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

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Antero Alli is unwell

News from Mike Gathers (in a new Substack newsletter released Monday) about Antero Alli, the filmmaker, author and Eight Circuit Model expert:

"So in search of something easier to read, I picked up Antero Alli’s latest and final book, Last Words. When he said his final book, he wasn’t kidding. Within the introduction, I was shocked to learn that Antero was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and had refused chemo, opting for quality of life over quantity, thus having months, not years left.

"In a recent podcast on his latest film, Tracer, he didn’t sound 100% to me and this offered a bit of an explanation. Although we haven’t been as close in recent years, I consider Antero a friend and mentor. His work has had a huge impact on my life, including but not limited to his heavy emphasis on embodiment. I got to spend a few days with him in January 2007 leading up to the cast and crew screening of his then latest film, The Invisible Forest, and my memories are largely of long walks around North Berkeley and a man 100% committed to his own personal integrity. You can find my 2006 interview with Antero in his book, The Eight Circuit Brain, as well as a more recent interview I had with him last year for the Hilaritas Podcast.  He’s currently releasing interviews on his YouTube channel, largely focused on his paratheatre work.

"May your final days be minimal in pain and suffering, Antero. I know you will face death as you face life, as a warrior, full of acceptance of what is."

Mike has other news and musings at the newsletter

Monday, January 30, 2023

Natural Law reading group, Week Ten, 'The Semantics of 'Good' & 'Evil'

Bob Banner, who published and edited Critique when RAW's essay appeared there. (Facebook photo).

This essay, dense with ideas, contains much of Robert Anton Wilson's philosophy. When I read one passage, I thought about how a famous episode in classical music history illustrates some of Wilson's points,  so I'll focus on that.

On page 176, Wilson writes, "If I classify something as 'Good' or 'Evil' in the metaphysical sense, defined by some priesthood or Party Line, I do not 'take responsibility,' I become virtually a ventriloquist's dummy, through which the priests or ideologists speak or act, and I abdicate all possibility of learning more or revising my mistakes ... Humans do not generally behave like robots unless they have been indoctrinated with some metaphysical system like Christianity or its close relatives, Judaism or Islam, or its late heresies, Naziism or Communism."

I have a music blog devoted to Russian classical music, and so I have a hobby, not usually related closely to this blog, of reading up on 20th century Russian composers, including well known ones such as Dimitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev.

In 1936,  the young Shostakovich had a hit opera, The Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk District. It had relatively noisy, modernist music and was more sexually explicit than operas tend to be, but that didn't prevent Russian audiences from loving it and quite likely feeling pride in supporting a cutting-edge Soviet composer. 

Alas, an influential cultural critic named Joseph Stalin, whose taste in operas was more conservative, attended a performance, and a vicious denunciation appeared in the newspaper Pravda, which called the opera "muddle instead of music" and said that Shostakovich's artistic approach "may end very badly," an ominous statement in the 1930s Soviet Union. Suddenly, the opera official went from "Good" to "Bad." The production was soon banned, and Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony (my favorite of his 15, by the way) also was banned and was not performed for many years.

Pauline Fairclough's enjoyable Shostakovich biography, part of the "Critical Lives" series, records the robotic behavior of Soviet musicians attempting to follow the Party Line: "Overnight Shostakovich was transformed from the Soviet Union's most feted composer to someone whose name could hardly be mentioned without reference to his crimes against the art of music ... The entire Leningrad Composers' Union voted in favor of the Pravda editorial, with just one exception: The composer Vladimir Shchervachev, who abstained."

Pravda, by the way, means "truth," a telling example of the confidence of the Soviet Union's Communist Party to decide what was "Good" for everyone in that country. Another prominent Soviet newspaper was Izvestia, which means "the news." Hence the bitter Soviet joke that "There is no Pravda in Izvestia, nor any Izvestia in Pravda." 

Shostakovich, who had also written an oddball opera called The Nose, never wrote another opera. Prokofiev, apparently less attuned to Soviet reality, spent much of his career writing operas, many of which were not staged. 

A couple of footnotes:

Laurance Labadie (1898-1975) was well-known to anarchists and libertarians; the Wikipedia bio notes that Labadie was a contributor to "A Way Out," which RAW edited. 

I Googled Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies and Metaphysics, where this essay appeared. I could not find an article describing it, but apparently it was put out for many years and may still exist in some form. When RAW contributed to it, it was owned and edited by Bob Banner (not the late TV producer of the same name). The Critique Bob Banner is on Facebook

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Music inspired by RAW

"Inspired by Robert Anton Wilson, The Earth Will Shake, this composition brings together my interests in noise, industrial music, drum n bass, and conceptual interpretations of decadent Promethean art and literature," says musician Steve Tromans.

The album is here, and as it is on Bandcamp, you can listen before you decide whether to buy. Lots of other Tromans music on Bandcamp, including a piece called prometheus rising. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

'Twin Peaks' through an Eight Circuit Model lens

Xavier Alexander Vazquez is the author of Sit With It: A New Paradigm for Living (99 cents on Kindle) and has a YouTube channel to promote his book. 

The video above, about 43 minutes long, uses the Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness to examine one of my favorite TV shows, Twin Peaks. I have not had time to watch it yet, but wanted to pass it on. 

Via Bobby Campbell's @RAWilson23 Twitter account. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

'The Incident at Ong's Hat' from the BBC [Updated]

Author and creative artist Joseph Matheny was a friend of Robert Anton Wilson's (he produced Robert Anton Wilson: The Lost Studio Sessions) but he's likely best known for the book Ong's Hat: The Beginning. Now the BBC is producing an adaptation, as a podcast; the program's web page has a three-minute preview episode, with more to come. Matheny apparently is happy with the production so far, as he has been promoting it on Twitter. 

Update: More information from Joseph Matheny's Substack. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Mike Gathers has a Substack

Mike Gathers, host of the Hilaritas Press podcast, host of, an Eight Circuit scholar who makes a living as a life coach, has launched a Substack newsletter, Intelligence Increase. The "What I've consumed/produced lately" issue covers articles that caught Mike's eye and also some recent pieces of his own, such as a recent essay on the hero's journey. 

