomorrow.  After Charlie Brown left Snoopy struggled with himself and finally snarfed down both bowls thinking, “I’d hate myself if tomorrow never came.” 

Well, I gluttonously devoured the rest of Prometheus Rising.  Incidentally, this led to the formation of my first Finnegans Wake study group.  I had purchased a copy of the Wake on Joyce’s birthday the previous year (2/2/1984), but I had had very little success reading it.  Reading Bob mention his own Finnegans Wake study group in Prometheus Rising led me to start my own.

I graduated from ASU June 1985 and then flew to the Ezra Pound Centennial at the University of Maine, Orono, meeting Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, Hugh Kenner, etc. Next I flew to Europe, visiting Ingolstadt, Bavaria, on July 23.  I had kept up my half-hearted search for quarters, but I put it on hiatus while away from the USA.  (It seems reasonable for those not living in the USA to look for a local coin instead, as Damian Lee suggested.)

I did many of the exercises in PR over the next three years.  Then in the summer of 1988 I decided to try to finish sombunal the exercises I hadn’t done yet.  Around that time I also began to associate the days of the month with the chapters of Prometheus Rising.  On the first of the month I’d try to do some exercises from Chapter 1, on the second Chapter 2, etc., up until the 19th.  On the first of the next month I’d start again.  I even wrote a long poem as a sequel to Prometheus Rising called Big Trouble in Little Blandings (Reggie Theus Rising) with sections numbered 20 to 31.  The poem dealt with a poetry contest held on a space colony.  (Obsessed with basketball at the time, I published a poetry/basketball zine called noon blue apples.  Reggie Theus played for the Atlanta Hawks, conjuring images of Horus.  I also found it significant that the NBA had 23 teams at the time.)

I sometimes feel a little like Kinbote in Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. I spent decades obsessed with the writings of Robert Anton Wilson, and even after Wilson’s death I keep writing myself into his story.

I wonder why Bob told us to look for quarters. Perhaps he wanted us to notice how much trouble we had sticking to the exercise. This month I’ve noticed that I know that I only look for quarters intermittently when I go to the store. I think about it from time to time, but shopping, woolgathering, and social distancing often dominate my thoughts. I wonder how many quarters on the ground I have missed over the last month. Over the last 35 years?

Prometheus Rising begins with



                                                            Timothy Leary


                                                            William S. Burroughs

                                                            dove sta memoria

The last three words come from Guido Cavalcanti’s Canzone “Donna Mi Priegha”. “Dove sta memoria” means “where memory liveth”. In the poem a lady asks Cavalcanti about the nature of love. In his discussion Cavalacanti says, in Ezra Pound’s translation:

            Where memory liveth,

                        it takes its state

We often think of love as residing in the heart, but Cavalcanti sees love taking its state in the memory. This makes me think of Marcel Proust and his ideas about memory.


Sunday links

Early review of Starseed by RAW biographer Prop Anon: "I read this book.  It's classic RAW material. For those of you fiending some RAW, this is a good read." 

Oral history of Timothy Leary. 

A new Chinese bookstore. 

Skeptic James Randi has died. 

New afterword for The Future Starts Here by John Higgs.  (For the just released paperback). 

What Section 230 really says.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Timothy Leary comic book posted online

All sorts of events happened online Thursday during the centennial of Timothy Leary's birth and I mentioned some of them here, including of course the publication of The Starseed Signals, but there was one more opportunity which I thought I should mention.

Rene Walter posted an entire Timothy Leary comic book online, Neurocomics. After I read the posting at iO9, I went to the flickr site where the comic is posted.  An ad popped up in the way when I tried to read the comic online, but fortunately the whole thing can be downloaded and saved, and that's what I did before safely storing it and then reading the whole thing Friday night. It's all about the Eight Circuit model, space migration, etc., so it's topical to the release of Starseed. Art by Pete Von Sholly, script by Leary, Von Sholly and George DiCaprio (Leonardo's dad, apparently.)

Friday, October 23, 2020

A few notes on 'Starseed Signals'

 Rasa (I assume) checking out The Starseed Signals. Note the sitar on the wall, which Rasa plays for his band, Starseed. 

