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

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

New documentary on James Joyce's 'Ulysses'

A new documentary from the BBC, "James Joyce's 'Ulysses' ", is being screened at various film festivals. Here is a review praising the film from the New York Sun.  It was directed by Adam Low. "Mr. Low has assembled a murderer’s row of Anglo-Irish authors —   Salman Rushdie, Colm Tóibín, Howard Jacobson, Eimear McBride, and Paul Muldoon all hold forth on Joyce’s genius."

People in the UK can watch the movie here. I haven't been able to figure out yet how people can watch it in the U.S. 

Of course, Robert Anton Wilson read the novel over and over again and often referenced it. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Books about RAW, some suggestions

I got an email recently from a fellow named Stefan Ciric, who reads the blog and who mentioned that he has had trouble finding books about Robert Anton Wilson, and did I have any suggestions. Here were my suggestions (lightly edited):

An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, Eric Wagner, is a book of criticism and discussion by Eric Wagner, who knew RAW well. I keep a Kindle version of it on my phone for ready reference. If you buy it, be sure you buy the second edition, which is updated.

Beyond Chaos and Beyond edited by Scott Apel is a collection of RAW's writings for a newsletter RAW and Apel put out, but it also has a long biographical essay on RAW by Apel. I don't know if you are into ebooks or prefer paper, but the Kindle is not very expensive.

High Weirdness by Erik Davis is a three-part book, on Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson and Philip K. Dick, focuses on weird experiences each of the three had in the 1970s. This is a really well done book.

The KLF by John Higgs is an offbeat book about a band that was heavily influenced by RAW, and it is the Higgs book which discusses RAW directly (RAW claimed to have never heard of the band, which is pretty odd.) If you read it,  you might want to read the updated hardcover that came out this year. 

Fly On The Tale Of The Tribe: A Rollercoaster Ride With Robert Anton Wilson by Steven Pratt focuses on the book that RAW outlined at the end of TSOG but apparently never actually wrote. Pratt knows a lot about both RAW and writers such as James Joyce. 

As far as upcoming books, Eric Wagner has completed and is revising Straight Outta Dublin, which focuses on James Joyce and RAW, but has not announced a publisher. I am hoping for some news in the near future. The Gabriel Kennedy biography of RAW, Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson, is scheduled to be issued in August by Strange Attractor Press. In a related vein, I am currently editing a collection of short pieces by Robert Shea, which I think will shed some light on Illuminatus!.

Since I wrote back to Stefan with the above, I have thought of a couple of other books not about RAW at all, but explore topics he was interested in. How the Hippies Saved Physics is all about the physicist friends RAW mentions in Cosmic Trigger, such as Nick Herbert. Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph by Jan Swafford is a good biography that pays attention to Beethoven's connections to the Illuminati. Any biography of Timothy Leary would provide information about a key influence. Inventor of the Future by Alec Nevala-Lee is the definitive biography of Buckminster Fuller, another influence on RAW.  If you read James Joyce you will notice how Joyce influenced RAW. 

For most of these, I have not given a link; you can Google the titles, and also search the website, as I wrote about most of these. 

What have I forgotten? RAW obviously had a lot of interests. [UPDATE: See Spookah's comment, below, for books by Adam Gorightly and Timothy Leary that I have blogged about here but forgot to mention.]

I asked Stefan to tell me a little about himself, he wrote (in part), "I'm a 30 something year old man, interested in many things, and for some years I've been also interested in reading, mostly about philosophy, psychology, religion or spirituality and things of that kind. I can't remember where exactly Wilson came under the radar, but I know I was hooked on his work pretty much immediately, his humor, humility, general style and attitude really got me."

Monday, January 29, 2024

A good 1986 interview with Arlen and Robert Wilson

The above is an excellent interview, dating to 1986 in Ireland but only posted a few weeks ago on YouTube, apparently by Martin Wagner. It is noteworthy for including Arlen Wilson, and is  nicely timed for the release of the Hilaritas Press edition of Chaos and Beyond, which has some of Arlen Wilson's writing.

The video was called to my attention by Oz Fritz, who writes, "I saw this amazing video with RAW and Arlen shot in their home in Ireland in 1986. It's the first footage I've ever seen of Arlen and it reveals a dynamic with their marriage. In some ways she's the opposite of RAW. It's mostly her for the first 20 minutes then RAW joins in. Lots of great stuff - he talks about what's behind Prometheus Rising; they talk about Bob Geldolf and Live Aid, E.J. Gold and much more. The interviewer, Faustin Bray (a friend of a friend) asks some really good questions toward the end."

There are also a couple of nice bits that shed light on Illuminatus! And Arlen says that she stopped reading RAW's books in manuscript and waits for them to be published because he is sensitive to feedback. And you also hear discussion about a quote from one of RAW's books that offended Arlen, although RAW defends it. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

New book on Wilhelm Reich

A new book which takes a fresh look at Wilhelm Reich will be released in the spring: Wilhelm Reich versus the Flying Saucers: An American Tragedy, by James Reich. (The author is no relation of his subject.) Here is part of the book blurb:

"The convenient myth of Wilhelm Reich is that he 'lost his mind' in the early 1950s, if not before, and that the last seven years of his life and work — the orgone and radiation experiments, the cloudbuster, and flying saucer intrigues — present an embarrassment. Even the counterculture that embraced Reich, not least William S. Burroughs, Norman Mailer, and filmmaker Dušan Makavejev, tended to distort his theory. The psychosis attached to Reich by his detractors was the culmination of decades of scapegoating by psychoanalysts, Nazis, communists, and conservatives. But Reich’s environmental and Cold War preoccupations and his slow-burning fascination with UFO phenomena were not signs of a madness incipient since his break with Sigmund Freud. They anticipated and reflected much in the American psyche."

