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

Friday, June 30, 2023

A bit of musical blogging

Robert Anton Wilson, a jazz buff, was a fan of the Modern Jazz Quartet and saw the band live in the 1950s, when jazz in the U.S. arguably reached an artistic peak. From left: Percy Heath (double bass), Connie Kay (drums), Milt Jackson (vibes) and John Lewis (piano). (Public domain photo). 

Prop Anon on Twitter: "First time #RobertAntonWilson smoked weed was during the intermission of ModeRn Jazz Quarter show back in the Fiddies in NYC

"The Xylophone never sounded so good."

Eric Wagner also discusses this in An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson. In fact, Eric has a separate entry on the Modern Jazz Quartet in the book's Lexicon section. (I keep a Kindle copy of the book on my smartphone so I can refer to it easily. I'll probably do the same thing when Prop's book comes out.)

Does anyone know if RAW saw any of the 1950s incarnations of Miles Davis' band? 

Wikipedia has a nice entry on the Modern Jazz Quartet. 

Bonus music bit: Nice photo of the MC5 on Twitter, a band mentioned in Illuminatus!

Thursday, June 29, 2023

A bit from Cosmic Trigger


"I was weeding in the garden and a movement in the adjoining cornfield caught my eye. I looked over that way and saw a man with warty green skin and pointy ears, dancing."

~ Robert Anton Wilson, "Cosmic Trigger"

Illustration posted on Twitter by Dr. Richard Waterloo. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Antero Alli meets RAW

In an audio file, about 17 minutes long, Antero Alli describes what it was like to meet Robert Anton Wilson in 1979 in Berkeley, California, and come under RAW's influence.

Hat tip, Prop Anon on Twitter. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Prop Anon, on the new biography, on the F23 podcast


The F23 podcast interviews Prop Anon/Gabriel Kennedy, and I thought it was an interesting listen. The podcast focuses on Prop's upcoming biography of Robert Anton Wilson (due out in November). Topics covered include Illuminatus!, Chapel Perilous, UFOs, synchronicities, Prop's research into Luna Wilson's murderer and the difficulties Prop ran into as he worked for years on the book. I  am convinced we will all learn a lot about Robert Anton Wilson when the book comes out. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

'No Self, No Problem' discussion continues

The online discussion at RAW Semantics over the two No Self, No Problem books by Chris Niebauer. continues, even through the original post went up several weeks ago. I read the first book in the series last week (it was a quick read), put up a comment, and Brian replied.

I thought the book was an enjoyable discussion of Buddhism from the standpoint of neuroscience, with a particular focus on the discussion of "no self." As Brian mentions in his post, the book mentions Korzybski and talks about "belief systems." Most of it seemed like conventional neuropsychology, although Rupert Sheldrake pops up later in the book. 

It's also still not too late to post comments at this blog about Robert Shea's All Things Are Lights.  Thanks to Neil Rest and Rarebit Fiend for their comments. Neil provided some of the inspiration for Simon Moon, see my interview of him. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Antero Alli releases video

 Announcement from Antero Alli, still busy releasing new material while dealing with cancer: "The June 11th Ritual Talk in Portland - on how I discovered and developed the specific methods of the Paratheatre medium I initiated in 1977 - is now on YouTube as a free view."

Saturday, June 24, 2023

The latest from Bobby Campbell

Bobby Campbell was recently revealed as a distant relative of Mark Twain, and as you might expect after getting that news, you'll find he has been prolific and creative. His Summer 2023 newsletter announces a number of projects, many involving comics. There is also a timely reminder that Maybe Day 2023 is coming up on July 23. I knew some of this from following Bobby on Twitter, but it's nice to have it all in one place. 

Friday, June 23, 2023

Hilaritas podcast with Mariana Pinzón

 The latest Hilaritas Press podcast, released today, features Mariana Pinzón.

"In this episode, Mike Gathers chats with Mariana Pinzon on ChaoSurfing the eight circuits of consciousness with color magick."

Official website here. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

John Higgs on AI, and the new edition of the KLF book

John Higgs has issued his latest newsletter, and it includes an essay discussing AI, and how to tell the difference between work that is "authentic" and work that is "genuine."

"When it comes to identifying the genuine in AI, you need to look for the original creative impulse," John suggests. 

There's also a reminder  about the new 10th anniversary edition of The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds.

About the book, I wrote back in 2012:

"It's strange to say that a book about a British pop group is one of the best short introductions to the work of Robert Anton Wilson, but it's also true. JMR Higgs' KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money discusses the group but puts it in the context of the band's biggest influence, the Illuminatus! trilogy and Robert Anton Wilson.

"So it's a pop biography that has lucid explanations of reality tunnels, model agnosticism and Discordian philosophy. I also learned about the history of Ken Campbell's stage production of Illuminatus!"

