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

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Where's the Greg Bear obit?

Greg Bear

Robert Anton Wilson took science fiction seriously and had high praise for the science fiction authors he respected. See this interview, for example, where Wilson said, "The novels that get praised in the NY Review of Books aren't worth reading. Ninety-seven percent of science fiction is adolescent rubbish, but good science fiction is the best (and only) literature of our times," and praised Ursula K. LeGuin and Robert Heinlein.

It seems like the battle to give science fiction a decent amount of respect is still being fought. Science fiction great Greg Bear died on Nov. 19, but there's been no obit for him in the New York Times. Instead, the Times runs obits such as "Melody Miller, Trusted Aide to the Kennedys, Dies at 77" and "Jason David Frank, Who Starred in ‘Power Rangers’ Franchise, Dies at 49." 

I don't understand the Times' criteria for obits. The obituaries are often the best pieces in the paper, but the criteria baffles me. The paper did run a nice obituary for Robert Anton Wilson. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

'Natural Law' online reading group, Week One

Welcome to the online reading group for Natural Law: Or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw, published by Hilaritas Press. It is written by Robert Anton Wilson; the anthology is edited by Chad Nelson. 

The original long essay, Natural Law: Or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy, was published as a short book in 1987 by Loompanics Unlimited.  The Hilaritas Press book Natural Law: Or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw reprints the original essay but adds 12 additional pieces: nine essays, an interview and a work of short fiction. All 12 additions were selected by Chad Nelson. 

In this reading group, we are covering the Hilaritas Press book. The format is the same as other online reading groups on this website: There will be a blog post, written by me or by a guest blogger, and everyone else is invited to post in the comments. The comments for this blog are moderated, as otherwise Google is apparently happy to let in all sorts of vile spam, but as a rule I approve legitimate comments.

New entries for the online reading group will be posted weekly. Today's entry covers the material in the front of the book, before Robert Anton Wilson's words begin, including John Higgs' piece on Maybe Day and Chad's introduction.

A note on the available texts: As a rule Hilaritas Press books are published as trade paperbacks and as ebooks, but unfortunately in the case of Natural Law, there have been some stubborn glitches. There is still no Kindle, and when I bought an ePub from Barnes and Noble, the text was messed up when I tried to read it with the Nook app on my phone. Barnes and Noble wound up refunding my money; I was able to verify that the text works at the Barnes and Noble website, but I wanted to be able to read it on my smartphone. I cannot say whether the ebook works on an actual Nook ebook reader, or whether the book works on Kobo, etc. Rasa has promised me an update on the ebook situation when he has news, and I'll post any news promptly on this blog. For now, your best option may be the paperback. 

Here are a few annotations:

Cover: The cover is credited to Amoeba, i.e. Scott McPherson, who has done all of the covers for the Hilaritas Press editions of Robert Anton Wilson's work. The cover puns on the Zen koan, "Who is the master who makes the grass green?" mentioned in Wilson's writings, including in this passage in the Natural Law essay:

Every perception is a gamble, in which we see part, not all, (to see all requires omniscience) and “fill in” or project a convincing hologram out of minimal clues. We all intuitively know the obvious and correct answer to the Zen koan, “Who is the Master who makes the grass green?”

But the cover also is an attempt to make the book attractive to the general reader, as opposed to people who are already fans of Wilson; see this blog post for more information. 

After the title page and after the page with the usual publication information, such as the ISBN and copyright notice, there's a photo of Robert Anton Wilson, taken by Duncan Harvey in January 1986 at Chelsea Old Town Hall in London, England, when Wilson was in town for a talk.

The story behind the photo (and the other photos of Wilson taken by Mr. Harvey) is interesting; Mr. Harvey was on assignment for a magazine, but the magazine went out of business and Mr. Harvey was not paid; he was able to sell some of his work to Wilson's British agent.

In 2014, during the Cosmic Trigger play and festival in London, (i.e., the Daisy Campbell adaptation of Wilson's first Cosmic Trigger book, available as a book from Hilaritas,) Harvey handed writer John Higgs a thumb drive with a bunch of photos from that 1986 shoot, digitized from photos the photographer found in his attic; Higgs mentioned the incident in a blog post that included some of the photos, and the photo that John identified as his favorite is the one used in the book. 

