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

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Michael Johnson on Carlos Casteneda


[After I posted Sunday on a new book, put out by Rasa's digital design and publishing company, that describes a trip to Mexico to meet with the "real Don Juan" from Carlos Castaneda's books, Michael Johnson posted a long and characteristically interesting comment, which I am reproducing here as a separate blog post, because I want people to see it. Michael posted two follow up comments, which I've merged into the original in what I hope is a logical manner; you can view the original post for context. My illustration is the book Michael particularly recommends. Meanwhile, I have loaned my Kindle of the new book, Illuminating Don Juan by Peter Marquis, to Apuleius Charlton, who was the first to offer to review it. Later I will lend it to Oz Fritz and to Michael, if he wants to read it also.

Note that Peter Marquis also posted a comment: "I am the author of Illuminating Don Juan. I think I got to the bottom of 'who' they were. You decide.

"But it is much larger that that subject. So while the readers are interested in such things, it is ultimately only a vehicle for our real message. We are 'making sense of the world' for you, today. It isn’t about Carlos Castaneda. Please keep this in mind." 

For other comments, go back and read the original post. 

-- The Management.]

By Michael Johnson
Special guest blogger

I have to chime in here and steer some of you to Amy Wallace (of the Wallechinksy writer-family) and her book Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life With Carlos Castaneda(2003). 'Nuff said.

Also worth a look would be Richard DeMille's The Don Juan Papers. (I like this source, but to sweeten the situation: DeMille was the adopted son of Cecile B. DeMille, and are you ready for your close-up? Richard DeMille was L. Ron Hubbard's assistant at the birth of $cientology. I will leave further High Weirdness to others here..)

Peter Biskind, in his un-put-down-able history of 1970s Hollywood, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, says yea, George Lucas read Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey like a Talmud scholar, but also: Castaneda. And "Don Juan" came out as Obi-Wan-Kenobi...

Castaneda's PhD thesis became a best-seller, basically. That, I think, should tell us a lot about the book's time and place.

Castaneda got his PhD in Anthropology at UCLA, and one of his advisors was Harold Garfinkel, one of RAW's favorite Sociologists. Garfinkel was a student of Alfred Schutz, who studied Phenomenology under Edmund Husserl himself. Schutz effectively exported Phenomenology into Sociology, and in my weirdo take on such things, it's where Phenomenology was meant to be. Garfinkel invented Ethnomethodology out of that, while Berger and Luckmann wrote the Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, one of the most psychedelic (to ME) non-fiction books I've ever read, and I am always returning to.


At present, my main model of Castaneda is that he never went to the Sonora Desert and probably wrote all the Don Juan books from sources in the library at UCLA. When he submitted his thesis, he was asked to show his field notes, and basically: the dog ate 'em, and they signed off on his degree anyway.

Joyce Carol Oates was one of the first to read Castaneda and detect that it's all fiction. I've got a letter from Douglas Hofstadter to Marcello Truzzi, in which Hofstadter has CC as "a fraud."

In the 1970s, Jacques Vallee thought Castaneda was sending "psychic images" of his allies into Vallee's dreams. (See Forbidden Science 2, p.508, note #37)

It's been fascinating to me to accumulate many years of notes on authors who bought Castaneda at his word; others who saw through him at some point, and then others who seemed to see the value in the work, even if it was a monumental put-on. I suspect RAW eventually caught on, but he never wrote about that. One of his acolytes, Adam Gorightly, has a stimulating take on CC, found in The Beast of Adam Gorightly, "The Trickster of Truths", pp.130-151.

As of 1974, RAW seemed to think Castaneda's work was authentic, at one point seeing the field of Anthropology as "BC": Before Castaneda. EX: Sir James Frazer was BC.

Now and finally: my main model may be wrong. WRONG!!! Of course! (However, for me: the Amy Wallace memoir was the coffin-nail.)

Psychiatrist Arnold Mandel suspected that "Don Juan" was based on the founder of Ethnomethodology, Harold Garfinkel, who Castaneda studied under at UCLA. And soon, after Castaneda became a "star", Garfinkel - whose students competed against each other for his favors - felt something like remorse for signing off on his PhD. Another of the advisors was Anthropologist Robert Edgerton, whose book _Sick Societies_ I found really interesting.

Garfinkel died in 2011, and here's a "memory" of him by one of his students, and it mentions DeMille's book, _The Don Juan Papers_, which is a compendium of many authors weighing in on the veracity of CC's work:

I was happy to see that Chad Nelson's wonderful work in fortifying RAW's Natural Law, Nelson saw fit to included RAW's essay, "A New Writer: F.W. Nietzsche," which originally appeared in New Libertarian in 1984. In writing about Nietzsche, RAW's really writing about himself, as most of you know.

