Monday, June 27, 2005

In-crowd, in-jokes and gossip (a personal point-of-view)

You may find Dal in the bar. You can't miss her...
Last week in the MLA forum: after the first flurry of fun in our newly made ‘Tavern’ or play area, we seem to have reverted to our normal semi-serious selves. The running magical battles in graphics amused me, but I imagined my cone of white light most of the time, and then just grovelled at the feet of Dal (hail Dal!) and pleaded for protection from the platypus. We already miss Dal (hail Dal!) – who has had to go off fighting crime, or something (defending criminals?) – Mindy and ZP seem in great, feisty mode however, and Hecate turns up pretty often to support them, so between them they manage to balance our sometimes rather nerdy male selves…

The Reading Group plough on with the heavy-going, and sometimes depressing Reich reading - although it has led to some very interesting discussions on the nature of fascism, mob mentality, the current state of the USA, emotional armouring and the emotional plague, etc. All good stuff.

We plan to tackle Korzybski next. It may prove hard to get our hands on hardback copies of Science and Sanity, but we already found an online copy. So many of us refer to General Semantics, and to E-Prime, that I think this particular reading could lead to very stimulating discussions. I did read it more than a decade ago, but I remember feeling quite impressed (it made an impression on me, in me – it dented my reality). There may well exist popularisations of this material, but I always like going to the source.

The origin of this work was a new functional definition of 'man', as formulated in 1921, based on an analysis of uniquely human potentialities; namely, that each generation may begin where the former left off. This characteristic I called the 'time-binding' capacity. Here the reactions of humans are not split verbally and elementalistically into separate 'body', 'mind', 'emotions', 'intellect', 'intuitions', etc., but are treated from an organism-as-a-whole-in-an-environment (external and internal) point of view. This parallels the Einstein-Minkowski space-time integration in physics, and both are necessitated by the modern evolution of sciences. - Alfred Korzybski
We still have a lot more members than active posters – but I never really know if people join who can afford to spend $60 just to look, and then wander off. Like people who think that ‘joining a gym’ shows they care about their health (but never actually go and do any classes). No doubt we have lurkers who don’t feel like joining in because we look like an in-crowd (and as a founder who posts several times a day I plead guilty to having a loud voice, or high-profile presence) but really we welcome new people in warmly, and encourage people to speak up, either with opinions, or links, or corrections. If we use argot or jargon - just ask!

A thread about The Church of Reality seems to have stirred up some serious discussion about religions, communities, useful beliefs, cults, etc. To me it looks like a joke (conceived when smoking a joint, it says in the history) - but that doesn't mean that it won't go the way of (say) scientology and turn into a cult. The 'guru' took a cult test by Secret Agent Orange, and reckons they pass the test as 'not a cult'. We could check this out for MLA, too, given that he offers this definition:
Examples of groups that have some cult properties include religions, nations, political parties, corporations, non profit organizations, sport team fans, neighborhood associations, bridge clubs, softball teams, online discussion boards, Macintosh users, bike clubs, and vegans. Not to say that you should quit all these groups but that all of them will be to some extent at least benignly cultish.
NB: This MLA does not represent the Modern Language Association (although I liked their map of where different languages get spoken in the USA – as we keep on teasing Americans for acting monolingual in English). Oh, and we have no affiliation with the Museums, Libraries and Archives council in the UK – although my own current job has to do with their project of rolling out “Internet access for all” through libraries. The Peoples Network.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

How Many Heads?

The next edition of Maybe Quarterly has come out
(also link on the right).

Oh, and Blogger seem to have improved the image upload button, so you can just browse from the Web or your own computer...

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Glass Cockpit

I will likely cross-post this to my personal blog (still pretty much empty) but post it here because I've been putting off contributing here 'til the morrow... and we all know tomorrow never comes!

I had a bizarre dream on Tuesday night... the third of a series of strange dreams. But this one seemed the easiest to interpret, to me. I was a passenger on a plane, and I was interrupted from my magazine reading by the pilot, who came out and sat in the back-facing flight attendant's seat. He started bantering with the passengers, and everyone was laughing. Except me. I looked ahead of him and suddenly could see through the cockpit to the outside world. We were coming in for a landing, but I could see that we were coming in too low to hit the runway. A very high concrete wall raced toward us.

