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

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

An Orson Welles Halloween


"Orson [Welles] facing the press after the War of the Worlds broadcast, incredibly hard photo." Source.  But Jesse Walker comments, "The man is having fun."

This is apparently from the same Oct. 31, 1938, press conference depicted in the Wikipedia article on the broadcast. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

A new kind of book?

It would have been interesting to know, if he had lived longer, what Robert Anton Wilson would have made of new developments in the world. I am particularly wondering what he would have thought of the boom in artificial intelligence, in the light of SMI2LE.

If RAW were still around, would he be doing experiments with artificial intelligence, like the one Tyler Cowen has done with his new project?

Cowen has just written a book, Who is the Greatest Economist of all Time and Why Does it Matter? Tyler calls it a "generative book."

Cowen wrote all of the book himself (not using an AI) and anyone can download a copy from the website for the project.  But in addition, if I understand the concept, readers can ask four different AIs at the site to answer questions raised in your mind as  you read the book.

Tyler has his own chatbot at the site. Sample questions are offered, but I tried one of my own: "How does Paul Krugman rank in the GOAT contest?" (Krugman is not just an influential New York Times columnist. He won the Nobel Prize for economics). Here is the answer I got:

"Paul Krugman does not feature in the main content of Tyler's GOAT analysis in "GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist of all Time and Why Does it Matter?". That said, he pops up in the book's discussion about Google Trends rankings where he appears well-rated, implying he's familiar to the public. Yet, consider that popularity doesn't necessarily reflect the greatest economic mind or influence.

"Krugman's notable contributions, specifically his work on international trade and economic geography, won him the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He's also made his mark as a New York Times columnist and an author, bringing economic perspectives to wider audiences. However, when lining him up with colossal figures like Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, or Milton Friedman, it becomes more challenging to single him out as the GOAT. Moreover, the GOAT, as per Tyler, isn't just about high-level academic contribution, but also the ability to influence public opinion, policy-making, and the course of economics as a discipline, both directly and indirectly.

"A minor point, but if the GOAT contest had an awards gala, Paul Krugman would certainly be invited Mardi Gras bead style, but not likely to be crowned king."

Tyler could have simply published the book, but instead he is giving it away, for  now, for the sake of trying a new approach to publishing. 

Here is a blog post by Ben Yeoh discussing the book. 

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Richard Waterloo book update


Doctor Richard Waterloo has been hard at work on his book about reality tunnels. He's been teasing it with posts on X. Above is a self-portrait he posted this weekend, presumably showing himself hard at work on the manuscript.

It looks like the book will become available next year. I recently asked him for an update and he said, "Still working on the second revision, first good draft. Then I'll  need artists to work up the inside graphics/diagrams/images.

"Looking at 2024 sometime. Winter will give me time to get it straightened out."

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Rasa, live in concert

Rasa runs the Robert Anton Wilson Trust and also runs Hilaritas Press. In his earlier days, he was a rock musician, playing for a band called Sweet Smoke. He recently posted on Facebook about his rock music days:

"I played rhythm guitar and sitar for Sweet Smoke in the early 70's when the band was living in Germany, and touring in Holland, Germany and France. It was through Sweet Smoke that I met Marlis Jermutus, and through her, Robert Anton Wilson's European agent, Tom Sperlich, which eventually led to my friendship with RAW... but that's another story.

"Someone put this bootlegged audio from a Sweet Smoke concert in Heidelberg on YouTube years ago. I recently gave the recording to RAW aficionado Oz Fritz (read his essay in the new Lion of Light). Oz is a professional recording engineer, and he was gracious enough to fix up the audio quality. Oz called the tweaking he did, "sweetening." It's still a pretty rough recording, but much better than the original bootleg, which I imagine was from some fan sitting in the concert hall with a mic with a decent portable German tape recorder.

"If you want an audio engineer's perspective, check out the EMI album where we played some of the same songs as in this bootleg recording, only we had EMI's professional recording team:

"I have a bit of sadness in posting this video, as dear friend and amazing guitarist, Marvin Kaminovitz died earlier this year. Marvin's stunning and inventive lead guitar playing shines throughout this recording."

The video Rasa refers to is above. 

Am I the the only one who thinks it's funny that Rasa was in a band called Sweet Smoke, and he now lives in Weed, California? 