That's from my intro to my interview with John about the book. 

And about the new edition, John writes, "This will include 13,000 words of footnotes, in which I look back at the book a decade after writing it and try and make some sense of it." The book comes out July 20, following the link to the newsletter to preorder.

Above is a limited edition shirt issued in conjunction with the new edition. It's being issued in a limited edition of 100 shirts, so if you want one, act fast. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

RAW on "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'


Cover of the first U.S. edition of Twain's classic novel. 

[A couple of days ago, I had a blog post which quoted RAW as saying Mark Twain was one of his favorite writers; I complained that I couldn't find much discussion by RAW about Twain. Bobby Campbell, Prop Anon and Eric Wagner all responded. Bobby's comment was the longest, and I want to reproduce it here. The Management.]

A bit of RAW's affection for Twain came out during a discussion I had with him about similarities I found between "The Earth will Shake" & "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" during the Quantum Psychology class.

"No writer ever knows consciously all the influences on his work
but I did know the influence of Portrait of the Artist
on Earth Will Shake

& two others you didn't mention:
Huckleberry Finn by Twain and
Intruder in the Dust by Faulkner

Replace religious bigotry with racism
and you'll see the Mississippi/Napoli parallels"
And then after I confirmed I saw the parallels after re-reading Huckleberry Finn:

"Huck Finn decides that even if hell exists,
he'd rather go there than send Jim back to slavery

the most moving scene in American literature to me;
I can't even write this brief summary of it without tears coming

Siggy makes a similar choice
but I'm not as good a writer as Twain"

Someone on my Dad's side of the family recently did a big expansive genealogy and it turns out I'm very vaguely related to Mark Twain. His 3x grand parents are my 7x grand parents.

I don't put any stock in distant relations like that though, I mean we have 32 3x grand parents, 64 4x grand parents, etc etc, past a certain point everyone might as well be related to everyone else :)))

Tom again: There's an outfit called Standard Ebooks that tries to do definitive editions of public domain books; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the seven Mark Twain ebooks the organization has produced so far. The books are various formats, including the standard ePub format which Amazon's Kindle finally now supports. There are a number of good ebook readers for smart phones; I use Read Era  for my ePub books. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

RAW: You can't read everything

Cormac McCarthy in 1973 (public domain photo)

For the past few weeks, I've been reading many obituaries/articles about Martin Amis and Cormac McCarthy, two prominent literary novelists who recently died. I'm pretty well read with Amis -- I've missed quite a few, but I've also read many of his books, including I think all of the ones that are highly regarded. I have read nothing by McCarthy.

Even if you read a lot -- I read dozens of books a year -- there will always be articles that make you think you aren't well read. After I read Bobby's and Prop's comments to my Mark Twain post, 

There's a place in Prop's 2003 interview that addresses the idea of "Oh, no, I'm not well read after all, I haven't read Cormac McCarthy."

Prop: Have you read Charles Bukowski? What are your impressions of Charles Bukowski both as a poet and a writer?

Wilson: No I have not read Charles Bukowski.

Prop: Never came across any of his books?

Wilson: No. I have lived 71 years, in which there are 365 days in each year, and only 24 hours in each day. My areas of ignorance are absolutely staggering. And I’m more and more aware of that, because my knowledge of most of the subjects I’ve written about is either five years or twenty years out of date now. So, if I ever did another lecture tour, I’d have to spend a month before the tour doing research on-line to try to figure out what is scientific matter that is still accepted.

Prop's interview by the way is quite interesting and you should take a look if you've never read it. And I admit, I've never read Bukowski either. 

Monday, June 19, 2023

Buy a book, watch Robin Ince

"It's Independent Bookshop Week! Buy ANY book from this week and you'll be invited to a live online event with the original Bibliomaniac and all round brilliant supporter of indie bookshops, @robinince. Find out more."

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Mark Twain at age 31. 

From the New Libertarian notes interview

CRNLA: What are your favorite novels, movies, TV shows and music?

RAW: The novels would be, I suppose, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, The Magus by Fowles, The Roots of Heaven by Gary, Don Quixote and anything by Mark Twain. Movies: Intolerance, Broken Blossoms and everything else by David Mark Griffith, Citizen Kane, The Trial, King Kong, 2001. TV: Star Trek and Mary Hartman. Music: Beethoven's Ninth and his late quartets, Bach, Bizet, Carl Orff, Vivaldi, the less popular and more experimental stuff by Stravinsky.

Emphasis mine.

I read a lot of Mark Twain in my youth, including novels and short stories (Letters from the Earth made a big impression on me in my youth.) There is so much about Twain that can be talked about -- his iconoclastic views on religion, his satire, his humor, his important place in American letters. But I can't remember RAW talking about him, even though this interview suggests he read a lot of Twain, too. And it seems to me I don't see much discussion of Twain anywhere. Is there a discussion of Twain in a RAW interview somewhere that I've missed? 

