Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The war on some drugs suffers a setback

Robert Evans' book, A Brief History of Vice. 

On Twitter, Robert Evans writes, "R.I.P. to Robert Anton Wilson, who would've loved to see this moment."

What's he referring to?

Headline from Vice: "Companies are Getting Rid of Drug Tests Because They Can’t Find Enough Workers."

"In the midst of a global labour shortage, employers around the world are doing away with drug tests in a desperate bid to attract more job applicants, fill more roles and retain more workers.

"A survey, conducted by staffing firm ManpowerGroup and released this week, indicated that 9 percent of more than 45,000 employers worldwide were eliminating job screenings or drug tests as an incentive to 'attract and retain in-demand talent.' That equates to some 4,050 employers, from 43 countries, who are willing to turn a blind eye to workers’ recreational drug use if it means filling vacant positions."

In reply to Evans on Twitter, @amoebadesign replies, "He created this moment...maybe :)."

Andrew Ferguson also replies, saying, "I like to imagine that RAW was one of the few lucky dead granted a vision of the totality, and is thus spending his afterlife in the ecstasy of holy laughter."

(Off topic, I guess, but Ferguson is an expert on R.A. Lafferty, another of my favorite writers. I had no idea he was a RAW fan, too.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

John Sinclair event is Saturday

The above Bobby Campbell piece promotes the John Sinclair "Intergalactic Broadcast" for John Sinclair, the poet, marijuana legalization activist, and former manager of the MC5, a band mentioned in Illuminatus! The event will mark Sinclair's 80th birthday. More here. 

Steve Pratt has worked with Sinclair for years in Amsterdam with radio shows. Radio Free Amsterdam is "Blues Jazz Reefer Music Programmed By John Sinclair." 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Robert Anton Wilson on John Dillinger

 Government mug shot of John Dillinger. 

Martin Wagner tracks down a 1972 article on John Dillinger that offers background on the notorious criminal (and Illuminatus! character.) The opening sentence is hard to beat: 

John Herbert Dillinger—you remember, the big 1930’s hold-up man who looked like Humphrey Bogart—lit a flame in the hearts of Ma and Pa America which no other major criminal has equalled, unless you include a few recent Presidents.

Much of the article covers ground that many of you read in Illuminatus! and also explains the John Dillinger Died For You Society. 

The Wikepedia article on John Dillinger is interesting and shows that much of what RAW wrote is fairly accurate but that RAW's account also includes some mistakes. Here's RAW on the incident in Little Bohemia:

Surrounded by the Feds at Little Bohemia Lodge in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, he escaped out a back window, while Hoover’s Heroes shot lots of holes in four vacationing businessmen who walked out the front door at the wrong moment.

Wikipedia says:

Special Agent in Charge Purvis and several BOI agents approached the lodge when three men exited the building and began to drive off. Agents yelled for the car to stop, but the men had been drinking and did not hear the agents. Agents opened up fire on the car and the driver was killed.

Dillinger and some of the gang were upstairs in the lodge and began shooting out the windows. While the BOI agents ducked for cover, Dillinger and his men got out the back of the lodge toward the lake and were able to get out of the area very quietly.

But the article also offers confirmation for some of the more wild bits in the RAW article, including the controversy over whether Dillinger was the person actually killed by the FBI. (Plans to exhume Dillinger's remains in 2019 apparently fell through.) 

Crowd at the Biography Theater shortly after Dillinger was shot to death by the FBI. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 51

The Colosseum of Rome, built in Rome in A.D. 70-80. Unsplash photo by  David Köhler.

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

Exercise one asks the reader to “Compare Greece in the 4th Century BC, Rome in the First Century AD, Southern Europe at the beginning of the Renaissance, England c.1600-1900, New York c. 1900-1950, and California today.” I find it interesting that the first four categories parallel the structure of Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare. Asimov divides the poems and plays into four categories. He begins with works set in Greece, then in Rome, then in Italy and southern Europe, and then in England. Now the dates don’t exactly parallel those Wilson gives, but Shakespeare seems fascinated by those times and places teeming with new ideas: Classical Greece and Rome, Renaissance Italy and his own England. He also had a fascination with the deep background for the England he lived in. Ezra Pound’s Cantos also focus a great deal on the focal points of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, southern Europe in the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, and Early Modern England. 