In the "About" section, Mike writes:

"To specifically address the title 'Intelligence Increase,' I believe we humans have physical, emotional, conceptual, social, and spiritual dimensions to intelligence, and my interest lies in increasing, and integrating all of them as we grow, develop, and evolve our humanity.

"Along those lines, I find politics mostly boring, utterly reactionary, and the last to change. I believe change happens through technological development and entrepreneurship, and I follow those trends as closely as I can."

Speaking of Substack, I recently moved my Russian Futurism music blog over to it. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

New Hilaritas Press podcast on Kropotkin released

 Monday was the 23rd, and so the monthly Hilaritas Press podcast was released. This one features anarchist writer Wayne Price, and the episode is devoted to Peter Kropotkin, who according to Wikipedia  "was a Russian anarchist, socialist, revolutionary, historian, scientist, philosopher, and activist who advocated anarcho-communism." Mike Gathers is the interviewer and host, as with the other episodes. 

As usual, there are links at the official host site for those who want to learn more. I recognized one of the links -- it's an interview I posted in 2011, of RAW being interviewed by New Libertarian Notes, which I acquired via Jesse Walker and Mike himself, as I note in the introduction. It's an interesting interview which sheds light on RAW's then-views on libertarianism. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

Natural Law reading group, Week Nine, 'Dreams Without End' interview

From the Space Studies Institute.

Before we get into discussion of this week's episode, I just wanted to thank Chad Nelson for preserving such an interesting interview in one of RAW's books.

Probably my favorite RAW interview is, so far as I know, not available on the internet; it's the interview of Wilson done by Scott  Apel and Apel's late friend, Kevin C. Briggs. Apel has reprinted it twice: In Science Fiction: An Oral History  (the Kindle is only $1) and in Beyond Chaos and Beyond. 

This interview, which features Safransky patiently asking Wilson to explain points which might be unclear, covers many topics, and I will only comment on some of them.

1. Wilson says, "You can't live comfortably in Ohio, for example, if you're not brainwashed into a Republican, agricultural, Protestant reality tunnel." This is more true now than it was in 1987, when Ohio was known as a "swing state." At this point, it has definitely trended Republican.

Wilson adds (a few sentences later), "People who are uncomfortable as white, Protestant, small-town chauvinists become uncomfortable when they feel the alien signals coming in from New York and Los Angeles and from all around the world." I suspect they feel uncomfortable partially because they feel a loss of status. In terms of the eight circuit model, I think they are threatened in the second circuit.

2. There is considerable discussion in the interview about getting solar power from space. (The Space Studies Institute web page has a section on solar power from space which includes book recommendations). Given that SpaceX had reduced the cost of going to space, and given that awareness of the need for green energy to cope with global warming seems pretty strong, it seems odd to me that solar power satellites doesn't get more discussion. 

3. At the end of the interview, Wilson talks about trying not to hold grudges and doing rituals of forgiveness every week, and Safransky alertly asks Wilson to explain rituals of forgiveness.

As I recently discussed, one of the virtues of the new RAW Memes book  is that it covers many of Wilson's ideas in succinct fashion. I could not find a quote that deals directly with forgiveness, but here is a related quote: "Since most humans are still controlled by fairly robotic reflexes, the bad energy of the past far outweighs the good, and the tendency of the wheel to to keep moving in the same terrible direction, violence breeding more violence, hatred breeding more hatred, war breeding more war. The only way to 'stop the wheel' is to stop it inside yourself, by giving up bad energy and concentrating on the positive. This is by no means easy, but once you understand what Gurdjieff called 'the horror of our situation,' you have no choice but to try, and to keep on trying." (A quote from Cosmic Trigger, on page 124 of RAW Memes.)

I thought Wilson had talked about forgiveness shortly before he died; I don't see it on the blog he did the last few weeks of his life. Am I misremembering, or not looking in the right place? 

A note in the interviewer: The interview is from a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, magazine called The Sun, which was founded in 1974 by Mr. Safransky. The magazine still exists, and Mr. Safransky is still listed as the "Editor and Founder." 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

About those space colonies, etc.

 The Stanford Torus, a proposed space habitat. Artwork from the Space Studies Institute, which was founded by Gerard O'Neill. (Creative Commons art).

Tomorrow, the Natural Law reading group resumes, and we'll talk about Robert Anton Wilson's words as he's interviewed in 1987, in the "Dreams Without End" chapter. For a moment here, I want to touch on Sy Safransky's introduction.

Safransky writes, about a RAW lecture, "I almost walked out during his recent talk in Chapel Hill. He seemed arrogant, quick to make fun of people. He also seemed too adoring of such futuristic ideas as personal immortality (literal immortality through conquering death) and mass migration to outer space (millions of 'colonists' leaving the planet to live in high-tech bubble cities orbiting Earth.")

I can't address the arrogance Safransky complains about. As for the element of SMI2LE -- space migration,intelligence increase and life extension -- it's obviously easy to mock RAW's timetables. I'm writing these words from a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, not from a space colony.

Still, all of the SMI2LE elements seem to be coming to pass. Advances in artificial intelligence are becoming too obvious to ignore. It's becoming easier and cheaper to get into space thanks to companies such as SpaceX. 

And work is continuing on life extension. Here's a report from Semafor:

"Two research teams reversed some signs of aging in mice. Scientists at a biotech firm modestly extended elderly mice’s lifespan, while a Harvard team caused mice to age artificially, and then reversed some effects, Science reported. Aging seems to be linked to epigenetics, the process that tells certain genes to switch on in certain cells, so that they can specialize as liver cells or blood cells and so on. The researchers used gene therapy to partially revert the mice’s cells to stem cells, “resetting” their epigenetic clock. It’s very early days, but offers further hope that anti-aging therapies for humans might one day be possible."

