Saturday, April 30, 2022

Adam Gorightly's flying saucer book

 

Saucers Spooks and Kooks, Adam Gorightly, Daily Grail Publishing, 2021.

OK, so I didn't get to Adam Gorightly's UFO book, Saucers, Spooks and Kooks, as quickly as I meant to. It's still his latest book after it came out about a year ago, and it's a really good book that would be of particular interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans; RAW is discussed in the book's long concluding chapter, "Afterward: Adventures in Chapel Perilous." 

Most of you will know Adam for his excellent Historia Discordia website that is fueled by his stewardship of the Discordian Archive, papers from the Discordian movement. The website has excellent articles and recently made available a Kerry Thornley poem, "Illuminati Lady," which Illuminatus! recommended reading but which has largely been unavailable until now.  That archive also produced a "lost" Robert Anton Wilson book, The Starseed Signals, published by Hilaritas Press. Adam has written three books which illuminate the Discordian background of Illuminatus!: Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society; Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation, and The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture. 

Adam, however, has written at least 11 books, illustrating his wide range as a self-described "crackpot historian," and his latest, Saucers, Spooks and Kooks, chronicles the last several decades of the flying saucer/UFO movement, largely focusing on New Mexico, the site of the alleged flying saucer crash in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 and of other doings involving secret alien bases, covered-up shootouts between ET's and people, the release of stacks of allegedly secret, allegedly authentic government documents about the U.S. relationship with ETs. The book is put out by the publishing arm of the Daily Grail website. 

Adam takes a decidedly skeptical view toward many/most of these supposed doings and his witty discussion of many of the most outlandish statements is one of the highlights of the book, as when he discusses the claim of the unfortunate Paul Bennewitz that ETs were beaming mind control beams to keep him and others from getting the truth out. Bennewitz had to resort to screening devices such as aluminum foil to deal with the "extraterrestrial electronic harassment." 

Adam shows how many of the claims of UFO enthusiasts -- a flying saucer crash in Roswell, an underground ET base in Dulce, New Mexico, etc. -- emerge over and over again through the years, in many cases because of a possible disinformation effort by U.S. spy agencies. (There is considerable overlap between the UFO groups and military veterans, and Adam argues that Russian spies would target the movement, not so much as to learn about UFOs but to gain access to U.S. military secrets; that's what the U.S. intelligence community was trying to thwart.)

One particular point deserves mention. In 2017 and in 2020, the New York Times published articles about resurfaced Air Force videos of UFOs which helped focus a lot of interest in UFOs by normally sober-minded people. 

In the end, the big Times scoops which attracted a lot of attention at the time, even from usually serious and thoughtful people, did not amount to much, and Adam writes about them: "While mildly intriguing, the video was really no more compelling than a lot of other really blurry examples of UFO porn that litter the Internet. Granted, the pilot testimony added some conceptual weight, but it really didn't bring us any closer to solving the Eternal Mystery."

Saucers, Spooks and Kooks essentially is a two part book. The bulk of it is Adam's UFO movement chronicles, but a long afterward, "Adventures in Chapel Perilous," discusses Adam's own feelings on the movement, on conspiracy theories in general, and how Adam got interested in such topics. Adam also explains Robert Anton Wilson's theories on reality tunnels and how RAW's outlook can be applied to such discussions.

I can recommend Adam's book as a good read that will bring you up to speed on flying saucer lore and will show  you how it relates to the writings of RAW. 

Adam's book is available from all of the usual bookstores as a paperback and ebook; I bought my Kindle at the reasonable price of $7. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Mark Frauenfelder on 'Cosmic Trigger 2'

 


Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth is my favorite underrated RAW book, so I am always happy to pass on a recommendation. Here is a sentence from an email from Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder: "By the way, I recently finished Cosmic Trigger II, and was astounded by how relevant it is in today's uncertain world!"

One of the points RAW makes in the book is that technology has made life better for many people. When I think about current politics, I get depressed. When I think about advances in technology, I feel optimistic.

The above picture, a girl holding a flower in the style of Salvador Dali, was made by an artificial intelligence art program named Conjure, which I read about in Mark's Substack newsletter, The Magnet. I've tried making several pieces of art with Conjure, and the one above is the one I like the best so far. Below is another one that came out pretty well, when I told the program to give me a picture of a bush with berries on the Siberian taiga.


You have to pay to get all of the issues of The Magnet, but something else  Mark that's free for everyone is Recomendo, a weekly newsletter with six recommendations in each issue from Mark, Kevin Kelly and Claudia Dawson.

What Kevin Kelly has in common with Mark is that you can't go wrong paying attention to him.  Kelly just turned 70, and celebrated by offering "103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known." Some of his advice sounds like RAW, e.g., "If your opinions on one subject can be predicted from your opinions on another, you may be in the grip of an ideology. When you truly think for yourself your conclusions will not be predictable."