I love Robert Graves’s I, Claudius and Claudius the God and the BBC television series based on them. I have had the pleasure of showing the TV series to a number of high school classes, often after teaching Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. I found it interesting to teach these works during the last three presidential administrations. I found it interesting to see the parallels between Ancient Rome and contemporary America. 

Contemplating New York from 1900 to 1950 I think of Henry James’s visit to New York in 1904. He seemed deeply aware of the cultures of both London and New York at the time of this transition of world power and wealth. Louis Zukofsky found it significant that James visited New York in the year of Zukofsky’s birth. Zukofsky lived mostly in New York, and Pound had a huge influence on him. Zukofsky’s “A” seems to me a valuable work for examining the shifting strands of world culture and history during this period. Contemplating this period I also think of the evolution of jazz, from the music of Louis Armstrong to that of Duke Ellington to the new bebop of the 1940 developed by Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and others. 

“California today” has at least three meanings: the California of 1983, the original publication date; the California of 1997, the revised second edition’s publication date, and the California of 2021. I first read Prometheus Rising in Arizona in 1985, and I looked towards California as sort of a promised land where Leary lived and Bob had lived (and would live again). I reread the book many times in Arizona and did most of the exercises there. I moved back to California in 1997. (My family had moved from San Jose to Tucson in 1978). It seems less of a promised land to me today, but it also seems as though we find the fastest growing economies today in Asia. In the future I suspect that a lot of future wealth will come from space as we have completed our circumnavigation of the globe over the past few thousand years. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday links

 Bodge No. 9 is available.  (The zine from the Liverpool Arts Lab.)

F23 Podcast needs help. 

The Psychedelic Experience, 20 minutes, a short film from 1965. Erik Davis writes, "The Psychedelic Experience Jean (female) Millay's rarely seen 20 minute trip short from 1965. Not as nice as the 16mm I saw on the screen once but still a blast from the past...

Earth rising over the Moon. 

Most college students oppose free speech. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

A brain machine undergoes rigorous testing at the RAW Semantics laboratory

The young lady is not wearing a headband. She is wearing her Hapbee, a "smart wearable" advertised as allowing users to "change your mental state." Company website here.  Cost for U.S. customers: $399. 

Brian Dean at RAW Semantics reviews a brain machine, the Hapbee, similar to the brain machines that Robert Anton Wilson used to try. It's a machine that is advertised as being able to beam various moods into a user's brain -- alertness, calmness, being focused, being happy, etc. I don't want to introduce a spoiler into this blog post, but read Brian's interesting review. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

New Hilaritas Press podcast launches

The new Hilaritas Press podcast has launched. The first episode is devoted to Alfred Korzybski; access it here. 

"We are very excited to announce the release of the first episode of the new Hilaritas Press Podcast series. This first episode dives deeply into the life and ideas of Alfred Korzybski, one of the most influential thinkers of the many fascinating people Robert Anton Wilson examined in his explorations of what he called his Reality Labyrinth. In this episode we talk with Dom Heffer from the Institute of General Semantics. The hosts for this episode are Mike Gathers, Eric Wagner and Gregory Arnott. All three hosts have a long history with the ideas of Robert Anton Wilson, and all are advisors to the RAW Trust."

Next month's episode is devoted to Wilhelm Reich. More information here. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

John Higgs on vaccine skepticism and RAW


A photo John Higgs posted at his latest newsletter offers a possible clue on the subject of his new book, which he will announce Oct. 5. Do we get to guess the title? My entry is "Bonding with The Beatles."

The latest John Higgs newsletter has an essay on Robert Anton Wilson and vaccine skepticism. I don't want to try to summarize it here, just read it, but here is one paragraph:

The miracle of vaccines, however, is not a story that social media is likely to promote. An issue here is that the success of vaccines is abstract and invisible, which makes them just the sort of thing that our brains are bad at factoring in. We are hardwired to pay more attention to the tale of a friend of a friend who had a funny turn after being vaccinated than we are the tens of thousands of unspecified people who did not die because they had their jabs.

John will announce details of his new book on Oct. 5, and there's plenty of other interesting news at the link. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

'Sex, Drugs & Magick' next at Jechidah

Apuleius Charlton's Jechidah blog has a new entry which will conclude the Ishtar Rising reading group. 

And there's an announcement that a reading group will follow for Robert Anton Wilson's Sex, Drugs & Magick: A Journey Beyond Limits. This is good news for me personally, as I wanted to re-read it and had delayed doing so to take part in the Ishtar Rising group. 

