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

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Jeff Riggenbach has died


Jeff Riggenbach

I am sorry to have to report that Libertarian writer Jeff Riggenbach has died. He was 74 when he died on Jan. 25, according to an obituary posted at the Mises Institute. Here is another obit. I expect to see more as the news moves through libertarian websites. 

Because of his connections to Robert Anton Wilson, I have written about Riggenbach on this blog. He did a nice podcast on RAW that you can still listen to, as part of a series of podcasts he did on major libertarian thinkers. 

And if you are interested in the revisionist antiwar historians that RAW wrote about, you will want to read Riggebach's book, Why American History is Not What They Say. I did a blog post about the book after I read it, with links for getting a free and cheap ebooks of the title. 

The links on those two earlier blog post still seem to work, as far as I can tell. 

If I can find a detailed obituary, I will post a link here. The Von Mises bio says that Riggenbach was a former radio personality working in "classical and all-news radio in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston," so some of you may have heard him on the radio, and RAW may have heard him, too. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Prop Anon talks to Joseph Matheny

Joseph Matheny 

So, on Friday I'm reading at Slate about how U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene did a posting on Facebook about how Jews attacked California with a space laser, causing the gigantic wild fire in in 2018. And it's beginning to look like, however reluctantly, I'm going to have to pay attention to this QAnon stuff.  And I'm wondering how somebody like Congresswoman Greene actually gets elected to Congress. (Wouldn't a panel discussion with Greene and Alice Walker be interesting? People are always complaining about we don't have enough bipartisanship, and that would bring the left and the right together!)

And then I get a notification from Patreon that Prop Anon has done a video where he interviews Joseph Matheny, the creator of Ong's Hat and the force behind the Robert Anton Wilson "Lost Studio Sessions" recording (get your free download here.) The video has been broken down into two parts, and the first one features Matheny talking about QAnon as a "weaponized Alternative Reality Game" and as a cult. Matheny also describes people who read Illuminatus! and did not get the joke. Quite interesting. I look forward to part two.

You can watch on YouTube, but Prop also hopes some of you will consider checking out his Patreon account. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

No, it's apparently not an Illuminati Bible


A story from Reuters explains that social media reports such as the Facebook posting above are spreading claims that President Joe Biden was sworn into office using a "Masonic/Illuminati Bible." (This is apparently the usual social media nonsense, rather than a clever attempt to make Biden more interesting than he actually is.)

A couple of sentences from the Reuters story (attributed only to "staff")

In the 1960s, American writers Robert Anton Wilson and Kerry Thornley published gag letters in Playboy magazine from alleged “readers” regarding a secret organization called the Illuminati (here). Though the letters were intended as satire, the myth morphed into a popular conspiracy theory.

Emerging as a countercultural icon, Wilson, along with Robert Shea, published “The Illuminatus! Trilogy” in 1975, described here by the New York Times in its 2007 obituary for Wilson as “a mind-twisting science-fiction series about a secret global society” that became a “cult classic.”

Hat tip: Nick Helweg-Larsen. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

'Moments of visionary enthusiasm' -- Eight questions for Znore

Znore is the author of Death Sweat of the Cluster (pictured above), a collection of pieces selected from his blog, Groupname for Grapejuice. 

I enjoyed the book a great deal, and I thought it would be fun to ask Znore to take a few questions about topics covered in the book. This is one of my favorite interviews that I've published here.

If you like this interview, see my earlier interview with Znore. 

RAW Illumination: When I read your book, it made me want to read or re-read many of the books you mention, i.e. I plan to read the new translation of "The Odyssey" by Emily Wilson and right now I am trying to read the Bible from start to finish, something I've never done, even though I read the New Testament when I was a teenager. I also plan to read more James Joyce, and I just wonder if that's one of the reactions you were hoping for.

Znore: Yes, this is exactly a response I was hoping for. Umberto Eco wrote, to paraphrase, that Finnegans Wake is the paradigm of his idea of the "open work". Essentially this means that there is no fixed and final reading of the text, that it is completely open to chance and novel interpretations, and that it continually urges us to venture outside of itself into the entire field and experience of literature and life in general. Riffing on this idea, I've thought that in the wake of the Wake all books turn into the Wake. All texts become open works; they can all be read as if they are incorporated into the webwork of Finnegans Wake. And with Jacques Derrida -- another thinker who was profoundly affected by the Wake, who said that it singularly did not need to be deconstructed because it is deconstruction itself -- there arrives the idea that there is nothing outside of the text, nothing in experience that cannot be "read". These are ideas that I'm playing with, that I may be misreading but that is also the point. Obviously I cannot rewrite the Wake, or even approach it, but I can try to emulate this aspect of it. These essays, now in my book, were written with the aspiration that they would inspire readers to open other books, to view the opening of books and the linking together of books as being a kind of adventure, and then to further extend this process throughout all media and all moments of perception. Not that humble! I'm happy if this book has provoked you and other readers to read more.

RAW Illumination: I liked your efforts to reclaim Ezra Pound's literary legacy, and I like your approach, i.e. acknowledging his terrible prejudices and not trying to excuse them, but also arguing that they don't invalidate his literary work. The world seems increasingly polarized politically -- do you worry that his reputation will fall? 

Znore: Ezra Pound is a vitally important figure to consider at precisely this time. His influence on poetry is enormous. And his influence on prose -- through Hemingway and others, and through his literary criticism -- is just as immense. And Pound, in his own time, tirelessly promoted other writers and artists and brought them to the attention of the world. Modernism without Pound would undoubtedly have had far less impact. On top of this, Pound's own writing in the Cantos and his earlier poetry is not to be missed. But -- Pound was also a fascist and an antisemite who eventually prodded, on Rome radio during WW2, U.S. and other Allied soldiers to support the Axis powers. Even though towards the end of his life he renounced his former antisemitism, this part of Pound's work and career should not be ignored. U.S. poet and reluctant Pound disciple, Charles Olson likely put it best:

It is not enough to call him a fascist.

He is a fascist, the worst kind, the intellectual fascist, this filthy apologist and mouther of slogans which serve men of power. It was a shame upon all writers when this man of words, this succubus, sold his voice to the enemies of the people.

Second generation Beat poet, Ed Sanders, in his Tales of Beatnik Glory, discusses the "Lb Q" or "Pound Question" that was on the minds of poets in the late '50s and early '60s: Pound is a poetic genius but he's also a complete reactionary; what can we do with him? Certainly his fascist influence has continued to the present day through groups like the CasaPound in Italy and followers of Eustace Mullins in the U.S. I don't think Pound's reputation can be completely redeemed. Without going extensively into it here, his fascist worldview is far too tied up with his thoughts on economics and history, his spirituality and even his poetics to entirely overlook it. Yet, especially by taking the perspective of what Pound called "Eleusis" in his work, there is much that is inspiring and beautiful in Pound also.

