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

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Latest Oz Fritz video on Deleuze

 Oz Fritz has been doing a series of video lectures on the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze.  This morning I watched the above video (about 13 minutes) which references three different approaches to philosophy.

Oz mentions, "RAW was into Zen and this one has a Zen connection." Here is Oz' description of the video: "Discusses 3 orientations of philosophy or thought, the heights, the depth and the surface. These are represented by Platonism, Nietzsche & the Pre--Socratics, and the Cynics and Stoics. Symbolized by Platonic wings, Empedocles' sandal, and the philosophical staff blow. Connection with Zen. Empdeocles connection with magic and with Nietzsche. Vigorous attack on Platonism; the philosophical disease of Idealism which gets compared to manic depression."

For more, see Oz' blog.  The video series is about Deleuze's book The Logic of Sense.  The initial blog posting of the series is here. 

Oz also mentions (comment for this blog post) that the "Sangha" portion of this blog on the right side of the page, listing recent postings from other blogs, is no longer listing his recent blog posts. I have no explanation for this, other than that Blogger's features seem to routinely malfunction for no apparent reason, and Google does not make it easy to report these hiccups. For example, I can no longer post my own blog posts in advance; without explanation, the feature has stopped working. 


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hilaritas podcast on magick features Lionel Snell, aka Ramsey Dukes

Lionel Snell 

 "Lionel Snell on Magickal Thinking" is the latest Hilaritas Press podcast, which as usual was released on the 23rd. Follow the link to watch or to see the list of various apps/websites that have it; I know it's also on Podkicker, too, the main podcasting app I use. The link also has useful links, such as for Ramsey Dukes' website.  A useful biography is here. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Bobby Campbell, Creative Weirdo

 


Podcast interviews of artist and writer Bobby Campbell are reliably interesting, and I enjoyed this two hour, 15 minute interview with Bobby on the Creative Weirdos podcast (I had to listen to it in several sittings.) Bobby talks about RAW in the interview by Todd Purse, and I was particularly interested in Bobby's discussion of magick and in his ayahuasca experience in South America. (Bobby says it happened before everyone else did it.) 

Check out Bobby's art. His new comics collection, Weird Comix #2, has just arrived on my Kindle app. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

When Michael Johnson discovered RAW


[Rasa recently added RAW scholar Michael Johnson to the roster of RAWnet, the group of "friends of the ideas of Robert Anton Wilson," and Michael wrote a short piece explaining how he ran across RAW's writings. I thought it might be of interest, so I reproduce it here. The Management.]

I was always attracted to writers who had encyclopedic minds and who seemed to know “everything” and especially those who wrote both fiction and non-fiction. I had gone on about a six-year bender with Aldous Huxley, and he was easily my favorite writer, and I still love him dearly. I was reading voraciously – including re-re-re-reading Aldous – when one night my wife and I went out to dinner, then browsed a local bookstore. I happened upon Right Where You Are Sitting Now and was immediately attracted to the form of the book and this Wilson dude’s varied interests, experiments, and tones. Then I noticed he wrote novels too, and in RWYASN there was a fiction piece, along with cut-ups – the book was dedicated to Burroughs and Philip K Dick – and I loved both of those guys too. But I confess I’d never even heard of RAW at the time. This was shortly before everyone got on Internet.

I bought the book and stayed up all night reading it. He did wild things to my nervous system and the book acted like a mild psychedelic for me. I went to work the next day on little sleep, came home and began re-reading RWYASN. Very soon after I bought and read every book I could find by him. Then I began re-re-reading and studying him closely, like I’d done with Huxley. No other writer has had such a profound effect on me as RAW has, and his writing has definitely created mental environments in which epigenetic effects have changed how my genes express themselves, which is all I could ask for in a writer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

John Higgs: New book, new podcast


The new John Higgs book Love and Let Die (about the Beatles and James Bond)  is out (in Britain, we have to wait in the U.S.) and as past of the promotional effort, John has given an interview to the Beatles Book podcast.  Topics covered include how Paul McCartney's James Bond theme song affected Paul's post-Beatles career, how history will judge critics of Paul's career and which Beatle is the most like James Bond.

