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Monday, April 12, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 27

John Lilly 

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

The role of computers has radically transformed and expanded since Prometheus Rising’s publication in 1983. Coincidentally, I first heard Timothy Leary speak in 1983, and he talked a lot about the importance of computers that night. I first heard of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs when Tim talked about them that night. Of course, John Lilly had paved the way with his 1968 book Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer. I remember attending the Visiting Nurses Book Sale in Phoenix, a huge annual used book sale, once in the mid-1980’s. The one book I wanted to find in those pre-internet days: Lilly’s Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer. I did find a copy that day. I think it cost ten cents.

In Schroedinger’s Cat a character refers to T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets as “the gospel of my youth.” Books like Prometheus Rising, especially the sections dealing with the semantic dangers of the verb “to be” seem like the gospel of my youth. Of course, I don’t think Bob wanted his books to serve as anyone’s gospel. I have tread a Kinbote-like path too close to that of a disciple of Dr. Wilson’s for decades. Nonetheless, the discussion of the verb “to be” seems very useful in chapter two. Bob doesn’t mention E-Prime, but he outlines its importance.

Wilson’s idea that our brain software exists “anywhere and everywhere” (Prometheus Rising, pg. 17) parallels Proust’s notion that our memory exists outside of us in the world around us. Anything in the exterior world can act as a trigger to stimulate the release of non-voluntary memories, memories we could not consciously recall. The madeleine famously acts as such a trigger in Proust’s novel. The narrator dips a madeleine in tea where it partially dissolves. When he tastes a teaspoon of the mixture, it brings back a flood of memories. 

On page 20 Bob says of the eight circuit model of the brain, “I assume it will be replaced by a better map within 10 or fifteen years.” The revised second edition of Prometheus Rising appeared in 1997. It seems time for a new model.

Exercise 1 for chapter two says, “If you don’t already have a computer, run out and buy one.” Well, in 2021 most of us have multiple computers. I did the chapter two exercises in March, and I didn’t intend to buy a new computer, but my cell phone died that month, and I got a new iPhone. As I write this in April, I once again didn’t intend to buy a new computer, but my wife decided to get a new computer last week. The rhythms of this book and its exercises seem to play a synchronistic role in my life.


BFHN said...

Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts, Eric.
Even though RAW does not directly name either Lilly or Proust in this chapter 2, I like that you could somehow connect it with them, since they both previously came up during some discussions here.

RAW mentions ‘feral children’ as the only type of person devoid of proper C1 to 4 imprinting.
This reminds me of Truffaut’s film L’Enfant Sauvage ( ) In the film, a Mowgli-type child is found in a French forest and a doctor played by Truffaut himself tries to teach him how to become civilized. It might be interesting to revisit the film with Leary’s first four circuits in mind, and observe how Truffaut goes about imprinting them upon the child.
Here is a beautiful polish poster for the film, where they somehow saw fit to include a white rabbit:

Talking about films, I mentioned before that the Eight Dimensions of “Mind” course from the MLA was using PR as a textbook of sorts. During the first week of the course, people went through the preface to the 2nd edition (“if you only have the first edition, you may skip this and just meditate on how to make fire out of ice.”) and the first two chapters of the book.
That week, Bob suggested to watch Griffith’s Intolerance ( ).

He also asked to read chapter 44 of Crowley’s Book of Lies, as well as an article of his called Black Magick & Curses. This was reprinted in Email to the Universe, and incidentally starts on page 44 of the Hilaritas edition. Maybe 44=4/4, four out of four quarters? Eric tells us about “T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartet”

RAW also seems to be bringing water to the mill of my half-baked ideas from last week, about a potential multi-dimensionality in words:
“150 years ago, more or less, Emerson synthesized the barely emerging science of neuro-linguistics into a memorable mantra: ‘Every word is a fossilized poem.’”
I need to further meditate on this.

Here is the page again:

I already have computers at home, but I have been considering getting a reader, thinking perhaps this would push me to read sombunall of those ebooks I have been downloading.

And here we also have the Right Where You Are Sitting Now exercize. I seem to recall RAW recommending elsewhere to do it once a month. Perhaps on the same day when you’re supposed to wake up and remember how much of a Cosmic Schmuck you are?
So from now on, I will implement in my life the Right Where You Are/Cosmic Schmuck double-bill exercize on the 23rd of each month, maybe.

I have been watching the James Burke’s 70s TV series Connections, which has a strong whiff of Right Where You Are Sitting Now to it, at least to me. I would recommend this show to anyone not yet familiar with it.

Oz Fritz said...

Much food for thought in the OP. After reading Chapter 2 last week I pulled out Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer and looked over it a bit as it seems a genesis of this metaphor.

RAW's introduction of the e-prime sensibility here feels gentle and logical. To reprogram oneself to communicate with this in mind would reduce conflict and lead to more effective and compassionate communication. Right now, that looks virtually impossible on the social and political level, but it can start growing underground like a seed.

