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

Monday, July 31, 2023

Check out Disco Road

Disco Road 3 is a zine (23 pages long) and a podcast (23 minutes long) from Leigh Wright, available here.  The zine, which I read today, has a  contribution from the Discordian archives from Adam Gorightly, two pieces from Brenton Clutterbuck, and a poem by Jo Fremming. See also the Disco Road special for Maybe Day. 

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Gregory Arnott on the 'Lion of Light' editors

[Editor's note: Gregory Arnott has contributed a number of pieces to this blog and also blogs at Jechidah. His afterword, "Enduring Magickal Biography," appears in the new Robert Anton Wilson book, Lion of Light. 

This might be a good time to mention the Maybe Day 2023 contributions of the editors Gregory mentions. "The Hermetic Transmission of Francois Rabelais," is by Oz Fritz. Mike Gathers interviewed Ivan Stang for the latest Hilaritas Press podcast, and also wrote "Unplugging from the Matrix."  Iain Spence wrote "The Mystery of the Two New Tarot Trumps." Rasa did much of the work for the cover, above, and wrote the Maybe Day newsletter issued by Hilaritas Press. For more Maybe Day goodies, please see Bobby Campbell's Maybe Day page.  -- The Management.]

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

Earlier this week, the most beautiful woman in the world asked me if I thought there'd be backlash to the obvious environmental and ethical good of so-called laboratory meat. "Of course," I replied. "There's far too much money at stake for there to be no manufactured controversy. One mustn't only think of the individual factory farmers who will spew whatever lies necessary to keep their business going, but of the lobbyists who work on the behalf of the antibiotics and pen manufacturers. The people who make the bolts and troughs. The business is so complex and threatens enough wealth that there will naturally be all sorts of heinous lies to impede progress." In a world where people believe that 5G causes COVID-19 and vaccinations cause autism, one should expect pushback, collected and concerted backlash, to any new idea. Especially one that threatens pocket books. 

I have a penchant for using negative definition whilst I preamble. I find that, while I have no interest in the gross and pathetic philosophical idea of the metaphysical/epistemological necessity of opposites, it does help to make sense of purely human matters. So, now that we have seen the inverse, allow me to open, for a moment, a window into the obverse. Many of the readers of this blog will soon hold in their hands the posthumous work Lion of Light by Robert Anton Wilson, concerning Aleister Crowley. Tom and Rasa have already dutifully recounted the gestalt process of securing the core manuscript for the book and the group effort that went into it. I wish to give a privy glance at the level of cooperation and labor that went into the book you shall soon enjoy reading. I wish to show a conspiracy of beneficence and zeal, pursued without financial incentive. 

I wrote a small piece for this volume, with the editorial advice and guidance of Mike Gathers and Richard Rasa. That isn't my concern here, although I thank the gentlemen, and especially Tom and Oz Fritz, for their thoughts and feedback. My concern is an email thread, wherein I was able to see the everyday workings that led to the publication (soon-to-be) in your hands. Tom has told you of the discovery, I can attest to the the brushstrokes and small strikes that led to the exhumation/excavation of this document from the grasp of tyrant-time. 

Because of some typos in my essay, I was added onto the editorial email thread of the book. I don't know if I was meant to be there after the initial matter, but I can only express my gratitude that I was. After Mike Gathers' careful stewardship of the formation of the volume, a band of copyeditors carefully parsed the works therein, informing and receiving feedback from Rasa concerning every little matter they discovered. Reader, know that every line before you when you crack the cover was considered, debated and discussed in a manner that I imaginarily ascribe to the scholars and priests that assembled the King James Bible. Such delicate care and dedication was displayed by Oz Fritz, Iain Spence and Michael Johnson that I couldn't help but feel I was seeing the excellence in humanity during its assemblage. Oz utilized his ambulatory knowledge of magical theory and Michael his unique philosophy to examine each line, Iain is evidently a master of the English language and combed over each passage with the fervor of a man possessed. All incorporated their passion for Robert Anton Wilson, shared by Rasa and Gathers and many others reading this in a earnest drive to preserve and pass on a piece of our collective history. 

Too often, we can be dismissed as mere "fans," but there is so much to that title. Caesar didn't conquer Gaul alone, and our Grand Old Man didn't see this work published during his lifetime. Now, thanks to his daughter, Christina, his friends who both knew and never met him...all fans, we have a missing piece of his corpus. I envy the future young students who will have this work alive as a possibility of study, but I also envy no one, for I was "there," in a sense to see its making. These efforts should be known and lauded. Thank you to everyone involved. As Robert DeNiro's anarchist-plumber in Brazil would say: "We're all in it together." It's good to see the truth of that statement outside of fiction. 

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Five questions for the 'Lion of Light' team


As part of my coverage of the important new Robert Anton Wilson book, Lion of Light, I posed five questions to members of the editorial team who worked on it: Rasa, R. Michael Johnson, Chad Nelson, Mike Gathers and Oz Fritz. I hope you enjoy my interview -- Tom. 

RAWILLUMINATION: Lion of Light has a long "lost" essay, plus six  other RAW pieces. None of it has been reprinted before in a Robert Anton Wilson book, correct?

OZ FRITZ: Yes, that is correct, Tom. Nothing in Lion of Light has appeared in another Robert Anton Wilson book.

Rasa with his sitar.  He runs operations for the RAW Trust and Hilaritas Press but also is a musician. 

RAWILLUMINATION: This may be a Rasa question: Why didn't this RAW book from Hilaritas use the usual cover artist?

RASA: Our cover designer, Scott McPherson retired. The pandemic and other life issues were a real challenge, like for many people, and he decided he needed to move his focus elsewhere. We parted on good terms, and he even helped out a couple times when I asked for his expert opinion since then. I’m just thrilled that he was able to do the vast majority of our covers up until now. His work was simply fantastic, in my less than humble opinion. 

