Saturday, July 31, 2021

Carl Hart's 'Drug Use for Grownups'

Carl Hart. (Creative Commons photo). 

If you are interested in the "war on some drugs," in Robert Anton Wilson's phrase, then I have a book  recommendation for you: Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear by Carl L. Hart, a psychology professor at Columbia University who specializes in drug research. 

His book is very interesting. Hart is a regular heroin user, and he defends that use in his book. 

One of his ideas is that people who are drug users who have successful lives should come out of the closet and discuss their drug use publicly, both to help remove the stigma of drug use and to demonstrate the fact, underemphasized in Hart's opinion, that most drug users do just fine.

I admire his honesty and I get the point about stigma.  

Hart argues that many drug overdoses and most of the damages caused by drug use are the responsibility of bad government policies. He argues that all drugs should be legal for use by adults. This is part of the "pursuit of happiness" that is the birthright of all Americans, Hart says. These are all very libertarian arguments, although Hart does not use that term. I am not sure whether Hart really is very familiar with the libertarian movement, although he cited Jacob Sullum at one point and gave an interesting interview with Nick Gillespie at Reason magazine, which you can read if you are trying to decide whether to read the book.  Hart also thinks the government should end its "war on drugs" law enforcement approach and concentrate on harm reduction measures. I agree with all of this. 

Professor Hart also seeks to normalize the use of stigmatized drugs such as methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin, arguing that their use is beneficial for most people. He is a big heroin fan (he does not inject) and also talks about his cocaine and amphetamine use. He also thinks it's wrong for middle class white people to praise weed and psychedelics while doing little to eliminate the stigma of other drug use.  I guess I still lean toward the idea that middle class white people (such as myself) have a point, but Hart is very good about showing how much of the stigma of drug use is tied together with racism. 

I knew about much of this before I read the book and wondered if Hart could change my mind about narcotics use. Well, I still have misgivings.

For one thing, when Hart says that "most" narcotics users aren't problem users, I worry about the sizable minority who do have a problem.

I also think that trying to normalize heroin use is a bad idea. Because heroin is illegal, there is not a legal marketplace where a user can be sure of what is being purchased.  This is particularly true now, when users have to worry about heroin being laced with fentanyl, a substance that figures in many overdose deaths. This is the result of government policy which Professor Hart and I both oppose, but it is what it is. Taking up heroin as a hobby strikes me as a really dangerous idea. Maybe we could have a different conversation if Americans could buy pure, regulated heroin in a legal marketplace, but that's not the world we live in. 

Notice that in the Reason interview, Gillespie alert asks about heroin, "And where do you get it? I don't want you to out your dealer. But how do you get it and how do you consume it?" and Hart, probably wisely, does not answer the question. 

At one point in the book Hart praises Jerry Garcia's attitude toward drug use. Garcia was just 53 when he died of a heart attack. I can't tell reading the Wikipedia biography how much Garcia's narcotics use may have contributed to his bad health. 

I strongly recommend Hart's book, which forces the reader to think about drug issues and what to do about drug policy and about one's own  drug use (or non-use). 


Friday, July 30, 2021

Two 'Cosmic Trigger 2' memes

 



Both are by Rasa. You can see them (in a little bit better resolution) and view other memes and good stuff if you download the new Hilaritas Press catalog, released on Maybe Day. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Whistleblower gets 45 months for revealing America kills innocent children

 

Source: standwithdanielhale.org

A whisteblower, Daniel Hale, has received 45 months in prison for leaking documents showing how America kills small children and other innocents as part of its "war on terror."

Here is Reason Magazine's coverage.  "Hale is yet another case where the federal government has used espionage laws not to punish spies who reveal classified information to our country's enemies, but to punish people who reveal the government's unethical and illegal behavior to our country's own citizens."

The New York Times.  "As his service continued, Mr. Hale became increasingly convinced that the war in Afghanistan had little to do with preventing terrorist attacks in the United States, especially as he witnessed children inadvertently killed in strikes gone wrong, he wrote."

You can read Hale's letter to the judge


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Why is RAW still relevant?

Robert Anton Wilson. (Photo by Duncan Harvey).

When I participated in Bobby Campbell’s two-hour “Maybelogues” Zoom session on July 23, I anticipated Bobby might ask why Robert Anton Wilson remains  relevant in 2021. So I had an answer ready. 

In the event, Bobby posed other interesting questions (we wound up debating billionaire space exploration, for example), but after pointing yesterday to Brian Dean’s Maybe Day thoughts, I thought I would share my own.

Wilson wrote about many interesting topics: The Timothy Leary eight-circuit model of consciousness, brain transformation, quantum mechanics, Aleister Crowley, Beethoven, libertarianism, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, modernism in literature, General Semantics,  and other subjects I am  leaving out because it is so difficult to list all of his interests. He devoted serious study to many of these topics and wrote with intelligence and wit. He wrote novels and nonfiction, ranging across genres.

But it seems to me one particular theme runs through much of his work, two related propositions: You can be happy, and you can find a meaningful place for yourself in the world.

This is particularly explicit in Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth, an innovative work that in my opinion has not received as much attention as it should (well, it has that in common with many of RAW’s works, but CT 2 is one of my particular obsessions.)

If you haven’t read it, Cosmic Trigger 2 ostensibly seems to be a memoir. But it’s generally short chapters trace several discernible plotlines; it seems structured more like a novel than a typical nonfiction book.

One of the plotlines concerns how Wilson, who had abandoned the Catholicism of his youth, searched for success as a writer and in his personal life. I don’t want to give away the ending for people who haven’t read the book yet, but I will say he came up with a positive answer, in the 1950s, long before he made a name for himself as an author.

But I would argue that happiness and meaning is a theme in many of Wilson’s other works. In the first Cosmic Trigger, friends of Wilson such as Timothy Leary help him avoid falling into utter despair after Luna’s death. Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology can be read as esoteric “self-help” books. (See Caroline Contillo’s 2013 guest post for this blog, “How Quantum Psychology Changed My Life,” about how the book transformed her when she was “teetering on the edge of nihilism.”

It seems to me that Robert Anton Wilson’s positive messages remain as relevant in 2021 as ever.

Many people essentially have adopted an obsession with politics as a substitute for traditional religion. I don’t know if that has worked out well for everybody.

The other day on Twitter, Scott Adams wrote, “There's a massive loneliness epidemic happening right now and it's probably the biggest problem in the country, by a lot.” Book editor Eric Nelson commented, “No one wants to hear this but the solution is church. Nonbeliever attendance has had, in the past, numerous unrecognized benefits.” I don’t know that everyone needs to march off to church, but I think Nelson has a point about community and connection. 

And all of the discussion about “deaths of despair” in the U.S. (see for example this David Leonhardt piece in the New York Times, “Life Expectancy Falling” ) also seems to suggest that despite the fact that options for entertainment and education are more rich than anything I could access as a young adult, many people seem to make themselves miserable and need a message of hope. 


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

RAW Semantics on Maybe Day



Over at RAW Semantics, Brian Dean reflects on Maybe Day 2021

"The main issue for me remains: RAW’s relevance and importance for these (and likely near futures’) agitated times. That might seem more obvious with some aspects of his ‘oeuvre’ than others. I’m interested in looking at those areas where it seems – at first – less obvious (or even 'out of step')."

