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

Friday, December 31, 2021

Timothy Leary video

 Via a posting by Popkin at the Boing Boing website, I learned of the availability of the above half-hour Timothy Leary video, "How to Operate Your Brain." Popkin writes, 

How To Operate Your Brain is a 30-minute guided meditation by the great Timothy Leary, a pioneer of the 1960s psychedelic revolution. He believed in thinking for yourself, questioning authority, and people's right to reprogram their own nervous systems.

The video contains electronic music, trippy visuals, and spoken word by Leary about important aspects of the psychedelic experience.

It's a great video to watch in preparation for a chemical trip, or on its own as a profound meditation. It's best when watched with headphones and full screen so that you can turn on, tune in, and drop out without distractions.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Twitter notes

Photo by Edgar Moran on Unsplash

I find Twitter most useful as a kind of headline service to alert me to news and information I might be interested in. I also tend to read Twitter using curated lists.

I did a blog post about this back in April, but since then I have noticed some other Twitter lists that might be of interest, so here is an update, for sombunall of you interested in using Twitter to keep up with subjects of interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans. Probably you should just try these and figure out which list matches your own interests and is worth spending time on, or start  your own.  There's a lot of overlap, but there are also differences -- Calm and Insight has more libertarianism, the British lists are usually more leftist, etc. 

RAW -- This is my list, and it has exactly four Twitter accounts: @RAWilson23, @RAWArchives, @TheRAWTrust and @RAWSemantics. This is the list I check every day, when I don't have time to look at anything else. 

Calm and Insight -- Another of my lists, mixing RAW-related material with topics I happen to like following, such as Roman Britain. Useful only to some of you. 

Cosmic23 -- Cat Vincent's list. 

Cosmic Trigger Network -- Nic Alderton's list. "By the time you've discovered you're a member, it's too late to get out..."

Maybe Art -- Toby Philpott's list. "Interesting art mind projects"

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

New blog: Bryan's Caplan's Life Advice

                                           Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

I thought I would take a moment today to share a side project: Bryan Caplan's Life Advice, a miniblog that eventually will reprint 10 blog posts written by Bryan Caplan, an  economics professor at George Mason University.

Caplan blogs at EconLog and naturally most of his items are about economics, but I noticed that particularly like his occasional advice pieces; I kept his "Make Your Own Bubble in 10 Easy Steps" on the bookmarks bar of my browser for easy access. 

Eventually I hit on the idea of doing a blog that would reprint those pieces, making them handy for me to refer to and also putting them in one place for anyone else who might be interested. I obtained permission for the reprints from Professor Caplan and from his blog publisher, the Liberty Fund. Professor Caplan asked me to limit myself to 10 pieces, and I agreed. (Eventually he plans to publish a self-help book, based on his posts.) 

I have three posts up so far: "Ten Principles for Making Friends," "Forty Things I Learned in Forty Years," and "How To Be Happy: A 10 Point Plan." 

This is just an interesting side project and of course daily blogging will continue here. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Chapter 10, episode 62

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger 

I hope everyone has enjoyed their holidays or lack thereof and is doing well as we approach a new year. This will be the last Prometheus Rising post of 2021. 

Regarding the chapter, Wilson takes us deeper into the concept of brainwashing and primarily focuses on how we have been “brainwashed” into our own reality tunnels. Part of the chapter didn’t speak that much to me, I was unsuccessfully conditioned into agreeing with most of my parents’ beliefs; by all means, I should be a relatively conservative Methodist. I am not and haven’t been for most of my life. I believe, when examining my beliefs, that I was shaped mostly through the books I read and my own imagination. (I was a child in a rural area and wasn’t particularly close to my brother, so I had a plethora of imaginary friends, some of whom still occasionally pop into my life until this day.) The advent of the internet would have greatly impacted my worldview, especially after Wikipedia was created and I spent afternoons/evenings jumping from one page to another. Until this day, as any reader of my posts could attest, many of my beliefs are shaped around reaction to whatever is online at the time. 

I must admit that I smiled rereading this paragraph (I had not reread this chapter until the past weekend, Scout’s honor.): “The problems of the modern world arise from the fact that these reality-tunnels are no longer isolated from each other. Throughout most of human history and up to 100 years ago- up to 20 years ago, in some parts of the world- a man or woman could lead their entire life snugly within the cocoon of the local tunnel-reality. Today, we all constantly collide with persons living in wildy different tunnel-realities. This creates a great deal of hostility in the more ignorant, vast amounts of metaphysical and ethical confusion in the more sophisticated, and growing disorientation for all- a situation known a our ‘crisis of values.’” Thus, as an addendum to my recents posts: Q.E.D.. 

We are certainly inside some sort of information collider and I posit that the faster information collides, the greater chance of black holes of confusion and conflict. Humans are adaptable, but we also need time to adapt capably -- I am firmly unsure if we are going to be allowed that time in the face of greater and rapidly increasing change. I would also posit that the fact that this chapter was originally written before the advent of the Network is a matter of some distress. If we were insufficiently parsing information before the Internet, what the fuck are we doing right now? 

I somewhat disagree with Wilson’s idea that all reality-tunnels are equally bizarre from the outside. I have a lot of issues with Christians and their hegemony, but I can at least apprehend some of the beliefs of an “average” Episcopelian more so than a fundamentalist Evangelical. But perhaps, due to my early exposure to “middle-class” Christianity that didn’t go much further than the doors of the church, I only view the Episcopalian as “more sane” than the fundamentalist because of my own prejudices. 

I guess I’ll close out this year with a shrug and eyes open to the future. We’re getting to the good stuff this year. Soon we’ll all be exploring the fifth circuit, my personal favorite. Thank you to everyone on RAWIllumination for making 2021 more interesting and for the fellowship. You all mean an awful lot to me for mostly faceless beings. 