I plan on writing a post or maybe a blog post at Hilaritas Press about the new Lion of Light cover. I did add an addendum (approved by the book’s editors) at the end of the book about one part of our cover decisions. The new Lion of Light cover was primarily created by me, with the help of Templedweller who stroked the AI, but all of the editors had a hand in making the final decision.

Chad Nelson

RAWILLUMINATION: Is this book of general interest to RAW fans, as opposed to people with a specific interest in Aleister Crowley? 

CHAD NELSON:  I was just thinking as I was reading it today that even if you know or have little interest in Crowley, you’ll still enjoy most of the classic Wilson themes: perception psychology, unorthodox thought and the social hysteria that results, mysticism and occult teachings, and tie-ins to other RAW favorites like Reich, Jung, Korzybski, et al. It’s less a Crowley biography than an analysis of his life and times through the typical Wilsonian lens.

It seems like understanding Crowley is pretty crucial to understanding Wilson. Until reading this volume, I didn’t realize just how influential Crowley appears to have been on RAW. I found myself on many occasions thinking, “ahhh, that’s where RAW gets that from…”

One of my favorite RAW essays, the short story that comes at the end of the new Natural Law edition, is largely just a fictionalized version of Crowley’s life. That was a surprise!

R. MICHAEL JOHNSON: Good points, Chad: RAW of course chews, swallows and digests all things Crowley and pretty much the history of magick and esotericism...then proceeds by incorporating all of it into his Wider Project. RAW seems to be an inexhaustible goldmine for any Generalist.

 I do think the book is of interest to both RAW and Crowley fans, and I base this assertion only on my experience with fans of both writers (lotsa overlap): readers who have abiding interests in either writer are not fly-by-night "fans": they seem sorta weird, extreme, and studious to me. Or maybe I'm projecting, 'cuz I'm weird and extreme in these things. I think the embedded, original BOOK BY ROBERT ANTON WILSON, "Do What Thou Wilt," is worth the price of admission itself. 

All praise be to Richard Kaczynski and Lon Milo Duquette for their imprimatur, too. Finally, I have to mention that I derived pleasure and knowledge from the original essays by Oz Fritz and Greg Arnott.

RASA: Hopefully the editors will say something about this, but from my perspective, as someone who is a good case study for your question… I was never a real fan of Crowley. I’ve read a couple of his books and liked them, and I always found him intriguing, but I never went much further, unlike a good number of RAW fans who either really love the guy or really hate the guy (we’ve had a couple of complaints about the title of the book from Crowley haters!). For me, it was a wonderful introduction and thorough investigation into Crowley. It’s all typical RAW writing, so always entertaining while informing. Just like RAW tackles any subject from Korzybski to Joyce, he always broadens the topic so that you see the connections to other areas of study. Also noteworthy are the other non-RAW essays in the book. All of them are great on their own. Michael Johnsons’s “23 Riffs” is a mind-bending excursion that is not to be missed!

OZ FRITZ: People who want to learn more about RAW should read Lion of Light. The centerpiece, "Do What Thou Wilt", was written in roughly the same era as Illuminatus!, Cosmic Trigger 1, Starseed Signals and Prometheus Rising. It reveals a different angle to him during that period. Lion of Light also demonstrates the development of his writing beginning from the very early piece taken from the Realist, to the later pieces following "Do What Thou Wilt." My essay gives a perspective on RAW near the end of his career when he taught the Crowley 101 online course at the Maybe Logic Academy. Michael Johnson's piece looks at a lot of science adjacent to RAW, Crowley and consciousness research. It's a wealth of knowledge on its own. Gregory Arnott's piece seems meta in some ways by looking at the dialectic of truth and fiction found in any biography as well as the truth and fiction found in the personas of Aleister Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson. Subtle, and not so subtle humor is found in all of RAW's pieces and in Johnson and Arnott's essays. Sometimes it cracks me up. There is leg-pulling going on at times that can challenge the reader's gullibility or skepticism. But not to worry, RAW brings up the concept of a bullshit detector at the beginning of his Introduction to the Regardie book. 

Robert Anton Wilson and Michael Johnson, Feb. 18, 2003, in Wilson's apartment.

RAWILLUMINATION: I have the impression the team that worked on this book thought it was an important addition to the RAW canon, does that describe your mental approach to it?

R. MICHAEL JOHNSON: This (short) book (Do What Thou Wilt) by RAW seems stunning to me, for many reasons, but one is this: He only really got into Crowley around 36-40 (or so) months before he wrote this: I don't think I'll ever come to grips with this, just another example of RAW's astounding erudition. When he decided something was worth studying, he pushed pedal to metal and never let up. Not only does he read everything available by Uncle Al, but seemingly everything by Kenneth Grant, Israel Regardie, all the bios, the "reception" of Crowley , including the Yellow Press, etc. He even strikes up friendship and correspondence with people like Regardie, Grady McMurtry, etc. And, of course, he learns, practices, and DOES the magick. Frankly? I'm still stunned at this. I don't know why, 'cuz we've all seen it before, but man o man! "Do What Thou Wilt" runs itself to something like 86 pages, and it already stands as one of the best books on Crowley, albeit RAW didn't have access to all other scholarly sources, as academia didn't become interested in Crowley until around 1990. There's not a dull passage in RAW's book.

RASA: From the moment we learned about, and I read, the “Harvard doc” as we came to call the manuscript “Do What Thou Wilt,” I knew we had something very special and unique. Like The Starseed Signals explored Leary in detail, and Quantum Psychology and other books described Korzybski’s work, and Coincidance began an in-depth look at Joyce, as such a major influence on RAW, a Crowley book was certainly a welcome part of the canon. 

Audio engineer and music producer Oz Fritz in a recording studio. 

