Tuesday, August 31, 2021

L. Neil Smith has died

 

L. Neil Smith

Libertarian science fiction writer L. Neil Smith has died; he was 75 and was often mentioned in this blog because he was obviously influenced by Robert Anton Wilson. My piece in New Trajectories 2 was about him. 

You can read the report on File 770.  The family has set up a memorial website.  The Libertarian Futurist Society website has a tribute.   You can read Sean Gabb's reaction.  My interview of El Neil is still available. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, week 47


Unsplash.com photo by Lorenz Lippert 

When I re-read Chapter 6, I was struck by Wilson's comment that "Whatever threatens loss of status, and whatever invades one's 'space' (including one's ideological 'head space') is a threat to the average domesticated primate."

It seems to me that this explains current politics pretty well. Democrats want to raise the status of groups that have been excluded from the mainstream of American life, and Republicans often seem driven by resentment that their base has seen a decrease in status. 

I've spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to apply the first two exercises to myself. I already try to read a wide variety of viewpoints; I feel like I have to, as covering politics is part of my job.

The difficulty for me with the first two exercise recommendations is that I don't really consider myself a liberal or a conservative. I identify more as a libertarian than anything else, with an emphasis on peace and civil liberties. So what should I be reading to enter other people's reality tunnels? 

As an experiment, I've put together a Twitter list of authoritarians -- warmongers, left wing extremists, etc. There really isn't a unifying theme, but it will force me to consider points of view from people I otherwise would tune out. [Update: I tried out my new Twitter feed Monday and I was disgusted by some of the Tweets, so apparently seeing the other person's point of view is a work in progress.] 

I also pledge to try to watch a couple episodes of Tucker Carlson's show, someone I've managed to successfully avoid for years. As he is Fox's top show host, it also will be interesting to compare his show with his MSNBC counterpart, Rachel Maddow. My wife watches Maddow regularly, so I've seen quite a few of her shows. Will the nature of the emotional appeals for the two shows be similar, or will they seem different?




Sunday, August 29, 2021

A Transhumanist manifesto

Balaji Srinivasan (Creative Commons photo)

I try to be alert to signs that the SMI2LE formula endorse by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson is still endorsed by people today. (Remember, it stands for "space migration, intelligence increase (or intelligence squared) and life extension.") 

I have just finished listening to a long podcast (three hours and 45 minutes) of an interview with Balaji Srinivasan by Timothy Ferriss. Srinivasan is an influential guru on crypto and the internet, and the interview caused something of a sensation when it came out in March, but I only just now got around to listening to it.

About two or three hours in, Srinivasan to my surprise began talking about his enthusiastic support for space migration and life extension. Ferriss asked him who to listen to to find out more about those ideas. Naturally I was hoping Srinivasan would mention Robert Anton Wilson, but instead he recommended Zoltan Istvan, who ran for president in 2016 as the leader of the Transhumanist Party.

How close is the platform of the Transhumanist Party to SMI2LE? Well, here is the Transhumanist Bill of Rights:

Presented to the United States Capitol on December 14, 2015 by Zoltan Istvan, founder and US Presidential candidate of the Transhumanist Party

Preamble: Whereas science and technology are now radically changing human beings and may also create future forms of advanced sapient and sentient life, transhumanists establish this TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS to help guide and enact sensible policies in the pursuit of life, liberty, security of person, and happiness.  

Article 1. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms are entitled to universal rights of ending involuntary suffering, making personhood improvements, and achieving an indefinite lifespan via science and technology.

Article 2. Under penalty of law, no cultural, ethnic, or religious perspectives influencing government policy can impede life extension science, the health of the public, or the possible maximum amount of life hours citizens possess.

Article 3. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms agree to uphold morphological freedom—the right to do with one’s physical attributes or intelligence (dead, alive, conscious, or unconscious) whatever one wants so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

Article 4. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms will take every reasonable precaution to prevent existential risk, including those of rogue artificial intelligence, asteroids, plagues, weapons of mass destruction, bioterrorism, war, and global warming, among others.

Article 5. All nations and their governments will take all reasonable measures to embrace and fund space travel, not only for the spirit of adventure and to gain knowledge by exploring the universe, but as an ultimate safeguard to its citizens and transhumanity should planet Earth become uninhabitable or be destroyed.

Article 6. Involuntary aging shall be classified as a disease. All nations and their governments will actively seek to dramatically extend the lives and improve the health of its citizens by offering them scientific and medical technologies to overcome involuntary aging.    