Semafor, a relatively new outfit, sends out useful email news bulletins that often focus on technology. 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Kindle version of 'Natural Law' finally available

Some good news from Hilaritas Press: A Kindle ebook edition of Natural Law Or Don't Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw edited by Chad Nelson finally has become available, after months of effort from Rasa and Christina Pearson. You can now buy a copy for $9.99, cheaper than the $23 for the paperback. Not too late to buy a copy and join the reading group! 

"I’m so glad we got this online. Last night I went to sleep, pissed off that they once again refused, and I was already preparing a response in my head when I woke up. Imagine my delight when I saw their email!" Rasa says.

If you are late to the epic struggle, Amazon balked for about a year to authorize a Kindle while selling copies of the paperback, claiming copyright problems. The whole Natural Law project has been something of a struggle; the Nook ebook had technical problems that have now been fixed. I've thought that the book was really good since I read it and I've done my best to get it out there. So OK, now y'all can buy it and turn it into a surprise bestseller. 

Among Amazon's arguments was that the original Natural Law essay was "freely available online," as if the legitimate owners of the copyright should be punished because of piracy. 

Rasa's latest letter to Amazon which finally convinced the company to let the Kindle edition go forward is a thing of beauty, and with Rasa's permission, I'm reprinting it here:

Dear Amazon Content Review Team, 

We really have a hard time understanding your logic here. Our new book features the title essay as one of thirteen Robert Anton Wilson essays, so this book of ours is completely different from the original Breakout Press edition which featured only one essay. The title essay is less than half the book.

The title essay has been illegally reproduced online. That does not mean it is in the public domain. That means The Robert Anton Wilson Trust does not have the resources to police the entire internet.

Breakout Press no longer exists. The original copyright was held by Breakout Press and Robert Anton Wilson. 

The Probate Court of the State of California, as evidenced by the document we submitted, has stated that The Robert Anton Wilson Trust holds the legal copyright to the works of Robert Anton Wilson.

You are incorrect about the documents submitted. The contract between The Robert Anton Wilson Trust and Hilaritas Press most certainly contains the title of the book. That is the sole purpose of the document, to grant rights to publish this particular book to Hilaritas Press.

Since we published this book over a year ago, Nook, Kobo and other online ebook outlets have been selling the ebook. The paperback has been distributed by Ingram to online outlets and brick and mortar stores all over the world. No one has complained about any copyright issue. 

Thinking that The Robert Anton Wilson Trust does not own the copyrights for Robert Anton Wilson’s works seems like a counterintuitive position to take. 

It further seems counterintuitive to deny any profits you may make in selling this book when other ebook sellers are taking your sales. 

We have demonstrated that this book is legally owned by The Robert Anton Wilson Trust and the Trust has granted the right to publish to the Trust’s publishing firm, Hilaritas Press.

Pleases address these points we have made, or more simply, just release this new book.

Thank you for your consideration.

Richard Rasa


Friday, January 20, 2023

Friday links

"The way out of Chapel Perilous is as a stoned paranoid or a radical agnostic." Another image posted by Dr. Richard Waterloo. 

British magician Jake Stratton-Kent has died. Tribute from Cat Vincent. And also, tribute from Ken Eakins. 

 Prop Anon on RAW's understanding of quantum entanglement. 

The Jim O'Shaughnessy suggested reading list for the Infinite Loops podcast; Prometheus Rising makes the list, and it links to O'Shaughnessy's Twitter thread on the Thinker and the Prover. 

The seven major revolutions in Tyler Cowen's lifetime. 

Richard Hanania: "Why the Media is Honest and Good." Perhaps his most controversial piece yet. 


Thursday, January 19, 2023

New edition of 'TSOG' released

As Rasa says in the announcement, the new edition has another great cover from Amoeba. 

Hilaritas Press has announced the release of its new edition of one of Robert Anton Wilson's last books. The announcement is for the release of TSOG: The Thing That Ate The Constitution and other everyday monsters.

Hilaritas often seeks to add value by obtaining new pieces from modern writers, and this time around there are offerings from Bobby Campbell, Steve Pratt and Michael Johnson. Here's Rasa in the announcement:

"We are always looking for some commentary to include in these new RAW editions. We were lucky to get a new forward from Bobby Campbell, a new afterword from Steven James Pratt ('Fly' for those who know him), and as a special addition, there is a long essay included from RAW expert, R. Michael Johnson.

"Michael's essay is particularly interesting. This book ends with an intriguing mystery, if you will. RAW reserved the last chapter for a description of a book he intended to write, but never did. It was to be called, The Tale of the Tribe. No one really knows what RAW intended to write specifically, but we do have an outline. Michael's essay kinda astounded us as it began as a rumination on RAW's idea, but launched into a treatise that easily could be seen as a mirror reflection of one chapter in RAW's proposed title – an in-depth look at one member of the 'tribe.' 

"All three new essays are a treat: 

Prolegomena to Tsarist Overthrow 

Foreword By Bobby Campbell

TSOG: In Flight Entertainment 

Afterword by Steven James Pratt

Notes on Wilson, Vico, Language, and Class Warfare 

Essay by R. Michael Johnson."

The book has illustrations by Linda Joyce Franks, who also did the cover for the New Falcon edition; the new cover is another arresting effort by  amoeba. (See his Tweet).

The next book on the Hilaritas list is The Walls Came Tumbling Down and I would expect an announcement pretty soon, although I don't have a date. Reality Is What You Can Get Away With and Chaos and Beyond also are listed as coming soon, and a team of editors is hard at work on the recently-announced, not-yet-titled RAW book about Aleister Crowley. 

I have an archive of announcements from Hilaritas Press at the top right of this website,  under Official News; if you look, you can see if you've missed any recent news. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

New Hilaritas book in the works: RAW on Crowley

Aleister Crowley (public domain photo) 

Exciting news from Mike Gathers, host of the Hilaritas Press podcast: A new book is being put together of Robert Anton Wilson writing about Aleister Crowley, built around the 72-page RAW manuscript reported as being found last year in the Harvard University library.