RAWILLUMINATION: Let's say someone is a pretty strong RAW fan, who owns Iluminatus! and Cosmic Trigger and Prometheus Rising, but doesn't have a bookshelf groaning under the weight of every single Robert Anton Wilson book. Why should that person add Lion of Light?

R. MICHAEL JOHNSON:  That person should obtain and read (closely and deliberately) Lion of Light because the aspect of lighting out for the internal provinces  and tinkering with your own neurochemistry set and any Entities encountered are themes of both Cosmic Trigger vol 1 and Prometheus Rising. Crowley is lurking all over, in, around and through Illuminatus!. If anything, Lion Of Light will bring out the contours of magick as it appears in the previous books. To bold relief. And it ought to fuel wonder and the desire to know more.

What I particularly love about RAW's reading of Crowley: it seems like one viable way to frame magick is as a branch of American pragmatism, made cosmopolitan. This would be a minority opinion, no doubt. But RAW brings it down to earth enough it feels like maybe the entire corpus of Crowleyan magick (and adjacent branches, like Gardnerian Wicca) are DIY self-help in a sense that mainstream publishers, who make scads of dough of the "self-help" genre, have not, and probably will not, see. But we do!

OZ FRITZ: Anyone interested in RAW should have this in their bookshelf because reading it will make them smarter. Reading it a second time will make them even smarter, etc. This is one of those books that can be read multiple times and serve up something new and different each time. I find this book to be a good example of synergy, the whole appears way more than the sum of its parts or contents. And that includes the short notes by Mike Gathers and Rasa that serve as the alpha and omega of Lion of Light. It can also make people smarter not only with knowledge, but in their state of being as there are many suggestions, allusions and direct instructions for how to practically apply the techniques given. This book could have been called Magick in Theory and Practice but that title was already taken.

People who are interested in the Crowley movement will discover new information that doesn't exist anywhere else, to my knowledge, in the Duquette and Kaczynski pieces relative to the importance of RAW introducing people to Crowley.

MIKE GATHERS: Paraphrasing from the end of my editors note:  In the citations or whatsoever they are called in the back of Cosmic Trigger, Leary and Crowley stand above all else by an order of magnitude.   With Starseed we have a book on Leary.  Now we have a book on Crowley.   RAW presents Crowley as far more than a magician.   He presents a multidimensional being with a fluid personality.   It's a different take on Crowley than almost everyone else as far as I can tell.  

[And here is what Mike Gathers wrote in the Editor's Note, which is worth quoting as an answer to my question: "When brain storming topics to cover for the Hilaritas Podcast, I once scanned the index of Cosmic Trigger 1 for the most cited topics, and found that Timothy Leary and Aleister Crowley stood an order of magnitude above all the rest. Bob loved Tim, and Bob loved Uncle Al." 

The Maybelogues 2023 roundtable discussion

I am home sick with a cold, and like the people who watch TV when they are sick, I have been watching the 2023 Maybelogues video posted by Bobby Campbell at, and also available above. It's two hours and thirty minutes long, It begins with Bobby as host and guests Eric Wagner, Toby Philpott, Brenton Clutterbuck, Oz Fritz and Eva David, and then later on, Richard Waterloo and Prop Anon join in. Some of the topics include Gilles Deleuze, UFOs, AI, crop circles, a book called The Stargate Conspiracy, how RAW can help us stay sane in a time of uncertainty, biographies of Timothy Leary, how "marijuana consciousness" has influenced he world, how Bobby realized that his job as a art teacher was a way to do good for the world, 

For more Maybe Day 2023 offerings, see Bobby's website. 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Two new podcasts to check out



While I have more exclusive coverage coming soon for the new Robert Anton Wilson book, Lion of Light, a couple of new podcasts seem worth mentioning.

On July 23, Maybe Day, Hilaritas Press released a new podcast featuring the Rev. Ivan Stang of the Church of the Subgenius. I have it posted above, but the Hilaritas podcasts are widely available on various podcasting apps. About an hour and twenty minutes long.

Also, Douglas Rushkoff features Prop Anon/Gabriel Kennedy on the latest Team Human podcast, talking about the upcoming RAW biography, about an  hour and 30 minutes long. The link will get you there, but it's also widely available on podcasting apps. On X, formerly Twitter, Prop writes, "Had a Blast talking with Douglas Rushkoff on his  @teamhumanshow podcast about Robert Anton Wilson and my upcoming biography 'Chapel Perilous'."

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Martin Wagner's big RAW discovery: 'Actually I found it three times'

Martin Wagner (image from Hilaritas Press website). 

Martin Wagner initiated the project that resulted in the new RAW book, Lion of Light, when he located Robert Anton Wilson's lost essay, "Do What Thou Wilt," in the Harvard University library; he emailed Jesse Walker and I about his find, and I posted about it here and told Rasa.

(To be clear, that discussion was initiated on Sept. 3 last  year by Jesse Walker, who told Martin and I in an email that he'd found part of the "lost" essay at the Internet Archive. Martin replied that he knew about that, but added, "Meanwhile, the (only existing?) Do what thou wilt : an introduction to Aleister Crowley typescript incl. a letter to Herb Roseman arrived at the Harvard Library."  We were talking about finding someone to physically go over to the Harvard library and look at the manuscript, and I wrote, "Or maybe I should tell Rasa, and he will contact Harvard on behalf of the RAW Trust, which would hold the rights?" Jesse replied, "It would be good to let Rasa know anyway -- and I'll bet they'd have the best chance of persuading Harvard to copy it for them." I then wrote to Rasa on Sept. 6 last year, sharing our discussion so far, and Rasa immediately got to work.)

But Martin had been on the trail of the work for years; when I asked for his account of finding it, he said, "Actually I found it three times." 

Martin also helped with the production of the Lion of Light book by sending over a list of other RAW pieces that discuss Crowley.