John also emailed me at the time to give me access to the photos and suggested I interview Duncan Harvey, and I did, and you can read the interview and see more of the photos. 

A couple of pages later, we come to the "Warning: The Attorney General has determined that this book may be hazardous to your dogma" page, which echoes similar statements at the front of other Robert Anton Wilson books, such as TSOG.

Then we come to the first four lines of a poem by A.E. Housman, "The Laws of God, The Laws of Man," full poem here. (This is also the poem with the lines, "I, a stranger and afraid/In a world I never made.") The poem is appropriate to discussing the purported "natural law" that Wilson takes on in his essay, and the citation shows off Wilson's wide reading. And if you check out the whole poem, it fits well with Wilson's emphasis on intellectual freedom. Housman (1859-1936) was a famous poet and a noted scholar of the classics and professor of Latin. 

Next comes Chad Nelson's "Acknowledgements," which includes Victor Koman, a libertarian science fiction writer and the publisher of, which sells books by Koman and by Samuel Edward Konkin III, who put out the publication in which the "Natural Law" essay first appeared. See the website for a list of the issues of "New Libertarian" magazine which include articles by Wilson. The website also offers copies of Koman's Prometheus Award winning novels and a Christmas book for children, The Legend of Anarcho Claus,  that explains Agorism, the libertarian philosophy espoused by Konkin. 

After the Table of Contents, we get John Higgs' piece, "Happy Maybe Day," published in the Guardian newspaper on July 23, 2009. I think John does a masterful job of explaining model agnosticism without lapsing into jargon or cliches -- there's no reference, for example, to "reality tunnels." Notice how John subtly alludes to "the map is not the territory."

And then we get Chad Nelson's introduction, which also discusses model agnosticism and which explains the criteria he used in choosing the pieces for the book that supplement the title essay: "While the additional entries in this volume represent, for me, the best of Wilson's aggravated case of agnosticism and tie in nicely with Natural Law, or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy, I realize that they are also simply some of my personal favorites which I am grateful will now see the light of day, thanks to the good folks at Hilaritas Press," he writes. 

Next week will be the first of two blog entries on the Natural Law essay. 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Rob Brezsny cites RAW

Rob Brezsny (Creative Commons photo by Paul Schraub)

A recent newsletter by celebrity astrologer Rob Brezsny, "Might Our Dilemmas Be Blessings?," cites RAW as inspiration for its message.

The RAW quote: "We should feel excited about the problems we confront and our ability to deal with them. Solving problems is one of the highest and most sensual of all our brain functions."

The Brezsny column argues, "Acquiring problems is a fundamental human need. It's as crucial to your well-being as getting food, air, water, sleep, and love. You define yourself—indeed, you make yourself—through the puzzling dilemmas you attract and solve."

Hat tip, Charles Faris.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Cat Vincent is ill, and angry

Cat Vincent on Twitter

I haven't noticed much activity from prominent British magician and RAW fan Cat Vincent lately, and when I read his latest news, I found out why: He's been ill since early in the pandemic, and likely has  Long Covid, although as he explains, he can't be sure because he wasn't tested when he first became ill:

Although I didn’t lose my sense of smell, a couple of weeks in I decided my other symptoms were close enough to this weird new disease known as SARS-COVID-19 to justify spending a delightful day playing NHS phone-chess, being passed from 111 to the COVID hotline to my surgery and back, only to be told that a diabetic with a chronic inflammatory disorder in his fifties wasn’t considered high risk enough to test for the disease because I hadn’t knowingly had contact with anyone who’d been out of the country recently.

Refusing him a test given his condition makes no sense; I wonder sometimes if many medical folk have become overwhelmed and just don't have the energy to treat every case with urgency. (My 89-year-old mother, fortunately fully boosted, recently fought off a bout with COVID; I didn't think her doctor moved quickly enough to deal with it.)

Cat has had to deal with a lot and he's upset and feels many people he considered friends have let him down. He wants everyone to mask up and stay caught up on the boosters. Read the whole thing. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Prop Anon reads from RAW's 'lost' Crowley essay


As I mentioned in a September blog post, Martin Wagner recently determined that Harvard University's library has an unpublished 72-page essay by Robert Anton Wilson about Aleister Crowley. In that September blog post, I wrote, "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."