I hope to offer my own thoughts tomorrow. Meanwhile, read the whole thing. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 42


Donald Duck 

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

Notes on Chapter 4:

In 2021 I watched a few Three Stooges short films and Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates (1941). I had recently watched Full Metal Jacket (1987) for the first time in over twenty years, and I found it interesting to see the similarities between Buck Privates and Full Metal Jacket. They both deal with an overweight private going through basic training. Of course Buck Privates functions primarily as a comedy. Watching both films one can see the radical changes in society and cinema from 1941 to 1987. The world of Buck Privates has no sense of the Holocaust or the atomic bomb or of anything going on in Europe at the time. In Full Metal Jacket the drill sergeant seems at all times aware of the possibility of death awaiting his Marines in Vietnam. I also just rewatched the film Conspiracy (2001), a chilling film which deals with the January 20, 1942, Wannsee Conference, a meeting held by Reinhard Heydrich where he coordinated the bureaucracy of the Holocaust. Conspiracy deals with the horror of men outlining mass murder in relative calm that reminds me far too much of many work meetings I have attended over the years. 

I spent over three hours last Sunday watching animal shows on TV. I went to work Monday and observed “the primate pack hierarchy.” One of the TV shows on monkeys opened with the theme from The Monkees which I coincidentally quoted to open my last blog post. The last TV show I watched dealt with relocating a lab chimp to a refuge in Louisiana. Before going to work on Monday I saw this on Facebook: “You’re now cursed with the job the main character has in the last movie/TV show you watched. What’s your new profession?” 

I answered, “Lab chimp.” At work I found myself wondering in a Phildickian mood, “Perhaps I am a lab chimp. My last 23 years teaching high school might have been part of an experiment that has gotten cancelled due to new legislation, and my keepers have decided to relocate me to a teacher refuge in Louisiana. That would explain a lot.” On the show the keepers put bananas in the trees in the refuge and poured apple sauce into artificial termite mounds. Coincidentally I had brought two bananas and some apple sauce in my lunch that day, as I did most days. I wonder what my keepers think of this blog? Does it make them smile and think, “He’s adapting nicely.”  

I have meditated a half hour a day for the past 21 days. I hope to meditate for the next ten days. The two days after that I have a teacher training scheduled where I well may run into “someone who always manages to upset you or make you defensive.” Lucky me. I have never established a steady meditation practice, but I have done one month blocks a number of times when working through Prometheus Rising. I never had as much trouble keeping a month-long streak doing as I have this year. I guess my life has become more distracted.  

Notes on Chapter 5 

1. Looking at the Leary Interpersonal Grid on page 55 of Prometheus Rising, Scarlett O’Hara seems most often to fall in the IMPATIENT WITH OTHERS, SELF-SEEKING, SARCASTIC box on the far left of the diagram. Over the course of the novel (and the film) she shows a lot of different aspects of her personality. Turner Classic Movies created a nice introduction where Black scholar Jacqueline Stewart puts the film in historical perspective. Bill Maher complained that we don’t need introductions like these because “We know the history,” but I liked the introduction, and if I teach this film again, I would like to show this introduction to the class. When I taught his novel to a tenth-grade English class, a student called Scarlett “a twentieth century woman stuck in the nineteenth century.” I like that analysis. 

2. King Kong seems SELF-RELIANT AND ASSERTIVE, SELF-CONFIDENT, INDEPENDENT, especially before he encounters Fay Wray32. Kong seems to function as solitary peak predator during the early part of the film. 

3. Odysseus seems to function mostly in the HOSTILE STRENGTH quadrant. My friend Dr. Craig Hargis suggests that Odysseus as the complete human functions in all areas of the grid, but to me he rarely seems SPINELESS or a CLINGING VINE. 

4. Dr. Hargis made the same observation about Hamlet, seeing him acting in all areas of the grid. It seems to me Hamlet spends a lot of time SKEPTICAL, OFTEN GLOOMY, RESENTS BEING BOSSED. Having watched and read this play repeatedly over the past half century, I do not claim to know what Shakespeare really had in mind. Harold Bloom called Hamlet the “Poem Unlimited”. 

5. Like Scarlett O’Hara, Bugs Bunny frequently falls in the IMPATIENT WITH OTHERS, SELF-SEEKING, SARCASTIC box, but he acts in a trickster, ludic fashion. He can certainly COMPLAIN IF NECESSARY, and he sometimes acts FRIENDLY and CONSIDERATE. 

6. I read Portnoy’s Complaint (1969) by Phillip Roth back in the late 1980’s when working through Prometheus Rising. I found it interesting to reread the novel in 2021. It certainly demonstrates the quantum leap in allowable depictions of sexuality since the publication of Ulysses in 1922. Also, in the decades since I had first read Portnoy’s Complaint I read a number of other narratives about growing up as a Jewish male in the United States which had made me think of Portnoy’s Complaint such as I, Wabenzi by Rafi Zabor, The Miranda Complex by Barry Smolin, and various writings by Louis Zukofsky. Portnoy seems to spend a lot of time in the BITTER, RESENTFUL, COMPLAINING box.  

7. In Ishtar Rising Bob Wilson calls Leopold Bloom “a completely oral personality.” Bloom seems FRIENDLY, CONSIDERATE, and HELPFUL. He certainly has a different personality than his model Odysseus. Where Portnoy certainly considers himself Jewish, Bloom usually does not except when confronted by the anti-Semitic Citizen. However, the other characters in the novel overwhelmingly perceive Bloom as a Jew. 

8. Nixon seems a challenge; he often falls in the SHREWD AND CALCULATING, ONLY THINKS OF HIMSELF, SELFISH box, but I suspect that he usually perceived himself as acting in the national interest. Preparing to write on this chapter I rewatched Frost/Nixon which gives an interesting McLuhanesque picture of the role of television in the creation of the national image of Richard Nixon. 

9. Thomas Jefferson: a great writer, a slave owner, and a rapist. I remember talking with Bob Wilson about Thomas Jefferson the last time I saw Bob in 2000 at a Richard Bandler Neuro-linguistic Programming workshop in Anaheim. We talked about how people in the future might judge us for actions which many accept today. I think of how some Americans consider abortion murder and some Americans consider eating meat murder. Jefferson’s public image has declined in the decades since Bob and I had that conversation. Bob used to watch the musical 1776 every year on the Fourth of July. I just finished rewatching it on July 4, 2021. That film certainly whitewashes the troublesome aspects of Jefferson’s life. On the Interpersonal Grid Jefferson seems to often fall into the MAKES A GOOD IMPRESSION, OFTEN ADMIRED, RESPECTED BY OTHERS box. 

10. Karen Armstrong suggests that St. Paul didn’t actually write some of the letters attributed to him in the New Testament. She sees him as a much more revolutionary figure than many of his critics do. She sees what some see as Paul’s misogyny as the contribution of later writers, and she sees Paul’s attitudes as closer to those of the historical Jesus. He might fall in the “LOVES EVERYONE” and “TRIES TO COMFORT EVERYONE” boxes. I know this differs from the Nietzschean perception of Paul. 

