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

Monday, March 8, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 22

Chapter One: How To Win Will O’ the Wisps and Influence Fantasies

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

There aren’t many parties to go to anymore. I’m too old for the parties I’ve known and too tired to dress and meet new people. The Plague has only exacerbated this routine of self-isolation. So instead of trying to make myself magnetic and wonderful at a party I tried to make the lessons I was teaching in the classroom wonderful, even if they were unconventional.  Last week I began teaching a unit with John Higg’s earthshaking Stranger Than We Can Imagine serving as the vertebrae. 

Last week we welcomed back full classrooms with teachers who aren’t vaccinated (including your humble author) so I decided to go for broke. If I was going to teach in a world that didn’t give a fig for the future, I’d try to do what I could to subvert that trend. 

One of the problems with humanity is one that Wilson points out at various times in his work; we act as if we live in an Aristotelian reality when, in fact, we live in a relativistic reality. Higgs' first chapter begins with a discussion of relativity and the fallacy of believing in an objective omphalos. It is curious that many of us, especially those who haven’t had physics classes, go around knowing who Einstein is and knowing “E=MC2” without knowing what ideas he articulated. We graduate high school without ever being introduced to the one of the most important revelations that the human race has received. So, with Higgs' illustrations and context, I endeavored to teach thirteen year olds about the beginning of the 20th Century and the Special Theory of Relativity. 

We went through the chapter over the course of two days with frequent pauses for illustrations or discussions. By the end of the classes I had one student teasing me about teaching dangerous ideas, another smiling and creating beautiful analogies and most of them understanding that there is no such thing as an undefined fixed point of reference. It went rather swimmingly, if I do say so myself. Combined with a lesson on Paul Robeson earlier in the week, I felt like I was actually teaching usable information. 

I regret that I didn’t write about this over the weekend and instead promptly forgot my duty to the reading group. (I apologize.) Today I accidentally enacted the reverse of Wilson’s experiment and went in to the classroom feeling depressed and irritated with myself and the rest of the world. The kids weren’t too interactive and I was sullen. Hopefully I remember to flip the switch, wake up on the right side of the bed whatever cliche you’d like. No quarters recently, but I’ve had a glut of pennies. I’ve almost collected enough to buy a soda sixty years ago! 


Eric Wagner said...

Congratulations on the successful teaching! I hope you stay healthy.

BFHN said...

This kid picking up on the fact that such ideas could still be deemed as "dangerous" must be on to something.

Will there be discussions on official historical narratives and such ?
Even if you try your best to stay neutral on these matters, the simple fact of bringing such views in young people's mind somehow almost is political, in today's society. Next thing you know and you'll be teaching them how to think by themselves.
Be careful not to lose your job Gregory! *insert sadly ironic laughter here*

Oz Fritz said...

I worked on exercize 10 from Chapter 1 last week: "Believe it possible that you can float off the ground and fly by merely willing it. See what happens." In a gym training session we had to jump onto an 18" platform, we did 3 sets of 12 repetitions. Each time I jumped I attempted to not land on the platform, to stay elevated. I went "oh" for 36 trying to get my meat carcass to stay aloft. I moved on to #11: "Believe that you can exceed all your previous ambitions and hopes in all areas of your life."

I first tried both those exercizes many years ago the first time I went through PR. I found that running a program called "Beliefs Unlimited" found in Center of the Cyclone by John Lilly helped immensely with #11. The idea to run that came from RAW's example found in Cosmic Trigger I . Also, last week, I was asked how I go on, how I (mostly) cheerfully continue my day-today activities in the midst of pain - personal, political, sociological. I immediately thought of the previous programming with Beliefs Unlimited. After the talk, I continued reading a recently released book, Floating In Quiet Darkness by Lee and Glenn Perry the founders of the Samadhi Tank Company. They were students of John Lilly and designed the first commercially available floatation tank with him. I read about Beliefs Unlimited in their book immediately after talking about it for the first time in years.

Beliefs Unlimited is a short, one page program intended to be recorded on tape, (or digitally nowadays) 5 times then played back when one is relaxed or in a meditative sense. The first two paragraphs go:

"In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true within certain limits, to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are beliefs to be transcended.

"Hidden from one's self is a covert set of beliefs that control one's thinking, one's actions, and one's feelings. The covert set of hidden beliefs is the limiting set of beliefs to be transcended. To transcend one's limiting set, one establishes an open-ended set of beliefs about the unknown."

The more I exceed previous ambitions and hopes, the more I raise the bar with more ambitious hopes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Oz!


BFHN said...

Oz Fritz: Did you do the recording yourself, with your own voice ?
I really like the idea. Do you think there might be any sense in somehow using tape cut up techniques on records of this type of motivational messages ? I wonder if something unexpected might come out of the scrambled lot, or if the brain would simply get confused.

And would you say that you managed over the years to get a decent grip of your metaprogrammer ?

The cut up came to my mind because I just discovered Burroughs' Nothing Here Now But The Recordings, which I find much more potent than the reading of books such as The Soft Machine. It sure helps that the man had quite the voice to carry the words.

Oz Fritz said...

@ anonymous, you're welcome.

@BFHN, yes I used my own voice. I made this recording a few times, at the time I was employed full time in a state-of-the-art recording studio. For one version, I progressively altered my voice each cycle more and more with studio effects. I've never tried it with using cut-up techniques but think that would make an interesting experiment, let me know if you try that. You might find it interesting to look at Burroughs' book The Electronic Revolution which has a chapter, maybe more, on using cut-up techniques with a tape recorder. He used that for magical purposes, I don't endorse his intentions behind it. I have to consider the metaprogramming question, will get back to you on that.

There used to be a link to a free version of the complete Beliefs Unlimited no longer active. I plan to publish it on my blog. I feel 99.9% certain that John Lilly would endorse that, or maybe I should say in the province of my mind I believe that to be true. I'll get that up there when there's a break in my schedule next week.

Oz Fritz said...

@BFHN, I seem to have some ability for coming up with experiments you could call metaprogramming though I don't think of them in that way. They range the gamut from total failure to complete success, usually somewhere in between. Sometimes it doesn't seem like anything happened until a long time later. Other experiments appear continual works in progress. I'm a long-time, enthusiastic advocate for using the floatation tank, and for researching and practicing magick, among other things.

BFHN said...

Many thanks for your answers Oz Fritz.
I am not familiar with this Burroughs book, I should check it out yes. I have not been going back much towards Old Bull Lee since I discovered his writings when I was 15, maybe now is a good time.

I have this old Tascam Portastudio that's mostly just sleeping in a corner. Making myself a Beliefs Unlimited tape and fool around with the recording seems like a nice excuse to dust it out. Perhaps use cut ups and some Oblique Strategies.
There are at least two such recordings to be found on YT, but I did not find myself to connect much with those, even though I appreciate the effort.
Making one's own seems like a positive first step towards betterment, so in a sense by deciding to work on widening your beliefs, you already are doing just that. Maybe.

Adie said...

It certainly says something that the ideas Higgs discussed—modernism, relativity etc—still seem bizarre to us when we are confronted with them head-on, however much they may influence our view of the world. Modernism can take us into some pretty scary sixth circuit(?) territory and most of us are still either not ready to comprehend it or afraid of the implications. We return, generally, to comfortable linear narratives and tonal music, to the stubborn and comforting belief that there is a universal omphalos. Postmodernism often pays lip service to the superficial qualities of modernism but either throws its hands up and says “I guess nothing really means anything, heh” or tosses fragments of the comfortingly familiar in a big fluffy salad without doing anything truly disconcerting. In my mind, modernism is not something that we can in good conscience say that we can or should surpass, but something we must revisit and reckon with, as it still has much to teach us. Perhaps not with the same sense of post-WWI despair, but with an attitude of humility, magic, and wonder, a belief that there may be no universal truth but that we can create (metaprogram) our realities and our truth in accordance with our true will.

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