I wrote to  him asking to find out more about his discovery. Here is his account:

"Actually I found it three times, firstly in 2018 in a LAShTAL (a forum devoted to AC) thread from 2007, after RAW passed away:

I have been looking through boxes of Gordon Press oddities that I had recieved from Herb(the man behind the rebel press) for a copy of Mr. Wilson's piece he had written on Crowley and sent to Herb for possible printing it via the Gordon Press.

"I informed Rasa, Jesse and you, Jesse's reply:

That "Herb" would be Herb Roseman, who was slated to publish three Wilson books back around 1969/70 that did not materialize.

"But the LAShTAL user who posted this wasn't active anymore.

"A few years later I came across it on the website of Weiser Antiquarian Books, a bookshop for rare, secondhand, and out-of-print books on comparative religion, mysticism, and the occult, which I checked from time to time:

"Last year I searched for the title and found it via Google on worldcat:

"Later that year, I was asked if I had more Crowley material and sent a list of essays and digitized book forwewords & intros which were used in Lion of Light." The email was sent to Mike Gathers, Michael Johnson, Oz Fritz, Rasa and others. 

Here is last year's blog post on the third discovery that launched the new book. 

See also my 2018 blog post. 

And see my 2018 post on "Missing RAW books," which mentions five books, including Starseed Signals. Hilaritas  has done a good job in dealing with this. 

Here is Martin's website (you can click for an English version). 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The new RAW book, "Lion of Light'


Hilaritas Press chose Maybe Day on Sunday, the 50th anniversary of the original Maybe Day, to announce the release of Lion of Light, a collection of Robert Anton Wilson's writings about Aleister Crowley.

You can read the official announcement (posted at the to right of this page). I bought the book the first day it was officially available, and here are some of the things I can tell you:

 • It publishes a long essay by Robert Anton Wilson, Do What Thou Wilt,  discovered in the Harvard University library by Martin Wagner, and also collects other pieces about Crowley written by RAW. It's a good-sized collection of Wilson's writings, and none of it has appeared in any of Wilson's previous books.

• While Hilaritas Press usually tries to add useful supplementary material to its Wilson editions, it seems to have taken particular care this time in selecting and adding companion pieces. The edition includes  a foreword by Richard Kaczynski (author of the Crowley biography Perdurabo, currently on sale as a cheap Kindle) and an introduction by Lon Milo DuQuette,  the occult scholar and author of books such as The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema. 

• Also, the book includes pieces by Gregory Arnott and Oz Fritz, two prominent Robert Anton Wilson who have read much of Crowley's writings, much of RAW's writings, and likely all of the available biographies of Crowley.

• And also, there is a good-sized piece by the prominent RAW scholar R. Michael Johnson, "23 Riffs on Robert Anton Wilson, Aleister Crowley, Psychedelics, Intuition and Everyday Metaphysics."

• And in addition to all of that, an "Editor's Note" by Mike Gathers describes how the book was put together by an editorial team of Chad Nelson, Oz Fritz, Michael Johnson and Mike Gathers. a "Publisher's Notes" on that team, and a piece by Richard Rasa on the cover, created by Jimmy Templedweller with use of AI. 

I won't even try to describe the photos the editors found; I'll keep them as a surprise for people who buy the book. 

Lion of Light seems to me to be an important book in the Hilaritas catalog, and I will have more about it soon. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

More on Maybe Day

Yesterday, I was still at Confluence in Pittsburgh; for Maybe Day, I posted my announcement of the upcoming Robert Shea ebook (which I forgot to say I am assembling with the permission of Mike Shea, his literary executor), put on my old Boing Boing RAW t-shirt, and spent a third day at the convention. I interviewed Ada Palmer, and I should be posting that interview soon, and also should soon be posting a convention report.  

I'll do a separate blog post Tuesday on the release of Lion of Light, the new Robert Anton Wilson book on Aleister Crowley that has just been released by Hilaritas Press. But here are some other Maybe Day releases you might have missed.

First of all, when I  finally logged back onto Twitter to get an idea of what I had missed, I was surprised and grateful to see that Bobby Campbell had created an artwork, seen above,  to promote my blog! Thank you so much Bobby!

There's a lot of goodies at Bobby's Maybe Day site, please check it out. Don't miss Bobby's piece, "Living in a RAW World," tracing the influence of Discordian ideas. The illustrations Bobby comes up with are great.  I kind of want to "borrow" a bunch of them for this blog. And Bobby, although it's true that the Steve Jackson Games version of the Illuminati conspiracy irritated RAW, Robert Shea apparently was fine with it and even wrote a short piece for one of the editions of the game. 

I will be exploring some of the other Maybe Day material Bobby links to, as time allows.

One of Brian Dean's new images for Maybe Day 2023. Source. 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Happy Maybe Day!

Bobby Campbell's illustration for Maybe Day. 

Today is Maybe Day, the annual holiday for fans of Robert Anton Wilson. It is moreover, as many have pointed out, the 50th anniversary of July 23, 1973, when RAW thought that, just maybe, he had been contracted by beings from Sirius, an incident that is part of the narrative of Cosmic Trigger. 

I am using today to announce that I am working on an ebook collecting short nonfiction pieces by Robert Shea, Wilson's Illuminatus! collaborator, and interviews of Shea. I have a working title, Every Day Is a GOOD Day, and I think I am pretty far along. I have about 50,000 words so far. I don't know when it will be finished, but I hope completion will be sooner, rather than later. While I have generally received good cooperation, I have not been able to get in touch with the folks at Playboy to get permission to reprint Shea pieces that have appeared there. If anyone has any suggestions, please advise. 

I am currently attending ConFluence, a science fiction connvention in Pittsburgh which stars Ada Palmer, one of my favorite writers, as the guest of honor. Gregory Arnott and his wife, Adie, also are here. 