11. Donald Duck seems a great example of hostile weakness. Interestingly, in the Disney cartoons Mickey Mouse seems an example of friendly strength and Goofy of friendly weakness. Pete seems an example of hostile strength, and Minnie has a touch of hostile strength with her cutting sense of humor. Donald’s behavior often falls in the BITTER, RESENTFUL, COMPLAINING box.  

12. Iago seems to fall in the CRUEL AND UNKIND box. Orson Welles saw impotence as the heart of Iago’s problem. Hate seems to fuel a lot of Iago’s behavior. Leslie Fiedler wrote a terrific book called The Stranger in Shakespeare. It focuses on the outsiders in Shakespeare’s plays: the Woman Joan of Arc in 1 Henry VI, the Moor Othello in Othello, the Jew Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, and the Native Caliban in The Tempest. Fiedler saw Iago as motivated by homosexual jealousy. 

13. Jane Eyre seems one of the most centered characters Wilson asks the reader to analyze. She seems SELF-RESPECTING, HELPFUL, CONSIDERATE, FRIENDLY, COOPERATIVE, and APPRECIATIVE. She CAN BE OBEDIENT, CAN COMPLAIN IF NECESSARY, CAN BE FRANK AND HONEST, and CAN BE STRICT IF NECESSARY. She seems ABLE TO CRITICIZE SELF, ABLE TO DOUBT OTHERS, and ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF SELF. She often has behaviors in all of the boxes in the inner circle of the Interpersonal Grid except for WELL THOUGHT OF, but that changes by the end of the novel. I love film historian David Thomson, and he loved the 2011 film version of Jane Eyre and wrote disparagingly of the 1943 version starring Orson Welles. I loved the 2011 film as well, but when I reread the novel I kept hearing Rochester speaking in Orson Welles’ voice. 

14. Joseph Stalin seems to fall into the DICTATORIAL box. Stalin’s alcoholic father beat him as a child. I find the mix of fictional and historical characters on this list interesting. Of course, fictional accounts have shaped my perceptions of many of the historical figures, especially Joan of Arc and Thomas Jefferson. 

15. Films have really shaped my perceptions of Joan of Arc, especially Rivette’s two-part film Joan the Maiden (1994) and Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). As a visionary, her behavior doesn’t fit in the Interpersonal Grid as easily as does that of most others on this list. She CAN BE OBEDIENT, she seems ABLE TO GIVE ORDERS, and sometimes her behavior falls in the MANAGES OTHERS, DOMINATING, BOSSY box. 

16. Dr. Tim seems like a somewhat centered person who could move into all four quadrants when necessary. He seems ABLE TO DOUBT OTHERS and ABLE TO CRITICIZE SELF. He often seemed SELF-RELIANT AND ASSERTIVE, SELF-CONFIDENT, INDEPENDENT. 

17. Uncle Al also often falls in the SELF-RELIANT AND ASSERTIVE, SELF-CONFIDENT, INDEPENDENT box. Crowley also seems ABLE TO CRITICIZE SELF and at times seems IMPATIENT WITH OTHERS’ MISTAKES, SELF-SEEKING, SARCASTIC. 

18. Dr Wilson, like Dr. Tim, seems a rather centered person. He seems HELPFUL, CONSIDERATE, and FRIENDLY, but he could COMPLAIN IF NECESSARY. He rarely seemed OBEDIENT. 

19. Mao once again seems DICTATORIAL. As with Stalin, Mao’s father beat him as a child.  

20. Carl Jung seems rather centered. His autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections gives an interesting view of his world. 

21. The Wikipedia page on the Secret Chiefs talks about the Sufi “cosmic spiritual hierarchy”. As with Joan of Arc, these sorts of visionary personalities don’t behave in the same way as ordinary people, and their behavior doesn’t fall as simply into the Interpersonal Grid.  

22. Hannibal Lector terrifies me. Bob Wilson said he would have liked to have dinner with Dr. Lector. I would want to stay very far away from him. Lector tends to kill most people who perceive his murderous nature. He doesn’t choose to kill Clarice Starling, however, since he finds a world with Starling alive a more interesting world. Perhaps he would have found a world with Bob Wilson alive a more interesting world as well. Lector’s behavior often falls in the CRUEL AND UNKIND box. 

23. I seem somewhat centered, but all too often I fall in the SKEPTICAL, OFTEN GLOOMY, RESENTS BEING BOSSED box. 





Sunday, July 25, 2021

New Trajectories: Notes on the Artists


One of the Leosaysays artworks in New Trajectories.

I'm still reading New Trajectories issue No. 2, the massive zine published by Bobby Campbell for Maybe Day. I'm enjoying the articles, but I am also really impressed by the artwork. 

Here are a few notes on the artists:

The cover is by Jake Giddens. He is a freelance illustrator based in Portland, Oregon, visit his official site to see more of his work. "My art combines traditional art styles with a fun, playful vibrance. Often drawing inspiration from Japanese woodblock prints, medieval paintings, Persian drawings, comic books, fable storybooks and contemporary children’s textiles."

Leosaysays is an artist and illustrating from Nottingham, England. He also has an attractive official site. "Leosaysays is the creative moniker of Rob Manners, an Artist, Illustrator, Tarot reader and UKCP reg. Psychotherapist (www.robmannerscounselling.com) working in Nottingham, UK."

The Zendrites comics are a collaboration between Mike Clinton and Ken Condon; more information here. I believe Mr. Condon is the excellent comics artist, his drawing of Atlantis in the comic is worth a long look. 

Bobby Campbell is an artist and comics producer based in New Jersey. Please see his Weirdoverse web site. Follow him on Twitter.

You will know Rasa  for  his work for the RAW Trust and Hilaritas Press, but you can learn more about him at his official professional site, Pelorian Digital. 

"Richard Rasa was born in Washington DC on January 7th, 1952. He traveled overland from Europe to India at age 17, and studied sitar with Amiya Bhattacharya in the city of Benaras. A few years later, living in Germany, he played guitar and sitar with the Jazz/Rock group Sweet Smoke, recording for EMI records and touring in Germany, Holland and France. He studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and obtained a BA degree in multimedia communications at Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts. Following his curiosity and supported by good karma and a healthy immune system, he has lived and traveled in 38 countries on four of the planet's continents. Rasa says 'currently my left brain dominates my digital work, while my right brain plays sitar with Starseed.' Rasa is the founder and owner of Pelorian Digital Graphic and Website Design, Consulting, and Artist Representation. Rasa is also the Meta-Programming Director for the Robert Anton Wilson Trust, working to promote Pope Bob's books and ideas. In addition to entertaining the staff of Pelorian Digital with impromptu mini-concerts, Rasa authors much of the content of this website."

Many of the writers in New Trajectories also are artists (or musicians, or bloggers, or ...) Eva David for example illustrated her article herself. 




Saturday, July 24, 2021

More Maybe Day news


Bobby Campbell in New Jersey, evidently a magical place, pulls up participants on Zoom for the Maybelogues panel discussion, featuring panelists from all over the world. 

Maybe Day yesterday included the release of a huge zine and videos and other material at Bobby Campbell's Maybe Day site, but it wasn't the only news. (Maybe Day, celebrated on July 23, is the big annual holiday for Robert Anton Wilson fans.)

