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

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Robert Anton Wilson at the Prophets conference


Prop Anon on Twitter: "This could be my favorite RAW talk.  All his jokes were hitting.
It's even more amazing to think that he was 'fired' from further Pro-Con lectures after this."

Saturday, July 30, 2022

RAW and Scott Alexander on freedom of speech and tolerance

Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash

I recently read a passage from Scott Alexander (formerly the Slate Star Codex writer, now writing a Substack called Astral Codex Ten) that reminded me of something Robert Anton Wilson had written. I'll quote the RAW passage, then the Alexander.

Here is RAW on how freedom of speech  for people you like also has to be freedom of speech for people you despise (source and more background):

I think Neal Wilgus has his head up his ass. With all his ifs and ands and buts and subordinate clauses and modifications, he still seems to be endorsing the idea that any "moralist" that thinks X's way of life is "immoral" has the right to come in and trash anything X owns, and I find that bloody damned terrifying. It only seems remotely akin to sanity if  you substitute some person or group you violently dislike for "X,"but put your own name in the place of the "X's " and read it again. See what you think then. If it doesn't work with "the NAACP" or "Bob Shea" or "the Credit Unions" in place of X, it seems a very dangerous idea, even if "Mobil Oil" or "the American Nazi Party" in place of X does not upset you immediately.

Civil liberties remain indivisible, and what can be done to Catholics or Mobil Oil today can be done to Protestants or nudists tomorrow. ("If they can take Hancock's wharf they can take your cow or my barn," as John Adams once said.) Since the majority always rejects the Bill of Rights whenever a sociologist tries the experiment by offering it for approval by a cross-section of the population, and since George Bush earned great enthusiasm for his attacks on the ACLU, I don't suppose Wilgus or most people will understand this point, but we libertarians  have to keep saying it over and over, every generation, and hope it will eventually register.

Maybe Wilgus thinks he knows who "is" "really" "immoral" and who isn't, and only supports vigilante action against the "really" "immoral"? I would congratulate him on having attained Papal Infallibility, except that I suspect he has only obtained the delusion of Papal Infallibility.

And here is Scott Alexander, from his July links edition of his newsletter. (His links collections are invariably interesting.)

33: I used to hope that freedom and tolerance would win in the end because everyone would realize that they were weird and unpopular in some way, and so tolerating weird unpopular people was in everybody’s common interest (cf. “They came for the Communists, but I did not complain…). Since then the world has taken every opportunity to disabuse me of the notion that this could ever possibly work, but I guess it’s still possible to disappoint me. The latest example is /r/forcedbreeding, a fetish subreddit fetish about men enslaving, raping, and forceably impregnating women, which shut down recently to protest Reddit for not censoring pro-Russian subreddits enough. Apparently they’re back up now, but their top stickied post is still a demand that Reddit ban anti-COVID-vaccine subreddits. Another metaphor for life?

Thursday, July 28, 2022

James Lovelock has died


James Lovelock (Creative Commons 1.0 photo)

James Lovelock has died. He made many contributions to the environmental movement, but was best known for his Gaia theory that the Earth is a kind of living, self-regulating organism. Here is his New York Times obituary. 

The Gaia theory is mentioned in Robert Anton Wilson's essay, "GAIA, the Trajectories of Her Evolution," which first ran in RAW's "New Trajectories" newsletter and is reprinted in Beyond Chaos and Beyond, edited by D. Scott Apel.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Prometheus Rising audiobook coming soon

Tweet from Iron Man Records: "Update from Framework Recording Studios, Birmingham: Simon Reeves has completed the recording of Oliver Senton reading Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson."

Response on Twitter from the Robert Anton Wilson Trust: "The recording needs editing, final packaging and uploading... we'll keep you posted on the progress!  Huge thanks to Oliver Senton, Simon Reeves and Mark Sampson!"

Simon Reeves discography, one of his aliases is "Hassan Sabbah." 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

'I'm awfully opinionated tonight'

Robert Anton Wilson gave many interviews during his life, and a great many of them are available at the website.  Some of the best also are reprinted in RAW's books.

I'd identify my favorite interview, one that blows me away each time I re-read it, as a Jan. 12, 1977, interview with Wilson, with questions posed by D. Scott Apel and Kevin Briggs. It's the source of the quote in my headline for this post. 

There's discussion of the importance of science fiction conventions, the concept of Hilaritas (from which Hilaritas Press gets its name), Wilson reflecting on "What brought me here tonight?" and many other topics. 

But what really stands out for me is that Apel and Briggs apparently gave the Illuminatus! trilogy a very close read, and they ask many penetrating questions about it, such as which parts were Wilson and which were Robert Shea's, how the publication of the book as science fiction affected its reception, the parts that were cut out, the writers who influenced the work, how it attempts to break down class distinctions in literature, how it uses the multi-model approach, the influence of Kabbala, how the work depicts the "basic conflict between the two schools of mystics," Joyce's discovery that we are all living inside a novel, and more. 

There are some quite startling statements, such as, "I think Lovecraft is a hell of a lot more important an artist than Saul Bellow." And there's discussion about how science fiction is "the natural mythology of our time."

There are two ways to access the interview. The cheapest is to buy the Kindle version of Science Fiction: An Oral History, edited by Apel. It's 99 cents (you can get a paper copy for $9.99.) (If you don't own a Kindle,  you can read it on a smartphone using a Kindle app). Along with the RAW interview, there are interesting interviews of many of my other favorite writers, such as Roger Zelazny and Theodore Sturgeon, and a particularly well-done interview of Philip K. Dick. 

Or you can get Apel's (and Wilson's) Beyond Chaos and Beyond, which is a little more expensive but which reprints many RAW articles and includes Apel's biographical essay about RAW. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 91, Chapter 17

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger 

I am not an O/optimist and I can't relate to a lot of this chapter. Before Wilson, one of my august teachers was Voltaire, who envisioned a better world but didn't trust mankind's baser instincts to make it so. That old attitude has set deep within my bones. I have noted, along with other writers, that part of what makes reading this book bittersweet is that many of its predictions are incorrect, and that is more glaringly clear in this chapter than any other we've covered in recent memory. 

Two parts stood out to me in particular. Let me begin with: "The average Man or Woman of 1997 will be as obsolete in 2007 as a medieval serf is now." We could get into the ways that this prediction is both true and untrue, but I don't think there was as much difference between the world of 1997 and 2007 as there would be if we compared 2007 and 2017. While we could measure some advances in automation and technology between the late nineties and the later aughts, I am more interested in cultural differences.

I have been saying this since 2016 or so; while a time traveler from 2007 to 1997 could relate information that would make sense in the context of that past, a time traveler from 2017 to 2007 would have a much harder time communicating how life has changed in the intervening decade. The world began to vaporize somewhere around Obama's second term. Everything began changing so rapidly that previously unthinkable movements became reality which became policy. Threats thought long dead reared their ugly heads, flinging the bilge of our culture's undertow over witnesses. Concepts which would have been laughable in the late-twentieth or in the dawning of the twenty-first became deadly serious. The world is changing. 