The centennial of Timothy Leary's birthday yesterday was marked in all kinds of ways (thanks again, Eric, for that piece) but for many of us the big news was the official announcement of the publication of The Starseed Signals -- Link Between Worlds: A RAW Perspective on Timothy Leary PhD. 

A few notes:

1. Given that the book would have been lost otherwise (RAW did a terrible job of taking care of his papers) we all owe a debt of gratitude to the people who preserved it and other documents in the Discordian archives: Greg Hill, Dr. Bob Newhart and, in particular, the current keeper and custodian, Adam Gorightly. It was Adam who discovered The Starseed Signals and brought it to light. I want to be sure and thank Adam. 

2. Rasa and his helpers worked hard to prepare the book from RAW's manuscript, and there are lots of nice extras, including Rasa's "A note from the publisher" piece at the beginning on the history of the manuscript, John Higgs' typically thoughtful introduction, two interviews of Leary by RAW and correspondence between RAW and Gregory Hill.  (Careful readers of this blog probably knew before almost anyone else that Higgs wrote the introduction for the book, see this interview, third answer.)

I don't know all of the details yet, but I know a lot of work was put into preparing the book, including working with amoeba on the cover, copyediting done by Charles Faris and Iain Spence, gracious assistance from Adam Gorightly (who did not, after all, get the chance to bring out his own edition of the work), even help on a point of physics from Nick Herbert.

3. For further background on the history of Starseed, see Adam Gorightly's "lost" forward to the "lost" edition of the "lost" book. 

4. As with many of the official announcements from Hilaritas, perhaps the best part is Christina Pearson's latest RAW memoir. This time, we get a great Leary anecdote and some candid information about the Wilson family at the time the book was written. So check out the announcement, if you haven't seen it yet, and sign up for the Hilaritas Press mailing list. 

5. In his introduction, Higgs says of the book (and the time it was written), "This was not Leary's finest hour, and neither was it Robert Anton Wilson's." Probably best not to raise expectations too high for a book that RAW himself did not attempt very vigorously to sell to a publisher, but the writing comes from probably my favorite period of RAW's writing life, the middle period, and I am very excited to have it. Don't look for a review from me anytime soon, however; I plan to read it slowly, probably a chapter a day. (I read Chapter One Thursday night and enjoyed it.)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Breaking news -- 'Starseed Signals' is out


More Friday, but here is the official announcement from Hilaritas Press.

Eric Wagner on Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary in custody in 1972 (public domain government photo)

Timothy Leary, October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996

By Eric Wagner, special guest blogger

Tim Leary had a profound influence on Robert Anton Wilson. Recently I read a bit from his early book Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality and from his late book Surfing the Conscious Net. Man did he go through some changes. I also read a bit from Robert Greenfield’s rather hostile biography. I glanced at some relatively recent articles about Leary online. I don’t think any of them captured the unique intelligence I have gathered from Leary’s books. My favorite take on Leary comes from Bob Wilson in the piece “Lighting Out for the Territory” in Beyond Chaos and Beyond. I remember loving that piece when it first appeared in Trajectories in 1996 shortly after Tim’s death.

I heard Tim speak seven times, and I got to talk with him a few times. We never hit it off, but he still had a great effect on me.

“He told me that when they put him solitary confinement, ‘I realized it was either going to be hell or a learning experience. So I set out to make it a learning experience.” – Robert Anton Wilson, Beyond Chaos and Beyond. This reminds me of my attitude towards social isolation in 2020.

Boing Boing also is marking today's centennial of Timothy Leary's birth. This 1995 photo of Leary with Carla Sinclair and Mark Fraunfelder is from one of the posts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

RAW in Gallery magazine

Hugh Crane (Twitter account here) sent me some photographs of the first issue of Gallery magazine, a Playboy imitator, and there are some interesting RAW features.

Table of contents. Notice contributions from both Robert Anton Wilson and Simon Moon.

The RAW story in the issue, "I Opening." Here is my information about the story: "I Opening is all the Hugh Crane/Cagliostro content from Schrodinger’s Cat condensed into a short story. RAW changed the story a little for the book, including a different ending where Crane’s death is a mystery." You can read the text of the story. 

