Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Monday, June 28, 2021
The Emperor Augustus, an autocrat who in my judgment sought to project "friendly strength."
Chapter Four seems quite interesting, although some of the exercises do not seem practical to me.
I enjoyed the discussion of the four quadrants, and the suggestion that all of us should try to be "a little less rigid, a little more flexible." I liked the G. Rattray Taylor table, and it seems to me that culturally we are in a Matrist period. It also seems to me that the Democratic Party has become more "Matrist" while the Republican Party has tended to be more "Patrist" and authoritarian. The discussion of Nietzsche's concept of resentment and e.e. cumming's couplet Communist intelligentsia "every kumrad is a little bit/of concentrated hate" seems relevant to the current left on Twitter in 2021.
I have my doubts about some of the exercises. If RAW is serious about telling us to "Get roaring drunk and pound the table, telling everybody in a loud voice just what dumb assholes they all are," well, I'm just not going to do that.
But I did watch a Three Stooges video, "Woman Haters" on YouTube. And while I don't plan to visit the "Lion House at the zoo" any time soon, I do have two "lions" in the house -- two cats -- and the male Siamese is very dominant, and constantly harasses and chases the female Torty, so that's something I can observe every day. And newspapers tend to have strong hierarchies, so I ought to be able to observe that when I go into the office this week.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
The Liverpool Arts Lab issues a new Bodge; you can get a paper copy of it or just download the PDF. I thought the artwork was particularly good this time.
Saturday, June 26, 2021
In the "RAW Thoughts" discussion thread at Principiadiscordia.com, Bobby Campbell discusses The Yankee and Cowboy War by Carl Oglesby, a book often mentioned by Robert Anton Wilson and available as a PDF and in other formats at Archive.org.
"An oft cited fav of RAW's, which reads almost like an Illuminatus! appendix, describes a secret history of conflict between Northeastern and Southwestern power elites.
"It plays almost like a "previously in the History of the United States" recap / recontextualization of our contemporary political strife. There are so many plot lines & trends that Oglesby identifies back in 1976 that we have now seen come to actual fruition, that there is slightly eerie quality to his more paranoid ruminations. (Defactualization -> TechnoFascism)"
Friday, June 25, 2021
The Week Two blog posting for the Ishtar Rising discussion group has been posted. Go here to read it and take part. I'm having another super busy day today, but I'll be over there during the weekend posting a comment.
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Michelle Olley (the Bobby Campbell version).
I do not have time for a long blog post today, but I wanted to alert you that Michelle Olley has penned a useful roundup of various events in Britain in the Mycellium newsletter, "An Update for the Cosmically Enthused," please read it here.
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Today I'm reminding everyone that Apuleius Charlton has begun a new Ishtar Rising reading group at his blog, Jechidah. First entry was last week and there will be another one Thursday, so you still have plenty of time to hunt up a copy and join in.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Marjorie Cameron in the 1940s (via Wikipedia)
Here's some news I suspect will interest sombunall of you, via Twitter:
Adam Gorightly comments: "Looking through these files on Cameron, it appears that most of them had been previously released as Jack Parsons' FOIAs, but in past iterations Cameron's name had been redacted. Cameron died in the late 1990s, and so maybe a subsequent Cameron-FOIA request undid said redactions."
Monday, June 21, 2021
Chapter Three: Small Miracles
By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger
It’s a small miracle that any of us manage to hold on to or develop any type of sanity. Rereading the third chapter this weekend it struck me how many things can go wrong with the initial imprinting of the First Circuit. Birth itself seems to be a traumatic experience by nature; after months of dark, warm oblivion to be suddenly squeezed out into cold, bright existence. While, by all means, the birthing process is miraculous, it doesn’t seem particularly pleasant for any of the parties involved. And while I would put my trust firmly in modern medicine, I can understand why some try to reduce possible distress on the child’s part by giving birth underwater.
The myriad of things that can hurt us as infants, from our hand being pulled away from our privates to not being held enough, to being mistakenly (or purposefully) struck....just a minefield of incidents that could fuck up the foundation of our psyche. I always imagined that I had a negative initial imprint because I certainly do see the universe as a hostile and unforgiving place.