On the town's website, officials explain, "The City of Weed, California is nestled at the base of Mount Shasta in the Cascade Mountains and half way between San Francisco and Portland. The community is surrounded by natural beauty, breathtaking vistas, and unmatched outdoor recreation. The City is a historic lumber town which has retained much of its early 1900's charm, while transitioning into a tourist destination."

From the New York Times: "For decades, the residents of Weed, a California lumber town an hour from the Oregon border, have felt like the butt of jokes, exasperated from the repetition of the Daily Explanation: No, the town is not named for marijuana but a local 19th-century timber baron, Abner Weed. For years, the town rejected proposals to leverage the name and allow the sale of marijuana."

The 2021 Times story explains that the town has finally embraced the tourist possibilities of the name: "When they see the signs for Weed, carloads of curious travelers veer off the freeway to stop and gawk. They file into gift shops that sell 'Weed Is So Dope' refrigerator magnets and sweatshirts advertising a fictional University of Weed: 'A Place of Higher Learning'.”

Friday, October 27, 2023

Halloween roundup

H.P. Lovecraft (public domain photo).

(1) From Matt Cardin on X/Twitter:

"For Halloween here are 7 of my most popular posts on horror, sewn into a thread for your seasonal enjoyment.

Topics include:

> Lovecraft

> Thomas Ligotti

> religion & horror

> Cormac McCarthy

> Algernon Blackwood

> vampires & religion

> Stephen King & Robert Louis Stevenson."

I've tried to avoid linking to X posts here, as only people with an X account can read them, but I don't see a way around that here. Of course you can register an account to read the posts and you don't have to otherwise be active. 

(2) My wife and I have been listening to the first season of The Lovecraft Investigations podcast, we are really enjoying them; has anyone else tried them besides Rarebit Fiend (who commented on my recent post.)  The modern updating of Lovecraft and the references to Aleister Crowley and other figures is a bit reminiscent of Illuminatus!, or so it seems to me. Does anyone know if the show's creator, Julian Simpson, is influenced by RAW?

(3) Richard Karzynski, the author of Perdurabo (the Crowley biography) has a page on his official website devoted  to his Halloween pumpkin art.  The images are copyrighted and I can't reproduce them, but go check out the page. 

Thursday, October 26, 2023

RAW Semantics on 'Hardcore kindness semantics'


The RAW Semantics blog has a new post up, "Hardcore kindness semantics," that discusses the semantics of unfair generalizations about groups, and how to replace those generalizations with kindness.

"Some of the worst cases, for me, of the unfortunate habit of over-generalising on abstract groups (eg “The Media”, “The Establishment”, “The Elite”… or insert your favourite scapegoat group: “shitlibs”, “woketards”, “Tory scum”, etc) ironically came from people whose political views I otherwise agreed with on many issues. Cue the classic Monty Python scene, which illustrates what I’m thinking of here better than any number of long-winded blog posts."

The clip Brian references (from the Life of Brian) is above. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Articles: Richard Powers, Gene Wolfe, Don Dixon, Chris Diffords, Chris Frantz

Don Dixon, music producer and musician, and his wife, singer Marti Jones. (Courtesy Don Dixon).

One of the cool things about being a newspaper reporter is that if I am interested in a writer or a musician, I sometimes get to interview that person. Perhaps some of you would be interested in them, too; I should probably mention my Sandusky Register articles a bit more often.

Here is my 2014 interview with novelist Richard Powers (I was prompted by his novel about classical music, Orfeo, but he is probably better known for The Overstory, The Echo Maker and The Gold Bug Variations.) 

Here is my 2015 interview with writer Gene Wolfe (The Book of the New Sun, etc.). 

Musician Don Dixon co-produced the first two REM albums and has worked with any other musicians; I wrote an article about him this year after a long interview. 

I snagged an interview with Chris Frantz (Talking Heads drummer) when he issued his memoir in 2020. 

My 2018 piece about Chris Diffords, after his book came out. I picked 10 of my favorite Squeeze songs and asked him to comment on them. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Prop Anon interviews Noah23 [UPDATED]

Noah23 has released several albums this year, but he describes this one as his major release. 

Prop Anon has revived his podcast series with two new podcasts.