Thursday, April 28, 2022

R. U. Sirius releases 'unrecorded lyrics' collection

"Fake Album Cover" for Infinite Gesture by Jay Cornell. Please see this amazing art project

R.U. Sirius -- writer, Mondo 2000 founder and editor, musician, Timothy Leary friend and collaborator, Robert Anton Wilson expert, website founder, etc. -- has just published Infinite Gesture — 21 Lyrics in Search of Music

It's a nice set. As you might guess from the title, there's plenty of sly wordplay, and a lot of humor (see, for example, "Deleuze Guittari Gnash & Jung") but there are also some grim moments, too. I don't want to harsh my mellow by thinking too much about a new one, "Vertigo & World War 3," which I hope isn't prophetic, so instead here's a favorite of mine:

Ignore  (2020)

                                      Ignore
                                      Out of boredom or torpor
                                      The trending thing is so soporific
                                      & your beauty & the moonlight is so terrific
                                      So ignore

                                      Ignore
                                      Every Marie Kondo urging you pep talk
                                      Every ugly rumor about Johnny Depp
                                      Just ignore

                                      & when you’re stuck in traffic
                                      Some MAGA wearing a leather jacket
                                      Some argument that trades logic for static
                                      Ignore

                                      And if everybody else lost the plot
                                      & you ask are they really alive or not
                                      Just lay yourself down on the cot
                                      Have some whiskey & a little pot

                                      & ignore 


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Hilaritas podcast on James Joyce

Loic Wright

Taking advantage of a long car drive, I listened to the new Hilaritas Press podcast on James Joyce, about an hour long. Irish fiction scholar Loic Wright does a fine job of discussing Joyce's career and covering the major works. I did miss the absence of any discussion of how Joyce influenced RAW's writings; that could take up an entire podcast of its own, and Eric Wagner would be a good guest for such a show.

A second opinion from Oz Fritz, from the comments: "Excellent recap and lots of amazing, interesting anecdotes about a master of language."

Mike Gathers does a good job as a genial but probing host, as usual. Follow the link for listening notes, tips on finding an app to listen to all of the podcasts, etc. 

Antero Alli, noted for his study of the Eight Circuit model of consciousness, will be featured on the next episode, due for release on May 23. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 78, Chapter 14



Beethoven in 1818-1819 (about the time the Hammerklavier sonata was written)

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger 

Coincidentally, I had Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata playing this morning as I began to reread this chapter  which mentions the sonata on its first page. I had not intended this connection. I had put on the sonata opus 90 earlier this morning, and the recording reached the Hammerklavier before I began to review the chapter.

Page 207 tells the reader to imagine an astral computer which “exists early in the next century”. I have always read this as early in the 21st century, but I think I will start imaging it as existing early in the 22nd century from now on.

Page 209 tells the reader, “Yogis, mathematicians and musicians seem more inclined to develop metaprogramming consciousness than most of humanity.” I’ve done a fair amount of yoga, and I started out college as math major, but my decades as a musician seem my most likely avenue for metaprogramming consciousness. 

I find it interesting that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What She Found There each have twelve chapters. Leary broke down each of the eight circuits into three components for 24 divisions. One might see the 24 Alice chapters as corresponding to Leary’s 24 caliber brain.

Exercise 2 on page 212 tells the reader to “Consider the belief system or reality tunnel of an educated reader 1200 years ago.” I looked up the year 822 A.D. just after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. 822 A.D. seemed filled with territorial wars, and it seemed less foreign to me than the last time I did this experiment, alas.

Exercise 3 tells the reader to “Consider the reality-tunnel of an educated person 1200 years from now.” As a teenager I read a lot of science fiction and watched a lot of science fiction movies and TV shows. I don’t do that as much in recent years, and most science fiction doesn’t look that far ahead. I did recently watch the second episode of the 2005 relaunch of Doctor Who which takes place much further in the future where the Doctor and his companion watch the death of our sun.

I do notice that since Donald Trump’s election in 2016 I feel far less confident about making predictions about the future. Tim Leary’s S.M.I2.L.E. model still seems useful to me, but in our current information explosion, I feel much more uncertain than I did in the relatively carefree world of 2015 and before. I just read the wonderful new Hilaritas Press edition of Wilson’s Natural Law: Or Don’t Put a Rubber on Your Willy and Other Writings from a Natural Outlaw. There as elsewhere Bob Wilson predicted a world of radically unpredictable new technology and information overload. He sure seemed to have hit the nail on the head. 

Robert Heinlein noted that people rarely foresaw the behavioral changes provoked by new technology. When people invented the automobile, they didn’t foresee how this technology would affect courtship behavior, etc. Heinlein wrote an essay “Spinoff” (included in Expanded Universe) about how spinoff technology from the space program in weather prediction and medical technology, etc., more than paid for the costs of the space program. Bob Wilson once told me he thought Bob Heinlein the first writer to include sociology in science fiction.