More here.

Hat tip: Joseph Matheny on X. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

At least four more RAW books coming from Hilaritas

Hilaritas Press apparently is working on at least four new Robert Anton Wilson titles.

The small press publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust already has issued a title this year, the new edition of Chaos and Beyond. 

And Rasa recently provided me an update on two books that are pretty far along, a new edition of RAW's Reality Is What You Can Get Away With and a reprint of Timothy Leary's Terra II: The Starseed Transmission.

During the recent podcast featuring Scott Apel, timed to promote the new release of Chaos and Beyond, the podcast host, Mike Gathers, discussed two more RAW collections that are in the works, one focused on politics and one on magick.

At about two minutes into the podcast, Mike explains that Rasa deserves the credit for what Hilaritas has done, then mentions that he himself did play a role in putting together last year's Lion of Light. 

"We're working on a new one now," Mike says. "Cuz there's no shortage of stuff that we can pull out of magazines and put into print. We're looking at a politics book and a magick book and there's probably a  half dozen good ideas."

I don't know anything else yet about the "half dozen good ideas," although there's apparently been some discussion about a book that consists entirely of interviews, see below. 

There's a good discussion in the podcast about RAW's failure to maintain copies of many of his short pieces, forcing RAW fans such as Mike (who founded and Martin Wagner to collect such material. 

It's also known that Hilaritas is looking to reprint The Sex Magicians; see for example my interview with Rasa last year. From that interview:

About the reports on planned new titles, Rasa wrote, "Yes, we are working on a few ideas. The 'RAW Politics' book (working title) has been picking up speed with Mike Gathers, Chad Nelson and Jesse Walker all working to get a collection of RAW articles together."

About other possible books that haven't been announced yet, Rasa wrote, "Two books that we’ve been thinking about for a while are also on my mind recently: Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words, and The Sex Magicians. I just last week scanned Forbidden Words. RAW obtained the copyright for that book when he left Playboy. 

"Mike Gathers had a couple ideas for compilations of RAW essays for a few other books: RAW on Magick and RAW Interviews are in that list. We’re still thinking about those."

If you look at the Hilaritas Press home page, you can see that the initial plan was to put out new editions of many of RAW's titles. Despite the fact that everything on that list has been published except for Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, it doesn't look like the well will run dry anytime soon. 

Natural Law Or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw originally was conceived as a "politics book" but eventually went into a different direction, see this interview with Chad Nelson, e.g., "We shelved several of the more overtly political tracts and focused exclusively on Wilson's writings on model agnosticism. The project really became fun when we made that pivot explicit. Wilson scholars know how much model agnosticism underlies his worldview, so the idea that there would be a newly published book of essays and interviews spanning five decades where we get to see him riff on that theme very directly, over and over again, in a variety of different ways, was one of the coolest moments for me."

Friday, January 26, 2024

A bit of news on the new RAW biography

Robert Anton Wilson (from the RAW Experimental website)

Prop Anon reveals a new detail about his new RAW biography: "The bibliography for Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson is currently 32 pages long."

This is a good example of why I am excited about the new biography: Everything I have learned suggests that a great deal of research went into the upcoming book, scheduled to come out August 6 this year. See this website for available details and preorder information.

No cover reveal yet (I checked). I'll provide updates as they become available. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Writer Ben Graham releases fiction

Ben Graham (photo from Substack)

Writer Ben Graham  has put out a new issue of his newsletter, The Urban Spaceman, and he announces that he's issuing part one of  his upcoming five-part novel as a new short book:

"I have a new book out that you can buy. Electric Tibet is the first volume of American Underground, my projected 180,000-word psychedelic odyssey through the twentieth century’s magical counterculture. It’s written in the form of five interconnected novellas, and I’ve decided to self-publish the first as a kind of white label ‘underground edition’ to raise interest, generate critical feedback, and hopefully give me a bit of financial help while I finish the project.

"As I’ve written on the back cover blurb, Electric Tibet is an occult reimagining of the January 1967 Human Be-In in San Francisco that gave birth to the Summer of Love. It's available as a paperback or ebook and is roughly 34,000 words long. I’d love to hear what you think of it. You can get both versions exclusively from my Big Cartel site. More information on American Underground can be found here."

Ben has more at his newsletter, including a link to his recent piece on a classic Donovan album. 

More information about Ben here. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Hilaritas releases Scott Apel podcast

The Hilaritas podcast this month features writer D. Scott Apel, Robert Anton Wilson's old friend. Apel was also the person who handled the actual publishing behind RAW's "Trajectories" newsletter. Here's the blurb: "In this episode, Mike Gathers chats with Scott Apel – writer, movie lover, and long time friend of RAW. Scott was the original editor and publisher of the new Hilaritas Press release of Chaos and Beyond: The Best of Trajectories. Scott also created Beyond Chaos and Beyond, which Scott describes in this episode."

I plan to listen to this today. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Hugo Awards are dealing with a big scandal

The Hugo Award is the oldest and the most prestigious award in the literary subculture of science fiction. But the awards given out at the last year's Worldcon, held in Chengdu, China,  have come under a cloud. 