But I think the main reason why Pound is so relevant today, is that he represents a kind of archetype or figure from the interwar era: an avant-garde and libertarian writer and artist who was somehow seduced by the worst kind of political movement.  And echoes of this process can be heard and felt at this very moment. Just as Pound and other bohemian artists spiraled towards fascism, too many bloggers, artists, occultists, creative people have veered off in a reactionary direction over the past decade or more. (Maybe in response to excessive political correctness, which also had its parallels in Pound's day.) I've seen this happen in real time. The life of Ezra Pound can act as a cautionary tale in this regard.  

RAWIllumination: As I wrote in my blog post today, William Blake apparently is a more influential writer than I realized, and  you write a lot about Blake in your book. What is it about Blake that would particularly appeal to a Robert Anton Wilson fan?

Znore: I think there are many points of contact between William Blake and Robert Anton Wilson. The character Blake Williams in Schrödinger's Cat is an obvious hat tip, but there is a much wider shared understanding of the two writers. Even if RAW was not directly influenced by Blake -- which I'm sure he was -- he would have been affected by the poet's worldview through writers, like Joyce and Pound, who did deeply influence Wilson's thought. Aside from these influences, though, is simply the immense and almost atmospheric presence of Blake within the mid-20th century counterculture that RAW played a vital part within: from Allen Ginsberg's 1948 "Blake Vision" in Harlem, which set Ginsberg off on his career as poet-prophet, to Jim Morrison & the Doors (of perception), to the constant ubiquity of Blake within the pages of the underground press.   

Yet aside from this general influence, there are also quite specific overlappings of the ideas of the two. In Jerusalem, Blake wrote that “I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” This emphasis on creating one's own system or set of beliefs and not getting "enslaved" or ensnared by someone else's belief system (BS) is at the heart of RAW's thought. A difference between the two might be that, in his prophetic epics and related poetry, Blake did create a vast and complex mythological/theological system, whereas Wilson, while he explored and played with countless ideas and philosophies, was content to take an ironic stance of "transcendental agnosticism" without constructing his own elaborate system (although one could argue that he approaches this in Prometheus Rising). 

What brings the two even closer together, though, is Blake's insistence that literal thought must be avoided altogether. The literal and historical existence of Jesus Christ, for example, was irrelevant to Blake. The thing that matters most is the mythological and symbolic significance of Jesus and his mission. Wilson, on the other hand, was an agnostic, but one that was entirely and quite uniquely open to mystical and visionary experience. The ultimate stress for both writers is the vigilant avoidance of moral dogmatism, be it priestly, governmental or scientific. Blake would have called himself a "Christian," but his Christianity was a non-dogmatic, visionary, life- and body-affirming gospel of the Imagination that RAW would likely have found little to disagree with:

I know of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body & mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.

Blake's affirmation of the desires and delights of the body -- to the point of practicing sex magic, according to certain scholars -- would have also appealed to RAW, as would Blake's insistence that "State Religion" is "the source of all Cruelty," and that the real battle is the "mental fight" between genuine and uncompromised visionaries of the imagination and those that use their creative talents to help justify power. These are just a few of the many points that unite Blake and RAW.

RAWIllumination: Where does the title of Death Sweat of the Cluster come from?

Znore: Well, one thing that the title does not have anything to do with -- contrary to what some have guessed -- is the "clusters" of the infected or of the fevered "death sweats" of COVID-19. This book has been in the making since 2016 and the title was chosen early on, so any connection of the title of the book, and its publication in 2020, to the ongoing pandemic is purely a "coincidance". In fact, the title is the opposite of anything morbid. And it is related to your last question because it's taken directly from the final sections of Blake's The Four Zoas. On one level, the "cluster" is a cluster of grapes and the "death sweat" is the juice or wine. In this way it is related to groupname for grapejuice. But on a deeper level, this is also Blake's culminating vision of the apocalypse; the spilling of the blood of tyrants and also the communion festival for the great harvest of the ascending era. There's a kind of unsettling ambiguity in this symbolism -- at once containing the end and the beginning, tragedy and comedy, night and day -- that I try to probe and linger within throughout the book.

RAWIllumination: I have started reading the entire Bible (partially influenced by your book) and it seems to me Finnegans Wake is a kind of modernist Bible, in the sense that reading and understanding Joyce is almost as fundamental to understanding modern literature as reading the Bible has been to understanding older literature for centuries. (At the end of TSOG, RAW remarks that Joyce invented the "New Yorker" story with Dubliners, invented multiple viewpoint novels with Ulysses and invented a new hologrammatic style with Finnegans Wake.)

Znore: Yes, I would agree that Joyce and Finnegans Wake are pretty crucial to understanding modern literature. I notice traces and obvious winks to the Wake in the works of Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, William Gaddis, Thomas Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, William Gass, Jorge Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, David Foster Wallis, Mark Z. Danielewski and on and on, whether this influence is acknowledged or not. It's actually quite difficult to avoid the vortex. So in that sense Finnegans Wake has this parallel with the Bible. 

The difference, of course, is that it would be very hard to base a religion -- at least a traditional one -- on Finnegans Wake. Like I said before, the Wake is an entirely open book. It is impossible to give just one interpretation of it. It resists any form of dogmatism, any ethical or moral systematizing, completely. And it constantly demands that the reader doubt its own seriousness. We are never really certain if the whole thing might not simply be a colossal practical joke. This would seem to be the exact opposite of what the Bible is. But is it?

In the book, I mention that Norman O. Brown (another influence on RAW) wrote that only after understanding the Wake, could Westerners ever hope to grok the Koran. He meant that the Koran itself is such a rich and "avant-garde" text that it requires a heightened literacy to appreciate it. But could the same be said about the Bible? In other words, is the Bible itself just as much of an open work as the Wake is? Do we only now have the capacity to read it as the open and multi-dimensional text that it truly is? Yet we must always remember that kabbalists, poets and mystics of all sorts have for centuries interpreted the biblical writings in non-reductive, creative and esoteric readings. Finnegans Wake, in actively encouraging these types of readings, is merely a part of this deeper tradition.

RAW is right to say that the Wake has a "hologrammatic style," but it should be remembered that this idea appears in Blake, -- "to see a World in a Grain of Sand" -- in the Hermetic writings -- "that which is above is like to that which is below" -- and back to Plato's Timaeus and earlier. But the Wake, maybe uniquely, captures these ideas in a "style", embodies the living microcosmic-macrocosmic correspondence within its every page. And it not only does this, but it transforms and enables one to read all other books as this also. So if the Wake becomes the Bible, the Bible -- alive to this same tradition --  also becomes the Wake.

RAWIllumination: I'm curious why you decided not to do an ebook of Death Sweat of the Cluster. Do you ever read ebooks, or do they seem like not "real" books to you?