Here's a song by Nick Lutsko which helped me find some pathos concerning our waning year:

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Holiday tips [Updated]

1. If you have lots of time because of the holidays and want some ideas on movies to watch, Jesse Walker has you covered. At his blog, he is busy posting his annual pieces on the best 10 movies of 2011, 2001, 1991, etc. (According to Jesse, the best movie of 2001 was "Mulholland Drive," the David Lynch movie.) UPDATE: Missing link added.

2.  Rasa's band, Starseed, released a new album, "Ambient Blue," in November and I bought a copy. It featured Rasa on guitar. I wanted to buy a "classic" Starseed with Rasa on sitar with my Amazon gift cards I got for Christmas, but which one? I asked the artist, and Rasa replied:

"In some ways, I think Live in Mt. Shasta is 'classic'

but I think that because all the music was recorded after we had invested heavily in some spectacular sound equipment. We have a couple of good friends who think our best music is on Entering the Ambient Temple

Maybe I agree with that. It’s an older recording, and the sound seems a bit raw to me, but not bad. Tim Leary’s old friend Brummbaer thought this was our best album, and he used a bit on his video tribute to Leary."

Rasa then added,

"Tim Arnold, the UK artist who did that Guides video, recently moved all of his music to Bandcamp, like we did. Sweet Smoke’s contract with EMI gave us only 2% of sales, a typical shitty deal from a major label. At Bandcamp, we get 90%. Of course, EMI is a major label, and theoretically gives us that huge clout in the market, but that only depends on how much effort they put into plugging your catalog. For Sweet Smoke, that’s not much."

(Sweet Smoke is Rasa's old band).

3. The Lost Doctor Christmas Special. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Podcast news

Mike Gathers

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone. Here is some podcasting news:

On Dec. 23, the fourth Hilaritas Press podcast, about Timothy Leary, was released. It features Leary biographer John Higgs with podcast host Mike Gathers. It's available at the link, and also on Podbean, Google, Spotify and TuneIn. Haven't heard it yet, but the advance word is good; I'll listen to it soon. 

In addition, Episode 33 of the f23 podcast is available, featuring Mike Gathers as the guest this time. The blurb for the show says, in part, "We talk about how he discovered the psychedelic and counter culture movement at his first Grateful Dead concert and his path to the great writer and modern day mystic Robert Anton Wilson. We talk about our favourite teachings in his work including multi-model agnosticism, the 8 circuit model and how his work is important today."

And on Twitter, Mike writes, "I really enjoyed this conversation with @jimthediamond where we discuss all sorts of @RobertAntonWilson related things.   I’m starting to get the hang of playing podcast guest.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Discordian Louise Lacey has died

Adam Gorightly reports that he has learned his old friend Louise Lacey has died. 

If you've read Adam's work, you'll recognize the name; during a colorful life, her friends included Kerry Thornley, Eldridge Cleaver and Mr. Gorightly himself. Her career included working for an Objectivist book publisher in Chicago and for Ramparts magazine. She helped Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart when Hart wrote a book on drumming. She was an advocate for restoring native plants in California.

Read Adam's full post. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Timothy Leary's 'Mind Mirror' available again

Timothy Leary's classic computer game, Mind Mirror, billed as "a trippy journey through your own mind," is available again. You can for example buy it here. 

Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza explains, "An obscure classic computer game, Timothy Leary's Mind Mirror, is once again on offer through Steam, GoG and other online storefronts. Long only playable on modern machines with some geeky tinkering around, the modern downloads just work."

More from Rob's post at Boing Boing. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Latest John Higgs news

John Higgs' cat was asked to draw a name out of a hat. The cat refused. 

John Higgs, in his last newsletter for the year, reports he has finished his new book on James Bond and the Beatles, which we all now have to wait impatiently to read. He also has reports on his fund raising effort for a charity for homelessness, podcasts that feature John you can listen to, even a KLF news update. (While we wait for the Beatles book, you can at least listen to a podcast in which John talks about the Beatles' singles). 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Chapter 10, episode 61

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

Exercise 1: “Become a pious Roman Catholic. Explain in three pages why the Church is still infallible and holy despite Popes like Alexander VI (the Borgia Pope), Pius XII (ally of Hitler), etc.” 

 Brothers and sisters in Christ, thank you for spending this time with me to contemplate the role of Church in God’s plan. First of all, the Church is not infallible nor has it claimed to be infallible. However, we do believe the Pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals when speaking ex cathedra. Please note that this belief was not canon law at the time of Alexander VI. Also, please note that the Venerable Pope Pius XII was not certainly not Hitler’s ally. He did all he could to protect many Jews. He had very little power at the time of the Fascist take-over of Italy, and he did all he could to protect Jews from the Nazis.  

Putting all that aside, God sent his only Son to give each and every one of us the opportunity for life everlasting. This is the real life extension Doctor’s Leary and Wilson searched in vain for. God established the Church to guide us to everlasting life. The Church exists by the will of God. All humans except for Jesus and Mary commit sins. Pope are included in this. They may be imperfect, but that is part of God’s miraculous plan. 

In Faust Goethe has Satan say, "I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.” In a small way we each play a role in God’s miraculous plan, despite all we squander of our divine entitlements. In general, the popes have been good men, often great men, who shoulder a tremendous burden. Each priest, in fact, shoulders a tremendous burden, helping to guide the members of their flock in the right direction, dealing with all the privations of life and the hostility of so many people, especially in our modern, all too secular, world.  