Exercise 4 tells the reader, “Re-read Moses’ encounter with I AM WHO I AM in Deuteronomy. Try the theory that Moses was talking to his own metaprogramming circuit.” Well, I have contemplated that theory over the past 37 years, and I reread the opening chapters of Exodus recently. (Did Bob mean Exodus and not Deuteronomy? I don’t know. I’ve read both books repeatedly over the past 37 years.) At least in 2022, the model of Moses talking to his own metaprogramming circuit doesn’t work too well for me.

I just reread the first chapter of Deuteronomy. This does remind me of some of Wilson’s experiences as related in Cosmic Trigger. I find it humbling and disturbing that I remembered this exercise as “Re-read Moses’ encounter with I AM WHO I AM in Exodus,” not the way Bob actually wrote it. Too often I confuse my faulty memory of the text with the text itself.

I wrote to Richard Rasa, the formidable editor of Hilaritas Press, wondering if Bob had intended Exodus rather than Deuteronomy in Prometheus Rising. Richard posted the following on Facebook:

I just got an email from Eric Wagner, author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson. Eric has been really helpful in finding typos in RAW's books. Hilaritas Press has a number of people who do proofreading, but I've never met a proofreader who was able to find every typo or error.

In this case, Eric wrote, "On pg. 212 of Prometheus Rising, I wonder if Bob meant Exodus and not Deuteronomy."

I'm now wondering if that was an error from Bob, or some obscure joke on Bob's part. I suspect a mistake, but I'm thinking about it.

Deuteronomy is where Moses waxes on about recent history, although I think he doesn't sufficiently explain why it took 40 years to travel less than 500 miles. If the phrase was from Deuteronomy, then the phrase would be “I was that I was.” (That’s me being a wise ass, but it may make some sense).

In the Queen James version of the Bible, the phrase is translated as, "I am that I am." My German sweetheart, Marlis (author of the new Hilaritas Press publication, From Now To Now), was surprised at that because in German, the phrase is the same as the current accepted Hebrew in translation, "Ich werde sein, der ich sein werde” ("I will be what I will be”).

Wikipedia notes …

אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה‎  

"The traditional English translation within Judaism favors "I will be what I will be" because there is no present tense of the verb "to be" in the Hebrew language."

No verb to be!!

I just sent a message to Mimi (Hill) Peleg, co-author of RAW's Everything Is Under Control. She speaks Hebrew, and she confirms that, yes, that's true about Hebrew. I told her, "Korzybski would be delighted!" She wrote back, "Yes, Bob loved that too about Hebrew."

I just got off the phone with Marlis, and when I told her what Eric had found, she reiterated the German translation, "I will be what I will be," and she added, "It's all about evolution!" That was a thought I had not considered.

Interestingly, "I will be what I will be" seems like an appropriate mantra for the metaprogrammer.


 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

New Hilaritas podcast on James Joyce drops


Following the usual schedule, the Hilaritas Press podcast released its James Joyce podcast on April 23, yesterday. It's available at the Hilaritas Press website  and at Podbean, Apple, Google Spotify and TuneIn.

James Joyce expert Loic Wright is featured. This is a podcast I've really been looking forward to. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

RAW on war, peace and world government

The latest rediscovery of Martin Wagner is "How to Think About War and Peace," self published by Robert Anton Wilson in 1962 in the journal Way Out

It is written as a book review for a now probably largely forgotten book, How to Think About War and Peace by Mortimer Adler, published in 1944 when World War II was still raging. 

The book apparently argues in favor of world government as an antidote to war, and RAW pushes back, arguing as an anarchist in favor of "the voluntary association of small human-size communities in which the local rules are made locally by those who actually do the work. Such communities might occasionally fall into conflict, as did the communes of the Middle Ages, but they will not be able to throw the rest of mankind into an uproar along with themselves, and a man in Peru need never be afraid, under that anarchistic system, that a disagreement between a man in Moscow and a man in Washington might result in the incineration of Lima."


Friday, April 22, 2022

'Eris' in Times crossword


 An anonymous tip, thank you: Eris pops up in today's New York Times crossword. 10 Down, four letters "Greek counterpart of Discordia."

Eris also came up as an answer on March 27 for 28 Down. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Thursday links

 

Meme I had not seen before. (Source).

New Alan Moore book

The DEA is blocking psilocybin therapy for terminal patients. 

Strange Realities Conference. "The Conference will feature presentations and Seminars about all subjects dealing with the paranormal, cryptozoological, occult, conspiracy theory, and UFOs. Presenters include John Tenney, Tim Binnall, Kiki Dombrowski, Nathan Isaac, Steve Berg, Adam Gorightly and much much more."

Magic mushrooms decrease risk of opioid addiction, study finds. 

Another restatement of the SNAFU principle. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Oz Fritz launches video series


Oz Fritz has launched a YouTube channel for a series of videos on the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. 

Oz explains, " I've initiated a new YouTube channel under my name that kicks off with the first in a series of videos examining the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze as presented in his masterpiece, The Logic of Sense. This first video introduces Deleuze, the book and looks at the Preface he wrote for it. Deleuze describes this work as 'a series of paradoxes which form the series of sense.' He describes sense as a 'nonexisting entity.' Of course, he elaborates the nature of the sense entity as the story proceeds.