One is an interview with rapper Noah23, the Canadian rapper influenced by Robert Anton Wilson. The interview is about 23 minutes long. Most of the discussion is about music, but I had previously reported that Noah23 has faced legal woes, and in the interview, Noah23 reveals that's behind him, the charges have been dropped. I listened to the podcast and enjoyed it; Prop had turned me on to Noah23's music. After I listened to the podcast, I bought Noah23's  Tank Girl album on Bandcamp, the album released on Maybe Day this year (I like the tune "Tiger Cage," featured on the podcast.)

Here is Noah23's Bandcamp page, which has many of his albums. Noah 23 also has many albums on Hoopla Digital, the streaming service which most U.S. citizens can access with a library card from their local library, and  you should be able to find him on any of the commercial music streaming services.

Prop also has released a podcast interview with John Crawley. Here is the description: "In this episode I speak with author, John Crawley about his book The Yank: The True Story of a former U.S. Marine in the Irish Republican Army. John joined the IRA in 1980 just as 'the Troubles' was about to enter its 'long war' period."

I've included links to the podcasts, but you should also be able to get them at many podcasting apps; on mine, I had to put in the URL for the RSS feed, which you can get at the links I provided. 

UPDATE: I learned about the podcasts from Prop's newsletter. I did not have the URL for the newsletter when I wrote the post, but now I have the link. 

Monday, October 23, 2023

New Hilaritas podcast: Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

 The choice of guest for the latest Hilartas podcast seems like a great one: Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, founder of the Church of All Worlds (inspired by Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land) and the publisher of Green Egg, the pagan magazine. As usual, the Hilartas podcast page for the episode has useful links and background information, and Mike Gathers returns as host. 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

One of Tim Leary's favorite bands is still around


It is weird to realize that the Rolling Stones are still around and still have the two core members, Mick Jagger, 80, and Keith Richards, 79; Ron Wood, 76, has been the band's second guitarist since 1975. The Beatles may be long gone, but somehow the Stones, who formed in 1962 and put out their first single in 1963, not only still exist but have issued a new studio album, Hackney Diamonds, which I've been listening to. 

It's not a replacement for your favorite Stones album, but it's a pretty decent album. If it gives you an idea of my tastes, Sticky Fingers is probably my favorite; I do like Blue and Lonesome, the 2016 blues cover album; Tattoo You, from back in 1981, was the last previous studio album I liked. 

Oz Fritz, in his review of Joanna Harcourt-Smith's memoir, Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary, records the couple's fondness for the Stones: "Joanna and Timothy met and got together largely as a result of being separately drawn into the Rolling Stones orbit when the Stones were working in France recording Exile On Main Street.  Leary, at that time, was THE exile on main street along with the Stones.  The opening lyrics of the first song, Rocks Off go: "I hear you talking when you're on the street, your mouth don't move but I can hear you speak."  Leary was known to demonstrate remarkable telepathic abilities at different times several examples of which you'll find in this book."

Below is a "Visionary Portrait of Timothy Leary" I found on X today, from Nuwan Shilka, a psychedelic artist from Sri Lanka. 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Poem by Arlen Wilson


Source.  Hilaritas is coming out soon with a reprint of Chaos and Beyond, which includes other Arlen Wilson poems. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Friday links

Meme on what RAW called the "Jumping Jesus Phenomenon." (Source).

 George Monbiot on observing the rules of war. I try to avoid being too "political" here, but I think a RAW blog can come out against killing civilians. Via RAW Semantics on Twitter.

I'll let Jesse Walker explain this link. "My favorite presidential candidate is in legal trouble for speech, just because he vilified some public servants. No, of course I don't mean Trump." (Jesse's X account.)

The Whole Earth Catalog is available online. 

High-ranking Tibetan Buddhist official lives in Ireland. 

Will Detroit go Georgist? (As in Henry George, who RAW was interested in). 

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Professor who revived research into psychedelics has died

Roland Griffiths (public domain photo)

Psychedelics research, including its use in "brain change," was taboo for many years in the U.S.; Robert Anton Wilson used to rail about the situation in his writings.

Roland Griffiths, a Johns Hopkins professor whose courageous work revived research into psychedelics, has died of cancer, the New  York Times reports.

The Times obituary is full of interesting sentences: "In 1994, Dr. Griffiths began meditating regularly, which led to a transformative experience that, he said, “profoundly shifted my worldview and got me very curious about the nature of spiritual experiences.”

