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

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Eve Berni has died

Art by Eve Berni, posted on X by Ted Hand

We are sorry to have to pass on bad news, but Eve Berni, the longtime partner of R.U. Sirius/Ken Goffman, has died.

Posting on Twitter/X late Monday night from @StealThisSingul: "I am sad beyond words to report that my partner of 26 years (Jacqueline) Eve Berni has left us. She died at around 1230 pm today in Marin General after many years of poor health and about a week of extremely poor health. I'll share some details soon. I'm in a state of total shock, deep sadness and some relief that the extreme suffering of the past week or so has ended.

"I love her so much."

From Ted Hand: "RIP Eve Berni, the amazing partner of  @StealThisSingul and an accomplished visionary artist. I will have to dig for the photos I took of her work. Here is a sample from her Facebook page. I will treasure my time hearing her stories about Jacques Vallee and Uri Geller."


Monday, April 15, 2024

Kicking out the Jams at the Rock Hall


Dillinger laughed. "Yes," he said. "I'm the president of Laughing Buddha Jesus Phallus Inc. You've seen them— 'If it's not an LBJP it's NOT an L.P.'?

"Laughing Buddha Jesus Phallus?" Joe exclaimed. "My God, you put out the best rock in the
country! The only rock a man my age can listen to without wincing."

"Thanks," Dillinger said modestly. "Actually, the Illuminati own the companies that put out most of
the rock. We started Laughing Buddha Jesus Phallus to counterattack. We were ignoring that front
until they got the MC-5 to cut a disc called 'Kick Out The Jams' just to taunt us with old, bitter
memories. So we came back with our own releases, and the next thing I knew I was making bales of
money from it."

Illuminatus!, Wilson and Shea

Sunday we had visitors from out of town, and much of the day was spent visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, kind of a ritual in Cleveland if you have guests. One is the displays (in a section on rock and roll from the Midwest) had a couple of artifacts from the Detroit rock band, the MC5, and above is the photo I snapped of it. 

At the bottom is a jacket worn by the band's drummer, Dennis Thompson, around 1970, but at the top you can see painting of what was supposed to be the original cover for "Kick Out the James," the band's debut. A placard at the museum says, "This painting was the original artwork for the album but was rejected by the label."

Is it just me, or is that an Illuminati all-seeing eye on the painting? 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Satanic panic and RAW

Although I can't remember it ever being discussed by RAW fans, one of the best things Robert Anton Wilson ever did, at least in my opinion, was to speak out loudly and clearly against the 1980s "Satanic panic" which sent quite a few innocent people to prison. In "Trajectories" pieces reprinted in Chaos and Beyond (recently released by Hilaritas Press), RAW wrote angry denunciations of the McMartin preschool case, prosecuted in supposedly progressive California by a Democratic district attorney, Ira Reiner, and other Satanic panic cases. (See the pieces "Sex, Satanism and Sodomized Dogs" and "1994 Update" in Chaos). 

I am old enough to remember these prosecutions and I thought they were bullshit, but as RAW writes, there were plenty of true believers. This Wikipedia article summarizes many of the cases. Also, shoutout to Dorothy Rabinowitz, who was a brave voice of sanity at the Wall Street Journal. 

The New York Times has now published an obituary for one of the villains in the Satanic panic, Bennett Braun. Hat tip to Jesse Walker, who spotted the obit and quoted this memorable sentence: "I began to add a few things up and realized there was no way I could come from a little town in Iowa, be eating 2,000 people a year, and nobody said anything about it."

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Two great Beethoven works

[I love to read Robert Anton Wilson quotes that discuss Beethoven, and the short piece below was new to me. The below also seems pertinent considering the use of Beethoven in Reality Is What You Can Get Away With. The only problem is while I have listened to all of the Beethoven piano sonatas, all of the symphonies, all of the piano concertos etc., I had not listened to the Missa Solemnis. I am fixing that now with a Szell/Cleveland Orchestra recording. The below is from Robert Anton Wilson's column in New Libertarian, Volume Four, Number Eight, December 1990-February 1981, and thank you again, Chad Nelson -- The Management]

Art and Morality

I was once denouncing Alfred Hitchcock to an Oxford intellectual. (There is a great deal I admire in Hitchcock's work, of course.)