"I contend that Deleuze's philosophy provides a metaphysics for magick, a metaphysics for Thelema. Each chapters is called a series. My intention is to do a short, 5 - 10 minute video on each series.  Please like the video and subscribe to the channel if you wish to see more of these videos."

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The promise of psychedelic therapy

Psilocybe semilanceata (Creative Commons photo)

The New York Times has a recent article, "Psilocybin Spurs Brain Activity in Patients With Depression, Small Study Shows" about the very promising results in using the substance for depression treatment. (My link should get you behind the paywall and allow you to read the article.)

Robert Anton Wilson used to argue that Timothy Leary had shown that psychedelics could be used for brain change, specifically for re-imprinting. And interestingly, the article quotes a researcher on making a similar claim for how psilocybin works in treating depression:

Another author of the Nature Medicine article published on Monday, Robin Carhart-Harris, director of the Neuroscape Psychedelics Division at the University of California, San Francisco, said the functional magnetic resonance imaging scans offered intriguing clues about the way depression inhabits the brain. The resulting images, he suggested, might be best compared to an undulating pastoral landscape marked by hills and deep valleys. People with depression, he said, often get stuck in a valley. Although S.S.R.I.s can make them feel better, the drugs do not appear to change the overall landscape of their brain, as it were, suggesting that the drugs do little more than ease the symptoms of their depression.

But the psilocybin treatments, he said, seemed to provide a way out of those metaphorical valleys by inducing what scientists call global increases in brain network integration — essentially touching off activity across parts of the brain that were previously cut off from one another.

“Psilocybin therapy seems to flatten the landscape so you move out of the valley,” Dr. Carhart-Harris said. “It makes you freer to move on.”


Monday, April 18, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 77, Chapter 14

 


As I struggle with this new chapter, and I think about the mind, and thinking about the models the mind makes, I wanted to share a parable I read about my favorite book about Buddhism, What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula. It reminded me of some of the statements in Chapter 14 of Prometheus Rising. 

In the Buddha's telling, a man on a journey finds his way blocked by a large body of water. So he gathers wood and other materials, makes a raft, and succeeds in safely crossing over so that he can continue his journey.

The Buddha asked his months, would it be proper for the man to continue his journey by carrying the raft on his head or his back wherever he went? No, the monks answered.

"In the same manner, O bhikkhus, I have taught a doctrine similar to the raft -- it is for crossing over, and not for carrying," the Buddha observes.

I'll have to keep reading this chapter, and see how I can do in discussing it, when it's my turn to blog again. I get one more crack at writing about it before we go on to Chapter 15. In the meantime, I will be re-reading the chapter and working on the exercises. 





Sunday, April 17, 2022

Band names from 'Illuminatus!'

An interesting subset of RAW fandom are bands named after the list of bands in the music festival toward the end of the Illuminatus! trilogy. One such band is Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, which apparently is not active these days in recording new music, but which continues to post live shows on the band's Facebook page.

I recently noticed another example: The Irresistible Force, which is the name that Mixmaster Morris has used for releasing much of his music. The Wikipedia article on Mixmaster Morris says, "Famous for his, 'It's time to lie down and be counted' quote, relating specifically to ambient music, Morris stated 'It's exactly what you need if you have a busy and stressful life'."

Of course, that is not all there is to the quote, as you will recall it echoes "Lie down on the floor and keep calm," what John Dillinger said in Illuminatus!

A sentence from Morris' Wikipedia bio: "In March 2007, together with Coldcut, he organised a tribute show to the writer and philosopher Robert Anton Wilson, which they performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall."






Saturday, April 16, 2022

Review of 'Nuke the Whales' compilation mentions RAW

From a review by Sean Kitching at The Quietus of Nuke the Whales,  a vinyl box set reissue by rock band Pere Ubu: "The title here appears in Robert Anton Wilson’s 1979 novel, Schrödinger's Cat, as an invention of the character, Markoff Chaney, and also in an episode of The Simpsons from a decade later. It was also supposedly a slogan utilised by Cleveland graffiti artists, likely predating RAW’s usage."

Pere Ubu originally hailed from Cleveland, and the Cleveland connection seems to be the most likely explanation for the title. I sent a link of the review to Robert Wheeler, a longtime synthesizer player for Pere Ubu who has left the band, and asked for comment. 

"I know Nuke the Whales as graffiti in the flats in CLE, I think it was RAT (Regional Art Terrorists). It may be a reference to blowing up the whale carcass in Oregon," Wheeler told me. 

There are some synchronicities here that amuse me. Nick Helsey-Larsen sent me the review, without knowing that I know a guy who was in the band for 27 years. And David Thomas, the leader of the band, lives in Brighton, also the home of John Higgs. 

Here is Sean Kitching's listing of ten essential Pere Ubu tracks, including the one with my friend Mr. Wheeler "on particularly powerful form." 

