Illuminatus!: Weekly assignments

Week One – Kether

Read the first trip, Kether

Read my article about Adam Weishaupt

Contribute to Forum up to 3 questions —
if I get too many to answer this week, I’ll catch up eventually

Week Two – Chokmah

Read the second trip, Chokmah
Who is Hopalong Horus?

Read the neo-Decembrist agitprop in

Program your search engine for Decembrist + Illuminati
See what you find

Contribute to Forum up to 3 questions and/or
comments about Chokmah and/or neo-Decembrism

Week Three – Binah

Read the third trip, Binah

Why does this trip not have a title?

If you didn’t do it last week,
Read the neo-Decembrist agitprop in gunsanddope
and set your search engine for Decembrist + Illuminati See what you find.

Forum Questions

Why did Shea and I write so much about The Dutchman?
Discuss the difference between The Dutchman and Dillinger?
“Is” The Dutchman “bad,” a “sociopath,” “confused,” an agent of the illuminati? etc.?

Re: Simon and Joe’s discussion about anarchism (pg. 112-113) What do you know about anarchism?
Does it have any role in our planet’s future?

Why do the first 3 trips end with the words “point,” “line’ and “plane”?

Contribute to Forum up to 3 questions and/or comments about Binah

Week Four – Chesed

Read the fourth trip, Chesed,
and discuss in the Forums

Read Tucker article and discuss in the Forums

If you feel sure that ‘anarchism can’t work,”
explain why in the Forum. Don’t be afraid — I won’t bite.

Review all the memos. Discuss which theories about the Illuminati seem most plausible, relatively plausible, relatively whacko, totally whacko, etc. Please discuss in the forum.

Discuss whether my opinion about the Illuminati theories should have greater weight than yours?, if they should, why — just because I wrote a book on the subject?

Week Five – Geburah

Read the fifth trip, Geburah
and discuss in the forums

and discuss in the Forums as a key to this chapter and, maybe, the whole trilogy…..

Why does this trip end with the word “motion”?
How does this relate to Geburah on the Tree of Life?

Week Six – Tiphareth

Read the sixth trip, Tiphareth
and discuss in the forum

Review all the memos. Discuss which theories about the Illuminati seem most plausible, relatively plausible, relatively whacko, totally whacko, etc.
Please discuss in the forum. Read and cuss or discuss
The Celtic Roots of Quantum Theory

Week Seven – Netzach

Read the seventh trip, netzach
and discuss in the forums

Do the following exercize —

If you can, watch the U.S. presidential debate and check off, after each speech, which type of argument the candidate used most.

If you ain’t done it yet, review all the memos.

Discuss which theories about the Illuminati seem most plausible,
relatively plausible, relatively whacko, totally whacko, etc.
Please discuss in the forum, as guided or goaded by the following notions:

Let us consider the U.S. Congress for a moment. I have chosen this body, not with the satirical intent of exhibiting a Horrible Example and not with the Platonic intent of showing an Ideal Form, but with the empirical intent of looking at how persuasion actually operates in the normal world of ordinary experience.

A new bill is before Congress, and to avoid any prejudice on my part or the reader’s, we will assume that this is a bill to distim the frammisgoshes. Since we know nothing about the frammisgoshes and cannot guess what effect distimming will have on them, we can consider this case with some objectivity.

Some Congresscritters (I am trying to avoid the human chauvinism of writing “Congresspersons”) will vote to distim the frammisgoshes because they have been bribed with money or with more intangible rewards. This is sad, but we all know it happens on occasion. For convenience, we will call this Argument by Self-Interest; it has the form

The frammisgoshes should be distimmed because you will profit from it Outside Congress, many people make important decisions on this basis. Although there is a great deal of “sincere” racism and sexism in the United States, there can be little doubt that the most outrageous racist and sexist institutions exist because certain persons are making a profit out of them; nobody who can pay Black or female workers half the salaries of white males is very eager to listen to arguments that conflict with this very potent Argument by Self-Interest.