"Oh," said the Oxfordian in that tone the English always use in talking to Americans who dare to have opinions about art, "you believe in art as Moral Uplift."

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. In fact, to reveal the full abysmal depths of my heresy, I think the greatest art only comes from hearts and minds enflamed by a passion for the sublime in all dimensions, including the moral dimension.

Beethoven considered his greatest works to be the Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony, and many intelligent musicologists agree with him. I don't think those towering Matterhorns of music could have been composed without a great passion for Utopia. After all, the Missa ends up with voices crying out for Peace, and the Ninth with a hymn to human brotherhood.

Friday, April 12, 2024

RAWs 'Reality Is What You Can Get Away With'

So, I finally finished the new Hilaritas Press edition of Reality Is What You Can Get Away With. It's one of the few Robert Anton Wilson books I had not read before. The main body of the book is in the form of a screenplay, with two prefatory pieces by Wilson and a new introduction for 2024 by Joseph Matheny. 

It did not seem  much like a conventional screenplay, more like a montage of many of Wilson's concepts and ideas. For me, and perhaps other people quite familiar with RAW's work, it seems like a useful and inspiring summary, with a satisfying ending. Some of the depictions of the female characters do not age particularly well. Matheny, in the new introduction, hopes that somebody finally will attempt to make a movie out of it.  If that happens, it would be really interesting to see if people  new to Wilson manage to make any sense of it. I liked the book and felt like I got my money's worth for the purchase, but it probably doesn't rank as one of the most important RAW books for me. 

I liked the new Joseph Matheny introduction quite a bit, and I'm going to explain a couple of  his sentences for the sombunall of you who may not know his work well. He writes, "This work can be read as a novella  disguised as a fully functional movie script .... looking at it in this way inspired me to write a novella disguised as a movie treatment (the work that precedes a script) many years later." 

There's no further explanation, but it's a reference to Liminal, the first book of Matheny's Liminal cycle, which I recently read and enjoyed. It's $3 on Amazon. I read it as a digital horror story; it's been described as a "mind virus." I plan to read the other two books in the trilogy soon. 

I'm curious how Reality fits in the RAW canon for everyone else. 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Book notes: John Higgs and John Dickson Carr

John Higgs on X/Twitter: "Finally! It's only taken 12 years, but The KLF will be published in North America and Canada on July 9th, thanks to @BlackstoneAudio, on audio read by me as well as paperback and ebook." 

Pre-orders are here.  I don't have information yet about what edition of the book is being published in North America, i.e. whether it's the second edition with the additional footnotes. Quite a lot about Robert Anton Wilson in the book, which is really interesting even if you aren't particularly a KLF fan. 

Also, The Crooked Hinge by classic mystery writer John Dickson Carr is available on Kindle this month for $2.99. Robert Anton Wilson recommended it thusly in Sex, Drugs and Magick: "Before dropping witchcraft and the solanaceae drugs, it is worth mentioning that John Dickson Carr has written a detective thriller, called The Crooked Hinge, revolving around a revival of witchcraft in which the members drink belladonna and imagine they are flying around on broomsticks or copulating with demons. Carr cooked this plot up before the current occult revival -- his book was published in 1937! It's still reprinted frequently in paperback and is worth your time. The surprise ending is a lulu." Hat tip to Gregory Arnott for reminding me about Carr. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

RAW on pornography

[The below ran in New Libertarian, Volume Four, Number Seven, April-June 1980, as part of a collection of short pieces, entitled "Miscellaneous Heresies." With the Hilaritas Press version of The Sex Magicians out soon, I thought it might be topical. Big thanks to Chad Nelson for making a number of issues of New Libertarian available to me. -- The Management.]

Amid the Alien Porn

Libertarians, of course, oppose censorship of pornography, on the same grounds that they oppose all other forms of censorship. In my reading, however, I have yet to encounter in print a libertarian who will admit that he or she likes pornography.

This is moderately odd. Kinsey discovered, back in the 1940s (and the Kinsey Institute confirms that there has been no change in this matter since then) that those who like pornography tend to be more intelligent than average, and to be better educated. Kinsey guessed that the reason for this was that intelligence is intimately connected with imagination and fantasy (creativity).

Such a correlation is supported by the Kinsey Institute study of imprisoned sex offenders in the 1960s, which found that these men respond less to pornography than ordinary men. Probably, this is because they are, like most convicts, lower than average in intelligence (which is why they get caught).