The Church is certainly holy. Oxford Languages defines holy as “dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.” The Church is certainly “dedicated or consecrated to God”. It always has been, and it always will be. (I find myself slipping out of E-Prime, but some things are just self-evident. I can only feel sorry for Dr. Wilson. He was a very good man, but, alas, he was led away from the one true Church by evil companions, I fear. Perhaps the weak wording of this exercise reveals a part of him trying to remind him of the one true Church. The sisters tried so hard to teach him about the role of the Church in history, but his human hubris led him to value his own opinions over those of the Church. He preferred to think for himself, alas, and to always question authority. Perhaps he would have had a happier life if he had just trusted God.)

Sunday, December 19, 2021

'The Downfall of Ezra Pound'


Ezra Pound in 1920 by E.O. Hoppe

The New York Times has a nice feature for its subscribers;  while the newspaper has a paywall, it provides ten links a month for sharing articles.

So here is a cartoon about Ezra Pound, "The Downfall of Ezra Pound," which I am sharing because of Robert Anton Wilson's interest in the famous poet. It's by R.O. Blechman, an artist and illustrator. 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

RAW's 'HEAD Revolution'

Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash

A new discovery by Martin Wagner: "Adventures in the HEAD Revolution," about various experiments by Robert Anton Wilson in retuning his brain. A good read, although quite a bit of overlap with Cosmic Trigger II. Excerpt: 

I have never felt any attraction to legends about Atlantis, doctrines of reincarnation and karma, channeling, or most of the other dogmas of New Agers. Rather, I tend to agree with Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche, who called such ideas “spiritual materialism”—belief systems that have no relevance whatever to the work on ego-transcendence that Mysticism demands. I always feel amused, but never offended, by the Protestant Fundamentalists who vehemently assure me I “am” enslaved by Satan and by the Materialist Fundamentalists who assure me, with equal passion, that I “am” as crazy as a waltzing mouse.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Final Bodge out this month

The final issue of Bodge, put out by the Liverpool Arts Lab, is going out this month; official publication date is Dec. 23, but a print copy can be ordered now.  A free PDF will follow, probably on the 23rd. Bobby Campbell has announced he will have something in the final issue. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

JFK assassination documents released

Another batch of previously hidden documents on the JFK assassination have been released; here is the CNN story.  The link for getting the documents is here. 

RAW fandom has an expert on the documents, Adam Gorightly, who says (on Twitter), "Haven't dived too deeply into these JFK docs, but some I've seen thus far list Russian names that were investigated in connection w/ Oswald & I'm guessing the reason they were previously withheld was  to protect the informant (or later their family members) who provided the info.

"In other words, not directly related to some sort of coverup or anything of that nature, but protecting Russian sources either in U.S. or back in the Soviet Union and/or family members in the U.S...these Russians, or whoever, may have also been informants on other matters."

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

New Italian language RAW site

A new (mostly in Italian) website devoted to Robert Anton Wilson and Discordianism is called Blumenkraft, and you can check it out here.  The latest article is in Italian, on Hagbard Celine's Three Laws. 

There's also music. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Chapter 10, Episode 60

Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

When I sat down and re-read Chapter 10 of Prometheus Rising, all about brainwashing and competing reaIity tunnels, I was particularly struck by these sentences:

The problems of the modern world arise from the fact that these reality tunnels are no longer isolated from each other. Throughout most of human history and up to 100 years ago -- up to 20 years ago,  in some parts of the world -- a man or woman could lead their entire life snugly within the cocoon of the local tunnel-reality. Today, we all constantly collide with persons living in wildly different tunnel-realities. This creates a great deal of hostility in the more ignorant, vast amounts of metaphysical and ethical confusion in the more sophisticated, and growing disorinentation for all -- a situation known as our 'crisis of values'."

Could  the growing polarization of society that many complain about be an attempt to avoid "confusion" by avoiding facts and opinions that contradict our own worldview? 

It seems to me that much of what we see for example on Facebook represents an attempt by people who adhere to a particular political reality (which seems to have more of a hold on people these days than religion) who are attempting to avoid "growing disorientation" by constantly reinforcing their reality tunnel. Thus, I have friends in the "MSNBC reality tunnel" who constantly put up posts praising Joe Biden, supporting vaccination, repeating Democratic talking points, etc. I have friends who are part of the "Republican reality tunnel" who put up posts opposing mandatory vaccinations, praising Trump as a wise father figure and inveighing against the Chinese and the allegedly stolen election. There are of course libertarians (the folks I am most likely to agree with) who reinforce libertarian opinions.

Perhaps some of you have seen the above recent poll, in which Democrats and Republicans (particularly Democrats) avoid dealing with "strange bedfellows" who might confuse them by espousing opinions different from their own. 

I am struck by how people who even ostensibly fall within the same subculture can violently disagree and espouse wildly different opinions.

On Twitter, as you might imagine, I follow many Robert Anton Wilson fans, and many such folks follow me. As John Higgs has remarked, many American RAW fans tend to be libertarians while many British RAW fans tend to be socialists. While both such groups would likely oppose the "war on some drugs," they would likely disagree on many other issues.

Or consider the apparently divisive issue of vaccination against COVID-19, an issue in which avowed RAW fans disagree. 

On Twitter, I follow, and am followed by, the RAW Semantics Twitter account, i.e. the account for the RAW Semantics blog I frequently reference here. And a couple of hours before I began writing this blog post, I noticed I was being followed by the Priory of Sion Twitter account, i.e. @PriorySion23. 

The RAW Semantics Twitter account pretty clearly favors the generally prevailing public health theory of COVID-19 and how to combat it espoused by establishment public health authorities; it favors vaccination and the wearing of masks. 

Meanwhile the Priory Sion account by contrast has a biography describing himself/herself/themselves as "Fully Not Vaccinated" and retweets various vaccination horror stories, as you can see by looking at the account's timeline.

I am not attempting to referee the dispute, just to remark how two RAW fans are still in very different reality tunnels. (If you are curious, I am strongly in favor of getting vaccinated and am fully "boosted" but am less enthusiastic about government mandates and lockdowns -- which I admit is quite in accord with the "Reason" magazine reality-tunnel.)

