[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
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.