Looking back on my adolescence and twenties, it is pretty obvious that I was going through some sort of extended crisis based around the first circuit. I went through hypochondriac fits: one year I ended up in the doctor’s office on a monthly basis, worrying that I was dying. This was partly driven by my cigarette smoking habit- something strongly associated with searching for first circuit comforts. While smoking was a calming and gratifying experience, I was also raised to believe that “if you smoke, YOU WILL DIE A HORRIBLE PAINFUL DEATH AND YOU DESERVE IT.” So between my addiction, my guilt and myself we had a smashing time. The hypochondria was also a symptom of my deep dissatisfaction with the way my life had been and was going. It was only after moving far away from my parents, for a myriad of reasons beyond smoking, that I was able to come to terms with my childhood and finally stop flagellating myself, or at least not quite as much, for my nicotine abuse. Eventually I returned home with a firmer understanding of my past.
Then it was time to experience the present and future along with some real fun panic attacks. These occurred occasionally over the course of a couple years while I was stewing in my discontent and coming to terms with life. Through these attacks I learned how well other mental activities cease when the bio-survival circuit senses danger. Working with a therapist helped me find the ways to symbolically “solve” the source of my panic attacks. (Which mostly seems to consist of repeating “You’re just having a panic attack” and doing my best to ignore it until it goes away.) I’ve also found externalizing my anxiety/depression and treating it like an annoying, needy old dog seems to work.
While I practiced pranayama and basic hatha yoga during this time, it seems in many ways that what was needed was time. Time for growth and most importantly for acceptance. The bio-survival circuit seems to be tailored to induce panic and ungainly dispositions, for me it took “simply” giving up the struggle against it or its eternal desires to form a working relationship with this earliest part of myself.
While the higher circuits are fascinating, I find that most human behaviors can be explained through the first and second circuits, we’ll explore the latter in the upcoming weeks as we dive into Chapter Four and primate politics.
Sunday, June 20, 2021
I recently read L. Neil Smith's The Probability Broach. L. Neil Smith is a libertarian science fiction writer and The Probability Broach, his first novel, probably is still his best known. It is fast moving and enjoyable, and I liked it better than any other Smith novel I have read.
It's an alternate worlds novel and the plot concerns a Native American police detective in Denver who uses the device in the book's title to accidentally move to a different universe and a North America run on libertarian principles. There is a torrent of ideas and vivid descriptions, written in energetic prose.
The world that our hero finds himself in is known as the North American Confederacy -- not as in the Confederacy in the American South in our world, but as in the Articles of Confederation that initially governed the 13 states that revolted from England. In the alternate world, the Articles of Confederation are not superseded by the U.S. Constitution, the Whiskey Rebellion fails, and the North American government becomes less powerful as time passes. A sample of a graphic novel version is available online.
The books shows the obvious influence of Robert Heinlein but there are also clear references to Illuminatus!, another of Smith's influences. The bad guys in the novel, the "Hamiltonians," who want to take over the world and restore big government, use the eye in the pyramid as their symbol. And there are sentient talking dolphins in the book (along with sentience talking chimps and gorillas.)
The Wikipedia article on the book says, "The Probability Broach won the 1982 Prometheus Award, which L. Neil Smith himself had created, and which is awarded by the Libertarian Futurist Society." All of that is true, but it could be misunderstood; Smith gave the first award as a one-shot event. The LFS was founded to keep the award going. Smith has not been active in the LFS; he has won awards from the group but played no part in the deliberations.
See also my 2019 interview with ElNeil.
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Robert Newport, left, also an important figure in preserving the Discordian Archives, with Adam Gorightly, in Robert Anton Wilson's apartment in 2001. Photo from Gorightly's Historia Discordia website.
Young people reading this blog entry may not recognize the name, but Weberman is famous for being the Dylan scholar who performed his research on Bob Dylan by going through the singer's trash can.
It turns out that Weberman also was a John Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorist. So a letter from Weberman to Thornley, reproduced by Adam, includes the statement that, for a long time, Weberman was afraid of Thornley. "But your letters have convinced me you are sincere and are one of the innocent bystanders CIA agents working for Garrison dragged into this mess to discredit Garrison's important discoveries," Weberman writes. The sentence refers to Jim Garrison; if you follow the above link, to Wikipedia's article about Weberman you can read about Weberman's book, Coup D'Etat In America: The CIA and the Assassination of JFK. In the same letter, Weberman asks Thornley, "What do you think of Dylan?"