The Liverpool Arts Lab released the new issue of Bodge. Adam Gorightly posted a link to a list of Discordian holidays.  In the Camden Benares list, it seems, July 23 is not Maybe Day. It is Jack Slack Day, "Jack Slack is honored this day for his work in guru liberation, liberating gurus from their mistaken beliefs that they are channels for liberation."

Apuleius Charlton did a long post on Maybe Day for his Ishtar Rising discussion group. The posts and the comments have been really interesting and you should check them out. 

The big PDF download of New Trajectories #2 at the Maybe Day site is kind of a one-stop shop to everything Bobby released Friday; the 119-page zine, "powered by the negative entropy of Maybe Logic!", has links to all of  the videos and other publications, I noticed as I went through the zine last night. 

The Maybelogues live panel discussion, two hours and 13 minutes, also took place on Zoom yesterday; you can watch the recording on YouTube.

All hail Bobby Campbell for his enormous positive energy in putting much of this together. When he sent me the proof of my piece for the zine (on the influence of Robert Anton Wilson on the libertarian SF writer L. Neil Smith) I was amazed how great it looked. Bobby and his artists did a wonderful job making the zine look good; it must have been a great deal of work. 



Friday, July 23, 2021

Happy Maybe Day!

 


Maybe Day is here. Go to Bobby's Campbell's Maybe Day site to download the 119-page zine of New Trajectories and to download other publications, view videos and join the discussions. 

Here is the contributors list for the zine: Jake Giddens, Leosaysays, Mike Clinton, Ken Condon, Brenton Clutterbuck, Eric Wagner, Eva David, Tommy Calderbank, Mike Gathers, James R. Heffernan, Peter Quadrino, Prop Anon, Steve Fly, Oz Fritz, Pip Williams, Iain Spence, Tom Jackson, Deborah C. Segal, Brian Dean, Don Dulchinos and Bobby Campbell. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

War on some drugs update

 

Dr. William Bauer

The gentleman in the photograph above is Dr. William Bauer, 84, who Wednesday was found guilty of overprescribing painkillers in a federal trial in Toledo, Ohio. He awaits sentencing.

I've written many stories for my newspaper in Sandusky about Dr. Bauer. He did prescribe many more painkiller pills than other doctors in my area, but the reason why is interesting. The federal government has cracked down hard on such prescriptions, and many physicians are terrified and are afraid to approve even legitimate uses of such drugs. I interviewed many chronic pain patients, people dealing with terrible pain, who went to Dr. Bauer, in many cases  because they felt abandoned by their own doctors. The patients told me the prescriptions they got from Bauer allowed them to function. Here is one of my articles. 

Because of his compassion and courage (Bauer repeatedly denounced the war on drugs), the doctor is  now a convicted criminal. 

If you aren't familiar with these issues, let me say that there is no question that prescription painkillers are high powered drugs that can be dangerous. They can be addictive, and people die from overdoses of them. But as a result of the government crackdown, which made it difficult for addicts to get pills, many people switched to heroin, which is often laced with fentanyl. This is a government policy that has helped produce record numbers of deaths by drug overdose. Government policy on opioids is just one factor in this, but it's an important one. 

If you want to learn more about these issues, you would do well to read postings by Dr. Jeffrey Singer at the Cato Institute. Here is a recent blog post. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

More Maybe Day news!


Friday, July 23, is Maybe Day, dwarfing lesser holidays such as Halloween and Easter. I asked Bobby Campbell, who has taken it upon himself to organize a celebration, to share a little bit more about what  to expect Friday.

"On Friday 7/23/21 at 8:08 AM EST maybeday.net will update and feature the download link for NEW TRAJECTORIES #2, numerous video presentations made for the occasion, and all relevant resources & links :)))

The MAYBELOGUES - LIVE PANEL DISCUSSION will be held here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqqLczQ-UN5z2RBCHPLtD_g

It'll be live from 5 - 7 PM EST and will be archived there afterwards.

My RAW twitter account will be signal boosting as much Maybe Day cheer as possible:

https://twitter.com/RAWilson23 

And the Principia Discordia forum is available for cussing & discussing:

https://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum

(Just look for the ONLY MAYBE ARTS LAB section.)"

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Yes, the NSA is spying on Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson (Creative Commons photo by Gage Skidmore)

[Julian Sanchez, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is not a fan of Donald Trump and his followers, and he doesn't think all of Tucker Carlson's spin is likely to be true. Which makes it all the more interesting, at least to me, that Sanchez believes it is quite likely the NSA has collected intelligence on Carlson, and has allowed it to leak out, possibly for political purposes. The post below is reprinted from Cato's "Cato at Liberty" blog, under the Creative Commons 4.0 license Cato uses. I've put my headline on my blog post, but below I'm using the headline Mr. Sanchez apparently chose for his blog post.  Source. -- The Management].

Tucker Carlson vs. the NSA

By Julian Sanchez

Cable television host Tucker Carlson has leveled an explosive charge at the National Security Agency: He claims the spy agency has been snooping through his e-mails and text messages as part of plot to discredit Carlson and his eponymous Fox News program. The NSA took the rare step of issuing a public statement denying that Carlson had been an intelligence target, and his own network—both its executives and its news division—has been conspicuously muted about the allegations. So what's going on here?

Based on the publicly available facts, I feel reasonably confident about three things: First, Carlson's sensationalist version of the story—that he was illegally targeted by the Biden administration in service to some political vendetta—is pretty unlikely to be true. Second, it is not only plausible but quite likely that some of Carlson's communications were nevertheless intercepted by NSA. Third, on the currently public facts, it not clear whether anyone at NSA or within the broader Intelligence Community did anything improper, let alone unlawful— and this should in itself be disturbing, because it illustrates how dangerously broad our foreign intelligence surveillance authorities have become.

Let's start with those public facts. Carlson says he was approached by a whistleblower from within the federal government who alerted him that certain of his communications had been reviewed by NSA, proving these claims by providing details that could only have come from Carlson's private e-mails and text messages. The host concluded that NSA had been "monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air." A few days later, Axios reported that Carlson had been seeking, via two "Kremlin intermediaries," to secure an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and that government had become aware of his outreach. Carlson had in turn learned of this, prompting his charge of illicit spying. In the aftermath of the Axios story, Carlson claimed vindication: Not only had he been spied on, he argued, but NSA had been leaking the details of his communications in an effort to discredit him.

I'm skeptical of Carlson's framing, though not because it's inconceivable in principle that American intelligence agencies might illegally target journalists or political enemies. They have a long and sordid history of doing precisely that, most notoriously during J. Edgar Hoover's disgraceful tenure as head of the FBI, which spawned a long-running project, known as COINTELPRO, dedicated to targeting domestic dissidents. Yet Carlson's theory of the case doesn't make a ton of sense. He says NSA planned to leak his attempts to secure a Putin interview in order to "paint me as a disloyal American... [a] stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor doing the bidding of a foreign adversary." That sounds like a singularly bad plan: Putin has been interviewed many times by mainstream American reporters, including Carlson's Fox colleague Chris Wallace back in 2018, and NBC News just last month. It is hard to think of a more ineffective smear than "television host seeks interview with foreign leader"—a fact that the host presumably intends to become public anyway when the interview is aired. And it is similarly hard to think of a riskier target—one more apt to provoke both internal and external scrutiny—than a well-known conservative media figure. NSA has no lawful way of directly targeting an American within the U.S. without the involvement of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and several layers of Justice Department review. So the most exciting version of the story is that intelligence officials were prepared to hazard disgrace and prosecution for the sake of... possibly embarrassing a television infotainer? Stranger things have happened, but it doesn't seem at all likely.