"He told Mr. Pollan that the experience was so profound that he nearly quit science to devote himself to a spiritual practice. But, as it happened, others were working to rehabilitate the study of psychedelics. One was Bob Jesse, a former vice president of the software company Oracle, who had established a nonprofit to encourage research on mystical experiences and whose introduction to Dr. Griffiths became the engine for what would soon change the direction of Dr. Griffiths’s research and reinvigorate the field."

Hat tip, Jesse Walker. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Ohio to vote on legalized marijuana

As Robert Anton Wilson was against the "war on some drugs," I should mention that Ohio, where I live and where RAW lived in the early 1960s, will vote Nov. 7 on whether to legalize possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. As with many other states, there would be licensed dispensaries, and an adult also would be allowed to grow up to six plants at home (12 if two adults lived at the residence) and to order home delivery.

If the state question passes, Ohio would, if I remember correctly, be the 24th state to fully legalize marijuana (as opposed to approving medical marijuana), although my former state, Oklahoma, has such a liberal medical marijuana law that the state  has legalization in effect in all but name. A new poll from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea (where I live), shows 57% of likely voters planning to vote for it. Another 58% favor another passage of another state question, which would put the right to abortion in the state constitution.

Interestingly, the marijuana question is an "initiated statute," i.e. a change in state law, not a change in the state constitution. That means that state lawmakers, in a legislature dominated by a large Republican majority, could tinker with the law or even repeal it. So if the question passes, we'll have to see what happens.

I have written a couple of newspaper stories which (I hope) go beyond the obvious in covering the marijuana state question. Michigan legalized marijuana a few years ago, and prices in the dispensaries have dropped sharply in recent years. I wrote a story on how Michigan towns with dispensaries near Ohio would face a sharp drop in sales if the question passed in Ohio. (I found one Michigan town, Morenci, right on the Ohio border with a population just above 2,000, which has no real grocery stores but which has five weed dispensaries.)

I also wrote a story about how Ohio has unregulated "diet marijuana," Delta 8 THC, available everywhere, even as state voters debate whether to authorize properly regulated marijuana. The latter story mentions Yellow Springs, Ohio, where RAW once lived and which is mentioned in Illuminatus!; it's also the hometown of Ohio's current governor, Mike DeWine, a Republican who opposes legalization of marijuana. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

English university to offer graduate degree in magick

Reed Hall at the University of Exeter (public domain photo by Benjamin Evans, source.)

 From the New York Times: 

"In the ancient city of Exeter, three women were hanged for practicing witchcraft in the late 17th century, the last of such executions in England. Now, merely a short walk from where the hangings occurred, the University of Exeter will offer a postgraduate degree in magic and occult science, which the school says is the first of its kind at a British university.

"Prof. Emily Selove, the head of the new program and an associate professor in medieval Arabic literature, said the idea for the degree, which will be offered starting in September 2024, came out of the recent surge in interest in the history of witchcraft and a desire to create a space where research on magic could be studied across academic fields.

"Coursework will include the study of Western dragons in lore, literature and art; archaeology theory; the depiction of women in the Middle Ages; the practice of deception and illusion; and the philosophy of psychedelics. Through the lenses of Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, lecturers will explore how magic has influenced society and science."

More here. 

Emily Selove also is an expert in medieval Arabic literature and magick.  Contact her, I guess, if a new edition of the Necronomicon is found. 

Monday, October 16, 2023

Piper Laurie has died

Piper Laurie in 1990, in her Twin Peaks days. (Creative Commons photo by Alan Light, source)

As there are many RAW fans who are Twin Peaks fans (though I've never seen any evidence that RAW was) I am going to share the news that actress Piper Laurie has died, at age 91. Here is the New York Times obituary.  Laurie played the scheming lumber mill owner Catherine Martell in Twin Peaks. 

Of course Laurie had a very long career and played many roles and there's a good Wikipedia bio. 

Sunday, October 15, 2023

We may be able to recover some ancient lost books

The Last Day of Pompeii. Painting by Karl Brullov, 1830–1833 (via Wikipedia)

As this is by definition a blog for people who are serious readers, I thought I would share something.

If you had not heard, there is an effort underway to read the many charred scrolls available at the site of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy in A.D. 79, and it seems to be actually succeeding.  And here is a speculative article on the kinds of books that might be recovered. 