"I won't really know when we're beginning Sex, Drugs & Magick until I finish copyediting TSOG. Hopefully I'll have an update within a month," Apuleius reports.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Erik Davis news roundup

1. On Twitter, I pointed out the recent blog post on Philip K. Dick and The Beatles' "Paperback Writer" to Ted Hand and Erik Davis and asked if they had any comment. (Both are Dick scholars.) Ted said, "I wonder if there's any other information about Timothy Leary's thoughts on PKD." Erik said, "I have never heard the Paperback Writer claim, though I understand it was mostly a Paul song, and Paul's not so PKD. The Lennon/Leary story as far as I know is about Lennon wanting to make a film of 3 Stigmata after Leary turned him on to the book."

2. "Into the Weird," new talk by Erik Davis, now available on YouTube. 

3. Erik is hosting a new online gathering called "The Dharmanaut Circle." 

"The Circle is designed to be a safe and supportive place to explore and discuss experimental and heart-felt approaches to meditation, sensory awareness, psychedelics, and other modes of waking up in these dizzying times. The format will be largely the same as the SFPS: I will gab a bit, lead a guided wander through the sand-box of meditation, and host a healthy conversation. Figure two hours. Suggested donation is $33. You can sign up here."

4. Erik continues to write a Substack newsletter, Burning Shore. As with other Substack publications, some is free but you have to pay to get the full experience (and support Erik's work.) (The "Ask Dr. D." column is behind the paywall, so you'll have to pay up to find out what "Gonzo Philosophy, Gonzo Practice" refers to.)

Monday, September 20, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 50

Shanghai, China. (Unsplash photo by Li Yang.)

Notes on Chapter 7

Chapter 7 of Prometheus Rising seemed rich and interesting to me when I re-read it.  Here are some comments; I get one more blog posting about the chapter, so perhaps in that other posting I can cover some of the points I missed here.

It's important to remember that the book dates to 1983; many of the observations it makes seem prescient to me.

Let me give a personal observation on an example of the acceleration of information in my own life.

I got interested in music pretty early. In the 1970s, when I was a teen and really started to work on building up my music collection, I started buying albums. It took up a lot of the income I got from allowances, working at fast food places, etc., but eventually through time I accumulated dozens of albums. The technology of LPs was replaced by a superior technology, CDs. In turn, CDs were replaced by MP3 downloads, which made it easier to expand my music collection. 

All of that has now been replaced by music streaming, which puts thousands of albums in everyone's hands. Many people simply pay $10 a month for Spotify or another music streaming service and are done with the whole business of having to "collect" music. I have a Spotify account and I've subscribed to it sometimes but I usually don't pay the $10 a month, because I've become an expert in the public library streaming services; between Hoopla Digital, Freegal, and Naxos Music Library (a classical music streaming service) and my own music collection (much of it stored the cloud) I just don't need Spotify.

When I was a teen, one of the family LPs was a recording of three well-known Beethoven sonatas. I probably read somewhere that there were actually 32 Beethoven sonatas, but it would be have expensive and difficult in my teens and my 20s to actually accumulate them and listen to all of them. Eventually cheap CDs came out and I was able to get a collection of early Alfred Brendel recordings. Now, thanks to streaming, I have various full sets bookmarked, which I can listen to without having to pay any money at all. And of course it isn't just the full 32 Beethoven sonatas; there are many modern classical composers, and I can explore them much more easily that I could two or three decades ago. 

The same acceleration of information RAW wrote about in the 1980s applies in other ways. In 1983, I was still scouring bookstores and making physical searches for more titles by RAW, Jack Vance and other  favorite authors. Now, except for a few particular titles that have gone out of print and are prohibitively expensive, if I want a book I can download it instantly to my Kindle, or order it and have it show up at my house within a few days.

RAW discusses the westward movement of capital; when he wrote those words, China was not the rapidly expanding economic powerhouse that it is now.  He wrote (this is apparently a passage from a revised edition), "As of 1997, it looks like the Cowboys [i.e. wealth in the western U.S.] are winning; which is what one would expect if there were a real 'law' behind Adams' East-West migration of capital." This was written before the rise of Google, Facebook, cryptocurrencies, etc. 

Referring to modern heirs of the 1960s consciousness revolution, RAW writes, "The same group is now leading the computer revolution; spearheading the drive toward Space Migration;supporting the Hunger Project, which will abolish starvation in our lifetimes; leading the Longevity revolution and the search for immortality, etc." This was written before the rise of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, etc. 