Prop Anon, author of an upcoming RAW biography, contacted the library and was able to obtain a copy of the essay. In the video above, he reads from the essay. 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Hilaritas podcast on Claude Shannon released


The Hilaritas Press podcast returns with an episode on Claude Shannon, known as the "father of information theory," I was particularly looking forward to this podcast and will listen to it soon. Mike Gathers interviews  Shannon biographers Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman, authors of A Mind at Play. As usual, the official site for the podcast has useful links and notes some of the places where the podcast may be heard. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Review: Apuleius Charlton on Alan Moore's 'Illuminations'

Illuminations: Stories. Alan Moore. Bloomsbury Publishing. 

By Apuleius Charlton
Special guest blogger

I can remember reading “A Hypothetical Lizard” the first time in my dorm room, lit only by the light of the screen as evening fell. I had found it somewhere online, perhaps from the Alan Moore Yahoo! group I was a member of at the time, perhaps a friend had found it and sent it to me. I wasn’t unused to reading prose from Moore, having recently finished Voice of the Fire, but at the time I was still much more used to his comics work and reading interviews where he complained (rightly) about the Watchmen film and every once in a while released a new tidbit about the forthcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century. There was something about his writing, even though this story was from a year before I was born, that was strikingly consistent: Alan Moore always speaks with his voice, no matter how it reaches you. Moore dwells often on the same themes, even if those themes are viewed from a prismatic perspective- what I found was at once familiar and unsettling. 

“Familiar and unsettling” would be a fair way to describe my reaction to many of the stories in his recent collection, Illuminations

In “A Hypothetical Lizard” I found a small cosmos in the House Without Clocks that was exotic and erotic, a bit tempting and wholly tragic. But more to the point, we must congratulate Moore in hindsight for the trap he laid and cinched in the story; by providing us with a narrator who was trapped, Moore highlights the inert role of reader as we watch the inevitable unfold in his vignette of a beautiful hell. The complexities of Rawra Chin and Foral Yatt’s past is boiled down into lamb’s blood by an unnecessary reunion and a foolish reentwining- if nothing else, the story is an excellent argument to leave past relationships alone. The symmetry of revenge and ill-gotten inspiration is perfect. After reading the story for the third or fourth time when I purchased Illuminations, the suction of its resolution is surprising. There’s aching all over in the story; the yearning to understand, to enjoy and be enjoyed, to be recognized becomes something like a wildlife documentary. We root for the gazelle while understanding that the kill is the point of the scene, the thrill of it all; and that after all, a lion has to eat. But while the story is precise, it doesn’t strike one as particularly just. It just Is. And perhaps Som Som, our neurologically diverted porthole into this drama, has the best reactions when she utters some non sequitur about her own half-remembered life. 

After reading “A Hypothetical Lizard,” I looked up other stories set in Liavek, the shared world that Moore’s story takes place in, and was sad about how the couple I read (by other authors) didn’t live up. There is no reason for such disappointment to take place with Illuminations; as some stories appealed more to me than others, they are all brewed using the excellent mash that is Moore’s mind. 

The second and third stories in the collection were my favorites. Although both had been planned for earlier publication, and one actually had been published, this was my first time hearing about either. Alas, the loss of that Alan Moore Yahoo! group seems to have kept me out of the loop. For myself, “Not Even Legend” was the highlight of Illuminations, combining an emphasis on perspective and the possible nature of the supernatural that left me close to tears at certain points. (I am going to endeavor at this point not to give much away about the stories because; firstly, that would be an exhaustive and overly long review and secondly, Moore’s work speaks for itself quite clearly without my extrapolation.) “Not Even Legend,” written during the height of the quarantine efforts during the Pandemic, seems to suggest that perhaps more baffling than aliens, ghosts or entities we might as-of-yet be wholly unaware of, is ourselves to each other. The story, full of misapprehension and mistakes and ends, keeps Moore’s inevitability strongly in play from the beginning. Also, Moore’s proposed categories of “unknown unknowables” are deliciously imaginative. The second story, “Location, Location, Location” is either more or less straightforward than “Not Even Legend” (I can’t decide at this point) and just as hyper-disturbing/fascinating. Some of the themes and imagery will be familiar with anyone who reads Moore regularly—apocalypse, our teetering institutions and sarcastic literalism—but there’s something to say about reading an author obsessed with apocalypse writing about it as they and the world around them grow older. At the very least, “Location, Location, Location” helps Moore’s reputation as the foremost expert, living or dead, on English religious-eccentrics. 