Here is a much more plausible scenario: NSA was spying on the Russian government or its agents—which might well include the "Kremlin intermediaries" to whom Carlson had reached out—under any one of a number of different applicable authorities, depending on the identity of the specific target and where they were located. In the process, they "incidentally collected" Carlson's communications—either directly from the "intermediaries," who may have been targeted as "agents of a foreign power" pursuant to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order, or indirectly, when those intermediaries then passed on Carlson's interview request to officials who could convey it to Putin, which would not require any court authorization. The information that Putin was considering another U.S. media appearance might not be terribly exciting, but it would nevertheless qualify as "foreign intelligence" as that term is broadly defined, and disseminated in reporting to any number of NSA clients.

Carlson has acknowledged this possibility, but claimed that it would nevertheless be illegal if the reports had included his name or identifying information, or had allowed his identity to be "unmasked" subsequently by request. That is a natural intuition—that information about U.S. persons picked up by the government, even in the course of legitimate surveillance, ought to be strongly legally protected. Alas, that's not true either. In reality, while U.S. person identities are supposed to be "masked" by default under standard "minimization procedures," this is a fairly weak requirement. U.S. person identities can be included in reporting whenever it's deemed necessary to provide proper context for the intelligence being reported, or "unmasked" by specific request later. Both of these things are extremely common.

We have unmasking statistics for just one of the many surveillance authorities the Intelligence Community employs: §702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Last year, NSA disseminated 2,648 reports initially containing "masked" U.S. person identities, and 1,351 reports in which at least one U.S. person's identity was openly included. But many of those initially masked identities did not remain masked. In 2020, NSA subsequently "unmasked" 9,354 U.S. person identities in response to a specific request from another agency. In 2018, the number was a whopping 16,721. If you find those numbers disturbing, join the club. But unmasking is neither unusual nor illegal.

One charge remains, and here it's harder to say whether Carlson's complaint is accurate. He says a journalist contacted him—presumably referring to the Axios story, though other outlets may have had it—with knowledge of his communications about seeking an interview with Putin. This, he avers, shows that someone in the Intelligence Community had leaked details of his private communications to the press in an attempt to discredit his charges against NSA. That would indeed be both scandalous and unlawful if it were true. But it's not clear from the Axios story itself whether it was based on information from a government source. Carlson says he told his executive producer about his outreach to Putin, which means at least one other person at Fox was aware of the communications, and may have shared that information with others. And of course the recipients of the communications would have been aware of them as well, as well as any Russian officials involved in subsequently entertaining the interview request. For intelligence officials to leak those details in order to disrupt an unfavorable story would indeed be a serious abuse of power, but given the numerous other potential sources, we can't as yet say with any confidence whether that's what occurred.

In a sense, Carlson's sexier framing of the story is also more comforting: Bad actors are abusing their powers in violation of the law—but that's a simple problem that can be fixed by identifying the bad actors and firing or prosecuting them. The probable reality is both more mundane and more chilling: We have given our intelligence agencies vast surveillance powers, with bipartisan support, hemmed in by gossamer-thin safeguards that, as in the case of "masking," are routinely bypassed perfectly lawfully. If the reality of intelligence collection and dissemination sounds like it must be a scandal, like it surely has to be illegal... then it is within our power to change the law so that it is.  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 41

Unsplash photo by Steve GoMes

This is the point in the discussion group where I admit I have come to a chapter where I am not doing well. I have done my best to carry out the exercises so far -- as Eric says, this is really the point of taking our time with Prometheus Rising this time around -- but I have to admit, I don't really understand how to apply the first and second circuits in the Chapter 5 exercises to Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Timothy Leary or any of the other people/nonpeople listed in the exercises. Maybe I should have written to Eric and asked for advice, but it's too late now.

I have taken the liberty of looking ahead to the exercises in Chapter 6, and I am confident that I will be able to do better in that chapter. And I am not trying to blow off the exercises at all. As I wrote in my post for Week 29, I thought the "I am sitting in the room doing this exercize because" exercise was amazing. 

Which I guess raises a question: If you don't do every exercise, but you honestly make an attempt to do many of them and to learn from them, are you still getting something out of Prometheus Rising? I hope so.

I did think Wilson's discussion of dialectic between the matrist and patrist was interesting. Broadly speaking, it seems as if our political system is divided between people who want the federal government to be a "father" (enforcing law and order) and those who want it to be a "mother" (emphasizing the welfare state and the government safety net.)

Bibliographic note: Google has still not fixed my problem with the archive of posts so far, so I can't right now offer a handy list of past posts. But if you click the "Prometheus Rising discussion and exercise group" label on this post, you do get a display of all of the posts so far. 


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Brenton Clutterbuck's new project


Brenton Clutterbuck writes about his new book: "I'm about to send a new project out into the world; it's called ※ and has a poetic prose-like tone to it. It is just shy of 25,000 words."

I haven't had time to read it yet. The essays (if that's the right description) have titles such as "The Crack" and "The Slime of Reason."  Brenton wants you to find out about the book by actually reading it; on Twitter, he writes, "It's a lot of things, but finding out is half the fun - my intention is to clarify as little as possible."

I'll provide more information on availability when I can; I have a review copy of the book on my phone now. It should be out soon. 

Brenton's other works include the book Chasing Eris; more information here. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

RAW Semantics on headphones as brain machines


The Sony WH1000XM4 noise cancelling headphones recommended by Brian

I loved gadgets and so I have been intrigued for years by noise canceling headphones. Decent ones can be quite expensive, however, and I've never been able to justify the cost of getting them. I don't live in a noisy neighborhood and the only time I really wish I had them is when I fly. But I don't fly very often.

Other people's circumstances vary, of course, so I was pleased to be able to live vicariously through Brian Dean, who lives in a very noisy place and at RAW Semantics discusses his positive experiences using such headphones. 

One of Brian's takes is that the devices can be thought of as brain machines, in the sense of the devices Robert Anton Wilson wrote about later in life:

"Noise-cancelling devices could, at a stretch, be categorised as 'brain machines' (when you consider that sensory deprivation tools such as 'flotation tanks' seem to fall under that category). They certainly seem to improve the effect of other audio input on mental states."

A couple of consumer tips from Brian and from me:

1. From Brian: "f you, or a loved one, ever finds yourself staying in hospital, consider earplugs essential, if you want to get any sleep. It’s a good idea to find a brand that works for you."

2. I sometimes need to go to bed earlier than my wife when I need to get up early the next day for work (my wife is retired.) The TV is in the next room, but my white noise machine is very useful is screening out the sound when Ann wants to watch her show and I need to sleep. When I looked at Walmart's website just now, they ranged in cost from $10 to $45, so they aren't expensive.

3. I never buy expensive earbuds as I assume I will just lose them, but the Panasonic RP-HJE125E-K (about $9) are the best cheap ones I've been able to find by looking at Internet reviews. If you need relatively inexpensive Bluetooth speakers, I like my Sony SRS XB-10 (around $50, depending on the vendor.)




