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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Brief pause

I have to pause blogging for a day, we've had a death in the family. Will resume soon. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Timothy Leary's 'The Game of Life'

Seeking some fun reading that would be apart from the my current "homework" reading (I'm busy reading a stack of books as part of my duties as a Prometheus Award judge), I read Timothy Leary's The Game of Life. The book includes contributions from Robert Anton Wilson, although the third edition from New Falcon for Kindle makes it hard to pick out the RAW bits. 

And it was a lot of fun, with a great deal about the Eight Circuit Model, and how Leary thinks it relates to Tarot cards and to DNA. Not science, really, but visionary and interesting. 

 Here are some of the passages I highlighted in the book:

This neural stage assures that by saying the right word, by performing the rote ritual -- survival will be attained. Thus the reliance on rules and accustomed ways of doing things. Most modern human beings never progress beyond this passive stage of symbol manipulation. The True Believer, the docile repeater of religious, political or racial slogans.

The Book of Ezekial is the classical biblical description of the descent of extra-terrestrial beings to Earth. The astounding technical detail and UFO specificity of the Ezekiel vision has led many to believe in the visitation of Earth by galactic astronauts.

Religion has always been the neuro-technology of pessimistic losers -- fabricating a reality in which stupidity, docility and ugliness is rewarded. Beauty, individualism, change, originality is heresy.

Every living creature, from a bacterium to an astronaut, is a robot -- designed, constructed, and programmed by DNA to perform specific functions in the evolving web of life.

The text also a book recommendation, for a Robert Heinlein book I haven't yet read, that Leary sees as pointing to the SMI2LE formula:

Robert Heinlein in the classic book Methusaleh's Children introduces us to Lazarus Long, patriarch of an elite kinship of humans who have been bred for longevity. Since they live longer the elites become increasingly more intelligent. Because their superiority infuriates "mortal" humans they face persecution and genocide. Until they figure out the obvious solution. They high-jack an enormous Star Ship and escape from the womb planet. In this profound novel Heinlein accurately (if naively) writes the scenario for the inevitable next stages of evolution off this planet. 

One thing that puzzled me was wondering if anyone is really "minding the store" for the Timothy Leary estate. I had purchased the New Falcon ebook, which I perceived to be the authorized edition (and which has the witty Bobby Campbell cover, above.) Yet when you search on Amazon, the first title that comes up is a 99 cent version from another publisher. The New Falcon ebook is still there, but it's harder to find. I also noted that copies of the book can be downloaded for free from the Internet Archive. I wrote to two people with connections to Leary and got no reply. I also pointed out the various copies of the ebook to New Falcon, and got a one-sentence reply, "Thank you for alerting us we will send a takedown notice."

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Amazon Kindle Cyber Monday sale

I like ebooks as a cheap way to expand my library without adding to the clutter in my house, and when I shopped the Cyber Monday sale for Amazon Kindle books I noticed a bunch of books to interest me and maybe some RAW fans. (Note: I don't get any money for linking to Amazon sites. I just like ebooks and like to write about them sometimes, and I make a point of supporting other bookstores besides Amazon.)

Anyway, these ebooks caught my eye, with prices rounded off a penny for simplicity: Cities in Flight, James Blish, $3 (I just finished reading Timothy Leary's The Game of Life and was surprised to see Blish quoted in the text); The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, $3Enochian Vision Magick: A Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley by Lon Milo Duquette, $3, (Listen to the Hilaritas podcast with the author)Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, George Lakoff, $3 (might interest some of you who read the new Brian Dean book.)  There were other interesting bargains, too, and I enjoyed going through the whole list. 


Saturday, November 25, 2023

New John Higgs book announced

Photo of John Higgs by Isaac Higgs, from official website. 

A new book by John Higgs is always good news, so I'm pleased to report that he's announced a new book about Dr. Who.

"John Higgs’ 'playful and profound' exploration of the Doctor Who character, Exterminate/ Regenerate, has been signed by Orion," says a report in The Bookseller. It will come out in spring 2025.