My favorite Beatle when I was a young teen was George, then I switched to John, but now Paul is my favorite. At some point, I realized that John's image as the intellectual among the Beatles was oversold -- it was Paul who was the most interested in avant-garde electronic music, for example. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 98, Chapter 19

 

Prometheus and the Oceanides and eagle Ethon - Scuplture by Eduard Müller (1872/79) at Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin. Photo by Christian Paul Stobbe for Unsplash. 

Prometheus Rising concludes with Chapter 19, a chapter without exercises in which Robert Anton Wilson discusses the implications for the future if people can advance along the eight circuits and increase their intelligence.

It's possible to nitpick at the inaccuracy of RAW's forecasts -- we didn't get a "Longevity Pill" and space migration by 2005 -- but I also thought the chapter was inspirational. Work is being done on space migration, intelligence increase and longevity.

A couple of chapter bits that caught my eye:

RAW writes, "Maurice Nicoll, physician, psychiatrist, student of Jung, Gurdjieff and Esoteric Christianity, wrote that 'the only purpose in work on consciousness is to decrease the amount of violence in the world.' This is Public Health Problem Number One in the nuclear age, the age of overkill." 

I wish this statement was dated, but I recently read that with Russia's military failure in Ukraine, the risk of nuclear war rises as Putin becomes more desperate. 

RAW also writes, "Most of the fifth-circuit adepts (aquarian conspirators) have learned Joyce's arts of 'silence, exile, cunning': they are invisible." I have been studying Epicureanism a lot  lately, and Epicurus advised his followers to "live unnoticed" so that they wouldn't be hassled over their unconventional views. 

The Hilaritas edition of Prometheus Rising ends with an afterward by Rasa. As I wrote in an earlier article, it largely focuses on why RAW flipped the sixth and seventh circuits when he wrote elsewhere about the Eight Circuit model. 

As a matter of housekeeping, this is the last Prometheus Rising online reading group post that Eric Wagner scheduled when he set the PR schedule back in August of 2020. Eric has told me, however, that he has one more post he wants to do, and I have one more in mind, and Apuleius can do one more posts, if he chooses. Still, we are almost done. I will announce a schedule soon for the Natural Law reading group I announced Friday. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

RAW interviews Colin Wilson

 


Another good find by Martin Wagner: Robert Anton Wilson interviews Colin Wilson for the April, 1985, "New Age Journal." Certainly they find some interesting topics to discuss and seem to agree on quite a bit.

Here is a question and answer I liked:

Robert Anton Wilson: How does all this connect to your interest in parapsychology?

Colin Wilson: Only accidentally. When I was first asked to write a book on the occult, I thought, “Christ, what a bore.” I have since written half a dozen books on the subject, but only because it is connected with the things that really interest me—brain functions, peak experiences, and so on. I agree with the yogis that in learning to discipline the mind one often activates certain paranormal powers, but they are trivial and should not be a matter of obsessive interest. Their only importance is that they show again that ordinary consciousness is not the limit of what our minds can do.

And here is Colin Wilson about his discovery that people can be healthy and happy:

My first real clue came from Abraham Maslow, after I published The Age of Defeat. He read it and wrote me a letter agreeing with me that writers should learn to stop being defeated, and he called my attention to his own research. When I read his works I was fascinated, because he was a psychologist who had gotten sick of studying sick people who talked about nothing but their sickness, and had started studying the healthy—something that had never been done before. He discovered that healthy people had with a fair degree of frequency what he called peak experiences, feelings of sheer happiness. They were not necessarily “mystical” experiences. One was described by a young wife watching her husband and children eating breakfast. Suddenly a beam of sunlight came through the window, and she thought, “My God, aren’t I lucky!” and went into the peak experience. Another was a young jazz drummer working his way through college who discovered one night he couldn’t do a thing wrong and went into the peak experience as he drummed. A hostess after a highly successful party, looking around the room at the cigarette butts trodden into the rug and the spilt wine, nonetheless suddenly had a peak experience. Reading these sorts of cases, I began to surmise that when you’ve had an intense peak experience it gives you an optimistic view of the universe, which is the opposite of the view of the criminal, who generally thinks the universe is a bloody awful place and the only thing to do to show your objection is to react violently.

Could this relate to Beethoven's statement, cited by RAW in "Beethoven As Information" in The Illuminati Papers? Beethoven allegedly said, "Anyone who understands my music will never be unhappy again."