Tom again: Article 4 seems prophetic in light of current events, and Srinivasan is known for noticing early that COVID-19 might turn out to be a big deal.  Srinivasan is on Twitter.  You can also find Istvan on Twitter. 

Zoltan Istvan (official photo)

Saturday, August 28, 2021

RAW's 'Letter from Ireland'

 


On Twitter, the Robert Anton Wilson Archives (e.g., Martin Wagner) reproduce a 1985 "Letter from Ireland" published in Playboy magazine which reports on how Irish politicians use ambiguity to be as progressive as possible with laws regulating sexual practices without openly defying the Catholic church. Excerpt:

"Similarly, divorce is illegal here in all cases, with no exceptions. However, it takes only £50 (about $60) for a round trip ticket to England, and English divorces, although frowned on by the Church, are legally recognized here. The law, in effect, says: You can't get divorced in Ireland, but for the price of the ferryboat ticket, you can get divorced in England and come back to Ireland a single person in the eyes of the law, if not the church."

(Update: Getting a divorce was legalized in 1995 in a referendum in Ireland, although it was not an easy, fast process. Then in 2019, the law was liberalized in another referendum.)



Friday, August 27, 2021

Thursday, August 26, 2021

'Hang on to what they can't take away and don't worry about the rest of it'

 


Robert Anton Wilson in 2004 was not in great physical shape and was mourning the death of his wife, Arlen. He had to be persuaded to give an interview when James Nye flew from the United Kingdom. But in this interview which popped up again on YouTube this summer, he is positive and cheerful and has good things to say about maintaining a good attitude toward life,  how to read Illuminatus! and more. About 11 minutes.

Nye also has a Ken Campbell's Meaning of Life interview, close to two hours long. 

Email to the Universe has a 1994 interview of RAW by Nye. 

See also RAW Semantics on Twitter, where I found out about this interview. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Pip's 23 Haiku


Pipzi on Twitter; I thought she was Welsh, but it says Orkney

I was happy to see Pip Williams' "23 Haiku" in New Trajectories 2; I liked her haiku in the first issue and I sometimes see her work as I follow her on Twitter

Here are a couple I liked:

                                           he suffocated
                                           a wave of zen literature
                                           broke over him


                                           cops pepper spraying
                                           the eye in the pyramid
                                           for seeing too much





                                           


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

'Ishtar Rising' discussion continues

 


Over at Jechidah, the Ishtar Rising discussion group led by Apuleius Charlton has reached Chapter Five of the book.   There is discussion about Robert Anton Wilson's attitudes toward Catholicism and adultery, so join in! 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 46


Unsplash.com photo by Sarah Kilian

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guess blogger

I tried advertising online for an educated Marxist, an intelligent Moslem and a Japanese businessman and the results were mostly of a sexual nature. 

This chapter seems to be where we are getting into the more complex structuring behind our reality tunnels. Wilson does a fantastic job dissecting how the first and second circuits inform and shape our third circuit and how the third circuit’s sophistication is bent towards justifying the imprints of the earlier two. Things have been messy up until now, but now they’re going to get tedious. Now we have to listen to each other, ugh. 

As I mentioned in response to Eric’s previous post, the “exercizes” at the end of Chapter 6 were ones that I took to heart. I now have a compulsion to read things I know I’ll disagree with. However, I’m almost positive that the manner in which I read these publications is not in the spirit of Prometheus Rising. If we were able to better ourselves and our understanding of reality by being exposed to ideas we disagree with, then everyone on the internet should be an enlightened soul at this point. The nature of the discourse has changed rapidly in the twenty plus years since Wilson revised his text. 

Much of the publishing game online seems to run on outrage to generate website visits- “getting clicks,” as it were. This doesn’t lend itself to circumspection and well planned arguments. In today’s climate we often need to ask ourselves if a point is being brought up in good faith or as an obfuscation. Credibility is easy come, easy go. This is wild west logic, where the fastest hand often wins the day. Then again, one could argue that there are a variety of credible sources of different political persuasions or ideological vantages online and that the nature of human discourse has always been less-than-desirable. (History will back up the idea we’ve always been this way. Perhaps the internet has exaggerated certain trends.) As Wilson notes: “So-called ‘future shock’ has always been with us, since the semantic circuit began functioning somewhere in pre-history. In a symbolizing, abstracting, calculating species, all times are ‘times of change.’ The process is however accelerating faster as time passes, because the symbolizing faculty in inherently self-augmenting.”