Friday, July 16, 2021

Friday links

 

23 Skidoo artwork by Aleister Crowley. Source. 

Google still won't let me publish my Prometheus Rising discussion archive. The heart of the problem is that Google does not provide technical support for Blogger, instead referring users to a community forum. I posted and did not get a useful response.

Jacob Sullum tries again to explain how the war on drugs has made the opioid crisis worse. 

June Eris of the month. 

Prop Anon talks to Adam Gorightly about UFOs, Part Two.

Podcast with John Higgs talking about William Blake.

Alien life on a moon of Saturn? 




Thursday, July 15, 2021

MaybeDay 2021 update


As he did last year, Bobby Campbell is organizing a cool celebration for Maybe Day 2021, and I thought would offer a brief update. 

Maybe Day is going to be July 23, 2021, i.e. about one week away. 

Bobby is putting together a big zine that he will make available to everyone, about 100 pages. (I turned in my own piece, a little late, this week, swelling Bobby's zine in size if not in quality.)

There will also be a live panel discussion, broadcast on YouTube at 5 p.m. EST July 23.

The Maybe Day website still has lots of goodies from last year you can download. 






Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

RAW interview posted on YouTube

 

A 1995 episode of the public TV show "Thinking Allowed," with an interview, about 28 minutes long, of Robert Anton Wilson by Jeffrey Mishlove.

RAW biographer Prop Anon explains on Twitter: "Jeffrey Mishlove just re-released his interview w RAW from back in the dayo. Until now, only bits of it were on the Web. Props to Mishlove for putting their convo out there again!"

Monday, July 12, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 40


By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

Chapter Five is an opportunity to reflect on the important lessons contained in Chapter Four. I believe that Wilson provides this chapter because of the importance of the material previously covered concerning the Second Circuit and human interaction. 

Wilson certainly doesn’t paint a flattering picture of the behaviors that are derived from the anal-territorial circuit, even the name isn’t pleasant. Yet, I don’t think one can easily underestimate the importance of analysing the behaviors that derive from these emotional imprints, even in the most intellectual or “advanced” personalities. It is tempting to treat the world like a Lion House and use one’s understanding of the Second Circuit primarily as a lens to view others; as in all things, it is important to overcome this impulse and apply the strictest observation(s) to ourselves. I would wager this is why “You” comes in as the final (23rd) entry in the list of personalities to examine using the criteria provided. 

This chapter is both easy and difficult for me to understand. Of course, I have a deep and abiding hatred of Jehovah, Murdstone and the Thunder God of the Wake. Or whatever it is that they represent. There is something so blasphemous to me in the idea of Jehovah, or the strict, hateful deity- why make Nature, in its infinite caprice any angrier or malicious?  There’s always something very small and very human in the idea of the Angry Father God that has seemed as if it were a built-in mockery-inducing mechanism, a kind of cruel joke. Those who don’t get the joke go on their whole lives, serving and trembling before the wrath of shadow that seems monstrous, yet is caused by an idea that is the imaginary equivalent of a gnat. Those who seek to emulate such a creature as the Abrahamic God, those that make themselves into a mockery of a mockery, are perhaps the vilest of all God’s creatures. (See what I did there?) The real life Murdstones, the disciplinarians and the servants of dour religion are worth little more than the scorn and hatred they naturally engender. 

There’s nothing quite as grotesque as watching someone writhe before a fake tyrant and no idea so loathsome in that they wish for you to grovel too. Save us from the Xtians, Oh Lord. 

For all my hatred of Jehovah, it was more often than not the female figures of my youth who were my disciplinarians. Most of my teachers were women and I was brought up with a Bertie Wooster-like brace of formidable aunts. I don’t wish to get too deep into my personal history, for once, but the wooden spoon looms large in my mind as something that nourishes and punishes in turn. Perhaps this helps to explain my attraction to female deities akin to Hera, Durga/Kali and BABALON- Goddesses of Destruction who offer their fickle protection with proper supplication/observation. Reflecting upon my preference in deities/models of the universe in such a manner does cause me to wonder why I have such an aversion to the Father God. My Father was by no means a cruel figure in my childhood and is still someone I would associate with stability and safety. That said, I can remember the words “wait until your Father gets home” and the dread they could conjure, sometimes for hours ahead of the eventual consequences. I think that it is an intellectual (not as in I am so intelligent, but rather my mental conception) bit of indigestion that makes the Thunder God such an unpleasant idea. 

It is tiresome having to retread my dislike of Jehovah and the hostile strength/weakness personalities that it creates. Yet, as I spend a little time daily retreading The Thing That Ate The Constitution and seeing in the news how little our society has changed since the turn of the century, we are still largely a fractious and paranoid group of apes who are unable to stop cobbling the boots on our necks, it seems we are still living largely in a similar manner to the trembling cave dwellers of our past. 

We should be able to have some fun with the list of characters over the coming month. Analysis away! 




Sunday, July 11, 2021

Douglas Rushkoff on RAW

Douglas Rushkoff 

Douglas Rushkoff has a new piece up, "Human Beings are Not an Engineering Problem," reflections on Robert Anton Wilson after re-reading The New Inquisition.  

I don't really follow Rushkoff's argument (despite my current issues with Google, I like modern technology and the internet), but in any event, the portrait he sketches of RAW is attractive:

But what made Bob different, was that he eschewed authority — not just in others, like Tim Leary and Abbie Hoffman did — but in himself. They say not to ever meet your heroes or you’ll be disillusioned. Bob was the exception to this rule. Meeting Bob was like meeting your long lost uncle. He was casual, friendly, self-effacing, open-minded, and mentally flexible. He simply refused to be placed on a pedestal, or to lord his wisdom or stature over anyone else. I knew this as his personality.

You can follow Rushkoff on Twitter and follow his Team Human podcast. 


Saturday, July 10, 2021

RAW Semantics on RAW and the Zen roshi

Hakuun Yasutani and Phillip Kapleau

RAW Semantics has a new post up which explores (and solves) a mystery: Who is the "Yositani Roshi" repeatedly cited by Robert Anton Wilson who says, "There is nothing special about Enlightenment. You do it every night in your sleep. Zen is just a trick for doing it while awake."

It turns out that RAW has misspelled the name in several places and is referring to Hakuun Yasutani (1885–1973). RAW writes that he studied Za-Zen by taking training from Yasutani  Roshi, whose name is spelled correctly in The Starseed Signals. According to the Wikipedia biography of Yasutani, a well-known book on Zen, The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau helped bring his teachings to the attention of the West. 

Brian's post also has an ad for "23-SLEEPCOIN MINER," and wouldn't it be interesting to obtain enlightenment from an app?

The Wikipedia article also has quotations, by the way, showing that Yasutani was a fanatical fascist and supporter of Japanese militarism.  In fact, it would appear many Japanese Zen Buddhists had similar views. I would presume that RAW knew nothing of this. 


Friday, July 9, 2021

Barry Longyear wins Prometheus Award

Barry Longyear 

Barry Longyear has won the Prometheus Award, a science fiction award associated in various ways with both Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. 

He won for his novel, The War Whisperer Book Five: The Hook. The Prometheus Hall of Fame Award went to F. Paul Wilson for the short story, "Lipileggin'." 

