Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Ted Hand to present paper on Frances Yates

Ted Hand 

Ted Hand reports that his paper on Frances Yates' influence on Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and Terence McKenna has been acccepted for a conference, Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Feb 23-26, 2022, Albuquerque, New Mexico. (No word yet on whether Ted presents on Feb. 23.)

Here is the title: "The Reception of Frances Yates's Hermeticism in Three 1970s Counterculture Writers: Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and Terence McKenna."

Here is the abstract, courtesy of Ted: 

Frances Yates had a meteoric impact on the study of magic in the 1960s and 70s with her books on hermeticism such as Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition and The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. These books were important to three countercultural writers of the era who have been receiving attention in esoteric studies recently, Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, and Terence McKenna. I noticed that Dick's novel Valis, which popularized gnosticism in countercultural circles, presents a science-fictionalized version of Hermeticism that was apparently influenced by his reading of Frances Yates (confirmed by a reference to Rosicrucian Enlightenment in his unpublished Exegesis). Robert Anton Wilson narrates a conversation with Timothy Leary in jail in which Frances Yates's name came up during a conversation about Giordano Bruno. And Terence McKenna took The Rosicrucian Enlightenment as a model for psychedelic counterculture and gave workshops (available online as his Lectures on Alchemy) where the attendees had been given Yates's Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition to read as homework. Each of these writers had a different understanding of hermeticism, but I will argue that their readings of Yates and Hermeticism can be analyzed as significant moments in the reception of esotericism, shedding light on the development of new religious movements in the counterculture.

Tom again: Frances Yates of course also is mentioned in Wilson's books; for example, she is mentioned twice is Cosmic Trigger 1 (as "Francis Yates," RAW could be weak on proper names sometimes.) 

1 comment:

Lvx15 said...

Yates fans probably already know, but if not, should seek out the 4 books in John Crowley’s Ægypt novels.