I would say the greatest use of these exposure exercises isn’t simply to understand where other’s viewpoints come from but rather to help us become more rigorous in our understanding of our own way of thinking. While the internet is a constant source of entertainment, annoyance and distraction, I have been exposed to ideas I would never have conceptualized on my own and this odd dialogue has led to me considering my values and behavior more often. 


 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Oz Fritz on the vaccines

A vial of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine

Speaking of Oz Fritz, he  has an article, "Navigating the Pandemic Lockdown With Literature, Magick and Science," in New Trajectories #2, the massive zine Bobby Campbell put out for this year's Maybe Day, July 23. (You can still download your copy here.)

The piece had a comment on the COVID-19 vaccines I have been meaning to highlight here:

"Though still very controversial, the most obvious breakthrough in Science concerned the rapid development of new vaccines, some of them using a messenger RNA Covid simulation code to stimulate antibody response, the first deployment of this particular new vaccine technology. I am personally awed by the medical science response to the invasion of alien entitites (Covid) inimical to  human life. Within a relatively short period of time,  they figured out how to cleanly reboot our immune system to deal with it. Or to it seems to me. I know many people who are skeptical and consider this view naive. Tme will tell."

I appreciate Oz' caution and modesty in expressing his opinion (we are all still learning about the disease and the vaccines, and it's best to remain open to new information).  But I also agree with his opinion and think it's likely to turn out well. Almost everyone who has been hospitalized for the delta variant during the ongoing surge is unvaccinated; the vaccines can't keep everyone from getting the virus, but for most people they seem to keep the illness manageable. This seems to me, too, like a great success for science that ought to be celebrated more. 

I got vaccinated with Moderna is March and April, basically as soon as people my age in Ohio were allowed to get it. I know I could still get the virus, but I don't worry about it much. As Scott Adams wrote in July, "If you are unvaccinated, you are in the middle of a deadly pandemic. If you are vaccinated, it's Wednesday."

In any event, everyone should grab a copy of Bobby's zine. 



Saturday, August 21, 2021

Oz Fritz on Thomas Pynchon

 


Robert Plant autographing a Led Zeppelin album for a policeman in 1982, posted on Twitter Friday in honor of Plant's 73rd birthday.  When I saw it, I thought, "I wonder if Oz Fritz has seen this." Note the number of Robert Plant's jacket. 

Oz Fritz re-reads Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon and he has a new blog post up as a result: "Bleeding Edge, Pynchon & Robert Anton Wilson."

Oz is involved in an ambitious reading project: "I have a personal project rereading all of Pynchon to see what themes or memes run throughout his entire oeuvre, a project that got delayed for over a year.  My plan was to read them in order of publication, next up on the list would have been Mason & Dixon until my favorite You Tube reviewer, The Book Chemist, a big TP fan, called Bleeding Edge his personal favorite."

Another reread is the offing to meet Oz' ultimate goal: "The depth of this novel is profound.   I've only given a tip of the iceberg glimpse of what can be found there.  I have to read it again myself for further research to fulfill my ambition of writing a book about the magical worlds of Thomas Pynchon and Robert Anton Wilson."

Here is Oz' thesis: "Pynchon hardly seems alone as a postmodern writer transmitting didactic Hermetic information.  Robert Anton Wilson experiments extensively with similar, but different techniques.  Other such novelists include James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Malcolm Lowry, and William S. Burroughs." (A footnote to this: I wondered if Oz knew that Pynchon was a student of Nabokov's when Nabokov taught at Cornell.)

I haven't read Pynchon, but the approach of exploring a writer intensely sounds like what I do: I've read pretty much all of Robert Anton Wilson's work, but I've also read all of the fiction of Jane Austen and Tom Perrotta and all of Jack Vance's science fiction. Still working on reading all of Neal Stephenson's work, but I've read thousands of pages and most of his books. 


Friday, August 20, 2021

Prometheus Awards ceremony online Saturday


                                                       This year's Prometheus Award winner 

Science fiction writers Barry Longyear  and F. Paul Wilson and Reason magazine editors Jesse Walker and Katherine Mangu-Ward are among the writers who will be featured during the 41st Prometheus Awards ceremony, scheduled online at 3 p.m. Saturday Eastern Daylight Time.

The awards presentation will be about a half hour and will be followed by a panel discussion that also will feature William Stoddard, president of the Libertarian Futurist Society, and moderated by Chris Hibbert, a longtime LFS stalwart. Full details and Zoom link are here.  