That isn't anything new, but it is changing at such an ungainly pace that, even if it is for the best, it resembles nothing so much more as festering and collapse. Towards the end of his essay "Is It O.K. to Be a Luddite?," Thomas Pynchon states: "It may be only a new form of the perennial Luddite ambivalence about machines, or it may be that the deepest Luddite hope of miracle has now come to reside in the computer's ability to get the right data to those whom the data will do the most good. With the proper deployment of budget and computer time, we will cure cancer, save ourselves from nuclear extinction, grow food for everybody, detoxify the results of industrial greed gone berserk -- realize all the wistful pipe dreams of our days." I disagree violently with the prediction that our information technology has allowed "the right data to those whom the data will do the most good," because so far it simply isn't true. Desirable progress is still achingly slow, useful technology and resources hoarded and mismanaged by fools and foes of the rest of the race (the so-called "wealthy" and "powerful" in case I'm not clear) and moreover, the Internet has allowed the wrong data to get to the wrong people. Perhaps this is just my pessimism and these are but the birth pangs of a new and better era; after all, I think most historians would point out that periods of transition are characterized by chaos and destabilization. But we aren't stabilizing. 

Things are demonstrably worse in the United States since the beginning of 2022 e.v.; we have witnessed the unfathomable rise of evangelical fascism in America, which shows no signs of deceleration, and while we suffer from the very clear and present dangers of global warming, nothing (or not enough which is about as useful) is being done to mitigate it and reform the power structures that have allowed this issue, and again I say this issue of clear and present danger, to become seemingly intractable. The foundations of our society are being mangled and perverted in front of our eyes and it seems to this observer that we are powerless. The group of powerful people who are supposed to act as a counterspell to this tide of pro-stupidity and maliciousness are hobbled by their own investments in this rotting haul and are usually busy dithering over issues that couldn't be less important. Perhaps the world where progress was supposed to happen also depended on realizing that old paradigms cannot stay in place, and we have failed to act on that in a meaningful way. 

And this brings me to the second passage, where Bob heaps a little scorn on my attitude from beyond the grave: "Our human world is so information-rich (coherent) that it is almost certain to 'collapse' into even higher coherence, not into chaos and self-destruction," and further "A note to confirmed pessimists: Prigogine's analysis is based on probability-theory and, hence, is not certain. Thus, if you have found these lyrical pages unduly alarming, take comfort in the thought that, although human success is highly probable, there is still a small chance that we can blow ourselves up or that your favorite apocalyptic scenarios might still occur, despite the general trend toward higher coherence and higher intelligence." And here I sit, unconvinced of any "higher coherence" emerging recently and thus condemned as a foul, brooding pessimist whose dearest wish is the fulfillment of my dire prophecies. Alas. 

If you go onto the Internet, check out our modern forums of social gathering, look at the pages of the our newscorps and how they can't agree on foundational facts (also, what is considered a news source), see what good higher education is doing for most people and believe that this is "coherence," well...I might be able to interest you in joining a great business opportunity, so please get in touch and grab that checkbook! 

I'm more than willing to hope and trust that there is a probability that humanity will strive on as we always have and that tomorrow will be better than today...I'm just not counting on it anytime within the next decade(s). Progress is neither inexorable, nor is it inevitable. Human culture, government and economics are not evolutionary processes, no matter how much we project that onto those structures. Please world, prove me wrong. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Maybe Day notes


A lot of Maybe Day material was released Saturday and I am still trying to get caught up with it all. I did watch the first video featured at Bobby Campbell's Maybe Day website, all two hours and seven minutes of it, focusing (at least for much of the first part) on Robert Anton Wilson's never-completed Tale of the Tribe book. The video features Mike Gathers, Bobby Campbell, Toby Philpott, Prop Anon, Brenton Clutterbuck, Dr. Richard Waterloo, Oz Fritz,  Steve Pratt, Eva David (in the second half or so) and Eric Wagner (cameo appearance.) A lot of interesting points, and a couple of people recommended Fly's Fly On The Tale Of The Tribe: A Rollercoaster Ride With Robert Anton Wilson, so I've put the book cover on this posting. 

I really liked Bobby Campbell's new comic, A Quantum of Discord, which he released Saturday. And I also was impressed by the new RAW Experimental site set up by Brian (of RAW Semantics.) Apologies to everyone who put out material I haven't gotten to yet -- as Bobby wrote on Twitter, "There's a ton of wild stuff all over the place." 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Happy Maybe Day!

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Welcome, everyone, to the gala international holiday Maybe Day, a celebration of the work and legacy of Robert Anton Wilson.

If you need to be brought up to speed on the origins of the holiday, please see the article "The Cosmic Trigger," newly posted by Martin Wagner. Or of course, see the Cosmic Trigger I book. From the article: "On July 23, 1973, I received my first strong sense of contact with Sirius." See also this 2003 proclamation by the mayor of Santa Cruz. 

You can enjoy the day by going to the Maybe Day website, updated for today by Bobby Campbell with several hours of new videos, put together by Rasa, featuring panel discussions organized by Bobby. The videos have been kept under wraps until today. Be sure to explore some of the other goodies on the site.

And most of all, explore the New Trajectories webring! 

See this Twitter list for updates from the likes of Bobby and Brian Dean of RAW Semantics! Here's what Brian said about his new site that he's been toiling on for weeks: "'RAW experimental' - a new image-based website I've launched today (Maybe Day!) uses 'AI' upscaling & face recovery software on blurred, low-res images, with the aim of better promoting RAW's oeuvre:"

Here's what he says about MY offering: "Inside Hilaritas Press: A new interview with Rasa' - Tom Jackson writes: "For Maybe Day, 2022, I decided to do a substantial new interview with Rasa..." The resulting fascinating read can be found here."

Inside Hilaritas Press: A new interview with Rasa

The covers of all of the Hilaritas Press titles available as of June 2022

Much of Robert Anton Wilson's posthumous career as a writer has been in the hands of the RAW Trust. Wilson's eldest daughter, Christina Pearson, is the trustee in charge of the RAW Trust. Hilaritas Press is the publishing imprint of the RAW Trust, and the person who is the publisher at Hilaritas, in charge of actually editing the Hilaritas Press titles and publishing them, is Richard Rasa,  known to his friends and many RAW fans simply as Rasa. Hilaritas Press has been publishing definitive editions of many of RAW's works and also has branched out into publishing other authors. 

Rasa is a musician as well as an artist and a website builder. In the 1970s, he played guitar for a rock band (and recording artist) named Sweet Smoke. For many years,  he  has been a member of another band, Starseed, a meditative trance band that features Rasa on sitar and guitar, Marlis Jermutus on tamboura and Bartian Jermutus on synthesizers. The band has released 14 albums; when I asked Rasa not too long ago which one I should buy, he particularly recommended Entering the Ambient Temple. 

Rasa was a friend of Robert Anton Wilson for many years; he helped RAW establish a digital footprint in the early years of Internet in various ways. His illustrations for RAW’s Guns and Dope Party appear in RAW’s book, Email to the Universe. Rasa maintains all the RAW Trust’s various websites, including RAW’s original official website,, the Hilaritas Press website and the Robert Anton Wilson Trust website. Before he moved to the town of Weed, in northern California, to oversee the work at Hilaritas, Rasa lived in Massachusetts, where he ran the digital art and design company he founded, Pelorian Digital. 

For Maybe Day, 2022, I decided to do a substantial new interview with Rasa, taking a close look at Hilaritas and also at the current relationship of the RAW Trust with other RAW publishers, such as Dell, the publisher of Illuminatus! 

