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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."


Brian Dean said...

Great news on 'Terra II' and 'Reality is what you can get away with' - both books I'm interested in seeing in new editions ('Terra II' I haven't previously been able to get hold of - quite rare, I think?).

My copy of 'Reality is what you can get away with' is the 1992 Dell Trade Paperback edition, and was shrouded in mystery for me when I bought it (pretty much as soon as it came out), as it seemed to come from nowhere, without announcement (I was previously used to advance notice/info on the Falcon Press books).

It has that intro by "Professor Padraic Hakim Hasagawa", and an acknowledgment of Anand Singh Khalsa "for providing photgraphs of the author", and of Generic Typography "for providing the scanning and montage work of the photographs and final imagesetting to film". But I always wanted to know more about how it came about in book form, who exactly did the montages, etc (of RAW and JR "Bob" Dobbs in old film stills).

Anyway, much kudos to Hilaritas for doing this!

quackenbush said...

And we've already got Chaos and Beyond so far for 2024.

I'd love to see Hilaritas take on more Leary stuff like Neurologick, Diary of a Hope Fiend, and Jail Notes. It's my understanding that the Leary estate is one big rolling SNAFU and so Terra II will be a great first step.

Jesse said...

How about a definitive edition of Neuropolitics/Neuropolitick, maybe with each version of the essays Leary revised?

quackenbush said...

Jesse, we believe that Neuropolitique is currently tied up with New Falcon - the evil one, not the new Original Falcon run by Nick Tharcher.

Jesse said...

Alas! If nothing else, it sure would be nice to have a current edition that at least has Bob's name on the cover.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Some of this discussion relates to who, if anyone, is actively in charge of the Timothy Leary estate. I have not been able to find out.

Rarebit Fiend said...

Mike, if you're able to, could you point me in a direction where I can get the story behind New Falcoln/Original Falcon. Naturally, that's where I read a lot of my first Wilson books and I've always been confused by what exactly happened.

quackenbush said...

Rarebit (Gregory?),
There was some documentation on all that put up on the web by Tharcher during the time it went down, but I believe that's gone, or too obscure and hard for me to find. I'll do my best to recount.

New Falcon Press was originally set up by Christopher Hyatt (real name Alan Miller) and Nick Tharcher (forget his real name and maybe that's for the best) as a religious non-profit (tax shelter). I believe that Israel Regardie encouraged the two of them set the Press up in part to get some of his works back in print.

Side note: Tharcher lived with Hyatt and his wife Linda. not sure of the relationship between the three, draw your own conclusions. More curious side note: Antero confided in me that he was in very close mentorship relationship with Hyatt while they were writing books together in the 80s, Antero left that relationship in part because he was concerned Hyatt was grooming him. Yes, that kind of grooming.

Anyhow, fast forward to Hyatt dying of cancer. His estranged son, Michael Miller, a junior college (I think) basketball coach, shows up out of no-where when Hyatt is on his death bed, and has Hyatt sign over the rights to New Falcon to him. (I guess the religious non-profit was 100% in Hyatt's control, not Tharcher's for whatever reason). Tharcher posted all these documents - the originals establishing the business and Hyatt's super shaky death bed signature signing it all over to his estranged son. (You can see this situation dramatized in Antero's movie, _To Dream of Falling Upward_ ( from minute 3 to minute 10)

So Tharcher put up an unsuccessful fight on the whole thing and ended up rebooting as Original Falcon and capturing a small handful of active authors to go along with him - mostly Antero.

Meanwhile Hyatt's son took over New Falcon and began liquidating most of the excess/old inventory. Bob Wilson died in the middle of this and turns out he wasn't really under any formal contract with NF as I recall, and Michael Miller began sweet talking Wilson's daughter into signing with him instead of Nick. It worked and the RAW Trust was locked in to that for several years until the contract expired and Hilaritas was formed. There was a snafu or two in there due to some of the artwork in the books and Rasa credits Bobby Campbell for stepping in and being the tipping point in finalizing the deal. Bobby's take was that all he said was, "can't we all get along." Something like that.

Somewhere in there, Michael Miller was accused of sexually assaulting the college girls from his coaching days. Things get fuzzy for me here, but I believe he may have spent time in prison or still be in prison. Currently New Falcon seems to be going through a revival with a new manager who may or may not be a new owner.

Meanwhile, Nick keeps chugging along with Original Falcon, which is primarily the Antero Alli publishing house, but obviously that pipeline of creative work has recently dried up after a flurry of activity last year.

The specific rights to Hyatt's work are still in question and I believe both shops are printing Hyatt's stuff.

New Falcon still prints several Leary books, but who knows what the contract situation is on that because the Leary estate is such a train wreck.

(Tom, as I mentioned before, Rasa has the scoop on who's running the Leary estate (Basically no one competent) so he would be your source on that. It's a longish story and as I understand it, the permission to publish Terra II came from Zach Leary, but I don't think he's officially involved in his step-father's estate, so go figure. I'd love to see Hilaritas take on as many Leary titles as they can, but I think they still want to maintain good relations with NF - we had to get NF's permission to print a couple of the essays in Lion of Light, so you can see the importance of a decent relationship there.)

Bobby Campbell said...

It's probably been long enough that I can tell the full story, though it's not much more dramatic than my encouraging NF to play nice :)))

I found the email with my original plan:
"You're probably beyond this point now, but I could reach out to New Falcon and try to get them to knock it off, perhaps even w/ legal documentation. They're currently selling a book with my cover artwork (Leary's The Game of Life) that they never paid me for, nor did I ever sign a release form. I never made a fuss about it for various laid back reasons, but I could propose a trade. Prometheus Rising for The Game of Life."

I ended up trading The Game of Life cover, and another random cover I had already done, but was withholding waiting for payment, for the Prometheus Rising interior art.

Funnily enough I had saved the PR art once before by declining to redraw it for a new NF edition, and if this trade hadn't worked I was going to redraw it for HP. I'm glad everything worked out and the book remains intact :)))

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Some of the information about Michael Miller from Quackenbush, above, apparently is not correct.

The accusation was that Miller secretly filmed young men, not that he assaulted college girls:

More to the point, Miller apparently was acquitted when the case went to trial in 2018:

The link is to a press release issued by the California Basketball Association.

Here is a followup press release:

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Correction: The trial was in 2015; I don't know why the press release I cited was dated 2018.

Here is yet another press release, from a separate PR release company, that offers more details:

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Bobby or Eric Wagner or Rasa: Is here any clarity on whether Michael Miller still runs New Falcon? My search for the company on the website of the California secretary of state turned up nothing.

Eric Wagner said...

Alas, I do not know who runs New Falcon now. Nick Tharcher always treated me kindly. So did Michael Miller for that matter. I had dinner with Michael once.

Bobby Campbell said...

Not sure, I haven't been in contact since the PR deal, but looking at the NF website and they're still advertising one of his books, so I would assume he's still involved.

And I should offer up that, setting aside any other shady business, MM & NF we're very supportive of my work and treated me well.

I remember seeing this email chain, for one of the Historical Illuminatus books, where RAW's literary agent, Al Zuckerman, wanted to get a new artist to replace me, and MM lied and said he found someone new, but nope! It was still me.

Not that it excuses any of the other funny business with anyone else, but he's all square with me.

quackenbush said...

Most of what I wrote is incorrect. But which part is true?