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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.



BFHN said...

I am glad I found this reading group (well, the Hilaritas Press newsletter pointed it out to me).
I read the book a few years ago and it had a profound influence on me, that only got stronger over time, with ideas slowly sinking in, and me understanding better through repetition by reading other RAW books.
But in all honesty I had not done these exercises seriously and always felt like the full potential of PR had not been unleashed onto me. Hopefully having this going on here will push me to do it and, more importantly, stick to it.

Since I do not live in the US I of course adapted the exercise to my local currency. We ll see how difficult this proves to be, especially as the vast majority of people here pay by card. Not to mention that in this part of the world, we won't be getting more than just a few hours of daylight for the next four months, making it even more difficult to spot small shiny objects in the streets hehe.
So far my biggest problem is to remember at all to keep my eyes peeled for coins when walking outside. Funnily enough today, as soon as I remembered to do it, it took me like 20 seconds to spot a coin, but it wasn't the kind I decided would be the local currency equivalent of a quarter.

I think it does not really matter so much how the exercise goes, rather what our take on it is. If over the course of the next six months I end up finding tons of coins, but not a single one of the kind I decided on, then I might start thinking that I am the victim of some sort of cosmic prank. Or that my brain is deliberately not seeing what is in front of me, just so I can get frustrated and angry at myself and feel like a failure. Or whatever my prover will be trying to prove.

On the other hand, if you want so badly to find the quarters that you go look for them where you know your chances are going to be higher (malls, shops etc), then even if you find a fair amount of coins it would be difficult to convince yourself that you manifested those coins by sheer mental power (unless you already live in a reality tunnel in which you believe you can manifest pretty much anything, in which case you probably need to reread Prometheus Rising more than anyone else).

I will be conducting this experiment for sure, but I think more beneficial on the long run might be exercise 9, finding the prover/thinker duo in two relatively close friends and two relative strangers. Probably a way to both get better at reading body language, and finding out our own (potentially not previously aknowlegded) prejudices.
As for the going to parties under different mindsets, I guess I already know the result of this. Being the kind of person who goes through huge mood shifts, I am familiar with interacting in society seeing myself alternately as funny, handsome and clever, or stupid, useless and pathetic...
I guess I understood from personal experience that my own brain chemistry was responsible for most of my apprehension of the outside world and myself, so as Anton Newcombe said, "Thank God for mental illness."

To everyone involved, thanks for starting this project !
And to everyone participating, have fun rewiring yourself, and let s be in touch over the next 23 months... (I actually started this project on october 23rd without even noticing at first hehe)

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@BFHN I'm glad you found us through the Hilaritas Press email newsletter. Everyone who reads this blog should sign up for us; it is essential.

"I think it does not really matter so much how the exercise goes, rather what our take on it is." You may be on to something. I've been spending a lot of time being worried that I'm not going to find any quarters!

Psuke said...

Oddly enough, since the reading group has started I've found quarters in our house, just lying around. Which is odd because only two of four people spend money and we both use plastic.

I would tend to agree with @BFHN about the exercise being about our take on the exercise since it does have three parts. Having found my first quarter, I should concentrate on finding my second (different) quarter.

quackenbush said...

Hey all, I'm curious about the format. What defines each week? Week 3 = 3rd exercise in the book or what?

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Quackenbush, It simply means we've been running postings for three weeks.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Quackenbush, If I may "explain my explanation," as RAW sometimes put it, the idea as I understand it is to spend weeks working on the exercises in the first chapter, while giving everyone something to read each week. Eric suggested the schedule, perhaps he will weigh in.

Unknown said...

Bob suggested spending at least six months on the first few exercises in chapter one. I have begun looking for quarters, but I have not found one yet. We plan to start chapter two next April.

Unknown said...

Eric Wagner wrote that comment. I don’t know why is says “Unknown”. Still no quarters.

Rich Vos said...

Some thoughts from this past week of quarter-finding...

I work daily with the idea that the content/information I consume is reflected in my ability to see the "magic" in reality. I'll come back to that in a minute...

When I find a quarter I see that I am quick to subconsciously dismiss it as "selective attention." Consciously, I try to believe that it was willed/manifested by my thoughts. It takes a bit of work, but what helps is to remember the first time I entered into RAW's Chapel Perilous a few years back. I remember that at some point in my initial, confusing baptism into Maybe Logic, that I actually *believed* it. It was beyond conscious intention to believe, but an undeniable belief that the quarters and 23's I saw were there because of some sort of Mind at Large (Huxley) idea.

Back then, I was deep into meditation and daily edibles & microdosing. I now shrug it off as, "of course... because you were on drugs!" But to say that is to sell short the entirety of experience... that this is all a hallucination, abstractions not only of interpretation and language, but through the senses themselves. They constrict the experience. Our attention manages what is junk-information and what is captured as important.

Back to the information-influencing-perception... So, I know that in the last year, I consume more consensus reality and material based in Aristotelean logic than when the quarters were real manifestations. What this proves to me is that not only is the content that I consume effecting my beliefs and perceptions, but the way the content is structured as a non-maybe truth. (But of course, the Thinker thinks and the Prover proves.)

I love watching my beliefs about believing get challenged when quarters find their way into my field of vision. This week, I'll be listening to the sound of a quarter drop and let that find its way into this reality tunnel.

Eric Wagner said...

I found a quarter yesterday.

Agustin Reyes said...

So happy to have found this through the Hilaritas Press e-mails. People actually do the exercizes!!!!! Alas, no quarters yet, no quarter given, nun taken.