If Adam's blog posts whet your interest in Discordianism or Kerry Thornley, please go here to read about books Adam has written, making good use of the Discordian Archives that Adam maintains and explores. (I have read all of those books.) Given the failure of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea to maintain their own papers, the Discordian Archives are an important source of documents about both writers; they are the source, for example, of the Hilaritas Press publication of Wilson's lost book, The Starseed Signals.
Friday, June 18, 2021
Apuleius Charlton celebrated his birthday Thursday by posting the first entry of the new Ishtar Rising discussion group at his blog, Jechidah, dovestamemoria.blogspot.com. Please go there and read his entry and maybe offer a comment.
I was apparently unclear on this the other day, so let me attempt to make amends. Apuleius, Eric and I will continue leading our Prometheus Rising discussion over here on Mondays, and Apuleius will take the lead on Ishtar Rising, on Thursdays I think, over at his blog. We hope you enjoy both discussions, and as Lando Calrissian says in "The Empire Strikes Back," everyone is welcome of course.
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Purported UFO in New Jersey in 1951. Public domain photo.
On Twitter, Prop Anon writes, "Daily Grail just released Adam Gorightly's new book Saucers, Spooks, and Kooks. One of the best books I've read all year."
I've bought Adam's book and I plan to read it soon. If you want to hear more about the book, Adam recommends this podcast to readers of this blog.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Author and composer Jan Swafford's book, Mozart: The Reign of Love, which came out in December, went on sale on Kindle recently and I grabbed a copy. I looked at it on my Kindle, and it was so interesting I have begun reading it.
I read Swafford's excellent book on Beethoven and also his Language of the Spirit: An Introduction to Classical Music but the Mozart book, at least in the early going, seems even better; Mozart is arguably the most brilliant composer of all time, so perhaps that has inspired Swafford.
Swafford's Mozart book is relevant to RAW fans, and not just because of RAW's interest in Mozart and classical music. Swafford's book took seriously Beethoven's ties to the Illuminati. (Wilson maintains that Beethoven's role in the Illuminati in Illuminatus! was simply a joke, and that he only learned later it had a basis in truth.) The Mozart biography appears in the early going to be sensitive to Mozart's relationship to Freemasonry.
In his introduction, Swafford writes, "There is a tendency in writing about Mozart to treat the operas as if he wrote the libretto as well, as if the text represented his own convictions and artistic statements." The content should really be attributed to the various librettists, Swafford writes. But he adds that Die Zauberfloete (i.e., the Magic Flute) is an exception; Mozart was involved in the libretto from the beginning, making it in Swafford's opinion "the most truly and thoroughly Mozartian opera." It is also an opera influenced by Freemasonry, although I haven't gotten to the portion of the book discussing that.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Monday, June 14, 2021
Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash
By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger
Notes on Chapter 3
Rereading Prometheus Rising in 2000 I signed up for Chinese kenpo classes at Mr. Toppins’s East Wind Martial Arts in Riverside, California, and studied with a few interruptions for ten years. During that time I also had the opportunity to study with karate do with Dr. Hargis. In 2010 I had some knee trouble so I stopped martial arts for a while. In 2016, once again working on Prometheus Rising, I decided to study Yang long form tai chi (108 movements) with Mr. Toppins. That worked out much better for my knees, and I hope to continue practicing tai chi for the rest of my life. I finished learning the form in 2019, and I continued studying with Mr. Toppins until the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. I hope to continue my lessons soon.
For this run through of Prometheus Rising I decided to focus on tai chi for three months starting March 6, 2021. Fortunately I remember the form well enough to practice by myself without a teacher.
Well, today June 6 has arrived. I have practiced tai chi most days for the last three months. Reading this chapter of Prometheus Rising, I note on page 28 Bob suggests that “opium and its derivatives return us to the ‘safe space’ on the biosurvival circuit.” I suspect that binge eating also returns us to a similar “safe space”.
By the way, I got another new computer this week. My high school decided to replace all of our iPads with new ones. I find this an interesting synchronicity. When Tom, Apuleius, and I decided to start this Prometheus Rising study group, I had no intention of getting a new computer to go along with the exercise in chapter two. Instead I have gotten three. I wonder what other surprises we will encounter over the next sixteen months (and beyond).