R.F. Kuang's Babel, which won the Nebula Award and the Locus Award and which seemed to be an obvious front runner for the Hugo, was not even a finalist. And now it has emerged that the book was not a finalist, not because it failed to get enough nominations, but because it was ruled "not eligible." No explanation has been provided for the ruling.

Best fan writer nominee Paul Weimer also was ruled "not eligible," and Xiran Jay Zhao, a nominee for the Astounding Award (i.e., best new writer) also got the "not eligible" treatment, also without any explanation. The Kuang controversy is getting the most attention, but these are also important awards. 

Here's John Scalzi's blog post about the mess. He has links for those who want more. And  here is the report on File 770, a blog which covers science fiction news. In the latter article, note the shameful non-answer given by  Dave McCarty, identified as "a Chengdu Worldcon vice-chair and co-head of the Hugo Awards Selection Executive Division," when File 770's Mike Glyer asked for an explanation. 

There was a long delay in releasing the actual Hugo numbers, which doesn't exactly feel like transparency, either. Since there's been no explanation for what happened, we can't immediately assume Chinese Communist censorship, but the situation doesn't look good. (Scalzi: "I will note that at this point everything is at the 'what the hell?!?' stage, and the rumors and speculation are just that, rumor and speculation. With that said, something sure seems hinky here, and no one is very happy about it.")

There have been other controversies involving the Hugo Awards in the past, but this already feels like the worst ever. 

R.F. Kuang has posted a statement, and she says, "I wish to clarify that no reason for Babel's ineligibility was given to me or my team. I did not decline a nomination, as no nomination was offered." And here is Paul Weimer's response. 

People who want to read Dave McCarty being an jerk and refusing to answer questions ("Folks asking for more are not going to get it from me") can look at his Facebook post.  (This is his "explanation": "After reviewing the Constitution and the rules we must follow, the administration team determined those works/persons were not eligible.")

For the record, McCarty denies Chinese officials were involved: "Nobody has ordered me to do anything. Nobody is changing decisions I have made. Folks can ask Helen how well I take orders and if she thinks I would have stayed on if such were happening.

There was no communication between the Hugo administration team and the Chinese government in any official manner."

Monday, January 22, 2024

The ManKind Project

My brother-in-law, Kevin, died suddenly on Nov. 28. He was a great guy, the death was very sudden and unexpected, and I am still trying to make sense of what happened.

For some weeks before he died, Kevin had mentioned that he was involved with a group called The ManKind Project. It apparently involved going off  on retreats. I didn't really get a clear sense of what the group was about.

I have been reading Lion of Light, the new RAW book on Aleister Crowley that Hilaritas published last year, following along with the online reading group at the Jechidah blog. As I was close to the end, I recently went ahead and finished the book, reading the R. Michael Johnson piece, and then read Rasa's bit about the cover and the biographies at the back of the book about the contributors.

I noticed this sentence in the Mike Gathers bio: "He currently works coaching men in creating a meaningful life while volunteering as a leader and administrator in the ManKind Project."

This spurred me to do a bit more research, and I discovered there's a Wikipedia article about the group. 

If you look at the article, there's a section called "New Warrior Training Adventure," which purports to describe the retreats that the group holds. It says, 

"MKP states:

The New Warrior Training Adventure is a modern male initiation and self-examination. [...] It is the "hero's journey" of classical literature and myth that has nearly disappeared in modern culture.

"MKP states that those who undertake this journey pass through three phases characteristic to virtually all historic forms of male initiation: descent, ordeal and return."

There's also a graphical representation of the hero's journey, a public domain image, which I reproduce at the top of this blog post.

To my surprise, the details of the initiation process and the hero's journey sounded very familiar to me, through reading the works of Robert Anton Wilson, who spends quite a bit of time describing initiation processes, both inside masonic organizations and outside them.

To be clear, I still don't know much about The Mankind Project, and I express no opinion about the group. But I have become curious about it. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Watch the Cosmic Trigger play slideshow

 A slideshow of images from Daisy Campbell's Cosmic Trigger play, while the "Eight Circuits Song" is sung. See the YouTube link for full credits, but a couple of snippets:

"All images are from the Cosmic Trigger Play and supporting events at Camp & Furnace in Liverpool and The Lost Theatre, London in November 2014 and The Cockpit Theatre in 2017."

"Music: Eight Circuits Song from the play (prison scene with RAW visiting Tim Leary), performed by Occult Hardware Labs ft Jethro Skinner & Oliver Senton (written by Rob Burnham, Fayann Smith and Daisy Campbell)"

The video was made to promote the Hilaritas Press book that published Daisy's play. Everyone should buy it and read it! Here is my review. 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Big sale at Peakrill Press

 This just in: Peakrill Press, mentioned in yesterday's blog post, is holding a January sale. Prices are 20% off when you buy two or more books or zines.

Or use MYC10 for a 10% discount at the Peakrill Press shop. 

Dan Sumption is literally snowed in, so you can cheer him up if you buy something. 

I can certainly recommend the Mycelium Parish News 2023. James Burt kindly sent me a copy. It's a handsome zine with a great deal of information about Discordian news, events, publications, podcasts and music. As John Higgs wrote, "It’s a yearly compendium of books, events, podcasts, interviews, music etc that originated from, or is of interest to, the Discordian-adjacent counterculture. If you’ve missed any great stuff, basically, you’ll find it listed here." It's £2.30. but if you grab it now, you can take advantage of the discount.

