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

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.


Eric Wagner said...

Terrific post. I enjoyed the video. I saw the Kinks in 1977, my first rock concert.

I have not found any quarters yet. I encourage everyone to read chapter one of "Prometheus Rising" and start doing the exercises today. Bob suggests spending at least six months doing the exercises for chapter one.

Oz Fritz said...

Great graphic and video! Thank-you Gregory for initiating the launch codes, Prometheus Rising rising. I'm excited to begin the 23 month trip. I only went through the book once and didn't think I did justice to the exercises, but some of the things you write I've done so maybe they had more influence than I recall. I also regularly read, maybe once a month, opinion pieces from ideologies I disagree with. I tried the ginseng thing pretty regularly for a few years, finding exotic kinds in Chinatown (intentional pun with the film) and megadosing it. Don't remember it coming from PR, though who knows, maybe that planted the experiment in me? I tried it because ginseng alleges to improve your hearing and give endurance, what I needed for long recording sessions and live touring. Could have been the placebo effect, but at times it appeared to do the trick.

I do remember feeling a strong affirmation when finding a quarter. At the time, it became too easy because I worked in bars every night doing sound pretty much guaranteeing I would find loose change by looking on the ground at the end of the night so I made a rule that quarters found there didn't count. Now it seems much more unlikely to find one - I live in the country and try to go grocery shopping only twice a month. I did find a dime yesterday in our laundry area, as if to tease, probably dropped by our tenant after his wash. May the quarters flow out of his pocket (I'll give them back, I promise) in the future - is that cheating?

I love the giant P on the cover of the new Hilaritas edition, in some mysterious way it reminds me of Stranger in a Strange Land. Rasa's new Afterword looks like a most promising meal, the title of it seems apt for this voyage, Apprehending Bob Non-Simultaneously Happy Crowleymas all, onward, to the stars!

el8ed1 said...

Looking forward to this reading group. It's my first one since the days of Maybe Academy. Just got the Hilaritas Press version of the book and considering digging out my old one as well. Cheers!

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Eric, I promise to read the first chapter and begin work on the exercises.

I decided to listen to Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto tonight, then suddenly noticed it was Opus 23!

Like Gregory,I am not used to reading works very slowly, but perhaps this is more of an exercise group than a reading group.

Eric Wagner said...

From one perspective one can see this as a slow process, but from another one can see us going at breakneck speed. The chapter on the third circuit calls for at least two years of work. The chapter on the first circuit calls for at least three months of work. Chapter seven could easily take years. One might see reading the book as reading about college, and doing the exercises as going to college.

Rich Vos said...

Hey, all. I'm looking forward to the reading group and exercises.

I entered Chapel Perilous about three years ago after reading PR, not knowing who RAW was or what the book was about. A friend recommended it and now I can't find my way out of this beautiful hall of mirrors. Oh well, I've put up a nice hammock and searched deeper books on sim theory, philosophy and cybernetics as a possible way "out" of my situation.

I know... reading doesn't get you anywhere, but it sure feels like you're going somewhere!

At the moment, I'm writing a book on reality tunnels so much of my news consumption is filtered through the ideas RAW imprinted onto me. You all seem to be very aware of the problems and pace of things of our current time. RAW's works have been excellent guides for being present within this time and not losing it based on whatever belief-of-the-day I'm enjoying.

Looking forward to hashing all this out with you.

Have a good week!


Rasa said...

Wonderful first post, Gregory! It is such a great idea to do all the exercises over the time period that Bob thought was required. It's interesting to note Bob's directive at the end of chapter 1 about the extended amount of time an exercise could take.

"If you think you have learned the lessons of these exercizes in less than six months, you haven’t really been working at them. With real work, in six months you should be just beginning to realize how little you know about everything."

And this seems like a good time to bring up this minor point … In case anyone has wondered about the spelling of the word "exercizes" in Prometheus Rising ... In all previous additions of Prometheus rising the word exercises has been spelled with a Z instead of S..."exercizes." In making the new Hilaritas Press edition of Prometheus Rising, we considered using S, which is far more prevalent, but vetoed the idea quickly. In editing Bob's books we usually always default to leaving things as they are unless they are obvious typos or mistakes. In this case we had further evidence.
In a GroupMind email from March 14, 1999, RAW used the word exercises with the spelling in Prometheus Rising.

"Arlen and I have both found much comfort in the Dalai Lama's book, THE ART OF HAPPINESS, which is full of commonsense, down-to-earth advice on how to use simple Buddhist exercizes to banish negative emotions no matter what the world is doing to you."

Eric Wagner said...

Thank you for sharing that, Rasa.

chas said...

My daily ritual this Summer of Covid was swimming in my pool and listening to the Kinks. So I guess I’m in the right place. This time tomorrow, indeed.

supergee said...

He consistently spelled "exercise" with a z. Does anyone know why?

Alias Bogus said...

Note for supergee: I live in the UK, but have travelled in the USA, and read lots of US texts, so my brain ignores the small variations in spelling, but this one intrigued me...

We mostly use "s" where Americans use "z", but apparently this particular case does not fit...

like this

Almost as if Bob acquired European habits when living in Ireland, then *translated* back to US too zealously!

Pete Formiller said...

I still have the copy of Prometheus Rising that RAW autographed for me when he visited Madison WI. 1983 I think.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.