Friday, June 16, 2023

Today is Bloomsday

Today is Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce and Ulysses.

From Adrian Legg on Twitter: "For my @RAWilson23 friends on #Bloomsday2023 

"Dear Bob talks in a lecture about arriving to live in Dublin & recording this on VHS tapes.

"Broadcast in 1982 to celebrate the centenary of Joyce's birth, & totalling 29 hours and 45 minutes in duration."

The Tweet then links to the 29 hour Irish public radio broadcast of Ulysses, which can be streamed or downloaded.

Eric Wagner, by the way, has an upcoming book about James Joyce and Robert Anton Wilson, Straight Outta Dublin, and it will have plenty of insights. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

New podcast features Adam Gorightly


From the Daily Grail: "UFO whistleblower David Grusch made news this week with his claims of alien contact and a government cover-up. 

"We spoke to @AdamGorightly about why it's worth taking Grusch's claims with a grain of salt, due to the long history of military UFO disinfo."

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

I enjoyed the Nick Tharcher podcast

I finally listened to last month's regular episode of the Hilaritas podcast, an interview with Nick Tharcher, the co-founder of New Falcon. An hour and a half long, it's an entertaining episode. Topics covered include alternative forms of psychotherapy, Christopher Hyatt's philosophy of the future, how Tharcher and Hyatt began publishing Robert Anton Wilson, what it's like running a small press that specializes in occult and offbeat topics, Tharcher's philosophy on publishing, upcoming books (there's a new focus on tantra) and Tharcher's efforts to get Antero Alli's final books out quickly. Mike Gathers has a good rapport with Tharcher. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Coming soon: Maybe Day 2023 on July 23


Bobby Campbell has released new artwork, above, to build anticipation for the Maybe Day 2023 celebration he is organizing. New this time is the announcement of his own contribution to the gala event, "A Brief History of the Discordian Revolution."

On Twitter, Steve Pratt says, "I was fortunate to have had a sneaky peek at: 'A brief history of the discordian revolution' by @RGC777 and it may blow your socks off and cause your dentures to pop out!" So I guess the rest of us get to see it soon. 

If you missed Bobby's original Maybe Day announcement, here are some relevant details from Bobby: 

"We will be re-engaging the COSMIC TRIGGER on July 23rd 8:08 AM UTC at

"Let this serve as a clarion call for RAW art, video presentations, writing, and whatever else besides!

"You can either send in your work to be featured on the Maybe Day site itself, and/or submit a link to be added to the NEW TRAJECTORIES WEBRING. (

"The idea is simple: Make something cool • Share it • Explore the others!"

More here, and don't forget that this year's Maybe Day is the 50th anniversary of the Sirius contact described in Cosmic Trigger. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

War on some drugs: Hospitals attack women for eating bagels, lawsuit says

Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey. Creative Commons photo, via

"Two women have filed civil rights complaints against hospitals in Hackensack and Voorhees, alleging workers drug-tested them without their knowledge or consent after they went there to give birth.

"The tests resulted in false positives that prompted both hospitals to alert child welfare authorities, who then monitored each family for months even though there was no evidence of drug use or other wrongdoing, according to separate complaints filed last week ... In both cases, the women had eaten poppy seed bagels before going to the hospital, resulting in false-positive results, according to their complaints. In declaring their test results positive, the hospitals used laboratory levels dramatically lower than federal guidelines recommend, according to the complaints."

More here. 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

2009 obit for 'Illuminatus!' actor John Joyce

Prop Anon, busy working on footnotes for his Robert Anton Wilson biography (due out in November), posts something interesting on Twitter: A 2009 obituary for John Joyce, who played Saul Goodman in the Ken Campbell stage production of Illuminatus!

The last paragraph is interesting: "For the last 10 years of his life, he worked as a dummy patient in doctors' training in London hospitals, work he enjoyed and which paid the rent. He was unlucky in personal relationships and always lived alone, but he was much loved by many friends."

Not sure whether it's safe to use the photo from the Guardian, so I will skip the usual illustration. 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

'Lost' RAW interview released

From radio station KPFA, about 32 minutes long, Robert Anton Wilson  is "interviewed by Richard Wolinsky in February 1983, recorded in a car in the Santa Cruz mountains during a rainstorm. Digitized, remastered and edited in May, 2023."

Hat tips, Steve Pratt and Prop Anon. 

KPFA is located in Berkeley, California, and is a listener supported station, part of the Pacifica Radio Network. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

RAW on virtual reality

Image from RAW Experimental

"Personally, I see the ultimate implications of cybernetic Virtual Reality as a kind of Techno-Zen. When we can change 'realities' as easily as we now change TV channels, the Buddhist 'detachment from fixed ideas' will become an intuitively obvious goal for all, and a goal easily attained."