I yelled to the pilot, "What the hell are you doing joking with the passengers? Who's landing the plane??"

And with that, we crashed into the wall. I awoke upon impact.

This dream seemed to say a lot about life, to me. Imagining the plane as the vehicle of one's life, I see so many people content to be a passenger, occassionally looking out the little window next to them, with no idea of where the plane is heading. Can't say that I blame them... those darned cockpits so often appear solid, opaque, and locked. But the few who can attain a glass cockpit to see where they're going... circumstance and luck still play a role, but at least they can see the dangers (and opportunities) before they've passed by.

Or even better, those even fewer who manage to get inside the cockpit and start flying the plane... "oh, the places you'll go!" At that point, one becomes responsible for the itinerary, the pitstops, every destination decided...

This post brought to you in E-Choice (coined by Bob in Trajectories). Dreams and personal narratives just don't seem to flow as well without "is"es.

Tale of the Tribe

I look forward to this course in the Fall, as Bob’s eclectic mind seems to range over material I have a lot of empathy for. As the course material will probably get published later, under the same title, this feels like an opportunity to contribute (however indirectly) to shaping Bob’s thoughts – to actually getting involved in reader feedback on draft material – a really interactive option.

Bumph: "The first of Wilson's MLA courses bridging the political, the social and the psychological, Tale of the Tribe promises to be a landmark journey with our dear Dr. Bob. Starring Giordano Bruno, Giambatista Vico, Friederich Nietzsche, Ernest Fenollosa, Ezra Pound, Alfred Korzybski, James Joyce, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon and Marshall McLuhan -- the nucleus of the extraordinary minds that have helped shape the information age of 21st century and the mindscape of Robert Anton Wilson. Join Wilson as he explores the themes, minds and ideas of his forthcoming book, The Tale of the Tribe."

I would say that all the people Bob enjoys seem to have a ‘magical’ quality to them – and the theme of hidden streams of ancient knowledge, as well as the possibility of new models of the universe. Although Bob acknowledges an interest in Crowley, he doesn’t recommend setting out to become a magickal practitioner, as such. Uncle Al does seem to obsess people (the Cult of Personality worked for him) but Bob leans the other way, it seems to me, towards freeing oneself from obsessions and habits of thinking, and/or worship of any particular form or method or person. He also explains the magical side to the arts (thinking of Burroughs and Pound and Joyce and the Surrealists) as well as of the sciences (with particular reference to Quantum Physics and anthropology and futurist planning and design).

So don’t feel dismayed if you think any particular area of study doesn’t appeal. The sheer eclectic mix means some particular approach to the future, or to the mind, or to the future mind or to the future of mind…may intrigue you.

RAW’s whole approach can lead to misunderstandings. The infinitely satirical side of Illuminatus! often gets overlooked, and the implications of the story get taken seriously, which means he gets described as a conspiracy theorist.

This seems strange to me, as that book seems like an obvious send-up of the conspiracy scene. Well, OK, that represents one of the various possible readings. The two Bobs who wrote it treated all conspiracy beliefs the same, and said “what if they all had a part of the truth?” Somehow, treating them all as real blows it up into an outrageously improbable picture of the insanity we live by…

Sunday, June 19, 2005

James Joyce illustrated

I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality.(Joyce cited in Richard Ellmann's James Joyce more probably about Finnegans Wake)

One of the artists I have met online at MLA calls himself Bobby. I'll leave him to link up to his other work. We worked together on some stuff about initiation levels and the four elements (from a book I read about Shakespeare's The Tempest) - but I never finished my part of it. Recently he started illustrating James Joyce's Ulysses. He works with both hands at times. He makes comic books. He'll introduce himself soon enough. I love this image for Section 9 - I printed it out and hung it on my wall.

If you don't know Ulysses, try the BBC's very short version.

Or, in slightly more depth:
In the office of the director of the National Library, Stephen, A.E., John Eglinton and Lyster the librarian discuss Shakespeare. The others mock Stephen for his youthful enthusiasm for complex theories of literary creation. [...] Thus Hamlet becomes a ghost-story: the ghost/father is Shakespeare, Hamlet is the product of his artistic soul, and the treacherous Gertrude is Ann Hathaway. Echoes with Stephen's own life here are apparent (he has been 'wounded' by his mother and presents himself as a tragic character without a father; Bloom too is invoked here — he has lost a son and is soon to be cuckolded by his wife), but his theory is presented to impress the Dublin litterati, it is wild, clever and interesting, but they aren't very impressed (when asked if he believes his own theory, Stephen replies that he doesn't). Mulligan appears and parodies Stephen's theory, and other Shakespearean 'theories' are discussed, including Oscar Wilde's.