Sean Kitching earlier also wrote a piece on Schroedinger's Cat




Friday, April 15, 2022

Buckminster Fuller podcast


1950s photo of Buckminster Fuller and Robert Anton Wilson.

While we wait for the new biography by Alec Nevalla-Lee, we can learn a lot about Fuller by listening to last month's Hilaritas Press podcast, hosted as usual by Mike Gathers and featuring Kurt Przybilla, active in the Buckminster Fuller Institute. The podcast is quite long, nearly two and a half hours. The early part features a big does of Fuller's interest in triangles and the sturdy shapes that could be made from them; Mike was able to hastily Google some of the shapes and did a good job of following along; I struggled a bit in places, as I was listening while doing a long car drive. As usual, the Hilaritas site has a useful collection of links and has quotes from Fuller, such as this one: "We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

The James Joyce segment of the podcast releases on April 23. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

War on some drugs update

 

Antje M. Barreveld

A Cato Institute guy I follow on Twitter, Jeffrey Singer, has done excellent work revealing how what RAW called the "War on some drugs" has actually made the opioid crisis worse, increasing deaths by shifting people from pain pills (which are admittedly dangerous) to heroin and fentanyl (which are much more dangerous). He has also warned that refusing to give pain medication to people with severe, chronic pain can lead to bad consequences.

Via his Twitter, I found this article, "As a pain specialist, I may have caused more harm by underprescribing opioids," by a pain specialist, Dr. Antje M. Barreveld, and I suggest taking a couple of minutes to read it. Dr. Barreveld knows that pain pills can be dangerous and says other therapies should be tried first, but she also says there are cases where powerful pain pills must be used. (She describes one patient she had who killed himself when he didn't get the medication and apparently could no longer take the pain). Please check out the article. You can follow her on Twitter, too. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Prometheus Awards finalists announced


[Here is the latest announcement for the Prometheus Award; I serve as one of the judges selecting the nominees. The connection to this blog is that the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award is, so far as I know, the only literary award the Illuminatus! trilogy ever received. -- The Management.]

PROMETHEUS AWARD FINALISTS CHOSEN FOR BEST NOVEL

Works by Gallagher, Ishiguro, McCarthy and Shriver selected as finalists 

The Libertarian Futurist Society, a nonprofit all-volunteer international organization of freedom-loving science fiction fans, has announced five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 42nd annual Prometheus Awards.

The Best Novel winner will receive an engraved plaque with a one-ounce gold coin. An online Prometheus awards ceremony is planned for August at a time and event to be announced.

In brief, here are the five Best Novel finalists: Between Home and Ruin and Seize What’s Held Dear, by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press); Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber and Faber); Rich Man’s Sky, by Wil McCarthy (Baen Books); and Should We Stay Or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver (Harper Collins).

Here are capsule descriptions of the Best Novel finalists (listed in alphabetical order by author), explaining how they fit the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Awards:

Between Home and Ruin, by Karl K. Gallagher  (Kelt Haven Press) – A direct sequel to his 2021 Best Novel finalist Storm Between the Stars, this second novel in Gallagher’s Fall of the Censor series continues his dramatization of a prolonged interstellar war between a long-isolated group of colonized solar systems and a much larger human polity. The Censorate is an authoritarian human empire that maintains its Orwellian power by memory-holing the past and destroying older books, art and records to subjugate planetary populations. After rediscovering a path to other solar systems, the Fierans are fighting against Censorate invasion to preserve their freedom, independence and culture. This sequel, which drives home its themes with a cross-cultural love story about a man and woman separated by war, also powerfully highlights governmental atrocities of war, including mass murder and destruction of civilian cities – a focus especially timely in 2022 as brutal war rages anew in Eastern Europe. 

Seize What’s Held Dear, by Karl K. Gallagher  (Kelt Haven Press) – In his third Fall of the Censor novel, a direct sequel to Between Home and Ruin, Gallagher explores further the quest to preserve knowledge, commerce, civility and civilization itself despite war, tyranny and the suppression of culture, history and memory. The novel also illuminates the practical effectiveness of private contractual courts and arbitration systems in maintaining law and justice without government, even amidst challenging and ongoing disagreements, occasional crimes and contractual disputes in a messy and recognizably human society. Gallagher compellingly dramatizes a variety of space battles and military strategies while contrasting the belligerents’ strategies, operations and tactics: The Fierans have the military and community of a messy but mostly free society, while the Censorate is an information-crippled totalitarian empire of bureaucratic yes-men wherein facing facts, reporting bad news, questioning authority and telling the truth can be fatal.

Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber and Faber) – Set in a near future when commercial development of AI robots make them affordable for affluent-family servants and companions, this poignant fable by the Japanese-British Nobel-Prize-winner subtly explores existential questions about self-awareness, intelligence, agency, servitude, foundations of liberty, and personhood. Told through the limited, fallible eyes of its gentle title character, this story explores her childlike thirst to comprehend the world, conceiving a solar-energy-related proto-religion and embarking on a secretive quest to save her ailing girl charge. Just as few people glimpse Klara’s awareness while virtually all remain blind to her potential personhood in a culture increasingly antagonistic to AIs, Ishiguro intentionally leaves readers with few clues about Klara’s true nature. This hauntingly ambiguous meta-libertarian tragedy evokes the ancient tragedy of widespread slavery, once commonly accepted and only recently abolished via the universalizing liberal/libertarian commitment to dignity, self-ownership and freedom for all.

Rich Man’s Sky, by Wil McCarthy (Baen Books) – This imaginative sf adventure explores human expansion throughout the solar system, propelled by four billionaires. McCarthy weaves a suspenseful mosaic of epic conflicts and maneuvers between governments and markets as a team of elite military women infiltrate and aim to violently undercut the billionaires’ visionary space projects before they change the world for good or ill.  Some of the “Four Horseman” are revealed to be admirable, and some decidedly not, but McCarthy makes all four real and human as they spearhead game-changing private-enterprise projects that governments aren’t capable or willing to do. Today, many vilify the super-rich while State aggression, assassination, spying, sabotage and other abuses “throwing muscle around” are often excused, minimized, hidden or ignored. Overall, this Heinlein-esque tale of State-threatened market innovations persuasively counters stereotypes from what free-market economist Ludwig von Mises dubbed “the anti-capitalist mentality.” 

Should We Stay or Should We Go, by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins) – Explicitly affirming the libertarian self-ownership principle that “Our lives belong to us... and it’s up to us how we choose to end them,” this kaleidoscopic novel explores 12 alternate-universe scenarios. An aging, comfortably affluent British married couple makes end-of-life decisions with unpredictable consequences. Shriver, with her characteristic wit and maverick insights, shows how aging and life/death decisions are difficult enough but become much worse through government paternalism, welfare-state bureaucracies, socialized health care, forced medication, involuntary hospitalization, virtual imprisonment, anti-suicide laws, massive debt/inflation and/or other government dysfunctions. Variously evoking dystopian specters (Orwell, Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) or exploring the downsides of seemingly utopian advances (super-long lives, cryogenics), the thought-provoking, fast-paced novel satirically but seriously offers timely cautionary tales as the average life expectancy of the world population rises into the 70s and beyond.

Sixteen 2021 novels were nominated by LFS members for this year’s award, a near-record number over recent decades. Also nominated: Sainthood in Sixty Seconds, by Dr. Insensitive Jerk (Amazon); Redemption, by Regina Joseph (Amazon); Titan: Mammon Book 1, by Robert Kroese (St. Culain Press); Purgatory Mount, by Adam Roberts (Gollancz, Hachette);  Hellraisers & Heartbreakers, Purgatory & Pair’O’Dice and Lone Star Libre! (Books 4-6 in the Watcher of the Damned series), by R.H. Snow (Rosa de Oro);Triple Cross, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing); Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (Ballantine Books); and Man in the Middle and White Hat (Space Hackers books 1 and 2) by Steve Wire (Plaintext Publishing).

All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. The Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel are selected by a 12-person judging committee. Following the selection of finalists, all LFS upper-level members (Benefactors, Sponsors and Full Members) have the right to read and vote on the Best Novel finalist slate to choose the annual winner. 

Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is open to any science fiction fan interested in how fiction can promote an appreciation of the value of liberty.

The Prometheus Award, 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 given in sf. The Prometheus Hall of Fame category for Best Classic Fiction, launched in 1983, is presented annually with the Best Novel category.

For more than four decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor voluntary cooperation over institutionalized coercion, expose the abuses and excesses of coercive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the ethically proper and only practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, mutual respect, and civilization itself.

For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories, visit www.lfs.org. For reviews and commentary on these and other works of interest to the LFS, visit the Prometheus blog via our website link. 


Monday, April 11, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, episode 76, Chapter 13

 


By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

As a reader, when I go over Jacques Vallee’s warning about the UFO phenomenon “creating new religions, cultural and political concepts” my mind immediately goes towards such obvious freak cults such as Scientology, Raelism and even the quaintly batshit Unarius Academy “of Science.” Yet, that might not be the best place to begin contemplating the gravity of Vallee’s warning. 

Belief in the UFO phenomenon is something that many people seem to think is a prerequisite for taking it seriously, but it is inarguable that the UFO phenomenon has helped to shape our mass perception of the world around us. It should be remembered that along with “I Want To Believe,” another tagline of The X-Files was “Trust No One.” If one accepts the proposition that the whimsical conspiratorial thinking of the Nineties gave way to the deluge of paranoia fostered by the Internet in the Bush era onwards, this helps to explain a certain mode of thought prominent on today: paranoia and mistrust. 