Znore: The main reason for not publishing an ebook is that almost all of this material is still available -- as blog posts -- online. I wanted to shift this writing into a different medium, a printed book. I wanted a tactile object that could be touched, smelt and even tasted if desired. In certain ways, the once dominant and totalizing medium of print has somewhat surprisingly become, in McLuhan's sense, an anti-environment. It at least has the potential to temporarily release the reader from the current tyranny of networked screens. Blog posts, ebooks and even audiobooks do not have the full ability to do this, in my experience, as they remain more or less disposable or interchangeable files within the neverending feed. Physical books, even if they were published and distributed through these networks (as mine is unfortunately by Amazon), can be set apart, and in reading them the reader can -- for a time -- be set apart as well. I'm not opposed to ebooks or audiobooks, but I understand that they are certainly different sorts of media and that their "message" changes accordingly. 

RAWIllumination: Do you have a favorite literary critic whom you read for pleasure or insight?

Znore: Ezra Pound cautioned that readers should avoid critics who have not published any notable creative work themselves. I get where Pound is coming from -- there should be some proof that the critics really know their business -- but I've also found that certain literary criticism can be inspired and inspiring in itself. The work of Northrop Frye on Blake I'd include in this, and Frye himself is a fascinating foil and "rival" to his University of Toronto English department colleague, Marshall McLuhan. In fact, McLuhan's work can be viewed as "extended" literary criticism, and I certainly value his insights. Kathleen Raine, an accomplished poet who would handily pass Pound's test, is an excellent literary scholar of Blake, Yeats, Shelley, etc. I also enjoy Marsha Keith Schuchard's work on Blake's possible sexual magic. Frances Yates' many books on Renaissance esotericism -- though I'm not sure if these can be classed as literary criticism -- are always exciting.

In general, I'm not that interested in criticism that tends to emphasize the merely formal or stylistic elements of writing. Yet these elements can be fascinating if they are related, as they often are, with the visionary architecture of the work. I think what I'm looking for in lit crit are "clues," explanations of signs, cyphers and symbols that I may have overlooked, a kind of solidarity of enthusiasm with someone more dedicated than myself; guides that make the way clearer and point outside of the text to the greater and endless weaving of influences and pulses that holds and runs through all lasting verse and prose. Emerson, another inspired poet and critic, wrote that often critics are too much concerned with the "material" side of literature -- what the writer "does" over what he/she "says". In contrast, he states that poets know that they are expressing themselves "adequately" when speaking "somewhat wildly." 

This, even though far from poetry, is essentially the "method" in Death Sweat. The book is not meant to be academic literary criticism or even to resemble it. I have too much respect for real criticism to pretend otherwise. So it's not criticism and it's not journalism. It's loose, it's "wild" -- even silly and embarrassing at times -- and it's primarily concerned with burrowing into moments of visionary enthusiasm in books & films & pop culture & current events & in my own experiences, moments of "bust thru". It's a flawed and stumbling ode to that sort of gibberish and doggerel which somehow captures a glimpse of the eternal. And that's also the category of both lit and lit crit that I find most attractive.

RAW Illumination: I am generally up for reading difficult or demanding books and authors, but to tell you the truth, whenever I read a passage from Finnegans Wake, I am worried about actually being able to read it from start to finish. What can you tell me (if you wish to) to assuage my anxiety?

Znore: Just a short answer for this. I remember RAW somewhere saying that the Wake should be read out loud, and if at all possible read with other people while drinking Irish stout (weed would also do). I heartily agree. I read Finnegans Wake as music, as a sort of unhinged free jazz with Celtic instruments. If you read and listen to it as music, you will quickly notice repeating or "rhyming" themes and motifs and eventually these will take on meaning and then constellate into greater patterns of meaning. Yet attaining the precise or "correct" meaning is secondary. When Joyce was asked about the accuracy of the French translation of the Wake, he replied that the sound was most important. As long as the sound (in French or whatever) carried the reader along it's "message" had been successfully transmitted. Of course the many existing guidebooks help, too. I think RAW also said that FW was the funniest and sexiest book he'd ever read. I wouldn't argue with that either. Nothing to be intimidated by!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Historia Discordia returns

Adam Gorightly's Historia Discordia apparently had some technical issues and was down for a few weeks in December but it's back up, under old management but with a new server:

Well our Lady Eris threw us a curve-ball in this last December of 2020, Hail Eris!, taking the Historia Discordia site down for about a month.

Now we’re back, we’re adjusting to a new server environment and a new publishing platfrom, you may see that some of the articles since September 2020 don’t have their images.

The remaining issues are being fixed. Be sure to read the old Discordian Society clipping that runs with Adam's post, which explains, "In order to be a member of good standing of our religion you have to be a certified swindler."

Regular postings at the site apparently have resumed, as Adam has just put up an "Eris of the Month."

Welcome back, Adam, and if you aren't familiar with the site, check it out. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Liverpool Arts Lab issues 'Bodge'


Apparently inspired by Bobby Campbell's New Trajectories project,  the folks at the Liverpool Arts Lab have put out a 32-page Discordian zine, Bodge, with art, poetry, articles, photographs and other contributions. You can order a print copy or simply download a PDF. 

"Subsequent editions will appear on the 23rd of each month for 12 months."

Monday, January 25, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 16: No one is objective


Chapter One: There Ain’t No Such Thing As An Objectivity Quotient

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger 

I’m nearing the end of RAW’s theory for this chapter. I imagine I can revisit these last two pages a couple of times over the next couple weeks. But I’ll always be saying the same thing: no one is objective. 

Firstly, can I just say how monstrously dumb I found RAW’s aside that “[i]f you think you have a higher 'objectivity quotient' than either of them [Edison/Tesla], why haven’t you been nominated for the Nobel prize?” Not that I have any skin in this race but winning the Nobel seems like a paltry and overblown honor. A prize funded by a demolitions manufacturer to ease his conscience? Each year seems like a meaningless indulgence (in the Papal sense). This is the same committee of Swedes who denied to nominate Joyce and Borges for the prize...their judgment is beyond suspect. Anyways, fuck the Nobels. As Alan Moore said, on the off-chance he was ever nominated he would take great pleasure in turning them down. 

While I have a suspicion that most human history has appeared as such during its making, it would seem now is a great time to observe the complete breakdown in subjectivity-awareness. I am easily as guilty as anyone else. I can list off ways that would illustrate the breakdown in communication that we seem to be suffering as nations and planet, and while I would try to use examples from a variety of viewpoints my selection would be flawed. One because I’ll be picking out examples that have simply come into my field of vision or that I have decided are worth my attention. These factors are further biased by what news sources I rely upon which in turn relies upon my personality, mores and understanding of the world which is a mess. And even if I were to present ideas, there are those that I am certain are more egregious than others and that judgment is wholly based on my personal ideology. 

It seemed to me that leading up to and after the Inauguration there was a flurry of articles about “whataboutism” or “bothsidesism.” Most of the articles were talking about its pernicious, ill begotten presence in the discourse: in fact, all of the articles were about that. It was simply that some of the authors believed in “whataboutism” and that it is a bad-faith argument to equate two, or more, philosophies based around radically different interpretations of history. (Not to mention the validity of those sides’ motivations.) Others claimed the term was a nonexistent bugaboo meant to dissuade people from differing viewpoints of holding civil conversation and disrupting the vital exchange of ideas. I don’t have high hopes for bridging this gap or correcting the fractious spirit of our times. I don’t know. Reality tunnels galore and the metro stations are indefinitely closed for repairs.