Rasa holding his sitar

RAWIllumination: Hilaritas Press has been publishing 20 Robert Anton Wilson books, and there are four left: The Walls Came Tumbling Down, TSOG: The Things That Ate the Constitution, Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, and Chaos and Beyond. Are those four currently in production and likely out soon?

Rasa: TSOG: The Thing That Ate The Constitution is likely the next up for publication. We never really know until we get closer to having a book finished. We are usually working on more than one book at a time. Each book has its particular issues, and so sometimes we will be working on something for a new edition, and we just have to wait for that to come together. For example, with TSOG, we wanted a new introduction that might help to explain something about the book, but we were also intrigued by RAW’s last chapter in the book which is basically a teaser for a book that RAW hoped to write, but never did. The book was going to be called, The Tale of the Tribe. We have asked some relative “experts” on that topic to weigh in. 

The Walls Came Tumbling Down will likely be next after TSOG. I only say that because most of the editing and eBook formatting has been done for that, but other elements, like a new intro are not totally together yet, but it looks like it is coming together nicely. Reality Is What You Can Get Away With has long been one of my favorites, and I started working on editing (which is mostly hunting for old typos) and formatting some time ago, but that book has a lot of old Hollywood photos that we need to get permission to use. That was a huge project when we did it for Ishtar Rising, so this looks like it may be equally an effort. You never know, but because of that extra work, Reality may be the most time intensive of the remaining books.

RAWIllumination: What can you say about additional RAW titles that might be appearing once those first 20 are published?

Rasa: We do have a few titles that we would like to republish, and we have a couple ideas for new collections of RAW essays. Two books that I’ve had my eye on for a while are The Sex Magicians, and RAW’s Book of Forbidden Words. Those two will likely be books 21 and 22 on our list, unless of course, as I note, something else comes together faster.

RAWIllumination: What is the current copyright status of RAW nonfiction books such as Right Where You Are Sitting Now and The Illuminati Papers? And is Beyond Chaos and Beyond still scheduled to become a Hilaritas book at some point? 

Rasa: The RAW titles that were not published by New Falcon, like the ones you mentioned, we are leaving with their current publishers. That may change in the future, but it’s one of those subjects that we are happy to put off until our planned reissues are done. 

RAWIllumination: Has Illuminatus! gone out of print, as a paper book? And what is the copyright status of Illuminatus!, Masks of the Illuminati and the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy? 

Rasa: Illuminatus!, Masks and Schrödinger’s Cat are all currently published by Dell, and are available. I’ve advised Christina that leaving those with Dell, one of the largest publishers in the world, is not a bad idea for the RAW Trust as Hilaritas Press has a hard time competing with Dell’s presence in the marketplace. That exposure helps to bring attention to all of RAW’s other books, so for the time being, I think we are happy to let that contract continue. All of RAW’s copyrights are held by the RAW Trust, including the three Dell publications, so RAW’s family is getting that small benefit. I say “small” even though Illuminatus! is probably RAW’s most famous book, because publishing just does not bring in a lot of money unless you have a huge bestseller. We absolutely love that we are creating new editions of RAW’s books that we, and RAW, felt were not well handled by New Falcon, but we try to keep the prices reasonable. That means, unless RAW becomes more famous, we are not getting rich off the effort! Indeed, Christina and I, and all the RAW Trust Advisors who help us out, are really doing this work for the love of Bob. 

RAWIllumination: Can you explain what you are referring to when you saw RAW felt he "was not well handled by New Falcon." I was under the impression he liked the editorial freedom he enjoyed there; what were the perceived problems?

Rasa: RAW loved the editorial freedom he got from New Falcon, but I suspect that “freedom” included them not paying much attention to the job in some respects. Bob complained that the typos in his books were never fixed. That was his main issue, although I remember an occasional complaint from him about money. I think New Falcon regularly paid him, but not a lot was ever coming in – not necessarily a New Falcon issue – Bob was just in that category of great writers who are not well received by the mainstream. The real issues with New Falcon were for Christina, after Bob passed. Soon after Bob died there was that big change at New Falcon concerning Alan Miller’s son taking over the business. You’ve written about that scandal in the past. I’m glad Bob never had to deal with that. Of course, I’m also a bit sad that Bob never got to see Hilaritas Press. Just before he passed, he asked Christina to try to make sure his books did not go out of print and to promote his ideas as much as possible. Those last wishes from Bob have fueled all of our efforts at the RAW Trust and Hilaritas Press.

RAWIllumination: Is Illuminatus! still in print as a paper book? Years ago, when Borders was still my favorite book chain (and still around), I would look at the science fiction section when I went into one, and I always seemed to find one copy of the Illuminatus! omnibus edition. When I search for Illuminatus! at the Barnes and Noble website, I can pull up the paperback. But at Amazon, I can get a Kindle, but I'm only offered a used book if I want to buy a paperback. Are you concerned about how Dell is treating the book?

Rasa: Yes, Illuminatus! is still in print. Dell publishes Illuminatus!, Masks of the Illuminati and the Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy. For some reason, Illuminatus! is not showing up properly on Amazon, while the other two Dell books seem fine. We’re looking into that, and we’ll let you know what we find out. Some kind of glitch from Dell, we’re guessing. Otherwise, Dell is a huge company, and we think that should help keep those three books widely available.

RAWIllumination: Of all of the Hilaritas Press editions of RAW published so far, what has been your bestseller?

Rasa: In looking at sales for our Hilaritas Press books, Prometheus Rising is by far the best seller out of all our titles. I like that, as I’ve always felt like Prometheus Rising was RAW’s most important book in terms of efforts at transforming society. I think it should be a standard textbook for students! Wilhelm Reich In Hell is doing well currently, but that is likely because it is our latest new release (although Reich’s idea of humanity suffering from an Emotional Plague seems like a very relevant topic for these strange times... ) Probably the two other books that seem consistently popular are Sex, Drugs & Magick, and Ishtar Rising. Personally, I love Ishtar Rising, and so I’m happy to see its popularity. That’s just my thing, however. I’ve long thought that a lot of the imbalances that humans suffer from can be attributed to attitudes that derive from the duality of sexual differences. That seems apparent from current battles concerning abortion, Trans rights, “incels,” and other obvious gender related issues, but I extrapolate the issue into our concepts of nationalism vs globalism and other major areas of contention. Basically, I think the human civilization on the planet is still extremely primitive, and most of RAW’s books touch on various aspects of that dilemma. RAW was an idealistic and optimistic futurist. For me, that frames pretty much all of RAW’s work as part of an effort at Conscious Evolution.

RAWIllumination: The announcement for the first Hilaritas Press publication, the ebook of Cosmic Trigger I, went out in January 2016. So in a little more than six years, you have published, if I have counted correctly 19 books: 15 by RAW, one by Bobby Campbell, two by Daisy Eris Campbell, one by Marlis Jermutus. Has the process of getting the books out been faster or slower than you anticipated? How long can you maintain this pace?