I was born prematurely and spent some time in an incubator. I suspect this led to my taking my strongest imprint on the first circuit and has contributed to my lifelong weight issues. The description on page 35 of “persons who take their heaviest imprint on the first (oral) circuit” fits me to a T. Interestingly, when I first read this book in 1985, I didn’t see this. I thought I had taken my strongest imprint on the third circuit. My friend Jai Jeffryes told me that he thought I had taken my strongest imprint on the first circuit, but I refused to see it at the time. I felt very proud of my powerful third circuit intelligence, but I lacked self-insight.
“God wishes for you ease and does not wish for you difficulty.” – Quran 4:28
The recursive calls at the end of some exercises to “reread this chapter” like in exercises 4 and 7 in this chapter, could go on infinitely. One might take a three month course in kung fu, reread the chapter, reach the exercises and take a three month course in karate and read the chapter, etc. ad infinitum. This leads us to the metaprogramming circuit, what Bob calls the seventh circuit in this book.
I would like to visit the Long Beach Aquarium or Sea World after the pandemic and do exercise 6. I have visited some doctor’s offices lately that have fish tanks, and I have observed them very closely.
I got a chance to see my baby great-granddaughter on Mother’s Day 2021, but I didn’t think of exercise 7 from this chapter at the time. This reminds of in 1985 when my roommate Robert Rabinowitz left quarters on our driveway after I had left to go on a walk looking for quarters. By the time I had returned to the house my mind had wandered so much that I didn’t glance down and notice the quarters. Fortunately I got to see another baby granddaughter on Memorial Day and I did remember to keep the exercise in mind this time.
The opening quote in this chapter from Sociobiology by Edward Wilson points forward to the collective neurogenetic (morphogenetic) circuit, what Wilson calls the sixth circuit in this book.
I find it interesting that Bob mention UFO’s on page 28. As the pandemic enters its endgame, UFO’s have entered the news. I wonder how they will emerge as we continue working through the book.
The reference to how one can find people with negative first circuit imprints in fringe groups of the extreme Left and extreme Right on page 36 makes me think of the political world of the U.S.A. in 2021, January 6, in particular. Coincidentally, James Joyce’s great story “The Dead” takes place on January 6, 1904. I took Bob to see the John Huston film of that story in 1988
Notes on Chapter 4
“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees!”
The discussion of the second circuit, walking, and “learning to manipulate others politically” reminded me of a story a ballet teacher told of her ex-husband as a teenager walking across his room listening to Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture imagining himself as a prince. In a few years he would get cast as a prince in traditional ballets.
Mike Gathers has observed the deep impact Freud made on Bob’s interpretation of the eight circuit model. I just reread Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth getting ready for chapter five of Prometheus Rising. Freud’s impact on Portnoy intrigued me.
Bob Wilson imagines the imprints landing in quadrants of Leary’s Interpersonal Grid (or “cover two or more quadrants partly”). Mike Gathers has observed that Leary did not intend for this use of the Grid. Leary outlined a more complex system in The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality using a sliding scale for various areas of the Grid for clinicians and others to utilize.
I fear I usually fall in the hostile weakness quadrant. I hope my imprints become “a little less rigid, a little more flexible” as we proceed.
Sunday, June 13, 2021
[Apuleius Charlton, my Prometheus Rising blogger (along with Eric Wagner and myself) is launching a new online discussion group for Ishtar Rising, which in February 2020 was reissued in a new edition by Hilaritas Press. Please consider taking advantage of this opportuning. Here is the introductory blurb for the new discussion group -- The Management.]
Do You Love Tits!?
By Apuleius Charlton
If you answered "Yes!" to the above, I have a book for you! Inside you'll find profound meditations on the primeval allure of that most precious of glands (memorialized by Lennon himself) feverish, titillating and fanciful imaginings of how life could be, tricks to improve bedroom performance and restore vitality, the key to finding that which is found at the center of the earth, how to ferment the hard-pressed wine of the soul and, best of all- naked ladies.
Wilson's Book of the Breast was and is a fusillade against the tired bigotries of twentieth century Western society that transcended Playboy's original writ and managed to be a hornier version of Grave's great fiction, The White Goddess at the same time. Wisdom flows like mother's milk in this early but advanced work of RAW's oeuvre- perhaps we can steal a few sips. Some magicians go no further than Understanding, for they desired no more.
