By Gregory Arnott, 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.