As I write this, my blood has mRNA antibodies in it. I have to go the store later, but thanks to the mRNA medical breakthrough, I'm not likely to wind up in the hospital even if I catch the latest variant of COVID-19. 

I'll write more about this chapter, but now it's time to hit "Publish" on the blog post that will make these words instantly available to anyone all over the world who wants to read them.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

From Illuminatus!

Post at the Robert Anton Wilson Fans group on Facebook, by Ben Predpelski, five days ago. 

Brian Taylor (in the comments) notes it also involves eating bats and self isolating, and provides this link. 


Friday, September 17, 2021

Tuning in to the other side

                                                              Tucker Carlson

As an exercise at the end of Chapter 6, RAW advises reading magazines that communicate political ideas you disagree with. And he also advised similar reading habits in this interview:

" I also read at least one periodical every month by a political group I dislike -- to keep some sense of balance. The overwhelming stupidity of political movements is caused by the fact that political types never read anything but their own gang's agit-prop."

I recently listened to Ezra Klein's podcast interview with Tyler Cowen, and I was struck by how Cowen offered similar advice:

"I would say, have friends from all sorts of different idea groups, even if you really don’t like those ideas. And if you have a list of, oh, I won’t have a friend, you know, who’s a Nazi — like, fine. I don’t have a friend who’s a Nazi. But starting to make that list is actually, I think, a bad thing to do. Have diverse friends ... Spend your time building things, doing things, meeting people, going places. Don’t get too much into the complaining, about the right, about the left. Like, whatever you’re going to complain about, a lot of it will be correct. But it’s making you less productive and I would say stupider to be too much into the complaining, if I may complain about the complainers."

When I did my last blog post for the Prometheus Rising discussion group, I committed to take in material I usually avoid: "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."

I don't know what it's like in other countries, but in the U.S., politics has largely supplanted religion and any intellectual pursuit as a source of meaning and as a consuming passion. I am not crazy about politics -- I lean toward the Gene Healy theory that politics makes people stupid and mean -- but I sometimes think I'm the only American who doesn't constantly post endless political BS on Facebook.

In any event, I did watch two episodes of Tucker Carlson's evening news show on Fox. Just as Rachel Maddow has the flagship show on MSNBC, Carlson is Fox's top show host. I had to watch Tucker kind of the down low to avoid offending my wife, who watches Maddox almost every night; it would have been difficult to explain I was just trying to do an exercise in Prometheus Rising. 

Both shows are both entertaining and manipulative, with each zeroing in on the most risible actions and statements by the other side, and with plenty of sarcasm and wit by the hosts. Mostly because of the vaccination issue, I would say I tend to agree more with Maddow's views, but both are good at scoring points. I wish someone would do a  similar TV show to push Reason magazine style libertarianism, the political point of view I lean toward. 

It seems to me people in the U.S. might understand each other better if Democrats would watch some episodes of Tucker Carlson's show, and Republicans would watch a few episodes of Maddow's show. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Beatles were Philip K. Dick fans? [UPDATED!]

Philip K. Dick, paperback writer 

Martin Wagner posted this comment on my post a couple of days ago about the Beatles' Revolver album:

"Tessa Dick, the last wife of PKD, said in an interview with the German Spiegel, that John Lennon called her husband in the 1970s to tell him that The Beatles wrote "Paperback Writer" in his honor."

I was surprised to see that. Here is a bit more: 

"In an interview given to Der Spiegel in 2016, Philip K. Dick's last wife, Tessa Dick, said that John Lennon had called her husband during the 1970s and told him that Paperback Writer had been written in honor of him. Source (in German): [1]. Quote from the linked interview: "In den Siebzigerjahren rief einmal John Lennon bei ihm an und sagte ihm, den Song 'Paperback Writer' hätten die Beatles ihm zu Ehren geschrieben." ("In the 1970s, John Lennon called him [= Dick] to tell him that The Beatles had written 'Paperback Writer' in his honor.").

"Of course, we also have John's own quotes in the article that it's mainly Paul's song, but if you look at those quotes closely, you'll see John actually talks about the tune as being entirely Paul's, not the lyrics."