C'mon let's Hot Girl again, like we did last summer.
The first post at this blog will concern the Morrison introduction to the 2020 Hilaritas edition- coming this Thursday.
UPDATE: Apparently I was unclear about where the reading group will be. It will be at Apuleius' blog, dovestamemoria.blogspot.com.
Saturday, June 12, 2021
Nick Herbert, "hippie physicist" and friend of Robert Anton Wilson, has a new post up called "Forty Memorable Fucks." It's an interesting piece in itself, but also fits in well with Sex, Drugs & Magick, the Wilson book that Hilaritas has just reissued, and which I've just read.
Here's how Nick's post begins:
"Actually some of My Forty Fucks are not sexual at all but what they have in common is a strong and instructive connection with The Mysterious Other -- in this particular list I define The Other to be a member of the opposite sex.
"Sometimes on various mind-altering drugs. Sometimes completely straight.
"Just for fun a while ago I made a list of (for me) Forty Memorable Fucks. Since then I have added more items, both through subsequent happenings plus reminiscences of ones I'd long forgotten.
"It's more than forty now.
"Are you the least bit interested in exploring what sexually astonishes you? I encourage you to put together your own list of memorable fucks. Since I was somewhat shy and ignorant in those days, your list will probably be much much longer than mine."
Nick then includes a (nonsexual) anecdote, showing that what he is looking for here is not just the sex but the "a strong and instructive connection with The Mysterious Other."
Inspired by Nick's post, I have begun work on my own list (which I'm not planning to post.)
Unsplash photo by Jeremy Bishop
You'll notice that Nick mentions some of incidents are "sometimes on various mind-altering drugs" but I see other connections to Sex, Drugs and Magick. Not that I'm an expert on magick, but it seems to me that "a strong and instructive connection with The Mysterious Other" sounds a bit like the sex magick under discussion in Wilson's book.
It also sounds a bit like the related topic of "unification experiences," a term Wilson deploys in Sex, Drugs and Magick and attributes to David Cole Gordon. "A unification experience, in essence, is simply a moment of release following a period of built-up tension; in this spasm, the energy flow is so strong that one cannot 'remember' the usual distinction between self and environment. One simply is." (Pages 286-287 of the Hilaritas edition.)
There are not just sexual experiences, but nonsexual experiences that register as"cosmic trances" and "satoris," Wilson writes.
Friday, June 11, 2021
In one of his better-known essays, "Between Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective," (reprinted in Email to the Universe), Robert Anton Wilson offers this formula of "maybe logic":
"In modern mathematics and logic, in addition to the two-valued (yes/no) logic of Aristotle and Boole, there are several three-valued logics (e.g. the yes, no and maybe Quantum Logic of von Neumann; the yes, no and po of psychologist Edward de Bono; etc.), at least one four-valued logic (the true, false, indeterminate and meaningless of Rapoport), and an infinite-valued logic (Korzybski). I myself have presented a multi-valued logic in my neuroscience seminars; the bare bones of this system will be found in my book, The New Inquisition. Two-valued Euclidean choices — left or right of an imaginary line — do not seem very 'real' to me, in comparison to the versatility of modern science and mathematics."
Hat tip: Raw Semantics on Twitter.
Update: Another citation.
Thursday, June 10, 2021
I spent the last few days listening to an audiobook of Extraterrestrial by Avi Loeb, and it was quite interesting.
Remember Oumuamua, the mysterious object that zipped through the Solar System in 2017?
Astronomers determined that it was the first interstellar object they had detected, and Loeb, an astrophysicist and the chairman of Harvard University's astronomy department, came up with a theory to account for Oumuamua's unusual characteristics: It was a a solar sail, made by an alien civilization. (A solar sail is made of very thin material pushed by solar wind, i.e. particles from a sun, much as wind pushes a sail on a boat.) Loeb said Oumuamua's location versus other stellar objects could mean it functioned as a kind of buoy. Or it could have been discarded junk, much like a plastic bottle one finds on shore.
Scientists have not exactly embraced the theory; here is the reaction from Paul M. Sutter, astrophysicist at Stony Brook University.
Loeb argues his case well; I'm not an astronomer and all I can say is that he seems to make a plausible argument but many scientists don't buy it and continue to think Oumuamua was a natural object. Loeb insists his theory has not been embraced because most scientists are too conservative; in the book he perhaps compares himself to Galileo a few too many times.