Page with RAW's contributor's biography. It says, "Wilson, who plots the life and death of a Reichian rebel in his story I Opening presents us with the following when asked for a 'biographical paragraph.' 'Robert Anton Wilson was born in Hong Kong and majored in electrical engineering at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. More interested in non-Euclidean geometries and Cabalistic numerology, he never practiced as an engineer but has worked as hospital orderly, laboratory technician, salesman, advertising copywriter, astrology columnist, mentalist in a carnival and editor of a variety of magazines. His first novel Illuminatus or Laughing Buddha Jesus Phallus Inc. will soon be published by Dell. 'My writing,' he says, 'Is based on my obsessive concern with one fact: if I don't have more money by Tuesday, they'll turn off the heat. I can't say if my stories are realism or fantasy. To me, they're logical developments of such great American institutions as the Put On, the Whooper Cushion, the Joy Buzzer, or the Hot Foot."

The masthead; I did not see names that were familiar to me. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

RAW's favorite president

John Adams, who in Nature's God defends Captain Preston in a trial over the Boston Massacre. "Adams had won, then, because he sincerely believed Captain Preston had acted in self-defense and that the cause of the Colonies must not depart one jot from pure justice as he understood it." (From Chapter Six). 

Here is a trivia question appropriate for a looming presidential election: Can you name Robert Anton Wilson's favorite U.S. president?

After I posted a link to the article on how Reason magazine staffers will vote, Jesse Walker realized he had never told me about a couple of Reason pieces that Wilson contributed a few sentences to. One was an "Iraq progress report" roundup dating to 2006, and the other, a 2004 survey on which presidential candidate Reason staffers and other prominent libertarians planned to vote for, similar to the piece I linked to last week. 

In the latter, participants such as RAW answer four questions, including favorite president, and here's Wilson's answer on that one: "John Adams, because he didn't trust anybody in politics, including himself."

Monday, October 19, 2020

Prometheus Rising discussion/exercise group, Week Two


It seems to me that in a sense, Prometheus Rising falls into a clear category of American publishing -- the self help book.

When I look at my reading for the past several years, recorded at Goodreads, I notice a number of books which could fall into the category of self-help books. 

Probably my favorite is the last one I read -- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, by Scott Adams, which I thought was quite good. 

But other books I've read in recently which fit pretty well into the category include Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America by Scott Adams,  Don't Unplug: How Technology Saved My Life and Can Save Yours Too by Chris Dancy, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport and How to Listen to Jazz by Ted Gioia. 

Obviously, many other books I have read aim to change my thinking about an issue or even change some of my behaviors. I would argue that all of Robert Anton Wilson's novels are not meant to be merely exercises in entertainment and escapism. But what all of these particular titles I have just mentioned  have in common, although they are rather disparate titles, are that none of them are meant to be read merely to entertain or inform. All of them strongly seek to get the reader to take action to change one's life. 

Wilson makes it clear that's his intent, too. "The reader will absolutely not understand this book unless he or she does the exercizes given at the end of each chapter," he writes. 

Here is the first exercise at the end of Chapter One:

1. Visualize a quarter vividly, and imagine vividly that you are going to find the quarter on the street. Then, look for the quarter every time you take a walk, meanwhile continuing to visualize it. See how long it takes you to find the quarter. 

As a blog housekeeping measure, I need to mention that I no longer have a handy quarter on the sidewalk near my house. 

I blogged on September 5 that a sidewalk in my neighborhood where I often do my daily walk had two quarters glued to the sidewalk with a piece of gum, making it easy to carry out the first exercise in Chapter 1. Well, although the quarters stayed there for weeks, the lure of an easy 50 cents apparently proved too much for somebody, because the quarters are now gone. 

So I am in the same position in hunting for quarters as anyone else. In fact, I am already worried that I might get stuck for weeks if I can't find any quarters and not be able to advance through the other exercises. I will give it an honest shot for a few weeks, but if I get stuck, I guess I will ask Eric for advice. 

In any event, I walk every day that the weather allows, and I have begun on the first exercise. 

I'll just have to see, also, what to do about the "go to a party" exercises, as I have been avoiding crowds since the pandemic began.

In any event, we are spending many weeks on the first chapter, and you should read it and be getting started on the exercises.