I got into two arguments on the same day the past week -- and not on the Internet, so it was an accomplishment. One was about how fucking stupid, disingenous and laughable a man who talks about how the Ten Commandments are the perfect law system and made a documentary about how’s he a reasonable man who just wants to talk really appears. The second was about how disgustingly entitled, validation hungry and honestly pathetic I find some of the current trends on Twitter. I definitely have a political bias, but I am not comfortable with the world that either side wants to see realized. What troubles me is that it doesn’t feel as if we are reaching compromises as much as waging brushfire culture wars and our ideas don’t check and balance each other so much as grind to a stalemate. 

As someone who desperately wants to see a world with weakened nation-states and crippled corporations, a world where there isn’t a structure for petty tyrants to climb or for a nefarious majority, I feel a lot of despair over the state of the world. But I don’t feel despair overwhelmingly; while I find my anxieties more relevant to the question at hand, I try my best to SMI2LE. I don’t expect too much in the course of my lifetime, but I have a lot of hope for glimmers of a shining future. While I might not get to live for hundreds of years, live in an age where demagogues simply don’t come to power or live in a space colony, I hope and believe that somebody will. 

I’ll be back next time to kick around at Jehovah...I’m getting real tired of that guy. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

RAW's philosophical style

Did you notice Brian's sly illustration when he talks about RAW's alleged "garage philosophy"? 

At the RAW Semantics blog, Brian Dean writes about Robert Anton Wilson's prose style as a philosopher in a new blog post, "Philosophical Style," and argues that RAW's ability to use vivid, concrete examples rather than relying on generalizations makes RAW's ideas easier to grasp than the ideas of many philosophers.

Brian also has this to say about RAW's prose style:

Elsewhere, Bob said it was his habit to do multiple re-writes, alternatively stoned and unstoned, until he felt happy with the writing from both perspectives. I suspect that process would, if anything, tend to remove “superfluous” elements, particularly on difficult philosophical areas prone to misinterpretation. 

Brian also reflects on how to describe RAW as a philosopher, and here is a paragraph that seemed interesting to me:

I’m not sure who coined the term “garage philosophy”, but Erik Davis uses it to refer to the philosophical output of both Robert Anton Wilson and Philip K. Dick. I appreciate the term – it conjures up a rough-hewn DIY approach to styling one’s own concepts (I assume “garage philosopher” is used in a kind of ironic way, like the “lowbrow” pop-surrealism art movement), but I think it probably better describes many of those who appreciate and write about Robert Anton Wilson than it captures RAW himself. Erik has also referred to RAW as a “hands-on occult philosopher”, which contrasts with (and possibly also complements) Tim Leary’s description of Bob W. as “One of the most important scientific philosophers of this century”.

Brian also compares aspects of RAW's thought to the philosopher Richard Rorty. I am much  too ignorant of modern philosophy in general and Rorty in particular to be able to comment, but Brian did get me interested enough in Rorty to read the Wikipedia bio. I won't pretend that I understood most of it, but I did like Rorty reflecting, toward the end of his life, about how he wished he had read poetry more often:

"I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse. This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths; there is nothing about death that Swinburne and Landor knew but Epicurus and Heidegger failed to grasp. Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts — just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther removed from the beasts—than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses."

Saturday, January 23, 2021

John Wisniewski interviews Tea Krulos


Few new books seem more closely tied to our present moment, or more relevant to fans of Illuminatus!, than Tea Krulos' new book, American Madness: The Story of The Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.

The real-life subject of Krulos' book, Richard McCaslin, who sought to turn himself into a comic book superhero, may seem like one of the more outre characters in Illuminatus!, but he also resembles not a few of the people who stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., a few days ago. 

Here is a description of the book from Krulos: 

The mainstream news media struggles to understand the power of social media while conspiracy advocates, malicious political movements, and even foreign governments have long understood how to harness the power of fear and the fear of power into lucrative outlets for outrage and money. But what happens when the harbingers of “inside knowledge” go too far?

Author Tea Krulos tells the story of one man, Richard McCaslin, whose fractured thinking made him the ideal consumer of even the most arcane of conspiracy theories. Acting on the daily rants of Alex Jones and his ilk, McCaslin takes matters into his own hands to stop the unseen powers behind the world’s disasters who congregate at conspiracy world’s Mecca- The Bohemian Grove. It all goes wrong with terrible consequences for the man who styled himself-The Phantom Patriot.

McCaslin is not alone, as conspiracy-driven political action has bubbled its way up from the margins of society to the White House. It’s no longer a lone deranged kook convinced of getting secret messages from a cereal box, now its slick videos and well-funded outrage campaigns ready to peddle the latest innuendos and lies in hopes of harnessing the chaos for political gain. What is the long term effect on people who believe these barely believable stories? Who benefits, and who pays the price? Krulos investigates and explains the power of conspiracy and the resulting shared madness on the American psyche.

Tea Krulos is a Milwaukee writer who does freelance journalism and who has written five nonfiction books; he has a particular interest in the weird, the paranormal and the strange but also writes about the arts, food, drink and other topics. His weekly column, "Tea's Weird Week," appears at his official website. See, for example, his column on the "The Top Ten Frightening Conspiracy Theory Stories of 2020."

John Wisniewski has done other interviews for this blog, see also his interview last year with John Higgs,  his interview with UFO author and retired professor of religious studies David Halperin,  his 2015 interview with Mr. Higgs,  and his interview in 2014 with Adam Gorightly. Mr. Wisniewski is a freelance writer who has written for L.A. Review of Books, Paraphilia magazine, Toronto Review of Books, Urban Graffiti magazine and other publications. He lives in West Babylon NY.

John Wisniewki: Could you tell us about writing American Madness, your latest book, Tea?

Tea Krulos: The path of writing American Madness began about ten years ago. I was contacted by a man named Richard McCaslin who had told me about how he had raided a place called the Bohemian Grove back in 2002. He had adopted his own superhero persona, the Phantom Patriot and was a sort of conspiracy theory commando. I was interesting in hearing more about his life and talking to him led me down a path of researching various conspiracy theories and the people who research, believe, or promote them.

John Wisniewki: What research went into writing it?

Tea Krulos: I interviewed Richard slowly over several years and also filed a Freedom of Information Act request on him with the Secret Service, eventually getting their file on Richard. I also read and researched a lot of different theories, ranging from the JFK assassination to QAnon. 

John Wisniewski: Could you tell us what the superhero movement is?