Rasa: Counting The Starseed Signals, we’ve published sixteen Robert Anton Wilson titles so far. Honestly, when we began, I had no expectations for how long the process would be. And, indeed, every book has taken a different amount of time. Mostly, I’ve stopped thinking about time, both personally and professionally. I am timely when I promise something to someone, but creating Hilaritas Press coincided with when I moved from Massachusetts to this remote rather isolated part of far Northern California. I used to have clients (computer consulting, web & graphic design) I would see regularly, but I gave up almost all my clients when I moved West, and so pretty much only had Hilaritas Press work to do. Christina manages the RAW Trust responsibilities, and handles all the Trust and Hilaritas Press money issues, so I’ve been left with having my days filled with all the publishing work – which I really enjoy. I do get a lot of help… a lot from some 23 RAW Trust Advisors, but mostly I am sitting at the computer, working on book after book. I don’t know, Tom. The whole process seems rather organic, meaning all the parts come together in their own time, so to speak. Ishtar Rising had a ton of aesthetic and copyright issues in getting alll the graphics/photos selected and assembled. Sex, Drugs & Magick took a lot of time in working with eight writers who created the additional forewords and afterwords for the new edition. 

While the specifics of each book has different demands, all the books go through the same step by step process. Many of those steps I do myself; initial proofing, editing, formatting both the ebook and print editions, setting up each book online with all the various companies in the industry (Ingram for printing and distribution, Bowker for ISBNs, KDP for Kindle production), and then eventually updating the RAW websites as needed, and preparing blurbs, ads and memes to share in the social networks. I’m also scheduling and discussing cover designs with Scott McPherson at amoeba, and working with half a dozen incredible RAW-aware proofreaders, and a couple of folk who have edited, like Chad Nelson’s great recent work on Natural Law, Or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw. There is no strict schedule for any of this. Eris! I love that. If I have to wait some time for Scott to come up with another great cover, or I’m waiting for a proofreader to finish, I simply do some work on one of the other books in the lineup. As the parts come together, sometimes one book jumps ahead in our list just because all its parts came together swiftly. 

So, that’s a rather long-winded answer about my anticipations. I basically have none. Just lots to do and very few distractions out here where I see more of the neighborhood deer during the day than I do my human neighbors. So as far as maintaining a pace – I don’t really think about it. When I look at my bookshelf and see all our books lined up, I am sometimes impressed, but less with the time it all took than with how pleased I am with each edition. Both Christina and I regularly reflect on how Bob would have loved to see this all come together. It was pretty much his last wish: his request that Christina keep his books in print and his legacy remembered.

RAWIllumination: What can you say as yet about "upcoming authors" who might be featured on Hilaritas?

Rasa: Not much. Mostly it's that old not wanting to count the ostriches before they hatch, but it’s also nice to have things brewing that you don’t have to talk about while you let them brew, and surprises are fun, aren’t they?

RAWIllumination:  What sort of relationship does Hilaritas and the RAW Trust have with the Robert Shea estate? Have you cooperated on anything? Would Hilaritas consider reprinting any of Shea's books or doing a Shea project?

Rasa: The RAW Trust has a great relationship with the Shea estate. Christina has communicated with Bob Shea’s son Mike for various things – mostly to do with Illuminatus! We hadn’t thought of republishing Bob Shea’s novels. I know he was connected to Ballantine Books, and I notice that all his books seem to have current Kindle editions. Interesting thought, though. I’ll bring it up with Christina. [I followed up on that, and Rasa added:] Christina says Bob Shea’s son Mike is happy with his dad’s books staying with their current publishers. I’m happy with that, as I think Christina (and Mike) probably are as well, as we all have a lot of other projects that are more front and center.

RAWIllumination: One of my obsessions is to figure out a way to make RAW better known among general readers, as opposed to his current cult following. I haven't come up with a way to do that yet (Tyler Cowen, for example, apparently didn't read the copy of Natural Law I sent him), do you have any ideas? What, if anything, has happened to the attempt to make Illuminatus! into a TV series?

Rasa: I’m sure our work to keep RAW’s books in print helps that effort, but I agree, it can be hard to break into a wider market, even though I’m sure that market exists. I wish we could afford to pay a full time publicity agent. That would be nice. I agree that the success of a major TV program or movie would help a lot. The current efforts with Illuminatus! are stalled, but not forgotten. It seems the homelands of our mother tongue have a strong contingent of Discordians and others who love the art and language of a writer who seemed as comfortable at home in Ireland as Santa Cruz. Riffing on that connection, I’d love to see Oliver Senton playing RAW in a TV mini-series of Cosmic Trigger. Along those line, the audio books sell pretty well. We’ve just asked Oliver and our audio book production crew, Mark, Steve and Steve, to start on a production of Prometheus Rising as an audio book. That’s a book I think should be required reading for all high school students! 

RAWIllumination: Have you pretty much had to give up making money to pursue your Hilaritas Press "hobby," and how has this affected your lifestyle? What's it like living in remote, rural California? 

Rasa: Well, true, I’m not making a lot of money, but I did pretty well in 2016 in relocating to a part of the country that’s a lot cheaper than most. Rural areas like this are insanely beautiful, and the housing and utilities are reasonable, but of course the politics kinda suck. We have a Trump defender as our congress critter, and local bumper stickers and yard signs indicate that Planned Parenthood is considered part of the Globalist plot to reduce the population so the rich have more room to breathe. Why poor rural folk support the oligarchy continues to surprise me, but I think that’s just a political sleight of hand. Keep the distractions focused on the wedge issues, and Trumpian oligarchs and their minions are considered the good guys for saying the nasty thoughts out loud. No, I’m not too impressed with terrestrial politics, however, one on one, most of my neighbors are very nice, and as I mentioned, I hang out more with my wild deer friends than I do most of the local humans. My best friend on the planet lives only two blocks away, and we regularly drive into the coast, the Bay Area or Portland to see friends, museums and other good sights, tastes and sounds. I lived in New England for a few decades, and I do miss my friends there, and the rich culture of the Northeast, but I stay in contact. Mostly, I love the quiet isolation here – it’s ideal for getting a lot of publishing work done. 

We make regular visits to the nearby redwood forests on the coast.

RAWIllumination: Is that your car with the 23Fnord license plate?

Rasa: Yes.

RAWIllumination: Are all of the Hilaritas Press books sold by sites such as Amazon, or are any of them sold by being plucked from the shelf of actual bookstores? What is the balance generally between paper and ebook sales, and which format benefits RAW's family more when the books are sold?

Rasa: We do more sales through Amazon than any other source, but our distribution company, Ingram, provides books to all the online sellers, and to brick and mortar stores as well. I don’t have the figures for sales handy, but online sales are far greater than brick and mortar sales. We’d love to increase the latter, but we don’t really have a budget for advertising that will let us get very creative. Hopefully that will change. 

As far as what makes more money for RAW’s family, probably ebooks provide a greater percentage of profit. 

RAWIllumination: Can you say something about the role played by volunteers who help Hilaritas Press? Would it be possible to publish without their help?

Rasa: It would be possible to publish without all the help we’ve received, but I don’t think the quality would be as high. In every book there are some questions about a typo, or what looks like it may be a typo. With RAW’s experimentation and love of Joyce and Burroughs, there have been regular occasions when I would send an email to our RAW Trust Advisors asking for clarity. When in doubt, we just leave the text as is, but sometimes we have had expert opinions helping us out. One time there was a question about a paragraph that just did not sound right to me, but the topic was quantum physics. (I wrote about this example on the About page on the Hilaritas Press website.) I made what I thought was a correction, but sent both the original and my correction to RAW’s friend, physicist Nick Herbert. Nick wrote back and complimented me on my observation, and then he went on to explain why what I figured out was correct. That was a relief, but also a bit of a surprise that I figured out something in a subject for which I have little experience. I chalk that up to having read enough RAW that the concepts were no longer puzzling, just bizarre in the way quantum physics can be. Typos were always a major issue for RAW. We’ve spent a lot of time searching for typos. Without the help of our proofreaders, we’d never be successful in that regard. Of course, every time we publish a book, we have someone (it’s often Eric Wagner) who finds one or two typos we missed. Fortunately, in these days of computerized publishing, we can make corrections to a new edition, and simply upload the new version. RAW would have loved that. 