One  nice feature of the Mycelium Parish News 2023, and an example of the care that Sumption and Burt put into the publication: For each of the items that is online, the URL is listed, but the zine also lists an easy to type URL using the URL shortener This blog, for example, is available at "" is not really a very long URL, but in many cases, this is a real convenience.

I like to think I cover a lot of ground this blog, but when I finish this post, I'll be signing up for a couple of email newsletters I've missed. There's quite a bit in the zine I did not know about; the Discordian/RAW fandom movement is doing a lot. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

Check out Peakrill Press

King Arthur and Merlin bravely confront a terrifying kitten. 

Here is a publisher worth checking out: Peakrill Press, which puts out Discordian books and books that in general would be of interest to RAW fans; please check out the website, where you can get more information about publications such as Mycelium Parish News 2023 and The Lost Doctor Annual. There's an upcoming project called True Clown Stories.  It is by James Burt, and it is "a collection of abhorrent short stories about the real lives of clowns." 

Peakrill Press is owned and run by Dan Sumption, about whom I can provide this: "Dan Sumption is a writer, publisher and rambler based on a remote moor in the far North of England. Dan runs Peakrill Press, and his interests include everything."

Mr. Sumption has a nice piece up at his publishing site about some of the 80 books he read last year, including works by John Higgs and Robert K.G. Temple, and he also has a Substack newsletter, Mycoleum Mind.

I have mentioned some of Peakrill Press' publications on this blog, but this one was new to me: King Arthur vs. Devil Kitty, "a whimsical illustrated retelling of a 12th Century tale in which King Arthur battles a giant kitten."

Thursday, January 18, 2024

New study on universal basic income

Joe Biden (official portrait of the man allegedly descended from the god Odin)

As Robert Anton Wilson was interested in the idea of a universal basic income, I thought I would pass on this entry in the new "Links for January" article by Scott Alexander for his Substack newsletter, Astral Codex Ten:

"The charity GiveDirectly has announced some early results from the largest yet study on universal basic income, which monitored 200 Kenyan villages for two years (so far). They report highly positive results:

"The residents who received the income] invested, became more entrepreneurial, and earned more. The common concern of “laziness” never materialized, as recipients did not work less nor drink more. 

"This study is especially important because one common previous objection to optimistic UBI studies was that sure, people didn’t quit work, but that was because they knew the UBI study would end in a year and knew they needed to maintain savings / career capital for when that happened. To test for that, this study promised a twelve-year UBI. Still, people continue to work as much as ever. I’m surprised by this result; is the claim that people still work exactly as much when they don’t need the money? Why? The paper gives some information that you can use to determine that the monthly UBI is about half the average monthly income for the villages involved, so maybe the idea was that people wouldn’t quit in a way that gave them less money than they had before?"

Follow the link to read item No. 20, which reinforces the point I was attempting to make with the recent post on RAW's views on free speech. I also liked item No. 15, on the genealogy showing that Joe Biden is descended from the god Odin. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Total Dick-Head's Guide to Philip K. Dick

An online class that I wanted to pass on information about, seeing as how sombunall of you are Philip D. Dick fans as well as RAW fans: Phillip K. Dick scholar David Gill will be teaching an online class on Dick, 16 weeks total, with "special guests," cost is $185 or $195, classes will be recorded for those not available for the live sessions. The class starts Jan. 30; more information at the link. 

Here is some of the pitch:

"Wanna know what made science fiction’s most enigmatic genius tick? Wanna find the hidden autobiography and obscure literary references in his writing? Take a deep dive into the luminous brilliance of Dick’s fiction and the uncanny weirdness of his life with David Gill, a scholar who has studied PKD for more than two decades, and is currently at work on a full-length biography. The class features an all-star roster of Dick-Head guests including novelist Jonathan Lethem, counter culture thinker Erik Davis, PKD biographer Gregg Rickman, PKD friends (novelist) Tim Powers and ("dark-haired girl") Linda Levy, PKD scholars, Sam Umland, Umberto Rossi, DH Wilson, DE Wittkower (editor of Philip K. Dick and Philosophy), and Gabriel Mckee. 

"The sixteen-week zoom, 32 session course will look at the author’s biography, including his traumatic infancy, drug use, and mystical experiences. It will also offer close readings of over a dozen novels, multiple biographies, academic articles, and secondary sources. We will take a deep dive into early short stories like “Roog” and “Progeny,” and novels including Eye in the Sky, The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Martian Time-Slip, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, A Scanner Darkly and Valis."

Gill writes the Total Dick-Head blog. It would be difficult to think of a better opportunity than this class for the really serious PKD fan.

I exchanged emails with Mr. Gill back in 2010, trying to pin down the time that RAW and PKD met at a science fiction convention in California; Gill tried to be helpful, but I never got a definitive answer from him and his army of experts. 