My favorite exercise in Chapter 10 is No. 5,  because it urges trying to understand the person, rather than think of various ways the person "is" correct or wrong. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Listening to Bach

A portrait of Bach
I have been listening to a lot of Bach lately. There is so much to explore!

Bach was an important composer to Robert Anton Wilson. I generally associate RAW with his love of Beethoven, but it's clear Bach was important to him, too. In "Credo," in the book Right Where You Are Sitting Now, Wilson writes, "I believe in Bach, the creator of heaven and earth ... " In Prometheus Rising, Wilson remarks that Bach "may have written the sexiest music in history" and makes other references to Bach. 

Another of my favorite writers, Richard Powers, also writes about Bach. There's a lot about the "Goldberg Variations" in Powers' novel The Gold Bug Variations, but references to Bach also pop up in many of Powers' other books. 

If you do decide to dive into Bach, where to begin? Tyler Cowen offers this short list: "Bach's B Minor Mass and St. Matthew's Passion, The Art of the Fugue, WellTempered Klavier, some of the organ music, the Brandenburgs, the Partitas, the Goldberg Variations, and the solo violin works."

That's a pretty good list, but I tend to concentrate on the cantatas, which have many of Bach's greatest hits. I listen to the BWV 140 cantata, Wachet auf, over and over again. I first encountered it in a college music appreciation class and have loved it ever since. I also like the Hunting Cantata, which includes "Sheep May Safely Graze." And I've been listening in December to much of Bach's Christmas music, including his Christmas cantatas. I'll likely explore other cantatas during the new year. There is so much of them.  (I'll mention again that the Bach Guild's digital recordings on Amazon are a really cheap way to build a classical music collection. The "Little Baroque Christmas Box," which I bought about a week ago, has four Bach Christmas cantatas, plus albums by Apollo's Fire and LionHeart. 99 cents.)

One feature of Bach's music that interests me is that it seems to be amenable to endless rearrangements for different instruments. I became familiar with many of Bach's best-known tunes from the Switched on Bach album. A pop group, Apollo 100, had a hit song on Top 40 radio in 1972 with "Joy," an arrangement of a song from Cantata Number 147. There are probably all sorts of other examples I'm not thinking of. 

I don't know what Bach RAW liked to listen to. Maybe Eric or Rasa might know?

Friday, December 10, 2021

Birds aren't real!

If only these people would publicly admit they are Discordians.

"Birds Aren’t Real, or Are They? Inside a Gen Z Conspiracy Theory."

(These are the guys who claim birds aren't real animals, they are drones made by the government to spy on you.)

A sentence from the New York Times article, about the guy who began the movement: "By the time Mr. McIndoe left home for the University of Arkansas in 2016, he said, he realized he wasn’t the only young person forced to straddle multiple realities.

More here

Related (maybe): In the year 2021, "They aren't even trying to hide it anymore."

Thursday, December 9, 2021

New RAW-related Twitter account

A new Robert Anton Wilson-related account on Twitter is called RAW's intern, @SyntheticIcarus. I noticed it Wednesday when the account began following me. The biography says, "Health and lifestyle coaching services. Not gonna make it easy for you though, just show you the tricky way. My work here is a tribute to Robert Anton Wilson."

I checked out some recent Tweets and found this one: "After the emergence of the wassie, CT has officially become a full fledged culture with phylogenetic/memetic memory, a new #FinnegansWake , Leary/Wilson 6th-circuit consciousness. @inversebrah is therefore along with @CryptoCobain the highest value profiles to follow."

I didn't know what "CT" was, but it was explained to me that it stands for "Crypto Twitter." 

Still working on "wassie" but this was the explanation I found:

"Beloved by crypto traders, the Wassie is a fictional creature who typically takes the form of a Pepe-like frog sporting a red baseball cap, looking rather downbeat. He is highly destructible, and dies violently every two weeks, before rising from the ashes, phoenix-like, his predecessor’s memory intact. An infinite supply of wassies is said to be kept on ice, to be defrosted in a microwave when the prevailing one is terminated. His kind "originated from the most radioactive parts of the planet (yes, same origin story as Godzilla, basically).” 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Iain Spence on library messages from the dead


Unsplash photo by  Iñaki del Olmo 

In a recent blog post about the Hilaritas Press podcast on Aldous Huxley, I mentioned the incident in which Aldous Huxley after his death allegedly used a book in the couple's personal library to communicate with his widow. The incident is described in Robert Anton Wilson's first Cosmic Trigger book, and I was a bit sorry that Huxley biographer Nicholas Murray wasn't asked about it. (I emailed Murray after listening to the podcast. No reply.)

After my blog post, RAW fan and writer Iain Spence emailed me and pointed out he has written a whole article about mysterious library doings and famous authors. If you read the piece, you'll get a more detailed account of the Huxley incident and also read an amazing anecdote about C.S. Lewis. "C.S. Lewis and his study could be a strange place to visit," Spence remarks, and it seems difficult to disagree. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Chapter 9, episode 59

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger 

There’s a lot of accusations of brainwashing thrown around these days. Fox News is meddling with the minds of old people, teachers are indoctrinating the young, podcasts are spreading disinformation, universities…don’t even get me started on the universities. 

As someone who has been initiated into several secret societies (pseudo-cults) and works for the establishment, I have always been sorely disappointed by the lack of conspiracy. None of my college classes managed to turn me into a Marxist or an anti-white activist. The Masons neither offered me power nor required me to recite my sexual history (you better believe I did anyways) and if you can find two educators that agree on most things, well, chances are you’re talking to two math teachers. As far as news and podcasts go…Tom linked to a tweet last week that compared “the media” to a cereal aisle; we have many options and we pick our own. 