Anyway, in that piece, RAW suspects Garfinkel, "who was Castaneda's sociology teacher and the possible original of Don Juan." (p.132 in the Hilaritas Press edition)

BTW: RAW thought Garfinkel's treatment of the intersex female, "Agnes," in _Studies In Ethnomethodology_, was hilarious, because Garfinkel had to add an appendix to that chapter at the end of the book. During the 8 or so years of studying "Agnes" - who Garfinkel was interested in as a case of "passing", he and his colleague found out she wasn't passing at all: she'd started taking her mother's estrogen at age 12, and really wanted the surgery to become a full woman. She got it. Garfinkel and his colleague Stoller were taken for a ride. There's an audio talk of RAW out there somewhere where he talks about this case and has a hearty laugh about it. The "Agnes" case is seen by many as the first "study" of a transsexual's transition, and clearly, from 1959-1967, Garfinkel and Stoller were in over their heads with this stuff. A short film about this came out in 2018, "Framing Agnes" and anyone innarested can watch it here: (The film starts at around 7:50)

I'd like to add that, IF I'm correct about Castaneda, or some variation on that take of mine - look at what he did: a true trickster! A massively successful work of guerrilla ontology!

And it's way too easy from me to imply his mentors were Garfinkel and stacks of books on Taoism, hallucinogenic use of peyote and psilocybin, Heidegger, Zen, anthropological reports on shamans, Native American mythology, etc. (I do picture him holed up in a carrel in the library at UCLA, taking notes from books and inventing all that fiction), but who ELSE were his teachers?

Further complicating matters is Amy Wallace's testimony, which paints Carlos as a sort of Manson-lite (no random killing sprees).

I'm interested in reading Illuminating Don Juan, too, not only to challenge my current main model of WTF was going on with CC, but simply 'cuz I like narratives to get ever-weirder and more complex. Challenging.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Meet Bobby Campbell at the Small Press Expo

You can meet Bobby Campbell if you attend the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland on September 17th and 18th.

"In addition to my usual bag of tricks I will be bringing the freshly printed Weird Comix #2, featuring my latest and greatest candy colored funny pages, with stories like: A Quantum of Discord, And Bob's Your Uncle, The Magnificent Mullah Nasreddin Hooja, Good Old Earth, Ms. Tri Begins, The Dragon's Gift, and On The Road to Somewhere :)))

"Weird Comix #2 will also be available everywhere in print and digital formats starting on September 17th.

I've preordered my copy. More Bobby Campbell news here. 

Monday, August 29, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 95, Chapter 18

Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash

Chapter 18 is a chapter without any exercises. I like the bit about the "virtually superhuman music" of the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. There's also some stuff about the brain being turned on by a "non-local information system."

Wilson's account of faster-than-light communication between particles seemed speculative to me, and for what it's worth, when Charles Faris interviewed Jack Sarfatti about this via email in 2016 (for the Cosmic Trigger 1 reading group), Sarfatti backed off from such claims. (Full interview here.)

CF: ERP “proves” that if Quantum Mechanics is “true” this requires instantaneous contact between some particles, even if at opposite ends of Universe.

JS: Not accurate. Back when it was written it was plausible, but no longer.

Quantum entanglement is very fragile, and for particles out in space, the initial entanglement will almost certainly be destroyed by collisions with other particles.

Even if it was not, it is of very little consequence since actual message using entanglement alone is not possible in quantum mechanics.

CF: BELL’s theorizes 3 possible interpretations of the ERP effect—QM fails, OBJECTIVITY fails, LOCALITY fails.

JS: Not accurate. Back when it was written it was plausible, but no longer.

We now know through the work of Yakir Aharonov, Huw Price, Ken Wharton, and Rod Sutherland, that the only way to correctly understand quantum theory is through OBJECTIVE LOCALLY REAL RETROCAUSALITY in which future "destiny" causes post-determine what happens in the present in addition to the common sense past "history" causes. OBJECTIVE LOCAL RETROCAUSALITY is the only way to understand quantum entanglement without violating Einstein's special and general theories of relativity.

FASTER-THAN-LIGHT NONLOCALITY never happens directly. It is a mirage, the effect of OBJECTIVE LOCAL RETROCAUSALITY as probably first explained in the 1950s by O. Costa de Beauregard as the "zig-zag" also used by John Cramer in his "transactional interpretation." Indeed, so long as the entanglement is not destroyed by environmental decoherence, the statistical correlations do not depend on the space-time separation between the localized strong measurements on each particle in the entangled network.