But I eventually tracked the information down! See my blog post, "When Bob Met Phil." The third comment is from Scott Apel. Note that accounts differ on how the two actually met. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Hilaritas update: 'Terra II' and 'Reality'

L. Wayne Benner celebrating his 81st birthday last fall. (Facebook photo). 

Hilaritas Press, well along in is project to publish definitive editions of many of Robert Anton Wilson's books, had a productive year last year. As Rasa mentioned in the latest Hilaritas newsletter, the publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust put out five books last  year (counting an audiobook), four of them by RAW:

TSOG: The Thing That Ate The Constitution

Prometheus Rising Audio Book (narrated by Oliver Senton)

The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Elevated: Cannabis As A Tool For Mind Enhancement (by Sebastián Marincolo)

Lion of Light: Robert Anton Wilson on Aleister Crowley (Reading group still going at Jechidah). 

I don't know how many books are currently in the works, but Rasa confirms that the two titles mostly likely to come out next (as usual, he doesn't want to promise specific dates) are Terra II: The Starseed Transmission by Timothy Leary (with Lynn Wayne Benner and Joanna Leary) and RAW's Reality Is What You Can Get Away With. 

Here is Rasa's update on the two books when I asked for comments:

"I’m just going through the corrections sent in by our proofreaders for Reality Is What You Can Get Away With. My estimate was that there were about 50 tiny things to correct – often they were spaces that needed to be added or removed, although there were a few misspelled words. Some of those errors no doubt came from the OCR process. We have to scan the books, do OCR and then edit carefully what we get for each of the RAW titles, as we were unable to obtain any of the original files, except for with The Starseed Signals and Lion of Light. So, I have to continue with checking what the proofreaders have sent. That won’t take long, but then I have to construct the print edition. 

"Timothy Leary’s Terra II has been proofed, and I just haven’t yet gotten around to building that print version yet. That’s coming soon. Terra II was actually written by Leary, but the construction was by Tim and his prison mate, L. Wayne Benner. As is told in the book, the two inmates had “yard time” every day, and Wayne would be doing research in his solitary confinement, and report to Tim what he found, Tim would then go back to his solitary confinement and type up what he and Wayne had discussed while they paced the yard back and forth. I was trying to get a hold of Wayne, and I came across your article from 2013 about Wayne, and after asking you to look into it again, you got a hold of Wayne’s daughter. She connected me to Wayne, and just last week I had a really nice half hour phone conversation with him. He was very forthcoming, and at some point I’ll write up our discussion, but briefly, he said that meeting Tim was perhaps the most extraordinary event in his life. The two became very close friends, perhaps a closeness that only inmates can share. Wayne told me that he was the one who picked up Tim when he was finally released from prison, and he said that every couple months after that, until Tim’s health began to fail, the two of them would take a trip to Mexico to eat lobster. After reading Terra II, and talking to Wayne, I have to say I’m impressed by the guy’s erudition. I also started reading his autobiography (Seven Shadows), and that’s a surprisingly well written piece. He notes in the beginning that he was not a great writer, and so was presenting the manuscript as is, warts and all, but the beginning is not only well written, but pretty scary. He escaped from prison, and the book starts when he was captured and the prison staff were not very happy with the guy, and made his return to prison as unpleasant as possible. That gave me new insight on why Leary spoke passionately about prison reform, as told to RAW and reported in The Starseed Signals."

As Rasa mentions, I did a bit of legwork to help Rasa get ahold of Mr. Benner. 

Rasa expects to release more news, probably later this month: "We have some other cool news for our next newsletter, that I think we’ll put out to coincide with the next podcast on January 23rd. The next podcast is with RAW’s very close friend, Scott Apel. I just finished editing that video, and I was continually cracking up with Scott’s stories. That’s going to be a great podcast. I’m so impressed with Mike Gather’s hosting."

Monday, January 15, 2024

Oz Fritz on Finnegans Wake and Aleister Crowley


Oz Fritz, who has been doing good work in the Lion of Light discussion group at Jechidah, put a post up last month on his own blog that I somehow missed, "Folds and Overlaps between Aleister Crowley and Finnegans Wake."

"This essay intends to point out some of the parallels between Finnegans Wake, Magick and Thelema alongside references to Mr. Crowley, himself," Oz explains. He then points out several apparent references to Crowley in Finnegans Wake. Oz says the essay will be continued. 

Here's an interesting bit: "Incidentally, Joyce used Cabala, a fundamental technology for the construction of higher bodies or brains. By Gematria, the Cabalistic transposition of letters into numbers, HCE adds to 18; Ulysses has 18 episodes."

Giordano Bruno wrote a book called The Curse of Cabala; the Yale University Press published a translation into English. The blurb says, "The Cabala of Pegasus consists of vernacular dialogues that turn on the identification of the noble Pegasus (the spirit of poetry) and the humble ass (the vehicle of divine revelation). In the interplay of these ideas, Bruno explores the nature of poetry, divine authority, secular learning, and Pythagorean metempsychosis, which had great influence on James Joyce and many other writers and artists from the Renaissance to the modern period."

Sunday, January 14, 2024

The Zen of George Carlin

George Carlin in 1975 (public domain photo)

The comedian George Carlin (1937-2008) was a friend of Robert Anton Wilson and he shows up in the new RAW book reprinted/issued by Hilaritas, Chaos and Beyond: The Best of Trajectories

I thought I would share a "Zen of George Carlin" quote shared on X by Matt Cardin:

"I found a very liberating position for myself as an artist: I sort of gave up on the human race, and gave up on the American dream and culture and nation, and decided that I didn't care about the outcome. And that gave me a lot of freedom from a kind of distant platform to be sort of amused, to watch the whole thing with a combination of wonder and pity....