My own experience is that criminals in general are emotionally and semantically unintelligent (with a few exceptions). That is, they are more like children than like adults; and this is especially true of sex criminals. 

In other words, the Kinsey studies seem to confirm that those who do respond to pornography are less likely to be emotionally imbalanced; more likely to be semantically adept (verbal: rational); more imaginative and creative; less likely to be criminals.

There are only two explanations,  then, why libertarians never say they personally like pornography. The first explanation is that they are, as a group, less intelligent, imaginative and creative than average. I doubt this very much, on the basis of my experience with libertarians. The other explanation is that they are ashamed of liking pornography, i.e. that they are as subject to hypocrisy about sexual matters as most people in our society are. 

-- Robert Anton Wilson

Monday, April 8, 2024

John Sinclair memorial service

 From Steve Pratt: "The Memorial For John Sinclair will take place on Tuesday 9th April (13.00 EDT)

Streamed / hosted by Richard Blondy."

Second link.

Getting this up earlier than usual. All sympathy for Steve for his friend and Radio Free Amsterdam colleague. Sinclair was the manager of the MC5, one of the few actual existing rock bands mentioned by name in Illuminatus!

Science fiction news

Frederik Pohl, center, with Donald A. Wollheim and John Michel, in 1938. Public domain photo. 

As there is considerable overlap between science fiction fandom and Robert Anton Wilson fandom, I thought I would share a couple of interesting news items.

Another exclusion

The main villain in last year's Worldcon censorship scandal, Dave McCarty, recently flew from the U.S. and tried to attend Eastercon, a science fiction convention in the United Kingdom. File 770, the science fiction news site, reported on March 30 that McCarty was refused admission when he tried  to buy a membership at the door. When he tried the next day and refused to leave, he was escorted away by security. 

I learned about this via Ansible, the monthly newsletter of SF fan Dave Langford, who used the headline Exclusion Act for the news item. This refers to an historic moment in fandom. When the first Worldcon was held in New York City in 1939, attended by about 200 people, "In addition to its groundbreaking role as the first of its kind, the convention was noteworthy for the exclusion of a number of politicized Futurians by convention chair Sam Moskowitz; those excluded were Donald A. Wollheim, Frederik Pohl, John Michel, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Cyril M. Kornbluth, and Jack Gillespie, an event known to fannish historians as "The Great Exclusion Act.' " More at the link, see also here. 

Murder in China

The fallout over the Hugo awards, which has cast a shadow over last year's first-ever Chinese worldcon, isn't the only scandal on the Chinese science fiction scene. The new adaptation of The Three-Body Problem, currently airing on Netflix, apparently was delayed when the Chinese businessman who brought it to Netflix was murdered by one of his employees. The New  York Times has the story.  See also this Hollywood Reporter article for background. 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Notes on the website: New link, comments policy

1. I have added what I hope will be a useful link to the "Robert Anton Wilson Resources" links collection at the right side of this page (scroll down a bit).

I have tried to put the most important links at the top. The topmost link is the official Robert Anton Wilson page, which seems appropriate. The second link is, the absolutely invaluable collection of RAW articles, interviews and other material, at the site founded by Mike Gathers.

Now listed third is a new link, "English archives, RAW Fans Germania," a collection of pieces discovered and published by Martin Wagner. There is little, if any overlap, between the two archive sites, so if you are looking for something you should check both sites.

I have deleted a couple of dead links for Robert Anton Wilson Resources, although probably I should prune a little more.

2. Also, as long as I'm talking about his blog, I should say something about comments moderation. 

I would prefer not to moderate the comments, but Google (the company that provides Blogger, the blogging platform I use) is apparently not very good at screening out spam from the comments. Several  years ago, I reluctantly began moderating all the comments as my site became more popular and I began attracting lots of spam in the comments. I didn't want readers to have to wade through junk to have to read legitimate comments, and I also wasn't thrilled about some of the stuff I was inadvertently hosting.

So I went to comment moderation, meaning that I have to approve any comment before it posts.

I try quite hard to check for comments every few hours, and for example I check for comments to approve when I get up in the morning, but there can be times when life happens. I got an angry email a few months ago when I was busy trying to help my 90-year-old mother fly to Ohio for a family funeral. A comment had been posted the day before, and I still had not approved it. The pressure of the funeral and helping my mother had taken me away from my usual tasks. I immediately approved the comment and explained that situation.