More here. (The quote is from Cosmic Trigger 2)

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Where RAW got married

Photo by Emily KenCairn of Apiary Studio on Unsplash of a sculpture of Buddha in Kōtoku in  temple in Kamakura, Japan. 

As I've mentioned earlier, Chapel Perilous The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson by Gabriel Kennedy (e.g. Prop Anon) will be out on Nov. 7, published by MIT Press and Strange Attractor. More here You can preorder it. 

Prop has been teasing the book by putting out articles and social media posts and I liked this bit on Twitter, where Prop writes, "This is the Buddhist Church in New York City that Bob and Arlen Wilson were married in."

The church in question is the New York Buddhist Church, which follows the Pure Land tradition of Buddhism. The church is part of the Buddhist Churches of America denomination. 

One of my favorite RAW books. Cosmic Trigger 2, describes the wedding at the end of the book. Pure Land Buddhism is native to Japan and is described in Robert Shea's Shike books. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Podcast on the new Hilaritas book about cannabis

This is an interview that seems to be in Mike Gathers' wheelhouse and I thought it was worth a listen. As I mentioned recently, Hilaritas has just published Sebastián Marincolo's book, Elevated: Cannabis As a Tool for Mind Enhancement. 

Some of the topics of conversation: What desirable states can be enhanced with cannabis and cannabis as an underrated tool for therapy (underrated in comparison with mushrooms and LSD). (As Michael Johnson remarks here, cannabis seems to be promising as a way to help people with autism.) Michael wrote a foreword for the book, another reason to buy it. 

I was struck by Marincolo's comment that he had to give up his career in academia to pursue serious cannabis research. The website for the podcast has useful links. 

Monday, June 5, 2023

News from the Emperior Norton Trust

From the Emperior Norton Trust in San Francisco: "NEW RESEARCH — Evidence suggesting that an Emperor Norton statuette sculpted in 1877 was a fixture in San Francisco saloons — and that the Emperor himself had a copy in his apartment."

Here is the full article. 

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Jesse Walker on a new book about Henry George

Henry George. the author of Progress and Poverty, is mentioned by Robert Anton Wilson in a number of places. For example, in the essay "Left and Right: A Non-Euclidian Perspective," reprinted in Email to the Universe, Wilson writes, "I am still fond of the system of Henry George (in which no rent is allowed, but free enterprise is otherwise preserved);" (Others describe George by saying he favored only one kind of tax, a tax on land ownership.) 

Jesse Walker has a short review up at Reason magazine on a new book about George, Land and Liberty by  Georgetown University historian Christopher William England.

The book shows George's influence on a wide variety of people, Walker says: "In the early 20th century, George's followers found homes in a host of progressive reform movements and progressive-run governments. But other followers—sometimes the same followers—helped create contemporary libertarianism."

ln the usual absurd academic press fashion, even the ebook version unfortunately is quite expensive, about $55, but I guess you can get it at the library if you can't afford it. 

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Kaija Saariaho has died

Yesterday, when I was out and about, I noticed that a prominent modern classical composer had died: Kaija Saariaho, who is from Finland bur lived much of his life in France. Here is the New York Times obituary.

One of her operas, Only the Sound Remains, was inspired by Japanese Noh drama and based on texts translated by Ezra Pound. I have listened to quite a bit of Saariaho's music. My favorite work of hers was Oltra Mar, which describes a sea voyage. But the New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe, who I guess does not agree with me, did not include it in his list of "11 Essential Works."  Hat tip to Eric Wagner, for pointing out the Ezra Pound connection to me. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

Podcast on Timothy Leary

I don't have time for a long blog post today, so this will be brief: Above is the "Art of Darkness"  podcast on Timothy Leary, more than four hours long; I missed it when it first aired in November. I'm going to try to listen to it after I finish the two most recent Hilaritas Press podcasts. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Psychedelics news

Robert Anton Wilson's belief that the government should not halt research into the use of psychedelics obviously has held up rather well; I can't link to all of the available articles, such as this one about psilocybin being used to treat depression, there are just too many. But here are a couple of things that surprised me:

The California state Senate  has voted to legalize natural psychedelics in a bill that now moves to the California House, e.g. psilocybin mushrooms yes, LSD no. Peyote also is left out, "in response to concerns raised by advocates and indigenous groups regarding the cacti being over-harvested." It sounds like this bill maybe will be enacted into law. More details  here. 

Also see this Tweet from Graham Hancock: "Volunteers in the extended-state DMT project (DMTx) at Imperial College, London, speak out publicly for the first time about their encounters with seemingly intelligent entities under the influence of DMT..." 

The Tweet has a link to a YouTube video. I don't know what to make of it, but doesn't it sound reminiscent of a certain book?