Here is what Mike reports: 

"We're taking the Harvard document and, at this point, 5 other pieces already in various forms of circulation, and compiling them into a book - kinda like Natural Law with the supplemental material, and maybe like Sex Drugs and Magic with several folks writing commentary if we can get them recruited.

"I'm basically acting as project manager.

"Chad Nelson as editor - I guess that's what you call it - he's taking all the documents and putting them into one master document, correcting OCR errors, noting typos, and doing all the major formatting.

"Oz Fritz is also acting as editor on a bigger scale - helping select what essays to include, and what order to put them in.  And noting inaccuracies and questionable claims by RAW based on his vast knowledge of Crowley's work.  

"We're soliciting several folks like Oz and Mike Johnson, but also several "big" names in the Crowley world to write commentaries  (Forward/Afterword).

"Meanwhile, Rasa and Christina are working on publishing rights for the additional essays.  Some fall in the New Falcon/Original Falcon domain, so we're not sure where all that stands and there is some uncertainty there."

Mike did not mention a planned publication date, but in my experience that's not how Hilaritas works. Rasa and the gang work on a book, and when it's ready, it's released.

I'm expecting more Hilaritas news soon, so stay tuned. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Twitter account for 'Chapel Perilous'

Prop Anon has a Twitter account, Chapel Perilous, to promote his upcoming biography of Robert Anton Wilson. He doesn't have a publication date yet for the new book, but says he hopes it will be sometime this fall. 

You can also still follow the main Prop Anon Twitter account. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Natural Law reading group, Week 8, RAW on Nietzsche

Nietzsche in 1869 (public domain photo). 

This week's focus for the Natural Law reading group is the piece "F.W. Nietzsche: A New Writer," only six pages long, published in 1984 in the New Libertarian. Wilson is always enjoyable when he is explaining his enthusiasm for a particular writer or artist. 

Here is the bit that I imagine being made into a meme by Rasa:

To live in the Nietzschean multi-varied universe, to pick one's values out of infinite possibilities, sames like painful choice to the existentialist, blasphemy to the Christian, monstrosity to the Objectivist; but is is actually only to become consciously an artist. All art begins with Chaos, with infinite vistas suddenly opening, and proceeds through play and permutation into new Creativity (the sublimated Will to Power, Nietzsche calls it) -- going from the ridiculous to the sublime, as it were.

Or as Nietzsche sums it up in one lightning-like sentence, "One must have Chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star."  

In "Left and Right: A Non-Euclidian Perspective," RAW wrote about Nietzsche, ""I still re-read one or two of his books every year, and get new semantic insights from them."

I have never read Nietzsche -- he's one of those writers that I know I ought to read but haven't gotten around to -- so I'm at a disadvantage this week. Still, I'm not completely helpless.

1. RAW's interest in Nietzsche raises the question of where to begin with the philosopher's writings. As I noted in a 2017 blog post, Eric Wagner's often-useful An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson lists two books that RAW said everyone should read:  Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ. In one list, RAW specifies the H.L. Mencken translation of The Anti-Christ

2. The comments in that 2017 blog post are very helpful. There are recommendations on what Nietzsche works to read and comments on the philosopher's influence on other writers. And there's this from RAW biographer Prop Anon: "RAW read started reading a lot of Nietzsche when struck by depression during his Berkeley days. He said N's words really helped.

"Then when he was in Ireland he read even more Nietzsche, whose polemic style, along with Swift, greatly influenced his approach to The New Inquisition and Natural Law."

3. There is also an interview by Mark Dery, cited in this blog post. Here is a perhaps useful bit:

Dery: You’ve mentioned Nietzsche. In your introduction to Semiotext(e) SF, you wrote, “I, like Bob Black, have a Nietzsche trigger finger.” What did you mean by that?

Wilson: Bob Black used that expression before me; I was giving him credit for it. I don’t know what he meant, but what I meant was that, like Nietzsche, I philosophize with a hammer. Nietzsche gave me the problem I’ve wrestled with all my life, which is: Why do I choose one course as better than another? He undermined all my traditional morality and yet I haven’t become a mass murderer, so I must have a morality, but what’s it based on?

I’ve struggled with that problem all my adult life and although I don’t claim to have solved it, I think I’m beginning to shed some light on it after decades of mulling it over. My morality derives from the world I will to exist. The concept that all men are created equal is obviously not true – some are taller, some write better poetry, etcetera – but that concept represents an affirmation of a certain type of will, the democratic will, which Nietzsche didn’t like, whereas I do. This allows me to be a First Amendment absolutist even though I’m a relativist philosophically; I will a world in which there are no interferences with freedom of expression. I don’t claim I can prove that such a world should exist, just that I wish it existed. That’s how you can be an absolutist and a relativist at the same time.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Jesse Walker on 'Groomer' politics

Gore Vidal in 1948 (public domain photo). Vidal once argued against laws banning pedophilia. Such views are no longer considered acceptable, Jesse Walker argues in a new article for Reason magazine. 

It seems to me that an important element in standing up for civil liberties is the ability to stay calm and analytical when the latest moral panic is sweeping the country. Robert Anton Wilson spoke out for decades about the biggest enduring moral panic in the U.S., which he called "the war on some drugs," and in Chaos and Beyond (due republication soon from Hilaritas Press) he wrote about the 1980s moral panic about alleged Satanic activity in preschools.

Jesse Walker has a major new article, "A Modern History of 'Groomer' Politics," in the latest issue of Reason magazine, and the piece is now online. Jesse's thesis is captured in the subhead, "The social changes that paved the way for gay and trans acceptance have made pedophile acceptance less likely, not more." And when you take the time to read it, you'll also learn about important changes in the history of heterosexual behavior, and what is considered acceptable between a male and female. 