Quantum uncertainty (e.g. Heisenberg) in the present is only because we must integrate over all possible future destiny causes. Therefore, our quantum theory using only past causes is incomplete as Einstein correctly thought. When one includes future destiny causes "God does not play dice with the universe." However, because quantum theory does not allow stand-alone quantum entanglement messaging, the usual Heisenberg uncertainties apply as a pragmatically useful effective description for simple scattering experiments on dead matter. This situation changes for those degrees of freedom responsible for life and consciousness in open complex systems with long-range quantum coherence (as first discussed by Herbert Frohlich). The situation changes for living matter, which is a POST-QUANTUM THEORY effect.

More here. 

This is Tom again. My favorite "hippie physicist," Nick Herbert, still seems to hold out hope for faster than light communication, see for example this blog post from 2021. 

All this reminds me of the debate many years ago between Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke about whether faster-than-light travel might be possible with Asimov answering "no" and Clarke "yes." 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

New book about Carlos Casteneda's (alleged) teacher


Well, here is something different for sombunall of you: A new book, Illuminating Don Juan, by Peter Marquis, an old hippie/shaman from northern California, about an old guy in Mexico who (it is claimed) was the real Don Juan, the shaman who taught writer  Carlos Casteneda in Casteneda's famous series of books. 

Also, in an interesting twist, this controversial book is put out by Pelorian Digital, i.e. the publishing and design company founded and run by Rasa, of Hilaritas Press fame.

Rasa explains,

"We have an old friend who has long been on something like a shamanic journey, enough so that he considers himself a shaman. He’s nearing 70, so he’s certainly had a lot of time to have experiences. I never know what that means when Westerners call themselves a shaman (we just don’t have that tradition, for the most part, unless you start talking about people like Crowley, I suppose), but since I’ve met a few indigenous shamans (one Russian and a couple of South Americans), I know that the calling can come from a deep internal struggle that I’m sure anyone from any culture can experience. 

"Okay, so Pete’s an old hippie, you might say. He’s said that about himself. He’s long had an interest in Mexican shamans. He devoured the Castaneda books, like many of us, and so he was surprised that just as the pandemic was starting, a friend of his told him that if he drove to Mexico, he would introduce him to the actual shaman who inspired the character of Don Juan in the Castaneda books. 

"Pete's book is the story of his travels from his home in Mt. Shasta, California back and forth to Mexico during two years of a pandemic, and his desire to figure out if this was actually the real guy, Castaneda’s Don Juan. 

"Pete’s Mexican girlfriend, Gloria, helps to pave the way in macho Mexican culture. It seems Don Juan, or Kata Kachora, as he is known, at 108 years old, is interested in acquiring wife number six, and Gloria was an attractive prospect, or at least the old guy was not shy about his affections. But that’s only a slight side note in a story that involves Pete attending shamanic ceremonies, arranging to put solar panels on Kata Kachora's house, buying land overlooking a sacred ceremonial site, evading bandits on some the more remote Mexican highways, smoking weed in seedy Mexican hotels and smoking weed in pristine mountain meadows – in short, it’s a cool story, and Pete is certain that his beliefs about the identity of Castaneda’s Don Juan will outrage what he sees as the “mainstream Castaneda community.” Already, mentioning that he was writing the book in a Facebook post, the post caught the attention of a Castaneda group where they proceeded to attack him. That’s probably good for his book sales.

"As an old friend, and knowing I was a publisher, Pete told me about the book when he was mostly finished and had already sent $2500 to a vanity press outfit, that honestly, when I looked them up online, they seemed okay. However, he was frustrated with their work. He sent me their proposed cover for the book and their edited “ready-for-ebook” MS Word file. The cover was immediately suspect because their design had a spine that was so wide it would be appropriate for a book of no less than 900 pages. Pete’s book is 174. The spine needed to be about a half an inch wide, at most, and their design had a spine that was a ridiculous inch and a half wide. The Word file was no better. It was very poorly formatted and would have resulted in a terrible eBook. I immediately felt bad for Pete, and since I was waiting for a couple of folks to finish up some work for upcoming Hilaritas Press projects, and I felt I had a bit of time, I told Pete that I would fix up the Word file and redesign a book cover for him."

This being the California New Age community, marketing and promotion has been an interesting process, Rasa further explains.

"So now, Pete begins his saga as a new book writer. He lives still in Mt. Shasta, and the New Age scene here could not be more stereotypically  'far out.' Sometimes that’s quite cool. There’s some very cool electronic and acoustic music for example, but there is also a large percentage of the people that RAW was thinking about when he quipped, 'My function is to raise the possibility, hey, you know, some of this stuff might be bullshit.' Pete gave a printout of the book to a young guy he met at a drum circle who said, 'Yes! I’m really good with promotion and social networking! I can help promote your book!' A few days later Pete asked the guy if he finished the book. He said, “No, instead of reading it, I have it sitting next to me when I’m meditating. I’m absorbing the book.” 

