TagRobert Anton Wilson

Portlanders: Esoteric Book Club Will Discuss Illuminatus

I don’t know this group — Trevor Blake found the postcard downtown and sent me the scans. I don’t plan on going, but I thought I’d pass this along for anyone interested:



21C Magazine is back with Apocalypse Noir


21C is back with new material, plus archival material by or about Hakim Bey, William S. Burroughs, Erik Davis, Philip K. Dick, Ashley Crawford, Mark Dery, Verner Vinge, William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Jack Parsons, Richard Metzger, Genesis P. Orridge, Kath Acker, JG Ballard, John Shirley, Robert Anton Wilson, Iain Sinclair, Terrence McKenna, Buckminster Fuller, R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary, Bruce Sterling and more.

Sadly, in 1999, the company went bust, somewhat ironic given that 21•C in that form never made it into the Century after which it was named – the 21st. 21•C stalwart Mark Dery and I made some attempt to resuscitate the title early in the new millennium to no avail.

Yet many of the ideas and issues raised in the original magazine continued to arise, and with them perpetual queries as to how to get copies of the original articles, a nigh impossible task. With the prompting of two other 21•C stalwarts, Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich, it was decided to resurrect a core selection of articles in an archival on-line format. With Mick Stylianou’s wizard like help this was fairly painless. It didn’t take long to decide to add new material and it is hoped that new issues will be posted at semi-regular intervals.

This inaugural on-line issue takes as its theme Apocalypse Noir – the trend toward the apocalyptic, or at the least extremely dark – in contemporary writing. If earlier 21•C’s tended toward the darker aspects of cyberpunk, then the newer crop of writers have given up any pretense of a happy ending. Good luck!

21C Magazine

(via Alex Burns)

Technoccult TV: Antero Alli pt. 2 (updated)

Antero Alli returns to talk about Dr. Christopher Hyatt’s legacy, and how he met Robert Anton Wilson.

Update: The Myspace and Archive.org versions were cut-off at the end. Here is another version, on Google Video.

Direct link to Google Video (download available there)

Technoccult TV: Antero Alli (part 1)

Update: Part 2 now available

Technoccult TV talks with Antero Alli about paratheater, his films, the 8 circuit model of consciousness, and his plans for the future.

Antero Alli is a paratheater director, filmmaker, astrologer, and the world’s leading expert on the 8 circuit model of consciousness. For more information about his work, or to purchase his DVDs, visit ParaTheatrical ReSearch and Vertical Pool Productions.

And of course, you can see him give a presentation on the 8 circuit model this October at Esozone in Portland.

Special thanks to: Chris Cloke, Bill Whitcomb, and Trevor Blake.

(Watch for more episodes of Technoccult TV, inlcluding part 2 of this interview plus interviews with Paul Laffoley, Nemo, The Red King, and many more)

Lost and apophenia

“Everywhere I see them there, I stop and stare at patterns… ”

A big part of what makes Lost so successful (and at the same time so hit-and-miss) is the way it doles out mysteries and secrets. Hidden clues and cryptic statements are the bread and butter of the show, leading some to frustration at never getting answers, while others dig deeper and deeper into the material to find the truth. The writers and producers of the show have gone out of their way to encourage theorizing, pattern recognition, clue-spotting, and solving the puzzles constantly thrown to the audience. Why does this show fire people up so much; capable of turning the most mundane conversation into wide-eyed frantic speculation on who Jacob is, or what the deal is with that Black Smoke Monster? It’s because Lost is one gigantic apophenia machine.

Apophenia is a fancy psychological term that refers to finding patterns in seemingly meaningless or unrelated data. There is a great deal of this going on in Lost, the Numbers being only one of the most obvious examples. Deliberate connections were made between the different castaways in flashbacks, such as Locke and Sawyer’s shared history with the same man. The production team intentionally adding in patterns leads to the hunt for more and more patterns, going deeper and deeper into minutia. Therein lies the danger of finding too much order: connecting things that are completely unconnected, or only incidentally related.