The book offers a brief history of the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life and discusses the idea of panspermia, the idea that life on Earth was seeded from somewhere else, topics that fans of Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary might be interested in.
I have one gripe with Loeb. Many of his ideas echo ideas articulated years ago by the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. One of Clarke's better known novels, Rendezvous With Rama, tells the story of an alien spacecraft, apparently uninhabited, that passes through the Solar System. One of Clarke's short stories, "The Wind from the Sun," popularized the idea of a solar sail. Loeb also suggests the Moon would be a good place to look for alien artifacts, reminiscent of Clarke's short story, "The Sentinel," in which a lunar object serves as a kind of alien alarm, alerting whoever put it there that man has developed far enough to travel from our home planet. (The story was the basis for 2001.) See also on Wikipedia for how Clarke came up with the idea of a system for spotting asteroids in the Solar System. I'll bet there are other echoes of Clarke's ideas I simply missed. Loeb never mentions Clarke, or has anything good to say about science fiction, and that seems churlish and ungracious.
You can read Tyler Cowen's review. (He finds alien origin "unlikely" but apparently enjoyed the book.)
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
A Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the Sirius star system. (Public domain photo)
"So, most people are unaware that One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the novel, has a bonkers sequel called The Starlight Barking.
It has never been filmed. It can never be filmed. It is unfilmable."
One Tweet in the thread:
"At the stroke of midnight, a SPACE DOG appears atop Nelson’s Column. He explains that he is Sirius, Lord of the Dog Star, and that the earth is going to be destroyed in a nuclear war. Sirius loves earth-dogs and wants them to return with him to his home planet."
@RAWilson23 (i.e. Bobby Campbell) comments, "Still another Sirius Mystery! :)))"
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Robert Heinlein (Creative Commons photo)
I was recently reminded of Robert Anton Wilson's interest in Robert Anson Heinlein (see for example, this interview, where RAW says, "Heinlein has been an idol to me for more than 20 years") when I recently read "In the Strange Land Of Robert Heinlein," an article by Curt Suplee that appeared in the Washington Post in 1984 (hat tip, Hugh, recently in the comments.) The article is full of vintage Heinlein comments such as this one about U.S. culture: "You can go to a cocktail party on the campus of a major university and be asked three times what sign were you born under. And we've got citizens in this culture who honest to God believe that professional athletes and actors are important people with opinions worth paying attention to!" See this internet article for photos of the house mentioned in the Post article.
But what I wanted to ask was: What are the chances that Robert Anton and Robert Anson would both spend the remaining years of their lives in Santa Cruz, California? Curiously, the article says Heinlein keeps himself informed on "the state of the Mendocino Gold marijuana crop." I'll bet Wilson, who lived in the Mendocino, California, area at one point, could have filled him in.
The two writers had an editor in common; they shared an editor, David Hartwell. As I wrote in the recent Gene Wolfe blog posting, Hartwell edited and published five of RAW's books. He also was Robert Heinlein's editor for some of Heinlein's later books, at least in a sense; although RAW disliked dealing with editors, later in life Heinlein had the clout to insist that his books would not really be edited. Hartwell also edited the two volume Heinlein biography by William Patterson.
Does anyone know if RAW and RAH ever met, or corresponded?
Monday, June 7, 2021
Photo by tristin zeman on Unsplash
The main point of the current reading group is to try to understand Robert Anton Wilson's points by doing the exercises in Prometheus Rising. I tried to get caught up with some of them over the weekend, with somewhat mixed results; I also had a busy weekend at work.
My most successful exercise so far has been the "I am sitting in the room doing this exercize because" exercise that I wrote about for Week 29. All of the complex reasons why I was sitting in my living room working on the exercise seemed pretty amazing to me.
For many of RAW's exercises, I often have the feeling that I'm not doing it right.
Sunday, I tried exercise 5 for chapter 3, the "breath of fire" exercise. I tried to follow Wilson's instructions and felt a mild sense of relaxation, but I didn't really feel I got the results I was supposed to.
Tried again today. Still no huge results.