I routinely check for comments several times a day, and comments usually get approved within a reasonable time, but sometimes Life Happens. If I don't approve a comment promptly, please be patient and do not take  it personally. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Philip K. Dick's grave in Colorado


Author Philip K. Dick, who died in 1982, is not buried in California as you might expect, but in Riverside Cemetery in Fort Morgan, Colorado, in a grave with his twin sister. 

My friend Tracy Harms, who used to live in Cleveland, now lives in Colorado (where he used to live when he met RAW years ago), and he discovered by accident that the grave is nearby. So he went there and sent me the photographs, giving me permission to post them on the blog. 

Here is a photo in context with other Dick family stones.

A closeup view of the headstone from above. Tracy explains, "There were a score of small items that had been left at the twins' stone. Most are visible here along the top of it." 

Addendum: I forgot to give the location of the grave -- Section K, Block 1, Lot 56. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

Hilaritas releases "Reality Is What You Can Get Away With'


Hilaritas Press has announced the official release of Reality Is What You Can Get Away With. As I reporter earlier, there were a few bugs in the print edition that had to be ironed out; Rasa says the book is ready to be purchased everywhere now. 

Note that Scott McPherson has returned as a cover artist for Hilaritas RAW releases:

"We are euphoric that our cover designer for mosbunall of our Hilaritas Press titles, Scott McPherson of amoeba, agreed to come out of a hiatus and make this very cool new cover for the book. Once again he captured the essence of a RAW title beautifully."

Rasa's newsletter mentions that work on an Hilaritas edition of The Sex Magicians is coming along nicely, and that the Hilaritas edition of Timothy Leary's Terra II should be out soon. 

Note also that the newsletter has a wonderful photo of a young Joseph Matheny and RAW, in Nina Graboi's garden. Joseph mentions Graboi in the recent podcast as a mutual friend who arranged for Joseph to be RAW's chauffeur. Take a moment to look her up, she was an interesting person. Matheny wrote the introduction for the new edition, as he discusses in the podcast, which I recommend. 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

John Barth has died


A photo posted on X by Giles Goat-Girl. The men from left are Donald Barthelme, John Barth, Robert Coover (still alive), John Hawkes, Kurt Vonnegut, Walter Abish, William Gaddis and William Gass. (Source). 

John Barth has died. The New York Times promptly ran a long obit. I read The Floating Opera in college more than 45 years ago, but I haven't gotten around to any Barth since then. 

While I cannot claim that Barth and Robert Anton Wilson knew each other, there are a couple of connections.

RAW was a Barth fan  (From this previous blog post):

"I can't answer Arthur Hlavaty's question about what John Barth thinks of my novels, but I can easily answer his second question. I enjoy Barth's books enormously. I think his Sabbatical covers the malaise of our time better than professional spy-thriller writers like Ambler and Le Carre have ever done. Just because one is never sure if the CIA killed the man on the boat or is trying to kill the hero, Sabbatical leaves one with precisely the sense of uncertainty and dread that has hung over this nation since democracy was abandoned in the National Security Act of 1947 and clandestine government became official.

"Sometimes I find it astounding that we have lived under fascism for 40 years while continuing the rituals of democracy -- and that hardly any 'major' novelist has tried to grapple with this issue. I salute Barth for his subtlety and the eerie atmosphere he creates in describing our increasingly Machiavellian world. To be brutally frank and eschew false modesty, I think only Mailer, Pynchon and myself have captured the terror of the situation as well as Barth did in that book.

"Oh, yeah, I like Barth's other books, too. Sabbatical just happens to be my favorite."

That's from a letter RAW wrote to a Shea zine. And here's something Shea spotted, writer and critic John Gardner comparing RAW and Barth ("reprinted" from an earlier blot post):

 The American novelist John Gardner, author of fiction such as The Sunlight Dialogues and Grendel, also wrote books of literary criticism and writing. He was only 49 when he died suddenly in 1982, in a motorcycle accident. Robert Shea used to read a lot of literary fiction, and books about writing, and he noticed that Gardner had praised Robert Anton Wilson. 