If you miss the live event, a recording will be posted later. 

Many readers will know who Longyear and Wilson are; I've linked to  their bios. They are prolific writers who have piled up many awards and seen their works made into movies. If you are a RAW fan, you likely know Walker, the author of two excellent books, Rebels on the Air; An Alternative History of Radio in America (2001) and The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory (2013). He's Reason magazine's book editor. Mangu-Ward is the editor of Reason and has written many fine articles. Stoddard has a long involvement with the Prometheus Awards and is an excellent critic. 

I expect an interesting discussion and I'm not just saying that because of my own involvement with the Prometheus Award; if this was a panel discussion at a science fiction convention I was at, I'd make a point of attending. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The bong of Avon?

 


I'm reading The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life by Amanda Siebert, and I came across this passage in Chapter 3:

"Even William Shakespeare, one of the world's greatest dramatists, is thought to have used cannabis. This is the conclusion South African scientists came to in 2001 when they discovered traces of cannabis in clay tobacco pipes at Shakespeare's residence in Stratford-upon-Avon. While it's certainly a controversial point that most academics will contend with, not least because of Shakespeare's love of word play, the Bard does mention 'a noted weed' in Sonnet 76. Some believe he is referring to cannabis."

There are articles about this, including this one. Interesting, but I'm not totally convinced  yet. Kind of a big maybe.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

'Lost Doctor'

 


The Lost Doctor project explores if Ken Campbell  had played Doctor Who. Promotional video here. 

You can follow the Twitter account for news.

See page 6 of this issue of Bodge for an explanation. 


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

RIP Boom

Professor Vadim Batitsky, who wrote as "Boom" on the "Boom's Dungeon" blog. 

Because classical music was important to Robert Anton Wilson, I've taken the position at this blog that occasional posts about art music are not off topic.

Over at my music blog, I have a post up about my favorite classical music critic, a blogger who recently died. So if you care about the topic, maybe take a look?

I think RAW might have been interested in Boom's blog if he had a chance to read it, although I can't prove it; Wilson died in 2007, and Boom began his blog, "Boom's Dungeon,"  in 2009. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 45


The online edition of National Review. 

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

Well, I finished my month of meditating “for two fifteen-minute sessions a day for a month.” I saw two people who “always manage to upset you or make you defensive.” They could still press my “territorial retreat buttons.” I guess one month didn’t do it, at least for me. Bob said that he intended the exercises in Prometheus Rising to loosen the imprints. I think they do that, but more profound change may call for something more. In The Illuminati Papers Bob says, “Want to contact Higher Intelligence? It’s easy, really” (pg. 3). I misremembered that as saying, “Brain change is easy.” I think about how asana means “easy pose”. Many yoga asanas do not seem easy. When brain change goes well, it often seems easy. I know that when I lose weight steadily, it seems easy. I find myself in that “zone” where I lose weight without much apparent struggle. I have trouble reentering that zone though. I think of Catullus’s poem “Odi et Amo” which Pound translates: 

I hate and love. Why? You may ask but 

It beats me. I feel it done to me, and ache. 

Bob says something similar about bravery and cowardice. The brain-body system as a whole acts without the conscious mind’s control. In Schroedinger’s Cat he talks about quantum causality, how the whole system causes changes in the whole system, and domesticated primates tend to take too much credit and too much blame. 

After decades of martial arts, Weight Watchers, ballet, yoga, therapy, etc., I still struggle with the first circuit. During the first eight months of lockdown last year I lost 78 pounds. Then during the holidays I fell off the wagon, and I have struggled to get back on. I feel like Gene Kelly in Brigadoon. I found this magic place where I lost weight in an easy fashion without much struggle. Now I don’t know how to find my way back. Hopefully it will not take me a hundred years. 

Speaking of immortality, if I do live another hundred years or more, I want to do a lot of reading. For chapter six of Prometheus Rising Bob tells the reader to subscribe to some magazines. In the 1980’s I didn’t consider myself a liberal or a conservative, so I didn’t subscribe to the first two magazines at that time. I did subscribe to Fate and The Skeptical Inquirer. In 2021 myself I find myself much more of a liberal politically. Some people might consider me conservative in some areas: I prefer books made of paper to ebooks, I prefer jazz and classical music, etc. In any event, I have subscribed to all four periodicals in the first four exercises of chapter six this year. I find it interesting that in the age of next day deliveries, magazine subscriptions still sometimes take months to process. I have one issue of The National Review, two issues of The New York Review of Books, and three issues of Fate sitting here to read right now. The Skeptical Inquirer has not started to arrive yet. I suspect these four exercises will take up a big chunk of my reading time for the next year or so. 