More conventional folks are being pressed into service to design a website for the book and to promote it on social media. 

I haven't read the original Don Juan books, maybe someone could volunteer to write a review of the new book for me? I was given a Kindle of the title, I can lend it to anyone willing to read it and review it for me. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

How did you start reading RAW?

As an experiment in retention/understanding I've been listening to the new Hilaritas Press podcast on Beethoven in small sections, rather than all the way through in one sitting. 

Early in the podcast, Mike Gathers asks Eric Wagner how Eric began on reading Robert Anton Wilson, and Eric responds that he began with the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy (as the original three mass market paperbacks), then read the Illuminatus! trilogy, then Masks of the Illuminati. Mike mentions that he found Masks an accessible way to begin with RAW, and that he worked up to Illuminatus!, which he found difficult at first. 

I began with Illuminatus!, which I found totally absorbing; I simply cannot recall how I got interested in it, whether it was recommended to me and or I ran across it; I did early on have friends in college who also read it. Then I went on to everything else I could find. I do regret that I took a long time to get around to reading Robert Shea's solo works; I didn't start on his historical novels until many years after Shea had died. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

Christian Greer's new book


Scholar and Discordian Dr. J. Christian Greer, currently in the Bay Area preparing to teach at Stanford University, has a book outKumano Kodo: Pilgrimage to Powerspots, which he co-wrote with Michelle K. Oing, chronicling a trip in Japan I thought it sounded like something sombunall of you would be interested in, so I invited him to tell me a little about it. He responds:

"Writing Kumano Kodo: Pilgrimage to Powerspots is now something of a blur, as the text & art poured out of me over the course of a few weeks. Broken into three parts, it opens with a meditation of pilgrimage in the modern era, focusing heavily on the re-enchantment of travel by Kerouac. The other Beat writers loom large in the background too, especially Snyder who made some pilgrimages through Japan as well. The second part explores the Japanese traditions of mountain shamanism along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes, and describes the business conspiracies that transformed their training grounds in the Kii peninsula into a UNESCO World Heritage site. The final section recounts the alterations of consciousness I experienced while walking the Kumano Kodo in March 2020. Also, the book contains dozens of full-color mandaras, which I made in Kyoto while waiting for the US to reopen its borders."

Here is the back cover blurb:

Kumano Kodo is a journey into the hallucinogenic power of pilgrimage. Part travelogue, part speculative fiction, part scholarly history, this book speaks to the universal human impulse to explore the sacred through travel.

By focusing on Japan's oldest pilgrimage route, the Kumano Kodo, the authors offer their readers a boldly transgressive and abundantly humorous look at the merry art of pilgrimage. Whether uncovering historical conspiracies, recounting bawdy folklore, or collecting ghost stories, this surrealist investigation establishes a new paradigm for spiritual travel inspired by an impressive breadth of scholarly research, and the authors' many years as pilgrims across the globe.

Compiled in Kyoto at the height of the pandemic in 2020, the book is a unique reflection on the unwieldy power of the sacred in times of crisis, and contains dozens of original, full-color mandalas.

My link at the top of this blog post goes to the book's Amazon page, where you can read useful reviews.   

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Download the Hilaritas Press catalog

Hilaritas Press, the publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust, has released a 30-page catalog, listing all of the Robert Anton Wilson books it has published so far, and also listing books by others, such as Bobby Campbell, Marlis Jermutus and Daisy Campbell. You can download it here as a PDF. 

Rasa suggests passing on the link to your favorite local bookstore, but it can also be handy for the RAW fan trying to figure out his next purchase or what to get as a gift for a friend. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Bobby Campbell's museum piece

Some exciting news from artist Bobby Campbell: His Hagbard Celine illustration, originally drawn to promote a reading group on this blog, is now being exhibited in a German museum. 

About the above image, Bobby explains,

"An Illustration I did of Hagbard Celine is now on permanent display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany! The drawing is part of the Modern Cryptology section of the “Image Script Codes” (Bild Schrift Codes) exhibition. It’s part of a display dedicated to Karl Koch, the Illuminatus! influenced hacker who used “Hagbard Celine” as his pseudonym.

"The drawing was originally done back in 2015 in support of the RAW Illumination blog’s online reading group for the Illuminatus! Trilogy, and apparently turned up as part of the museum’s research into Karl Koch.

"The image features Hagbard Celine giving a psychedelic speech during a climatically surreal moment towards the end of the book."

More here; Bobby is glad the drawing is being shown near many of the events of the trilogy. 

Congratulations to Bobby; he has supported this blog in many ways over the years, and I'm glad one of his efforts turned out this way.