Yes, this is the same Barry Longyear who won the Hugo and Nebula awards for his 1979  novella "Enemy Mine." Here is his official website.  His personal blog, "Life Sucks Better Clean," is dedicated to helping people recover from substance use disorder. 

F. Paul Wilson, perhaps best known for his novel The Keep and his "Repairman Jack" series, has won the Prometheus Award several times. In fact, he won the first one, for this novel Wheels Within Wheels, and the presenter at the ceremony was Robert Anton Wilson. 

Here is the official press release from the Libertarian Futurist Society: 

Prometheus Award winners announced:

  • 2021 Prometheus Awards: Barry Longyear wins for Best Novel,
    F. Paul Wilson story inducted into Hall of Fame

The Libertarian Futurist Society, a nonprofit all-volunteer international organization of freedom-loving science fiction fans, has announced Prometheus Award Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction winners.

The 41st annual Prometheus Awards will be presented online in late August with an awards ceremony and panel discussion, with Reason magazine as the media sponsor of the post-ceremony panel. Reason editor Katherine Mangu-Ward and Reason book editor Jesse Walker will join LFS President William H. Stoddard and others (to be announced) to discuss "SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards."

The Prometheus Award for Best Novel

The War Whisperer, Book 5: The Hook, by Barry B. Longyear (Enchanteds press), has won the 2021 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for novels published in 2020.

In one of the rare novels to imagine a fully libertarian society and attempt to do so realistically, Longyear depicts a near future in which the Mexican government's bungled response to a devastating Category 5 hurricane prompts the people of the border state of Tamaulipas to secede, declaring themselves an anarcho-libertarian freeland. The protagonist, Jerome Track, must first decide whether the freeland is worth his commitment, and then develop an innovative strategy for its defense. In the fifth book of Track's autobiography, Longyear grapples with how a society that refuses to use coercion against its people can defend itself against military aggression without conscription or taxation, and develops an intriguing and plausible solution.

This is the first Prometheus Award recognition for Longyear, best known for the award-winning novella and film of Enemy Mine and the first writer to win the Hugo, Nebula and Campbell awards in the same year. However, several of Longyear's earlier works, most frequently his 1981 novel Circus World, have been nominated by LFS members for the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

The other 2021 Best Novel finalists were Who Can Own the Stars? by Mackey Chandler (Amazon Kindle); Storm Between the Stars, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press); Braintrust: Requiem, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing); and Heaven's River, by Dennis E. Taylor (An Audible Original, with print and ebook editions from The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency)

The Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction

Lipidleggin', a short story by F. Paul Wilson, won the 2021 Best Classic Fiction award and will be inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

Published in 1978 in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and part of Wilson's Future History series, Lipidleggin' takes a humorous look at a future United States where saturated fats have become controlled substances and rebels resist such government prohibition.

F. Paul Wilson, now a six-time Prometheus Award winner, won the first Prometheus Award in 1979 for Wheels Within Wheels and also won the Best Novel award for Sims in 2004. He's won the Prometheus Hall of Fame award twice before, for Healer, in 1990, and An Enemy of the State, in 1991. Wilson received a Special Prometheus Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2015.

The other Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists were The Winter of the World, a 1975 novel by Poul Anderson; "As Easy as A.B.C.," a 1912 story by Rudyard Kipling; "The Trees," a 1978 song by the rock group Rush; and Emphyrio, a 1969 novel by Jack Vance.

While the Best Novel category is limited to novels published in English for the first time during the previous calendar year (or so), Hall of Fame nominees – which must have been published at least 20 years ago—may be in any narrative or dramatic form, including novels, novellas, stories, films, television series or episodes, plays, musicals, graphic novels, song lyrics, or verse.

Prometheus Awards History

The Prometheus Awards, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards.

The Prometheus Award has, for more than four decades, recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between liberty and power. Such works critique or satirize authoritarian trends, expose abuses of power by the institutionalized coercion of the State, champion cooperation over coercion as the roots of civility and social harmony, and uphold individual rights and freedom for all as the only moral and practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, universal human flourishing and civilization itself.

After separate judging committees select finalists in each annual awards category, LFS members read and rank the finalists to choose the annual Prometheus Award winners.

The Best Novel winner receives a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin; and the Hall of Fame winner, a plaque with a smaller gold coin. Appreciation review-essays of each winner, explaining why LFS members view them as deserving of such recognition, will be published on the Prometheus blog (lfs.org/blog/) as part of our ongoing Appreciation series of all Prometheus winners.

Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is open to libertarians interested in how science fiction and other fantastic genres can promote an appreciation of the value of liberty. For more information, visit www.lfs.org.



Thursday, July 8, 2021

New RAW book in the works


You'll get lots more official information down the line from Rasa, but Chad Nelson is ready to reveal that he's editing a book for Hilaritas Press, Natural Law + accompanying essays. This is not just a reprint of the long-out-of-print RAW essay Natural Law, but a new collection of various RAW pieces on political matters, likely of interest to libertarians but other folks, too, because if you've paid attention to Robert Anton Wilson's political writings, he did not write as an orthodox libertarian.

This apparently will be out sooner rather than later. "No date, I'm still working on the intro essay, but I would think it's going to be a 2021 drop," Chad reports.

Related to the Samuel Konkin post from yesterday, Chad shares this bit from an issue of New Libertarian; 

"One interesting piece was SEK's postscript to RAW's Natural Law article. In it, SEK says, 'Bob remains our biggest single draw; more new subscribers ask about him than anyone else (since Heinlein's interview in 1973-1974). His reversal of the traditional positions of objectivists and Subjectivists took my breath away. A tactical genius.' And this from someone who disagreed wholeheartedly with RAW! Very cool that the fan mail was coming in most for RAW, and not any of the other better-known libertarian luminaries. I think he was shocking the libertarian conscience with some of his hedonistic remarks."

I meant to do a separate blog post on that, but the news is coming in fast and I have other stuff to share with you the next few days.

And here's this bit from Chad: Arlen gave Victor Koman an aloe plant "that has multiplied and is still alive!" 


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Samuel Konkin papers being archived


Samuel Konkin. Photo by Victor Koman. 

News of possible interest to Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea scholars: "Prometheus-winning author and scholar Victor Koman is leading a new project to digitize the papers and publications of Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3) for posterity."

As this blog post at the Libertarian Futurist Society blog notes, "Konkin interacted with Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea (whose satirical sf trilogy Illuminatus! was inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame in 1986)." 

Konkin published many pieces by Robert Anton Wilson in his "New Libertarian Weekly" such as this one, and perhaps there is correspondence with Wilson and Shea in his papers. 

Collections of papers such as this, the Discordian Archives and the Timothy Leary papers at the New York Public Library are all valuable, particularly because of the failure of both Wilson and Shea to preserve their literary papers for posterity.




Tuesday, July 6, 2021

I'm being censored by Google


The Googleplex. Ordinary mortals are not allowed to communicate with the people inside the building. 

My archive of Prometheus Rising discussion posts, ordinarily available on the right side of the page, has been removed because it violates Google's community guidelines.

Like much big tech censorship these days, this makes no sense. It's simply a list of links to previous postings, giving the number of the posting and the name of the person who wrote it. I can't fathom what community guideline would be violated by "Week Three (by Eric Wagner)."