Tea Krulos: The "Real-life Superhero" (or RLSH) subculture or movement consists of people who adopt their own superhero persona and try to complete a mission. Sometimes it's pretty sensible like charity events or improving their community, but some actually try to fight crime. Richard considered himself to be a RLSH because he was a lifelong devotee of superhero comics and had adopted his own Phantom Patriot persona. He was largely rejected from that subculture at first for his conspiracy beliefs, though he did later make a few RLSH friends. 

Tea Krulos 

John Wisniewski: Please tell us about editing Apocalypse Any Day Now.

Tea Krulos: My book Apocalypse Any Day Now is a book collecting various takes on people believing that "the end of the world as we know it" is on the horizon, so I interviewed preppers and other people preparing for the end times, as well as explored how it is influential in culture. 

John Wiskiewski: Tea you organize the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. Could you tell us about this?And could you tell us about writing Monster Hunters?

Tea Krulos: My second book was Monster Hunters and it was about my adventures hanging out with various paranormal investigators. It was really fun and interesting, and I love hearing about paranormal topics even if I don't particularly believe them. As the book was approaching the release date in 2015 I thought I would celebrate the release by hosting a small paranormal conference, featuring some of the local Midwest investigators talking about their work. We had a day filled with speakers and panels talking about ghosts, UFOs, cryptozoology, and other topics. It was received really well so I decided to do it as an annual event. This year, of course, we had to do it as a virtual event, but hopefully will be back in-person this fall. 

John Wiskiewski: What will your next book be about?

Tea Krulos: Well, I have a couple of book ideas in development, both along the same lines as my previous work. I'm not announcing anything until I have a clearer idea of what is going to go forward and when. I can say, though, that I'll have a book out next year that is a collection of short stories about a greasy spoon/ pharmacy store I worked at when I was young. The working title is Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories & Sketches. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Martin's bibliography -- A couple of notes


Yesterday's blog post about Martin Wagner's excellent Robert Anton Wilson bibliography merits a couple of follow up notes.

I've put up a link to Martin's bibliography under "Robert Anton Wilson Resources" on the right side of the page. If you recall that Martin has done a fine RAW biography and you need to find it, you don't have to search through my blog posts to look for a link -- I have placed a link in what (I hope) is a logical place where you can find it.

One of the things I accomplished with this blog is to obtain PDFs of all of the issues of Robert Shea's fanzine "No Governor" and make them available. There is a link to them under "Robert Shea Resources" on the right side of this page. Martin's bibliography lists three articles from "No Governor" and you can follow the link and read all of them. 

Note that in addition to the pieces Martin mentions in the bibliography, Issue No. 8 of "No Governor" has "How to Read/How to Think," a favorite RAW piece of mine reprinted in Coincidance. In addition, Issue No. 10 of "No Governor" has one more piece worth adding to the bibliography -- RAW's letter on freedom of speech, another RAW document I rather like. 

Speaking of Robert Shea, I have a link under "Robert Shea Resources" to Patricia Monaghan's excellent (and award winning) essay about Shea, "Physics and Grief." (It's at the "Patricia Monaghan Mourns Robert Shea" link.) I suggest reading it. For background, on the piece, see this.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A big RAW bibliography

Martin Wagner has put together a big bibliography of RAW's writings, bigger and better than anything else out there. 

Rasa emailed out the link and wrote, "Martin Wagner is a dedicated RAW fan who created an archive in German, but he's working on the English version. Meanwhile, sorta at my request, he published his English version RAW bibliography that rather blows me away. There are no links, but a lot of stuff in the listings is not available anyway. It's just astounding to see what RAW wrote over his career. Martin says, 'sumbunall,' however, I think he's being modest. I'd say 'mosbunall.' The 'nall' doesn't seem obvious because the list is so impressive, but Martin is probably correct to adhere to the logic of maybe."

Much of this of course is available at, or Martin's own website. 

Thanks to Martin for all of his good work. Above is a photo of Martin and his daughter.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Watch a new production of 'The Magic Flute'


As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Mozart's opera The Magic Flute has Freemasonic elements and was Beethoven's favorite Mozart opera. 

A new production of the opera is available free on Operavision, if you want to check it out. It is a contemporary production, and I don't know how clearly the Freemason element is depicted, but in the above screenshot from the trailer, one of the characters appears to be holding a golden apple. (I haven't watched the production yet but I'll have some time this weekend.) 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Celebrating RAW's birthday


Yesterday was RAW's birthday, as Eric mentioned, here is a meme Rasa posted on social media. 

On Twitter, Cosmic Trigger the Play posted some favorite RAW quotes. 

I did a favorite RAW quotes blog posting in 2013 for RAW Day. Here is the one I chose, which is still like quite well:

"The Western World has been brainwashed by Aristotle for the last 2,500 years. The unconscious, not quite articulate, belief of most Occidentals is that there is one map which adequately represents reality. By sheer good luck, every Occidental thinks he or she has the map that fits. Guerrilla ontology, to me, involves shaking up that certainty. I use what in modern physics is called the "multi-model" approach, which is the idea that there is more than one model to cover a given set of facts. As I've said, novel writing involves learning to think like other people. My novels are written so as to force the reader to see things through different reality grids rather than through a single grid. It's important to abolish the unconscious dogmatism that makes people think their way of looking at reality is the only sane way of viewing the world. My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about everything. If one can only see things according to one's own belief system, one is destined to become virtually deaf, dumb, and blind. It's only possible to see people when one is able to see the world as others see it. That's what guerrilla ontology is — breaking down this one-model view and giving people a multi-model perspective."


Monday, January 18, 2021

Prometheus Rising discussion and exercise group, Week 15: RAW's 'Days Between'

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger 

Bob Wilson died on January 11, 2007. January 18, 2021, marks the 89th anniversary of Robert Anton Wilson’s birth.     Deadheads call period between August 1, Jerry Garcia’s birthday, and August 9, the anniversary of his death, “The Days Between” after one of the final songs he wrote with Robert Hunter. I’ve taken to calling the week between January 11 and January 18 “The Days Between” as well. The date 1/11 relates to the number 111 which plays an important role in Finnegans Wake as well as in the Kabbalah of Aleister Crowley. Beethoven’s final piano sonata has the opus number 111 as well.

Chapter 1, exercise 5, says, “With your own ingenuity, invent similar experiments and each time compare the two theories – ‘selective attention’ (coincidence) vs. ‘mind controls everything’ (psychokinesis).” On January 7 I decided to start with the hypothesis that James Joyce’s work has something to offer me right now. I will spend 23 days beginning using a “selective attention” model and then 23 days using a “mind controls everything” model. During the first few days of using the selective attention model I read Joyce’s short story “After the Race” with some commentary, read a chunk of Ulysses and a bit of Finnegans Wake, and finished rereading a book on Joyce by Sheldon Brivic.

My Finnegans Wake Club at the high school started its 23rd year last August, and we began again at the beginning of the book. We finished chapter three on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany and the date of Joyce’s story “The Dead”, and we started chapter four on January 13. This week I also watched a nice Anthony Burgess video on the Wake on Youtube and started listening to a Bob Wilson interview on Joyce and Joseph Campbell. I didn’t realize Bob had met Joseph Campbell.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

High Times reprints 1980 interview of RAW

Robert Anton Wilson's birthday is Monday. In honor of that, High Times has reprinted its interview with RAW that took place in 1980. While the interview also is available at Robert Anton Wilson fans, it is welcome to see RAW getting some publicity. 