My old friend Brett Cox (mentioned in the Revolver blog post) once wrote a parody of "Paperback Writer" for a fanzine about a person who wants to publish a science fiction novel; from memory, I believe the first line was "Donald Wollheim won't you read my book?" Wollheim, a famous SF book editor, was one of Dick's editors. So perhaps Brett was more right then he knew? This reminds me of Robert Anton Wilson's bit  in Illuminatus! about Beethoven being a member of the Illuminati, which RAW apparently put in because he loved Beethoven and it was a good joke. RAW later read Beethoven biographies and discovered he was more right than not. 

Many of Dick's titles were first published as paperback originals (much like Illuminatus!, as a matter of fact) and the Philip K. Dick Award is given to the best paperback novel published in the previous year. 

Thanks for the tip, Martin! 

UPDATE: Martin wrote to me and shared this passage from Tessa Dick's memoir, Philip K. Dick: Remembering Firebright: "On another occasion, Phil took a telephone call from a man who said he was John Lennon, and he was in a hotel room in Canada with Dr. Timothy Leary. 'Yeah, sure, you bet,' Phil said. He did not believe it, but eventually the man convinced him he really was John Lennon of the Beatles and that he and Dr. Leary were both fans of Phil's writing. He told Phil that the Beatles song 'Paperback Writer' was about him."

I still don't know what to make of this, but the additional details are intriguing and seem to add to the possibility the claim is true. A possible date for the phone call would be 1969, when John Lennon recorded the song "Give Peace a Chance" in Canada. Timothy Leary was present. Details here. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Hilaritas 'Natural Law' book is going to be really good

Chad Nelson

I recently completed a stint as a volunteer copyeditor for the new Hilaritas Press edition of Natural Law, Or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy.

To do so, I had to agree to a  nondisclosure agreement, so I have to be careful to reveal few actual details about the book. I think it is known publicly that the book doesn't just have the original long essay but also adds other material, but I can't give any other specifics. I also don't know when the book will come out; I only know Rasa and the Hilaritas folks are working on it. 

But what I did want to record is that based on what I read, it's going to be a really good book. I am very excited about it, and I'm curious what the rest of you will think when it comes out. Chad Nelson took on the task of editing the book, deciding which additional material to add, and he did a great job. There is a lot of additional material, and it's all really good. 

I had expected a more political, more "libertarian" book based on the sources I was working with, but instead I encountered a rather strong RAW book, one aimed at all of his fans. 

In fact, I told Chad in an email, "I was actually kind of expecting a 'libertarian' book, but I suspect the title will have broad appeal to RAW fans."

Chad replied,"I too was expecting a "libertarian" book!"

Chad then gave me a RAW quote from the Natural Law essay which partially summarizes what the book became:

"If Ideologists ever convince me that this pragmatic, individualistic, scientific attitude is incompatible with libertarianism, then I will find some other name for myself and not use the word 'libertarian'anymore. I am not interested in Ideologies and don't give a damn about labels at all, at all."

                                                                                                    -- Robert Anton Wilson

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Why 'Revolver' is the best Beatles album for RAW fans


Inspired by a good book I just read, Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock 'n' Roll by Robert Rodriguez. I am talking about the complete album released in Britain and later released in the U.S. not the truncated version originally released in the U.S. 

1. RAW fans as a rule are big music fans, and Revolver seems to me and many others the best Beatles album. (This has become conventional wisdom, but it was my opinion before I knew that.) 

2. This is the Beatles album with the song "Yellow Submarine," which of course inspires Hagbard Celine's submarine in Illuminatus! (As I have written elsewhere, it was Shea and not Wilson who apparently was the Beatles fan.) Howard and his friends in Illuminatus! make sense of the lyric about friends who "live next door." Most people can't live "next door" to a submarine.

3. Between "Yellow Submarine" (with its dream of freedom) and "Taxman," Revolver arguably in the most libertarian Beatles album.  

4. The album also has "Tomorrow Never Knows," one of two Beatles songs inspired by RAW's friend Timothy Leary. The "Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream" and other lyrics are taken from a book, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner. The tune is primarily written by John Lennon, who picked up the book at a London bookstore. 

5. The album jumps around to different sounds, giving multiple music points of view, analogous to RAW's technique of multiple viewpoints in his novels. "Taxman" and "She Said She Said" are hard rock albums with a heavy guitar sound, but "Eleanor Rigby" uses a string octet and "For No One" has a French horn solo by Alan Civil, a prominent classical musician. "Love You To" features all Indian instruments, with George Harrison playing sitar. 