I found both links via the Marginal Revolution blog

Saturday, October 14, 2023

H.P. Lovecraft podcast series from the BBC

It seems appropriate for the Halloween season to note that the BBC is doing a critically-praised  HP Lovecraft podcast series, The Lovecraft Investigations,  and that a new season has just dropped.

Living in the U.S., I don't keep up with the BBC, I guess, as I had not heard of the series until I saw this post on X today from Sitting Now: "For those who haven’t listened to the BBC’s ‘The Lovecraft Investigations’ go and do so now, because out of nowhere Season 4 is about to drop. SUPER excited. This is so sooo good."

As I discovered via Wikipedia, each season is based upon modernizing a classic Lovecraft work, and the podcast has won a great deal of praise. Some details via Wikipedia:

"The story is a modernization of the original Lovecraft works, set around the same time the podcast aired and presented as a podcast-within-a-podcast in which the two hosts of the Mystery Machine, a true crime podcast investigating cases related to the occult and conspiracy theories, stumble upon a case hiding a much larger mystery. It features a large voice cast led by Barnaby Kay and Jana Carpenter as the two podcasters, Matt Heawood and Kennedy Fisher.

"Each season of The Lovecraft Investigations is titled after, and mostly based on, one of Lovecraft's works, namely 1927's 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,' 1930's 'The Whisperer in Darkness,' and 1931's 'The Shadow over Innsmouth,' while creating an overarching story; it is also set within Simpson's Pleasant Green Universe of audio dramas."

The new season is based on "The Haunter of the Dark" (1936) and has just been released. Downloads can be made from the official website and probably from the other usual podcast apps. 

Friday, October 13, 2023

Prop Anon discusses the upcoming RAW biography


Prop Anon aka Gabriel Kennedy is interviewed in a new episode of the podcast Spotlight On. It should be available wherever you get your podcasts, but I've also obviously posted the video, or you can read the transcript.  The focus naturally is on Robert Anton Wilson, and Prop's new book about RAW, due out in February. The title is Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson. I can't wait to read the book, but the interview is a nice preview. The podcast has been around for awhile -- I notice it is episode 23 of the ninth season. The show is hosted by Lawrence Peryer.

I also learned a bit more about Prop, too: " I was born in Long Island, New York, and was raised by two Irish immigrants who came to New York and opened bars. So, I was raised in a bar family. I have many memories of sitting at the end of the bar while my parents were working and observing people in that setting. I was always around stories in a way; listening to people speak at the bar as a young kid was educational."

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Matt Cardin cites RAW

Matt Cardin (from his official website)

Writer Matt Cardin, mentioned before at this site,  cited RAW in a posting on X, hat tip Charles Faris:

I hold the whole matter of the daimon muse or inner genius—which I talk about and write about all the time—in a permanent liminal hyperspace.

Our epistemic position makes it flatly impossible for us to know the literal truth or untruth of the daimon muse hypothesis. Robert Anton Wilson's stance of model agnosticism pointedly applies to this matter. 

What we can know for sure is that there is incontrovertibly the sense of another intelligence accompanying our ego self and rational mind "from behind." In other words, the sense of it is definitely real and not in question. Any interpretations we apply to this, whether in terms of the "unconscious," the "daemon," or anything else, are only that: interpretations. The datum of the experience itself remains primary.

Not tangentially, this same impossibility of final certainty applies to any and all totalizing interpretations that we place on ourselves, the world, and reality as a whole. As a matter of self-evident truth, we can never stand apart from our subjectivity, our first-personhood, to comment with objective finality on any of this.

Or rather, and to say the same thing differently and more deeply: The only final stance is one of truly absolute objectivity, from which position the entirety of the cosmic drama, including both its subjective and objective realms or aspects, is all a collective wave pulse of mere appearances. Our own creativity, consisting of the dream of being a separate self that exists in perpetual relationship with a personal creative daemon, occurs within and as a component of that.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Update of sorts on 'Illuminatus!" TV series

Back in 2019, I posted the news that an Illuminatus! TV series was in the works. Not much has been announced since then.  

Rasa was asked about this on Facebook recently and replied, "That particular deal they mention in that news story fell apart, but there is still an option out on Illuminatus!, so something may yet come together."