There seems to be a fine spectrum of pattern-recognition, where apophenia is classed as a disorder (or a Type I Error) and can lead to psychosis, and the other side of the spectrum leading to invention, creativity, and discovery. On the one hand, the Skeptic’s Dictionary goes so far as to define all paranormal and supernatural events as apophenia. Another skeptic’s analysis presents many examples of apophenia sliding into madness. Familiar stories can be found among many conspiracy theorists, especially when the one proposing the theory happens to be at the center of it as well. The visual subset of apophenia, called pareidolia, is often the true cause of religious visions, Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches, and other equally bizarre sightings. In Lost, the producers seem to encourage this, putting clues in quick flashes that can’t quite be seen but for the pause button on a TiVo (Christian Shepard’s eye in the cabin window, for example), but it has led to fans finding meaningful connections and images even in accidental prop goofs, cloud patterns, even letters in the waves on the ocean. This is sometimes known as the Confirmation Bias, or as Robert Anton Wilson put it in Prometheus Rising, “What the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves.” In other words, whatever you believe, or whatever pattern it is you are searching for, you’ll find it.

The possibility of discovering patterns that don’t exist should not, however, dissuade anyone from looking for the patterns to begin with. It can be useful to see how history connects to itself, despite being a collection of unrelated people and events, as in James Burke’s television series called Connections. In the search for connections, the universe starts to take on a certain kind of structure of its own. The notion that the world is a
complex and deeply interconnected mind is found behind nearly all
mystical practices. In Hermeticism, it is called The All; in Hinduism the piece of god within everyone is the atman; in Buddhism the doctrine is of Interpenetration. One of the more useful metaphorical illustrations of interpenetration in particular is Indra’s Net, which then bleeds over into physics in the holographic universe theory. In such a reality, everything actually is connected to everything else, something also hinted at in Bell’s Theorem of non-locality. This makes finding patterns in random noise much easier, which is what divination is for. The methods of divination are nearly endless, all of them taking input from random phenomena of the world and interpreting meaningful results. One of the better-known ancient divinatory practices is the I-Ching, which decorates the outer edge of the DHARMA logo. Of course, there’s an extreme to this end of the spectrum as well, where one falls into the belief that imposing a pattern on the universe is just as easy as finding one; or even that one creates one’s own universe.

In another view entirely, both sides are equally illusory. Finding order where there’s only chaos, or finding chaos where there’s only order; neither one is the full truth. “Reality is the original Rorschach.” Profound stuff? Actually it’s Discordianism. Really, I agree with this comment that what really counts is the meaning you assign to any given perceived structure. There’s room for both sides of the coin, both on the psychological level and the practical magic level.

As a mystery show that seems to include references to practically everything everywhere, Lost is highly susceptible to false-pattern recognition. This is, however, part of the narrative structure, to give hints and red herrings at every turn. So many narrative themes, leading to so many theories. What to do, but connect everything to everything! We’ll know the truth by the end of Season Six–or at least, we can hope.

The Occult Origins of Lost

I wrote an article on Lost and the occult for Key 64. Probably nothing new for readers of this blog.

ABC’s Lost isn’t the first pop culture phenomena to crib from occultism – movies, television shows, and video games have integrated occult themes and rituals for years. But one thing that sets Lost apart from the crowd is the apparent sincere interest on the part of executive producer and co-creator Damon Lindelof. While most pop cultural attempts at integrating magic and the occult are done merely to add atmosphere to the story, Lindelof has a deeper interest in the material. And rather than beating the viewer over the head with “authentic” occult rituals, Lindelof is more content to pepper the series with references and concepts, leaving the the viewer to decipher their significance.

Full Story: Key 64.

Vincent, the White Dog, and the real life mad science of John C. Lilly

vincent with dead arm in his mouth

There wasn’t a whole lot of new occult stuff to chew on in the season premiere. But the last “Missing Pieces” clip reminds of me of an interesting occult reference Trevor Blake pointed out:

In 1875 Madame Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society, a proto-New Age occult organization that would have been quite an influence on The DHARMA Initiative. The “New Age” movement that the DHARMA Initiative invokes has its origins in Theosophy.