Some tidbits from the book: "Got to Get You Into My Life," a Paul song, is an ode to marijuana; the Rolling Stones had recently put out an album called "Aftermath," so when it was time to name the new Beatles album, Ringo suggested calling it "After Geography." 

The sessions for Revolver also resulted in the single "Paperback Writer"/"Rain." As my friend Brett Cox has pointed out, "Rain" could be described as the first "alternative rock" song. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 49

The Golden Gate bridge in California. photo by Maarten van den Heuvel.

Chapter 7

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

All is changing. 

What happens when we build a binding circuit inside our minds and that which is outside our minds refuses to be bound? Confusion and Chaos. 

As any Erisian knows, the best proof of the Goddess is "who do you think put all this chaos here?" 

I hate to be cynical, but there's not as much here as there is in other chapters of Prometheus Rising. Not in this day and age. Geography is a forgotten subject and California isn't a great example of progress. What is the West and the East in the days of the Internet? Knowledge moves in tangling webs- true knowledge, if there is such a thing, remains occult and speaks from two sides of the same mouth.

Citizens United doesn't negate Wilson's and Henry Adams' arguments but it does render them obsolete: who cares once the battle has been won? Illegitimate wealth and power have been absolutely enshrined and until the impossible happens, they will remain. Every time I remember that corporations are people, I die a little more inside. There is nothing to be done until that decision is undone. For all that John Roberts is lionized for not siding with the extremist bench, he should still be drawn and quartered for his treason against all free peoples. 

For further reference read John Higgs' "Growth" chapter from Stranger Than We Can Imagine. A man got killed for attempting to demonstrate the second exercise in the chapter (allegorically, at least). 

Information-doubling and Jumping Jesus were fun theories in the nineties, but after we've passed 2012 it just seems the more we are exposed to, the dumber we become. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

RAW's 'Scientific and Experimental Magick'

One of the mysteries involving Robert Anton Wilson's "lost" book, The Starseed Signals, finally published by Hilaritas Press in 2020, is what happened to the material in it. 

Reading it revealed that much of it was repurposed into Cosmic Trigger 1. 

And now the indefatigable Martin Wagner also has revealed part of the answer: Much of the same material in the book was used in a long, dense article on the Eight Circuit model, "Scientific and Experimental Magick," published in Gnostica in January 1975, and now reprinted by Martin on his website. The intro for the article says, "This article is taken from his incredibly popular series of lectures at the Gnosticon 4 last September," but if you've read The Starseed Signals, you also should recognize a lot of it.

For example, these striking sentences in the article also are found in the book:

Jacques Bergier has suggested, somewhat whimsically, that the Parisian radio station which broadcasts a one-hour transmission on French civilization once a week may be an earthside analog of magick/religious/UFO phenomenon. That is, some central “station” may be broadcasting a one-hour transmission on Cosmic civilization. Space-time relativity considerations make it not unthinkable that the Transmissions received on Earth in the past 30,000 years—by shamans, yogis, alchemists; Buddha, Jesus, Joseph Smith, Bohme, Blake, Crowley, Mary Baker Eddy; flying saucer “contactees“; etc.—are part of the same educational project. These Starseed Transmissions (as Dr. Leary calls them) suffer a great deal of semantic noise in passing through the nervous system which receives them, but remain strikingly identical in emphasis.

The Book of Mormon, Crowley’s Book of the Law, the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Upanishads and Vedas, etc., when closely and dispassionately studied, appear very much to be the same signal with encrustations of local prejudice, ignorance, bias and distortion.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Tyler Cowen decides to SMI2LE

Tyler Cowen

It's an easy criticism to say that the space colonies and dramatic life extensions forecast by Robert Anton Wilson haven't arrived yet, but readers of this blog will notice that I like to point out indications that SMI2LE isn't dead, it's just not moving as quickly as predicted.  I recently mentioned Balaji Srinivasan and Zoltan Istvan; here is another example. 

Tyler Cowan has a project called Emergent Ventures, funded by donations, a "fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center" which "seeks to support entrepreneurs and brilliant minds with highly scalable, 'zero to one' ideas for meaningfully improving society." 

Tyler periodically announces Emergent Ventures grants on his Marginal Revolution blog; the latest announcement was published Sept. 10. It lists 13 winners; I want to quote what Tyler says about two of them:

"BeyondAging, a new group to support longevity research."

