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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). 


Propaganda Anonymous said...

Well, if we are going to split hairs. I was looking for 'Lion of Light' for years as I worked on my RAW biography.
I have stuff in my book about what Bob wrote about the book during the 1970s. Wagner is the king with research and was a lot of help for my book. But I seem to remember that I also acquired the Text from Harvard, after paying them money for it and then reading some of it on my YouTube channel. Shortly after, near instantly, after I posted the reading Hilaritas announced that they would be publishing the book.
If we are passing out flowers lets hand them to Everyone, shall we.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

When was the YouTube video posted, Prop? I found the video on YouTube, but I could not figure out how to pin down the date.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

And I don't think anyone is trying to downplay your prodigious research. Obviously, multiple people have been pursuing the "lost" essay, not just you and Martin Wagner, but also Jesse Walker, for example, and probably persons that I just don't know about.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

The video Prop is referencing is here:

Propaganda Anonymous said...

For sure. Not thinking that at all. Props to Martin Wagner for his work.
The article is a nice breakdown of how the line of discovery of the manuscript. After I saw your original article about the essay being at Harvard is when I reached out to Houghton Library. I put in an order for the essay and then received it some months later. After which I read a section of it 'Crowleyan Curriculum' on my YouTube channel. Obviously, there was already momentum in the book finally being published. It's a great essay.