I hope the article gets the attention it deserves; Jesse also ought to be thinking about turning it into a book. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Reading notes

1. I've been reading RAW Memes, the book of Robert Anton Wilson quotes put together and illustrated by Rasa, a few pages at a time. I assume I'll have more to say about it when I finish, but I have a few points I can make now. I notice that the book functions as a kind of "RAW's Greatest Hits," as naturally for his memes and quotes, Rasa emphasizes places where RAW is presenting his main ideas in a pithy manner. It also seems at times as a kind of RAW "self-help book," as many of the quotes seem inspirational. Finally, the book reflects Wilson's broad range of interests, as anyone trying to put together a similar book could do one that was quite different. So far, much of the political stuff Rasa selects has a leftist tone; I imagine if I did such a book, there would be many quotes about Beethoven, civil liberties and quantum mechanics. With that said, Rasa casts a wide net, and  I think just about every RAW fan would enjoy Rasa's selections. 

2. Rob Pugh has put up a list of what he read during 2022. Given that we have some shared interests, I thought it was interesting I had so little overlap with him; we've both read The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith, but that's it. As Kim Stanley Robinson remarked when I interviewed him years ago, the culture is really vast. I also wonder if there are commonalities between the "self help" books Rob reads and the magick books other RAW fans read.

3. I always look at the monthly deals for Kindle books on Amazon; for what it's worth, two of the science fiction novels on sale this month for a cheap price are, in my opinion, two of the best novels of the past ten years: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, $3.99, and Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald, $2.99. (De gustibus, but I think Apuleius Charlton will back me up on these two titles).  Often, when an ebook goes on sale, the sale price is available across platforms; I checked, and you can get them as Nook ebooks for the same price at the Barnes and Noble website.  Should Hilaritas Press experiment sometime with this sort of sale for a a classic RAW title? 

Friday, January 13, 2023

A paranoid look at DMT and AI

Rod Dreher (Creative Commons, source.)

There a passage in Illuminatus! in which Barney Muldoon's brother, a Catholic priest, depicted as quite bright and reasonable, defends the Inquisition and the church's attitude toward Satanism:

"Don't mind him," Barney said softly. "He's very cynical about dogma, like most clergymen these days." 

"I heard that," the priest said. "I may be cynical but I really don't think Satanism is a joking matter. And your friend's theory is very plausible, in its way. After all, the Satanist's motive in infiltrating the church, in the old days, was to disgrace the institution thought to represent God on earth. Now that the United States government makes the same claim, well. That may be a joke or a paradox on my part, but it's the way their minds work, too. I am a professional cynic —a theologian must be, these days, if he isn't going to seem a total fool to young people with their skeptical minds— but I'm orthodox, or downright reactionary, about the Inquisitions. I've read all the rationalist historians, of course, and there was certainly an element of hysteria in the church in those days, but, still, Satanism is not any less frightening than cancer or plague. It is totally inimical to human life and, in fact, to all life. The church had good reasons to be afraid of it. Just as people who are old enough to remember have good reasons to be panicky at any hint of a revival of Hitlerism." 

I remembered that passage when Jesse Walker sent me a link to a piece by Rod Dreher called "Temptation of the Psychonauts." The subhead says, "Exploring the realm opened up by DMT is to put your soul and your sanity in grave peril." Dreher is a Christian conservative writer, an Orban fan who apparently lives in Hungary., so he has a reality tunnel that I daresay varies from most of  you. Walker commented, "Bob would have enjoyed reading this." 

Here is a quote from the Dreher piece that captures its tone:

Many of you will laugh at warnings not to do these extremely powerful drugs, for fear of opening doors to a hostile realm populated by evil intelligences that seek the destruction of humans. You shouldn't. The idea that we know so much better than primitive peoples in the world today, or sages of the past who warned sternly not to go to these places (the Bible, for example, is crystal clear about the dangers of this stuff), is utter hubris, folly born of pride.

Some of Dreher's reader mail is pretty good, too. Here's a bit from a letter from an unnamed Orthodox priest. (Dreher began as a Methodist, switched to Catholicism, and now is an Eastern Orthodox believer. Pretty sure he never went through a Unitarian phase). The priest:

It seems to me that, in addition to the ‘portal’ of psychedelics, we’re ushering in the reign of disincarnate intelligences through the development of AI as well. I could be wrong, but there’s something sinister and demonic lurking beneath the seemingly benign wonder of ChatGPT and other AI bots.

Tyler Cowen takes a more benign view of AI; he says a lot of interesting things about it in a recent interview. Here is one comment, and I've put the sentence I want to call attention to in boldface:

That's already a trend with the internet: you can customize what you read now. You'll literally be able to design your own education by speaking to your AI. Your AI can be trained on data sets that you, or the parents, want. So you'll have your own personalized “familiar” —to refer to the old world of witchcraft — and it will do things for you.

Is this analogous to the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel?

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Synchronicity and finding an old friend.

An ebook I published which talks about the importance of synchronicity to tapping into higher consciousness. See this excerpt. 

I've been interested in synchronicity for much of the life of this blog. I ran into a synchronicity this week, when I tracked down an old friend I hadn't had any contact with in a long time. I don't want to invade his privacy, so I'll call him "Sam" and avoid details.

Another old friend of mine, who I'll call "Percy," and I had tried some some years to figure out what happened to Sam. We had no success. Earlier this week, my wife asked, "Did you ever figure out what happened to Sam?" It wasn't a topic we have had a conversation about in a long time. 

Then two days ago, I got a message on Facebook from Percy, asking if I ever made any progress finding Sam. It was the first time I had heard from Percy about it in nearly a year. 

So I decided to go to work, running searches on the Internet and contacting people. One of them was one of Sam's few surviving blood relatives, a niece, who told me that for the first time in a long time, she and her mother (Sam's sister) had just talked about whatever happened to Sam, and wondered if he was still alive. 

Eventually I found Sam and I actually got him on the phone Wednesday and talked to him. 

My wife assumed that I had found Sam because of her remark, and I explained that no, I'd been prompted by Percy and I mentioned what Sam's niece said. "I guess it was in the air," my wife said. 

Click on the "synchronicities" label on this post for more synchronicities.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Spud Murphy on Robert Anton Wilson's meditation techniques

A fellow in Poland who creates wood art and who writes as Spud Murphy has a new blog post up, "Robert Anton Wilson Meditation Experiment," which talks about a couple of meditation techniques Wilson talked about in a lecture. (Murphy is amused that Wilson takes credit for the "paying attention" meditation, an old Buddhism technique.)

