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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. 


quackenbush said...

I really appreciate this perspective, Gregory. I outlined a fair bit of the process in my editor's note, but after managing this project for several months, I basically handed Rasa a word document that was 95% complete. He imported it Adobe (I think) and then proofed it himself and then sent copies to Iain and Eric Wagner to proof read. Thus began the dialog you witnessed. Not being a detail oriented person, I actually asked to be removed from that email chain (plus I felt I had done my part and was happy to hand it off to the next stage). So anyway, I didn't really get to witness a lot of the back and forth that you document here. Thanks for brining it to my attention.

Anonymous said...

Iain Spence said:
Thank you Gregory for lifting the top off the Hilaritas ant hill to show the work below. I derived much enjoyment going through the book and I now look forward to reading it in a more relaxed manner in print. I think it was Eric Wagner who once said on Tom's blog here that people generally retain more information from reading a book on paper than on a screen. Perhaps he was referring to a statistical study from somewhere. So I reckon the print book will be worth re-reading.

michael said...

I loved Gregory's contribution to this book!

I'd like to emphasize that Iain Spence worked tirelessly with editing help and I think it might've been myself he's referring to re: "seeing" text that needs to be edited: on an actual page in a physical book, the stuff jumps out at me (us); editing on a screen for some reason allows us to miss stuff. Any typos or gawky lines that show up in the earliest editions (I haven't seen a copy yet) are there despite a dedicated team of editors, using screens.

Iain's work on this project was estimable and he deserves mad props.

Luckily, the digital aspect of publishing these days allows for relatively quick editorial fixes that show up in actual printed books at a speed I found astonishing, and I only know this by being somewhat under the tutelage of our Grand Poo-Bah, Rasa.

"Missing" glaring errors right under our noses ironically highlighted one of RAW's core messages that run through all his works: we see what we see; we don't see what we're not prepared or ready to SEE. Perception is not only a "gamble", phenomenologically, it's inexhorribly (sic) baked-in to our apparatuses. So, if you get a copy with a typo or two, please go easy on us and know that subsequent copies will be improved over time. We cannot afford to hire a team of crack editors like Penguin-Random House/Hatchette/Simon and Schuster/Harper Collins/Macmillan can.

Then again, I truly do wonder what some "ace" editor from the best Ivy League school would miss in this text, because it deals with so much esoterica the "straight" professional editor might - hell: WOULD - miss. EX: Oz Fritz's knowledge of all things Crowley is so astounding to me he brought up numerous Qs during the editing about things I never would've noticed, and I seriously doubt some fresh-faced young person with a Master's in English from Yale would've seen what he saw.

That said, I'd think the Venn Diagram of RAWphiles who are also Thelemites should really dig this text.

Anonymous said...

Iain Spence said:

Ha ha, teams of crack editors working for the professionals? I think it's kind of funny when mistakes turn up in the big published books. I was reading Lethal White by JK Rowling a couple of years back. So, there's this scene on one page where a 'revolver' in a room is described in fine detail (including its make), then several lines down it becomes a 'rifle'. Later it turns back into a 'revolver'.
It's kind of funny because if that was a lost novel of RAW, readers would be wondering if it's a deliberate joke. Like, what the hell did he do that for? I'd probably start combing the chapter for extra clues. With Rowling the publishers probably thought she'd ended up back in Hogwarts. I'm guessing it's since been fixed.

Thank you both for your comments. I'd like to add, Oz did a fair amount of hoovering up of typos that I missed.

Lvx15 said...

So psyched to receive this book today. Now I finally know what the real 93rd element is.

Hint: it’s not what the periodic table says it is!

Guess you can’t call that part a typo, but was it a conscious decision to leave in a chunk of text saying Plutonium is 93? Maybe this is addressed elsewhere. In any case, I really am psyched for this book.

It would be cool if it was! But maybe Neptunium is even more special!


Anonymous said...

Iain Spence said:
Lvx15: Looks like RAW picked that mistake up word of mouth and didn't double check before adding it to his typescript. I can't remember discussing it in the Hilaritas LoL ed team. Then again, my memory is not what it used to be.
Other little blighters are still being ironed out. For example Schrödinger's name (not his cat) may change as readers open the book. I guess, much like his box, you have to open it up to see how it's spelt.
Uri Geller had an odd creative way of dealing with typos. He had one which appeared years ago in his 1st ed of Dead Cold. The narrator to his fictional thriller says to the reader, 'Bare with me' instead of 'Bear with me'. There's even a joke on the publisher close to the same typo, 'if I use the wrong word now and then, who's noticing.' I guess there's nothing wrong with feeling a bit exposed occasionally in life : )

Lvx15 said...

Thanks Iain!
LoL indeed!