As I am still busy with the convention, I won't  have much time for awhile to look for Maybe Day celebrations on the Internet. But I have a few suggestions. Be sure to go to the Maybe Day website of Bobby Campbell, who has organized Maybe Day activities for four years now.  I am expecting new material at the RAW Semantics website.  If you are doing something today that Bobby has not publicized, please mention it in the comments. I am not intentionally ignoring anyone, and will do my best to get caught up, today and tomorrow. 

Update: The new Robert Anton Wilson book about Aleister Crowley, Lion of Light, has been released. A new Hilaritas Press podcast has been released featuring Ivan Stang (of Church of the Subgenius fame). Details here. 

Saturday, July 22, 2023

The artist known as Cosmic Trigger


I confess to not knowing until a few days ago that there is a musician named Jamie Grashion who records under the artist name Cosmic Trigger. You can visit his Soundcloud page, the artist bio reads, "Cosmic Trigger is a young innovative producer with a penchant for psychedelic sound design with oodles of studio experience with the likes of Shpongle, Hollie Cook, The Orb, Jesus & The Mary Chain and many more."

See also this useful interview from earlier this year, where he is asked about the name: "The name Cosmic Trigger came from a Robert Anton Wilson book of the same name, one of the things he is best known for is his involvement in the Discordian movement. Discordianism can either be described as a joke pretending to be a religion or a religion pretending to be a joke, I enjoy embracing the ambiguity of life which perhaps makes its way into my music."

Friday, July 21, 2023

Famed hacker Kevin Mitnick has died


Kevin Mitnick. (Creative Commons photo, source)

As there is considerable interest in Robert Anton Wilson among computer hackers/computer geeks, I thought I should record here that the famous computer hacker Kevin Mitnick has died. The New York Times obituary seems fair; while not minimizing any of the things he did, it also notes that "no evidence emerged that Mr. Mitnick used the files he had stolen for financial gain."

The obituary, written by Alex Traub, is quite  interesting and I urge you to read it. Here is one paragraph: "Mr. Mitnick’s most spectacular crimes were his attempts to evade capture by the authorities. In 1993, he gained control of phone systems in California that enabled him to wiretap the F.B.I. agents pursuing him and confuse their efforts to track him. At one point they raided what they thought was Mr. Mitnick’s home, only to find there a Middle Eastern immigrant watching TV."

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Prop Anon's dedication to his RAW biography

Prop Anon has had to spend less time and energy on his music career so that he could work on the RAW bio. (Photo from

On Twitter, @RAWSemantics poses a question: "Just dawned on me that @PropAnon's forthcoming book will be first ever #RobertAntonWilson biography published. How did it take so long (historically, I mean)? In any case, an auspicious event."

Robert Anton Wilson died in 2007, more than 16 years ago, as Prop (e.g. Gabriel Kennedy, the byline under which the upcoming biography will be published in February 2024) noted in his reply. (Of course, Eric Wagner wrote An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, which I purchased in two formats and carry around on my phone for ready access, but it's not a biography per se, more like a very well-informed reader's guide for people who want to know more about RAW's ideas. Note that if you buy Eric's book, you will want to buy the 2020 revised edition.)

Here are  some  suggested answers to the question Brian raises:

1. Doing a serious biography of someone is no easy task; it takes a lot of work if someone is going to step up to the plate. Prop has put about seven years of work into this book, largely putting aside other ventures important to him, such as his music career. He really deserves a lot of credit. 

2. As much as we love him, RAW is not an author who sells a huge number of books. So it's not like publishers were beating the bushes for a biography.

3. While RAW is a cult author with a dedicated following, he's not somebody who commands a large following in academia. There's little incentive for an academic press to  seek a book about him, or for a college professor to burnish his resume by writing such a book. 

4. While many authors with a reasonable sense of self worth are careful to make sure their literary papers are preserved in a university library, Wilson (and Robert Shea) did a remarkably poor job of preserving their literary papers (manuscripts, correspondence with other authors and publishers and editors, etc.). Prop's job would have been a lot easier if he could have gone through a big collection of RAW papers at a university library.

When publication of the book comes closer, I plan to ask Prop about his research for the book.

I wish I  had a book cover for the upcoming bio I could  post, but it hasn't been released yet. Of course, you will see it here when it becomes available. 

Addendum: When I raised point #4 on Twitter, Prop wrote, "And Tom, you are correct tho. Chasing down RAW archives from many different Special Collections Libraries took a lotta time.

"But also taking lots of Time was me Surviving while being without an apartment for 3 years and counting.

"I may have finished quicker if I had an apartment."

This seems to underscore my point that Prop deserves credit for not giving up until the task was completed. I ran across an interview with Peter Gabriel some time ago in which the singer said that an important part of success is persistence. And in fact RAW makes much the same point in Cosmic Trigger 2, one of my favorites of his books. 

Update: My original headline for this post asked why the RAW biography took so long. I was referring to Brian's question, but Prop feels this is kind of a backhanded compliment.  (I was trying to praise Prop's work ethic, not question it!) As I don't want to be misunderstood, I have changed my  headline. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

More than 4,000 JFK assassination documents secret or censored


President John Kennedy arrives in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.. (Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

President Joe Biden  has issued a final order on a 1992 law requiring the release of documents on the John Kennedy assassination, the New York Times reports. But more than 4,000 documents remain secret, according to the article, written by NY Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker.

Baker writes that 99 percent of the documents that have been reviewed have been disclosed, but more than 4,000 have not been completely released, although that's only partially Biden's fault.

 "But 2,140 documents remain fully or partially withheld as a result of Mr. Biden’s action, officials said, while another 2,502 remain withheld for reasons outside the president’s purview, like court-ordered seals, grand jury secrecy rules, tax privacy limits or restrictions imposed by people who donated papers, and 42 for a mix of both," he writes.