I have read two issues of The National Review so far. They have a variety of authors but the writing tends towards conservative, Catholic viewpoints. Most writers seem anti-Trump and anti-Democrat. I find it interesting that many people today know Robin Williams’s impression of William F. Buckley from Aladdin, but they have never heard of Buckley, the founder of The National Review. 

I have started reading an issue of The New York Review of Books. I remember in 1999 they still allowed free access to their archives online. I read all of the available articles there by Joseph Kerman and Charles Rosen that summer. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

RAW interviews David Bohm

 

David Bohm

A really good discovery by Martin Wagner: Robert Anton Wilson interviews David Bohm, the famous theoretical physicist. Quite interesting. A couple of bits from Bohm:

"If you take a holistic view and try to apply it everywhere and refuse to think of any alternative, you will make mistakes. In fact, it was the mistakes of the medieval holists that led to the rebellion against them and the rise of mechanistic philosophy in Bacon and Newton. Now I think we see again in our time that the limitations of the mechanistic view are becoming obvious, so we need a new development of holism again. But the problem is never in any particular model per se. The problem is that models are thought, and thought is the past and can prevent us from fresh thinking now. No model is equal to the whole universe, because the only thing equal to the whole universe is the whole universe. No thought can grasp the whole, because thought is a part, not the whole. So we need to use each model where it is useful and replace it, without regret, when it is no longer useful."

"However, my best guess is that as we go along we will see more and more that these models are not mutually exclusive. We will see, I think, that the universe is like music, and that there are always at least two themes interwoven."



Saturday, August 14, 2021

New video on RAW, maybe logic and reality tunnels

 

 

The video, about 16 minutes long, is well done. It's from TheoryInk (I could not find any information about the creator.) Some of TheoryInk's other videos also might be of interest.

Hat tip: Bobby Campbell. 

Friday, August 13, 2021

'Blame Blake' tickets on sale

 


"Dave Lee’s ‘We Are All in Chapel Perilous’ is a poem consisting of a few minutes’ magickal agitprop about how to help each other avoid getting sucked into horrible belief systems, complete with crayons and sharpies for the audience." (Via Twitter)

Link for tickets and more details about the event, starring John Higgs, who has a new book, William Blake vs The World. "Poets, performers, playwrites, singers, music makers, mages and painters."



Thursday, August 12, 2021

RAW semantics on RAW appreciation


Brian Dean's latest RAW Semantics post "Déclassé / 'small change' / The Leftovers" is "a sort of personal appreciation of RAW" and I was particularly charmed by it.  He  talks about RAW's particular appeal, and also tries to explain why RAW never became a really famous author. One bit:

"When on fire (which seemed often), RAW produced striking insights in every paragraph – not just one or two per book. But those insights, like his books, appeared difficult to categorise and 'market' in the way that most respectable publishing houses and mass media like to categorise and pigeonhole. Spanning multi- topics, genres, gestalts and 'tones' they seemed – and still seem – inexhaustible as well as uncategorisable ('generalist'? Certainly not specialised)."

Another bit: "Many of us now miss RAW’s style of commentary on current events (in 2021 or even 2046) – we crave that particular flavour and level of weirdly unpredictable, high-information genius, even when it takes the form of 'small change' – disposable one-liners, spontaneous chimerical humour, original capsule reviews (of various books or films, etc) that were probably never destined for the New York Times cultural review section."

I like the New York Times (I subscribe), but yes, there is so much not covered there. When I search the archives, I can find no evidence that any of RAW's books ever were reviewed by that newspaper.  The paper did run a pretty good obit. 

Brian also talks about RAW's prose mix, "the structure of conceptual-takes – juxtapositions of genres and belief systems, notions, impressions, observations, metaphors, logical arguments, cosmic ironies and down-to-earth opinions," and throws down a challenge: "(It seems that certain other genius writers do something similar in novels – but if you can name anyone else who does the same thing as RAW does with ideas, outside of fiction format, please let me know!)."

Beats me, although reading that sentence made me realize why I like certain other writers. Kevin Williamson, the conservative-libertarian, has a wit similar to RAW's and a willingness to defend unpopular people and ideas, although he doesn't have RAW's range of interests and he doesn't entertain so many unconventional ideas. Tyler Cowen has a range of interests that rivals RAW's but although he is a good writer, his prose is not as sharp or witty.