Below is another illustration of Bobby's, done for the reading group. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Hilaritas Press podcast on Beethoven released

Eric Wagner

The latest Hilaritas Press podcast has been released today;  the topic is Beethoven, the host is Mike Gathers, and the guest is Eric Wagner.,This is a podcast I have been patiently waiting for and I will listen to it soon. Here is the RAW quote at the podcast page, from one of my favorites of RAW's books, Cosmic Trigger 2:

Whether one is transported out of one’s habitual Realty Tunnel to the multiple-choice labyrinth of Virtual Reality by marijuana or by Charlie Parker or by sexual orgasm or by meditation or by Picasso or by King Kong or by the Wicked Witch of the West, the experience has a quality of timelessness and liberation about it. One feels less mechanical and seems on the edge of grasping what the mystics mean by “Awakening”; sometimes, especially with Beethoven, one almost feels that one will never forget the “absurd good news” (as Chesterton called it) of that Awakened state.

Whenever I hear from Eric, he often mentions what he has been listening to. He is the author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson.

When I was growing up, my father used to put a Beethoven piano concerto (sometimes Mozart instead) on the stereo when we sat down to Sunday dinner. In high school, I started listening to Stravinsky and went on from there, but I never lost interest in Beethoven. 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, episode 94, Chapter 18

Clouds over the ocean. NASA photography via Unplash. 

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

I am not going to claim to understand Bell’s Theorem or even the basics of quantum physics. Most of what I “know” about quantum physics come from Wilson anyways, so I wouldn’t be adding anything new. 

I do teach a little about relativity (the Special Theory, the General Theory is beyond my ability to communicate) and about how theories of physics coexist, due to the virtue of teaching John Higgs’ excellent Stranger Than We Can Imagine every spring. In that book, Higgs explains that our global positioning systems/satellite navigation works on the principles of Newtonian physics, relativity and quantum physics which should be mutually exclusive paradigms. 

Without pulling the book off my shelves, I believe it takes Newtonian physics to get the satellites into orbit and keep them up there, relativity for the positioning to be accurate and quantum physics in the computer chips that run the system. 

In a profound way, I find this paradox to be of great comfort. I prefer a bit of mystery in the universe, and suspect that the mystery is an inherent part of its composition, at least from our perspective. I’ve never felt much at the end of this book, these last few chapters have passed the parts of the book that have affected my way of living and thinking so dramatically. Perhaps it is my mathematical illiteracy or my inexperience with large doses of LSD or any amount of ketamine that has kept me from palpably understanding the truths in this chapter. (One could also point out I’m obviously not advanced enough in yoga and, knock on wood, haven’t experienced a near-death event.) 

In a way, this is an apology that my latest entries are ending on a whimper instead of a bang. This is a life changing book and packs a wallop of psychology and ontology in the opening before floating off into experiences that only some of us have touchstones to comprehend. I have found myself having little to say about Wilson’s writings in the last bits, for which I hope that I might be forgiven. As we approach the end of this long reading group I find myself increasingly wondering “what comes next?” I ask that question in many senses, will Prometheus rise in all of us or will it be like the larger morass of humanity, some firebrands and wise-ones coming into being, teaching and some of us half-listening. Will humanity ever set aside our pettiness, take to the stars and focus on life expansion? When? 

A little bit of mystery might be part of the composition ...

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Richard Jackson (1932-2022)

My thanks to everyone who has sent kind messages after my fatther died. The official obituary is here. 

My Dad was 90 when he died on August 15; after he retired, he spent decades in volunteer work helping his community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and helping others. 

Just as one example, he founded and ran a volunteer program to provide free tax returns for low income people in Tulsa, helping low income people get Earned Income Tax Credits. An article in the local newspaper, the  Tulsa World, interviewed my Dad. The article explained that Dad kept a box of tissues handy for people who learned they were getting money back. He told the reporter, “If you are making $15,000 a year and had two children, then you get $4,000 handed to you in tax returns, that will bring out that kind of emotion – a wonderful, happy emotion.”

More recently, when I asked my Dad what he wanted for a gift -- it would have been for Father's Day or for his birthday, I can't remember -- he asked me to write an article about RIP Medical Debt for my newspaper. (It's a national program that pays off medical debt for people who never managed to pay a big medical bill. Dad wanted publicity for a worthy program.) He reminded me, too, until I managed to finish writing the piece and got it turned in.

Many of my interests -- classical music, aviation -- came from my Dad. Above is a photo of a World War II Douglas A-26 bomber. I snapped the photo at the MAPS Air Museum in North Canton, Ohio, a few weeks ago because it was made in the same building at the Tulsa airport where my Dad worked for many years.