A couple of the questions and answers:

High Times: One critic has described Illuminatus as a “psychedelic novel.” What is a psychedelic novel?

Wilson: Illuminatus is a psychedelic novel in the sense that it is a novel of initiation and revelation in which the characters go through various forms of brain-change. Robert Shea and I were generally dismayed and pissed off by the stupidities of American politics in the late ’60s, when we began it. We had this strong drive to write a satire on all political movements, all the way across the spectrum.

High Times: One last question: Dr. Wilson, what is your business?

Wilson: My business is making people see that there’s more than one reality.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

New meme from Rasa


The Twitter account for the RAW Trust says, "Circuit Five Rapture: Highly Recommended! It's not just about the rapture!"

Friday, January 15, 2021

Interesting podcast with Cat Vincent


A new podcast called Strange Exiles ("a new podcast about ideas, identity and ideology") has posted its second episode, and it featured Ian "Cat" Vincent and was billed as being of interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans. 

So I checked it out and I liked it. RAW serves as almost a third person participating in the dialogue between the show's host, Bram Gieben, and Cat, because RAW's ideas are brought up again and again. 

Cat for example has a nice discussion of the 23 Enigma early in the podcast. There's also discussion about Cat's ideas on magick, about Hookland, his loathing of Nazis in the subcultures he participates in, how magick can incorporate pop culture heroes, and much more. I like many of Cat's ideas, a few of his notions seem a bit "out there" to me, but it's all interesting and it seemed to me I learned quite a bit. 

One of the pleasures of the podcast was finding out little bits of information about Mr. Vincent I didn't know. He's from a village where Pocahontas is buried? He's a Harlan Ellison fan? Also, the community next door from where he's from is where Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is from, which does nothing to help me deal with my delusion that everyone in Britain personally knows a famous pop star. (This is related but separate from my belief that everyone in Britain is only a couple of degrees of separation from Paul McCartney, something each British person keeps secret from Americans to avoid envy).

The podcast is an hour and nine minutes long, but it's broken up into manageable bits with a nice tune from an artist called Asthmatic Astronaut and I did fine listening over two nights. 

I'm providing a link to the episode on Spotify, but as with many podcasts, you should be able to find it on your favorite app; I found it on my Android app, Podkicker.

You can follow Cat on Twitter and also follow the Strange Exiles podcast. 

The book Cat recommends at the end of the podcast is Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic by Aidan Wachter. More information at his website. 

Addendum: I can't resist sharing this Tweet from Cat'everyone in Britain knows a pop star' Well, I'm mates with Julian Cope, so...

Thursday, January 14, 2021

William Blake is everywhere

I know a lot of Robert Anton Wilson fans like William Blake, but just recently I have been appreciating just how influential he is. Lately everything I read seems to reference him.

The last book I finished in 2020 was the novel Plowing the Dark by Richard Powers, which as I wrote recently seems to reference a line in a poem by William Blake. And the first book I finished this year was Death Sweat of the Cluster by Znore, which has a lot about Blake. 

One of the points Znore makes is that Blake readers often seem to have sudden visionary experiences from reading him. Yesterday, I read passages from the new book Lost and Found in Alaska by Joel Rudinger, a retired English professor in Huron, Ohio, not far from Sandusky and about an hour west of Cleveland.

Rudinger's book is a memoir about his decision to go and study in Alaska in the early 1960s, when he was a college student, so a connection to William Blake was not obvious to me. But Blake comes up in the first chapter, which describes Rudinger's decision to head north from Ohio. He's just been shown an article in "Time" magazine which describes a skinned moose skin hanging from the window of a dorm on an Alaska college campus, and the professor in his class walks in and teaches a unit on Blake's famous poem, "The Tyger." Here are the first two stanzas:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

In Rudinger's telling, the "What the hand, dare seize the fire" line helped fuel his sudden decision to move to Alaska and become a graduate student in English; Rudinger's book relates subsequent  adventures, such as having to go behind a tree to escape a moose attack and almost freezing to death on Christmas Eve. All partially inspired by a line in a William Blake poem. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Pardon Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden


Julian Assange (Creative Commons photo by David Silvers)

Matt Taibbi has a great article on Assange, and on the kinds of people who actually get pardons in the U.S.:

Our invasion of Iraq had been a spectacular failure — unlike pictures of returning coffins, that couldn’t be completely covered up — and Americans learned about grotesque forms of war profiteering. These included the use of mercenaries to whom the taxpayer unknowingly paid lavish sums, to commit horrific war crimes like the Nissour Square Massacre, also known as “Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday.”

One of Donald Trump’s most indefensible (and bizarrely, least commented-upon) acts was the pardon of the four Blackwater guards who shot and killed those seventeen Iraqi civilians, including women and children. The New York Times story covering the Blackwater pardon spent just four paragraphs on the case, sticking it below apparently more outrageous acts like the pardon of George Papadopoulos.

Read the whole thing. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The 108-year Rosicrucian Cycle

As I wrote recently, I really enjoyed Znore's new book, Death Sweat of the Cluster.

The book opens with an essay on "The 108-year Rosicrucian Cycle," and you can read the online version to see what I am talking about here. 

The essay argues that a 108-year cycle began with 1904, which Znore links with the transmission Aleister Crowley received in 1904, launching the Age of Horus. June 16, 1904, is also the date for all of the events in James Joyce's Ulysses. The cycle ended in 2012. Znore ties 2012 to Terence McKenna's suggestions about the importance of the date.

"There is some evidence that Robert Anton Wilson also was aware of the 108-year cycle from 1904 to 2012," Znore writes. "Cosmic Trigger, first published in 1977, was one of the first books to feature an analysis of Terence McKenna's speculations about 2012."

It amused me to think that if Znore's theory was correct, I ought to be able to tie other important cultural events to 1904 and to 2012.

It seems to me 1904 is important as the first year of aviation. The Wright Brothers first flew their airplane in December 1903,  so 1904 was the first entire year there was such a thing as an airplane. 

I can certainly argue that 2012 was important, too, particularly for Robert Anton Wilson fans. That's the date that a court decision paved the way for the creation of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust. According to RAW's daughter, Christina Pearson, "The Trust was initiated as part of the probate court judgment that finally closed the RAW estates probate in October of 2012. The court required a Trust to be created, and assigned me as Trustee. The RAW Trust was established in January of 2013 with the responsibility of protecting Bob’s literary legacy (his only resource)."

All of the activities of the Trust, including the establishment of Hilaritas Press and that small press' efforts to preserve Wilson's literary legacy, can be dated to that 2012 court decision.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 14


Well, I finally found my second quarters.