"[I don't have] an emotional stake in whether this experiment with human beings works. I really don't care. I love people as I meet them one by one. People are just wonderful as individuals. You see the whole universe in their eyes if you look carefully. But as soon as they begin to group, as soon as they begin to clot, when there are five or ten of them, or even groups as small as two, they begin to change. They sacrifice the beauty of the individual for the sake of the group. I decided it was all under the control of groups now, whether it's business, religion, political people, or whatever, and I would distance myself from wishing for a good outcome. Let it do what it's going to do, and I'll enjoy it as an entertainment....

"We've all seen a lot of comedians who seem to have a political bent in their work. And always implicit in the work is some positive outcome, that this is all going to work. "If only we do this, if only we pass that bill, if only we elect him, if only we do that." It's not true. It's circling-the-drain time for humans. I honestly believe this, not just as a comedian....That's why I could say in [my 1992 stand-up show] that the planet is fine, but the people are fucked. Because the planet will outlast us. It will be here, and it will be fine."

—George Carlin, interviewed by Charlie Rose, March 26, 1996

Friday, January 12, 2024

Robert Shea's pal, Richard Lupoff [UPDATED With New Photos]

Richard Lupoff. (Creative Commons photo via Wikipedia.)

Richard Lupoff (1935-2020) was a science fiction and mystery author, a science fiction fan who published an award-winning fanzine, and an expert on Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft. He also, I found out yesterday, was a friend of Robert Shea.

Here is a relevant bit from an introduction to The Organ Reader, an anthology of work from an underground newspaper:

"The Organ was a leading light of what was then known as “the counterculture,” but nonconformist attitudes notwithstanding, it had to get to the printer on time. One night long after our children were asleep and Pat and I had retired to our own room, the phone rang. I picked it up groggily, noting that my bedside clock read 1:30 AM, and heard the weary voice of Gerard van der Leun.

" 'We’re putting the issue together. It has to go to the printer first thing in the morning. We need some copy cut, and everybody is just too exhausted to do it. Can you come in and lend a hand?'

"Pat and I dragged ourselves out of bed and pulled on some clothing. Our oldest kid was approaching puberty and was a thoroughly responsible youngster. We felt we could leave him in charge of his sleeping siblings for a couple of hours. We climbed into our Volvo station wagon, crossed the Bay Bridge, and parked at the Chicken Factory.

"Organ had obtained a piece by Bob Shea, an old East Coast friend of ours, and Robert Anton Wilson, already regarded in some circles as a burgeoning guru. Shea and Wilson had worked together for Hugh Hefner at Playboy. They came away from that experience as conspiracy mavens, resulting eventually in a series of books starting with the now-classic Illuminatus Trilogy. The layouts for their Organ essay had been made and the article was too long by a couple of column-inches. There was no way to set new type at the office and no time to have it done in the morning. The article had to be cut. Literally. Gerard handed me a repro proof and a razor blade and told me what needed to be done."

This fits with what else is known about Shea, who knew many SF figures, including Algis Budrys and magazine editor Larry Shaw. Shea knew many such people as a member of the Hydra Club. 

UPDATE: Below are Lupoff book autographs Eric Wagner sent, see the comments:

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Big new article up at RAW Semantics

The RAW Semantics blog has a new post up, "RAW 'will'." 

"This post consists of a 15-yr-old 'self-help'(!) article about 'the will', plus some introductory comments bringing things up to date – and firmly into a Robert Anton Wilson context."

I have some kind of a bug and I had to go to the doctor, so I didn't have time to read Brian's post first before I did this post. I'll be reading it along with you. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Oz on Gregory on RAW on Crowley

The discussion of Lion of Light by Robert Anton Wilson continues at the Jechidah blog, and the latest entry is Oz Fritz writing about Gregory Arnott's afterword, "Enduring Magical Biography."

Oz writes, "This piece is my favorite non-Wilson essay in the book. It’s also the only one with a perspective from someone under 50." I won't try to summarize what Oz (and Gregory) wrote, the pieces cover a lot of ground, but they are interesting. 

When I re-read Gregory's piece, I marked this passage: "Crowley's spirit is woven into Illuminatus! in a way that it imbues the book with a sinister glory and provides the reader with a valuable practical instruction in magic, as brilliant a resource as Crowley's Liber E or Liber O, in "Appendix Lamed"."

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Did RAW have a point on freedom of speech? [UPDATE]

Image posted on X/Twitter, which still seems to (mostly) support free speech, although I'm unhappy with many of Elon Musk's moves 

Robert Anton Wilson, like me, was a free speech absolutist who argued that the only way to protect freedom of speech was to protect it for everyone.

I know I have friends in the RAW fandom community who disagree, but I wanted to ask if RAW's opinion is looking pretty good lately, or at least seems more reasonable to folks who disagree. Here are some news headlines I've noticed recently. 

Here is a Human Rights Watch report on censorship of Palestinian content on Facebook. 

"Germany’s unprecedented crackdown on pro-Palestinian speech." (from The Hill.)

"In Europe, Free Speech Is Under Threat for Pro-Palestine Protesters." (Time magazine). 

Many other examples could be offered. 

I'm not going to try to solve the problems of the Mideast in a blog post, but it seems to be undisputed that Israeli military action has killed thousands of civilians, many of the deaths have been children. It seems to me that protesting this ought to be a matter of freedom of speech.