There is other help we get, mostly in the form of advice, but also in terms of spreading the word about RAW’s ideas and speculations – Bobby Campbell, for example, creating the Maybe Day celebrations. Mike Gathers and Ryan Reeves creating the Hilaritas Press podcasts helps spread the word. I’m actually very impressed at the high quality of the podcasts. UK Discordians seem to be more active than any other single group of Fnordians in exploring the world RAW helped to decorate and dissect. It seems like over the last decade, Steve Fly Pratt has continually come up with one project idea after another for promoting RAW. One of Steve’s enthusiastic suggestions eventually led to us creating our Hilaritas Press audio books. So yes, publishing would be possible without all this help, and other activities I have not mentioned, but I don’t think the whole effort would have been as successful, or as much fun!

RAWIllumination: I am very impressed with the @amoebadesign covers for the RAW Hilaritas Press reprints. How did you guys connect? Are there plans to offer prints of any of the covers?

Rasa: It was John Higgs who turned us onto Scott McPherson’s great artwork. That was back in July of 2015. I just looked up that email. He was impressed with Scott’s work as Art Director on Daisy’s production of Cosmic Trigger the Play. To convince us, he sent us this video Scott put together:

Scott sent us about six different ideas for the cover of our first book, Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati. He had several different ideas in mind, from minimalistic covers similar to some of the German translations of Bob’s books to more complicated collages. He suggested, as one idea, 

"One possible theme is a triptych of releases using creative modern montage styles with real Bob elements/photos and imagery related to each Book, but also with clues and “Bob easter eggs” hidden throughout.”

That idea ended up being the one we selected for the Cosmic Trigger series. We pretty much got addicted to Scott’s work after that. 

We haven’t thought about posters of the covers, but that’s a great idea. We’ll keep you posted on that.

RAWIllumination: Do you ever reflect on the literary phenomena that is RAW Fandom? The world at large is largely indifferent, but RAW fans keep plugging away year after year, trying to help RAW break through to the wider world. Can you see a day when there is, for example, a Library of America edition of some of RAW's works?

Rasa: We think a lot about RAW’s legacy. That was the one main thing RAW asked of his daughter, Christina, that she try to keep his books in print and his legacy alive. We see small but steady sales of Prometheus Rising, and that’s always a hopeful sign for me. I keep thinking that the only way RAW will get a wider audience is if this media-addicted world sees a major motion picture of some sort of one of RAW’s books. We are still plugging away at that.

RAWIllumination:  What do you think RAW thought about his literary legacy? Did he see himself as one of the greats, and did he assume that he would be remembered for a long time?

Rasa:  I really have no idea of how RAW saw himself. He was generally very humble, and I don’t recall him talking about himself so much. I think there are certain subjects he covered that he thought were important, even vital, like anti-authoritarianism, anarchist concepts, futurism, feminism, and of course compassion, great writing and good humor.

RAWIllumination: Are there any questions that I SHOULD have asked that I should pose, so you can answer it?

Rasa: Here’s one question you could ask me (although maybe you don’t wanna)… “How do you think we get there from here? RAW had a lot of ideas about how to improve society, but RAW fans seem to be all over the map in terms of how they think about RAW’s politics.”

I’m often lifting eyebrows when reading comments online where people justify their belief systems by quoting RAW. Depending on what you excerpt, you could easily make RAW out to be whatever you choose on the political or social spectrum. He created the Guns and Dope Party; he must love guns… he wrote an article in 1969 where he called himself a Right-Wing Anarchist, so "he can’t be a leftist.” I asked Jesse Walker about that 1969 article and he wrote,

As far as "Why I Am a Right-Wing Anarchist" goes, I agree that the title can mislead people -- the fact that it upholds pre-Columbian Native American societies as an ideal should indicate that this wasn't some sort of Randian argument. But I don't think he was making a joke when he used the word "right-wing"; this was, after all, just a few years before he wrote in SEX AND DRUGS that he was "a spokesman for an extreme right-wing libertarianism that prides itself on being more radical than left-wing anarchism.”… Better to figure that he had a quirky definition of "right-wing" in mind at the time and that he later discarded it.

Jesse also noted,

In the '90s he presented anarcho-mutualism as his social ideal while suggesting that Scandinavian social democracy was the best real-world system available.

I think it is this split between RAW’s thoughts on an ideal political solution and his understanding about real-world imperatives that causes the most confusion. Essentially, I suspect his thinking was largely molded by a rebellion against his Catholic upbringing, his embrace of the concept of liberty in Anarchism, his experiences in the 60’s and 70’s counter-culture, and a liberal feminism strongly reinforced by his wife, Arlen – all of these elements giving his idealism a real-world grounding. All of that together means that he railed against conservatives of most stripes for perpetuating fundamentalism, religion, neophobia, authoritarianism and patriarchy. He railed against liberals when he thought they were too extreme, but his leanings were liberal, both in the Jeffersonian sense he noted (He wrote, “I share the Jeffersonian (“Liberal”?) vision that the human mind can exceed all previous limits in a society where freedom of thought is the norm rather than a rare exception.”), and in the cultural sense of modern liberal attitudes towards such issues as religion, guns, nationalism, sexuality, healthcare, abortion, pollution, etc.

I think that if you want to know RAW’s vision of a preferred social order, read his essay, “Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective,” in Email to the Universe. If you want to know how he generally felt about current, typically defined as left vs right, issues, then read Paul Krassner. RAW agreed with Krassner’s cultural and social concerns on most issues. I know they both had a similar opinion of Trump. 

I feel comfortable calling RAW an optimistic futurist. I love his ending description in that "Left and Right essay." He concludes…

Does all of this make me a Leftist or a Rightist? I leave that for the Euclideans to decide. If I had to summarize my social credo in the briefest possible space, I would quote Alexander Pope’s Essay On Man:
                 For forms of Government let fools contest;
                 Whate’er is best administered is best:
                 For modes of Faith let graceless zealots fight;
                 He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.

Friday, July 22, 2022

The words of Illuminatus!


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

A kindly source for this blog who prefers to remain anonymous shares something interesting with me, "Years ago, I ran a word count on Illuminatus! and sorted some of it, probably useless but sharing anyway."

Here is the raw word count. 

Sorted word count. (This is the bit I found interesting). 

"One more odd old fileset for you: words that contain 'eris', words that contain 'e-r-i-s' (letters in a row, but separated by other letters), and a 'puzzle' for people to try to discover 'eris. in the words."

"Eris" in words. 

E-r-i-s in words (separated by other letters). 

The puzzle. 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

'Sex, Drugs & Magick' blogging continues

The latest discussion of Sex, Drugs & Magick at the Jechidah blog, on Chapter 3, seemed particularly interesting to me; there's discussion of Hassan i Sabbah, "Philip Farber's excellent High Magick: A Guide to Cannabis in Ritual and Mysticism," and Robert Anton Wilson's sex magick information, more detailed than in other Wilson pieces on the same subject. It's not too late to grab a copy of the book and get caught up on the discussion. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Maybe Day is approaching!