Next week you get Eric Wagner, and then Gregory Arnott returns. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Leary Day will be celebrated online Thursday


Leary Day, "a cyberdelic celebration of art, music and culture," will be celebrated Oct. 22 in honor of Timothy Leary's 100th birthday. 

It is a free virtual event, but the organizers want you to sign up; details here.

Hat tip, Eric Wagner. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Some new podcasts of note

Logo for the new "Live From Chapel Perilous" podcast. 

1. Live From Chapel Perilous with Leroy and Maz. New, began in September. First episode: "Leroy and Maz discuss the idea of "Chapel Perilous" as popularized by Robert Anton Wilson in his 1977 book Cosmic Trigger and briefly explore the history of secret societies from the Knights Templar thru to modern concepts of “The Illuminati”.  Season premiere." The most recent covers Aleister Crowley. I listened to the season premiere and it was entertaining, kind of like a college bull session. 

2. The Thaddeus Russell podcast "Unregistered"  interviews Jesse Walker. Website link. "Jesse Walker has studied conspiracy theories, fringe political movements, moral panics, and mass hysterias for most of his life. He is the books editor at Reason magazine and the author of The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. Now was the time to talk to him." Unregistered is a consistently interesting podcast.

I have linked to websites in this post, but your usual smartphone podcasting app should work; my Podkicker Android phone app worked fine. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Znore's new book

Znore had talked about turning his excellent "Groupname for Grapejuice" blog into a book, and now he has done it.

From the announcement:

27 essays taken from Groupname for Grapejuice from 2012 to 2015 plus one yet unseen introduction. Four hundred and two pages, seven major sections, their titles composing a Lovecraftian tale of seven lines. 

Gorgeous original cover and interior art by Kaylee Pickinpaugh -- a new zodiac gyring out or spiraling into an interior empyrean of the Earth and transfiguring the whole text into a magic item. Endless curling details. Flanked by Moon and Sun, bridged at usura and Eleusis, shining throughout. Thoth and Pan.

Editing and layout wizardry by Alan Abbadessa and Jason Barrera of Sync Book Press. A melange of fonts, formats and letter dimensions: start it anywhere, bibliomantic and aphoristic. A tactile object that's exactly the right smoothness, size and weight in one's hands.

The Amazon book page also is worth a look, and here is the book blurb from there: "An inebriated exploration of reality and other myths featuring Finnegans Wake, William Blake, Robert Anton Wilson, Philip K. Dick, Emma Goldman, Ezra Pound, Robert Duncan, Terence McKenna, Gertrude Stein, Carl Jung, Marshall McLuhan and others as guides and waylayers. A cast of hundreds. Blog becomes book becomes new medium entirely. Synchronicity, siddhis, numerology, psychedelics, anarchy, the gods, yes. The poetics of anti-authority. Beautifully illustrated. Read with tea."

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Only Maybe Arts Lab is moving

The Only Maybe Arts Lab, the discussion area/BBS Bobby Campbell set up in conjunction with his Maybe Day project, has moved to a new location at (see above). 

"Hey everybody!

"Just a quick note that the OM ARTS LAB will be picking up sticks and moving over to the Principia Discordia forum.

"The fine folks over at PD have offered a space to host this project, which I hope will be mutually beneficial, and serve as a launch pad for all new all different trajectories :)))

"Even when first setting this space up it felt a bit like reinventing wheel, in terms of the PD forums being a still active and entirely wonderful Discordian bbs, but since I was setting the Maybe Day stuff up on a deadline, and wasn't sure how they would feel about my using their forum for my weirding ways and means, went ahead and opened up this somewhat redundant platform.

"Since all the hoopla surrounding Maybe Day has gone dormant, and this space has been mostly unused, I figured it would be a good time to consolidate Discordian energies over at PD.

"This forum will self-destruct."

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Wednesday links


Meme for Lenny Bruce's birthday, which was yesterday. 

Harry Reid talks about UFOs. 

"You live better than kings did."

How Reason staffers will vote

Willie Nelson's albums, ranked, all 143 of them. Based on the relatively few I know, a good article. 

Sean Ono Lennon restates the Cosmic Schmuck principle. 