Presumably, there would be hearings on an issue as important as the frammisgoshes and various interested parties would give testimony. Perhaps the Archbishop of Chicago, the Chief Rabbi of Los Angeles and the Celestial Yap of Cleveland will inform the legislators what the Catholic God, the Jewish God and Yog the Almighty think about distimming the frammisgoshes. In one sense, this is the classic form of Argument by Authority:

The frammisgoshes should be distimmed because various well-known deities and divinities say so.

Outside Congress, we also find many persons making decisions on this basis. Falwell hates homosexuals, for example, because the Old Testament god is on record for disliking that group.

Cynics will say that, since deities and divinities do not appear in person, this is not only Argument by Authority but also Argument by Imposture:
The frammisgoshes should be distimmed because certain witnesses declare that they have been informed that various deities and divinities have that opinion.

In fact, there is also Argument by Intimidation involved here, since the Archbishop, Chief Rabbi and Celestial Yap control several million voters; so such testimony also includes Argument by Self-Interest:
The frammisgoshes should be distimmed because you will lose the next election if they aren’t distimmed.

There will probably be expert legal testimony as well, and this amounts to Argument by Precedent:
The frammisgoshes should be distimmed because a frammisgosh is like a farble and distimming is like gosketing and our ancestors always gosketed the farbles.

Again, many people decide matters that way outside Congress as well as inside. The doctrine of eminent domain, which allows the government to steal anything it wants, is regarded with repugnance by most people, but lawyers say it is legal and proper, because government has been stealing things for a long time.

There will also be scientific evidence heard on such a socially important decision as frammisgoshes. Ideally, in accord with scientific method, this will take the form of Argument by Evidence:
The frammisgoshes should be distimmed because in 186 studies, 66.34 percent of all frammisgoshes found undistimmed were also suffering from hangnail, poor school attendance and abuse of controlled substances.

With what some will regard as incredible optimism, I assume that some Congressentities will examine this evidence and form their own opinions of whether the statistical techniques used really “prove” the conclusions alleged. With what some will regard as dark cynicism, I also assume that some Congressentities will not bother with that at all but will accept what they heard as another form of Argument by Authority:
The frammisgoshes should be distimmed because 186 scientists say so.

Again, outside of Congress many people make decisions on the basis of scientific evidence, either because they understand it, or because they think it is another form of Argument by Authority and they are conditioned to accept whatever Authority tells them. That’s why there are so many nuclear plants around these days.

There is also the Argument by Logic. This can sometimes be combined with scientific experiments and if the two mesh we have a “fit” of theory with fact and scientists are delighted. Pure Argument by Logic, however, does not require this experimental backup and only demands that the conclusions be reached by the game-rules of an abstract symbol system. In our hypothetical case, some witness might inform Congress:
All mome raths need to be distimmed
All frammisgoshes are mome raths.
Therefore, all frammisgoshes need to be distimmed.

This method of logic can lead to some remarkable results, and Lewis Carroll once employed it to demonstrate that some dowagers are thistles. It is for that reason that Pure Logic is in rather low repute in scientific circles thes days and a scientific proof is regarded as requiring not only logical coherence but experimental, sensory-sensual or instrumental verification in the space-time world of ordinary perception.

There is also the method of argument ad hominem, which consists of variations on “The frammisgoshes should be distimmed because the people who deny this are all sons of bitches.” This is a favorite form of argument with demagogues and hysterics but it has no validity. E.g., even if it were proven that Darwin was a child molester or Einstein an axe-murderer, this one would not disprove their scientific theories which still have to be judged on empirical evidence.

The Argument of guilt-by-association is the Argument ad hominem one step removed and even more obviously invalid. This is the position which holds “the frammisgoshes should be distimmed because the leader of the anti-distimmation movement was seen at a saloon in 1957 where known Communists and Satanists were also drinking.”

There do not appear to be any other methods of argument ever invented; what seem to be other methods generally turn out to be variations on these basic forms. For instance, “You better believe it or God or Allah or Yog or some other deity will throw you in Hell” is a combination of Argument by Self Interest and Argument by Intimidation. “You better believe it (or pretend to believe it) or you’ll lose your job” is a secular equivalent of this combination of Self-Interest and Intimidation.

Einstein’s equations are Argument by (Mathematical) Logic; the empirical confirmations of Relativity are Argument by Experiment; and the agreement of the two is a typical example of the synthesis of logical validity and sensory-sensual experience that science always seeks to find.