"Nina Khera, 'I’m a teenage human longevity researcher who’s interested in preventing aging-related diseases, especially those related to brain aging. In the past, I’ve worked with companies like Alio on computation and web-dev-based projects. I’ve also worked with labs like the Gladyshev lab and the Adams lab on data analysis and machine learning-based projects.'  Her current project is Biotein, about developing markers for aging, based in Ontario."

Here is an article on SMI2LE, and if you follow the link and read the whole announcement at Marginal Revolution, you will see some of Tyler's other announcements arguably promote increases in intelligence. There is a grant to "Zena Hitz, St. John’s College, to build The Catherine Project, to revitalize the study of the classics" and a grant to "for a project to make the Great Books on the web easy to read." I have bookmarked the blog of Sam Enright,  a university student studying in Scotland; some of you may enjoy Enright's blog post, "A Beginner's Guide to Miles Davis." 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Memorial site for L. Neil Smith


A memorial site has been set up for L. Neil Smith, the libertarian science fiction writer who died August. 27. Relatives, friends and fans are posting photos and links. The above is Bobby Campbell's illustration for the article on Smith I wrote for New Trajectories 2; Bobby gave me permission to post it at the memorial site. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Bobby Campbell to release new art and comics soon


This might be a good time to sign up to be a subscriber to Bobby Campbell's Patreon account.   If you hurry up and sign up, you'll get a limited edition postcard later this month with original art.  I'm a subscriber, so I'm looking forward to mine. 

Many other projects are on the way, including "THE MAGNIFICENT MULLAH NASREDDIN HOOJA
6 page comic starring the sensational Sufi satirist" (scheduled for release Sunday) and "AND BOB'S YOUR UNCLE 6 page comic about 'The Headless Way' meditation assigned by RAW in his Quantum Psychology Class." Other projects are on the way, see this post. 

Subscriptions start at just $1 a month, so it won't break the bank to support Bobby. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Jesse Walker dates the Leary letter

From the Berkeley Barb

Yesterday when I posted the link to the RAW letter to Timothy Leary I noted that there was no date for the letter but that it referenced the Bicentennial (e.g., British friends, 1976, the 200th anniversary of when we threw off the yoke of the British monarchy). Jesse Walker wrote to me saying that the letter apparently dates to 1975:

"He refers to the saucer-TV contact possibly happening in 'late 75,' which makes me think the letter is from 1975. (People were already talking up the bicentennial then.) Or possibly a little earlier -- but he wrote up that saucer-TV stuff for the Berkeley Barb in '75 (see page 14 of, and that's also when Wilson and Leart were working on the Periodic Table of Energy (I assume that's what "PTofE" stands for)."

Thanks, Jesse!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

RAW writes to Tim Leary about 'experimental theology' and other matters


Robert Anton Wilson explains, "The bison in our illustration is named Tennial. He's our mascot, Bison Tennial, and also our bicentennial mascot." 

A letter from Robert Anton Wilson, undated, to Timothy Leary about various matters, preserved at the Internet Archive. Hat tip, Sean Howe. (No date on the letter, but the bison, above, suggests 1976). (UPDATE: Please see this follow up post, where Jesse Walker dates the letter to 1975). 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 48

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger 

I had forgotten the vicissitudes of getting magazines by snail mail. The cover of the new issue of The National Review arrives with nothing inside.  Either intentionally or accidentally most of the magazine did not arrive in my mailbox. Oh well. I must admit it pleased me to have such an easy excuse not to read the new issue. The Skeptical Inquirer still hasn’t arrived. I suspect it will take me at least a year to finish these four exercises. 

I enjoyed reading Fate magazine. I read a nice article on pets on the Titanic, and it pleased me that one author still believes in the Priory of Sion. I wonder what Bob Wilson would have made of the debunking of that conspiracy. 

About fifteen years ago doing the exercises in this chapter I bought a copy of Scientific American. It had an article on how researchers had burn victims play a skiing video game, and playing the game lessened the patients perceived pain as they vividly imagined the intense cold of the world of the game. This pleased me because some of my fellow teachers at the time perceived videos as worthless. 

I have had a number of discussions with intelligent Muslims recently. I forwarded Bob Wilson’s interview with David Bohm to some Muslim friends, and they really liked it. This year I heard more references to Ramadan than ever before. Even Weight Watchers had an article on how to follow the WW plan during Ramadan this year. I don’t remember Weight Watchers ever mentioning Ramadan before (and I first joined Weight Watchers back in 1978). 