Yet there is ample evidence for some sort of mass brain-change or brainwashing occurring. It seems the last few weeks have been anti-vax themed in my personal life. I’ve talked with more people who believe the vaccine contributes to COVID deaths and causes a variety of godawful side effects lately than during the entirety of the pandemic up until now. I usually nod and hum until I can change the topic. The headlines emerging from halls of Congress are disheartening, to say the least. I would draw upon Eric’s musings upon Chapel Perilous to suggest again that the moment is ripe for brain-change. We are passing through a cultural Chapel Perilous that will determine the course of the remainder of the century. This Chapel Perilous is decentralized and resembles a castle filled with broken mirrors- full of distortion and sharp edges. 

My beloved wife brought up a tweet early this week while we were discussing matters as they lay,  that read: “we were never meant to know this many people existed, let alone their thoughts.” So I’ll return to my dead horse and say that most of this tumult is due to information overload. The human brain, while it is an impressive electro-colloidal information processor, wasn’t necessarily designed to deal with such a dearth of meaningful tasks, superfluous-yet-flashy distraction and high anxiety combined with inability to act upon it. Many of the events in our world are like the weather- for most of us they just happen. Unlike the weather, we know that these seismic events are caused by the choices of other humans and we decide who or what to focus upon. When man believed the gods caused the weather some would gnash their teeth and curse the heavens when their lives were wrecked. Now we do the same with our fellow man; this is inevitably an alienating action wherein another human becomes powerful and nebulous. What this does to our self images, I cannot say for certain. 

Brainwashing and anger seem to go hand in hand. Is there such a thing as gentle brainwashing? I can easily recall the alleged victims of MK-ULTRA, the Manson devotees, Patty Hearst and the various cults of the late twentieth-century. In fiction we have Winston Smith loving Big Brother before the bullet goes through his brain and Frank Sinatra trying to kill the President or some-such. I guess that brainwashing is in itself a violent and violating act so violence is a natural outcome of the process. 

Sometimes, thinking about the world reminds me we were awful brazen crawling out of the seas. 

Carthago delenda est. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

RAW Semantics on RAW vs. Plato

RAW Semantics discusses Robert Anton Wilson's criticism of Plato:

I note that Bob uses the phrase “Ideal Platonic Horseshit” multiple times – I count 14 times (including variants) – in his book, Natural Law. For example:

‘[A]ccording to Plato, every chair we encounter in sensory-sensual experience “is” an imperfect copy of the Ideal Chair somewhere outside space-time. From this I long ago deduced that every horse encountered and endured in space-time is also an imperfect copy of the Ideal Platonic Horse and all the horseshit I have ever stepped in is just an imperfect copy of Ideal Platonic Horseshit.’ – RAW, Natural Law

And at the end of the post, Brian posits something called Red Pill Platonism, an underlying supposed truth invisible to the rest of us that seems to defy the known facts:

I may’ve coined the label, as I’ve searched and can’t find anyone else using it. I wanted an idea that conveyed the contemporary relevance of RAW’s critical takes on Platonism, and it popped into my head as a fairly good fit for a strain of thought one sees in some of the QAnon type stuff.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Tim Arnold music video


Clever Tim Arnold music video, features Robert Anton Wilson as one of the guides. Worth featuring on the blog, and not just because of the fleeting RAW connection. You will likely recognize at least one of the backup singers. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

RAW letter to the editor

Benjamin Tucker 

A letter to the editor from RAW, which follows up on the article featured here but which also offers a defense to criticism of Benjamin Tucker. From The Match!, and found and preserved for us by Martin Wagner. Some really good sentences in the Tucker portion of the editor. For example:

"The rejection of Tucker’s position on the first World War is entirely justified. But how much does it prove? Gene Debs took a wiser and more 'anarchist' position on that war, and went to jail for it, a reason why I will always love and respect Debs; but, again, any mathematical breakdown of key ideas would show that Tucker’s formulations were more anarchistic more of the time than Debs‘ positions. Thus, on the war, I agree with Debs, not Tucker; on a majority of other issues I agree with Tucker, not Debs. I don’t see the logic of condemning Tucker because of one writing that I don’t agree with. I think that everybody I admire in recent ideological history (Fuller, Pound, Leary, Picasso, Joyce, to name a few) have all taken wrong positions at times, but I don’t see the 'therefore' which leads logically from this to the conclusion that we should reject their right positions."

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

RAW featured in documentary

 From RAW Semantics on Twitter: "TechnoCalyps, a longish documentary (2006) on "transhumanism", with a good rating on IMDB, has a clip of RAW talking about the "Jumping Jesus" phenomenon (at around 52 mins in). Full docu:"

The clip is above. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Chapter 9, episode 58

The Chapel Perilous, a 1920 illustration by Thomas Mackenzie

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

The discussion of Patty Hearst’s “responsibility” for her actions as Tania make think of comparing the novel The Shining by Stephen King with the film The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick. King has complained that in the film Jack seems firmly responsible for his actions, whereas in the novel the hotel seems at least in part responsible for his actions. One might model the Overlook Hotel as a model of Chapel Perilous, especially at the end of the film. In fact, various models of Chapel Perilous appear in Kubrick’s films, from the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey to the brainwashing scenes in A Clockwork Orange to basic training in Full Metal Jacket to Tom Cruise’s New York City wasteland quest in Eyes Wide Shut. 

Apuleius Charlton pointed out that many of Jim Jones’s victims did not commit suicide; armed followers of Jones forced many of them to drink the poison. I remember seeing part of a TV movie about Jim Jones starring Powers Booth. I thought of that film when I saw Oliver Stone’s Nixon where Powers Booth played Alexander Haig and Bob Wilson’s beloved Anthony Hopkins played Nixon. I contemplated writing a book on the magic of casting called Casting Spells. The movie Nixon seemed rather sympathetic to the character Richard Nixon, but I kept thinking of Hannibal Lector in the back of my mind. 