"Higgs said: 'The question of how something as joyous, absurd and mythic as Doctor Who came to exist is an endlessly fascinating one. Real life is stranger than fiction, but the real-life events that came together to create this fiction are the strangest of all. Doctor Who is the unholy marriage of extraordinary people seduced by wild imagination, and it’s a great pleasure to celebrate its ever evolving story'.” 

More here. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

New Hilaritas podcast: Wayne Saalman

 Yesterday was the 23rd, so another Hilaritas podcast dropped, Wayne Saalman:

"n this episode, Mike Gathers chats with novelist, poet, painter and song writer, Wayne Saalman, @waynensaalman, about aliens, UFOs, and more in his latest book, The Journey Across Forever."

RAW's introduction to Saalman's The Dream Illuminati is reprinted in Email to the Universe. Here are useful links and show notes. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful for this blog and the friends I have made by starting it years ago.

I also realized a few weeks ago that I feel rich, because I have access to a huge supply of free music, via the public library streaming services. I can remember when just wanting to listen to a single album cost time and money.

One of the reasons I got interested in Epicureanism a few years ago was that the philosophy emphasizes the power of gratitude. Here is a New York Times article on  the power of gratitude.  And here is another Times article of tips for practicing gratitude.  Also, Tyler Cowen reveals what he is grateful for. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Robert Shea quotes on Illuminatus!

Bob Shea with the manuscript of Shike

I sometimes think it's remarkable that anybody at all read ILLUMINATUS! When it first came out in 1975 the publisher decided to label it "Science Fiction," which meant that it would be put in an obscure corner of the bookstore where, as we all know, only a handful of weird people ever venture. On the other hand, the editors of all the science fiction magazines then extant refused to review ILLUMINATUS! on the grounds that it was not science fiction — by whatever definition they were using that year. So we were banished from the mainstream but also rejected by the ghetto. A novel without a home. The fact that ILLUMINATUS! survived this inauspicious start is proof that the weird people are even weirder than anybody gave them credit for.


[On Ken Campbell's Illuminatus! play]  I think it’s superb. I was thunderstruck at what a magnificent job they did in capturing the exact tone, the exact mixture of fantasy and reality in the book. It really does keep you guessing, which is what we intended. I’ve come round to the conclusion that this isn’t literature. It’s too late in the day for literature. This is magick!

Bob Wilson and I once had a bit of a run-in with Roger Ebert at a press party at the Biograph Theater promoting a book called Dillinger, Dead or Alive, which asserted that Dillinger had not been killed at the Biograph in 1934 but is, in fact, still living. Since this idea had also occurred to the authors of a Certain Trilogy, we showed up to express our support of the proposition that Dillinger lives. Ebert got the notion that we were making fun of his friend’s book. A contretemps ensued. Hail Eris! [Dillinger: Dead or Alive? By Jay Robert Nash and Ron Offen was published in 1970]. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Best nonfiction of the year?

Tyler Cowen has published his list of the best nonfiction of the year, while noting that he's still busy reading and will likely have a few more books to recommend before 2023 ends. Lots of books here I want to read, and it's a fun exercise to look at the list and guess what RAW might have been interested in reading. I'm going to suggest three books RAW might have read: Reviel Netz, A New History of Greek Mathematics; Norman Lebrecht, Why Beethoven: A Phenomenon in One Hundred Pieces, and Richard Cockett, Vienna: How the City of Ideas Created the Modern World.  It is amazing how Tyler finds time to read do many serious books.

You can see what I've read so far this year by looking at my Goodreads page.  Probably my favorite nonfiction books so far are Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball by Epplin, Luke; Living for Pleasure: An Epicurean Guide to Life by Emily Austin, and The Scythian Empire: Central Eurasia and the Birth of the Classical Age from Persia to China by Christopher Beckwith. I've linked to my reviews and articles. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

'Enigma' by Noah23

While we wait for the Illuminatus! TV series, it seems to me that the hip-hop soundtrack already has been recorded by Noah23. This is his "Enigma," from the Clout album, available on Bandcamp. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Two 'Lovecraftian' movies

I noticed recommendations for two  movies recommended as "Lovecraftian." 