The belief that the government is “obviously” hiding knowledge about UFOs leads to an easier acceptance that the government is “obviously” hiding other information from the masses. In the same way that New Agers can become rabid anti-vaxxers, the belief that the government was covering up something at Roswell can lead to a belief in some grand Illuminati-adrenochrome- harvesting-cabal. Thus we see that far from warning about the nefarious efforts of The Church of Scientology to manipulate the law to serve their own means, Vallee’s alarm about new political concepts are far flung and often-as-not end up being about something completely different than flying saucers. 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that thinking about the UFO phenomenon is a worthwhile pastime to exercise the mind and the boundaries of belief, but without the constant reflection and doubt prescribed by Robert Anton Wilson, can lead to stark raving mad ideas. Instead of revealing that there is no governor anywhere and the entirety of the human race is making up reality piecemeal as we traverse through time, conspiratorial dalliance can give way to the false idea that someone, somewhere is in control. The contradicting stories that surround the history of the UFO (now UAP, a term that means exactly the same as the now unfashionable, unscientific moniker) phenomenon should indicate that there isn’t some solid counter-narrative to the rational conception of the universe but that all narratives are kinda tatty and lacking. 

One mode of thought will lead to the liberating notion that reality is a construct that can be toyed with and improved upon by the individual, the other leads to the opposite idea where we have been duped and press ganged into some unholy prison. Of course, I should note that there is a lot of nuance between these two extremes but I think it is fair enough to set them up as the two different ends of our dichotomy. Personally, I disagree with the idea that we “should never ascribe to malice what can be blamed on incompetence” as there is no reason to believe that continual incompetence isn’t born of obstinacy and ill-will. Inattention and sloppy handlings of matters can easily be malicious; if you don’t believe me, try working with adolescents, or revisit the Flint Water Crisis. 

One of the great tasks of the conspiracist is not to end up in an armed showdown with the government, or spend one’s life in intellectual squalor, surrounded by the rats and mites of the darker corners of culture. As I’ve pointed out in many posts before, Wilson’s constant reminders of the dubiousness of our own perspectives is a vital tool for preventing such an outcome. It should be noted that the positive use of conspiratorial thinking, as exemplified by the fifth exercize for this chapter, is a strong preventive measure against ending one’s days wearing a tinfoil hat, armed to teeth, awaiting the New World Order to start sending troops into your home to steal your valuable research. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

RAW on Paul Krassner

"He Makes a Career Out of Being Offensive," Martin Wagner's latest discovery, is a 1965 piece in PHOTO magazine, Robert Anton Wilson's tribute to Paul Krassner and The Realist. 

"The editorial policy of The Realist is quite simple, according to Krassner: 'The things I print have one thing in common: they couldn’t be printed anywhere else.' In following this editorial line, Krassner has been almost super-humanly impartial."

Many examples are offered; Martin also links to the RAW articles in the Realist archive. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Eight Circuit resources on YouTube

Some suggestions from Mike Gathers, who has written about the Eight Circuits model of consciousness and is the host of the Hilaritas Press podcasts.

Mike has two suggestions. One is to watch the 8 Circuit Cafe series on YouTube. The first episode is above.

"I think they do a good job," Mike comments. "The last episode focused on the 3 sub-stages of the circuits and I really enjoyed it.   Not much original or innovative, but a good discussion on what's been written by Leary-Wilson-Alli."

Mike also recomments the Sit With It videos on YouTube. I've linked to the channel's playlists.

"This channel has some really interesting stuff blending his yoga practice with upper circuit exploration and bringing in some solid modern psychology and neuroscience into the lower circuits," Mike explains. "(Three different playlists - full talk, highlights, and core ideas....)"

Mike hopes to post his own videos soon, based on his Maybe Day writings of the last two years. 



Thursday, April 7, 2022

Hilaritas Press podcast news


James Joyce in Zurich around 1918, the approximate time of the setting of RAW's Masks of the Illuminati, which features Joyce as a character. (Public domain photo by Conrad Ruf.) 

 Mike Gathers, host on the ongoing Hilaritas Press podcast, reports that the topic of the podcast to be released on April 23 will be James Joyce. It's a topic I've been waiting for. 

Mike explained the first eight podcasts were devoted to concentrating on influences and aspects of Robert Anton Wilson's classic Cosmic Trigger (although admittedly, Buckminster Fuller, last month's topic, and James Joyce don't loom large in Cosmic Trigger, but "those are the subjects we ended up with to round out the series," Mike says)

The podcast series will continue, however, and Mike is working with ideas and getting topics and guest lined up. I'll cover any further announcements and releases of episodes.


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Movie with RAW inspired paranoia

 

A discussion of the Bavarian Illuminati in the film Noon Blue Apples, aka New World Order. Eris (Lauren Fox) is visiting the Chapel Perilous Bookstore, located on 23rd Street in New York. 

Maybe poor Eris never should have visited the Chapel Perilous Bookstore as she began to explore conspiracy theories. 

I've been involved in RAW fandom for many years via this blog, so I'm surprised that until Monday, I had never heard of the movie New World Order, originally released in 2002 under the title Noon Blue Apples. 