Normal blogging will resume Monday with the return of the Prometheus Rising discussion group. 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Bad news

My father has died, and I am on my way back to Oklahoma. I have published every day for many years, but I am going to pause for a few days to be with my family. Normal blogging will resume, but in the meantime I suggest looking in on Jechidah, which has a new post up on Sex, Drugs & Magick, and checking out all of the good stuff at the Maybe Day site.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

'New' Bobby Campbell comic

Bobby Campbell has posted a comic, "Osiris Jones Gets an Ice Cream." I put "new" in quotes because it is actually the latest version of an older comic. See this piece for more information.  Bobby, I meant to write a longer blog post, but I have to rush off and visit a federal prison! Will explain later. 

Bobby has been busy of late; see this comic, "FAHRVERGNÜGEN!," if you missed it. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Saturday notes

I don't usually talk about current events, but if you stand for free expression, it is hard not to be shocked by the attack on Salman Rushdie. I have not read Rushdie. I am visiting Apuleius Charlton this weekend; his wife, Adie, who is very well read, has read many of Rushdie's books. She recommended The Satanic Verses to me, and so did Apuleius. There's a lot of hate out there, and we are pretty far away from maybe logic. 

We had a nice conversation last night and when I asked Apuleius about his magick influences, and he cited his "four fathers": William Blake, Aleister Crowley, Robert Anton Wilson and Alan Moore.

Above is the "Bobby Campbell gallery" at Apuleius' comfortable apartment, which has all sorts of interesting art on the walls. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Mike Gathers and Eric Wagner on 'Tale of the Tribe'


Eric Wagner was not able to participate in the recording of the Maybe Day panel discussion on Robert Anton Wilson's Tale of the Tribe project (except for a brief cameo appearance), so instead Mike Gathers recorded a separate video of a one on one discussion with Eric. I finally watched it last night and it was quite interesting. Discussion of East Coast vs. West Coast culture, Jimi Hendrix playing the national anthem at Woodstock, Bitcoin, jazz and quantum physics, John Cage and many other topics. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

A good podcast with Phil Farber

Philip Farber (Facebook photo)

Towards the end of last month's Hilaritas Press podcast with Philip Farber, which I finally listened to this week, Mike Gathers describes Farber as an author, saying he's found "an enormous amount of clarity in your books that I don't normally find or get when I study magick or the occult." 

That's also a good description of Gathers' podcast interview with Farber, an author, magician and consultant. There's discussion of magick, NLP, Aleister Crowley and some good anecdotes about Robert Anton Wilson, whom Farber apparently knew well. I've listened to all 11 Hilaritas podcasts so far, and I think the Farber episode is one of the better ones. Gathers is in good form, asking useful questions such as how to get started in magick.

The first recording Gathers made with Farber was lost when Gathers' computer crashed (learn to do backups, Mike!) so kudos to Farber for sitting down for a second interview. 

This month's podcast, out August 23, will be Eric Wagner on Beethoven. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Happy birthday, R.U. Sirius!

Cover art by Jay Cornell (please see this art project)

R.U. Sirius -- Mondo 2000 co-founder and editor, writer, musician, presidential candidate, etc. --  will turn 70 on Friday, August 12.

To celebrate, he is releasing his new song, "I'm Against NFTs,"  as a free download. It is available free from today to Sunday morning, August 14. "This song will disappear from this site prior to becoming... yes... an NFT!" the Bandcamp page says. 

The song, credited to Mondo Vanilli and Blag Dahlia, is part of an ongoing music recording project, Infinite Gesture, based on Sirius' lyrics and featuring collaborations with various musicians, including Steve Fly Agaric 23, Phr!endz with R.U. Sirius and Party Dogs.

See my 2015 interview and search this website for other items about R.U. Sirius. Follow him on Twitter. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

John Quinn, the modernist hero you (probably) don't know

John Quinn (portrait in oil by John Butler Yeats, file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

What do James Joyce and Ezra Pound have in common, besides being big influences on Robert Anton Wilson? A guy named John Quinn. In a recent "What I've Been Reading" blog posting, Tyler Cowen explains:

"3. Hugh Eakin, Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came to America.  John Quinn is the hero of this story.  Who’s he?  He was a wealthy Irish-American lawyer on Wall Street in the early part of the twentieth century.  He supported James Joyce, the various Yeatses, the later-famous Irish playwrights, Irish painters, and Pound and Eliot, all before they became accepted and then famous.  What a talent spotter.  He simply sent them money.  He was also very early on the Picasso and Henri Rousseau bandwagons, most of all in America, where Quinn was a central figure in popularizing, collecting, and displaying modern art.  His is a career to study, and this book is the place to start."

I confess I never heard of John Quinn, but here is a paragraph from the Wikipedia biography: "He was part of the group who staged the Armory Show in 1913, the first great exhibition of European and American modern art in the United States, at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York. Quinn gave practical advice and financial assistance to Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. In gratitude, Eliot sent Quinn the original manuscript of his 1922 poem The Waste Land, including Pound's editorial suggestions."