There's more discussion at the link. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

New book on UBI

Robert Anton Wilson, who sometimes described himself as a libertarian who didn't hate poor people, was quite interested in the UBI, or the Universal Basic Income, the idea that the government would guarantee a certain level of income for everyone, largely  replacing other welfare programs.

There's a new book out about the UBI: Universal Basic Income: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Matt Zwolinksi and Miranda Perry Fletcher. It's endorsed by UBI proponent Andrew Yang: "A complete, thorough, and practical breakdown of UBI. Whether you're a supporter or a skeptic, Zwolinski and Fleischer's work is a must-read." 

Here is an excerpt on the difference between the UBI and a negative income tax (another idea RAW was interested in). Also from the book: Four arguments against a UBI,  and here are six arguments for a UBI. 

Monday, October 9, 2023

'Lion of Light' reading group continues


My "to do list" today includes doing the latest reading assignment for the Lion of Light reading group at Jechidah.  New entries are being posted every week, but it's not too late to grab a copy and get caught and participate, weighing in with comments. I suspect I am repeating myself, but Oz and Gregory are working very hard with their entries; this is a great chance, not to be missed, to learn about Aleister Crowley's influence on Robert Anton Wilson. 

The posts give the page numbers in the book for each reading; I bought the Kindle version, and I've finally figured out how to get my Kindle to list the page numbers. Touch the top of the page, touch the "Aa" and choose "More" to get options for "Reading progress."

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Another Philip K. Dick movie, or a TV show, on the way?

First edition hardcover. 

Jesse Walker on X: "A movie or TV version of one of Philip K. Dick's best books, THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, may be on the way: (Yes, I know: We already have EXISTENZ.)"

Here's the first couple of sentences from the report Jesse links to:

"Joining the likes of Blade Runner, Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly, Philip K Dick’s 1964 novel The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch could soon become a film or TV series.

"Thanks to an anonymous tip-off, Film Stories did a search of the United States Copyright Office’s records, and discovered a tantalising entry. On 23 March this year, Netflix Entertainment LLC completed a short-form option agreement with the late author’s estate, meaning it now has the rights to adapt The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch into a television show, film, or some other kind of production."

Saturday, October 7, 2023

New John Higgs audiobook


Announcement from John Higgs: "After a mere 18 years wait, my first book I HAVE AMERICA SURROUNDED: THE LIFE OF TIMOTHY LEARY is finally available on audiobook (in the UK - US follows next year). Read by me. Tune In, Turn On, Click Here."

Friday, October 6, 2023

New Ada Palmer interview

Ada Palmer (University of Chicago Faculty portrait) 

If you enjoyed my long Maybe Day interview with historian and novelist Ada Palmer, you might also enjoy Tyler Cowen's long interview with Palmer, which has finally been released as a video, a podcast and in a transcript.

I love the concept of clandestine bookstores, which apparently existed in 18th century France. Palmer: "Remember that the 18th century is a moment when the clandestine bookshop is a major, major thing ... the same underground bookshops sell all underground materials, which means an underground bookshop sells pornography, and it also sells Voltaire and Rousseau, and it also sells diatribes criticizing the king, and it also sells radical Jansenist theological pamphlets about whether the Holy Spirit derives from the Father and Son equally or from the Father alone."

This bit about Voltaire is fascinating: "I’ve also thought about a choose-your-own-adventure biography of Voltaire because there’s that amazing moment when he’s barely in his early 20s, and his father almost decides to arrange him to be banished to South America. Imagine the world where, instead of Voltaire being in France, Voltaire is in South America — both how different France would be and how different South America would be."

Cowen has a very popular blog, so he'll get a big audience for his interview. I'm frustrated more people haven't read mine, but I don't know what to do about that. 

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Welcome to the Hotel California


I could not help myself from posting this photo of California rock stars, from 1976, in honor of the fact that Robert Anton Wilson lived much of his life in California. From left, David Lindley, Don Henley, Don Felder, Linda Ronstadt, Glenn Frey, Governor Jerry Browne, Randy Meisner, Dan Folgelberg, Joe Walsh and Jackson Browne. Via Jesse Walker, who reposted it on X and joked, "Telling my kids that this is Reagan with the Rat Pack."