The Cosmic Schmuck Principle holds that if you don't wake up, once a month at least, and realize you have recently been acting like a Cosmic Schmuck again, then you will probably go on acting like a Cosmic Schmuck forever; but if you do, occasionally, recognize your Cosmic Schmuckiness, you might begin to become a little less Schmucky than the general human average at this primitive stage of terrestrial evolution. - p. 21, Natural Law: Or Don't Put A Rubber On Your Willy

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A RAW speech at the Harvard Club

The Harvard Club in New York City. (Public domain photo). 

While we wait for the new Starseed book, Brian Dean of the RAW Semantics blog has found something interesting for you to read: Robert Anton Wilson's Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, "The Map Is Not the Territory: The Future Is Not the Past." 

It was delivered Nov. 7, 1997, at the Harvard Club in New York City and when the Institute of General Semantics reprinted it in 2001 in an organization publication, an editor's note stated, "Note: This address is printed without censorship, as it is Bulletin policy to record these events as they happened."

You'll see some familiar material in the speech but there are lots of nice bits. The section on bookstores struggling to figure out where to shelve Wilson's books is interesting and amusing:

I suddenly found myself in the New Age section, God knows why, and there I was next to Von Daniken, just because my name begins with a "W", and I suffered from that indignity for years . I just heard recently that Barnes & Noble has moved me from New Age to Philosophy. So I am now next to Wittgenstein, which is where I'd much rather be than next to Von Daniken. 

I like these sentences:

The world is changing faster and faster in more and more ways, and people cannot understand that this is the result of information flow changing technology, which changes business, which changes everything else. They have to look around for something to explain it, so they look for a conspiracy to blame. Aha, it is the elders of Zion after all, no, it's the Freemasons, no, it's the Jesuits, no, it's the Bilderbergers . Thats because they haven't learned to think in terms of mathematics and information flow and chaotic systems .

Monday, October 12, 2020

Prometheus Rising study group, Week One


By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

There was a span of years when I kept two copies of Prometheus Rising in my house as I knew I would end up pressing it into someone’s hands after too much conversation. I truly believed that this book was a portent and gateway to a better way of life. It bridged a gap between the rational-yet-unsatisfying-world and the world that I always suspected was “out there.” Just beyond the peripheral horizons. 

I read Prometheus Rising after having read Illuminatus! and Masks a couple times each as well as Cosmic Trigger. I believe it might have been the fourth book I read by RAW. I can remember the week that I read it quite clearly; more so than any other book of Wilson’s, I felt this one was a revelation. (Which is saying quite a lot.) The scales fell from my eyes only to be quickly replaced. The Soldier is accompanied, as always, by The Hunchback. 

In the years in between my first read through and today I have probably read the book at least four or five times, picking which “exercises” I wished to practice at the time. I have paid particular attention to the “exercises” associated with the Fifth Circuit in the manual, having practiced extensively with the “tantric breath of fire,” Hyatt’s “energized meditation,” and the hilariously couched teaching of Louis T. Culling’s. I’ve searched for quarters and tried to read at least a handful of the Upanishads replacing the word “Atman” with “DNA.” Perhaps the most consistent practice I’ve adopted from this particular text is that I make sure to read “papers” from the other side of the political spectrum. (I might simply be a masochist.) I’ve even tried to suck down enough concentrated ginseng to make myself “high” and watch nature documentaries; I recall little effect aside from the tea-stain taste on my tongue. 

This time we will be proceeding differently than any of my personal forays and the reading will be unlike any groups we’ve had in the past. We are following the lead of Eric Wagner in an exceptionally slow waltz, taking our time and obeying RAW’s prescriptions on time spent to a tee. As Eric has remarked to me more than once, quoting Lawrence Binyon: “Slowness is beauty.” We will be nibbling at and circling the buffet that Wilson laid out for us in Ireland during the 80s; giving ourselves time to digest and appreciate the age of our fare. Perhaps instead of thinking of this as one’s regular “reading group” we should imagine it, if one can disassociate with the social connotations, as a Bible study. We’ll be picking apart text slowly over time, reflecting on not only the context, author intent, and personal relation but the experiential reality of the text. Verse by verse, line by line. 

