Sunday, December 23, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The decision to start a Wiki for discussion of Illuminatus! seems popular with the gang, so we will probably start on that in the new year (Christian Calendar).
I have various bits and pieces that I found useful when doing the Illuminatus! course with RAW that I would simply like to put in one easily accessible place.
First of all, a list of characters, which had been compiled by Toff Philippo and shows just how many people swirl around in the books – and helps piece together who they all are (like a Russian novel, it seems easy to lose track). I tidied up the formatting, and Quackenbush posted it on the excellent RAWilsonFans website.
I hope we can supplement this list a bit with things like the origins of character’s names (someone called Mocenigo, for instance, betrayed Giordano Bruno to the Inquisition).
I also had a secret weapon during the course (for quick research of non-linear time plots) in that I found a (probably illegal) PDF download on a Russian site, in praise of the KLF. I actually found a couple of other places you could download or read online copies, but kept quite quiet about it for a while (not feeling secure about how an author might feel about PDF versions of a book).
Anyway – they exist, and you can find them if you have any skill at Googling at all…and who reads whole books on screen? Not many people, yet. As a research tool to supplement reading the paperback, it seems essential, however. Rather than point to my various secret sites, perhaps I should direct you to RAWilson Fans, again, as it would seem best if we all refer to the same copy (consistency of page numbering, etc). Here’s the ebooks page…whatever you do, don’t go to the html copy on that Buddhist hustler page… (heh)
NB: I do wish they would publish the thing in 3 volumes again, like my original set which I gave away. So much easier to carry around than the fat Omnibus edition. I’d also like to see the plot summaries (story so far) that appeared at the beginning of volumes two and three.
Somewhere in my boxes I have the programme for the stage show, which I should dig out…sadly, a few of the actors have left the planetary stage…and at least one is in jail (George Dorn).
While considering this project, I discovered that 3 issues of a comicbook version had come out. I have traced copies of the first two, but not the third (as yet).
Still, the artist, Mark P.Steele (ICARUS!) has a MySpace place where you can look at some of the art work.
I only have one anecdote provoked by watching the whole thing (I missed the live moment). I saw the first show at the National, and I decided to take a friend to the shorter version they did in The Roundhouse. On the night I took my girl-friend of the time (who wasn't especially a fan of the material) an announcement was made that Prunella Gee was ill, and, at short notice, her part was going to be taken by Ken Campbell (!) I guess he remembers that night. She played (for instance) Mavis, so his opening routine was breaking George out of jail and giving him a blow-job (hidden only by a discretely placed prop plant...) It got even funnier, later.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
The Maybe Logic Academy ran for three years with Robert Anton Wilson (the founder) at the helm (what’s with all these shipping metaphors that keep slipping into this blog?) I guess I like the Great Pirates model, with a cybernaut steering the vessel. (and who the hell 'is' Flemming Funch?)
Since RAW left the planet, oh the best part of a year ago, the Academy continues to function OK. The current incarnation of the forum seems a bit clunky, to me, compared with some of the previous ones we had (sorry, Admin!) but it is also more complicated (which could explain that). Rather than a separate forum for each course, the campus now includes meeting rooms, blogs, general and course forums, etc. Oh, and guests and visitors also have access, rather than just an elite of paying students, which has led to spam attacks and other such nonsense. Still, generally, it’s great to have new minds joining us.
Work & Play together
The long-term students (lifers) still work together, occasionally meet up, encourage each other, work collaboratively and so on. You might see this blog as the kind of thing that emerges from such teamwork with friends who have never met in the body.
Anyway. We have been learning Wiki by doing some collaborative fiction writing using the Wiki set up – and now I have a rough idea how it works, I would like to start working on a Wiki based around Illuminatus!
Although that book dates back to the early 1970s, it doesn’t seem to date. A bit like Bill Hicks’ routines.
Working in the early 90s he was talking about the folly of a President called George Bush, and the stupidity of a war in Iraq. He dies, finds some posthumous fame, and people play the routines back 15 years later and, guess what, the references to George Bush and Iraq sound topical. Quite eerie, really.
I find The Illuminatus Trilogy doesn’t seem to date, either.
- Firstly, it has a plot that sprawls all over spacetime, so it doesn’t appear stuck in the 70s.
- Secondly, things didn’t change much, although people have become far more aware and knowing about conspiracies, Government corruption, magick, alternative history, drugs, and many of the other themes it contains (ecology, sexism, sizeism, etc.)
- Thirdly, it has some real premonition hits (like blowing a hole in the Pentagon which lets out the demon – something that might have seemed improbable/impossible before 9:11)
- Fourthly, it is far more readable than (say) Foucault’s Pendulum, which covers much of the same material, and yet far less trivial than (say) The Da Vinci Code.
- Fifthly, the authors deliberately layered up references and teasers so that it deserves (and rewards) re-reading.
We had a lot of fun teasing out some of the material when we did a twelve week course with RAW about just that one book. I really enjoyed the chance to talk with an author about a one of my favourite books, and with people who felt the same enthusiasm as I did. We can't have the input of either him or Bob Shea any more, sadly, but the book remains to work with.
My model for a Wiki arises from similar spaces I have found online like the one for Gravity’s Rainbow, or concordances for Finnegans Wake and Ulysses. Illuminatus seems far more accessible (if at times confusing to straight minds) than any of those.
Anyway – no doubt, as busy people you can’t spend all day reading a blog. If you like the idea, have any knowledge of the legal implications for copyright, etc, any experience in setting up or contributing to a literary Wiki, or any other comments, please do use the Comments function below.
Thank-you for your attention.