Having been a subscriber of Moore’s lamented/celebrated Dodgem Logic, I had already read “Cold Reading '' many years ago on a December evening, when it should be read. I liked this story and remembered it pretty clearly; it follows in the great British ghost story tradition of M. R. James and Robert Aickman, but with some updates for those of us familiar with the skeptic-believer debate. It does lose something without being presented alongside a short comic about Lady Gaga serving cocaine and dildos to children on Christmas instead of bangers and mash. “The Improbably Complex High-Energy State '' is a story about Boltzmann brains and concerns Moore’s other favorite topic aside from apocalypse, creation. This story premiered in a new issue of New Worlds, which I was saddened to find out I had missed, but I feel the authors at Moorcock’s run of the magazine would have approved of it. And before we arrive at the big number of the performance review, we find the titular story “Illuminations.” Evidently, this was inspired by a disastrous seaside trip Alan Moore embarked on fifteen years ago, yet less time has passed since the story's inception and now than that inception and the holiday(s) that inspired Moore. “Illuminations,” if I understand, is a condemnation of nostalgia and seeking to recapture times gone by; perhaps memories, like relationships, are best left undisturbed. 

At this point in the review, now we come to “What We Can Know About Thunderman,” the headline affair of the book, even if it didn’t make the title page. Like “Illuminations,” “Thunderman” is a recrimination against nostalgia, but instead of focusing on a disappointing vacation, it considers the industry and cultural phenomenon that is comics books. It is a fairly easy to decode roman a clef for the American comics industry, although I would have to be a bigger comics buff to recognize who everybody relates to in our “real” world. The main thrust of the plot concerns some editors and writers at American comics (a stand in for DC) in the mid-twenty-teens and aligns nicely with the societal breakdown that began its first seismic thrusts that are still shaking away at our foundations today. Here is Moore at his wittiest and most jaundiced; poignantly, it is dedicated to the recently departed Kevin O’Neill, another genius who was unfairly dealt with in an industry that while meant to build on the imagination, instead often devolved into crass commercialism. This is, I feel, in some ways a culmination of those many interviews I read with Moore castigating DC and Marvel back in the aughts. I felt primed, after a manner, by the biographical snippets at the beginning of each of the last six issues of The League (“Cheated Champions of Your Childhood!”), where O’Neill and Moore covered the tragic careers of British comic creators. Don’t act surprised, reader, in what you find herein. And now I must say, people, come for the invectives and anger; stay for the astounding display of Moore’s virtuoso writing skills. 

After Jerusalem, I didn’t think I was ever going to be as surprised and enthralled by Moore’s word-weaving, but he somehow pulled the trick off again. He surprises the reader with tales-within-tales replete with descriptions that are thought-provoking and hilarious. My favorite scene in the arabesque  that is “Thunderman” would have to be two men looking through their former editor-in-chief’s New York apartment- the sheer joy of seeing how many variations Moore could devise for “pornographic magazine” was thrilling. I kept expecting for him to run out of new ways to describe the same thing and he simply doesn’t. I felt breathless by the end of that scene and in many ways, it was from laughter. That’s one thing I’ve always felt like critics miss about Moore; even when he is taking a piss, he is truly, deeply, funny. Moore has done a couple of impromptu stand up routines in the past and I think he would have made an astounding comic; if only we could slip into that alternative dimension and read what he would have to say about that industry. 

The sticking point with “Thunderman” is that Moore is not only attacking the comics industry, but fandom and the medium itself. It is no secret that Moore, who I would argue is as great and important as Jack Kirby is to the medium, views comics with utter disdain. Out of his massive corpus of comics, he only acknowledges five of them in his “By The Same Author” page at the beginning of the book. Moore’s grievances are understandable, but some readers will feel attacked or feel as if something they love and consider important is being unfairly maligned. While I have very little loyalty to comics (to the point that I used to describe myself as “an Alan Moore fan, not a comics fan,”) I can see where this will strike some as pure bitterness. Indeed, it is nigh-amusing to think of someone who loves Watchmen or V for Vendetta, without having read or listened to Moore’s interviews, eagerly picking this up. It isn’t pretty. This possible roman a clef veers a little too close to hell. In the same reality-defying prose he used in Jerusalem, Moore serves us the teased pappardelle of our real selves spooned out with the bolognese of our bloody immaturity, seemingly forevermore. Don’t expect comfort here; here there be tigers. 