I'll admit, I typically have too much fire in me for this type of reading style. But if there is any text that deserves 23 months of careful study, it would probably be Prometheus Rising. And we couldn’t ask for better guides than Eric, who knew the man and wrote the book on him, and Tom, who never knew RAW but has frankly spent an unhealthy amount of time on the man’s life. This is something to savor. as Eric has noted; who even knows what the world will look like in 23 months?  With a mix of humility and boldness, I would suggest that at this moment we have more right to ask just what/where we will be in nearly two years than at other points we could have begun this journey. The stability of the Universe is change, that’s true, but it does seem to be changing at a more rapid pace these past few days…

Next time, I’ll go over RAW’s 1999 Preface to the 10th (New?) Falcon Press print of Prometheus Rising. For now, I’ll simply make an observation about the cover. Amoeba/Scott MacPherson did a fantastic job with the cover art: while examining it closely today one set of words popped out first from the cloud that makes up our author’s visage: “please note carefully.” So that will be my motto and spirit as we go through this text together, to reflect and remember, with the care our author implores to this day, in one form or another. I hope you will join me in this. 

Happy Crowleymas everyone! The Grand Old Man would have been 145 years old today in the year V:VI in the counting of the civilized peoples. And it’s been 46 years since Grady McMurtry threw a party to commemorate Crowley instead of, as Wilson put it, “an Italian navigator who introduced slavery to the New World and syphilis to the Old.” And at that party the Skeptic couldn’t get Doctor Jacques Vallee to make any concrete guess as to what they might be. Paranoid vibes abound. 

Vallee did say that whatever they are, they aren’t able to explain to us what they are because we are not ready to understand. Maybe following Prometheus Rising, written at a later and presumably wiser point in Wilson’s life than Cosmic Trigger, will help us understand better. Maybe.

While we are reading Prometheus Rising, I plan on doing a few other books groups. We’ll be starting on the Hilaritas Press edition of Ishtar Rising on what I intend to be a sister-site to rawillumination, Jechidah.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Joanna Harcourt-Smith has died [UPDATED]

Twitter account photo. Source. 

Joanna Harcourt-Smith, Timothy Leary's companion for much of the 1970s, has died, according to a Saturday night Tweet from the Timothy Leary News and Views Twitter account.  [UPDATE: Confirmation on Facebook has finally been posted.] A GoFundMe account had been launched to help her deal with a struggle against cancer

As the Wikepedia bio relates, Harcourt-Smith had more many recent years run her Future Primitive podcast; it appears that the last one, "Heartmending," was released on August 23.  Her book, Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary: My Psychedelic Love Story, was a memoir of her Leary days. Oz Fritz reviewed it on his blog, writing, "Anyone interested in learning, and more importantly gaining some experiential feeling for the bardo should read this true voyaging tale.  Tripping the Bardo With Timothy Leary shines as a multifaceted diamond, a precious stone of multitudinous beauty and tragedy." Harcourt-Smith posted a comment thanking him for the review. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

RAW at the Grassy Knoll


The photograph, above, showing Robert Anton Wilson at the Grassy Knoll in Dallas, Texas, was posted on Twitter by Mustafa al Laylah, "Moorish Orthodox Church gadfly greasing the cosmic gears." In his new blog post at Historia Discordia, "Alex, I’ll Take RAW on the Grassy Knoll for 23," Adam Gorightly explains where the Illuminatus! character of the Dealey Lama comes from. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Maynard Solomon has died


Maynard Solomon, the well-known biographer of classical music composers such as Beethoven and Mozart, has died at age 90.

Most serious Beethoven fans have read his well-known Beethoven biography; Robert Anton Wilson read it and referred to it in his writing. Eric Wagner tells me his Late Beethoven book, which I haven't read yet, also is good. I plan to read Solomon's Mozart biography fairly soon. 

The New York Times obituary also points out that Solomon (with his brother) co-founded the Vanguard record label, aka the Bach Guild, which has made it possible for classical music buffs like me to assemble a large digital library by buying cheap digital albums of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach etc. from Amazon's digital store. 