"It revealed to me that our default operating system is that of labeling; almost all of our thoughts are in word form but by doing the second meditation we gain a great insight, we see that, actually, there’s something else going on beneath the surface level of our thoughts and that there’s another kind of consciousness that doesn’t work in words and it’s far more fundamental to what’s actually going on in our minds. It’s very deep, it’s very ancient, it’s very primordial and it’s wiser, far, far wiser than the idiot talking all the time."

I clicked on the "Robert Anton Wilson" label for the blog post and found only the one, but other topics Murphy writes about may interest RAW fans. "You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s into the kinda stuff I’m into who isn’t a fan of old Bob."

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Follow Dr. Richard Waterloo on Twitter


If you are on Twitter and you like to see images connected with the writings of Robert Anton Wilson, I would suggest giving Dr. Richard Waterloo a follow. Above is an image he spotted from Illuminated Brew Works (a real beer company, apparently) in Chicago. (Yesterday's image was created by Waterloo and also posted on Twitter). Pretty sure I've mentioned Dr Richard Waterloo's Twitter before, but he's really stepped up the images. 

Jesse Walker also has a daily "Your morning image" feature on Twitter. 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Natural Law reading group, Week 7, 'The Compleat Skeptic' and two others

"Who is the master that makes the grass green?" Posted on Twitter by Dr Richard Waterloo. Source. Waterloo says it was created with MidJourney, an image generating prompt tool.

The essay that I had announced for this week, "The Compleat Skeptic," is a very short column published in New Libertarian, and is the first part of a three-part series of short columns, including "Skepticism and Solipsism" and "Neurological Relativism." Robert Anton Wilson concludes the first column by "hanging on" to an "ontological cliff" until the next column, but I think it might be easier on us to leave the cliff and consider all three columns together.

It seems to me that many of Robert Anton Wilson's ideas  are included in the three brief pieces. 

I have been reading Rasa's RAW Memes book. Here is a section (from "Neurological Relativism") that I could see Rasa turning into a meme:

"I deal with the world 'very carefully' because I respect its mystery, whereas those who hold fixed ideas deal with the world (and each other) in blind and brutal ways that each of them can see how mad all the others are but none can see that his/her own fixed ideas are equally mad."

Wilson says (in the same piece) that under a system of neurological relativism, "one recognizes each belief system as a gamble, 'my latest best guess,' and does not confuse it with Truth, Reality, or any other variety of eternal verity." 

A couple of paragraphs later, he lists some of his opinions, in libertarianism, the scientific method, in yoga, Space Migration, Life Extension and "dozens of other things" but says he can "suspend any of these beliefs at will, or all of them."

Does this attitude explain why RAW's political views seemed to shift around over the years, as he adapted  his opinions to new evidence? At times he sounds like a social democrat, and at times he sounds like a libertarian.

And doesn't his neurological relativism also fit with his libertarianism? At its heart, libertarianism is a philosophy of live and let live. Quoting Neuropolitics, written by Timothy Leary and himself, Wilson writes, "People are vegetarians or nudists or Communists or snake worshippers for the same reasons that other people are Catholics or Republicans or liberals or Nazis." If that's the case, wouldn't it follow that it's wrong for a government to impose one belief system on everyone else?

Here is one other Wilson quote, from "The Compleat Skeptic," but I have changed "in social life" to "on social media."

"I also maintain that people who are perpetually muddled, baffled, frustrated, angry, resentful and act as general nuisances and bring-downs on social media are that way, and cause themselves to continue being that way, only because they lack philosophical skepticism."

Next week: "A New Writer: F.W. Nietzsche."

Sunday, January 8, 2023

My reading plans for the next few months

This is downloaded to my Kindle app. Looks interesting, don't you think?

I recently read Tyler Cowen's Jan. 4 blog post, "My reading program for the half-year to come."  I thought reading Tyler's post was a lot of fun, so I thought I would try a similar blog post. (Note that one of Tyler's plans is "Reading or rereading through the works of Jonathan Swift," which I believe RAW also did at one point).

1. I am a judge on the nominating committee for the Prometheus Awards, so for the next couple of months I will be busy reading science fiction novels. I am currently reading Babel by R.F. Kuang and soon I will be reading Widowland by C.J. Carey.  I'm also going to read Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng. 

2. I am currently slowly reading RAW Memes by Robert Anton Wilson and Rasa, a couple of pages a day or so, and I am re-reading Natural Law, or Don’t Put a Rubber on Your Willy for the online discussion group, see you here tomorrow.  The Hilaritas Press publication schedule shows that the next three republished Robert Anton Wilson books are TSOG, The Walls Came Tumbling Down and Reality Is What You Can Get Away With. I am not so sure about TSOG, it's not my favorite RAW book, but the other two I actually have not read, I will buy them and read them as soon as they are released.

3. I like  history and I have particular interests that I usually pursue every year. So I'll likely read at least a couple of titles on the later Roman Empire/the Dark Ages/Late Antiquity and very likely at least one book about World War II, and quite possibly something involving aviation history. Does anyone else sometimes look at the bibliography first when reading nonfiction? 

4. I don't get review copies as often as Tyler, but it occasionally happens, both because of being a Prometheus judge and because of this blog, so we'll see what arrives in the mail. Alec Nevala-Lee is a RAW fan, and he kindly sent me his excellent new biography of Buckminster Fuller, one of the few well-reviewed books of 2022 that I read and that Tyler missed. 

5. I gave a friend of mine copies of some favorite novels by Richard Powers and Leonard Richardson, if he decides to read them, I will re-read them so he can discuss them with me. (Powers, The Gold Bug Variations, Richardson, Situation Normal.)