Rounding out the collection we have “American Light: An Appreciation” and “And, at the Last, Just to Be Done with Silence.” “American Light” was another favorite of mine, based on Melinda Gebbie’s recollections of San Francisco and the Beat scene which went much further than Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs. This is a work akin to “The Crazy Wide Forever” from the much earlier The Black Dossier insomuch as we are seeing Moore’s expert imitation of Beat writing; it is also a much more mature piece of writing than what was called for in that delirious compendium. As I began the story/poem, I almost thought that it was just a device for Moore to write a complex poem and provide annotations so that the reader could understand just how great his poetic skills were. Then the story quickly formed in the tension between the poem and the footnotes; like the Beat scene, like America in the twentieth century, it is a story of selfishness, genius and those left in the wake. I highly recommend it. 

As I am so shamefully ignorant that I haven’t yet identified what event “And, at the Last, Just to Be Done with Silence” is about, I feel I have little qualification to write about it. But this is one of Alan Moore’s meditations on death and memory and is a fitting end piece to the collection. Like “American Light,” it did recall an early work of Moore’s, namely the chapter from Voice of the Fire:” “Confessions of a Mask.” Moore ends his work in silence. 

Yet, joyfully, we are assured that Alan Moore is still rich with ideas and projects for future works: his Long London sequence is still forthcoming and boy, I can’t wait to read what all it entails. Illuminations is as worthy of attention as anything Moore has previously published, and that is to say quite a lot. Sometimes I feel like a Worsley Porlock to his Joe Gold, but thank Whomever that Moore walks among us and wields his pen. Oh, the book is very sexual and you’ll be left slightly horny as you stare slack jawed into the starry abyss. Fall to! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

New 'Natural Law' reading group starts Monday

A reminder that the reading group starts Monday for the Hilaritas Press edition of Natural Law Or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw; I'll do the first post. 

If you need more information, see the post last week from book editor Chad Nelson, and there's also my interview with Chad about the book and my interview with Rasa. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Brian Doherty on RAW


As we are about to begin (on Nov. 28) a book group on the Hilaritas Press book Natural Law Or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw, written by Robert Anton Wilson and edited by Chad Nelson, I thought a bit of background on RAW's relationship with libertarianism might be useful. While I maintain that Natural Law is not really a "libertarian book," in the title essay RAW squares off against other prominent libertarians in an essay originally published in a libertarian journal.

Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Doherty, published in 2007, is a history of the libertarian movement, more than 700 pages long, and it includes about four pages of discussion about Robert Anton Wilson.

Doherty says that RAW is "one of the last of the pure Benjamin Tuckerites" and explains that Wilson "love liberty but held fast to Tuckerite ideas that modern corporate capitalism and banking just weren't any kind of liberty he valued." 

Illuminatus! is described as "the most powerful and widely read libertarian artistic statement of the past thirty years," while also noting that "Wilson's work appeals on so many levels that one can become a Wilson Head without reaching his libertarianism. Through Wilson's influence one might become an Aleister Crowleyan, a Wilhelm Reichian, an old-fashioned Tuckerite, a techno-future-optimist in the manner of Buckminster Fuller or Timothy Leary."

Doherty's book also has a brief discussion of Discordianism and Kerry Thornley. Although it is obviously a bit out of date at this point, it is an interesting discussion of the history of libertarianism for those who might be interested. Doherty covers more recent developments in the movement for Reason magazine. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Sex, Drugs and Magick reading group concludes

Over at his Jechidah blog, Apuleius Charlton has wrapped up his online reading group on Sex, Drugs and Magick with a blog post on the afterwords written by Rodney Orpheus, Andrew O'Neill, Alexis Mincolla and Arden Leigh. There are also notes on other items of interest.

While he isn't sure yet about the next project, Charlton reports that some book reviews are likely on the way: "I've recently finished Alan Moore's Illuminations and Phil Baker's City of the Beast: The London Of Aleister Crowley, both of which I intend to review soon as I think they'd be of interest for our little group. I also received Higgs' soon to be out of print novels which I might write down some thoughts about.

Speaking of Alan Moore, happy 69th birthday

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Tyler Cowen discovers John Higgs

Tyler Cowen (the older guy) meets a fan recently in a London bookshop. "Serendipity is when you meet favorite intellectual at your favorite bookstore." Source.