True, it's an independent film, not a Hollywood blockbuster, but it did draw a review in Variety (which hated it), got a few reviews in other places and starred Lauren Fox, who has appeared in a couple of movies I have actually heard of. And it was screened in various film festivals. 

Robert Anton Wilson is not mentioned by name, but one shot shows a copy of Cosmic Trigger on the shelf at the Chapel Perilous Bookstore. There are RAW/Illuminatus! references galore. I didn't write all of them down, but there are lots of eyes in pyramids, there's a discussion of the Bavarian Illuminati, the number 23 is referenced, the Sirius Mystery is explained, the John Dillinger Died For You Society is mentioned, there's lots of Holy Blood, Holy Grail stuff, the protagonist is a young woman named "Eris," her pal's name is Howard Phillips, Eris carries around a notebook with a golden apple on the cover ... you get the idea. 

The plot concerns a young college student who studies conspiracy theories after running across an occult diary by an occult writer whose name sounds like "Ronald Allen Holt," a near anagram for Robert Anton Wilson, if I heard the name correctly. 

I'm no film critic, but I would say that it's not terrible. I enjoyed much of it, wasn't totally sold on the ending. I'm curious what some of y'all will think of it. This reviewer liked it better than the Variety guy. 

The writer and director is somebody named Jay Lee. Confusingly, IMDB lists two different "Jay Lees," but I am pretty sure it is this guy. See also this bio. 

I watched the movie Monday. (It's available free on the Tubi TV website, you can rent it for a buck from Amazon and it's also available at the various other streaming platforms. It also is free on YouTube.

The Internet Movie Database website has 11 reviews of the film by viewers, none of whom apparently caught the RAW references or even the references to the bestselling Holy Blood, Holy Grail

A bookshelf at the Chapel Perilous Bookstore. 



Monday, April 4, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, episode 75, Chapter 13

Basketball coach and former NBA all star Reggie Theus. (Creative Commons photo). 

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

The discussion on pg. 197 of whether the UFO’s exist inside or outside of the observers parallels the question in the final exercise of the next chapter of whether “I AM WHO I AM” exists inside or outside of Moses.

I enjoyed doing Michael Johnson’s substitute exercise for exercise #3 of chapter 13. I found Sapolsky’s explanation of the placebo effect a bit glib, but who knows? One minor synchronicity: I heard “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver at an El Pollo Loco while carrying my copy of The Pot Book. An early chapter of that book suggests that Jesus may have used anointing oils which contained cannabis. This provides another filter/model for exercise #4 trying to explain the miracles in the New Testament.

Years ago I had the idea to write a book on brain chemistry called Why Do You Think They Call It Dopamine? Of course, I know very little about brain chemistry. The readings Michael suggested mapped out my ignorance a little bit. Thank you, Dr. Johnson.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s I used to associate the chapters in Prometheus Rising with the days of the week. I would read chapter one and do the exercises in chapter one on the first of the month; I would read chapter two and do the exercises in chapter two on the second of the month, etc., through the 19th of the month. Then for the rest of the month I worked on a long poem called Big Trouble in Little Blandings (Reggie Theus Rising). (Reggie Theus played in the NBA. I loved basketball back then. I published a poetry/basketball zine called noon blue apples.) The poem had twelve sections numbered 20 through 31. I worked on section 20 on the 20th of the month, section 21 on the 21st, etc., and I published then in noon blue apples #20 through 31.

We have 23 more weeks of this study group. Some people thought we should  work through the book more quickly. I thought 23 months might prove too short. One could spend a lot more time on these exercises. I have devoted a lot of time to these exercises during this study group as well as during the previous decades, but I realize I could spend a lot more time on them. I wonder what the next 23 weeks will hold. I wonder if I will ever dive as deeply in this book as well. If I live another 23 years, perhaps I will never again devote so much time to this book. If I live another 23 decades, I may well return to this book again and again. Most people in 2022 still consider death inevitable. I still suspect I may live for a very long time.  

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Alan Moore storytelling course

 


"Join the maestro of storytelling and learn to create mesmerising fiction by mastering inventive language, characterisation, world-building and more."

More here. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

A topic of RAW interest: Ending human suffering

 Prop Anon is working on a biography of Robert Anton Wilson that will be published by Strange Attractor Press. I don't have a publication date yet (I recently asked), but when there is one, it will be announced on this blog.

In the meantime, Prop has shared an interesting tidbit on Twitter: "One of the last ideas that Robert Anton Wilson got into before he died in 2007 was the paper 'The Hedonistic Imperative' by David Pearce

"Here's a quick video about it."

For your convenience, I have embedded the video (about seven minutes) into this post; David Pearce explains that humans could be altered biologically to end all possibility of suffering and to enabled alternative states of mind.

More at this website.  There's a lot of material there, you can also read a Wikipedia biography of David Pearce.  His book, The Hedonist Imperative, apparently can be read online at the official website; it also is available free as a Kindle ebook.