Bob writes of immortalism in this chapter. Someone once asked the physicist R. C. W. Ettinger why, if crygenics provided the chance of immortality, more people didn’t take advantage of it.  

Ettinger said, “Many are cold, but few are frozen.” 

Exercise 6 in this chapter says to become a Nazi for 33 minutes. I did this; I began by studying a bit of German on Duolingo. I had intended to watch a bit of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer I had DVR’d next, but my wife asked me to run an errand. I had a Sonny Rollins CD on in the car, and I found it distasteful in my Nazi head-space. I switched to the classical radio station and felt grateful that they had some German music playing (Mozart’s Thirtieth Symphony). I found it sobering how quickly this exercise affected my judgment.  

Sunday, November 28, 2021

New 'Bodge'


I have been struggling to keep up with all of the news here, but before too much time passed, I wanted to remind everyone that the penultimate Bodge was released on Nov. 23 by the Liverpool Arts Lab. Details and download link for the PDF here. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Excellent 'Illuminatus!' themed video

 Here's a new Illuminatus! themed video from @amoebadesign. About two minutes, be sure to give it a look. (It's not on YouTube, so I can't figure out how to embed it here.) On Twitter, he explains, "Thinking of the late big jake black/Rev D.Wayne Luv today, been a lot of Hagbard Celine/Crowley/Jim jones/Illuminatus Trilogy/Robert Anton Wilson/Fake Festival Ritual/ synchromeshery going on in the amoebawurld...Cheers Jake u were the best Hagbard in VR.."

More here. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Upcoming podcast: John Higgs on Timothy Leary

John Higgs

It's been announced that the next Hilaritas Press podcast, set for release on Dec. 23, will feature Leary biographer and everyone's favorite writer John Higgs on Timothy Leary. I am very much looking forward to it.

In the meantime, another interesting podcast has just been released, about Aldous Huxley and his book, The Doors of Perception, featuring Huxley biographer Nicholas Murray.  

I thought Mike Gathers and Ian Blumberg both did a good job of posing questions. Though I admit to being disappointed about one question that wasn't posed, about Aldous Huxley's alleged communication to his widow after his death, as described in Robert Anton Wilson's first Cosmic Trigger book. I have written to Mr. Murray about this; if I get a reply, I'll update this post.

The podcast is available at the link and also on apps:  Podbean, Spotify, Google and TuneIn. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Another reason to be thankful

I am thankful to live in a world where a character from the Illuminatus! trilogy can pop up in a rather funny Muppets video.  The show that it appears in  on aired in 1980, so in theory Wilson or Shea or both could have seen. it. 

Hat tip, Jesse Walker.  

UPDATE: On Twitter, Jesse remarks, "The Muppet Show was made in the U.K., and I think there was a little bit of overlap between its staff and the Ken Campbell crowd."

Previously on this blog. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Holiday shopping news

Alexandra Gardner

An announcement from the RAW Trust: Flying Lasagna Enterprises is selling pendants and rings based on the ring Robert Anton Wilson always wore. Details and order your jewelry here. 

The latest newsletter from the RAW Trust put out by Rasa also has an interesting announcement: Wilson's daughter Alexandra Gardner has volunteered to run Flying Lasagna Enterprises. (Of course, Wilson's eldest daughter, Christina Pearson, runs the RAW Trust).  Rasa writes: 

"A little bit about Alexandra: her interests and training have included hypnotherapy, advanced shamanic practices, and Vajrayana. When I asked her for some tidbit about her life in the house of RAW that she might share, she offered this reflection...

What comes up for me is how much I always miss Bob and Arlen around the holidays. And how I miss watching the old Hollywood classic movies with them. I’ve never known anyone more fun and educational than Bob to watch great movies with, and Arlen had such a deeply childlike enthusiasm for the holidays, that it rubbed off on all us kids.

They made everything perpetually interesting in their own eccentric ways. The sounds coming from their epic, convoluted, and admiring conversations, along with the clacking typewriter, became the underlying background "music," no matter where we lived or what the circumstances were. And the circumstances were unvaryingly kaleidoscopic!

Flying Lasagna also offers T-shirts, mugs and other goods. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Neal Stephenson and 'fallibilism'

As I never got close enough to Neal Stephenson Monday night to take a good photo with my cell phone, here is an official photo from his website. 

Neal Stephenson is busy doing a press tour to promote his latest book, Termination Shock, a new novel about global warming. He actually came to Cleveland this time and I saw him last night at a library in Parma. 

Also Monday, The Week magazine published his list of six books about information manipulation. And you can also read a longer version of the list, which has 11 titles. I plan to read at least one of the books; I'll also read his new novel soon. 

Via those lists, I learned a new word: fallibilism. Stephenson defines it as "the disarmingly simple idea that none of us can ever be sure that our beliefs are correct, which is why we need a process for agreeing on what's true." Wikipedia defines it as "the philosophical claim that no belief can have justification which guarantees the truth of the belief, or that no beliefs are certain."

In a sense this is a restatement of Robert Anton Wilson's claim that few things in life are certain; it's best to talk about probabilities.

Stephenson's main concern appears to be that people get locked in to false beliefs and then refuse to give them up; he expressed surprised Monday night that so many people don't seem to consider COVID-19 real and he also wants global warming to be accepted as a reality that must be dealt with. Hence his concern for "agreeing on a process for what's true."

The concern with being able to change your views and admit you are wrong would also seem to fit with RAW's "Cosmic Schmuck" exercise, i.e. you become a little less of an idiot if you admit you might be wrong and are willing to revise your views. 