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Lennon-McCartney and Wilson-Shea


John Lennon, left, and Paul McCartney, top, with other members of their band (public domain photo). Robert Shea decided to grow a mustache to follow their example. 

Most Beatles fan likely will recognize that the John Lennon-Paul McCartney partnership, in songwriting and in running the Beatles, was a synergy that created something greater than what either could do on their own.

I would argue that the Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson partnership that created Illuminatus!, launching literary careers for both of them, was a similar happy partnership, even if they never collaborated again.

Here is a mailing comment Shea wrote to Wilson in his Golden APA zine:

"I was stunned by your comment [to] Kevin, wherein you say you brooded over why you couldn’t finish a long book and then, collaborating with me, finished one. You see, I’ve been going around telling people that I never completed a book project before writing Illuminatus! and it was my collaboration with you, and your example of joyful productivity that taught me how to write and finish novels. I never realized that Illuminatus! was a breakthrough book for both of us. I guess I sort of assumed that you had never before written a book simply because you hadn’t gotten around to it, whereas I, who had started a number of novels and never finished any, had a 'problem'.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Coming soon (I hope) my Robert Shea anthology

Robert Shea, with the manuscript of his excellent historical novel, Shike. 

As a comment to Sunday's blog post, Spookah writes, "Do you mean that you are putting together a Robert Shea anthology? If so, would that be just for yourself, or are there plans on getting it published somehow?

"One can only appreciate the efforts you make in keeping Bob Shea's work and memory alive, Tom."

I am in fact working on a Kindle ebook anthology of Robert Shea's nonfiction to be published by Anecdota Press, my imprint; see "Ebooks I've Published" at the right side of this page for my first two titles, Pause, Play — A Higher Consciousness Handbook, K.P. van der Tempel and War is the Health of the State, Randolph Bourne. 

I announced the Shea anthology in a posting on Maybe Day this year, but I haven't talked too much about it. The tentative title, unless I think of a better one, is Every Day Is a GOOD Day: The Nonfiction of Robert Shea, and the content is essays and interviews, not unlike many of RAW's books. ("Every day is a good day" is a slogan he often used in zines for The Golden APA, where many of his zines were circulated.) I'm doing this with the permission of Mike Shea, Robert Shea's son and literary executor, who maintains the official Shea website.  I have more than 65,000 words so far, and I feel like I'm getting close to having a finished draft. It will still need to be edited and I need to write an introduction and do some other bits, but I am hoping to be done in a new weeks.

It turns out Shea wrote quite a bit about anarchism and libertarianism, writing, science fiction, Illuminatus! and many other topics. I hope people will find the book interesting. 

Monday, October 2, 2023

Another RAW fan

The controversial antiwar writer Caitlin Johnstone apparently is a RAW fan, or at the very least is familiar with his work.

For example, here is the article "The Healthy Way To Hold A Conspiracy Theory" on her website, which cites RAW on reality tunnels. 

She recently moved websites, her latest website is here. 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

A RAW home, and a mailing comment


Above photo posted on X by Adrian Legg,  who writes, "Bob's old residence address in Dalkey, County Dublin, looking splendid @RAWilson23."


I've been plugging away on my Robert Shea anthology, and part of that work is going through old issues of "Tlaloc Grinned," the fanzine Shea wrote for The Golden APA. (The title of the zine is an Illuminatus! reference; early in the trilogy a woman named Sasparilla "either saw, or imagined she saw, a sinister kind of tight grin, or grimace, cross the face of the gigantic statue of Tlaloc, the rain god.") Much of Shea's zines consisted of mailing comments, i.e. comments about zines written by other members of the apa (such as Arthur Hlavaty, founder of The Golden APA). (For more on the Golden APA and Shea's and Wilson's participation in it, please see this interview.) In one zine, Shea refers to "Tlaloc Grinned" as "The apazine of Pre-Columbian Pan-Secular Pagan Humanism." 

Anyway, when Shea died and Wilson wrote about him in Cosmic Trigger 3, Wilson recalled his visits to Shea's home in Illinois after Wilson had left Chicago.

So I thought I would share a mailing comment Shea wrote to Wilson in the January 1988 issue of "Tlaloc Grinned": "Chicago seemed more like home to us, too, with you visiting. I get more interesting, new ideas in a few hours of talking with  you than I get in six months of my day-to-day life."