It's always interesting to see the interaction of your favorite writers. Years ago, while I was at a science fiction convention, I attended a panel discussion on politics in science fiction. The panel included two writers I really liked, George Alec Effinger and Kim Stanley Robinson, and I watched as the two apparently introduced themselves to each other before the panel started.

Two of my favorite contemporary authors are John Higgs and Tyler Cowen; Cowen is perhaps best known for his Marginal Revolution blog, but I own some of his books, and I have nearly all of Higgs' books. 

So I was pleased when Cowen (a big Beatles fan and fan of Paul McCartney in particularly) suddenly reviewed Higgs' new book, Love and Let Die, and became a Higgs fan in a big way: 

 I loved this book, and reading it induced me to order the author’s other books, the ultimate compliment.  It is not for everyone, nor is it easy to describe, but imagine the stories of The Beatles and James Bond films told as “parallel careers.”  After all, “Love Me Do” and Dr. No were released on the same day in 1962.

It is striking that they have been making James Bond films for sixty years now, and every single one of them has made money.  We are still talking about the Beatles too.  Will anything from current Britain have such staying power?

More than 100 comments to Tyler's blog post so far. I wondered what Tyler might think of the KLF book, and some of Higgs' fans in the comments make the same point. Could Tyler finally discover Robert Anton Wilson? And what will Tyler make of the Timothy Leary bio? 

Tyler also has a podcast and has mentioned he hasn't been able to get Paul McCartney booked for it yet. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Chad Nelson on the 'Natural Law' book he edited


[As I announced last month, the Natural Law online reading group will begin on Nov. 28. Chad Nelson, who edited the book's contents, has penned the following blog post about the book and the upcoming reading group. -- The Management]

By Chad Nelson
Special guest blogger

I particularly like RAW’s essay collections in book format (Email to the Universe, Coincidence, Chaos and Beyond, etc.; and now, Natural Law). I hope it’s a subgenre of his we can continue to grow given how much worthy material is at our fingertips. 

The new Natural Law collection is unique among them, I think, in that it is probably the collection with the most consistent thematic thread running throughout its essays. More importantly, the questions posed in Natural Law and its accompanying essays are central to RAW’s intellectual legacy: What is reality? And, assuming that’s an unanswerable question (at least not with any certainty or finality), what are we to learn from this mystery? 

Witnessing RAW grapple with these questions over the course of five decades helps us to see how he fine tuned his arguments over time. The changing style throughout Natural Law also serves to bolster its thesis. Its essays are written for different audiences at various points along RAW’s intellectual trajectory, and thus, his presentation throughout the collection morphs. At times, we get essays intended as direct responses to critics, others showcase an idea RAW simply wants to play with. We might encounter a testy RAW, a jokey RAW, or a subversive RAW. In one part, he’s presenting his ideas in dialogue; in another, he's psychically fusing with Nietzsche. The extreme variety from one chapter to the next works on the reader on a subconscious level — a kind of metaphysical cross-training.

I’m of the belief that getting comfortable with questioning reality requires one to keep at it, sort of like a good meditation practice. I still spend 99.9% of my time subsisting on a fixed, objective reality, even long after committing to a steady diet of Maybe Logic. But having a dozen cracks at reality over a sustained, book-length period, definitely gives the reader the best chance of spontaneous return to a place of ambiguity. 

I’m looking forward to reading others’ impressions and takeaways from the book, coming at it from new angles, and considering its relevance to today’s world.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

RAW's letters to Green Egg

Many of Robert Anton Wilson's most pungent thoughts came not from books, or articles, or interviews, but from letters he wrote to various publications.

Martin Wagner has performed a useful service by gathering together thirteen letters RAW wrote to Green Egg. (Some of the texts have appeared on this blog, some at the Robert Anton Wilson Fans website, but some are available only because of Martin's efforts). Read a few of the letters and you'll see what I mean. This is good stuff, as alive as your current favorite Substack newsletter. Good for you, Martin.

Probably a good book could be compiled from RAW's letters.

Monday, November 14, 2022

New podcast on reality tunnels


The new David Bramwell podcast in Britain has a new episode on reality tunnels, featuring some rather prominent writers and figures in RAW fandom. Here is the announcement, translated a bit from Twitterese:

"Episode 2 of David Bramwell's Adventures in Nutopia is out now. This one's on Robert Anton Wilson's Reality Tunnels and is based around a chat with Daisy Eris Campbell, John Higgs and Michelle Olley from Journey to Nutopia. Available wherever you get your podcasts including here:

Sunday, November 13, 2022

More bookshelves


The bookshelf photos seem to be popular, so here are a few more. From Chad Nelson.

Another from Chad. What's the deal with the framed photo of a buffalo?

Another Chad. He does seem to have a few books.

One more from Chad.

An Apuleius Charlton bookshelf (follow the link from my post two days ago for his occult bookshelf).

Another from Apuleius. 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

More bookshelves: Eric Wagner and mine

In yesterday's blog post, I remarked that I like looking at other people's bookshelves. An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson author Eric Wagner obligingly sent me some photos of his bookshelves. If any other RAW fans want to send me bookshelf photos, please send them to tom.jackson (at), with "bookshelf" in the subject line. 

Another from Eric. 

Another from Eric.

One more from Eric

Top shelves of my living room bookshelf.

Another from my living room.

Bottom from my living room bookshelf.

Another of my bookshelves. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Apuleius Charlton's bibliography of recommended magic books

At his blog, Jechidah, Apuleius Charlton has a new post up to answer a question posed by Spookah, "Apuleius, I feel curious, which other books would you consider essential reading for anyone interested in magic”?

About 33 books are listed, in three categories: "How Can Anyone Believe This Shit?," "Practical Magic (You Already Know It) and "Some Discretion Needed."

When I visited him in August, Apuleius told me his biggest magic influences are William Blake, Aleister Crowley, Robert Anton Wilson and Alan Moore, and all of these folks are represented in the list.

There's also a photo of one of Apuleius' bookshelves. I love bookshelf photos; if you download the photo and blow it up, you can read many of the titles, and try to figure out why Apuleius has two copies of Somnium, the wonderful fantasy novel by Steve Moore. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Comic book artist Kevin O'Neill has died


Many RAW fans are Kevin O'Neill fans, so I suspect there will be some interest in the news that Kevin O'Neill has died. The above item was posted on social media by Alan Moore; Moore is on the left and O'Neill is on the right. The two collaborated on a comic book series, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. A biography is available on Wikipedia. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A couple of Twitter accounts

As we wait to see how Elon Musk's great adventure turns out (well, I'm waiting, at least), there are a couple of Twitter accounts I wanted to point to. 

Doctor Richard Waterleau is working on a book about reality tunnels and runs a lot of art like the above. He also has a Substack and a digital workshop. 

Fuckup Solutions, LLC, ARC, DDD, POEE, KLF, LMNOP is a Discordian account, a bit hard to describe. Many of you might well enjoy it; it is sometimes quite amusing. 

Of course, I follow many Twitter accounts, but those are two I don't believe I've mentioned here. 

I also recommend my RAW list, which includes several accounts. 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Illuminatus! the (so far nonexistent) movie


While we wait for an actual film or TV adaptation of Illuminatus!, there is a website called This Movie Does Not Exist that uses artificial intelligence to make posters for nonexistent movies. You can make three free movie posters, then you have to pay, so I made three Illuminatus! posters. The one above is one that I thought wasn't terrible. (Here is one of the rejects). If you give it a try, please post the link in the comments. 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

The new Bob Dylan book

Bob Dylan with Allen Ginsberg in 1975. Creative Commons photo by Elsa Dorfman. 

One of the more curious facts about Robert Anton Wilson is that he didn't like Bob Dylan. ("Dylan seems to me a totally pernicious influence -- the nasal whine of death and masochism.") 

In general, RAW is not who you go to for discussions of popular music, though he's fine when discussing classical music or jazz. The rest of us I guess can just shrug and wonder why RAW never noticed how great the Beatles were or the Rolling Stones (for the first 20 years of the band's existence, anyway). 

Bob Dylan has a new book out about popular songs, and apparently it's quite interesting; see Tyler Cowen's review.  "This is one of the better books on America, and one of the best books on American popular song."

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Two more RAW articles at Chapel Perilous


Prop Anon has posted two more articles by Robert Anton Wilson at his Chapel Perilous website.

"Extra-Terrestrial TV," from the Berkeley Barb, is a piece that discusses claims that aliens were about to do a broadcast on TV. 

"Hefner Vs. the Narcs" is also from the Berkeley Barb and concerns the death of Bobbie Arnstein, an aide to Hugh Hefner. It's a piece that was already reprinted by Martin Wagner. 

Prop recently completed his biography of Robert Anton Wilson and has been posting many articles and documents he uncovered during his research.

Friday, November 4, 2022

The Hilaritas podcast on McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan leans on a TV set with his image. (Public domain photo). 

Although I don't listen to podcasts all the time, I have checked out all 14 Hilaritas podcasts; yesterday I listened to the one released Oct. 23, about Marshall McLuhan, the "medium is the message" guy.  It was pretty good; it features Andrew McLuhan, the media philosopher's grandson.

The moments I liked included discussion of how to learn about McLuhan if you are a newbie; the suggestion is to watch interviews on YouTube. Andrew McLuhan admits reading grandpa's work can be tough sledding and compares it to reading poetry. He also said he learned when teaching courses about McLuhan's work that the students actually prefer getting homework assignments. It reminded me of RAW's insistence that Prometheus Rising readers need to do the exercises. 

I was less convinced when Andrew McLuhan talked about FDA regulation of drugs and said that in a similar vein, the government should regulate social media; a few minutes later, he did admit it's not an exact analogy.

As usual, there are useful links at the official podcast site, and you may be able to listen using your favorite smartphone app. The podcast is officially released at Podbean, Apple, Google, Spotify and TuneIn, but I've also been able to get it at Podkicker, the main podcasting app on my smartphone. 

The podcast to be released Nov. 23 is on Claude Shannon; I'm really looking forward to it. 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

RAW mentioned on Joe Rogan podcast

Duncan Trussell (Creative Commons photo). Source. 

Robert Anton Wilson was mentioned in a Joe Rogan podcast this week that featured Duncan Trussell, also a comedian and podcaster. It's about 7:45 into the podcast. 

Chad Nelson writes (on Wednesday), "Yesterday he had fellow comedian and podcaster Duncan Trussell on. About ten minutes in, Trussell gave a shout out to “the great Robert Anton Wilson,” and explained RAW’s efforts to get his readers into a state of generalized agnosticism. I may be overreacting since I’m a huge fan of the show, but I was shocked when I heard it.

"Sadly, it came in the middle of a busy, stoned conversation so there was no “who was RAW?” follow-up inquiry from Rogan. Trussell also went on to mention Discordianism ever so briefly.

"As far as I know, it’s the only time RAW has ever been specifically named on the podcast, which surprises me since McKenna, Lilly, Leary, Castaneda, Watts and other RAW-like thinkers and contemporaries are discussed all the time."

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Announcement for RAW bio: Fall 2023

 News from Prop Anon:

"I have some Great News! I completed the manuscript for Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson and sent it to my publisher. It will be ready to enter the world in the Fall of 2023!

"I have been working on this book for an awfully long time and I cannot wait to share it with everyone who wants to learn more about the great Robert Anton Wilson. One thing I can say is that I sought to be as critical as I possibly could while still giving RAW his props. I hope the result is a balanced presentation on the man’s life and work."

More here, including news about the new podcast I've covered in this blog and other Prop activities.

I asked for more specifics on the publication schedule for the book, to be published by Strange Attractor, and Prop promised, "More news soon." 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Two John Higgs novels going out of print

John Higgs has another newsletter out, and for me the big news was that he had decided to let two of his short novels, The Brandy of the Damned and The First Church on the Moon. I really liked both of them when they came out. I couldn't really make out why John is doing this, but in any case, get 'em while they are still available.

The newsletter also plugs a new podcast, "Adventures in Nutopia,"  by David Bramwell; the second episode, apparently out soon, "includes David interviewing me, Daisy Campbell and Michelle Olley about reality tunnels." 

Here is a description of the first podcast: "With the help of philosopher Alan Watts, we’ll unpick the past two thousand years before meeting guests George Monbiot, Jeremy Lent, mythologist Sharon Blackie and non-binary artist Brooke Palmieri, to learn about some of the most exciting and innovative ideas and movements and myths – from Ecological Civilisation to The Commons – that just might help guide us into a more networked, inclusive and sustainable future." (Source.) 

John also thinks big changes are coming in the next couple of years.