The Wikipedia bio has all sorts of nuggets; Quinn once worked with Aleister Crowley. 

Quinn was only 54 when he died of cancer in 1924, a huge loss to literature and art. 

Here is John Quinn's May 1917 article for Vanity Fair, "James Joyce, a New Irish Novelist."  It begins, "James Joyce has come to town, and he has come to stay. A new star has appeared in the firmament of Irish letters, a star of the first magnitude."

Monday, August 8, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 93, Chapter 17

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

Exercise three says,

Accept the longevity hypothesis. Imagine you are going to live at least 300 years. How much of that time do you want to spend loafing? How many different jobs would you like to work at? How many sports, arts or sciences you never had time for, would you then find the time to enjoy? (pg. 255)

Well, I just turned sixty. Thinking of Tim McGraw’s song “My Next Thirty Years”, I think about “My Next 240 Years”. I would like to spend a fair amount of time loafing which will also involve watching the world change. I have grown tired of most of my jobs, although I still love teaching my college classes, especially when I returned to the classroom after a over a year on Zoom due to the pandemic. I suspect I will have to work for a good part of the next 240 years. I do enjoy working a lot of the time. Perhaps I will work 42 jobs; perhaps retirement, writing and teaching will take up a good share of my time.

I suspect I will continue to practice tai chi, and I suspect I will explore other martial arts and complimentary practices like kettlebells in the future. My wife suggested I buy a basketball for when the grandkids come over, so their taste in sports will likely affect my taste and practice of sports. I suspect I will keep writing and trying to improve my writing. Ezra Pound emphasized how language study can help one’s writing, and I suspect I will keep learning languages for the rest of my life. I find it interesting how some skills erode over time if one doesn’t nurture them. I look forward to experimenting with various learning processes over the coming centuries. These days I study Arabic a little bit every day. Perhaps I will eventually become fluent and will nurture my Arabic skills as well as my skills in other languages, and I will see how that affects my writing.

I also suspect I will play music, and perhaps I will practice more regularly at various times in the coming years. Perhaps I will go back to ballet, or I might work on drawing. Who knows? It would not surprise me if I die before I turn ninety. If I keep on living, various passions and curiosities will likely emerge. Of course, I may spend my time foraging for water and food in a climate change nightmare with little time for poetry or architecture. 

I haven’t taken a science class since 1980. I started school as a math major, but I have neglected math and sciences over the past forty years. Bob Wilson got me to read about quantum mechanics, but I have not done much of that this century. I remember reading that in the fifties Isaac Asimov found himself on a panel with Philip Jose Farmer. Someone asked how they stayed current with science. Asimov thought to himself, well, I have a Ph.D. in chemistry, this question doesn’t apply to me, but he liked Farmer’s response. Phil said that he read Scientific American every month. Asimov realized that a lot had happened in science since he got his degree, and more and more would continue to happen, so he decided to follow Phil’s example and he subscribed to Scientific American. Perhaps in a few years I will subscribe to Scientific American (if they even continue to publish a paper magazine). Of course, passions have tended to drive my education. Sometime in the coming centuries I may develop a passion for some science that will get me to study a lot.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Is SMI2LE advancing?

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Many of Robert Anton Wilson's writings are full of predictions based on Timothy Leary's SMI2LE formula for humanity's advance in the near future, i.e, space migration, intelligence increase and life extension. 

Obviously, the space colonies have not arrived on schedule and the other predictions have not come true as quickly as RAW thought. But the space launches of Elon Musk and other entrepreneurs seem to make the space colonies at least possible, and advances in artificial intelligence seem to make the intelligence increase part of the formula possible.

But what about "life extension"? That does not seem likely to arrive right away, but it's interesting to read this New York Times story (I've included a link) , "A ‘Reversible’ Form of Death? Scientists Revive Cells in Dead Pigs’ Organs." It's full of quotes such as, "There is a whole population of people who in a different era might have been called dead."

Friday, August 5, 2022

RAW in a Marvel comic


From Marvel Two-in-One #39

Full page 

Source from Twitter.  (E.g., hat tip, Bobby Campbell and @WormDrive Pro on Twitter). 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

New York Times reviews new Bucky Fuller biography

Alec Nevala-Lee's new biography of Buckminster Fuller will be of interest to many RAW fans because (1) Fuller was a big influence on RAW and (2) Lee does a great job with the new book, Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller, which came out this week. 

The New York Times has just reviewed the book, and I notice that the reviewer, Witold Rybczynski, reaches exactly he same conclusions as I did when I reviewed the book: "The strength of this carefully researched and fair-minded biography is that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of a deeply complicated individual who overcame obstacles — many of his own making — to achieve a kind of imperfect greatness."