And when I write the previous paragraph, I can see the marketing problem that RAW's publishers have. If I call Kevin Williamson a "witty, iconoclastic conservative-libertarian writer," that's not entirely fair, as it doesn't capture his cultural interests (he has written drama criticism and written about music). But it's also not a terrible capsule description, either -- I can describe his appeal in a sentence. Tyler Cowen is harder, but if I describe him as a "libertarian-leaning economics professor who  thinks for himself and listens to a wide range of ideas," I do cover quite a bit a lot of ground. (Many of Cowen's main critics are libertarians who resent the fact he can't be counted upon to regurgitate the same old stuff.)

How do you define, in one sentence, a writer who is deeply interested in James Joyce and Ezra Pound, but also H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Heinlein, and also in quantum mechanics, and also in 19th century individualist anarchism, and in magick in theory and practice, and in Beethoven, and ..... I cannot come up with a few words to describe Robert Anton Wilson, although I think Brian captures his prose style nicely. Other people have talked about this, but it's worth mentioning again: You can shelve RAW's novels in fiction, but where do  you shelve his nonfiction books? Any decision is likely to feel arbitrary. 

                                                                       ***

At the end of his post, Brian goes off topic to recommend the HBO show The Leftovers. I haven't bothered to watch it, but I've read the book. I've read all of Tom Perrotta's books. In fact, I like the books so much I'm afraid to watch the TV and movie adaptations, although I admit I did see the movie version of Election and liked it. In general, I am frightened of adaptations of novels I admire. I liked The Accidental Tourist and I generally like Jane Austen productions, but I hated the movie version of Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley and I thought the movie of Elinor Lipman's excellent Then She Found Me was terrible. So in theory I should watch all of the Tom Perrotta adaptations, but I'm afraid to! I'll just read the books over and over, I guess. 








Wednesday, August 11, 2021

'You Are Not the Target' update


An update on Laura Huxley's book, You Are Not the Target, discussed Monday: Jesse Walker pointed out to me that the Internet Archive has a copy which can be borrowed by creating a free login. I created an account and verified that I was able to borrow it for an hour.  Jesse remarks, "The lending library at archive.org is a great resource for this sort of thing."

(As far as I can tell, you can keep borrowing it until you've read it, but you can't borrow it during somebody else's one-hour borrow.)

There's quite a bit of Robert Anton Wilson material at the Internet Archive.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

On the Heaven's Gate leaders not being RAW fans


Heaven's Gate founder Bonnie Nettles

In my Saturday blog post about Bobby Campbell's recent Heaven's Gate piece, I wrote, picking up on something Bobby pointed out, "And it turns out the two leaders of the Heaven's Gate cult once walked out of a Robert Anton Wilson lecture in 1978 in Houston (I wonder what triggered the exit?)"

On Twitter, Brian Neal responds:

Certainly, as pertains to No. 1, the Heaven's Gate leaders were not very good at listening to views they considered unwelcome; Bonnie Nettles, pictured above, died of cancer 12 years before the group's mass suicide. When a doctor told her the cancer had spread, "Nettles stated that the doctor was ignorant and believed, along with Applewhite, that she could not die, as they had to ascend together," her Wikipedia biography says. 

 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 44

Laura Huxley

The exercises and many of the aspects of Chapter 5 have been well covered by the other bloggers and the folks posting comments, so I want to pick up on a topic brought up last week.

In the comments for last week's post by Apuleius Charlton, Oz Fritz wrote, "The meaness/kindness riff reminded me of You Are Not the Target by Laura Archera Huxley which I believe RAW mentions in one of the Cosmic Trigger volumes, a book of very basic yet extremely useful magic exercises (she calls them "recipes"). The title recipe works very well to dissipate the bad feeling experienced when someone says something nasty to or about you, or in general, anyone giving you a hard time for no good reason."

You Are Not the Target apparently remains available in print, although I can't find an ebook version, a biography of Laura Huxley is available on Wikipedia. The New York Times obituary also is available. (From the obit: "In 1963, as Mr. Huxley was dying of cancer, Mrs. Huxley ministered to him by injecting him with LSD and by reading aloud to him from the manuscript of “The Psychedelic Experience,” by Timothy Leary and others."

RAW's discussion of You Are Not the Target is in the appendices for Illuminatus!. 