The discussion of Colin Wilson aborting his suicide attempt reminded me of RAW on the Brooklyn Bridge, as discussed in Cosmic Trigger 2. 



Saturday, September 17, 2022

A 'Non-Euclidean' quote

Statue of Adam Smith in front of St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile in Old Town Edinburgh, Scotland. Unsplash photo by K. Smith Hodge. 

When I was working on Thursday's post, about Prop Anon posting all of the assignments for Robert Anton Wilson's "Non-Euclidean Politics" class, I looked again at the essay "Beyond Left and Right: A Non-Euclidian Perspective," and ran across this bit that I share with you. It also might relate a bit to the new online reading group announced yesterday. This is on page 139 of the Hilaritas Press edition of Email to the Universe. -- The Management.

I am committed to the maximization of the freedom of the individual and the minimization of coercion. I do not claim this goal is demanded by some ghostly or metaphysical "Natural Law," but merely that it is the goal that I, personally, have chosen, in the Existentialist sense of choice. (In more occult language, such a goal is my True Will.) Everything I write, in one way or another, is intended to undermine the metaphysical and linguistic systems which seem to justify some Authorities in limiting the freedom of the  human mind or in initiating coercion against the non-coercive. 

-- Robert Anton Wilson 


Friday, September 16, 2022

Announcing a new reading group: Natural Law



The long Prometheus Rising online reading group is winding down -- there will be only a couple more posts or so -- and I would like to announce plans for a new reading group. 

Natural Law Or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw, edited by Chad Nelson, was released in January by Hilaritas Press. Although it reprints a long essay which had long been out of print, it is essentially a new book, as more than half of it is new material that Chad assembled.

It is also, in my opinion, a really good book, and one that has not received the attention that it should, even from Robert Anton Wilson fans. I can't control the reception to the book by other people, but I would like to use this blog to invite everyone to read it. Hence, the new reading group. I am confident that RAW fans who choose to take part will find the exercise worthwhile. 

As usual, the format for the reading group will be a main blog post, with everyone else invited to provide comments. I haven't set a schedule yet but I expect to launch in about two months, in November, to give everyone a chance to get a copy of the book. At this point, the book is available as a trade paperback and a Nook ebook. There is no Kindle yet, but Hilaritas is working on it. 

For more information on the book, see my interview with Chad Nelson.  Thanks to Rasa for the promotional meme. 

I have an idea for another reading group next year but I want to think about it before announcing it. 




Thursday, September 15, 2022

The assignments for RAW's final MLA class



"Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective," reprinted in Email to the Universe, is one of Robert Anton Wilson's most memorable essays.

Prop Anon has now posted all eight of the assignments in the Non-Euclidean Politics Class that RAW taught at Maybe Logic Academy. 

In the posting for the first class, Prop explains, "Robert Anton Wilson’s final class at the Maybe Logic Academy was called ‘Non-Euclidean Politics’ and it covered some of the political and economic theories that most influenced him. The class ran from January 23rd to March 13th, 2006 and was an amazing recap of Wilson’s political philosophy."

More at the link, and at the postings for the other seven assignments. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

RAW biography update

Prop Anon

News from Prop Anon: "The current update on Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson is that it will be released by Strange Attractor/MIT Press in the Fall of 2023. I will have more updates on the book and its release date in the coming days." 

Prop has been posting more material on his website, Chapel Perilous. I'll have another blog post up soon about that. 

Follow Prop on Twitter. 



Tuesday, September 13, 2022

An ad for RAW and Leary

 

The above ad for books by Robert Anton Wilson (Cosmic Trigger) and Timothy Leary (Neuropoliticswas posed by Mike Gathers on Twitter. 

From an underground newspaper in LA, I think. I can't find the Tweet where Mike said he found it. 


Monday, September 12, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 97



By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

Over the course of this reading group, I have used Prometheus Rising as a series of lenses with which to examine the world, Wilson and myself. I have drawn upon the immediacy of the world as it has changed over the course of the past year and a half, as well as my experiences and thoughts when I have read Prometheus Rising in the past. The world does change rapidly, seemingly more rapidly as the future arrives anew every day; no one can fault Wilson for inaccuracy as far as that prediction is concerned. I have spent many of my posts concerning Prometheus Rising detailing my qualms with other predictions. I don’t feel the need to continue journaling my anxieties and quibbles. 