According to the White Dog Cafe web site:

While living on Sansom Street, Madame Blavatsky became ill with an infected leg. During her illness, she underwent a transformation which inspired her to found the Theosophical Society. In a letter dated June 12, 1875, Madame Blavatsky described her recovery, explaining that she dismissed the doctors and surgeons who threatened amputation, (“Fancy my leg going to the spirit land before me!”) and had a white dog sleep across her leg by night, curing all in no time.

Vincent is a yellow lab of a very light, mostly white color. The role of yellow labs and their possibly mystic role is expanding upon in the Lost Experience, particularly through the character Dr. Vincent Wally Bole. From Lostpedia:

“His life was a hellish nightmare of neglectful parents, and a near fatal accident until a kindly yellow lab pranced into his life and change him… forever.”

The nickname Wally comes from the family’s trusted Labrador Retriever who saved his life when, as a child, he fell into an abandoned well on the family estate. After this incident and because he had less-than attentive parents (his father was a near-famous neurosurgeon, his mother a saucier and the co-host of a little-watched TV show) he came to look to the dog as his surrogate parent.

The bond that developed between them and a chance encounter with The Hanso Foundation CEO and founder, Alvar Hanso, at a life-extension workshop in Rangoon would inspire Dr. Bolé to expand his research and eventually create the Retrievers Of Truth Institute for the Advancement and Research into the Mental Abilities of Yellow Labrador Retrievers.

It’s also noteworthy that Bole’s yellow lab research is in some ways reminiscent of the real life mad scientist John C. Lilly‘s dolphin communication experiments. Lilly’s other work, particularly Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer has had a lasting impact on occultists, including Robert Anton Wilson, who Damon Lindelof has acknowledged as an influence.

Also, in Further Instructions Charlie makes a reference to the movie Altered States (“I’m going to stand out here in case you devolve into a monkey”), a movie inspired by Lilly’s work.

Lost and the occult introduction: 23

lost numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42

There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the ABC television series Lost. Lost is sprinkled with references and allusions to the occult and esoteric secrets. Perhaps the most explicit reference is the use of the number 23. Since the release of the Jim Carrey movie,the significance of that number has become widely known.

But Lindelof and company started sprinkling the number throughout the first season, over 2 years before the movie. The number comes from Robert Anton Wilson, as Lindelof has confirmed at various times, including in this Entertainment Weekly interview:

My father was into the Illuminati and the number 23, so he was a big reader of Robert Anton Wilson. So there was some intentionality behind it, but we had no idea, no grand design behind the Numbers. But suddenly, the No. 1 question stopped being ”What is the Monster?” and went to being ”What do the Numbers mean?” This isn’t to say that the Numbers don’t mean anything. We just had no idea it had this potential to get totally out of control.

And also on this Maybe Logic Academy page, quoting from the Chicago Tribune:

But for Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer of the ABC drama Lost, “It is a good lucky number. The first thing I do when I get to Las Vegas, every time I go, is I drop $50 on the number 23. It hasn’t hit yet, but one of these days…”

Lindelof has been fascinated by the 23 enigma since his childhood and has made the number part of the mysteries on Lost.Jack Shepard’s seat on doomed Oceanic Flight 815 was in Row 23. Twenty-three passengers from the tail section of the plane survived the crash. And the number is among Hurley’s winning lottery numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 that end up bringing him and the other survivors bad luck.

Though Lindelof said the number 23 is often purposely used on Lost, he sometimes is just as surprised as some fans when it pops up. Conspiracy or coincidence? It’s a perfect illustration of the 23 enigma.

Who was Robert Anton Wilson? And why is the number 23 significant?

robert anton wilson

Robert Anton Wilson was an author who researched and wrote about, amongst many other things, the occult and secret societies. He is perhaps most famous for his Illuminatus novels and his non-fiction Cosmic Trigger series. I think any fan of Lost would especially enjoy reading the first Cosmic Trigger book, Wilson’s autobiographical detailing his “stranger than fiction” life.

One of Wilson’s fascinations was the number 23. He discovered it by way of two other writers: James Joyce and William S. Burroughs. Wilson claimed Joyce was fascinated by the date April 23: the day Shakespeare was born, and the day he died. Burroughs became obsessed with the number after the following bizarre incident:

In the early ’60’s in Tangiers, William Burroughs knew a certain “Captain Clark” who ran a ferry from Tangiers to Spain. One day, Clark said to Burroughs that he’d been running the ferry 23 years without an accident. That very day the ferry sank, killing Clark and everyone aboard. In the evening, Burroughs was thinking about this when he turned on the radio. The first newscast headlined the crash of an airline plane on the New York-Miami route. The pilot was another Captain Clark and the flight was listed as Flight 23.