I didn't have time to run out to an aquarium, but some aquariums have live webcams, so I looked at this one for the Aquarium of the Pacific. (I do love looking at fish in aquariums.) Wilson says you should visit an aquarium and "observe very closely" to see the bio-survival circuit of the fish in operation. I also tried this one from the New England Aquarium. Watching them, I did have some sense of the circuit in operation and I'll try to look in on the fish today as time allows.
Another exercise involves eating one gooey, sugar-filled dessert every week. This is pretty much what I do, anyway; I allow myself ice cream one time every week, on Saturday evening.
Eric Wagner has worked pretty hard on these exercises and he's a teacher by trade. You can get a lot done on the internet, but in-person instruction has its value. Maybe if we all lived near Eric, we could get together with him and he could help us with some of this.
Sunday, June 6, 2021
Gene Wolfe in 2005. Creative Commons photo by Cory Doctorow.
If I may be permitted to link to an article about another writer I like, here is a piece about Gene Wolfe that I had missed, by Brian Phillips, published in The Ringer in 2019. It's interesting even if you aren't particularly as Gene Wolfe fan.
The story is a good reminder of the value of persistence; as talented as Wolfe was, he struggled for years to break into print:
In 1965 he writes a ghost story called “The Dead Man” and sends it out to magazines. The most prestigious, at the top of his list, is The Atlantic Monthly. The least prestigious, at the bottom, is Sir!, a nudie mag. Sir! buys the story. He gets a check for $80. This is how his professional writing career begins: in his mid-30s, as text filler in a jerkoff magazine. At this point, he’s been sending out work and having it rejected for eight years.
Wolfe and Wilson share one thing in common; they were both edited by the late, great David Hartwell. Hartwell edited and published Cosmic Trigger, Masks of the Illuminati and the three Schroedinger's Cat books. He edited most of Wolfe's books, including the four Book of the New Sun novels. When I interviewed Hartwell (you can read Part One and Part Two,) the interview was interrupted one or two times because Hartwell was fitting me in while he paid attention to Gene Wolfe, who was attending the same convention.
Wolfe died in 2019. He left behind a posthumous novel, Interlibrary Loan, I need to get around to reading it. And you can read the interview with Wolfe I did in 2015.
Saturday, June 5, 2021
Michael is one of the best writers on RAW I know; see for example his introduction for the Hilaritas Press edition of Email to the Universe. Eric Wagner refers to him as "Doctor Johnson."
I had to work to figure out Michael's exact Twitter handle (when they "disappear" you, you are hard to find) but some research apparently establishes that @Wheeler23Zoyd is correct; see the image above (via @RAWsemantics). I have written a polite letter to Twitter asking for Michael's reinstatement.
I don't agree with Michael's remarks, below, about his blog (everyone I knew personally who read it loved it) and Michael has a standing invitation to do a guest post here.
I asked Michael some questions about all of this:
RAWIllumination: What account was suspended, and when was it suspended? Has Twitter offered since then to reinstate you?
MichaelJohnson: I was @ZoydWheeler (with a 23? I forget) "Zoyd Wheeler" is one of my favorite characters in all of Pynchon - Vineland - and I sort of feel akin to him. [See above.]
RAWIllumination: If not, have you set up another Twitter account, one that I can publicize on my blog and on Twitter?
MJ: I have not set up another Twitter account because they say if you try to do that after being suspended for "hateful speech" they'll catch you. I don't want to have anything to do with those people and their algorithms.
RAWIllumination: Is there anything left out of Prop's account that you want to clarify?
MJ: I only read what you linked to. I'm not sure what else he related (or why, really), but I asked a Q about the First Amendment. I genuinely never understood why right wingers got away with advocating murder. I wanted someone to explain it to me. The reasons I found in article online "law" sites were unclear to me. Or unsatisfactory...After I asked the Q and Twitter suspended my account for a week, as soon as I got back on I asked my followers what was "hateful" about what I'd written, and I pasted exactly what I'd said. Twitter immediately permanently suspended me.
I tried to go through their "appeal" process. About 8 times. They ask you to explain why you think you were wrongly suspended. I'm now convinced there were no actual humans who read my appeals. For reasons that seem obvious to me, and I hope, you too.
When I clicked on the link you sent me, I got the ubiquitous blue box, that tells me I've been suspended and am not "permitted to perform this action." What action? Reading Twitter? Further: they periodically send me email telling me I've been suspended for hateful speech. I had given up trying to recover my account by October. (I was suspended in August of 2020.)