In his newsletter No Governor issue No. 9 (I have all of them available via a link on this page, on the right, under "Robert Shea Resources"), Shea writes, "I've been reading On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner, a very fine writer whose life was cut short a few years ago by a motorcycle accident. (Some time I must vent some of my feelings about motorcycles). To my surprise and pleasure I ran across a nice compliment to two of my friends, one being our own BobW, on page 94. Talking about science fiction (and tell  your snobby friends John Gardner refers to it is "sci-fi") he lists a number of writers he likes and winds up with, 'One finds a fair amount of literary merit in Algis J. Budrys' Michaelmas or the work of Robert Wilson whose novels (for instance Schroedinger's Cat) out-Barth John Barth without sacrificing the primary quality of good fiction, interesting storytelling.' One could do worse than out-Barth Barth. I look forward to the day when a literary critic remarks that some work by John Barth 'almost out-Wilson's Robert Anton Wilson'."

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Eric Wagner on Joseph Kerman

[Today is the birthday of musicologist Joseph Kerman. Eric Wagner, who has a particular interest in classical music and Robert Anton Wilson's interest in it, penned this short tribute to Kerman. The online reading group Eric led on Kerman's The Beethoven Quartets remains available on the right side of this page. The Management.]

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

“Reviewing a PBS program on intelligent dogs, a television columnist jokes that while some dogs may be smart, his lhasa apso always breaks down in the middle of the “Rach 3.”

    • Joseph Kerman, Opera and the Morbidity of Music, pg. 26

In the winter of 1990-1991 I reread Erich Leinsdorf’s The Composer’s Advocate. Leinsdorf recommended Kerman’s The Beethoven Quartets, so I checked it out of the library. It blew me away. I read all of Kerman’s books. I keep coming back to them again and again. From 2000-2021 I taught high school music history, and I used Kerman’s textbook Listen for the classical music section of the course. It also helped with the world music and jazz sections. I feel so grateful for Kerman’s critical intelligence and humor. I keep returning to writing as I discover music new to me or get deeper into music I thought I knew.

Kerman also turned me to a lot of other writers on classical music, especially Charles Rosen. No matter where my life has taken me over the past thirty-three years, I keep finding fresh inspiration in Kerman and Rosen’s writing. They make me listen to music with fresh ears and to dig deeper into how music fits in with all the other aspects of life. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

John Sinclair has died

 Art of John Sinclair by Bobby Campbell.

John Sinclair has died. The Detroit Free Press has posted an obituary. If the New York Times does an obit, I will  update this post with that paper's, too.

I promised to try to run a guest post on Wednesday, so I'm doing two posts today, as opposed to my usual one-a-day policy. 

Robert Anton Wilson on modern anxiety

"I see mass hysteria as part of the Future Shock of our accelerated social destabilization as 'life as we know it' vanishes and gets replaced more and more by 'life as we used to read it in science fiction.' Naive people have grown terrorized by text  books, by pop music, by games, and even by schoolteachers (the most inoffensive persons around) .... the whole modern (or post-modern) world seems incomprehensible, and therefore sinister, to millions of our citizen. If you want to grok what these ordinary beer-and-hotdog Americans feel when they see a Gay Pride parade on TV, try to imagine your own reaction to a Cannibal Pride parade. I do not mean that Gays should 'go back in the closet,' or that any other genies should or can go back into their bottles. I just mean that the world has begun to freak out a lot of ignorant people."

[From Robert Anton Wilson's introduction to the 1996 edition of Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, which I have been slowly reading while I wait for Hilaritas to announce the official release of the book (again, Rasa says the ebook edition is fine, and that's what I'm reading). I have slightly edited the excerpt to make it a bit more of a stand-alone quote. It may date from close to 30 years ago, but it seems contemporary to me. -- The Management.]

Monday, April 1, 2024

Latest Bobby Campbell news

Bobby's official website is back. 

Bobby Campbell has issued a newsletter and reports that his official website has been reclaimed "from the wilderness of the internet."

Lots of other news, including my interview with him last year at this blog, a Team Human event with Mitch Horowitz and Douglas Rushkoff, Bobby's involvement with the Lost Doctor series, a look back at Maybe Night,  issues of Buddhafart, other comic updates, the new Omnibus 777 digital comics bundle and Bobby's reopened Weirdoverse Gift Shop. Read all about it. 

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.