Wilson, and later his readers, began compiling more and more 23 synchronicities. Here are a few from Fusion Anomoly:

W is the 23 letter of this alphabet. The symbol for that letter is two points down and three points up.

The human biorhythm cycle is generally 23 days. One measures a circle beginning anywhere.

It takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body.

The human body has 46 chromosomes, which are paired, in somatic cells. Generative cells have half this number, 23, which is the number of chromosomes each parents gives to human

23 Axioms in Euclid’s Geometry.

The Knights Templars had only 23 Grandmasters. Jacques de Molay was the 23rd and last of the Templar Grandmasters.

23 is the first prime number in which both digits are prime numbers and add up to another prime number.

There are many, many others. Here’s another lengthy list. And here’s a list to uses of 23 in the show.

And 23 is just scratching the surface. We’ll be looking at Lost’s references to the occult, secret societies, conspiracies, utopian engineering, mad science, underground culture, numerology, geomancy, alchemy and more. Keep watching this site, or subscribe by RSS, for more occult secrets!

Peter Lamborn Wilson’s obituary for Robert Anton Wilson

For all we knew, Robert Anton Wilson and I were related. On an intuitive basis-i.e., after several rounds of Jameson’s and Guinness-we decided we were cousins. Subsequently we came to believe ourselves connected to the Wilsons who play so murky a role in the ‘Montauk Mysteries’ (Aleister Crowley, UFOs and Nazis in Long Island, time travel experiments gone awry, etc.). Our plan to co-edit a family anthology (including Colin, S. Clay, and Anthony Burgess, whose real name was Wilson) never materialized-although we did collaborate in editing Semiotext(e) SF, together with Rudy Rucker.

There’s no doubt Bob was some sort of anarchist. His earliest interests and experiences (the School of Living, for example) involved connections with old-time American Philosophical or Individualist Anarchism of the Spooner/Tucker variety, and, in fact, this shared background firmed the basis of our friendship.

Arthur Magazine: Peter Lamborn Wilson’s obituary for Robert Anton Wilson

Platform from Timothy Leary’s Campaign for Governor of California

Before The Open Source Party. Before The Guns and Dope Party. Before The Revolution Party. In 1969, Timothy Leary ran for governor of California against Ronald Reagan. The motto was “Come together – join the party” and John Lennon originally wrote the song “Come Together” for Leary.

According to a letter from Leary published in Mondo 2000 # 6 in 1992, this was Leary’s platform:

1. The basic function of government is to protect individuals against organized gangs and groups.

2. Decentralization: California secedes from the USSA.

3. Another basic function of govt. is to entertain/educate.

4. The government makes a profit. Instead of paying taxes, the citizen received dividends.

5. The profits derived from licensing pleasures: Marijuana license like an auto license/registration, hard liquor, gambling; prostitutes were professionals like dentists or lawyers; LSD, etc., used in state parks or theme parks; Entry taxes – California would be like an amusement park – entrance fees and daily residence fees; Education – California specializes in education – non-Californians paid substantial fees.

The only other info I could find about the platform:

Revealing part of his guber-natorial platform for the first time, Leary pledged solutions to California’s 10 major political problems.

He leaked out only a few of those solutions, but what did emerge was unique — to say the least.

“I’m going to legalize marijuana and charge a $1,000 a year permit fee for those who want to make it,” he said.

“Given the size of California population, that will generate a huge amount of additional revenue each year.

“Then I’ll turn that money over to the police and the forces of the right wing to keep them happy and off people’s backs,” Leary explained.

Wouldn’t that be discriminating against the poor who can’t afford $1,000 a year for the privilege of turning on? he was asked.

“That’s not really a problem,” he explained, “because it’s only a short-term situation — in five years I’ll eliminate all money from Californian society and return to a barter system.”


See also: Timothy Leary Dossier

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