By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger
I hope all goes well. On February 2, 1984, I went into Books, Etc. in Tempe, Arizona, thinking of James Joyce’s birthday. I picked up a copy of Finnegans Wake and opened it at random. I saw the line “Please stop if you’re a B.C. minding missy, please do. But should you prefer A.D. stepplease” on page 272. The side notes had a musical staff with the notes B, C, A, and D. I thought, “Hey, I can do this,” and I bought my first copy of Finnegans Wake. At the time I interpreted it as meaning “Please stop if you have a past oriented B. C. mind, please do. But should you prefer the future, A. D., step right up.”
At the beginning of May 1982 I bought my first Robert Anton Wilson book. The cover of Schroedinger’s Cat: The Universe Next Door had caught my eye repeatedly at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. It had a woman’s face superimposed on a cat’s face. I had read a positive review of Wilson’s The Illuminati Papers by Spider Robinson in Analog Science Fiction Magazine, and I really valued Spider’s opinion. He argued that we really needed optimism like Bob Wilson’s in the wake of John Lennon’s murder. I had also read the Neal Wilgus interview with Wilson in Science Fiction Review. I read The Universe Next Door and enjoyed it. I lived in Tucson for the summer, but my family visited my grandparents in Scottsdale in June. I stopped by the One Book Shop and bought Schroedinger’s Cat II: The Trick Top Hat. I loved that book, and I became obsessed with Wilson’s writing for the next 23 years (and then some).
I had forgotten that chapter two of Prometheus Rising mentions Radio Shack. Tempus fugit, time flies. As a kid I remember building a rudimentary robot with stuff from Radio Shack. Now I sit here typing this on my MacBook Pro with two iPads and an iPhone on the table next to it. And I don’t even particularly like Apple products. My dad worked for IBM for over thirty years. I worked at IBM three summers during college. I fought kicking and screaming against switching to Apple products ten years ago at my high school, but now I’ve gotten used to them. As Bob said, “The brain is an organ of adaptability.”
I just got done doing my daily tai chi. I’ve done it most days during the past year of lockdown. It has made me aware of the changing relationship of the earth and the sun as I do tai chi at different times due to the changing weather. I try to orient myself to avoid the sun getting into my eyes. I like to practice at about 63 degrees. Living in Corona, California, that means going out early in the morning in May. It meant going out at the warmest part of the day during winter. (I realize our winter doesn’t seem cold compared to much of the world’s winter.)
Martial arts takes us into chapter three of Prometheus Rising. I took a little bit of karate and judo back in the 1970’s. In the fall of 1985, after reading Prometheus Rising, I thought about taking kung fu to do the exercise from chapter three of taking a three month course of martial arts. However, I felt like a bit of a pacifist at the time, so I took yoga instead. I didn’t get serious about martial arts until the year 2000.