6. My habit for decades has been to try to get caught up with a few favorite authors. Jane Austen and Jack Vance aren't coming out with anything new, so anything from them will be a re-read, but there are still a few Vladimir Nabokov novels I haven't read and a few Sinclair Lewis titles I either haven't read, or haven't read for more than 40 years. I am closing in on Robert Shea but still need to read his first two solo novels. And there are a few authors I read whenever anything new comes out. Neal Stephenson may not show up again the next year or two and Elinor Lipman has a new one out, but Tom Perrotta just issued Tracy Flick Can't Win so he'll probably be silent in 2023. 

7. I read book reviews in publications such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and I read blogs and Twitter accounts from people who read a lot, so I'm sure I'll read a few titles that sound like something I would like. The NYT and Tyler both gave Babel a good review.

I recently listed what I read in 2022 and for several years I've come out with a similar list each year. I am on Goodreads and I track my reading there, look for Tomj. 

What are you going to read? 

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Oregon begins legal use of psychedelic mushrooms

Psilocybe mexicana. Creative Commons photo by Alan Rockefeller. 

Much of the writings of Robert Anton Wilson were inspired by Timothy Leary's writings on psychedelics. And RAW's suggestion that psychedelics could have positive uses, by helping people reimprint, seems to have been confirmed by recent news.

See the New York Times article, "Legal Use of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Begins in Oregon."

Excerpt: "Although scientists are still working to understand their therapeutic dynamics, psilocybin and other psychedelics are thought to promote neuroplasticity, a rewiring of the brain that gives patients fresh perspectives on longstanding psychiatric problems.

"One recent study on alcohol-use disorder, for example, found that two doses of psilocybin paired with talk therapy led to an 83 percent decline in heavy drinking among participants, and that nearly half of them had stopped drinking entirely by the end of the eight-month trial."

Friday, January 6, 2023

More on the 'Periodic Table of Energy'

Bobby Campbell's cover for the third edition of the New Falcon third edition of Timothy Leary's The Game of Life, which has contributions by Robert Anton Wilson. Confusingly, Amazon has another edition from a different publisher. 

 In a recent post, I described The Periodic Table of Energy as a "lost" book that is coauthored by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson. The manuscript was offered for auction in 2012; I don't know who bought it. 

Just for added confusion, the book sometimes is listed as The Periodic Table of Evolution. It remains something of a mystery how the books it with Leary's and Wilson's bibliography, although in discussion on Facebook, Prop Anon said that he believes The Game of Life, another Leary-Wilson collaboration, has chunks of Periodical Table inserted into it. 

I got two comments in my original post. Lvx15 wrote, "Sounds like the book they released together called The Game of Life." An unidentified commenting person wrote, "A listing in Exo Psychology shows "Periodic Table of Evolution", separate book from "The Game of Life."

When I did a posting at the Robert Anton Wilson Legacy group on Facebook which linked to my Periodica Table post, Donald Peter Dulchinos posted a screen shot showing the book list from Exo Psychology and other people joined the discussion. You can read the whole back and forth, but here is one of the comments from Prop: "I looked through the Leary Archives at NYPL during the writing of my book Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of RAW. I was under the impression that I saw Leary's manuscript for the PTOE when researching the files. I saw Leary's typed words with RAW's notes on all over the page. RAW helped Leary edit the book. Now there is a chance that it was not PTOE that I saw but The Game of Life. However, I believe the Game of Life has whole sections from PTOE inserted into it. As far as who bought the PTOE manuscript, I do not know. If they were Kool they would put the PTOE manuscript in a proper Library."

If Prop is correct, there could be a situation analogous to The Starseed Signals by Robert Anton Wilson. Starseed remained unpublished during RAW's lifetime and was brought out by Hilaritas; sections of Starseed later were included in the first Cosmic Trigger book. 

I have The Game of Life on my Kindle, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Prop Anon posts two more RAW pieces

Prop Anon has been very active in posting Robert Anton Wilson pieces and he has now posted two more at his Chapel Perilous website.

"Truth Comes on Swift Wings" is a piece on magick based on Egyptian hieroglyphs, which Prop notes was published both in the Berkeley Barb and Samuel Konkin's magazine, New Libertarian. Prop posts the Barb version; I ran a PDF from the Konkin publication back in 2012. As usual, Prop offers commentary: "This article is interesting too because it appears proto-chaos magic to me. Wilson relaying a magic ritual that involves watching television and utilizing one's imagination or Krassner's suggestion that everybody flush their toilets during Nixon's inauguration suggests that Magical rituals are more improvisational than the Golden Dawn ever conceived!"

The second piece is "UN Habitat Conference: Doom-Sayers, Yea-Sayers Converge," also from the Barb, criticizes environmentalism based on limits to growth and argues for Gerard O'Neill style space colonies. Perhaps when O'Neill proposed them, they were too expensive; have ventures like SpaceX made them a more realistic choice? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Two new conspiracy theory books

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jordan S. Carroll reviews two new books on conspiracy theories, Operation Mindfuck: QAnon and the Cult of Donald Trump by Robert Guffey and Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon by Mia Bloom. 

Excerpt: "Guffey sees the QAnon adherents as bad readers. They have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. When Hunter S. Thompson fictionalizes adrenochrome as a potent psychedelic that must be harvested from living human beings, the QAnon crowd not only believes him but also imagines a whole mythology surrounding the extraction and consumption of this fictive substance. Guffey argues that the right has figured out how to exploit this credulity, using media manipulation techniques modeled on Shea and Wilson’s Operation Mindfuck and similar left-libertarian pranks from the 1960s and 1970s."

Monday, January 2, 2023

Natural Law reading group, week six, 'Don't Be Afraid of Black Magick'

Meher Baba in 1945 (public domain photo)

This week's essay originally was published in Gnostica magazine in 1977. After Mike Gathers sent me the hard copy of the piece, I ran it as a blog post on April 13, 2011. 

I am always a bit nervous in discussions about the occult and magick, as those are topics I would not claim to know much about.