I have little desire to “find a victim and explain the universe to him or her, until they are able to escape you” at this time. I may not repeat this exercise this time around. 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Attic Dwellers review Illuminatus!

The Attic Dwellers ("We are Tig & Eric - Hosts of a Public Access Style Variety Show Filmed in an Attic (Movies | RetroGames | PopCulture)") do a review of Illuminatus!, about five minutes. On Twitter, RAW Semantics writes,  "Take Kurt Vonnegut, dose him up with more acid than a human being can handle, send him on a road trip with Jack Kerouac...  and make it the length of Lord of the Rings." Quite a fun review of Illuminatus!" There's also brief discussion of Masks of the Illuminati and Schroedinger's Cat. Posted in 2019, about five minutes. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Illuminatus!, Hassan i Sabbah and Barry Longyear [UPDATED]

 The Prometheus Award, usually given out at a science fiction convention, was awarded in an online ceremony this year in a cooperative venture with Reason magazine, and the above video of the event, two hours long, has two parts. The first 15 minutes features the award being given to Barry Longyear for  his novel, The War Whisperer: Book 5: The Hook, and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award being given to F. Paul Wilson for his short story, "Lipidleggin." That's followed by a panel discussion, one hour and 45 minutes, featuring Longyear, Libertarian Futurist Society president William Stoddard, Reason book editor (and RAW expert) Jesse Walker, and Reason magazine's editor, Katherine Mangu-Ward.

Illuminatus! is brought up twice during the panel discussion. At one point, the panelists describe which books got them interested in science fiction, and Jesse mentions that Illuminatus! was an important influence for him.

The Hook's major plot point involves using targeted assassinations of leaders trying to mount invasions as a method of self defense (as opposed to killing mostly-innocent people in huge numbers) and at 1:31 in the video, Jesse asks Longyear if that was inspired by Hassan i Sabbah, the historical figure discussed in Illuminatus!  Longyear gives a rather long and rambling answer and appears to confirm he got the idea from learning about Sabbah, although unfortunately he does not cite his source. (He admits he is not very good at keeping track of such things.)

Interestingly, Jesse traces where the Hassan i Sabbah element in Illuminatus! comes from. According to Jesse, Sabbah featured in a 1930s book which was a source for William Burroughs, and via Burroughs RAW learned about Sabbah.

Jesse did not identify the 1930s, book, but the Wikipedia entry on Burroughs' Nova trilogy explains, "The Nova Trilogy (as well as a passage in the book on the cut-up technique named Minutes to Go) feature the character Hassan-i Sabbah and his final words Nothing is true—everything is permitted. Burroughs was introduced to Hassan through Betty Bouthoul, who had written an extensive book on the assassins titled The Master of the Assassins (French title Le grand maître des Assassins)."

UPDATE: Jesse clarifies the 1930s book he had in mind was Alamut by Vladimir Bartol, available in English translation.

Lest you doubt my research skills, I will mention that Jesse's official biography states that he lives in Baltimore with his wife, two daughters and a rabbit. I can now reveal through extensive investigative journalism that Jesse's bunny rabbit identifies as female and is named "Kiki." 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Friday images


It's Friday, the end of the work week for many of us, so please relax and enjoy these images. Above, a new meme from Rasa that captures a key part of RAW's philosophy. Below, a photograph of Mozart's Masonic lodge in Salzburg, posted by @amoebadesign on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

RAW, Sinclair Lewis and JRR Tolkien


Sinclair Lewis 

Among the various famous American writers who became prominent in the 1920s, I particularly like Sinclair Lewis. I have read many of his books, including most of the famous ones (still need to get around to Arrowsmith) and also many of the lesser-known ones (I am apparently the only person on Earth who thinks Work of Art, a novel about the hotel business, is a great book.)  Some of his books are available free at sites such as Project Gutenberg, including Babbitt and Main Street. I'm a member of the Sinclair Lewis Society and I get the group's newsletter. 

Robert Anton Wilson records in Cosmic Trigger II that he read Sinclair Lewis when he was young; I don't know if he continued to read Lewis as he got older, as I do. 

But here's something you might not have guessed: Sinclair Lewis was an influence on J.R.R. Tolkien.

Citing a 1977 biography of Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter, the fall 2019 issue of the Sinclair Lewis Society newsletter says that Tolkien told an interviewer the word hobbit "might have been associated with Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt. Certainly not rabbit as some people think. Babbitt has the same bourgeois smugness that hobbits do. His world is the same limited place."