On Saturday, I had a good-sized glass of iced coffee sitting by my chair in our living room, and one of my cats was in my lap. I don't know I can really blame the cat or whether it was all my fault, but the glass was knocked over, spilling the coffee.

This launched a cleanup effort from both myself and my wife, and after the chair I was sitting in was moved forward, a coin hoard was discovered, of coins that had apparently slipped from my pocket over months or even years and landed underneath the reclining chair.

My wife told me to take the coins and put them in a piggybank, and I belatedly realized later that as I put them in, I noticed that some of them were quarters.

It wasn't how I envisioned finding them when I did the visualization exercise, but I think it counts as finding quarters. Of course, I have seen quarters around the house from time to time, such as on a counter after I empty my pocket, but this was completely a surprise discovery. 

And I'm pleased that with the task of finding quarters finally out of the way, I can move on to the other exercizes.

As I was struggling to find the quarters, Eric Wagner was offering me advice on the topic, which I pass on to you. Eric tells me he does not consider it "cheating" to go to drive-through fast food places when they are closed, perhaps early in the morning, and look on the ground where drivers are likely to drop coins. This seems like especially good advice when many of us are curtailing trips to the store, removing ordinary opportunities to look on the ground for coins. I was planning to do that until I stumbled into the quarters under my chair.

How are the rest of you doing? I plan to re-read the first chapter and move on to the other exercises. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Prop Anon launches podcast

Prop Anon, who recently announced he has found a publisher for his biography of Robert Anton Wilson,  has been working to get his Patreon account established. He has just launched a podcast and has posted a new video, about 42 minutes long, "The Death of Qanon and the Age of Prop Anon,."

He explains, "This is my inaugural extemporaneous video "lecture" about how I view the last four years while providing information about Propaganda Anonymous, the philosophical and artistic concept that I created in 2001."

I've embedded the video here; if you enjoy it, please check out his Patereon

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Welcome to 'Starseed Academy'


Confusingly, there us more than one "Starseed Academy" out there on the Internet. and I am not in a position to help you sort through them. But this one seems to be one put together by an entity and entities who have read their Leary and Wilson.

"The binary star system of Sirius is at the core of many calendars, texts and sacred knowledge of many ancient, advanced civilizations such as Lemuria, Atlantis, Ancient Egypt, Sumeria and many indigenous tribes around the globe." That's from the "Starseeds and Galactic Civilizations" section.

I can't find an "About" area claiming authorship for the site.

Hat tip: Charles Faris. 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Article on 'Starseed," Eight Circuits and Clare Graves

An article at Medium, "Tim Leary, Robert Anton Wilson and Developmental Psychology," posted last month by Don Dulchinos, discusses The Starseed Signals, the Eight Circuit model and the psychology system of Clare Graves (which I know nothing about). 

Excerpting a couple of paragraphs may provide an idea of what the article focuses upon:

I was inspired by Mike Gathers’ recent essay, Freud, Jung and a Platypus Get an MRI [PDF here] to take another look at the 8 circuit model (BTW, shout out to Mike in the 303 — I’m in Boulder.) Leary came of age professionally in the 1950’s, when psychology was undergoing an encounter with behavioral psychology, notably B.F. Skinner, and the reaction was humanistic psychology — Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and others. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has become iconic, but wasn’t the only such model.

Mike’s piece was especially interesting to me as I’ve been doing recent work on a developmental psychology system put forth by Clare Graves, also starting in the 50’s, and known under the popular title Spiral Dynamics. Graves taught psychology at Union College in Schenectady, NY, where he consulted in organizational psychology at General Electric’s world headquarters, and where I studied briefly with him as an undergraduate.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Podcast news of note [UPDATE]

1. Robert Fay and our friend Roman Tsivkin from the Feeling Bookish podcast appear on the new "Should You Read Before You Die?" podcast, to discuss whether you should read James Joyce's Ulysses.  

2. Znore discusses his new book, Death Swear of the Cluster, which I've recommended on this blog (and which I just finished.)

I've provided links but the usual podcasting apps on your smartphone should work. (Search for "Sync Book Radio" for the Znore podcast). 

UPDATE: Daisy Eris Campbell will appear on the Feeling Bookish podcast on Feb. 28 and the recording will be released the next day, Roman Tsivkin reports.  More on that soon. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Tweet I enjoyed with all of the bad news


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

RAW writes a movie review

Another find by Martin Wagner: "The Burning Gorilla" by Kevin O'Flaherty McCool ("mosprobably Robert Anton Wilson," Martin says), ostensibly a review of the movie Morgan -- A Suitable Case for Treatment, also seems to be a commentary on the Vietnam War. It was first published in the East Village Other in 1966. Excerpt:

Breathe deeply, from the gut. Do you smell it? It’s blood and napalm. The stink, the pornographic, stench of blood and napalm is all over the country. People are falling in the streets. They call it smog, air pollution, a million lies. I tell you it is blood and napalm. There are stains on the Constitution, and the officials try to tell tourists that it is the mildew of age but it is really blood and napalm. Look at the skirts of Liberty standing there in the harbor. They try to tell you that it is rust that you see. No. No. It is blood and napalm.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week Thirteen


The late Andrea Dworkin 

Chapter One “The Thinker and The Prover”

By Apuleius Charlton Special guest blogger

I guess for the next few paragraphs I’ll equivocate, as always, with what the Grand Old Man has to say about the Thinker and the Prover. Namely, while I agree with the general treatment, I don’t believe the model is infallible. The Thinker does Think but the Prover doesn’t always do the trick without drugs, trauma, or psychosis. 

My daughter loves Pizza Hut. A couple years ago I took her to Pizza Hut before going home after I had picked her up: now it is her favorite pizza. The town that she lives in and I grew up in doesn’t have a Pizza Hut which I can imagine adds exclusivity, most alluring of spices. One of her most successful birthdays was at a Pizza Hut. So, the other night I found myself shivering outside of a pick up window, on foot, waiting on Pizza Hut. 

The Hut nearest my home closed recently and when my daughter was with us over the holidays she was adamant that she needed some of that pizza pie. So I found the nearest franchise, placed an order for pick-up and drove there with my daughter. It was a relatively mild night so I only wore a cardigan and let my daughter go out without a coat. I tried the door of the restaurant and found out it was locked. Instead I asked an employee on a smoke break if I needed to go through the drive thru and she instructed me to just walk over to the window. I did so. 

For what must have seemed a longer span of time than it was, I stood there with Lucy as cars pulled up behind us. I felt like a dumbass standing in the spotlight of a Jeep’s headlights. Eventually Lucy got cold and I took off my cardigan. As I stooped to put it around her I saw that the ground was littered with coins. Of course, this is one of the most natural environments to find dropped change in but it struck my sense of synchronicity. As much as I ruminated on the possible significance and tried to stir up my courage, I couldn’t bend over and avail myself of any of the coins, I couldn’t even ask my daughter to pick one up because of the anxiety of standing in a drive thru with someone else looking on. Odd that no amount of will power or curiosity could cause me to break my societal (4th Circuit) imprints that 1) it is an intolerable offense to stand in a drive thru and be seen and 2) it is undignified to stoop to pick up change. 

