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

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Erik Davis book release date pushed back


The release of Erik Davis' new book Blotter, has been pushed back about a month after a big screwup by the publisher, MIT Press, which misspelled his name as "Eric" on the spine of the book. 

The news is in the latest issue of Erik's Substack newsletter:

"I just got my hands on a physical copy of Blotter: the Untold Story of an Acid Medium. With the exception of a shocking fuck-up on MIT Press’s part — they misspelled my name on the spine — the thing looks and feels terrific. Unfortunately, in order to fix the fuck-up, the massive distributor that MIT uses is going to delay the official release date until late May. Grrrrr.

"Luckily, I will still have books available at my scheduled events. If you want a sneak peak regardless, you can head over to the Paris Review, which ran an excerpt and some images; the MIT Press Reader also just published a juicy chunk about the stealth packaging of some of the first blotter sheets. Some more short selections are on their way at other outfits."

The book was supposed to be out April 2; Amazon now lists an April 30 release date. 

Erik's book tour starts April 1 and continues during the month; see the newsletter for details. 

Also in the new issue, Erik writes about psychedelic music, including about Bardo Pond, a band I've been known to listen to. 

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Eric Wagner has completed 'Straight Outta Dublin'

A recent photo of Eric Wagner, posted at the website for the Hilaritas Podcast interview of him. 

Eric Wagner reports that he has finished his revisions of Straight Outta Dublin, his book about James Joyce and Joyce's influence on Robert Anton Wilson. I don't have publication news yet.

Eric is of course the author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson; I carry a Kindle of the latest edition around on my phone. He finished a draft of Straight Outta Dublin a year or two ago. I read that early draft last year and offered suggestions; he's gotten feedback from at least one other person. He then set about on revisions and completed them recently.

Eric has been working on Straight Outta Dublin for years (he discussed it in this 2010 interview), so I'm really pleased it's completed and look forward to publication, which I hope will be reasonably soon. 

Eric has read Ulysses many times and has been active in Finnegans Wake discussion groups. If you buy An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, be sure you purchase the 2020 second edition; copies of the older first edition are still floating around. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Discordians reading Illuminatus!


From the RAW Semantics X account: "Not going to make a habit of posting AI-generated images, but... Discordians reading Illuminatus! at Liverpool docks."

My favorite is above, more at the link.

I don't have the hang of this stuff like Brian or Dr. Richard Waterloo, but (from Bing) here are images of an H.P. Lovecraft fan in a cemetery in Providence, reading Illuminatus!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Robert Shea, men's magazine editor

Before Robert Shea took a job at Playboy magazine, he served from 1965 to 1967 as the editor of Cavalier, a men's magazine similar to Playboy.

If you are curious about what a magazine edited by Shea would be like, I have an example to point to. The Internet Archive has a copy of the September 1966 issue of the magazine; a PDF of the complete issue may be downloaded and examined. 

A few observations: Robert J. Shea is listed as editor. Arthur Kretchmer, who had a long career at Playboy, is listed as managing editor. 

The table of contents includes a story by Bruce Jay Friedman and also a story by John D. MacDonald. There's a column by Shea's friend Paul Krassner, and an article on British political cartoonists by Bob Abel, another friend of Shea's.  If Shea was doing Abel a favor here by providing a market, surely Shea was repaid; Abel was the Dell book editor who bought Illuminatus! There are two photo features of attractive young women. Some of the cartoons aren't bad, and the ads are interesting. 

The issue also has a piece by Shea, apparently a regular column, "The Cavalier Attitude," about attending the showing of an Andy Warhol movie. 

I wondered if some of the replies to the letters column were written by Shea. One reply defends the space program. A letter on page 10 from a reader in Winnipeg warns that the publication of nude photos in Cavalier will inspire God to destroy America. The editor's reply says "What about Canada?" 

The advertisement for subscriptions ($6 if you live in the U.S.) says, "Like good cigars, brandy and LSD, Cavalier is best enjoyed in a comfortable, warm and secure atmosphere." 

Another Internet site has a directory of back issues of Cavalier for sale, from 1966; it lists an article for July 1966, "Dr. Timothy Leary on the Psychedelic Revolution," and it shows that Isaac Asimov was a contributor to the magazine. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Five questions for Joseph Matheny [UPDATE]

If you haven't listened to it yet, the new Hilaritas podcast interview of Joseph Matheny is one of the best since I began listening to the podcast series. It's interesting and entertaining, and Mike Gathers does his usual good job of posing the questions and commenting.

The episode was to promote the new edition of Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, which Joseph wrote the introduction for. As I mentioned the other day, Rasa is happy with the ebook edition, so you can buy it now, but the paperback edition still has a few bugs to squish, and Rasa recommends that people who want the paperback wait until they are fixed. I'll tell you when it's OK to buy the paperback. 

Mike is apparently pretty happy with how things went with the podcast, too, because on X, he wrote that his three favorite podcast episodes so far are the interview with Mr. Matheny and interviews with John Higgs and Lon Milo DuQuette. Browse all of the podcasts here. 

The official Joseph Matheny website has lots of information and goodies, so check it out. 

After I listened to the  interview, episode 31 in the podcast series, I had a few things I was curious about, and Joseph kindly agreed to take my follow-up questions. So as an appendix to the podcast, here are five questions and answers. Please note the links!

You mention on the podcast that you eventually found out why Robert Anton Wilson didn't drive. Would you like to share?

MATHENY: He simply said, "Salvador Dali didn't drive." I left it at that. Later I found out it was in part due to his legs being unreliable due to his childhood polio. The car in question was a stick shift, but I don't know if that played a part. Maybe he never learned to drive at all, like I said, his answer was good enough for me.

You said there have only been about four movies that once you watched them, you had to immediately see them again. What were the four?

MATHENY: Naked Lunch, Liquid Sky, Jacob's Ladder, Altered States. Come to think of it, I stayed for another showing of Simon with Alan Arkin too. [Note: The 1990 version of Jacob's Ladder is being recommended, NOT the remake.]

Are there any RAW books particularly meaningful to you, aside from Cosmic Trigger and Reality is What You Can Get Away With? [There's a lot of discussion of those two in the podcast.]

MATHENY: Of course, Illuminatus!, I loved The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, Right Where You Are Sitting Now and Prometheus Rising.

As far as "RAW Material," the show notes link to 'The I in the Triangle" and I have been linking on the blog to the "Lost Studio Session," is there anything else you want to point to? [I am referring to lectures and interviews of Robert Anton Wilson that Joseph produced].

MATHENY: You could point to TAZ and a YouTube version. UPDATE: One more title: Robert Anton Wilson remembered. 

What's the update on the definitive version of Ong's Hat?

MATHENY: It's called Ong's Hat: Compleat and it should will be out next year. 

I'm also still promoting  The Liminal Cycle, a trilogy I finished last year. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

RIP Vernor Vinge [UPDATED]

Vernor Vinge

 Science fiction master Vernor Vinge died recently. Ted Hand wrote, on X, "RIP Vernor Vinge. The story that first comes to mind for me is 'True Names' a seminal document of cyberpunk that makes connections between the magical and hacker worldviews, as described in this essay by Erik Davis."

To which Erik Davis added, "Very sad to hear that. 'True Names' was one of the most important SF stories for me ever. Not sure if I would have written Techgnosis if it weren't confirmed by the imaginal connections Vinge made there."

Go to the first link for more about Vinge. Apparently there won't be an obituary in the New York Times, which is disappointing. UPDATE: They finally ran one. (As Jesse notes in the comments.)

Monday, March 25, 2024

'Lion of Light' online reading group wraps up

The Lion of Light reading group at Jechidah wraps up with a final blog post, mostly written by Oz but a little bit by Gregory. The discussion includes the proposed alternative cover, above. 

Here's a quote from the piece:

"Another big attraction to Magick for me: it works when applied; sometimes much more than expected; sometimes shockingly so.  Simply expressing an intention puts things in motion. Coming into contact with Crowley's material presents the first obstacle or barrier –  wild stories and concern about the man himself. It's been said that he exaggerated any lurid stories about himself to amplify this bad reputation. It may have gotten out of hand; at times in his life he appeared to regret all the bad publicity coming his way. Getting hung up on Crowley's personality can effectively filter out anyone not ready for the material."

Another reading group at Lion of Light is planned this summer; the topic isn't selected yet. 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

'Sex Magicians' update

At Hilaritas Press, work seems to be continuing on an official edition of The Sex Magicians. A note from Charles Faris on Twitter: "By the way, I just finished text editing the Sex Magicians, and if you think of it as the pulp porn version of Illuminatus! it just reveals the truth of the old dictum, as above so below. In other words, it’s pretty freaking awesome. And a quick, easy read!"

Wikipedia has some background on the book. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Hilaritas podcast with Joseph Matheny, 'Reality Is What You Can Get Away With' released [IMPORTANT UPDATE]

The Hilaritas Press edition of Reality Is What You Can Get Away With has been released (I would expect the usual official announcement to arrive soon) and Joseph Matheny is the interview subject for the latest Hilaritas Press podcast, released today on the 23rd as per usual. (Hilaritas has not yet sent out the official publication announcement, but that should arrive soon, and of course I will cover it  here.) Update: Don't buy the paperback yet, see announcement below. 

Mr.  Matheny also has released a Substack newsletter issue with the news, so you may as well take a moment to subscribe to the newsletter if you haven't already. "I recently sat down with Mike Gathers for the Hilaritas Press Podcast to discuss the newest reissue of Robert Anton Wilson's book Reality Is What You Can Get Away With and why I have a personal connection to it," he explains. 

More soon, but I've already bought the book and I have the podcast posted above for your convenience, although it should be available wherever you get your podcasts. 

[UPDATE] Rasa says that while the ebook is fine, he suggests that people hold off buying the paperback for a few days. (I bought the Kindle, so apparently I'm fine). When Rasa says it is safe to buy the paperback, I will let you know here. 

Here is Rasa's statement:

Just a note about our new edition of Reality Is What You Can Get Away With

Currently the ebook, Kindle at Amazon, Nook at Barnes and Noble, Apple books, etc – these versions of the book are available and look great. The print edition is a different story. We were really hoping to get it ready before our podcast with Joe Matheny, but we ran into a bit of a snag that should be worked out in a few days, but we'd love people to not buy the paperback book from Amazon until the bug is worked out. 

Hilaritas Press uses Amazon's KDP to produce books for sale on Amazon, and we use Ingram to print books for all other outlets, including all brick and mortar stores. This book has a lot of dark graphics, and the proofs we got from Amazon's KDP just did not look good enough for us. The Ingram versions look fine, but as part of the process, Amazon puts up the book for sale even before we can view a proof! We decided that we didn't like the KDP versions of the book, and so we have deleted that book from our KDP account. Sadly, the Amazon page may still sell the KDP version for the next day or two before they switch over to the Ingram version. 

If you want the ebook, buy it now. It's fine. If you want the print edition, I'd say wait a few days until we are sure Amazon is selling our Ingram version. 

So sorry about this! We were going to get this together sooner, but Ingram made a mistake in one of the proof printings, and that kind of delayed the whole process. Usually we don't have these issues, but as I say, this book has a lot of graphics, and we really wanted to be sure that people were getting the best version that we could make! Our official announcements of new books come in our newsletter. As soon as you get the newsletter, you can be assured that the Ingram books are for sale on Amazon. 

If you want to sign up for the Robert Anton Wilson Trust Newsletter, just fill out the form at one of our websites. This one’s fun to visit:

Friday, March 22, 2024

FBI says it has no file on Robert Shea

A 1977 photo of Robert Shea, right, and Robert Anton Wilson in London. 

On March 8, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking the FBI if it has any files on author Robert Shea. I figured if he was an anarchist active in the antiwar movement, who hung around with dodgy characters such as Paul Krassner, Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary, there might be something in the FBI files.

I've received a letter from the FBI pertaining to my Robert Joseph Shea inquiry, dated March 14. The relevant sentences say, "Based on the information you provided, we conducted a main entity record search of the Central Records System (CRS) per our standard search policy. However, we were unable to identify records subject to the FOIPA [Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts] that are responsive to your request. Therefore, your request is being closed." 

If I had additional information, I could submit a new request. I'll notify Robert Shea's son, Mike, about the response, but unless he or anyone else can think of something, I don't plan to make another request.

Footnote: Based on my experiences submitting Freedom of Information Act requests as a newspaper report, I figured a response would not arrive for months, if I got anything at all. When the FBI letter showed up in the mail yesterday, it did not occur to me it was a response to my request, and my worried wife asked why I was getting a letter from the FBI. Apparently, Ann doesn't realize I'm even more harmless than Robert Shea. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Peakrill Press begins Kickstarter for 'True Clown Stories'

The folks at Peakrill Press have begun a Kickstarter for True Clown Stories, featuring stories by James Burt and others. As usual with Kickstarter, supporters can pledge various amounts of money and get various rewards. 

James Burt says, "My clown stories are about people who want to be entertaining. They want to bring people some innocent joy, but reality has thwarted them. These are stories about people who've devoted themselves to red noses and giant shoes but struggle to survive.

"I've been writing clown stories for years. These pieces are strange and intense, and I'm proud to share them. They might be about grubby, angry performers, but they are also about the world we all live in."

More here. 

Here is the website for Peakrill. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Details about the new Alan Moore and Steve Moore book


In a blog post on Feb. 17, I covered the announcement of  The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic by Alan Moore and Steve  Moore, out on Oct. 15, hardcover $50 in the U.S. The book is the revival of a book project from years ago that went into limbo for awhile after Steve Moore's death. 

If  you use the link to go back to that post, you'll get a lot of information about the book. But now I have belatedly learned that artist  John Coulthart did a blog post on Feb. 19 on both his involvement in the book and more details about it.

Lots of information in Coulthart's post, too. Here is an interesting bit: 

"I was surprised to discover that the pair first began talking about magic after Steve introduced Alan to the Illuminatus! trilogy in the 1970s; Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s books also stoked my own interest in magic at the same time, this being a subject I was already curious about thanks to my Dennis Wheatley-reading mother. Alan and Steve didn’t formalise any of their occult preoccupations until the early 1990s but the Illuminatus! connection makes me feel that the Bumper Book might be seen as one of the long-tail artefacts generated by Shea and Wilson’s trilogy."

Via the new John Higgs newsletter, which has lots of event news and announcements. It's John's 50th newsletter. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Why fentanyl busts cause drug deaths to go up

                                                      Dr. Jeffrey Singer

Huge numbers of people die from drug overdoses in the U.S., but somehow drug warriors still get to set policy. 

In a new piece, "Fentanyl Police Busts Actually Make the Overdose Problem Much Worse," David J. Bier and Jeffrey Singer explain why the law enforcement in what RAW called "the war on some drugs" actually makes overdose deaths more likely. Excerpt:

"Start with the short term. When local law enforcement conducts major drug busts, they do temporarily disrupt the market for street drugs, but people who use and have grown dependent on drugs do not simply give up drugs and live clean. Instead, they search out new, unfamiliar dealers who might sell them drugs with different ingredients and potency, which can lead to more deaths.

"Now, it’s true that it might take days or weeks for drug users to connect with a new dealer, and this might seem to 'save lives.' But this often backfires, because by the time they find a new source, users’ tolerance has waned, making them more susceptible to a fatal overdose if they consume their usual dose."

Singer is a reliable source of good information on the war on drugs. (I suspect Bier is, too, but Singer is the person I am more familiar with.)

Monday, March 18, 2024

Archived issues of Mondo 2000

Cover of issue 14 of Mondo 2000.

 Mondo 2000, the cyberculture magazine co-founded and edited by R.U. Sirius, featured contributions from the likes of Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary and Rudy Rucker. It came out in the 1980s and 1990s.

Every issue of the magazine is now available for download. Find all of the issues here. 

I downloaded the first issue, and it includes a piece by Robert Anton Wilson, "Cyber Evolution: Montage." 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

James Burt Nirvana story, and Kickstarter


Copyrighted free use photo, credit Paul Fritz Surachit, details here. 

"Hidden Tracks," a short story by James Burt about Nirvana fans, is both touching and funny. Two of the characters save up to visit Aberdeen in the state of Washington in the U.S.

"(Our friend Emily thought that Nirvana came from Aberdeen in Scotland, and couldn’t figure out why it was taking Henry so long to save up. When we realised, we took the piss. But Emily got a first in her degree and I was a long way from that)." 

"Taking the piss" means to mock somebody; my wife and I watch a lot of British mysteries, so we had heard the expression.

James sends out emails of short stories, none of them longer than about 700 words. Sign up here. 

James also has announced a Kickstarter for a new book:

"I’ve been chatting with Dan from Peakrill Press, and we’ve set a date for launching the True Clown Stories kickstarter: March 21st. We’ve uploaded a preview page where you can sign up to be notified on launch.

"The clowns in this book are not the creepy ones from horror stories. Rather, these are talented people who’ve found themselves in a world that doesn’t value their skills. These are stories about how they fight back against that disappointment.

"This book has been far too long in the works and I’m excited about launching the kickstarter. Nervous too - it’s so much harder to promote things online these days. But we’ll see what happens."

As I mentioned in an earlier post, James Burt worked on the Mycelium Parish News 2023. 

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Jesse Walker reviews 'Tripping on Utopia'

Jesse Walker's comments on Benjamin Breen's book, Tripping on Utopia, attracted some discussion in the comments for my recent blog post.  Jesse's review of the book has now become available at the Reason magazine website. 

I don't think the sole focus should be on Jesse's review, particularly as he is kinder about Tim Leary than other reviewers. Charlotte Shane's review for the New York Times is available here.   The book also was reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books. (The headline for that review is "Timothy Leary Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.") Publisher's Weekly also reviewed it. 

Friday, March 15, 2024

Was the RAW gorilla story 'too good to check'?

 At the Boing Boing website, RAW fan Mark Frauenfelder mentions that he has been reading RAW's Cosmic Trigger 3 and decided to track down an anecdote in the book about a prankster in Uganda who tranquilized gorillas and then dressed them up in clown suits. Mark tries to track down the story and can't find any confirmation and finally decides that it might have been "too good to check." 

In the comments section, this remark from the current Fortean Times news editor might be relevant: "I can confirm that it is indeed from us, via the Coventry Telegraph. It is definitely one of the more unlikely stories we’ve run, but we are as much about the strangeness of the media as the strangeness of the world, so do run tales like this without going deeply into verification, but provide the source for those who feel motivated to follow up."

"Without going deeply into verification" is a good description for a great deal of Fortean material, apparently; see this discussion of The New Inquisition. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Interesting new article on James Joyce

A 1922 photograph of James Joyce by Man Ray. (Public domain photo). 

 "James Joyce Was a Complicated Man" by Henry Oliver, an article posted at The Fitzwilliam, starts out by zeroing in on the date James Joyce chose for Ulysses

"After Nora Barnacle masturbated James Joyce under a bridge, she became his muse. It was their first date, and Nora thought it a way of keeping her ardent admirer at bay. The glove that Nora had removed, Joyce kept by him in bed as a young man. But this was more than infatuation. That day became the centre of Joyce’s imaginative work, the day on which Ulysses was set. 

"A few years earlier, Joyce had been seduced by a prostitute, down by the River Liffey, an encounter which began his retreat from religion and religious authority. Now Nora was bringing him towards his central idea: the role of love in human affairs, and the notion that, as Richard Ellmann put it, the ordinary is the extraordinary; Joyce’s novel is the 'justification of the commonplace.' What happened between him and Nora that day wasn’t crude or immoral or disgusting: it was life. And it became the foundation of Ulysses."

Lots of other interesting observations in the article, too. This passage, for example, could be read as a restatement of how Ulysses influenced Illuminatus!: "Consciousness is fragmentary and so, to depict consciousness, novels must become fragmentary too. As T.S. Eliot said, 'the number of aspects' in Ulysses 'is indefinite'.” This seems like a restatement of RAW's comment that Ulysses does not have one objective point of view. 

The author, Henry Oliver, has his own Substack. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Bobby Campbell's big comics collection

Omnibus 777 is a digital comics bundle that has been put together by Bobby Campbell. $5 for hundreds of pages of comics that can be downloaded individually, or as one big bundle. Available here. 

"OMNIBUS 777 - Your Passport to the Weirdoverse! A digital comix bundle collecting together 12 comix and 4 zines from Bobby Campbell and his amazing friends :)))

"Featuring: Weird Comix #0, Weird Comix #1, Weird Comix #2, Agnosis! #1, Agnosis! #2, BUDDHAFART #1, BUDDHAFART #2, Daze of Future Pastime, REJECTED, Psychonaut Comix #1, Psychonaut Comix #2, EITHER/OR, New Trajectories #1, New Trajectories #2, Maybe..., and Meet the Others.

"Bundle comes with access to PDF versions of all 16 releases, with CBR, Mobi (Kindle), and Web versions of all 12 comix. Download them individually or as a .zip file collection from the OMNIBUS 777 PDF guidebook."

"The idea is to make Omnibus 777 both the cheapest & best way to access my work," Bobby told me. 

Monday, March 11, 2024

Michael Johnson recommends three books on cannabis

[If you look at this blog, I hope you have noticed that the comments have been really interesting lately. Most of them should not really be taken out of context, but Michael's three book recommendations, as part of other comments for the March 7 blog post, seems to stand alone, and I decided to turn them into a blog post to make them easy to access, not least to remind me to read them. The Management.]

Three good books about cannabis

By R. Michael Johnson 

Peter Grinspoon's book from 2023, Seeing Through The Smoke: A Cannabis Specialist Untangles The Truth About Marijuana is to be recommended.

On the neurobiology of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system that is probably the master regulatory system in the body: see Cheryl Pellerin's Healing With Cannabis: The Evolution of the Endocannabinoid System and How Cannabinoids Help Relieve PTSD, Pain, MS, Anxiety, and More: it's quite readable for the intelligent layperson.

For cannabis and philosophy, I have a heavy bias toward Sebastian Marincolo's Elevated: Cannabis As A Tool For Mind Enhancement, put out by Hilaritas, with an Intro by some jackass*, but Marincolo's book is da bomb.

Read all three, digest what they have to say, then settle back with a few hits of a hybrid and try not to ponder the amount of BS that the government and industries that felt threatened by weed got far too many people to believe. The data/info/knowledge in those books couldda been common by the 1960s if there was no concerted disinformation program against this plant. (AKA Stanford professor Robert Proctor's term: agnotology: the business of creating un-knowledge) This is no small point: tens of thousands of people have done heavy time in prison for small amounts of what grandma is now scoring from her local dispensary, 'cuz it helps with her arthritis and the side effects are negligible.

Do that for a few minutes, then drop it - cannabis helps you easily to drop this kinda of anger - and just enjoy music, poetry, or movies. Or art, food and sex. Just a thought.

* [Foreword by R. Michael Johnson]

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Do psychedelics make everyone better? Maybe the answer is obvious ....

Douglas Rushkoff

 Article spotted on Twitter by R.U. Sirius: "Ego tripping: Why do psychedelics "enlighten" some people — and make others giant narcissists?" 

"Crossing paths w. everyone from Leary and McKenna to  RAWilson & R.U. Sirius Rushkoff was an early proponent of  the crossover between technology & psychedelics." Rushkoff is is quoted a lot, so your mileage may vary depending on what you think of how his thinking has evolved. 

More here. 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

My Robert Shea FOIA

Robert Shea. Photo from 

Via Jesse Walker on X, I read an article in the Intercept which says that the FBI "the FBI maintains a program specifically for combating anarchists, called the Anarchist Extremism Program."

"An internal FBI threat advisory obtained by The Intercept defines Anarchist Violent Extremists as individuals 'who consider capitalism and centralized government to be unnecessary and oppressive,' and 'oppose economic globalization; political, economic, and social hierarchies based on class, religion, race, gender, or private ownership of capital; and external forms of authority represented by centralized government, the military, and law enforcement'.”

Robert Anton Wilson's interest in anarchism waned somewhat over the years, but Illuminatus! co-author Robert Shea called himself an anarchist, put out the anarchist zine No Governor (see the Robert Shea Resources at the right side of this page) and was otherwise active on the anarchist zine. He was rather strictly opposed to violence (he equated violence with statism), but I wondered if he showed up in the FBI files, anyway.

So I've filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see if there is anything. Naturally, if I get something, I will post about it here. 

As I wrote in 2013, there have been attempts to get information on what the FBI files had about Robert Anton Wilson. Apparently, there's not much there. 

Friday, March 8, 2024

Robert Anton Wilson on Daniel Defoe

[A literary observation posted on Facebook by Jamey-Heather Davis. I thought it would share it with you. Jamey-Heather Davis is a teacher in Eugene, Oregon, and a member of Robert Anton Wilson Fans group. The Management.]

As an undergrad, I got an A+ on a paper where I demonstrated Wilson's use of other author's voices (in my paper, Joyce and Burroughs) to communicate certain states of mind. But my all time favorite passage of his doing so is this: "Maria had been reading a chryselephantinely over written book called Moll Flanders in the coach, and very definetely thought the somber, passionate, tragicomic and picaresque story was most absorbing, and certainly presented the dark, sinister, underground side of English life in a vivacious and veridical manner that carried conviction, but she wished Mr. Defoe were not so in love with ornamentally excessive adjectives and long, stentorian, and somewhat inchoate sentences that, even by the standards of the time, seemed to twist and turn through curlicues and arabesques and wind on and on through ever-increasing clauses and sub-clauses, including abrubt changes of subject and total NON SEQUITURS (italics in original), even if he did seem to be making a unique effort to understand a woman's perspective on the world, which was all to the good, and it was less monochromatically monotonous (she had to admit) than the other one he wrote with virtually nobody in it but that one ingenious mechanic on the island , living in total isolation unitil he found that one  ineluctable footprint; and yet it could all be told as well and be more pleasant to read if those sentences did not get so totally out of control and sprawl all over the page so often in positive apotheosis of the lugubrious style, and then she wondered if reading so much of such labyrinthe and arabesque prose for so long in the hot carriage had affected her own mind and she were starting to think like that herself....." ~ RAW, Nature's God, Hilaritus Press edition, p. 17 - 18

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Thursday links [Updated]

 Erik Davis in the Paris Review, an article adapted from his upcoming book,  Blotter: The Untold Story of an Acid Medium, about a museum of LSD blotter paper. 

Republican nominee for governor in North Carolina. 

"Marijuana use is associated with lower odds of subjective cognitive decline." News for older people, but I don't know what to make of this and it may not be the final word. UPDATE: Here is another encouraging study (clickable link for the study Michael mentions in the comments.) 

Conspiracy content at the film festival. 

There's a huge increase in young women taking antidepressants.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Powerful psychedelic may hold key to breaking opioid addictions


Iboga is described as "an evergreen rainforest shrub native to Central Africa." It produces ibogaine. (Creative Commons photo via Wikipedia, information here). 

While we all wait for SMI2LE to be fulfilled (we may not have the space colonies or life extension yet, but we're getting the intelligence increase, in the form of AI), it's worth noting again that Robert Anton Wilson apparently had a point when he condemned the long ban on psychedelic research.

Here's a New York Times story about ibogaine, a powerful psychedelic from Africa I had not heard about before:

"Ibogaine, a formidable psychedelic made from the root of a shrub native to Central Africa, is not for the timid. It unleashes a harrowing trip that can last more than 24 hours, and the drug can cause sudden cardiac arrest and death.

"But scientists who have studied ibogaine have reported startling findings. According to a number of small studies, between a third and two-thirds of the people who were addicted to opioids or crack cocaine and were treated with the compound in a therapeutic setting were effectively cured of their habits, many after just a single session."

Full story here.

The article is written by Andrew Jacobs, and the byline says he "writes about psychedelic medicine." Think about that -- the New York Times has a psychedelic medicine reporter. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

'John Lilly was a creep'


John Lilly 

There apparently was quite a dark side to John Lilly, the dolphin and consciousness researcher whom Robert Anton Wilson wrote about. 

On X, Jesse Walker writes, "John Lilly was a creep. He bragged to a military audience that he could do dolphin experiments 'that one could not do with man without getting into severe moral, legal, or ethical problems.' Then he wrote a book calling dolphins 'humans of the sea.' "

Jesse links to an article written by historian Benjamin Breen, the author of a new book on LSD research I mentioned recently.  

Jesse notes that the quote he mentions does not appear in the article he linked to, but does appear in  Breen's Tripping on Utopia book, which Jesse reviews in the latest issue of Reason magazine. I'll link to the review when it appears online.

The article Jesse links to says the "most unsettling feature" of Lilly's research "was the fact that his dolphins kept dying." It says that Lilly relied on "using pain to control animal behavior."

And this New  Yorker article says four of the seven dolphins Lilly gave LSD to died. 

Monday, March 4, 2024

Joseph Matheny releases free digital comic


Joseph Matheny has announced a new free digital comic version of his latest novel, Statio Numero.

"Due to popular demand, I have added a CBR and CBZ format to the free Internet Archive version of Statio Numero.

"CBR and CBZ are standard digital comic formats. There are lots of free readers for tablets and desktop/laptop computers. You should read these on a tablet or laptop/desktop computer, not a phone, for legibility reasons. Of course, the links won’t be clickable in this format, but the art and text have good-quality resolution."

There's a lot of other Matheny material at the Internet Archive, including work of interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans. The Lost Studio Session audio recording of Robert Anton Wilson also remains available. 

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Did the Guns and Dope Party win?

A graphic for the Guns and Dope Party, from Rasa's website. 

When Robert Anton Wilson ran for governor of California in 2003, he ran as the candidate of the Guns and Dope Party. The name comes from these positions in the party's platform: "Guns for everybody who wants them; no guns for those who don't want them. Drugs for everybody who wants them; no drugs forthose who don't want them." The Guns and Dope Party seems generally libertarian, if you overlook the satirical aspects of the party's platform. 

While the two main American political parties have arguably become less libertarian in recent years, the U.S. also has become more libertarian, at least in terms of regulating personal behavior. 

This trend seems certainly true in Ohio, where I live. Last fall, voters approved two state questions. One puts legal abortion in the state constitution. The other legalizes possession and use of marijuana; marijuana stores for the general public will open in Ohio later this year. 

Here in Ohio, I am also allowed to set off fireworks in public during numerous holidays during the year, not just the the Fourth of July. That's a relatively new law. Gun laws, never very restrictive in Ohio, have become even less so. For example, in 2022 Ohio dropped requiring permits for the concealed carry of a handgun. Now you can tote one around without a background check or any training requirements. Betting on the outcome of sports games also recently became legal. Casino gambling was legalized some years ago and is available in all of the big cities. No one has to go out to buy porn anymore; it's on the Internet. It's become easier in Ohio for people to choose what schools their kids will go to; most people except the quite wealthy can obtain vouchers to make it easier to send their kids to private schools, including religious ones. 

In some cases, Republican lawmakers who control the legislature simply passed laws; in a few cases, as in last year's state questions, they blocked action and the voters overrode them. 

The trends I am citing are generally true in the U.S. States continue to legalize marijuana in the U.S. Casino gambling and gambling on sports, once mostly confined to Las Vegas, has spread to many areas of the U.S. The people who support "school choice" vouchers for everyone have won in several states. Gay marriage has become the law of the land and is generally accepted. 

Even in nonpolitical ways, life has become less restrictive. You choose your gender. American football was on TV only two days a week when I was young; now in football season, it's most days. Major league baseball when I was  young was only on TV one time a week, on Saturday afternoon, until the playoffs arrived. Now baseball is on TV every day, during baseball season. 

This seems like an impressive list for doing what you want to do in your personal life, not just in comparison to repressive regimes such as North Korea and Saudi Arabia, but also in comparison to most countries of the western world, where legal marijuana and buying all the guns you want is not really the norm. 

There are a couple of apparent exceptions to my general rule about the country becoming more libertarian. 

The Supreme Court overruled the Roe v. Wade decision and allowed abortion to be decided by the states, and many states have criminalized the procedure, so on the surface that's an example of less free choice. 

But in every state where the issue has gone on the ballot as a state question in the wake of the ruling, the pro-abortion side has won, including in Ohio. This statement is true about both liberal and conservative states; when the people themselves are allowed to decide, they vote not to let the government interfere with medical decisions. As a political matter, abortion (and most recently, IVF) has become the biggest issue Democrats can use to attack Republicans, with the possible exception of the existence of Donald Trump.

And I think it's possible that on guns in Ohio, left leaning political groups may succeed in putting gun control on the ballot and imposing certain restrictions that seem generally popular, such as background checks for all gun sales. But even with such changes, I doubt Ohio will become more restrictive than most western countries. I suspect the opposite will remain true. 

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Libertarians debate universal basic income

As a libertarian-leaning thinker who said he wasn't "that kind of libertarian"  because "I don't hate poor people," Robert Anton Wilson was interested in maximum freedom but also advocated helping the poor. One of the ideas he was interested in was the universal basic income, sending money to people to make sure they aren't totally broke.

Two libertarian college professors whose work I follow closely, Bryan Caplan and Chris Freiman, recently held a debate on the UBI, with Freiman arguing in favor and Caplan against. I plan to try to watch this over the weekend. 

Friday, March 1, 2024

RAW Semantics on censorship and free expression

A new blog post at RAW Semantics is always interesting, and one that has just posted takes on a hot topic. "RAW restricted" features Robert Anton Wilson's views on censorship and how accusations of censorship can become a political tool in an era when few views actually are suppressed. Quite a few issues are explored; Brian has influenced my thinking. 

In the discussion of "shadow banning" on X, he mentions an incident in which the @RAWilson23 X account mentioned one of my blog posts and a reply post on X was for mysterious reasons was hidden from readers. As the RAW Semantics post remarks, "This was the only reply. It contains nothing offensive, but it got hidden. (The hidden tweet has a link to then US Democratic Party candidate Marianne Williamson – does this seem relevant? And would some folks cry “censorship” if RFK Jr got “shadow-banned” in this way?)." I had not noticed the whole odd incident. 

Anyway, interesting post, so join the discussion.  As per  usual, the illustrations are quite witty; I've nicked one for this post.