I am in full agreement with Wilson that stupidity is the main danger in the world and that intelligence increase is our best (only?) hope for a truly new dawn. I still maintain that stupidity continues having quite the moment amongst members of the human race but I’d like to consider RAWillumination. Here is something that could be considered social media that I think works to make the readers a little better and smarter over the years. Through his persistence, friendliness and discerning taste, Tom has built a place for people to gather and judging from the people I see commenting regularly, his work has attracted others who are earnest in their desire to share and learn with each other. I am not alone in having noted that this website is one part of our day that we know will be a bright spot. When Tom had to take a hiatus last month, sincere condolences were offered, showing that there is a true sense of community amongst the regulars. I’m sure many of you missed checking the blog for the week it was offline. 

This ramble is to say that I believe Tom is doing his part to increase intelligence, step by step- and look how others have built upon his work: Tom, in this reading group alone, has provided Eric a platform to display his years of knowledge of Wilson, Beethoven, Joyce and more. (I have hopefully occasionally added something of value.) Through their work and the responses of our dedicated commentariat, we are able to continue a dialogue with the dead as we continue to explore and debate their words. The good news is that Robert Anton Wilson is alive and well and living within all of us. 

As long as there are minds to meet and places to gather, we’ll continue to nurse the lives and ideas of the authors, musicians, artists and madmen that have inspired us all across space and time. We will continue to ascend, sometimes slowly and with great confusion, to something better than yesterday’s world. The bright and shining future might not arrive as soon as we wish, and I know that I still have much to learn about patience and acceptance, but as long as we are working on it, there isn’t an excuse to fall into the slough of despond. We continue to bend our shoulders to the wheel. 

Step by step, Prometheus rises. 


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Robert Shea obituary in 'Green Egg'

While I was visiting Apuleius Charlton recently, we went to the local "metaphysical/Wicca" shop, where I picked up a copy of Green Egg magazine with an uncredited but useful obituary for Robert Shea in it (Vol. 27, No. 105, Summer 1994). This blog is about Robert Shea as well as Robert Anton Wilson; see the "Robert Shea Resources" at the right side of this page. The Management]

Bob Shea (February 14, 1933 -- March 10, 1994)


Bob Shea, co-author of the germinal Illuminatus! trilogy and author of many other historical and heretical writings, died of cancer in the arms of friends and his loving wife, Patricia Monaghan, after a sudden dramatic decline in his health. His last words before sinking onto a coma were, "Love is everywhere."

Robert Joseph Shea attended Manhattan Prep, Manhattan College and Rutgers University and worked as a magazine editor in New York and Los Angeles. In the 60's he edited the Playboy Forum where he met Robert Anton Wilson, with whom he collaborated on Illuminatus! After publishing Illuminatus!, Bob left Playboy to become a full time novelist. His novels include: 

Shike, set in medieval Japan.

All Things Are Lights, a story that entwines the fate of the Cathars of southern France with the occult traditions of Courtly Love and the troubadours.

The Saracen, describing the intricate politics of medieval Italy.

Shaman, tracing the fate of the survivors of the Black Hawk War in 19th century Illinois. 

Lady Yang, a tragic story of an idealistic empress of medieval China (forthcoming).

A celebratory reading of Bob's works took place on March 26 in Winnetka, Illinois. More than a hundred people attended and many, including Bob's collaborator and dear friend, Robert Anton Wilson, spoke during the meditative interlude of Bob's friendliness and curiosity, cheerfulness and courage.

Patricia thanks everyone for their support, especially those who participated in Pray for Shea Day (Feb. 14, 1994). She assures us that, "It may seem like the prayers of hundreds of well-wishers went for naught. Certainly I had hoped for a dramatic improvement in Bob's health as a result of prayer day ... Yet curiously I believe our prayers may have been answered, for Bob's death was a quiet one and he was very happy in the days before it."

In the next few years, several more of Bob Shea's works will be published, including a collection of essays. Patricia requests that anyone having copies of Bob's work from magazines or other publications, or having letters from him which might be publishable, to please send copies to her at 1625 West 101st St., Chicago IL 60643.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Cancer Wellness Center, 5150 Gulf Road, Skokie IL 60077.