Since then, I've read a lot of articles from people who were suspended from Twitter, but it was always threatening to kill someone - only they were obviously kidding - stuff like that. They either 1.) eventually got their account back, or 2.) gave up, like me.
A lot of people have said to me "You're better off anyway." Other times I get some version of "They only care about the celebrities who make them money." I actually don't know. I do wonder.
I've tried to get hold of a human being at Twitter: no way. It's impossible. (At least anyone who has anything to do with this "problem.")
Oddly, PropAnon emailed me about what they're saying on Twitter about RAW and I told him my story. Then I resumed reading Seth Rogan's new book, Year Book, and the new chapter was titled "Verification" and it was about Twitter's amplification of antisemitism and Neo-Nazis. Being a big celebrity and being followed by Jack Dorsey, he DM'd Dorsey about the checkmarks next to vile Nazis. (Turns out, if you're verified with the blue check mark Twitter amplifies your reach; don't ask me any more about it.) They even talked on the phone. Dorsey kept saying, "We're going to fix that." Variations on that. He kept punting. Rogan was a few blocks away from the Pittsburgh synagogue the day some Dump supporter murdered the Jews there. Rogan reminded Dorsey that a certain vile suppository who happened to live in the White House was violating Twitter's TOS every single day. Dorsey, "Yea, it's a problem." Only after Jan 6th did Dorsey actually do anything.
RAWIllumination: Do you plan to resume new posts at 'Overweening Generalist"? Do you have another platform out there you want me to point people to?
MJ: I don't plan to resume OG. I haven't looked at that site since I last posted, after Dump's win. It feels like 20 years ago. No one read that shit anyway. I don't know who I thought I was going to impress or entertain. I have no other platform I want other people to go to.
Friday, June 4, 2021
Musician Prince performing in 2008 (Creative Commons photo).
The big news of course is John Higgs' new book, William Blake Versus the World, and John has been publishing pieces to promote the book. "Visionaries Across Time: The Shared Magic Of Prince & William Blake" discusses the surprising commonalities between Blake and the late American musician: "Prince and Blake were the products of very different worlds and they created very different art, of course, but they both saw beyond their contemporary circumstances and came to remarkably similar conclusions. The most prominent themes in their work are spiritual liberation and sexual freedom. They portrayed these not as opposites or contradictions, but as essential and related concepts - interlinked pathways that we need to follow, if we are find our way to paradise."
In Sex, Drugs & Magick: A Journey Beyond Limits (which I've just finished) Robert Anton Wilson makes a similar point about Blake.
RAW writes, "If a man writes a poem to his beloved in a Christian nation, and it too frank about expressing that love, he is in danger of being called 'obscene,' throughout most of Christian history, he could be jailed, tortured or even killed. As William Blake wrote in horror:
Children of a future age
Reading this indignant page
Know that in a former time
Love, sweet love, was called a crime."
A search of my ebook copy of RAW's book shows six references to Blake.
Thursday, June 3, 2021
A crowdfunding effort has been launched for the Church of Burn's "Festival of Money" July 22-25 at the Cockpit Theatre in London; plenty of merchandise is on offer. You can read up on the immediate effort, and there is also lots of information on the British Discordian money-burning movement.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
The Cartoon Museum in London has an exhibit of Alan Moore's V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask. The exhibit will be available until Oct. 31; £8.50; £5 concessions; £3 students.
"Presenting 36 original comic artworks alongside storyboards and costume designs from the hit Warner Bros movie, V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask charts the rise from comic to graphic novel, Hollywood film to iconic symbol of protest," the museum says.
"Featuring exclusive never-before exhibited works, including an original prototype mask from the film, this new show also explores the voices of protesters in the real world and asks you to explore your own beliefs about big ideas, from protest and rebellion to freedom and justice.
"Exhibition organised by The Cartoon Museum in collaboration with David Lloyd. Presented with permission from DC Comics and supported by funding from Arts Council England."
V is for Vendetta won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2006; an appreciation is available, written by Michael Grossberg.
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
A new (I think) meme from Rasa, above, which links to a five-minute video Rasa produced about RAW, with some of RAW's better short statements and an appropriate soundtrack. "I just don't believe in any cosmology," Wilson says. The video is only five minutes long; it is worth a few minutes of attention.