In the article, skeptic Jefferson Morley and Oswald-did-it author Gerald Posner are both quoted as saying that it's finally time to release anything.

On Twitter, Jesse Walker writes, "Here's something I don't get to say every day: I agree with both Jefferson Morley and Gerald Posner."

Monday, July 17, 2023

James Joyce ebook on sale

I usually check Amazon's monthly deals for ebooks, and I noticed a book on sale for July that might interest some of you.

The Last Words of James Joyce by James Broderick is a new novel, here is part of the publisher's description: "A disgruntled Community College professor who loves literature but loathes his students. A homicide detective who takes her inspiration from Patti Smith' s punk period. A cult of Christian zealots who livestream actual crucifixions. And a writer of porn movies whose career does not have a happy ending. All of them connected by a lost manuscript written by one of the twentieth century' s greatest writers. (That is, if it exists.)At the heart of this multi-faceted narrative is Lucia Joyce, James Joyce' s daughter and muse, a brilliant and visionary woman whose life remained shadowed by the specter of madness. Was she the recipient of her father' s last masterwork?" Manhattan Book Review said, "“This fascinating novel goes beyond just outrageous characters and a fun storyline. Broderick delves into the life of Lucia Joyce, making this book an entertaining mystery with a dash of historic fiction.” The Kindle is on sale for $2.99.  The ebook is NOT on sale at the Barnes and Noble website. 

As "James F. Broderick," Broderick is the author of several books, including James Joyce: A Literary Companion (McFarland Literary Companions, 17). Here is his faculty page. 

Perdurabo, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski also is on sale as a $1.99 ebook.   See this discussion when it was previously on sale. 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Jules Evans on RAW's Chapel Perilous

In an essay which was published last year but which I missed, "Robert Anton Wilson on how to integrate weird experiences," writer Jules Evans reflects on Robert Anton Wilson's experiences in Chapel Perilous. (It was published at Medium, and you will have to log in with a free Medium account to read it.)

Evans reads Erik Davis' book, High Weirdness, about Terence McKenna, Philip K. Dick and Wilson, and they went through.

"All of them had spiritual experiences in the 1970s which were extremely messy, quasi-psychotic and baffling, so baffling that they came back to them again and again, trying to make sense of them for the rest of their lives," Evans writes.

"It seems to me that, of the three freak prophets, Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) emerges from his weird experience best, because he is best able to go on with his life. The other two seem to me to have become frozen in their epiphanies, unable to integrate them and carry on productively with their lives, and also to have become captured by rather lurid explanations of them," he writes.

Much of what Evans writes will seem familiar, but he comes to some interesting conclusions of his own, and relates an anecdote about the Illuminatus! play I had not encountered before. 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

The 'Illuminatus!' candidate

Robert Kennedy Jr (Creative Commons photo by Gage Skidmore).

 RFK Jr. says COVID was ‘ethnically targeted’ to spare Jews. 

On Twitter, Richard Hanania sarcastically comments, "RFK suspects covid was created to spare Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese. Presumably it still kills Mizrahi Jews. 

"Maybe those who engineered the virus wanted to improve our test scores? 

"Finally, a politician asking the tough questions."

Reason magazine did an interesting interview. 

Friday, July 14, 2023

One of RAW's editors has died

Peter Beren

Publisher's Weekly reports the death of Peter Beren, 75, on June 28. 

"Beren began his career in 1976 as an editor with the San Francisco indie publisher And/Or Books, but was best known for his work at Sierra Club Books, which he joined in 1988 as marketing director, and where he rose to the position of publisher, which he held until his departure in 1997," the obit says. 

It also says, "During his 'retirement career,' which he wrote about for PW in 2014, Beren continued to champion Bay Area figures, working with such talent as photographers Art Wolfe, Frans Lanting, Galen Rowell, and Baron Wolman, as well as scholars Ralph Metzner, Colin Wilson, and Robert Anton Wilson (no relation)."

The Wikipedia article on And/Or Press says that the publisher put out two Robert Anton Wilson books, The Illuminati Papers (1980) and Right Where You Are Sitting Now: Further Tales of the Illuminati (1982). 

Beren's official page lists books he has written, including More True Than Strange: Collected Writing 1968-2018. The book's description includes this sentence: "Meet Gurus like Karmu, the Black Christ of Cambridge, Timothy Leary and his sometime collaborator, Robert Anton Wilson, musicians like the Incredible String Band and Canned Heat, or some of the famous chefs, like Alice Waters and Bruce Aidells, who started the Foodie Movement."

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Conspiracy theories that were true

Richard Nixon

On Twitter, Jesse Walker and others on conspiracy theories that turned out to be true.

As there are people who don't have access  to Twitter, here is a summary with links:

Jesse Walker: "People debate whether it's fully proven, but this may be the clearest-cut case of a story that was described as a conspiracy theory when I first encountered it and now has mainstream historians endorsing it:

@ValoisDuBins: "Operation Gladio is about the only one I can think of. It arguably stands as the exception that proves the rule." (Includes stuff RAW wrote about).

Miguel Madeira: "The death of the Portuguese Prime Minister Sá Carneiro have being an assassination? It is not 100% established, but today is ab hypotheses much more accepted in the mainstream than in the last century, where it was considered a conspiracy theory."

Several mentioned the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which included a second "attack" that was not real:

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

James Shelby Downard gets his due

Adam Gorightly's latest book shows his skills as a publisher and editor, rather than a writer; Stalking the Great Whore: The Lost Writings of James Shelby Downard is a collection of writing by the late American conspiracy theorist. 