In APPENDIX LAMED: THE TACTICS OF MAGICK, RAW writes (surely it was RAW who wrote this section, and not Robert Shea): "A selection of magick techniques which will offend the reason of no materialist can be found in Laura Archera Huxley's You Are Not the Target (a powerful mantra, the title!), in Gestalt Therapy, by Peris, Heferline, and Goodman, and in Mind Games, by Masters and Houston. "




Sunday, August 8, 2021

SFRA review of 'High Weirdness' Erik Davis


The SFRA Review, an open access journal of the Science Fiction Research Association freely available on the Internet, has in its new issue a review of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica and Visionary Experience in the Seventies by Erik Davis, a book that came out in 2019 which focused on Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson and Philip K. Dick. 

The review by Terence Sawyers doesn't really say anything about RAW but focuses on how the book tackles its subjects from a religious studies viewpoint and like the Bible is written in a modular fashion, i.e. in short chapters, a format which lends itself to reading from cover to cover or to focusing on specific bits, as the reader chooses. (I read the book front to back and thought it was really interesting, but I can endorse the section on Robert Anton Wilson in particular.) 

In response to the review, Erik Davis wrote on Twitter, "The film and media scholar Terence Sawyers offers up an insightful and complementary SFictional review of High Weirdness in the SFRA Review: https://bit.ly/3ytcsxq I particularly appreciate his attention to the modularity of the text."

Hat tips, Jesse Walker and Erik Davis. 

Here is my review of High Weirdness.  (No Twitter endorsement from Erik Davis, at least that I can remember, but I was happy with it.) Here are a few words from my review relevant to this blog: "Wilson fans will want to know that Davis devotes two chapters to him, one focusing on Illuminatus! and the other on Cosmic Trigger. The discussion of Wilson's libertarianism and esoteric influences are well-handled. Wilson also haunts the Philip K. Dick chapters in the book; Davis often uses Wilsonian terminology to discuss Dick."

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Bobby Campbell on Heaven's Gate, RAW, Leary and McKenna

Logo of the Heaven's Gate cult

A new Bobby Campbell article, "Signals from the Stars,"  has Bobby offering his reflections on the Heaven's Gate mass suicide after watching the HBO special, and how the beliefs of the members of the cult somewhat resemble the contacts with higher intelligence reported by Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, Philip K. Dick and others:

Referring to RAW, Leary, Dick, etc., Bobby writes:

Worth noting that these experiences all went on to inspire very influential books and systems of thought. To whatever extent these were actually pathological breaks from reality, they have functioned in our culture as successful visionary revelations.

Though in this there is most certainly a survivor's bias at play. For every Robert Anton Wilson, who carefully navigated the destabilizing consequences of psychotomimetic experiences, and extracted useful and entertaining life lessons along the way, how many less fortunate souls maybe got less admirable results?

On March 26, 1997, the bodies of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult were discovered in a house just outside of San Diego, having participated in a ritual mass suicide, orchestrated as part of an extraterrestrial/metaphysical belief system, in which they hoped to board a spaceship trailing the Comet Hale–Bopp.

And it turns out the two leaders of the Heaven's Gate cult once walked out of a Robert Anton Wilson lecture in 1978 in Houston (I wonder what triggered the exit?)

Read the whole thing, interesting throughout as Tyler Cowen likes to say. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Another Maybe Day publication


 News from Bobby Campbell's RAW Twitter @RAWilson23:

"Just became aware of yet another MAYBE DAY miracle!

"As synchronicity would have it, also published on 7/23/21 was HOLY NONSENSE 2020, a 500 page Discordian Holy Book featuring work by over 90 contributors!"

Here's the link. 


Thursday, August 5, 2021

A word from El Neil


I've been reading the articles in New Trajectories 2, the zine Bobby Campbell put together for Maybe Day on July 23. (It's not too late to download your copy.)

My contribution to the zine was an article on Robert Anton Wilson's influence on the science fiction writer L. Neil Smith, 75, a Colorado writer who has written dozens of novels. I wrote to El Neil, as he's known to his friends and fans, and sent a copy of the article and a link to download the zine and got a reply:

"Thank you very much! Bob was extremely important to me. I miss his presence every day.

El Neil"




Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Google fixes it

The Googleplex. 

Google, which for weeks had censored my Prometheus Rising archive of posts, has fixed it and allowed it to display again. So if you want to go back and read all of the posts for a particular chapter, or by a particular writer, you can do so. 

The folks at Google did not apologize for the trouble they've caused me or explain what happened, or how I could have possibly been accused of violating "Community Guidelines," but at least it's fixed. 


