By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger
Why did Bob ask the reader of Prometheus Rising to spend at least six months on the first nine exercises of chapter one? He says on page 8, “With real work, in six months you should be just beginning to realize how little you know about everything.” Well, I can see that. Some have complained that spending six months on these exercises seem painfully slow and boring. Chogyam Trungpa observed that dealing with boredom seems part of the process of meditating. In The Karate Kid Daniel thinks at first that Mr. Miyagi has exploited him in getting him to wax all the old cars.
I have spent six months on these exercises a few times over the past 36 years. I don’t know the specific point of looking for quarters, etc., but I think I have slowly begun to realize how little I know about everything.
Chapter 1, exercise 10, asks the reader to “Believe it possible that you can float off the ground and fly by merely willing it. See what happens.” I have never had much success with this exercise. In 1984 Rafi Zabor reviewed a record of Kiri Te Kanawa singing Chants D’Auvergne by Canteloube. He called it “music to levitate to”. I had never heard of Te Kanawa or Canteloube, but I went out and bought the album. When I first read this exercise in Prometheus Rising in 1985, I immediately thought of that review and put on that LP. I had no luck with levitation, but I have associated that music with this exercise ever since.
I got my first CD player for Christmas in 1986, and Te Kanawa became my go-to soprano. In 1987 I also got CD’s of her singing Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and Mozart The Marriage of Figaro. Lots of great music, very little levitation.
A creepy coincidence: on Sunday I finished watching the Netflix documentary on the Night Stalker. One of the cops who first interviewed Richard Ramirez in custody said that at the time he was thinking that if Ramirez started levitating, the cop would walk right out of the interrogation.
That's a good question, why 6 months and not some other length of time? Realizing how little you know about everything seems equivalent to increasing the Unknown in one's life. Confronting an increased sense of the Unknown can range anywhere from feeling scary to invigorating or inspiring depending upon one's orientation and perhaps, preparation. Maybe this orientation has something to do with the nature of the C1 imprint one takes? At that point, everything outside of Mommy appears unknown to the infant. Maybe these exercizes help prepare us for an Unknown adventure, to boldly go where no WoMan has ever gone before? Until the breakthrough of physical immortality, everyone, whether they do these exercizes or not, appears destined to come face to face with the Unknown sooner or later. Preparation for this event by dipping into the Unknown waters a little at a time through doing these and similar exercizes seems like it could mitigate the shock somewhat.
I'm interested to hear Kiri Te Kanawa singing Chants D’Auvergne by Canteloube. I value Rafi Zabor's recommendations.
One can find a You Tube video of E.J. Gold levitating. Gold said he learned stage magic from Orson Welles, a friend of his parents, though I don't think he learned the levitation trick from Welles.
I wonder how much of looking for quarters is akin to “waxing the old cars”. Bob sort of playing with the reader like a zen master to test our patience or confuse us further.
I still think that the quarter exercize might make more sense in a world without credit card as the primary mean of payment (not to say anything of lockdowns), but what do I know.
If one only finds a coin every three months, convincing oneself that it was mind over matter seems rather delusional.
But even being creative in trying to come up with reasons as to why one is NOT finding quarters might prove beneficial within the context of these exercizes, as it can be as good a place as any other to begin to grok the extant of the plasticity of the mind and, by extension, of one’s own reality tunnel. Doing so is as well providing examples of Thinker/Prover situations.
Besides, I am still finding more coins (including out of circulation ones), and small-scale resonances of the kind Eric describes with his Night Stalker example now abounds around me, in a way that either wasn’t common, or that I did not notice so much, before I started re-reading PR.
So maybe six months is a minimum to begin aligning oneself to the cosmic machinery (or free falling into hallucinatory madness, if that is one’s preferred metaphor). To follow from Oz Fritz, before boldly going into the Unknown, one first has to slip into the spacesuit.
Spending such a long time on the first chapter also allowed this reading group to take many detours and talk about various subjects, and I am grateful for that. Rather than just sticking to PR, 23 months should give us enough time to branch out in countless directions, using the book as a starting point instead of a universe closed onto itself.
This seems to be the record Eric is talking about :
Part of me wants to spend much more than a month on chapter 4 and four years on chapter 5, but 23 months seems like a good length for the whole process to me. I know some people find the pace too slow. Hopefully people will enjoy the month per chapter rhythm we will establish starting on April 12.
Looking back to the end of RAW's Preface to the 2nd Edition,(p. iv) he gives advice at the beginning of the book for what to do if the reader arrives at the end and still doesn't get it. He sets it up by quoting a scene from the film, The Edge:
"Baldwin collapses, and Hopkins has a magnificent monologue, talking Baldwin out of his despair. The speech runs, roughly, like this: "Did you know you can make fire out of ice? You can, you know. Fire out of ice. Think about it. Fire out of ice. Think. Think."