It is amusing and tragic that my social-anxiety is brought on by the niggling idea that other people might be judging me in the same way I judge casual passersby. Instant Karma! When my car has broken down and I’ve either needed to change a tire, wait for help, or walk for service I am incredibly, cripplingly troubled by the eyes of those driving by. My thinker seems to occasionally be a Big Brother that doesn’t exist. I know on some level that the driver of the Jeep wouldn’t remember me grabbing one of the coins at my feet an hour later, on another I feared that they would to the core of my classist being. 

On the same token, RAW talks about the Thinker and the Prover in the societal terms of anti-Semitism and Feminism. I don’t agree about accusations of anti-Semitism, or its invasiveness in our society in the same way that politicos such as Ben Shapiro, Bari Weiss, or Brett“Bedbug” Stephens do- I am admittedly anti-Zionist and am married to a Jewish woman who feels the same way. It isn’t the golden calf of prejudice it was to many 20th century Americans (many of whom still gladly used the racist term “Jewed down”) and my Thinker and Prover show time and again that anti-Semitism is tied to wider racism on the right, instead of being a silent predjudice of the political left. At the same time I am as hostile as RAW was to certain forms of Feminism (Dworkin or other forms of radical, or anti-heterosexual feminism) but I also believe in its overarching goals and assessments of society. I consider myself, and all reasonable peoples, to be feminist. I would never identify with the Men’s Rights Movement no matter how much I believe that Robert Bly “got done dirty” (my beloved wife’s terminology). There are nuances and I’m not sure my Prover works as well anymore as my Thinker is constantly confused. I wish I had more convictions. 

My daughter loves Pizza Hut because of their stuffed crust pizza. Most of the time she only eats one slice and doesn’t touch the crust. The Thinker thinks and the Prover sometimes does its job. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Steve Fly publishes new novel

Steve "Fly" Pratt -- writer, RAW expert, musician, website builder, artist, turntablist, James Joyce expert, world traveler and a few other things that I'm forgetting just now -- has just issued his new novel, Deep Scratch.

More information here. Available for $7.77 as a Kindle ebook, or you can get it by supporting Steve on Patreon.

In his foreword, Steve writes, "Sacrificing go-ahead plot and chronology for an experimental improvisational approach. Hang on in there. This novel is a work of fiction, any resemblance to entities either living or dead is purely coincidental (although often meaningfully synchronistic) that said, the author and the DJ would like to remind the reader to peek out the window and ask: am I living in a science fiction novel?"

Follow Steve on Twitter. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Get a PDF of Bobby Campbell's Tarot cards, designed by Timothy Leary


Bobby Campbell created a set of Neuro Tarot Cards, based on designs by Timothy Leary, and has given me permission to share a PDF file of them. 

Bobby emailed the file to some friends and explained, "Leary's bit about the Tarot cards being a neurogenetic script reminded me that several years ago I recreated a set of Neuro Tarot Cards he designed for The Game of Life, a PDF of which is enclosed.

"He layers in a bunch of different symbol systems on each card, outlining a pretty cool sci-fi mystic narrative, just saying absolutely anything he wants :)))"

Bobby has a Weirdoverse Patreon account.  You can also follow him on Twitter.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Books read 2020


As I have in past years, I am listing all of the books I read in the past year, including books I re-read and books I "read" by listening to audiobooks. 

Some things I noticed: I read (or-reread) five books by Robert Anton Wilson; much of my reading is "homework" in one way or another (books by local authors, or science fiction books I read in connection with the Hugo Award or Prometheus Award); I often read books because of interests that have little to do with this blog (e.g. aviation history, the later Roman Empire, Russian classical music.)

Although I didn't put it in my "top five" blog post, Pigspurt's Daughter by Daisy Eris Campbell is very good, and I suspect just about everyone who reads this blog would like it. So that's another Hilaritas Press book I bought and read! 

1. Radicalized, Cory Doctorow.
2. Monster Hunted Guardian, Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt.
3. A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine.
4. The Widow's Son, Robert Anton Wilson.
5. Churchill, Hitler and "The Unnecessary War," Patrick J. Buchanan.
6. Moon Rising, Ian McDonald.
7. The Testaments, Margaret Atwood.
8. Ode to Defiance, Marc Stiegler.
9. The Good Luck Girls, Charlotte Nicole Davis.
10. Empire of Lies, Raymond Khoury.
11. They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears, Johannes Anyuru.
12. Jaguar in the Kitchen: My Life with Jungle Larry, Nancy Tetzlaff.
13. Atlas Alone, Emma Newman.
14. Ruin's Wake, Patrick Edwards.
15. Pigspurt's Daughter, Daisy Eris Campbell.
16. The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity, Hugh Elton.
17. Ishtar Rising, Robert Anton Wilson.
18. The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien.
19. Nonlocal Nature: The Eight Circuits of Consciousness. James Heffernan.
20. Fandom Harvest, Terry Carr.
21. Howard Hughes' Airline: An Informal History of TWA, Robert Serling.
22. The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow.
23. The City in the Middle of the Night, Charlie Jane Anders.
24. The Light Brigade, Kameron Hurley.
25. Middlegame, Seanan McGuire.
26. The New Inquisition, Robert Anton Wilson.
27. Loserthink, Scott Adams.
28. Assateague Dark, Bob Adamov.
29. Gideon the Ninth,Tamsyn Muir.
30. Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood, J. Michael Straczynski.
31. The Lady from the Black Lagoon, Mallory O'Meara.
32. Joanna Russ, Gwyneth Jones.
33. The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, Farah Mendelsohn.
34. The Deep, Rivers Solomon.
35. The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djeli Clark.
36. This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
37. In an Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire.
38. Nature's God, Robert Anton Wilson.
39. The Keep, F. Paul Wilson.
40. Remain in Love, Chris Frantz.
41. The World of Late Antiquity, AD 150-750, Peter Brown.
42. The Second Star, Alma Alexander.
43. Network Effect, Martha Wells.
44. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams.
45. Last Orders and Other Stories, Brian Aldiss.
46. Is My Child Next? The Alexa Brown Story, Jonathan Walsh.
47. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke. 
48. The End of Eternity, Isaac Asimov.
49. Watership Down, Richard Adams.
50. Attack Surface, Cory Doctorow.
51. Shostakovich: A Life, Fay Laurel.
52. The Starseed Signals, Robert Anton Wilson.
53. Mingo Town & Memories, Larry Smith.
54. A Time of Changes, Robert Silverberg.
55. Steel Rails and Silver Wings: The Lindberg Line to the Birth of TWA, Robert Serling.
56. Stilicho: The Vandal Who Saved Rome, Ian Hughes.
57. Assassin, Douglas R. Casey and John F. Hunt.
58. Plowing the Dark, Richard Powers.