Here is RAW on the topic of freedom of speech:

"Civil liberties remain indivisible, and what can be done to Catholics or Mobil Oil today can be done to Protestants or nudists tomorrow. ("If they can take Hancock's wharf they can take your cow or my barn," as John Adams once said.) Since the majority always rejects the Bill of Rights whenever a sociologist tries the experiment by offering it for approval by a cross-section of the population, and since George Bush earned great enthusiasm for his attacks on the ACLU, I don't suppose Wilgus or most people will understand this point, but we libertarians  have to keep saying it over and over, every generation, and hope it will eventually register."


Bonus: Here's a story out of Canada on another free speech issue. "Canada blocks citizenship for Russian activist convicted for blog posts opposing war."

UPDATE: Canada has apparently been embarrassed into granting the Russian lady citizenship after all. 

Monday, January 8, 2024

Bancroft Library acquires RAW manuscripts

The Bancroft Library. (Creative Commons photo by Søren Fuglede Jørgensen. Source)

 The Bancroft Library, the special collections library at the University of California at Berkeley, has acquired the Michael and Cynthia Horowitz psychedelic archives, a collection that includes the manuscripts of Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy and the first Cosmic Trigger book, along with materials from Timothy Leary and other authors who wrote about psychedelics. Michael Horowitz was Leary's archivist and his collection of Leary's papers are owned by New York City's public library.

The Horowitz  psychedelic archives at the Bancroft Library are listed in the library catalog, but they are still being processed and are not yet available to the public.

There also is a new UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics, which has joint programs with Harvard.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Erik Davis to teach 'Three Stigmata' course

Erik Davis has announced he will teach a course on Philip K. Dick's Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch starting Jan. 23.  a five-week course available in person in Berkeley, California, and also available online.

Full details here, but here are some relevant bits from the announcement: 

"The first evening will serve as an introduction to Dick, his personal and psychological trials, and the religious experiences and concerns that started to emerge around the time he wrote this wild, biting, and creepy novel. Subsequent nights will work through the book in 50-60 page increments per week (read the Vintage edition if you can). Topics will include: virtual reality, consumer psychedelics, Barbie dolls, space-faring billionaires, transhuman augmentation, global warming, Mars colonization, the Eucharist, the cosmic 'Outside' (H. P. Lovecraft and Olaf Stapledon), the Gnostic demiurge, the bardo, the nature of evil, the genre of horror, and the breakdown of consensus reality.

"We will make the lecture portion of the evenings available for online viewers, but I will continue my practice of not recording the Q&A portion of the evening, which I find creates a better vibe in the room, loosens me up, and rewards those who make the trek and pay the bucks."

Saturday, January 6, 2024

New book of poetry by Steve Pratt

 POEMMXXIII is a new book of poetry by Steven James Pratt (e.g. "Steve Fly"), poems written during 2023. Here is the British Amazon link. For U.S. readers here is the American Amazon link. 

If you follow the links, you can read the introductory poem, which should give you an idea of the contents.

I've been reading the PDF Steve sent me. Here is a bit I liked (from "solstice 2023")

oh, great spirit forged in fire

unwound from these solar tree rings

let us not turn to stardust

just yet

Here is a list of Steve Pratt's other book titles, note the 2019 book about Robert Anton Wilson which should interest some of you. For more information on Steve's varied creative works, including his music, please see this website. 

The Spore Of The Words / Shenanigums Wave (2011)

FLY: Selected Poetry 2001-2017 (2017)

Cannabis Coffeeshop Journal (2018) Sounds Fly: Music Writing (2018)

Big Chief: Getting High With John Sinclair And The Fly (2018)

Silent But Dudley: Writings On The Black Country (2018)

Flyting: Selected Writing (2018)

Passport To Brexit: Poetry (2018)

Fly On The Tale Of The Tribe: A Rollercoaster Ride With Robert Anton Wilson (2019)

Fly Papers: Cannabis Writings 2018-2020 (2020)

2020: Squintin Quarantino (2020)

Deep Scratch: A Novel (2020)

Flyku: Poetry (2020)

Corona Slayer: Poetry (2021)

Prose Piracy: Selected Writing (2021)

New Growth: Selected Writings (2022)

Deep Scratch Remix (2023)

Amsterdam Cats: A Photo Book (2023)

Friday, January 5, 2024

More on RAW movie recommendations

Lillian Gish in the movie 'Intollerance'

If you enjoyed Wednesday's post about Robert Anton Wilson's movie recommendations, here are a couple of resources to consider.

Spookah noted in the comments that he's put together a website listing movies that RAW mentioned in his books and elsewhere. He's been updating it as he gets more information.

And here's a resource Spookah cites: RAW's 1998 list of his 100 favorite American movies, which I put up as a blog post in 2014. 

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Hilaritas releases 'Chaos and Beyond'

Wasting little time in getting the new year started right, Hilaritas Press has released Chaos and Beyond, the anthology from the newsletter Trajectories that originally was released in 1994 and which has been out of print. 

I have a used copy of the original book, and I bought the Kindle was soon as I noticed the announcement email Rasa sent out. The new edition features a new 2023 introduction written by D. Scott Apel, Wilson's collaborator on the original newsletter.

In that new introduction, Apel worries that the book has become out of date. While I take his point that some of the issues the book covers won't seem relevant today, I really enjoyed the book and I am certain that other RAW fans will, too. I don't think it will replace Cosmic Trigger or any of the other classics as anyone's favorite RAW book, but it's a good read. 