Vanguard was important to classical music, but the Times says it also changed popular music:

"During the height of McCarthyism in the mid-1950s, Vanguard signed blacklisted performers including the bass-baritone Paul Robeson and the Weavers, whose 1956 release “The Weavers at Carnegie Hall” helped spark a revival of folk music in America. Vanguard made important recordings with Joan Baez, Odetta, Mississippi John Hurt, Larry Coryell and other major folk and jazz artists. The Solomon brothers sold the label in 1986."

Thursday, October 8, 2020

RAW audio

RAW Semantics does a nice public service by posting the YouTube video for the audio for Secrets of Power, a 40-minute comedy  recording of Robert Anton Wilson released in 1986 in the UK. I believe it's one of the few commercial audio recordings of RAW I haven't heard, so I'll check it out this weekend. In his post discussing the recording, Brian writes, "My first sampling of RAW was ‘Secrets of Power’ – a cassette tape that I bought from a London record shop, around 1986. At the time, I’d never heard of Robert Anton Wilson." For your convenience, I've posted the video here, but you should read Brian's comments.

If you like RAW audio, don't forget the other recordings available at at YouTube, and don't overlook all of the audio available at the Internet Archive. Start perhaps with Robert Anton Wilson: The Lost Studio Session and then explore. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A new Beethoven biography

This year is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven and it seems appropriate to mark that somehow, given RAW's interest in the composer.

There is a major new book about to be released in the United States: Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces by Laura Tunbridge, and as you can tell from the title, it presents the composer by focusing on nine of his works: Septet, Opus 20; Violin sonata No. 9, the "Kreutzer"; the Third Symphony; the Choral Fantasy; the song "An die Geliebte" WoO 140; the opera "Fidelio;" the "Hammerklavier" piano sonata; "Missa Solemnis" and String Quartet No. 13 and the "Grosse Fuge." It's not a greatest hits survey, although many of the pieces are well known, but the use of a wide variety of pieces to illuminate a life. 

This is an interesting approach, one more likely to get me to read another Beethoven book than just another biography, and Tunbridge's book is getting really good notices; for example, you can read the review from the Guardian, which mentions a couple of other new Beethoven books which might be of interest. Tunbridge is an Oxford music professor, but this is a book apparently aimed at wide audience, i.e. dunderheads like me, as opposed to folks like Eric Wagner who are comfortable with technical music analysis. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Reminder: Prometheus Rising reading/discussion group starts next week


I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone that the Prometheus Rising discussion/exercise group will begin Monday, so get your copy of the book and join us! This is a rare opportunity to work on the exercises and discuss the ideas with fellow RAW fans. The posts will be done by Gregory Arnott, Eric Wagner and myself, although I may "yield my time" at times to guest posters.

Eric says, “Our Prometheus Rising group will end in 23 months on September 12, 2022. What do you think the world will seem like then? Perhaps by participating in this group and doing the exercises in this book we can loosen our nervous system imprints and have a positive impact on the chaotic trajectories of Spaceship Earth. I hope so.”

Monday, October 5, 2020

Review of 'The Earth Will Shake' by Greg Costikyan

As the Libertarian Futurist Society put more of the material from its newsletter online, more articles of interest to readers of this blog are becoming available.

From one of the earlier issues, Spring 1985, you can read Greg Costikyan's review of Robert Anton Wilson's The Earth Will Shake.  Excerpt:

Whether or not it was consciously planned that way, this book is Wilson’s first work likely to appeal to a literary audience. The prose is clear and almost beautiful at times, the narrator engaging yet flawed in any number of particulars. It has its moments of comedy, its moments of tragedy: and its moments of dead earnestness. Wilson is one of the growing body of writers to which science fictioneers can point when they claim their genre contains writers of as much merit as the mainstream.

Greg Costikyan is apparently quite well known as a game designer and also is a writer; there's a Wikipedia biography.  And there's a personal website, too. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

I try to explain 'Illuminatus!' to ordinary readers


The Libertarian Futurist Society has been running a series of "appreciations" on the group's blog on literary works that have won the Prometheus Award, the award for libertarian science fiction that's been given out for about 40 years now.

There's a pretty large list of titles that have won both the Prometheus Award and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. As the Illuminatus! trilogy won the Hall of Fame Award in 1986 (in a tie with Cyril Kornbluth's The Syndic) and as I am a member of the LFS, I was given the assignment of writing about Illuminatus!