I asked for a review and Google decided I didn't violate community guidelines, after all. But the page has still not been restored.

Here is Google's message (the email address is "no reply," of course.)

     Hello,


     We have re-evaluated the post titled "Prometheus Rising 

discussion/exercise group" against Community Guidelines 

https://blogger.com/go/contentpolicy. Upon review, the post has been 

reinstated. You may access the post at 

http://www.rawillumination.net/p/starseed-readingdiscussion-group-and.html.


     Sincerely,


     The Blogger Team


Monday, July 5, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 39

 


By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger 

Well, I’ve struggled to practice two fifteen-minute meditation sessions every day. I have meditated most days, but have missed a few sessions. I do plan to get up to a month in a row. We will see. I have allowed life chaos to interfere with this exercise. I did find it interesting to return to Christopher Hyatt’s Undoing Yourself with Energized Meditation. I have the third edition. I remember haunting bookstores in the 1980’s searching for Wilson and related books in those pre-Amazon days, especially the Alpha Book Center in Phoenix, which got most of the Falcon titles.  

I remember in 1986 feeling delighted when I found a copy of the second edition of Undoing Yourself at Alpha Book Center. I started reading it at my job at Hunter’s Books, and around pg. 36 I came across “The oral-anal pit can be referred to as 333. If you don’t know what that number means please look it up.” (I don’t know  the page number in the second edition. I may still have a copy in a box in the garage. If it turns up, I will look it up. I don’t think any of my local libraries have a copy of any of Hyatt’s books.) 

Well, back in 1986 I didn’t know about 333 and Choronzon, and Hunter’s Books didn’t have any Crowley. We did have Cosmic Trigger, though, the only Robert Anton Wilson book I could order through our distributor at the time. I didn’t recall any reference to 333, but I looked it up in the index. Lo and behold, it did have an entry for 333. Wilson discusses 333’s appearance in a UFO story in Fortean News and he adds, “333 is the Cabalistic number of ‘that mighty devil, Choronzon,’ who once afflicted Dr. Dee in the 17th Century and gave Aleister himself a rough time in Bou Saada, North Africa, 1909, as recounted in The Vision and the Voice by Aleister Crowley” (Cosmic Trigger, pg. 168). 

Rereading Undoing Yourself in 2021 it struck me that Hyatt pulls the reader’s leg at times, playing the trickster. On page 19 he tells the reader, “Now stand on your head and re-read Info-Psychology.” Bob Wilson pulls the reader’s leg at times, and I wondered if he really wanted the reader to do all of the exercises in Prometheus Rising, or at least to do them in the way he described them. Some people have complained about taking six months or more for the chapter one exercises, for example.  

Upon reflection, I think Bob really did want us to do these exercises pretty much the way he wrote them in the book, especially in the revised second edition. He pointed to Prometheus Rising over and over again in his writings after 1983, saying basically that if you want to improve your life, try the exercises I put in this book. I may seem gullible in this conclusion. 

Last century I attended three encounter groups, Omega Vector, Omega II, and Delta Vector. I found them interesting, and I appreciated that they didn’t charge any money. I have some friends who paid for the EST Training. I love the send-up of EST in the film The Spirit of ‘76

I look forward to visiting the Lion House again. Nora Joyce liked the fact that one could hear the roaring of the lions in the zoo James Joyce’s grave in Zurich. 

In 1988 I attended Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with a friend and his two kids to fulfill the exercise to watch a film “that small children like”. I wonder if the screenwriters named Roger and Jessica after the characters in Gravity’s Rainbow? A few months later I saw a theater marquee with a missing letter: Who Framed Roger Rabbi ? 

In 2021 I watched a few Three Stooges short films and Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates (1941).  


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Rasa on RAW the speculator and writer

I wrote this little essay in response to someone online asking about Robert Anton Wilson, “Did he even have any ideas of his own?”

RAW was a very cool and friendly brilliant guy, but he didn’t want to be a guru. That’s all the more reason, ironically, why people revere the guy. Aside from his fiction, which you either like or not depending on your own subjective preferences, most people think he was a rather gifted wordsmith. What he did with the words, I suspect, is the reason for the interest in his writings, as much if not more than the poetry of his writing. Yes, he was encyclopedic in his explorations of subjects, and he was humble enough (and helpful enough) to pretty much always show where ideas originated. Did he come up with original concepts himself? Some clever wordplay led to iconic characters, memorable scenes and lasting memes. I think a major part of what people love about the guy, are those lasting memes. That’s not a small thing, largely, I suspect, because he brought together all of these bizarre and astounding subjects and ideas with a framework of idealistic progressive liberal thought. Think of him as a kar-mechanic. He took all of these cool parts and put them together to give us a vehicle that we can drive around in. It’s a very cool vehicle. We have to make adjustments to it over time, but RAW advised us to do just that.

There was a reason George Carlin said, “I have learned more from Robert Anton Wilson than I have from any other source.” He was talking about the way RAW introduced him to a set of ideas. No minor achievement.

Honestly, people who love his writings love his writings because they offer so many great insights – often practical ones that we can use in daily life. I once asked RAW what kind of philosopher he thought he was. He said, “I’m not a philosopher, I’m more of a speculator. I make speculations about reality.” He wanted to downplay his role, out of humility I suspect, but he wanted to be taken seriously as well as critically. He says again and again in his books that you should absorb what he writes but you should think for yourself, and make your own decisions about “what it all means.”

We are, I suspect, as interested in the guy for models and discoveries he may have championed, as for the structure he gave to those models and discoveries. How to think about those models, as he elucidates in his many books, was his great gift. We refer to his writings as an acknowledgement of the wonderful usefulness of his work. Ironically, shedding light onto knowledge is the actual definition of a guru.

– Rasa, June 23, 2021

[The above was originally posted under "News" at the Hilaritas Press website.]






Saturday, July 3, 2021

The RAW cover artist who is a Vodou priestess



You give me a cure all from New Orleans

Now that's a recipe I sure do need

Some cider vinegar and some elderberry wine

May cure all your ills, but it can't cure mine

Your Lou'siana recipes have let me down

Your Lou'siana recipes have surely let me down 

"Till the Next Goodbye," Mike Jagger and Keith Richards, from the Rolling Stones album, It's Only Rock and Roll 

Sometimes when you follow a link on a blog posting, you learn something. Via a link at this blog post by Apuleius Charlton, I learned that Sallie Ann Glassman, the cover artist for a Falcon Press edition of Ishtar Rising, is "an initiated Vodou Priestess" who owns the Island of Salvation Bontanica, a spiritual shop which provides voodoo religious supplies, candles, incense, medicinal herbs and works of art. 

Glassman's Wikipedia biography also leaves the impression that she is an interesting person: "Glassman's art is both esoteric and syncretic. She has produced two major non-traditional tarot packs: the Enochian Tarot is derived from the Enochian magical system of Elizabethan magician Doctor John Dee, and the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot replaces the standard four tarot suits with depictions of the spirits of the major strands of Vodou (Petro, Congo, Rada) and SanterĂ­a practices."

I don't know what "Louisiana recipe" let Mick Jagger down, but I'll bet Sallie Ann Glassman could discuss it with you. 

Sallie Ann Glassman in 2009 (Creative Commons photo)