On Twitter, horror writer C.F. Page writes about 2020's The Empty Man, "Every so often I feel obligated to boost this movie. The studio made the trailers for this film look comparable to Truth or Dare, or the Bye-Bye Man, when in fact this is a well-written, well-acted, thought-provoking film that’s so secretly Lovecraftian that it doesn’t even tell the audience it’s Lovecraftian. In other words, it treats the audience like intelligent human beings. It is very bleak (you might have to follow it up with a lighthearted comedy). 

It’s based on a graphic novel, but I prefer the film."

Ong's Hat (e.g., Joseph Matheny) seconds, "Found this completely by accident and was pleasantly surprised when I watched it." 

Here's the Wikipedia article.  Just Watch says it's available on various streaming services.

Meanwhile, Gamerant reviews the movie Suitable Flesh, and says it is inspired by Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep." Reviewer Arianne Gift writes, "Directed by the visionary Joe Lynch and penned by the talented Dennis Paoli, this film brings Lovecraftian horror to life, weaving a narrative that explores the thin veil between sanity and ancient, malevolent forces. With a stellar cast including Heather Graham, Judah Lewis, Barbara Crampton, Bruce Davison, and Johnathon, this new horror flick ventures into the depths of psychological terror."

Just Watch says it's in some theaters and on some streaming platforms.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

A visit to the Bob Dylan Center

Bob Dylan holding the placards in the video for 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'

I have often been on board with Robert Anton Wilson's artistic judgments, but his condemnation of Bob Dylan in this interview amuses me. ("Dylan seems to me a totally pernicious influence -- the nasal whine of death and masochism. Certainly, this would be a more cheerful world if there were no Dylan records in it. But Dylan and his audience mirror each other, and deserve each other; as Marx said, a morbid society creates its own morbid grave-diggers.") Nobody ever played "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" or "Blowin' in the Wind" for Wilson and suggested he listen to the lyrics?

In any event, as every serous music nerd I know likes Dylan, I thought I would mention my visit to the Bob Dylan Center, a new museum in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, which opened only last year and which houses his archives. 

It's not in a huge space, but I would describe it as information dense, with many documents on display to read, films to watch, songs to listen to, audio narratives to ingest. I spent quite a bit of time there and I feel I would be able to learn more when I get back. 

A Dylan fan from Colorado gave me permission to photograph her as she looked at the exhibits. 

A letter to Bob Dylan from George Harrison. 

Some of my favorite Dylan albums are Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Nashville Skyline, Blood on the Tracks and Before the Flood. My favorite of his live performances is probably at the Concert for Bangla Desh, available on the Internet Archive.  And I really liked the Traveling Wilburys. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

'THE SECOND OSWALD: United States of Conspiracies -- From the JFK Assassination to QAnon'


Jesse Walker explains on X, "Video of my conversation with @acodrescu [Andrei Codrescu] about Kerry Thornley, recorded earlier this week at the Bowery Poetry Club after a performance of Andrei's play The Second Oswald." They also talk about Jesse's book, The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory.  Codrescu tells Walker, "I first heard about Thornley from your book." Jesse is in good form, telling stories about Robert Anton Wilson and Paul Krassner, discussing Illuminatus! and Cosmic Trigger, and telling one questioner exactly how many Discordians there were (readers of this blog will get the joke.) 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

PQ on being in the Guardian

Peter Quadrino (photo from X)

I had missed it when I wrote yesterday's blog post, but Peter Quadrino has weighed in about being featured in the Guardian's article about the Gerry Fialka reading group for Finnegans Wake. Excerpt: 

"I am honored to be a part of this celebration of Wake reading groups around the world. The author, Lois Beckett, did a great job covering the oddity of one-page-a-meeting reading groups dedicated to Joyce's bizarre night-book. To look at a global newspaper and see the front page with all the wars and turmoil and then have this article appear next to all of it feels like a celebration of the eternal forces of creativity and imagination. Poetry, the realm of the mind, the joy of art, language and humanity, remains undefeated."

More here.