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Steve Fly's Maybe Day thoughts

Steve Fly slept through the Maybelogues Zoom chat organized by Bobby Campbell on Maybe Day, but he didn't mean to, and Maybe Day was in fact important to him. He has written a blog post to explain, and to suggest that perhaps Robert Anton Wilson can inspire all of us to work together globally to help each other:

This is a prospiracy, the coming together of powerful forces for good, good due to the obvious benefit to all-around the world-humanity, and around-the-world ecological environments. Covid has raised the stakes in this prospiracy, and to vaccinate or not to vaccinate is a practical challenge to all-around-the-world-humanity. By definition, it's a form of globalism, which by definition implies a coming togetherness of global citizens. Through the lens of prospiracy, this new health world order or global movement to protect the planet and its stewards, requires individuals to act and think with the interests of others (strangers) at heart. 

More here. 

Bonus: Steve points out that the movie Maybe Logic: The Lives & Ideas Of Robert Anton Wilson (2003) is available on YouTube. 

Monday, August 2, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 43

 


By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

Considering Eric’s thorough breakdown of the characters listed at the end of the chapter according to Leary’s Interpersonal Grid, I think we can all concede he’s the gold star student for the chapter. Thus this post is the presentation after the factotum’s; alas, I will disappoint.  

Last week was the end of summer school and it’ll be time for the school year before I have a chance to catch my breath.  Last week it struck me that I was privy to a collection of unvarnished personalities and primal drives with much more variation than the lion house -- children  on the cusp of adolescence. 

Perhaps it is my personal prejudice, but I find that most of the kids seem to be overwhelmingly driven by patrist notions of pecking orders and competition while also demonstrating a desperate need for attention and acceptance, hallmarks of the Bio-survival circuit. I witnessed one child manage to work himself into a couple sullen rages a day while trying to both please and outdo a rival, blither student. This same student would alternate between defiance and a childlike need to please when dealing with instructors. 

As I’ve witnessed in the past, the children neatly divided themselves largely upon the basis of male/female. Older students (13-14) were more interested in talking to the opposite sex. Interestingly, it seemed that the female students who socialized with male students were more often the ones who would say or laugh at actions I perceived as cruel. The younger female students were by far the most obedient, applying themselves to activities, the quietest  and the least desiring of praise. Most of the young females were helpful and assisted other students and seemed to congregate in groups of 2 or 3 compared to the larger assembly of male students and older females. There were a couple of loners in both groups. Some of the “outsiders” seemed to prefer to interact with the adults or simply be left to their own devices. Ultimately I would say the range of behaviors I witnessed fell mostly into the COMPETITIVE-NARCISSISTIC, REBELLIOUS-DISTRUSTFUL, and COOPERATIVE-CONVENTIONAL categories on Leary’s Grid. 

My “findings” last week were mostly in keeping with my prior understanding of children in this age range. Knowing some of the children’s histories adds a measure of understanding to my consideration of their words and deeds. I often try to convey the lesson that one should be kind at this age, as you will regret whatever moments of meanness you remember. Typing that out, I believe we mostly regret nastiness at any age with the addition of time and distance from the irritant. While I am an acerbic and critical person in private and online, I try my best to be kind and polite in “real” life. One never knows what someone else is dealing with. Perhaps it says something about my mask that I find being in public very tiring and tense. I’ll also drop any pretense of courtesy once someone else has breached my standard of decency. Yet, with age, my standards have generally become laxer and I am usually more interested in absenting myself from a potentially unpleasant situation than drawing it out by opening my yap. 

I should probably clean my own cage before I continue observing the other apes. For those of you that keep up with the Ishtar Rising group, I’ll have the new post up today. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

John Higgs does an exercise

John Higgs, with a friend.

 John Higgs has issued another newsletter, and I appreciate his kind words about my recent post on RAW's relevancy, but what I wanted to focus on here is something else.

John writes, "Like a good multiple-model agnostic, I make a point of reading both a left-wing and right-wing newspaper." This is what Robert Anton Wilson advised, of course, and it's relevant to an exercise in the next chapter for our Prometheus Rising group read. 

He continues, "In doing so I’ve been repeatedly struck this year about how the British right appear to be having a nervous breakdown." And he has some thoughts about what's going on. "As I’ve discussed elsewhere, I see a fundamental shift in the worldviews of those raised by television in the twentieth century and those raised online in the twenty-first. This comes from people now understanding themselves as fundamentaly connected to others, rather than as isolated individuals."

Read the whole thing to get more William Blake news and other cultural pointers from John.