For MLA members (you have to log in for the link to work), I got this from this post, where you will find more pictures from Bobby.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Among our many interests, at least a few of us love the 'Pataphysicians, so I'd like to post this short story by Jean Ferry, originally found in the Evergreen Review, many years ago...

The Secret Society

Joseph K_____, around his twentieth birthday, learned the existence of a secret, very secret society. It truly resembles no other association of this kind. It is very difficult for some people to join. Many, who ardently desire to, never succeed. On the other hand, others are in it without even knowing. One is, by the way, never quite sure of belonging; there are many people who think themselves members of this secret society, and who are not at all. It makes no difference that they have been initiated; they are members even less than many who do not even know of the society's existence. Indeed, they have undergone the test of a bogus initiation, intended to throw people off who are not worthy to really be initiates. But to the most authentic members, to those who have attained the highest grade in the hierarchy of this society, even to those it is never revealed whether their successive initiations are valid or not. It can even happen that a member has attained some real status, in the normal way, following authentic initiations, and that, afterward, without having been warned, he is submitted to bogus initiations only. The object of endless discussion among members is to find out if it is better to be admitted to a low but authentic grade than to occupy an exalted but illusory position. In any case, no one is sure of the stability of his grade.

In fact, the situation is even more complicated, because certain applicants are admitted to the highest grades without having undergone any test, others without having been informed. And to tell the truth, there is not even any need to make application; there are people who have been given very advanced initiations who did not even know of the secret society's existence.

The powers of the highest members are limitless, and they carry within a powerful emanation from the secret society. Their mere presence suffices, for example, even if they do not show themselves, to transform a harmless gathering, like a concert or an anniversary dinner, into a meeting of the secret society. These members are responsible for making, upon all sessions which they have been present, secret reports that are examined closely by other members of the same rank; there is in this way a perpetual exchange of reports among the membership, permitting the highest authorities in the secret society to keep the situation well in hand.

However high, however far initiation goes, it never goes so far as to reveal to the initiate the aim pursued by the secret society. But there are always traitors, and for a long time it has been no mystery to anyone that this aim is to keep things secret.

Joseph K_____ was very frightened to learn this secret society was so powerful, spreading so wide that he could perhaps, without knowing it, be shaking hands with the most powerful of its members. But unfortunately, one morning, emerging from a painful sleep, he lost his first class ticket on the Metro. This bit of bad luck was the first link in a jumble of contradictory circumstances that brought him into contact with the secret society. Later, so as to protect himself, he was obliged to take steps to be admitted to this formidable organization. That happened a long time ago, and it is not yet known where he stands in his endeavour.

You never know for sure...

Sage advice from one of our favourite old rogues

We only have one rule in this area of cyberspace -
If you can't achieve tolerance, at least attempt courtesy.

You have to start somewhere...

...but maybe you can't get there from here!

For nearly a year, now, an interesting group of people have met up in the general forum of the Maybe Logic Academy. We have also attended various online courses. A magazine Maybe Quarterly emerged as part of the creativity in the group. The third issue comes out on the Summer Solstice, next week, on June 21st. It forms an archive of long-term creativity of the MLA members. The current two issues remain online for your amusement and amazement.

In such a fast-moving environment this does not always seem to respond quickly enough to our group mind. At the same time, as we find ourselves scattered around the globe, it has not proved easy to meet up in the Chat Room because of the differences in time zones.

As we really enjoy each other's company, and our (sometimes perhaps obscure) interests, we mostly seem content to meet in the forum. Unfortunately, even $60 per year as a subscription might prevent some new people from coming to visit. We thought of starting a blog, as a slightly faster-reacting online publishing point, and (perhaps) taster for potential members, containing stuff like found material we enjoyed, some drafts of our own emergent ideas, and links to sites we recommend.

We may eventually ask to put a blog on the MLA home server, but I thought it might amuse us all to just start first, and think afterwards...that way, we could all get familiar with the Blog tools...

Things may change.


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