So I wrote a blog post, and it's been posted, along with background material on the award and on Wilson and Shea added by another LFS member. How did I do? 

If you like science fiction, there's a lot of other stuff at the blog to look at. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Gary Lachman online talks


News from Gary Lachman: "I'm giving a series of online talks, "Esotericism and the Evolution of Consciousness," based on my book The Secret Teachers of the Western World. 25 October, 8 and 22 November, 6:00 PM UK time."

I had missed the book,but it looks interesting. More here.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Alex Ross on Orson Welles and James Joyce


I love classical music, and I'm a fan of Alex Ross, the "New Yorker" music critic and the author of several books on classical music (I haven't read the new one yet, on Wagner and his music.) So I looked forward to his interview by Tyler Cowen.

I enjoyed it, but when I checked out the transcript, I was surprised to see that a couple of the questions and answers might interest sombunall of you. Here they are:

COWEN: What’s the best Orson Welles movie and why?

ROSS: My favorite is Touch of Evil. I don’t know if I’d necessarily call it “the best” in terms of sheer technical accomplishment. Citizen Kane will always be remarkable because that’s the movie where he had the most resources and the most control.

But I just absolutely love Touch of Evil, taking this rather seamy, sleazy genre picture and investing so much weirdness and darkness and slyness and menace into it — I think it’s an astonishing achievement. I get this visceral pleasure out of watching it every moment. It’s wildly entertaining and also, I think, rather deep in terms of how it talks about power and his character, the policeman who frames the guilty man. [laughs] It’s a wonderfully complex problem that it poses for the audience.

COWEN: Did writing a thesis about James Joyce at Harvard at all influence your music writing and how you approach music?

ROSS: Oh, sure. Joyce was one of the most musical writers who ever lived, a fine singer, a very acute listener, a very comprehensive knowledge of different eras of repertory going back to the Renaissance. Joyce cultivated a taste for me. I fell in love with Joyce, and Ulysses in particular, before I really got to know the classic works of the 20th century. I read Ulysses at age 18. At that stage, I was still struggling to come to terms with Schoenberg and Stravinsky in the early 20th century.

Ulysses gave me a taste for a kind of sprawling, comprehensive, all-devouring . . . it’s not strict and spare and disciplined modernism. It’s the modernism of all-engulfing chaos. And in music, that happens to be a mode that I’m quite fond of, whether it’s the symphonies of Charles Ives or Bernd Alois Zimmermann or certain later 20th-century composers.

So yeah, Ulysses, I think, influenced my listening and prepared me for unexpected and perhaps irrational juxtapositions of different styles.

More here.  By the way, the Metropolitan Opera has been offering free nightly streams and next week is Wagner week.

One more point. When Cowen announced he was going to interview Ross, he invited readers to suggest questions in the comments. My question didn't make the cut, so I wrote to Ross and posed the question myself, and he was nice enough to write back:

Wed, Sep 30, 11:16 AM (2 days ago)

Dear Mr. Ross,

I very much enjoyed your recent interview by Tyler Cowen, and I am a fan of your books.

Before he did the interview, Tyler solicited possible questions on his blog. He didn't use my question, which is fine, but I was hoping I could email you and ask my question, anyway.

I am a big fan of 20th century Russian composers, particularly Prokofiev and Shostakovich. But I also spend a lot of time listening to early Gavriil Popov, Alexander Mosolov, Nicolai Myaskovsky and Nikolai Roslavets. My question is, do you think the Russian Futurists such as those last four are neglected, and deserve to be better known? I know you have written about Popov, at least.


Thanks for the note, Tom! Yes, I believe those composers deserve much wider exposure. I think that the Popov First Symphony is one of the great 20th-century symphonies, and it obviously had a huge influence on Shostakovich.
All best,

[Alex Ross' Popov article is available online]. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Oz Fritz to teach seminar on magick

The four-week seminar, "Magick Demystified," starts on Saturday, Oct. 10, and has four sessions, "What is Magick?," "The Tools of Magick," "Communication" and "The Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel." Tickets are $50 for the full event (plus a $1.25 service fee). 

More here. 

Hat tip, Eric Wagner.