RAW goes on to say that "[T]his riddle has both a pragmatic and symbolic (alchemical) answer.
He ends the Preface on the next page his advice, if needed, for the reader at other edge of the book:
"So, to those who at the end of this book still can't understand or sympathize with my Nietzschean yea-saying, I quote again: 'Fire out of ice. Think. Think.'
Who was that Prometheus guy and why did he give us fire in the first place?"
It seems that he added another exercize right at the beginning, perhaps one to run throughout the whole book? Fire out of ice seems an obvious metaphor for transformation, the molecules change into a radically different state. Think Think seems to indicate that the reader has to work for it; also that one can consider different levels, metaphors and connections beyond and between the literal information; I have a suspicion that "Fire out of ice" connects with the 6 month time period given for manifesting quarters. On another level, quarters = four parts. We find 4 terrestrial and 4 post-terrestrial circuits. Also, 4 = Daleth = Venus. With Hopkins talking Baldwin out of despair through that phrase, it seems related to the allusion of staying cheerful through pain RAW made at the end of Nature's God which we read as a group just as the pandemic started.
"Who was that Prometheus guy and why did he give us fire in the first place?"
An excellent question!
I went to see if wikipedia could help us here.
Who was that Prometheus guy?
“The ancients by way of Plato believed that the name Prometheus derived from the Greek prefix pro- (before) + manthano (intelligence) and the agent suffix -eus, thus meaning "Forethinker".”
Think about it. Fire out of ice. Think. Think.
Then, why did he give us fire in the first place?
“[Prometheus’] greatest benefaction for humanity seems to have been saving them from complete destruction. In an apparent twist on the myth of the so-called Five Ages of Man found in Hesiod's Works and Days (wherein Cronus and, later, Zeus created and destroyed five successive races of humanity), Prometheus asserts that Zeus had wanted to obliterate the human race, but that he somehow stopped him.”
This conclusion was reached using Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound as the primary source.
Then, our man Joseph Campbell comes in:
“In the often cited and highly publicised interview between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers on Public Television, the author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces presented his view on the comparison of Prometheus and Jesus. Moyers asked Campbell the question in the following words, "In this sense, unlike heroes such as Prometheus or Jesus, we're not going on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves." To which Campbell's well-known response was that, "But in doing that, you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there's no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules [...] No, no! Any world is a valid world if it's alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself."”
Campbell’s ideas here are beautiful, and I can see a connection between his optimism on the one side, and RAW & Leary views on intelligence increase and higher states of evolution on the other.
I also really like this part:
"In Aeschylus, as in Homer, the two levels of causation, the supernatural and the human, are co-existent and simultaneous, two ways of describing the same event."
Sounds familiar already?
Maybe I should watch The Edge again, I only remember it as a classic survival tale of Man vs Wild.
Thanks for your excellent reply BFHN. Prometheus as "Forethinker" reminds me of visualizing then manifesting quarters.
I note the synch (for me, at least) that the news currently reports a volcano erupting in Iceland - fire out of ice.
Speaking of edges, the apparent mutual influence of RAW and Thomas Pynchon has been mentioned previously. Long after PR got released, Pynchon wrote Bleeding Edge. One of the main villains in that novel had the name Gabriel Ice. I wrote a short blog on some of the magickal allusions in that book that may have some relevance to the discussion here:
I find it amusing that I had not made the connection with the eruption, since I live in Reykjavik and this volcano is pretty much in my backyard (well, 40-50 km away). I did not have time yet to go see it with my own eyes (it has been a week already now), but since it started the temperature dropped in the minus and snow came back after almost two months. Ice out of fire?
Before that the eruption was pending for a good three weeks, during which we endured literally thousands of earthquakes, including dozens over 4 on Richter and up to 5.7
During that time at some point I played a RAW lecture called "High tolerance of ambiguity" and sure enough he starts his rap with an anecdote related to an earthquake. Thankfully (?) his conclusion is that "every coincidence in my life isn't a synchronicity, at least I'd hate to think that one was a synchronicity."
Hello! Last Sunday I found an original printing of" Star Seed Transmitted from Folsom Prison" by Timothy Leary on a free table in Berkeley. Then got an email from "The Management" on 3/24 referring to this study group. There seems to be an uptick of synchronicity now. Last night I read the first chapter including the exercises. Today I was cleaning out the car and found a quarter. Immediately I recognized, "There is my quarter." This resonated with prior experience that looking for a quarter doesn't mean get out your metal detector and keep your head down forever but highlighted with the suggestion in my subconscious, it is not an act of looking and seeing the quarter, but having the intuition to look when the quarter is there. What do you think?
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