Here is my review, where I wrote: "Alec Nevala-Lee's new book about Buckminster Fuller, Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller, is a big, carefully researched account that seems likely to become the definitive biography of Fuller. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

'Maybe Zine' released as PDF

A 2008 zine produced by various Maybe Logic Academy folks has now been released as a PDF, making it available to everyone. 

The posting by Bobby Campbell at the Maybe Logic blog explains,

"Behold a blast from the past!

"Way back in 2008, a group of Maybe Logic Academy alumni endeavored to produce a print publication, spinning off from the web based Maybe Logic Quarterly, which ran for 14 issues from Winter 2004 to Spring 2008. 

"Presented here in digital form for the first time:

"MAYBE ZINE (2008) [PDF]

"Featuring work by Toby Philpott, Prop Anon, Steve Fly, Eric Wagner, Mike Gathers, Bobby Campbell, Eva David, Borsky, Sean Rovaldi, Minja, Frater KDB, and published by Chris Veleniki.

"Most of whom can still be seen collaborating on various Maybe Logical pursuits :)))"

I have downloaded my copy, and so far I have read Prop Anon's interview with RAW, and the five haiku for RAW by Sean Rovaldi, aka The Purple Gooroo. Here is one that I liked:

                                                    So Much More Than Just A Story 
                                                    A Brain-Change Device

Sean is on Twitter. 

Sean Rovaldi (Twitter account photo)

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

John Higgs book news

John Higgs, fighting off a bout of COVID-19 (" I can see why everyone uses the term “brain fog” to describe this feeling") but he nonetheless issues his latest newsletter and announces that his latest book, Love And Let Die, about James Bond, the Beatles and the "British psyche," is available for pre-order and will be out next month (in Britain, it comes out in February in the U.S.) I previously posted the British cover, so above is the U.S. cover.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Prometheus Rising reading and exercise group, Episode 92, Chapter 17

Photo of radios from the Chihuly Glass Museum. Photo by Rod Flores on Unsplash
  Like Eric a couple of weeks ago, I am attempting to carry out exercises for the chapter.

Here are my "ten areas in which your thinking-feeling is conservative." 

1. On Twitter, Eric Alper recently asked, "If you could add 10 productive years to the life of any deceased musician, who would you choose?" I agree with Julian Sanchez' answer, "Mozart. How is this remotely even a question?"

2. Aviation and the development of flight was a big technology in the last century and offers lessons for making space flight safer and more of an everyday thing. 

3. As Bryan Caplan says, perhaps the best few pages of philosophy is the "Letter to Menoeceus" by Epicurus. 

4. Children are best off when they are raised by two parents. (Not that I don't have sympathy for single parents -- I was one for many years.)

5. Music culture in this country has gotten worse for many years, for example as shown by the lack of interest by  younger people in jazz and classical music.

6. Radio is an underrated source of news, sports and music. It is the form of entertainment anyone can afford, as a radio from a garage sale costs almost nothing. 

7. Literature is the deepest form of art. Not that I don't like music, visual art and movies (in pretty much that order.)

8. As much as I like bands such as the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music and so on, the conventional wisdom is correct: The Beatles were the best and most important rock music band.  

9. Open up the borders and make trade free.

10. I prefer paper books, all things considered, but digital books are a way to build a library cheaply. 

Here are ten ways where my thinking seems radical: 

1. The shift toward people choosing their genders is a natural outgrowth of the modern tend toward individualism and it seems unlikely to be reversed. People soon will be choosing their own race. 

2. All drugs should be legalized. People should have complete control over what they put in their body.

3. We would be better off if the statement in the First Amendment about Congress making "no law" restricting freedom of the press were interpreted by the courts to mean "no law." 

4. The Internet has been a wonderful improvement in life for many of us, giving access to entertainment and education that would have seemed Utopian within recent memory (or at least my memory.) Many of the problems with it are self-inflicted by people complaining about the net. 

5. While I think all drugs should be legalized, I think regulation should have some relationship to the actual dangers involved. Alcohol is really one of the most seriously abused drugs. I would keep it legal but would restrict advertising, enforce the ban on sales to minors very strictly, etc. 

6. Pro football is terrible, producing hundreds of cases of brain damage from CTE and many cases of early death. People should not support it. 

7. Taxpayer funding of stadiums for professional football teams and other pro sports teams should be banned. I don't see how that's a legitimate government expenditure. 

8. Robert Anton Wilson is an important writer who deserves Library of America volumes, large continuing sales, etc. I still think we may get there.

9. Chrissie Hynde is better than Bruce Springsteen.  The Pretenders are not as big as they should be, even in northern Ohio. 

10. Public library cards ought to be universal, i.e. you should be able to use your local card at any U.S. library.