The most important  holiday of the year, Maybe Day, when fans of Robert Anton Wilson celebrate his writings and his legacy, will be Saturday. 

Be sure to show up at the official site run by Bobby Campbell; videos will be released, and you'll no doubt want to explore the sites in the New Trajectories webring, which has now grown to 21 sites. (The deadline for joining the webring has passed; I can't speak for Mr. Campbell, but I suspect that if you express contrition and promise to name your firstborn "Bobby Campbell," he will let you in.)

I'll have a special blog post up on Saturday, and many of the usual suspects will have cool stuff up. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Ann Shulgin has died

Ann Shulgin (photo posted with obituary)

Ann Shulgin, 91, who died on July 9, was a pioneer in the use of psychedelic drugs for therapy  and wrote two books with her late husband, Alexander Shulgin, PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story and  TiHKAL: The Continuation.

You can read an Associated Press article about her and also read an obituary.

Hat tip, Diana Rae, who tells me, "Bob introduced me to Alex and Sasha back in the 70s in Berkeley."

Monday, July 18, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 90, Chapter 17

The Art Ensemble of Chicago in 1978. (By Nomo michael hoefner - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

Exercise one for this chapter reads, “Make a list of ten areas where your thinking-feeling is conservative. Guess how soon the world will change so totally that those ideas will seem not merely conservative but irrelevant (as the theological debates of 300 AD now seem irrelevant)” (pg. 255).

1. I prefer books made of paper to books on a computer screen.

2. Well, now I started googling “conservative ideas”, and I have started going down the rabbit hole of what “conservative” means. I consider learning languages valuable. Graduate schools seem to have deemphasized languages in the last seventy years, and other levels of U.S. education have as well.

3. As U2 said, I believe in love.

4. Russell Kirk says, “Conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.” This reminded me of the following passage from Wilson’s The Widow’s Son:

The “fourth soul,” or emerging brain, perceives the invisible web of connections between all things; but it is no more infallible than the rest of the brain, or the gut, or the liver, or the gonads. It merely works without effort, unlike the more primitive parts of the brain, which is why meanings seem to flow into us, when this is activated, and we forget that we are still creating the meanings. We imagine we are “receiving revelations,” and hence we do not take responsibility or exercise any prudence or common sense. This is why there are so many “holy fools” and so few holy wise men. (pg. 339)

This passage surprised me when I first read it. I didn’t think too much of prudence at the time, but prudence and common sense do seem valuable to me today. Crowley calls the Eight of Disks Prudence, and that card tends to make me think of this Wilson passage.

5. Saving money seems like a good idea to me.

6. I love my grandkids.

7. 1939 seems like the greatest year in film history.

8. I think movies have gone downhill since 1974, the year of Celine and Julie Go Boating.

9. I love the music of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven.

10. I love acoustic jazz.

So, how long until these ideas “seem not merely conservative but irrelevant”?

1. Marshall McLuhan saw a similarity between the invention of movable type by Gutenberg in 1450 with the invention of the computer. Few people today prefer to read handwritten books rather than printed books, although we may prefer them as art objects and look at Medieval texts in glass cases in museums. In one or two hundred years paper books may become rare, especially after a climate change apocalypse. 

2. Perhaps we will learn more about language acquisition in five hundred years, or perhaps we will have telepathy (or extinction).

3. Human sexuality and marriage customs will certainly change. We see love differently in 2022 than Dante did seven hundred years ago or Ovid did two thousand years ago, but their ideas of love still resonate will current beliefs. Perhaps in 2300 years “love” will have lost its meaning, or it may become something very new I can’t begin to understand.

4. Prudence may seem irrelevant in a Bucky Fuller like utopia where no one worries about eviction or getting their next meal or getting their kids’ teeth fixed. Maybe in 1500 hundred years.

5. See number 4.

6. Like number 3, ideas about love will change, and perhaps they will change utterly. As Billy Holliday sang, “You don’t know what love is”.

7. Films like Gone with the Wind have troubling racism. The Wizard of Oz seems unkind to little people. Animals get shot in The Rules of the Game. The women in The Women seem too concerned about men. Gunga Din supports colonialism. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington neglects political realities. Silk Stockings improved Ninotchka. William Goldman wrote movingly about 1939 as the greatest year in film history in Adventures in the Screen Trade, but Mr. Goldman, alas, has died. For decades I have asked my film history students what they consider the greatest era of film history. I don’t think any of them suggested any time before 1970. Of course with new technology movies don’t seem nearly so important to our culture, so these discussions might seem irrelevant in sixty years.

8, See number 7. Most of my students hated Celine and Julie Go Boating the one time I showed it to a class. I didn’t even plan to show it, but I had a copy of it on my laptop and no other technology worked that week.

9. Well, I have Beethoven playing right now. Bach, Mozart and the Big B seem irrelevant to most people today, and perhaps in 250 years they will seem as irrelevant to almost everybody as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd do today.

10. As with number 9, most people don’t listen to jazz in 2022, and even fewer listen to acoustic jazz. In one hundred and fifty years this may seem irrelevant. We will see.

Exercise 2 in Prometheus Rising, chapter 17, asks the reader to “Make a list of ten areas in which your conceptualizing is radical. Guess how soon the world will change so totally that you will seem conservative in those areas” (pg. 255).

1. I have mixed feelings about hard work. I recognize the value of hard work, and I know that it can accomplish a lot, but I also value going with the flow. When I first visited Europe in 1985, I arranged my trip to visit Ingolstadt, Bavaria, the birthplace of the Bavarian Illuminati, on July 23, the anniversary of the beginning of Robert Anton Wilson’s Sirius experience. The train from Munich to Ingolstadt passed Dachau, and on the next day I visited the concentration camp at Dachau. Over the gate of the concentration camp hung a sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei,” work will set you free. I had a sense that I had a life purpose to unlearn that sentiment.

When I returned that afternoon to Munich I had a deep sense of despair about the human condition after visiting the camp and contemplating the Holocaust. I wandered Munich, listening to oom-pah-pah bands in the park and eating a giant soft pretzel, observing naked frisbee players. I visited Munich’s rich English language bookstores and even looked copies of at Robert Anton Wilson’s books, trying to find some way of dealing with the nightmare of history. I later walked past a theater showing Ingmar Bergman’s film of Mozart’s Magic Flute. I saw I had just enough time to watch the film and run to the train station to catch my midnight train to Vienna. (I just wanted to get out of Germany.) 

With my limited understanding of German, I could barely follow the German subtitles for the Swedish language film, but the film restored my hope in humanity. The story of a secret society of Masonic adepts trying to aid the world set to Mozart’s music gave me hope. Plus I thought the singer playing Sarastro looked like I might look in the future. (Now I don’t think so.)

In the uncut version of The Trick Top Hat, Wilson writes:

Those who had particularly keen memories of the future – those who could see the transformation into Immortality and Higher Intelligence that was before them – imagined that this could only be accomplished through what these primates called Promethean Struggle. They loved to dramatize themselves as heroic contestants “fighting” every step of the way from the primeval ooze to the first upright ape, “battling” mightily toward the steam engine and the Age of Abundance, etc. That all this was programmed into the DNA on every planet, and that all they had to do was cooperate with it, was a concept too humiliating to their primate egos.

“It steam-engines when it comes steam-engine time,” wrote one of their cleverest primate philosophers; but they did not dare to believe him. They were sure that if they stopped struggling, they would slip back into amoebahood again, or something worse. (pg. 247)

Dr. Wilson here refers to Charles Fort as “one of their cleverest primate philosophers.” In Quantum Psychology Wilson renamed the neurogenetic circuit the “morphogenetic system”: “Sheldrake, a biologist, knew that genes cannot carry such information. He therefore posited a non-local field, like those in quantum theory, which he named the morphogenetic field” (pg.191).

Keeping this in mind, I reframe the passage from The Trick Top Hat as that we just need to cooperate with the morphogenetic fields.  

2. I do not consider death inevitable.

3. I think space industrialization can help humanity.

4. I consider the music of the Art Ensemble of Chicago very important.

5. I consider the writing of Rafi Zabor very important.

6. I consider the writing of Robert Anton Wilson very important.

7. I suspect the writing of Ibn ‘Arabi has great value.

8. Paying attention to dreams seems valuable to me.

9. I like E-Prime.

10. The writing of Robert Heinlein seems important to me.

Bob asks the reader to, “Guess how soon the world will change so totally that you will seem conservative in those areas.”

1. Bob Wilson and Bucky Fuller thought we might have a post-work economy by the 1990’s. I suspect it will take at least a few hundred years to move to a world where hard work no longer seems so central. We may never get there.

2. Perhaps we will all die. Perhaps medicine will radically improve in the next century.

3. Perhaps we will reap the benefits of space industrialization in the next sixty years.

4. Most years I look at the voting for the downbeat Hall of Fame. Of the members of the Art Ensemble, only Lester Bowie has gotten voted into the Hall of Fame. I think much of Art Ensemble’s music seems less radical today than it did fifty years ago.

5. Hopefully more people will recognize the value of Rafi’s work during his lifetime.

6. Perhaps Bob Wilson’s work will have a Renaissance in the next few decades.

7. Many people value Ibn ‘Arabi’s work already. Much more of it has gotten translated into English in the last forty years. Perhaps he will become a popular as Rumi in the next fifty years, or least have a significantly greater profile in the West.

8. People have paid attention to dreams throughout history (and probably before it). With Freud people started looking at dreams in some new ways. I suspect we will learn more and more about dreams in the coming century, just as we have learned more and more about the brain in the last thirty years. Perhaps people will learn new things from Finnegans Wake, Joyce’s prophetic vision of the world of the night. 

9. I’ve written, talked, and thought mostly in E-Prime for about thirty years. I no longer have the evangelical zeal for it that I once did, but I still find it a valuable tool. Perhaps it will seem a conservative practice in eighty years, or it may take centuries.

10. Many science fiction fans grew up on Heinlein, especially people my age and older. I have encountered some younger Heinlein fans. His vision of a world impacted by changing technologies and the changes in people’s behavior affected by these technological changes seems relevant in 2022. However, some of his ideas about men and woman seem very outdated to some readers. He gets ignored by academic writers on American literature, but he seems central to writers like Bob Wilson and Phil Dick. Perhaps my ideas about Heinlein’s importance already seem conservative to some.


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Oz Fritz on the 'Schroedinger's Cat' trilogy

Oz Fritz at his "The Oz Mix" blog, recently connected to the New Trajectories webring, takes on the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy with a long new essay. I won't try to summarize it here, but Oz writes about how the current prevalence of violence in the U.S. and in the Ukraine war connects with how dealing with violence is a big theme of the trilogy.

Oz writes about how the world seemed to be on a more positive trajectory a few decades ago (something that I think Jesse Walker also talked about in the recent Hilaritas Press podcast, although lacking a transcript I can't be sure.) Oz writes, ""In our current political, social, and economic climate with so much violence and unrest, it seems crucial to preserve, embody and transmit all this brain-change information and technologies  [in Wilson's works and other works] for future generations."

I have more thoughts on Oz' essay but I left a long comment at his blog post. 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Friday, July 15, 2022

Please,, no piracy

The Hilaritas Press version of Cosmic Trigger

The website is quite useful; it makes various academic papers available to laymen like me. I've read papers on Discordianism and related topics from the site, and also pieces related to my interest in avant-garde Russian classical music. 

But the site also has been disseminating a pirated copy of Cosmic Trigger Vol. 1 by Robert Anton Wilson, and the site makes it difficult to contact the folks who run it and to complain. (I get emails from the site, which keeps offering me ebook copies of Cosmic Trigger.) So I'm going to complain publicly: Please,, do not circulate pirated copies of books under copyright. I've also notified Rasa. 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

A good way to spend two minutes


amoeba VR Showreel 2020 [2 mins] from amoeba on Vimeo.

Scott from @amoeba, who does all of the book covers for the Hilaritas Press editions of Robert Anton Wilson's work, has released a new highlight real, about two minutes long, with bits from his various videos. It's two minutes of amazing images. I like to look at the videos that are displayed in modern art museums, and in the modern art sections of general art museums, and I don't see what any of these folks have over Scott. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Is 'Illuminatus!' a realistic novel?

John Kennedy Jr. in 1998 (Public domain photo)

I tend to think of the Illuminatus! trilogy as an unusual fantasy novel, yet in some ways it seems realistic. 

On Twitter, Richard Hanania writes, "Trump has helped me better enjoy movies and TV shows. I used to say some events were too absurd to be believable. But then Trump comes along and everything about his persona and role in American politics is even stranger. He’s expanded our understanding of what is possible."

Hanania also writes, "You couldn’t write a screenplay with anyone more absurd than modern liberals, and you couldn’t dream up a more perfect foil for them than Trump. I feel lucky to be alive at this current moment, and so should you."

Hanania's bugaboo is the alleged inanity of aspects of the left, but the reader could single out any belief system that seems nuts and the point would still hold. My favorite is the QAnon folks who gathered at Dealey Plaza last year, waiting for John Kennedy Jr. to return from apparent death at Dealey Plaza and become Trump's next vice president.  In a sense, the crazy conspiracy theories and beliefs of the present day make Illuminatus! seem relevant to me, even if the work also is a product of its time. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Prop Anon interviews Noah23

 Noah23 (Twitter photo)

Prop Anon interviews the Canadian rapper Noah 23 for Prop's Chapel Perilous website. (The interview is listed as Part One, so there is more to come.) 

There's a bit where Noah23 explains how he got interested in Robert Anton Wilson: "Robert Anton Wilson entered my world in 1998. Inspired by the 90s Hip Hop conspiracy vibes of the times I was always on the lookout for a cool book. Someone had lent me a copy of the Illuminatus! Trilogy and I went to work devouring the thing. Early on in the first chapter it goes into detail about William Burroughs and the 23 Enigma. Being a fan of the beatniks and Burroughs’ cut up technique this aroused my curiosity. This is where I get my MC name from. Ya see, I just so happened to be wearing a green shirt with a big yellow 23 on it that I had thrifted a few days prior, but not only that! When I checked out the publishing date on the book. It was 23 years back from the time I was reading the thing! (1975)"

Monday, July 11, 2022

Prometheus Rising discussion and exercise group, episode 89, Chapter 16

Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

For this entry of our saga, I decided to concentrate on two exercises for Chapter 16: "1. Start collecting evidence that your phone is bugged" and "4. Try living the whole week with the program, 'Everybody likes me and tries to help me achieve all of my goals."

The first exercise, a bit anachronistic given the shift in technology, seems to assume that the reader's landline might be tapped by a government agency.