Here is a review by Robert Guffey. Excerpt: "Highly Recommended: James Shelby Downard's recently published book, STALKING THE GREAT WHORE, is a compelling read. Editor/publisher Adam Gorightly went to a great deal of trouble to preserve this neglected manuscript, most of which was no doubt written in the 1970s. If not for Gorightly's herculean efforts, these posthumously discovered writings would have remained lost forever. Whether seen as fictional or nonfictional, sane or insane, the fact is that Downard's reality tunnel had an incalculable effect on pop culture."

You can also read a long piece by Michael  Hoffman. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Joseph Matheny's free stuff

Announcement from Joseph Matheny, from  his newsletter: Free Version

As is my habit, I am making a free version of Statio Numero available via

This project has recouped its production costs, so I am making it available as a free PDF download. As always, this is shared under a creative commons license, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Kindle Version Now Available

There is a Kindle version of Statio Numero for people with Kindle apps or devices. This is provided as a convenience for people who are Kindle device dependent. The definitive version is still the PDF. Reminder: Statio is designed to be experienced in landscape mode.

The Kindle version is free this week only until Friday, July 14th.

Reviews Appreciated

If you download it for free or have purchased one of the commercial versions, please leave a review or rating on Goodreads, Amazon, or The Internet Archive. download

Goodreads review page

Amazon page

Be well.

Tom again: A couple of footnotes. Statio Numero is the third book of the Liminal Cycle; Liminal is just $2.99 on Amazon, and the second book, Xen: The Zen of the Other has the same low price. 

Also, the recording Matheny issued some years ago, Robert Anton Wilson: The Lost Studio Session, remains available free at the Internet Archive. 

Monday, July 10, 2023

Today's listening tip

Garaj Mahal (Facebook photo). 

Steve Fly, e.g. Steve Pratt, on Twitter: "One my fav. Garaj Mahal tunes, called "Be Dope" here live in San Francisco 2001 at the DNA Lounge. Some memorable heavy funk. Many thanks to Archive for such an expansive GM collection."

Garaj Mahal is a jazz fusion band that Steve sometimes has performed with, with Steve performing as a DJ on turntables. Here is another performance Steve likes. 

I should explain that some bands, not just the Grateful Dead, allow their performances to be recorded live by fans and posted on the internet. The Internet  Archive hosts many such recordings.  I am a fan of one the bands that allows this, the Gin Blossoms.

You can browse a Garaj Mahal collection at the Internet Archive, and a Gin Blossoms collection. 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Oz Fritz on Francois Rabelais

At his blog, Oz Fritz has a long essay up on the French writer Francois Rabelais, "The Hermetic Transmission of Francois Rabelais," tracing Rabelais' influence (or echoes) in figures such as Frank Zappa, Aleister Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson.  Here is one bit, to give you an idea:

"The enduring effect of Rabelais on entertainment culture, even in small ways, goes largely unnoticed these days. How many fans who have seen Pink Floyd play live post-Animals album realize that the flying pig at their concerts appeared in the third book of Pantagruel? A satire on semiotics, two characters communicating nonverbally through ridiculous signs and gestures happens twice in the Pantagruelian adventures. A skit riffing off the same premise would turn up some 400 years later in an episode of Monty Python and the Flying Circus called Michael Ellis. This episode strongly influenced writer Robert Anton Wilson as I document here.  Studies exist looking at the influence of Rabelais upon Monty Python. Someone writing as Dr. Karma calls Rabelais the father of modern sketch comedy in the piece The Quintessence of Rabelaisian Pythonesque."

Saturday, July 8, 2023

PQ reviews books by Joyce

At his Finnegans, Wake! blog, Peter Quadrino reviews five different recent books about James Joyce.  Plenty of RAW fans are also Joyce fans, but PQ stands out as a serous scholar -- he describes making three trips to Dublin in the span of nine months, including one in which he delivered a paper at a Joyce symposium.

Of the five books  he reviews, one, The Book About Everything: Eighteen Artists, Writers and Thinkers on James Joyce's Ulysses, seems particularly aimed at nonspecialists like me: "Despite eighteen different voices with vastly different approaches to discussing a complicated novel, the prose throughout this book is refreshingly easy to consume, the collection feels well-edited and stands among the best recently published Joyce books for the general reader."

Friday, July 7, 2023

New book on secret societies and American history


A new book of apparent interest, out Tuesday.

From the publisher's website: "The United States was born in paranoia. From the American Revolution (thought by some to be a conspiracy organized by the French) to the Salem witch trials to the Satanic Panic, the Illuminati, and QAnon, one of the most enduring narratives that defines the United States is simply this: secret groups are conspiring to pervert the will of the people and the rule of law. We’d like to assume these panics exist only at the fringes of society, or are unique features of the internet age. But history tells us, in fact, that they are woven into the fabric of American democracy.

"Cultural historian Colin Dickey has built a career studying how our most irrational beliefs reach the mainstream, why, and what they tell us about ourselves. In Under the Eye of Power, Dickey charts the history of America through its paranoias and fears of secret societies, while seeking to explain why so many people—including some of the most powerful people in the country—continue to subscribe to these conspiracy theories. Paradoxically, he finds, belief in the fantastical and conspiratorial can be more soothing than what we fear the most: the chaos and randomness of history, the rising and falling of fortunes in America, and the messiness of democracy. Only in seeing the cycle of this history, Dickey says, can we break it."

It sounds like it is indebted to Jesse Walker and references to Illuminatus! seem possible, but Amazon is not offering a search inside the book feature, at least not yet, so I don't know. 

Update: Here is an article by Dickey, "Did an Illuminati Conspiracy Theory Help Elect Thomas Jefferson?"

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Jim O'Shaughnessy's RAW re-read

Jim O'Shaughnessy, the founder and CEO of O'Shaughnessy Ventures, has been re-reading Robert Anton Wilson and reposting some of his favorite passages on Twitter; here is an example and here is another example. (He hasn't mentioned whether he's been buying the Hilaritas Press editions.)

