Chad Nelson's post last week on "I Opening," the last piece in the Hilaritas Natural Law, was so good it might seem there isn't more to say. But I can't resist putting in my bit.
The publication date of 1972 (in Gallery magazine) is interesting, as it shows that Schroedinger's Cat was in the works for a number of years; as Eric Wagner notes in the comments for last week's post, the copyrights for the first Cat book is 1979, and then they are 1981 for the next two. And it's interesting to me that the story was written during or just after Illuminatus! was written, and employs the Illuminatus! prose cut up technique. Hugh Crane pops up sometimes as a pen name for Wilson in the "Playboy Forum," for example in this brief letter dating to 1970. , so it's a name that was used years before the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy.
Knowing that the story was published in 1972, it was shocking to me to read, about Crane's death by gunshots, "in 1980, as he was coming out of his apartment for a morning walk in Central Park, and the wild-eyed young man stepped in front of him ..." (Page 227.) John Lennon was shot to death in 1980 outside of his apartment building, the Dakota; the murder took place very close to Central Park.
I love this bit: "The great affirmation that 'All is joy,' in contrast to the Buddha's equally-true, equally-false, and now obsolete, 'All is sorrow' ... " (Page 228). "
I also liked this: "Eternity is another code word. I won't get any extension in time from these rites. What I get, and you're beginning to get, is a deepening. Not more minutes, but more fullness in each minute. That's eternity."
Chad's entry last week got more reader comments than most blog posts in the series have received. Oz Fritz wrote, "Brilliant way to end the book with this top notch essay on magick. Wilson gives away a lot here." Oz, can you spell out what some of what Wilson gives away?
A couple of annotations:
"many people wrote to him, telling him he was the greatest American since Robert DePugh ...." (Page 207). I did not get the reference, so I looked it up. Robert DePugh (1923-2009), was an anti-Communist activist who founded a militant group called the Minutemen. no connection to the punk rock band.
"You're gonna end up like Chaplin," (Page 212.) Despite his greatness, Charlie Chaplin's popularity in the U.S. dwindled to nothing after a series of sex and political scandals, see the Wikipedia article.
" ... likely at any time to come to a worse cropper than Fatty Arbuckle." (Page 214). His career also was destroyed by a scandal, although apparently he was not really guilty of anything.
"a moderately renowned psychologist," (Page 219), Timothy Leary, I assume.
This will likely be the last posting in the reading group, unless Chad or I (or anyone else) think of something else that ought to be said. Thank you to everyone who took part.
"Eternity is another code word. I won't get any extension in time from these rites. What I get, and you're beginning to get, is a deepening. Not more minutes, but more fullness in each minute. That's eternity."
In the book when he is asked this question, he answers “if not l, I’ll die trying.” I like the I Opening response much better, though maybe the S.Cat reply fits better with the book’s themes.
I’ll respond more directly when possible. I am stranded away from home due to road closures from the snowstorms and don’t have the book with me to review. I do recall saying that the answer to the question in the title can be found at the end in the last or penultimate paragraph. What also comes to mind is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe called The Purloined Letter.
Good find on the DePugh reference. I'd never heard of him either. I'm fascinated by "our" obsession with the communist menace.
I've been wanting to read more on the Red Scare / HUAC history. Does anyone have any good book recs on the topic? A recommendation of my own: the 2015 Bryan Cranston flick Trumbo (about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo).
It seems, even to this day, like "commie" and "socialist" are the smear words of choice for right-wingers who aren't sure how to characterize heterodox thinkers they don't like (sort of like left-wingers and their overuse of "fascist" and "white supremicist").
Crane would almost certainly be one of those outcasts today, despised with equal hatred on the mainstream, authoritarian right and left.
I just would like to say that in my opinion, Chad did a great job at collecting and editing the pieces that went into this Natural Law edition. It reminded me of the parable of the blind men and the elephant, with the concept of model agnosticism standing in for the elephant, and each essay having a different bend on it. It also made me want to read more from Nietzsche, who seems to tower over much of the book.
Last night I got to rewatch the 1979 Hal Ashby film Being There, screened at my local cinema. I found an interesting dichotomy between on one hand, Peter Sellers' character difficulties differentiating the 'real' world from television, and on the other hand his being very much down to earth and totally unable to understand verbal abstractions from people (mainly in the world of economy) whose heads seem 'up in the clouds'.
The protagonist befriends someone who's a direct advisor to the president, and whose name is Rand. Beyond the joke of who's ruling this country (supported by some Masonic symbolism), I found that at a deeper level director Ashby was perhaps also making a similar point than RAW in his own criticisms of Objectivism, or Natural Law proponents in the eponymous essay.
Like with George C. Scott's Holmes in They Might Be Giants or Kris Kringle's Santa in Miracle on 34th Street, I now see Peter Sellers in Being There as a cinematic Discordian Saint, and the exemplification of what Cat Vincent calls a Wonderist.
Somehow a fitting aside to conclude the book, I recommend it to the good folks who followed this reading group here.
Thank you, everyone.
I feel hungry for our next reading group. Tom, thank you for hosting these.
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