However, the essay fits with what Chad says is a theme connecting the pieces in the book, that of Wilson's concept of model agnosticism. When I interviewed Chad about the book when it first came out, he remarked that he originally envisioned the book as a political book, and assembled 20 Wilson essays touching on politics. But then, "we shelved several of the more overtly political tracts and focused exclusively on Wilson's writings on model agnosticism. The project really became fun when we made that pivot explicit. Wilson scholars know how much model agnosticism underlies his worldview, so the idea that there would be a newly published book of essays and interviews spanning five decades where we get to see him riff on that theme very directly, over and over again, in a variety of different ways, was one of the coolest moments for me."

Wilson writes, in the essay we are talking about this week, "The Biggest Lie in the World is the idea that there is one 'true' reality. That is the lie that keeps the conditioned citizen trapped in the one static reality imprinted by parents and schools in childhood." 

A couple of notes:

When I posted this piece back in 2011, Eric Wagner remarked, "Great stuff. I find it interesting how Bob uses Beethoven as a touchstone." And indeed, this piece is yet another of the many RAW pieces that mention Beethoven. Not only that, but there is yet another mention of the Ninth Symphony.

The end of the essay quotes Meher Baba, an Indian religious figure who died in 1969. I  know pretty much nothing about Baba, but I recognized the name because Peter Townsend of The Who was a follower of Meher Baba back in the day and would mention Baba in interviews. 

The Wikipedia bio of Baba has this bit: "In the mid-1960s Baba became concerned with the drug culture in the West and began correspondences with several Western academics, including Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, in which he discouraged the use of hallucinogenic drugs for spiritual purposes. In 1966 Baba's responses to questions on drugs were published in a pamphlet titled God in a Pill? Meher Baba stated that drug use was spiritually damaging and that if enlightenment were possible through drugs then 'God is not worthy of being God'. Meher Baba instructed his young Western disciples to spread this message; in doing so, they increased awareness of Meher Baba's teachings. In an interview with Frederick Chapman, a Harvard graduate and Fulbright scholar who met Baba during a year of study in India, Baba described LSD as 'harmful physically, mentally, and spiritually" and warned that "[its continued use] leads to madness or death'."

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Books read during 2022

As this is a blog which be definition would mainly be of interest to readers, every new year I have had a tradition that I list the books I read the previous year. This year I managed 54 titles, up from 47 in 2021. 

Many of the books I read are in connection with serving as a judge for the Prometheus Award. While I read pretty widely, I also tend to read in several concentrated interests: Robert Anton Wilson and the writers Wilson has influenced; history with a concentration on ancient history and late antiquity; favorite mystery writers, and reading books by particular authors who are favorites of mine, e.g. in the past year, that would include Neal Stephenson, Tom Perrotta and Vladimir Nabokov. I have been reading Nabokov for most of my life, reading another title every couple of years or so. 

Some recommendations: Termination Shock is a really good Stephenson novel about an engineered solution to global warming. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is a fine fantasy novel. The Great Air Race by John Lancaster is the best book about aviation I've ever read. Purgatory Mount by Adam Roberts, The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, Three Miles Down by Harry Turtledove and Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir are all good science fiction novels. I liked the Ada Palmer novel, too, but it won't make much sense unless you've read the previous novels in the series. If you've never tried Too Like the Lighning, the first book in Palmer's Terra Ignota series, you should consider giving it a try. 

1. Termination Shock, Neal Stephenson.
2. Rich Man's Sky, Wil McCarthy.
3. Road Kill, R.J. Norgard
4. Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts.

5. Man in the Middle, Steve Wire.
6. Titan, Robert Kroese.
7. White Hat, Steve Wire.
8. Between Home and Ruin, Karl Gallagher.
9. Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir.
10. Seize What's Held Dear, Karl Gallagher.
11. Sainthood in Sixty Seconds, Dr. Insensitive Jerk.
12. How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, Harry Browne.
13. Dmitry Shostakovich, Pauline Fairclough.
14. The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization, Bryan Ward-Perkins.
15. Perhaps the Stars, Ada Palmer.
16. Saucers, Spooks and Kooks: UFO Disinformation in the Age of Aquarius, Adam Gorightly.
17. Patricians and Emperors: The Last Rulers of the Roman Empire, Ian Hughes.
18. Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller, Alec Nevala-Lee.
19. Stalingrad, the Fateful Siege, 1942-1943, Anthony Beevor.
20. Wilhelm Reich in Hell, Robert Anton Wilson.
21. The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, Lawrence Block.
22. The End of Roman Britain, Michael E. Jones.
23. Tracy Flick Can't Win, Tom Perrotta.
24. The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware.
25. Something New, P.G. Wodehouse.
26. Around the World in 80 Books, David Damrosch.
27. Sunset Blues, Bob Adamov.
28. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison.
29. Vikings in America, Graeme Davis.
30. Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov.
31. Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the "Real America", Kevin Williamson.
32. The Future Starts Here: Adventures in the Twenty-First Century, John Higgs.
33. Robert Heinlein's Expanded Universe, Volume One, Robert Heinlein.
34. Robert Heinlein's Expanded Universe, Volume Two, Robert Heinlein.
35. Prometheus Rising, Robert Anton Wilson.
36. Travis, Texas, Gary Harmon.
37. Weird Comix #2, Bobby Campbell.
38. The School for Good Mothers, Jessamine Chan.
39. Nine Lives, Peter Swanson.
40. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, Mary Beard.
41. The Truth (Discworld #25), Terry Pratchett.
42. Watchmen, Alan Moore.
43. Captain Trader Helmsman Spy, Karl Gallagher.
44. Every Vow You Break, Peter Swanson.
45. The Three Apostles of Russian Music: The Soviet Avant-Garde, Gregor Tassie.
46. Openings: Book 1 of the Hayek Chronicles, James Peet.
47. The Great Air Race: Glory, Tragedy, and the Dawn of American Aviation, John Lancaster. 
48. Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases, Paul A. Offitt. 
49. Three Miles Down, Harry Turtledove.
50. Pan Am, Florida, Lynn M. Homan.
51. Let Us Tell You Again, Mackey Chandler.
52. Constantius III: Rome's Lost Hope, Ian Hughes.
53. The Crossing, Kevin Ikenberry.
54. A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age, Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman.