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

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Listomania

 

1. 10 Best Murder Mysteries That Need a Movie Adaptation.  The Illuminatus! trilogy is number one on the list. "The book was originally released as three separate entries in the mid-1970s and then compiled into an epic tome in 1984, which was probably not a coincidence. The story is creatively told through first and third-person accounts, often drifting into a stream of consciousness, but is entirely entertaining as it pulls together secret societies, religious dogma, and ancient mythology."

2. List of best books about conspiracies on Ranker. As I write this, Ong's Hat: The Beginning by Joseph Matheny is ranked number one. 

3. 10 Trippiest Sci-Fi Books of All Time: Journey Through Mind-Bending Universes.  Lots of Philip K. Dick here, but also  the Illuminatus! trilogy. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

RAW Movie Club: The Maltese Falcon

 


Thank you to Bobby Campbell for the illustration. 

The main thing I noticed when I watched "The Maltese Falcon"  (still available free on Tubi) was how fast moving it was, how everything seemed to be almost kind of abrupt. 

About 1:07 in, the captain of a boat comes staggering in to Sam Spade's office, carrying the Maltese falcon he apparently had promised to deliver. Humphrey Bogart's comment, "He couldn't have come far with those holes in him." It seems kind of absurd that someone shot several times would still make a delivery. But the movie has the quality, which I've  noticed in certain books, that things are moving so quickly you don't have time to think about whether the action makes sense. Lots of wisecracks and lots of unexpected twists and turns. 

The Wikipedia article on the film says that the movie originally was offered to George Raft, but it's difficult now to envision the movie without Bogart, who seems to be in pretty much every scene and dominates the film with his tough-but-decent persona. Mary Astor is a confused and confusing beautiful "bad girl." 

I'm a big fan of the 1942 movie "Casablanca," and it's interesting to see two of the actors from that movie (besides Bogart) show up in this one, Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet; as with Bogie, their characters here don't seem wildly dissimilar to their "Casablanca" characters. 

I'll select another movie from RAW's list of his favorite 100 movies and announce it as the new "RAW movie club" movie for July. I'll try to find something else that's available to everyone for free. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

James Joyce video and other Joyce bits

 


Bloomsday was June 16, and various interesting things were posted or sent to me.

Above is a new short video by Bobby Campbell, "Walking Into Eternity," an animation of an excerpt from Joyce's Ulysses. If you want to see the passage Bobby is quoting, go here and search for the word "ineluctable." You are looking for the phrase, "Ineluctable modality of the visible:"

Here is the link to the dramatization of Ulysses by Ireland's national public radio station. 


Image sent to me by Eric Wagner. 



Sunday, June 16, 2024

RAW bio cancelled; new plans afoot to put it out [UPDATED]


Gabriel Kennedy (e.g., Prop Anon). 

UPDATE: Despite the comments from the publishers, Prop Anon now says, "They did not cancel it. I DID!" I told him I would update this post. I have changed the headline. Prop sent a screenshot of an email he sent to Strange Attractor on May 21, in which he wrote, "I'm thinking this is not meant to be between Strange Attractor and myself. So, I am politely asking you to  release me from my contract." 

Publication has been canceled of Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson by Gabriel Kennedy. 

The book was supposed to be out August 6. Instead, all mention of it disappeared from the websites of Strange Attractor and the MIT Press and from Amazon. 

Plans apparently are afoot to find another home for it. Prop Anon (e.g. Gabriel) plans to provide more information soon. 

"There are some good things happening behind the scenes right now. I cannot speak on it too much at the moment, but will make an announcement very soon," Prop told me.

Don't read too much into this until we get an announcement, but for what it's worth, on Saturday Prop posted on X, "My whole artistic career to this point has been D.I.Y.  I was raised to be a D.I.Y. Artist.  After reading some of the contracts Artists have to sign, I'm gonna stay D.I.Y.! 

#doityourself"

I had not kept up with the book but I got word Saturday and then reached out for comment to the co-founders of Strange Attractor, Mark Pilkington and Jamie Sutcliffe.

Mr. Sutcliffe told me, "We had to cancel that book unfortunately, we just couldn't find a viable version of it that both the author and ourselves were happy with despite several editorial revisions. 

"I believe Gabriel will likely publish it elsewhere in a form that works for him, so we wish him well with that, and it's likely you'll to get to read it soon, although I can't tell you when exactly."

Mr. Pilkinton said, "We've had to drop the book from our own schedule, but hopefully Garbiel can find a new home for it soon. We just couldn't find a way to make the book work as part of our list."

The book had been delayed a couple of times before the August 6 date was announced. The publishers had brought in an editor from outside to work with Prop on the book.

The book had originally been announced in 2016; it was to be published in 2017 by TarcherPenguin and was announced by Mitch Horowitz. I don't know what happened to that proposed iteration of the book, but I believe Horowitz may have left the editing post shortly thereafter. Strange Attractor was announced as the publisher in late 2020.  

The biography would be the first written about Robert Anton Wilson, although Eric Wagner's An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, about Wilson's writings, has now come out in two editions. 

And while we wait for Prop's bio, there is biographical material available elsewhere. Wilson's three Cosmic Trigger books function as memoirs. Beyond Chaos and Beyond, a collection of Wilson's writings edited by D. Scott Apel, includes a long biographical essay about Wilson written by  Apel. 

Note: This blog post  has been updated twice after I received several emails from Prop Anon. 





Saturday, June 15, 2024

About those Illuminati

 


Today's posting will be brief as I am running late but I wanted to share the above from the Discordian archives. From Grouchoghandi KSP on X

Friday, June 14, 2024

Bobby Campbell illustrates the five stages of Illuminati history


Bobby Campbell 

Bobby Campbell has created a new gif, I think probably as part of his Tales of Illuminati project. I am having trouble saving the gif for some reason, but if you have an X account, please follow the link and look at it. 

Bobby's caption: "Rough draft of the five Discordian seasons or stages of society. I couldn't find pre-existing designs for this stuff, which surprised me, so I took a crack at it :)))"

In Appendix Gimmel of Illuminatus!, the five stages are given as the "Illuminati Theory of History." However, the "facts" on the origins of the theory given at the beginning of the piece refer to Adam Weishaupt reading the Necronomicon, "experimenting with a new strain of Alamount black," importing peyote from Mexico, etc., so the impression one gets is that the five stages emerged from the brain of one particular Discordian, Robert Anton Wilson. Does anyone have any background information on whether elements of the five stages came from anyone else? 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Kate Alderton's latest project

 

Actors Kate Alderton and Greg Donaldson in "Constellations." 

Many of you will know the British actress Kate Alderton, who portrayed Arlen in Daisy Campbell's Cosmic Trigger play and who has been active in the British Discordian scene. Her new project sounds like something RAW would have enjoyed.

Alderton co-stars in a two-person performance of "Constellations," a play that begins Friday at New Venture Theatre in Brighton. A piece at Brighton.co.uk explains, "Originally premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 2012, the play explores the complexities of human relationships and the enigmatic world of quantum mechanics. 

"It tells the story of Roland, a beekeeper, and Marianne, a physicist at the University of Sussex.

"After they meet at a barbeque the two become lovers. They marry – or do they? 

"Through a series of vignettes their relationship unfolds across multiple parallel universes – a multiverse - as the play explores the infinite possibilities of love and fate. Each universe offers a different outcome."

More here.  The play is by Nick Payne.

Here's Kate at IMDB, Kate is on X





Wednesday, June 12, 2024

W. Somerset Maugham's 'The Magician' is a fun read

 


An old friend of mine (and gafiated science fiction fan) Richard Newsome and I agreed to read The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham together and compare notes. Richard read a print edition and I read the Standard Ebooks edition (the cover art is above.) By the way, despite what Standard Ebooks says, their epubs work fine with Amazon Kindle.

First, I can report that The Magician is a fun, easy read; Richard and I both finished it in a few days. I have not read anything else by Maugham, and the book was more of a pulpy fantasy novel than I had expected. Richard commented that Chapter 8 (in which the villain, Oliver Haddo, takes a young woman on an occult "bad trip") "reads exactly like a story in Weird Tales," and remarking on another scene said, "And then Haddo has a laboratory in the attic full of giant glass retorts, test tubes and blazing furnaces, for his experiments. Perfect for Hugo Gernsback's Amazing Stories."

If you know anything about Aleister Crowley, it couldn't be more obvious that the character of Oliver Haddo is based upon Crowley. Much of it is quite accurate. Richard Kaczynski's biography of Crowley, Perdurabo, says that when Crowley read the book, he recognized many of Haddo's comments as things he had said to Maugham in Paris. Perdurabo says Crowley was "flattered." Maybe, but the book depicts Haddo as a thoroughly evil person, capable of doing terrible things that Crowley (as far as I know) never did. Richard and I were both amazed that Maugham assumed he could get away with that in putting an obviously real person in his novel.

Perdurabo also reports that Crowley recognized that the book incorporated large quotes from books on magick that Crowley had recommended to Maugham and also noticed that portions of the book were apparently indebted to modern writers. He wrote an expose for Vanity Fair about the matter.  Perdurabo says that Maugham was "good-humored" about the article when they met a few weeks after it appeared.

Richard actually tracked down Crowley's article. You can read it here.  


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Mark Frauenfelder's book recommendation


In the latest issue of his newsletter, "The Magnet," Mark Frauenfelder provides a book recommendation, and I think you'll see why I'm quoting it here:

"I wrote about Scott Snibbe’s book in one of my other newsletters, "Book Freak." How to Train a Happy Mind: A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment, is about analytical meditation, which I didn’t know about. I’m more familiar with passive imagination, where you focus on breathing as a way to calm the mind. But analytical meditation is a way to change the mind. As my friend David (who is also reading Snibbe’s book) told me, the different meditations in the book remind him of exercises that Robert Anton Wilson might have shared in the books he wrote in the 1980s, like Prometheus Rising. I’ve only been doing them for a few weeks, but they have already helped me think about the world, and my own mind, in new ways." 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Richard Bandler on Robert Anton Wilson

Richard Bandler, the founder of neuro-linguistic programmer, is asked in a new podcast episode, above, who he would have dinner with if he could choose anyone living or dead, and he says Robert Anton Wilson. (At about 40:15 in the video). "I miss him. He was one of the smartest men I ever knew," Bandler said. 'Robert seemed to know about everything ... I can always visit him in his writing."  Bandler goes on to talk about Wilson's memory for what he had read. 

Bandler has an official website.  And there's also a website for Owen Fitzpatrick, who does the podcast. 

Hat tip, Mike Gathers. 


Saturday, June 8, 2024

The original Sacred Chao

 


Grouchogandhi, K.S.P. continues to post interesting documents from the Discordian Archives on X, and I thought I would share one of them. Here is the caption:

"The Original Sacred Chao (OSC).

"Detail from Page 00003 of a letter from Kerry Thornley to Greg Hill proposing the Discordian Sacred Chao. Dated February 2, 1964.

"Courtesy of the Discordian Archives."

Link to the document in question.

From Illuminatus!

"The JAMs, however, had a symbol that anyone could understand, and, just as Harry Pierpont showed it to John Dillinger midway through a nutmeg high in Michigan City prison, Dr. Ignotius showed it to Joe midway through his first acid trip.

"This," he said dramatically, "is the Sacred Chao."

See page 279 of the original Dell paperback of The Eye in the Pyramid (price, $1.50) for a full explanation. 


Friday, June 7, 2024

A setback for psychedelic treatment


Ecstasy tablets which may contain MDMA. (Public domain photo). 

Given Robert Anton Wilson's interest in research into the beneficial use of psychedelics, I thought I would share some news: An FDA advisory panel has recommended against the use of MDMA for therapy in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder. That came despite results that seemed to show it worked well. The full agency is expected to uphold the panel's recommendation.

Here is the account in the New York Times. and here is the report by the always-useful Jacob Sullum. 

UPDATE: Alex Tabarrok on why the decision was wrong. 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Serious cryonics research is still taking place

Laura Deming (Twitter account photo)

Many of you have read the first Cosmic Trigger book, which ends tragically with the death of Robert Anton Wilson's daughter, Luna. Friends of Wilson who are members of the Bay Area Cryonics Society arrange to have Luna's brain frozen, in hopes that she might be revived someday. 

I don't see a lot of news coverage about the topic of cryonics, but the other day I did see a Bloomberg article, "Startup Brings New Hope to the Pursuit of Reviving Frozen Bodies."  

The article, written by prominent tech journalist and author Ashlee Vance, focuses on technology investor and scientist Laura Deming and her new company. 

"On Monday, Deming plans to unveil Cradle Healthcare Co., which she’s been running in secret for the past three years. The company’s focus is on trying to develop technology around reversible cryonics, placing people with illnesses into a frozen state and then reviving them at some stage in the future when cures for their ailments have arrived.

"Researchers and companies have pursued cryonics for decades, but the practice still requires numerous breakthroughs to have any hope of reaching mainstream use. Deming’s bet is that there’s much to discover around how cryonics and rewarming can work and that Cradle can turn the tech into a real thing."

More at the link. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Music video features image of RAW

The British band Rainyday Rainbow has made a video for the group's song, "Masters of the Cosmos" that includes a glimpse of an image of Robert Anton Wilson. 

Here is a quote from the video director, Jamie Panton: "One of the things I wanted to add to this music video was who are the Masters of the Cosmos, really? To me DNA is the Master, once it fully realises itself through the evolution of biology and consciousness. Somewhat early on in the video we get cameos from Aleister Crowley, Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson. Why these dudes? I’ll direct you to the Eight Circuit Model of Human Consciousness and leave you to work out the rest." 

More information here.




Tuesday, June 4, 2024

PQ on Walt Whitman's influence on James Joyce


Walt Whitman in 1862  (public domain photo by Matthew Brady).

 A new post from Peter Quadrino for those of you who are interested in James Joyce.

"Lately, I've been interested in Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and what impact he had on James Joyce (1882-1941), and this influence seems more significant than most commentators have tended to note."

More here. 

I don't remember RAW talking about Whitman, but I'm sure RAW read him, Whitman was such a major and influential American poet. 

Monday, June 3, 2024

Dr. Richard Waterloo's favorite book


On X, Dr. Richard Waterloo posts (a short thread of two messages)  "This book for curious 'heads ... Though I love talking about books, the question 'What's your favorite book?' is such a tough one. Prometheus Rising, I'd say, is my favorite because of its profound impact, but few people would really be interested in it so I don't recommend it to casual readers. Great for 'heads."

This raises a couple of interesting points. Is Robert Anton Wilson so "way out" that it's difficult to recommend his books to ordinary readers, or would many people be  interested in him if only he could become better known? I do think that Prometheus Rising is a favorite for many RAW readers. (See this posting about the new Prometheus Rising hardcover and how it is the best-selling book in the Hilaritas catalog). 

I would be hard-pressed to name one favorite book. If I had to name a favorite RAW book, I would have to go with Illuminatus!, which to me is a very rich reading experience that started it all for me as a RAW fan. But I also have a particular fondness for Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth, which as the title suggests is aimed at everyday human concerns that apply to many of us, and perhaps more approachable for readers new to RAW. I plan to read it  yet again soon. 


Sunday, June 2, 2024

W. Somerset Maugham's 'The Magician'

 


Speaking of Standard Ebooks, as I was yesterday, the group also has issued an edition of The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham. I plan to read it this month and compare notes with a friend. Here is the description of the book at Standard Ebooks:

"In Paris, surgeon Arthur Burdon and his fiancé are introduced to Oliver Haddo, a wealthy Englishman from an old family who claims to be a magician trained in the occult. At first they are unconvinced and irritated by Haddo’s boasts; however he soon demonstrates his powers in more and more fateful ways.

"The character of Oliver Haddo is an unflattering caricature of the English occultist Alistair Crowley, whom Maugham had met while living in Paris. Crowley himself wrote a review in Vanity Fair in which he accused Maugham of plagiarizing various other novels, signing off as 'Oliver Haddo.' Most critics dismissed these allegations."

Does anyone know if Robert Anton Wilson read The Magician


Saturday, June 1, 2024

Standard Ebooks releases 'Ulysses'


Standard Ebooks has announced that it has released Ulysses by James Joyce as its 1000th book.

If you aren't familiar with the organization, Standard Ebooks is a volunteer driven group which releases what are meant as definitive editions of public domain books. 

"Ebook projects like Project Gutenberg transcribe ebooks and make them available for the widest number of reading devices. Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style manual, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to create a new edition that takes advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology."

An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson by Eric Wagner says that RAW told him to read Ulysses 40 times. Eric writes that he has read it 12 times. I've only read it about three times.