But in fact I've shifted largely to using a cell phone, just like most people -- and there are ways to bug cell phones, too.

A WikiHow article, "How to Tell if Your Phone is Tapped," lists four ways that your phone is tapped. I recently had to replace my cell phone because it was getting too slow, and if I were paranoid, I could certainly find some of the symptoms that are listed. (I've long wondered why some of the settings in my phone sometimes will change, without my changing them).

I probably ought to beef up the antivirus software on my phone, as the article and other articles note that wiretapping from the government is not the only threat; bad criminal actors likely are trying to put malware on my phone.

But I admit that many of the symptoms listed in the article don't show up on my phone yet, perhaps because it is a new phone. But again, if I want to be paranoid, I certainly can think of reasons why someone might tap the phone. Because the government is suspicious of some of the people I talk to as a reporter? Because this blog puts me in touch with weirdoes?

I am certainly not an expert on cell phone security, not do I spend hours worrying about the matter, so it is certainly likely that there are bad actors our there, smarter than I am, who have an interest in getting into my phone. I certainly recognize that some of the emails I get are phishing scams, but there are likely threats that I don't recognize. 

There are ways to "bug" a cell phone or at least get information from it that did not apply in the landline days. Many police agencies, if they have confiscated a cell phone, know how to break into it and examine the contents. And if you are accused of a serious crime, a police agency is likely to trace if you were in the vicinity, using your cell phone to track you movements. I suppose I would know if someone had my cell phone in their possession, but how I would I know if a government agency is tracking where I go? 

I only remembered to do the other exercise, "Try living the whole week with the program, 'Everybody likes me and tries to help me achieve all of my goals," a couple of days ago, so I need to keep working on it a few more days.

But I did try to concentrate on it during the weekend, bringing it to my attention several times a day, and it is true that in my interactions with people, both face to face and on the phone and on the internet, the vast majority of the people I deal with seem to be helpful. 

And generally when I reach out to people, for my job or for some other reason, people try to be helpful. And thinking about people that way seems to make me feel more positive and happier. I will try to work on the exercise for a few more days. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Ted Hand comes to town

For anyone who reads this blog, one of the possible stops for a visit to Cleveland would be the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick, now at a new location with expanded space since I visited it several years ago. (Note that advanced tickets must be bought online.) 

RAW fan, Dick scholar, gamester, Tarot reader and esoterica expert Ted Hand returned to Cleveland during the weekend and recorded the above interview with Steve Intermill, See also the photos Ted posted. 

Ted also took time to meet me for lunch at my favorite Chinese restaurant. I was in the mood to cover some topics and Ted always has lots of ideas, so we talked about why NFL football is bad, RAW's fiction vs. nonfiction, RAW's writings about feminism, Seattle (where Ted now lives), the teaching profession (Ted's a teacher), social media, whether Ted will join the New Trajectories webring, marijuana legalization, what I'm trying to do with my music blog on Russian avant-garde classical music and very likely many other things.

Ted Hand and your humble blogger, in Strongsville, Ohio, July 9, 2022, near my favorite restaurant, Szechuan Gourmet. 

Saturday, July 9, 2022

New Higgs Beatles-Bond book out soon; here's the cover


The cover (or at least the British cover, I am not quite clear on this point) has been revealed for the new John Higgs book, Love and Let Die: The Beatles, James Bond, and the British Psyche. It is out Sept. 15 in Britain and Feb. 7, 2023 in the U.S. 

From the publisher's blurb: "The Beatles are the biggest band in the history of pop music. James Bond is the single most successful movie character of all time. They are also twins. Dr No, the first Bond film, and Love Me Do, the first Beatles record, were both released on the same day: Friday 5 October 1962. Most countries can only dream of a cultural export becoming a worldwide phenomenon on this scale. For Britain to produce two iconic successes on this level, on the same windy October afternoon, is unprecedented.

"Bond and the Beatles present us with opposing values, visions of the British culture, and ideas about sexual identity. Love and Let Die is the story of a clash between working class liberation and establishment control, and how it exploded on the global stage. It explains why James Bond hated the Beatles, why Paul McCartney wanted to be Bond, and why it was Ringo who won the heart of a Bond Girl in the end.

"Told over a period of sixty dramatic years, this is an account of how two outsized cultural phenomenons continue to define American aspirations, fantasies, and our ideas about ourselves. Looking at these two touchstones in this new context will forever change how you see the Beatles, the James Bond films, and six decades of cross-Atlantic popular culture."

I will note again that Robert Shea was a Beatles fan.  And here is my blog post on "Why 'Revolver' is the best Beatles album for RAW fans."

Friday, July 8, 2022

Prometheus Awards: Wil McCarthy, Robert Heinlein

The Prometheus Awards for science fiction for this year have been announced. (I serve in the organization that presents them; Illuminatus! is one of the past winners of the Hall of Fame award and in fact Robert Shea was active in the same group; see "Robert Shea Resources" at the right side of this page for more information). Here is the official press release -- The Management. 

Prometheus Award 2022 winners announced: 

* 2022 Prometheus Awards: Wil McCarthy wins for Best Novel, Robert Heinlein novel inducted into Hall of Fame

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

The 42nd annual Prometheus Awards, with multiple-Prometheus-winning authors Travis Corcoran and F. Paul Wilson as presenters, will be presented online in late August (on a weekend date tba) in a Zoom awards ceremony,

The Prometheus Award for Best Novel

Rich Man’s Sky, by Wil McCarthy (Baen Books), has won the 2022 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for novels published in 2021.

McCarthy’s imaginative sf adventure explores human expansion throughout the solar system, propelled by four billionaires, in a suspenseful mosaic of epic conflicts and maneuvers between governments and markets and among politicians, soldiers, spies and entrepreneurs.

As a secret government 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 super-rich "Four Horseman" are revealed to be admirable, and some decidedly not. Yet McCarthy makes all four real and human as they spearhead game-changing private-enterprise efforts that governments aren't able or willing to do.

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.”

The other 2022 Best Novel finalists were Between Home and Ruin and Seize What’s Held Dear by Karl K. Gallagher (Kelt Haven Press); Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro; and Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver (Harper Collins).

The Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction

Citizen of the Galaxy, a Robert Heinlein novel, won the 2022 Best Classic Fiction award and will be inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

Arguably the best of his "juveniles," Heinlein’s 1957 novel strongly dramatizes an anti-slavery theme while exploring the meaning of freedom and defending the right to use force in self-defense. The epic, planet-hopping saga revolves about a young man's coming of age amid repeated displacement into new societies and situations (including one intriguing libertarian group of Free Traders) in a rich and complex interstellar future.

The other Prometheus Hall of Fame finalists were That Hideous Strength, a 1945 novel by C.S. Lewis; Circus World, a 1981 collection of linked stories by Barry B. Longyear; and "The Trees," a 1978 song by the rock group Rush.

Prometheus Awards History

The Prometheus Awards, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.

The Prometheus Awards recognize outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between liberty and power and champion cooperation over coercion as the root of civility and social harmony. Such works may critique or satirize authoritarian trends, expose abuses of power by the institutionalized coercion of the State, imagine what forms a fully free society might take, and/or uphold individual rights and freedom for all as the only moral and practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress and justice. 

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

The Best Novel winner receives a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin, and the Hall of Fame winner a plaque with a smaller gold coin.