Gospel = good news. I consider Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles the gospel of my youth. And the last pages of Cosmic Trigger 1 I'd like to read Eliot's Four Quartets now. Great how you got to 44 from there, BFHN, thanks for posting from that course. It shows how RAW thinks, 44 reminds him of Horus.

"It seems time for a new model" is thought provoking for me now and in the past. I remember Eric posted the same statement in a comment maybe 7 or 8 years ago and it made me wonder what a new model would look like? Something like 6 months after that I got an indication from something I read somewhere to check out A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze & Guattari. I started it then put it aside for about 12 - 18 months before slowly dipping back into those waters. I eventually took a deep dive and studied a lot of Deleuze and related material, books and videos, for 2 - 3 years. It gave me multiple different ways of seeing and constructing things. They also appeared to be in search of new models by turning older models upside down among other things. Phil Dick's Exegesis and Valis seem a constant and active search and research for models to explain his mystic experiences and reality in general.

Oz Fritz said...

Memory as software seems a useful metaphor. I did the "I am sitting in this room doing this exercize because" exercize this morning. The "room" I used = a floatation tank. The exercize brought up a lot of memories, you could call it an exploration of memories: what led to getting into RAW's writings; what led to the interest in floating, etc.

The exploration of past memories also comprises a prime component of bardo training, training for the transition of death. It appears plausible that the voyage through the bardo after physical death involves the unraveling of the subconscious mind. Conscious recollection through this type of exploration helps to prepare for that space. Another related exercize I've seen given by both E.J. Gold and separately a Crowley school involves writing any memories of past places or events that you can recall on 8 x 5 index cards. Whenever you think of one, you would write it down.

BFHN said...

Email to the Universe also features a haiku inspired by the film Intolerance, in the Movie Haiku section (page 100 of the Hilaritas edition). Here it is:

Those who would do good
Often do the worst evil-
If they have True Faith…”

I’m guessing RAW tries here to allude to the intolerance brought on by living in a dogmatic and very closed-off reality-tunnel, fundamentalism of any kind with an accompanying self-righteousness.

Since this chapter 2 of PR introduces the 8 Circuits model, perhaps we want to stop for a moment and note the differences between this version, the one in Quantum Psychology, and Tim Leary’s version?
Was it on this blog that there was a year or two ago a post about the switch between C6 and C7? If yes, could someone be kind enough to link to it? I would very much like to read again what was said about that. One fun way to explore Leary’s version is through his Neurocomix. Here is a link to it again:

OZ Fritz, did you ever come to any suspicion on how the 8 Circuits could be made into a more efficient model, maybe through Deleuze & Guattari? I would also be curious to hear if your current reading of Proust gives you something to add to Eric’s ideas.

“Wilson’s idea that our brain software exists “anywhere and everywhere” (Prometheus Rising, pg. 17) parallels Proust’s notion that our memory exists outside of us in the world around us. Anything in the exterior world can act as a trigger to stimulate the release of non-voluntary memories, memories we could not consciously recall. The madeleine famously acts as such a trigger in Proust’s novel.”

A cosmic trigger, perhaps? Does this notion sort of implies that the memory could be non-local, in a collective unconscious/collective neurogenetic/morphogenetic type of realm? An individual’s memory would ultimately be stored in the same place than the memory of the entire species? On the other hand, this quote could be taken as a hint at our non-dual way of apprehending the world. The dissolution of boundaries between the observer and the observed. I note that these two approaches do not appear to me as necessarily contradicting each other.

Now that I am done reading The New Inquisition, I will go back to Erik Davis’ High Weirdness and read the last part, on PK Dick. After that, I plan on reading VALIS. I also just started to listen to the Cosmic Trigger I audiobook, which I find a nice and novel way to revisit the book. Oliver Senton does a great job, I think. Perhaps some of this will shed a new light on a few ideas presented in PR.

Oz Fritz said...

BFHN, Deleuze inspired me to read Proust. D & G has changed the way I view the 8C model. It hasn't sparked ideas on how that could be a "better" model, it has changed my approach to using it. A major part of Deleuze's philosophy includes a strong critique of Representation, how we represent the world to ourselves; the maps and models we make; in the metaphor of this chapter, the software we use. The 8C attempts a representation of human evolution, individually and sociologically. As you pointed out, that model changes. RAW anticipates the model changing. The D&G essay Rhizome, which also serves as the Introduction to A Thousand Plateaus seems a great place to start; regarding the 8C model as a rhizome as opposed to arborescent in their metaphor. Seeing it this way makes it appear obvious why the 8C model varies and changes.

Proust and PR appear to have a similar intention of getting the reader to know themselves better. "Know thyself" seems a guideline to both.

The idea of software everywhere needs further discussion. Hopefully I'll find time later today for a brief comment in that regard.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@BFHN The only posts I can find about the switch in C6 and C7 are a couple of posts when the new edition of "Prometheus Rising" was published by Hilaritas, which pointed out that Rasa explored this question in the afterword to the Hilaritas edition. So I would take a look at what Rasa wrote.