Saturday, September 10, 2022

Jesse Walker's horror movie Top Ten

(Public domain image, via Wikipedia)

As we head closer toward Halloween, here is something sombunall of you might find useful: Jesse Walker's top ten, all time favorite horror movies, taken from his contribution to a Twitter poll. Here's the list:

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Videodrome (1983)
The Birds (1963)
Safe (1995)
The Black Cat (1934)
Woman in the Dunes (1964)
Vampyr (1932)
Hour of the Wolf (1968)

I've only seen Mulholland Drive and The Birds, both very good. I hope if Jesse ever publishes his top ten science fiction movies, I'll run across the list. 


Thursday, September 8, 2022

John Lilly and SETI


The Green Bank radio telescope. (Creative Commons 3.0 photo, NRAO/AUI/NSF - https://public.nrao.edu/gallery/green-bank-telescope/)

The New York Times runs an obituary for Frank Drake, the astronomer noted for his efforts to detect intelligent life. 

It's worth reading for its own sake, but I also was surprised by the mentions of John Lilly. After mentioning Drake's first attempt to detect an alien transmission, the obit by Dennis Overbye goes on to say:

A year later, in November 1961, 10 scientists, including luminaries like the young Carl Sagan and John Lilly, who was trying to learn to communicate with dolphins, convened at the Green Bank observatory to ponder the extraterrestrial question. (They did so secretly, fearing professional ridicule.) After Dr. Lilly’s research, they called themselves the Order of the Dolphin. 

[Green Bank is in West Virginia.]


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

RAW manuscript on Aleister Crowley found


Martin Wagner and Jesse Walker are reporting that a 72-page essay by Robert Anton Wilson on Aleister Crowley has been located at the Harvard University library. (Martin was the first to tell me about it, but Jesse has supplied details.) UPDATE: Jesse says I give him too much credit; see the comments. 

The essay is entitled "Do What Thou Wilt," and it is unclear what relationship it has to Lion of Light, the book-length piece on Crowley that RAW planned to publish. Rasa at the RAW Trust/Hilaritas Press has been notified and is pursuing the matter.

"It is an extensive survey of the biography and philosophy of Aleister Crowley, with the last two pages giving details and opinions of two of Wilson's earlier books."

More information here. 



Tuesday, September 6, 2022

More images at 'RAW Experimental'

Brian Dean has continued to add new images to RAW Experimental, his new site for producing new images of Robert Anton Wilson, using filters and AI on existing images. A new post at his RAW Semantics site  provides an update on what's going on: "I’ve added more images since the Maybe Day launch (July 23rd). The bigger your screen, the better, since you can then fully appreciate the difference between the original images and the upscaled versions. The case studies show plenty of before/after comparisons. See also the galleries for upscaled RAW images and filter effects applied to those high-resolution images. I’m also going to be adding a visual ‘memes’ section (when I get around to it), so stay tuned…"

With Brian's permission, I have switched out the image on this website to a "Cyberpunk comic-book" image from his website; for information about permissions, see the bottom of the "About" section. 

Monday, September 5, 2022

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Episode 96, chapters 18-19


Prometheus Rising,
Chapter 18

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

Dude, we’ve made it to the eighth circuit! Bob starts this chapter with a quote from Ulysses. Joyce provided both Leary and Wilson with many maps to the higher circuits.

About thirty years ago I repeatedly read the final novels of Philip K. Dick. While reading The Divine Invasion I had the idea of setting up a team of astral projectors who would try to restore the ancient library at Alexandria. About eleven years I got a group together, and we made the attempt without any apparent success. We also investigated the Kennedy assassination. I associated Bach’s Cello Suites with the Alexandria attempts and Beethoven’s late String Quartets with the Dallas 1963 attempts. 

Tim Leary divided each of the eight circuits into three phases, making the eighth circuit stages 22, 23, and 24. Both Leary and Wilson relate the eighth circuit to quantum mechanics. Leary mentions quarks in his discussion of Stage 22 in Musings on Human Metamorphoses (pg. 109) and in his discussion of Stage 23 in The Game of Life (pg. 278-279). Physicist Murray Gell-Mann, of course, got the name quark from Finnegans Wake. In The Game of Life Leary mentions Robert Anton Wilson in his discussion of Stage 23.