Here's what Rasa writes:

"For over a decade (1987-1997), Robert Anton Wilson published a quarterly newsletter, Trajectories: The Journal of Futurism and Heresy with editorial and publishing expertise from his wife, Arlen Riley Wilson, and his friend, D. Scott Apel. Scott describes the newsletter as, "full of original articles, unpublished fiction, and outrageous opinion." Chaos and Beyond features the best essays from the first five years of the newsletter.  

"The book is mostly by Robert Anton Wilson, but with guest appearances by Arlen Wilson, D. Scott Apel, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Timothy Leary, Ph.D. Linus Pauling, Ph.D., Robert Newport, M.D., Edward Kellogg III, Ph.D., Peter Russell, George Carlin, and Ed McMahon."

The bit from Timothy Leary is hilarious (i.e, the piece about writing letters to the editor using a phony name), and you'll enjoy reading Arlen's work. 

More here. 

In related news, the next Hilaritas Press podcast, out on Jan. 23, will feature an interview with Apel. I've wanted to hear him on the podcast for a long time, and I'm looking forward to the show. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Movie recommendations from RAW

Don Siegel was a director and producer known particularly for the action-adventure films he directed. Thanks to Jesse Walker, who ran across an email exchange with Robert Anton Wilson dating back to 2005, I have RAW's ranking of top three Siegel films: (1) Charley Varrick, (2) Dirty Harry and (3) Coogan's Bluff in that order. (The formatting of the old email makes it difficult to read and there's no info besides the ranking, so I'm paraphrasing with Jesse's help).

RAW also liked the 1943 movie, Son of Dracula. 

Speaking of movie recommendations, Jesse has been continuing his lists of the best movies of 10 years ago, 20 years ago, etc. I'm no movie expert, but Jesse's pick for the best movie of 1953 feels like a surprise. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Books read, 2023 [UPDATED]


As usual, I am listing books that I read last year. Happy reading this year!

1. Sisters of the Vast Black, Lina Rather.
2. Sisters of the Forsaken Stars, Lina Rather.
3. Summer's End, John Van Stry.
4. The Death of Caesar: The Story of History's Most Famous Assassination, Barry Strauss. 
5. Poems of Akhmatova, Anna Akhmarova.
6. Widowland, C.J. Carey.
7. Natural Law, Or Don't Put A Rubber On Your Willy And Other Writings From A Natural Outlaw, Robert Anton Wilson (re-read).
8. A Beast Cannot Feign, Dr. Insensitive Jerk.
9. The Warrior Worlds, Stephen Renneberg. 
10. Like a Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner.
11. The Scythian Empire:  Central Eurasia and the Birth of the Classical Age from Persia to China, Christopher I. Beckwith.
12. Love and Let Die: James Bond, The Beatles, and the British Psyche, John Higgs.
13. No Filter, Paulina Porizkova.
14. Living for Pleasure: An Epicurean Guide to Life, Emily Austin.
15. Ms. Demeanor,  Elinor Lipman.
16. The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Robert Anton Wilson.
17. The Day I Died, Lori Rader-Day.
18. Rendezvous With Rama, Arthur C. Clarke  (re-read).
19. Time of the Dragons (Shike 1), Robert Shea.
20. Declassified: A Low-Key Guide to the High-Strung World of Classical Music, Arianna Warsaw-Fan Rauch.
21. Hope As a Construction: New and Selected Poems, David J. Adams.
22. Floating Worlds, Cecilia Holland.
23. Sraight Outta Dublin, Eric Wagner. (In manuscript, not published yet.)
24. No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology Is Catching Up to Buddhism, Chris Niebauer.
25. Last of the Zinja (Shike 2), Robert Shea.
26. Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, Ada Palmer.
27. Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota, #1), Ada Palmer. (Re-read).
28. Seven Surrenders (Terra Ignota, #2), Ada Palmer. (re-read).
29. The Will to Battle (Terra Ignota, #3), Ada Palmer (re-read).
30. Perhaps the Stars (Terra Ignota, #4), Ada Palmer (re-read).
31. Orion Shall Rise, Poul Anderson.
32. Perdurabo, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley, Richard Kaczynski.
33. The Epicurus Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia, Epicurus.
34. Military History of Late Rome, 284–361, Ilkka Syvänne.
35. Lazy Person's Guide to Framing: Decoding the News Media, Brian Dean.
36. Kalin (Dumarest of Terra #4), E.C. Tubb.
37. Stuff Every Cannabisseur Should Know (Stuff You Should Know Book 26), Marc Luber.
38. Can Legal Weed Win?: The Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics, Robin Goldstein.
39. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein (re-read.)
40. Between the Rivers, Harry Turtledove.
41. Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball, Luke Epplin.
42. The Long View (April, #14), Mackey Chandler.
43. The Game of Life, Timothy Leary.
44. Critical Mass (Delta-v, #2), Daniel Suarez.
45. Liberty's Daughter, Naomi Kritzer.
46. Victory City, Salman Rushdie.
47. Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed: Essays, Harlan Ellison.
48. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain, Charles Dickens.
49.  God's Girlfriend, Dr. Insensitive Jerk. 

UPDATE: Rob Pugh has posted his 2023 reading list. 

Monday, January 1, 2024

Happy new year!


Thought I would pass on a meme from Rasa. Happy new year to my readers, and thank you for reading.