Also from O'Shaughnessy Ventures: "We are thrilled to announce that we have opened up our OSV Discord community to the public! If you're interested in being part of a creative, supportive, and exciting community - look no further!" The application form is here. 

I guess if  you brought up Robert Anton Wilson, there would be a good chance the boss would be interested. 

Here are biographies of people who have received $100,000 fellowships from the company. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

New publication date for RAW biography

Preorder page for the new Robert Anton Wilson biography. 

Prop Anon/Gabriel Kennedy reports in his latest newsletter that the publication date for his book, Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson, is now listed for February 2024, as Strange Attracter/MIT Press continues the process of editing the book and preparing it for publication. We'll all just have to wait a little bit longer.

Prop's newsletter also plugs his recent interview on the F23 podcast. It's a good way to find out more about the upcoming book, Prop notes. As I've written before, everything I've seen from Prop, including this interview, suggests that a lot of research went into the book.

Prop also has reposted his 2003 interview with RAW, which covers a lot of ground. I wrote about part of it here.  Prop says, "I interviewed RAW the day after the documentary Maybe Logic premiered at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz on July 23, 2003. Feels like a good time to bring this interview outta the crates and put it on the figurative record player one more time."

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Release of RAW book on Aleister Crowley seems imminent


The above photo ran in a Tweet from the RAW Trust, with the caption, "The living room shelf with the entire Hilaritas Press catalog.

"We expect to add the upcoming Lion of Light: Robert Anton Wilson on Aleister Crowley before the end of the month!

"Visit Hilaritas Press:"

Rasa usually is very cautious about setting a date for when a book will be released, so the book must be done, or at least almost done. 

Monday, July 3, 2023

Alternatives to Twitter (and Facebook) for the RAW community


[Yesterday, I wrote about uncertainty in the RAW community over the future of Twitter. There are of course numerous Facebook groups devoted to Robert Anton Wilson, but Bobby Campbell also posted about other alternatives to Twitter as a comment to yesterday's post, and I'm reposting his comment as a guest post, to try to make sure everyone sees it. -- The Management.]

By Bobby Campbell
Special guest blogger

Tweetdeck, the app I use to manage the @RAWilson23 account, has been broken all day. So it goes!

The Maybe Logic Subreddit is showing some small signs of life, though is currently just aggregating this blog.

The Only Maybe Arts Lab Discord is similarly starting to gain members, even if things remain a bit slow, there's potential for some action.

Invite link:

I just discovered that Tumblr has had a bit of a bounce back since its death spiral some years ago. It was actually pretty decent for finding new/rare RAW novelties. So I'll fire this one up again:

No such thing as a failed experiment :)))

Sunday, July 2, 2023

A few comments about Twitter

Parody of a Neil Young album cover, posted on Twitter of course by Mondo 2000. 

I got some interesting comments on my Friday post about the Modern Jazz Quartet, including this unrelated aside from Spookah: "Tom, as a side note, it seems that Twitter finally made the last step and for those of us without an account, even just reading a post isn't a possibility any longer. It's now basically get an account or get away." 

Twitter has been important for communications among RAW fandom, so maybe it's OK for me to do a blog post on the topic. 

Some of Elon Musk's worst moves have only been temporary, so I guess we'll have to see if what Spookah mentioned is a permanent step to make the site less useful. Twitter could not  be accessed for much of the day Saturday by registered users, for system maintenance reasons I don't really understand. 

Some of Musk's moves make sense to me, many of them don't. One that I particularly take issue with is restricting links to Substack, an odd move for a free speech advocate.

As I've mentioned before, I responded to the changes at Twitter by creating a Mastodon account. But relatively few people also did so, and many people who set up an account quit posting when they realized there was almost no audience for them at Mastodon. I haven't done a post lately at Mastodon, and Prop Anon's  last post is dated Jan. 19. And again, Prop's decision is correct. He has a book to promote! 

Because so few people went to Mastodon, I have had to limit my time there, since most of my Mastodon activity is a waste of time. I can't resist pointing out that if many of the people who complain about Musk had migrated to Mastodon, it might have become a  useful site. Prop and I tried to move, and it hasn't worked out. Remember when Mastodon got press coverage? I don't see many articles about it anymore. I thought Mastodon's decentralized structure was really interesting, but I guess many people didn't see the point, even as Musk has turned Twitter into a cult of personality. 

I remain at Twitter because it remains useful for me to keep up news about the world of RAW fandom, and about other news I'm interested in. (Mastodon is useless for following news about my favorite baseball team, for example). Maybe Twitter will survive Musk, and maybe a useful alternative will become available. I guess we'll see. 

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Robert Shea's 'Shike'

I have now read all of Robert Shea's Shike, which is really one work of fiction but originally was published as two novels, Time of the Dragons and Last of the Ninja. I read the first volume a few weeks ago and I've now completed the second volume. 

Shike was first published in 1981, and it launched Shea's career, after he was laid off by Playboy magazine, as a successful historical novelist. Shike is set in thirteenth century medieval Japan, during the era of Kublai Khan (1215-1294) and the Mongol invasions of Japan. 

While Shea's All Things Are Lights remains a great favorite of mine, you could also make a case that Shike is his best work. It's very well plotted, very vivid with nonstop action and romance. The action roams across much of China and Mongolia as well as Japan.  There's a lot about Zen Buddhism, a big interest of Shea's, about Mongol and Japanese military weapons and tactics, and about Shea's mystical views. The word "Illuminati" is not mentioned, but the main hero belongs to a secret society, and it's explained that the group has ties to other groups, such as the Knights Templar. The analysis at the Wikipedia entry seems accurate to me. 

All Things Are Lights and Shike take place at about the same time in different parts of the world; Shea's other medieval historical work of fiction, The Saracen, also is set in about the same period of history, with events a little later than the events of All Things Are Lights