For the past few days I have wondered how many times the movement Stroke the Peacock’s Tail (right) appears in the 108 Movement Yang Long Form of Tai Chi. I finally figured it out this morning: eight times. (I don’t think the tai chi peacock has anything to do with the streaming service.) This mild coincidence of eights fits in with this mild chapter. I have far less visceral experience of the eighth circuit than I do of the other seven circuits. 

THE VOYAGE DEPENDS UPON STEP-BY-STEP, MOMENT-TO-MOMENT ACTIONS BY INDIVIDUAL SINGULARITIES. – Timothy Leary, The Game of Life (pg. 281)

Prometheus Rising, Chapter 19

I guess I would consider myself an Evolutionary Agent using the criteria on page 274 of Prometheus Rising. I don’t think I’ve mastered the metaprogramming circuit yet, although I think I’ve experienced it over the past 39 years. In 1983 my roommates and I decided to have a 123rd birthday party for Gustav Mahler on July 7. I spent the month before the party metaprogramming Mahler, reading about him, listening to his music, studying his scores. One time I woke up in the middle of the night hearing Mahler music in my head, but not music Mahler had actually composed. My mind had started creating pseudo-Mahler music for my first experience of metaprogramming.

I also don’t consider myself a “neuro-quantum” adept yet. In fact, I don’t connect with the eight circuit model as much as I used to. I find it a very useful model, but I look forward to even better models. On pg. 20 of Prometheus Rising Bob wrote:

Following Dr. Timothy Leary (with a few modifications) we shall divide this brain hardware into eight circuits for convenience. (“For convenience” means that this is the best map I know at present. I assume it will be replaced by a better map within 10 or 15 years; and in any case, the map is not the territory.)

Bob wrote Prometheus Rising in 1983, and he revised the text for the 1997 Second Revised Edition. Twenty-five years have passed since then.

Perhaps “more of Beethoven’s intelligence” (pg. 271) will help us find and/or create even better maps. Tim Leary had more interest than Bob did in contemporary music like rap and rock. I love how Tim wrote about Stevie Nicks and David Bowie, for instance. On page 275 Bob wrote:

By the time the Consciousness Revolution peaks, the Longevity Pill is widely available, cloning is normal and all the ideas in this book, including the most wild and radical ones, seem quaint and old-fashioned – i.e., about 2005 – we will probably be growing accustomed to thinking in terms of revolutions-per-year.

There is no reason to accept the tunnel-reality of this book as final. If you really understand the message, you will invent a bigger and better Future than I have suggested. As Barbara Marx Hubbard says:

THE FUTURE EXISTS 

FIRST IN IMAGINATION, 

THEN IN WILL, 

THEN IN REALITY.

I don’t think that happened by 2005, but perhaps it will happen in the next 23 years, or by next Tuesday after lunch.

In the mid-80’s I used to revel in reading Tim Leary while listening to Fleetwood Mac. I wonder how the synergy of texts and music will help us navigate the next few years. I thank you for joining us on this voyage. 

I wonder what “Meta-physiological cosmic vision” pre-capitulates in the book’s final line.


Saturday, September 3, 2022

From RAW's lost Crowley book


Robert Anton Wilson at one point was going to publish a book called Lion of Light, about Aleister Crowley. I don't know how much of it got written, or what happened to it, but Jesse Walker has spotted an article from Green Egg magazine, "Crowley, Leary and Genetics," which is an excerpt from the planned book. The digital issue of Green Egg (Volume VI, No. 60)  can be checked out for an hour apiece from the Internet Archive. "Plus a bonus bit of Discordianism on page 10, and a RAW letter on page 34," Jesse notes.   

A few comments on the Beethoven podcast

I have finished the Hilaritas Press podcast on Beethoven starring Mike Gathers and Eric Wagner, it was very good, I plan to listen to it one more time to make sure I have absorbed everything. (It mentions this blog more often that the other HP podcasts have, but that's not why I liked it.) A few comments:

1. The discussion of Beethoven by Eric is really good, he does a good job for example of discussing the works of Beethoven written in C minor and what's happening with them.