I saw Stephenson, one of my favorite authors, in Pittsburgh in 2019; here is my blog post about it. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Chapter 9, episode 57


Mug shot of Patty Hearst (public domain photo)

When I read Chapter 9, these two paragraphs seemed particularly vivid and interesting to me:

"When Patty-Tania [i.e, Patty Hearst] was captured and brought to trial, the defense claimed that she had been 'brainwashed.' The jury either did not understand or did not believe this; they sentenced Patty to prison for the crimes Tania had committed. Debate about this case continues to the present, since some people think Ms. Hearst was 'responsible' for the consciousness change she underwent while held captive by the SLA and others are just as sure she was not 'responsible.'

"Leaving metaphysical questions of 'responsibility' aside for a moment, it seems obvious that a young lady of Hearst's class and background would almost certainly not have taken up bank robbing if she had not first been kidnapped and incorporated by the SLA."

It certainly seems obvious to me that Hearst totally was a victim in this case and that a tremendous injustice occurred when she was sent to prison. Yet, as Wilson points out, that did not seem obvious to the jury, even thought it was completely clear even at the time that she had been violently kidnapped and terrorized by a depraved left-wing gang of murderers and kidnappers. I remember at the time, Patty Hearst had very little sympathy from the public; she was seen as a spoiled rich kid trying to avoid responsibility for her crimes. This now seems like an incredibly ignorant opinion. 

Check out the Wikipedia article on Patty Hearst, which has details which seem shocking to me. Consider for example that she was sentenced to 35 years in prison for bank robbery. Contrast that to the lighter sentences given to the actual criminals in the SLA gang who victimized Hearst, such as Emily Harris, who got only eight years for murdering a woman during a bank robbery. Harris was the triggerwoman who actually committed the murder.

The exercises for the chapter seem a bit dated, as they concern such things as the John Birch Society and nudism. If you are a committed Democrat, why not use social media to enter the minds of Trump fans? And as someone who obtained a vaccination against COVID-19 as soon as I could, I've certainly had interesting conversations with anti-vaxxers. I recently talked to a health official who described how a nurse at his organization had resigned rather than agree to follow a mandate to be vaccinated. The woman had recently buried her husband after he died from COVID-19, the official told me. Now, that's a woman who lives in a reality tunnel different from the one I'm in. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Next on Hilaritas podcast: Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley in 1954 (public domain photo)

The next Hilaritas Press podcast sounds very interesting: Scheduled to be be out Tuesday (i.e. on the 23rd of the month) it will be about Aldous Huxley and his influential The Doors of Perception book. It will feature Nicholas Murray, who wrote a biography of Huxley.

I learned this when I got caught up with the Hilaritas Press podcasts by listening to Episode 2, the Wilhelm Reich podcast.  It was quite interesting and Mike Gathers was an ideal host, although I did have to listen closely at times to understand what Dan Lowe was saying as he was interviewed. 

The first episode was on Alfred Korzybski. You can listen to the podcast at the Hilaritas Press link (which also has detailed show notes and links for each episode). The podcast also is available via Podbean, Google, Spotify and TuneIn. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

'All Hail the Goddess Eris'

Eris on an Attic plate, ca. 575–525 BC

An explanation of Discordianism from Robert Anton Wilson, published in Gnostica in 1974 and made available to us today by Martin Wagner. 

"It will be understood by the Cabalistic reader that Discordianism is a system of transcendental Atheism, agnostic Gnosticism, skeptical Monotheism, and unified Dualism. In short, the Erisian revelation is not a complicated put-on disguised as a new religion, but a new religion disguised as a complicated put-on."

Friday, November 19, 2021

Followup on the Rune Soup post

Rasa has been posting comments at the Rune Soup post I blogged about the other day.

You can read Rasa's comments for yourself, but notably he's trying to pin down Gordon White on what Gordon is referring to specifically when he complains about "boot licking" RAW fans and the "lies" they have spread. I'm puzzled too; without specifics, I can't really tell what Gordon is talking about, or even attempt a comment. 

Rune Soup is both a blog and a podcast; Gordon White also has written books. I enjoyed reading The Chaos Protocols. I haven't read his others. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Oz Fritz on 'Ishtar Rising'

Rebekah Hood-Sava

Inspired by the recent online discussion group for Ishtar Rising at Jechidah, Oz Fritz continues the discussion with a new blog post, "Ishtar Rising (slight return)"  focusing on how women inspired work by Aleister Crowley and James Joyce and connecting that to how each of these two inspired Robert Anton Wilson. (Of course Joyce's Ulysses, arguably the most famous novel of the 20th century, was inspired by Joyce's personal goddesss, Nora Barnacle.) Oz then mentions some of his favorite female musicians and discusses some of the women he's worked with in his career as a music producer and sound engineer. 

In my mind, at least, Oz' post loops back to some recent posts on this blog. I recently floated the idea of linking the string quartet to the first four circuits that RAW writes about in Prometheus Rising, and picking up on that, Eric Wagner wrote, "The cello seems very erotic to me, so I would associate it with the fourth circuit." 

That made sense to me because I could think of plenty of examples of  women playing the cello, and Richard Powers might have had something similar in mind in his novel that is most directly about classical music, Orfeo. (Here is a description of the novel's composer protagonist  in an important incident: "Then, on the first day of senior year, from across a packed homeroom, Els spotted Clara Reston and recognized her as coming from a planet even more remote than his. He'd watched her with pained lust across the bowl of the high school orchestra the year before, primped up behind her cello in muslin skirts and thin-ribbed pullovers that the school should have banned, drawing her bow across her instrument with an all-denying smile.") When I asked Eric why the cello seemed erotic, he explained, "The cello has a womanly shape." So Eric also associates the cello with women. In the comments to Eric's post, Oz (referring to the fact that the cello has the lowest register in the string quartet) writes, "I agree on the erotic aspect of the bass and feel that contributes to the sexual component of C4 which I correspond with the entire quartet."

So, going back to Oz' post, he lists various female musicians he has worked with recently, including "A wonderful solo cello album, Emerge, by classical musician and music educator Rebekah Hood-Sava." I didn't know Oz was involved with contemporary classical, an obsession of mine.

Check out the album here.  "Emerge is an exploration of the private emotional world that exists in one’s own mind and spirit with the music representing the stepping out of this inner world and blossoming it into being, as if coming out of a cocoon to harvest the musical ideas and creativity ready to bloom," Hood-Sava explains. I've been listening to the album on Bandcamp and enjoying it. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Ted Hand to present paper on Frances Yates

Ted Hand 

Ted Hand reports that his paper on Frances Yates' influence on Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and Terence McKenna has been acccepted for a conference, Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Feb 23-26, 2022, Albuquerque, New Mexico. (No word yet on whether Ted presents on Feb. 23.)

Here is the title: "The Reception of Frances Yates's Hermeticism in Three 1970s Counterculture Writers: Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and Terence McKenna."

Here is the abstract, courtesy of Ted: 

Frances Yates had a meteoric impact on the study of magic in the 1960s and 70s with her books on hermeticism such as Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition and The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. These books were important to three countercultural writers of the era who have been receiving attention in esoteric studies recently, Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, and Terence McKenna. I noticed that Dick's novel Valis, which popularized gnosticism in countercultural circles, presents a science-fictionalized version of Hermeticism that was apparently influenced by his reading of Frances Yates (confirmed by a reference to Rosicrucian Enlightenment in his unpublished Exegesis). Robert Anton Wilson narrates a conversation with Timothy Leary in jail in which Frances Yates's name came up during a conversation about Giordano Bruno. And Terence McKenna took The Rosicrucian Enlightenment as a model for psychedelic counterculture and gave workshops (available online as his Lectures on Alchemy) where the attendees had been given Yates's Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition to read as homework. Each of these writers had a different understanding of hermeticism, but I will argue that their readings of Yates and Hermeticism can be analyzed as significant moments in the reception of esotericism, shedding light on the development of new religious movements in the counterculture.

Tom again: Frances Yates of course also is mentioned in Wilson's books; for example, she is mentioned twice is Cosmic Trigger 1 (as "Francis Yates," RAW could be weak on proper names sometimes.) 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Rune Soup on RAW

Gordon White (Twitter photo)

Rune Soup, Gordon White's website, has a new post up on RAW, "Robert Anton Wilson: Right Wing Anarchist."  I had trouble following his points; maybe you can do better. And is Thelema formerly a "radical Libertine philosophy" that is now " a homemade version of Twitter’s code of conduct"?

White is the author of The Chaos Protocols and other books. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Chapter 9, Episode 56

 Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

Prometheus Rising remains relevant; brain change does seem to be one of the pressing issues of the moment. While we can’t look towards the “aughts” as any sort of golden age of stability and societal harmony, I do think it can be argued that there was much more in common between the last couple decades of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first than our nascent twenties have in common with said beginning. While not everyone, large parts of society have seemingly gone off into another dimension beyond any possibility of objectivity-through-consensus. 

Regrettably a lot of the sinister elements of this brainwarping day-and-age aren’t like 1984 or Brave New World, just tedious and incredibly stupid. Dismaying -- somehow a man who was bragging about being able to perform autofellatio this weekend is still considered a relevant source for medical advice by too large of a segment of the populace. In a way, I wonder if this mass abandonment of any discernment or forbearance has something to do with the “breaking down” process that occurs during a “typical” brainwashing. We are repeatedly reminded of “the loneliness epidemic,” societal disenfranchisement, extremist political posturing and general pessimism about the future that is sweeping across much of our world. I believe that these factors might be serving as their own strip-search, with everyone having their own “bend over and cough” moment when the promises of yesteryear are finally revealed to have been mostly hollow. 

So, as we are all continuously broken down by our forty plus hours every week and whatever new insipidness life has to throw at us, our minds are ripened for something completely different. For some people it might be a heightened sense of absurdity, for others life becomes an arena where we are pitted against mighty forces that seek to take something away that we have convinced ourselves mustn't be given up. But, in my observations, the contest isn’t against any shadowy group or Other but rather against the increasing waves of information and quickening change; many humans are essentially drawing lines in the sand as the tide is coming in. 

One thing that Wilson doesn’t mention, and I am convinced this is an intentional omission, is that while Crowley discusses our “great teachers” and their mysterious changes he also proposes that his system of experimentation is designed to replicate those events and create “prophets” out of its practitioners. I believe Wilson might not have felt it was necessary to mention that in this chapter because that is what he is also trying to do throughout our book with his challenges to our robotic script and his exercizes. Perhaps Wilson the magician didn’t want to reveal the trick to first time readers just yet. 

While both can have the opposite effect, I do see some training in “real” magic or conspiracy theory as a possible inoculation to having one’s brain changed without consent. Of course, we will still possess our foibles but these systems, if used judiciously, tend to create an overpowering sense of curiosity and agnosticism. Of course, both areas can become the hunting grounds where our minds break from their leash and go wild. Hopefully, under the guidance of such a worthy teacher as Wilson, one is able to avoid such hazards for the large part and change one’s own brain before someone else does it for you. 

It is worth noting that while attempting the final exercize this weekend, it occurred to me that many of Jones’ congregation only drank the cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid under duress. While that makes the Jonestown occurrence all the more disturbing, it does allow us to see that he wasn’t the Svengali that history remembers. He pulled a lot of crap to get his followers to that point, and even then many tried to resist. Is this hopeful? I don’t know.