2. Eric is invited to suggest a few pieces for Beethoven newbies, and he obliges, but I want to chime in. It seems to me some of the best choices are the blindingly obvious ones: The Fifth Symphony (I like the Szell/Cleveland Orchestra recording), the "Moonlight," "Pathetique" and "Waldstein" piano sonatas, the Fourth and Fifth piano concertos, the violin concerto. Beyond that, I agree with Eric in recommending the Seventh symphony. You can't go wrong trying some of the piano sonatas and other symphonies, some of my favorite pianists are Sviatoslav Richter and Alfred Brendel. I am particularly fond also of the third and 32nd piano sonatas and the third cello sonata. If you want more recommendations, see Tyler Cowen. 

3. At the end of the podcast, Eric gives an update on his Straight Outta Dublin book project about James Joyce and Robert Anton Wilson, I am relieved it is nearing completion and rather anxious to read it.

4. As Eric and Mike discuss, RAW liked what he liked on music and did not try particularly hard to "keep up," as he did with literary fiction, science fiction, etc. I unsurprised he did not pay a lot of attention to current pop music. I am more surprised he seldom mentions contemporary classical, such as Steve Reich, Lou Harrison, etc.

5. Eric and Mike are both Deadheads, I liked some of the Grateful Dead's records and I dutifully listened to some of Complete Road Trips album after listening to the podcasts, but I confess if I  am going to listen to live recordings, I'd rather listen to Miles Davis and his various bands, Frank Zappa and his bands, Sviatoslav Richter in performance and quite a few others ... what am I missing? 

6.  Let me once again recommend RAW's piece "Beethoven As Information," in The Illuminati Papers. 

Friday, September 2, 2022

Belated review: 'The Future Starts Here' is excellent


John Higgs is a wonderful writer and I am determined to read all of his books; I have read many of them. Lately, though, I've gotten a little behind. I've just finished The Future Starts Here: Adventures in the 21st Century. I had to get caught up: I want to read the book on William Blake, William Blake Vs. the World, and I am also eager to read the new one on James Bond and the Beatles, Love and Let Die. 

The Future Starts Here explores the technologies that are shaping our current world: Gender fluidity, social media, artificial intelligence, climate change, space exploration, the difference in attitudes between the generations, and so on, all with Higgs' characteristic wit and good sense. There's a twist to Higgs' exploration of these topics which the author reveals at the end of the book. 

Higgs acknowledges that the world faces important threats, but argues that they can be overcome and argues that dealing with them is better than giving in to pessimism. I agree with him. 

There are three big ideas for making a better world promoted in the book: Giving over half of the world to natural areas, allowing species extinction to be halted or at least seriously slowed; implementing a basic income, and overcoming excessive individualism to focus on collective action and networking.

My reaction to those ideas is mixed. The case for expanding natural ideas seems solid to me. About basic income, I am agnostic and still listening to arguments from both sides. As for the supposed excesses of individualism, often a theme in Higgs' works, I confess to remaining unconvinced; my reading of 20th and 21st century history does not convince me that excessive deference to individual rights and liberties is the driving force for crimes and disasters since 1900.

There's a lot in the book about climate change and I agree with Higgs that it's a big problem that requires real action. I do think that Higgs underrates the possible disaster of nuclear war, which I still see as a big threat. His contention that one European country invading another is a thing of the past seemed reasonable when it was written but unfortunately has not aged well. 

Still, this is a great book, with wonderful observations in every chapter. Most of the people I work with are much younger than me, and Higgs' discussion of today's young people is a particular delight. I'm giving this book five stars on Goodreads.

There were interesting synchronicities in the book, at least for me. For example, here are some of the sentences in the last paragraph of a book written in 2019, shortly before the pandemic: "Sometimes, a virus has to run its course before you can be cured. Some ideologies need to reach their failed, absurd ends before we can get them out of our system. This is how we will create the antibodies that will protect us from that virus in the future. That's what's happening now."

On a personal note, I wished my father, who died August 15 at age 90, could have read the book. The last book Dad read, I am pretty sure, is a copy of Higgs' Stranger Than We Can Imagine that I gave him. I kept thinking Dad would have enjoyed The Future Starts Here. In the text, John reveals that he was only 3 when his own father died. 

An interest in Robert Anton Wilson's writings permeates Higgs' writings, even in books that don't mention RAW directly, such as Stranger Than We Can Imagine. The Future Starts Here name checks RAW, deals with some of his ideas and features interviews with many prominent RAW fans, such as Daisy Campbell and Scott McPherson. 

See also Gregory Arnott's review of the book, written in 2020.