I believe that everything admirable in the modern world results form the use of Argument by Experiment together with Argument by Logic (without making an Idol of either), whereas everything heinous and terrible results from the persistence of the older habits of Arguments by Authority, Intimidation, Self-Interest and Legal Precedent, or the various forms of calling the other side sons of bitches. This logical-experimental bias in my thinking is as old-fashioned and almost quaint as my Jeffersonian notion that “no laws” means “no laws,” and I realize that I sound like a reactionary to those New Age people who much prefer Authority (if it comes from the East), Intimidation (if it is called the politics of confrontation) and Self Interest (if it is called getting in touch with your real feelings)……

Week Eight – Hod

Read the eighth trip, Hod
and discuss in the forums

Discuss the Snafu law and any conspicous examples you have noted


Conspiracy Digest interview

CD: How seriously are we to take your fascinating and entertaining trilogy, Illuminatus!, which you wrote in collaboration with Robert J. Shea?

Wilson: I would hate to be taken seriously. Serious people are always so grim and uptight that they make me want to dance naked on the lawn playing a flute. Of course, as Mavis says in the first volume of the trilogy, nothing is true unless it makes you laugh, but you don’t really understand it until it makes you cry. The basic situation of humanity is both tragic and comic, since we are all domesticated apes with marvelous 30-billion-cell brains, which we seldom use efficiently because of domination by the older mammalian parts of the back brain. I mean, we’re living on the Planet of the Apes, man. Is that funny or serious? It depends on how broad your sense of humor is, I guess.

CD: Specifically, are we really to believe that competing secret societies initiate and guide the various intellectual, religious, artistic, and mind-warping trends of the world? Or was the secret-society scenario just a parody of right-wing theories, a way of dramatizing authoritarian vs. libertarian trends, or simply your own brainwashing technique?

Wilson: To quote Lichtenberg, “This book is a mirror. When a monkey looks in, no philosopher looks out.” Illuminatus!, like Linda Lovelace, is all things to all men. It’s the first novel deliberately written from the viewpoint of the multi-model agnosticism of modern quantum physics. The novelist sitting on a pedestal watching the world with the allegedly Objective Eye of God is as obsolete as the tinhorn preacher bawling, “Come to my church, I’ve got the true true religion.” The only philosophy one can honestly embrace at this stage of evolution is agnosticism, or ontological pluralism. The mosaic of competing conspiracies in Illuminatus! is a parody of popular demonology on both Right and Left. It’s also a serious proposal for a more Einsteinian, relativistic model than the monistic Newtonian theories most conspiracy buffs favor. One of the readers who really seems to have understood Illuminatus! is Dr. Timothy Leary, who told me last year that his experiences with the DEA, FBI, CIA, PLO, Weather Underground, Mansonoids, Aryan Brotherhood, Al Fattah, etc., were precisely like the most absurd parts of Illuminatus!. Tim says you meet the same 24 conspiracies wherever you go. Specifically, he mentioned that he identified the same 24 paleolithic gangs fighting over the turf in Folsom Prison that he had recognized at Harvard University. The ones at Harvard speak better English, of course….

I see the power game resting on three levels of force and fraud. First, earliest and still most powerful is the government racket itself, the monopoly on force (military power, police power, etc.) which allows the governing group to take tribute (taxation) from the enslaved or deluded masses. Second, derivative from this primordial conquest, is the landlord racket, the mammalian monopoly on territory which allow’s the king’s relations (lords-of-the-land) or their successors, today’s “land-lords,” to take tribute (rent) from those who live within the territory. Rent is the daughter of taxation; the second degree of the same racket. Third, the latest in historical time, is the usury racket, the monopoly on the issue of currency which allows the money lords to take tribute (interest) on the creation of money or credit, and on the continuous circulation of the money or credit every step of the way. Interest is the son of rent, the rent of money. Since most people engaged in nefarious practices are, in my opinion, very loathe to acknowledge what they are doing, and are addicted to the same hypocrisies as the rest of humanity, I think all power groups quite sincerely believe that what they are doing is proper, and that anybody who attacks them is a revolutionary nut. Outside of the Klingons on Star Trek, I have never encountered a real predator who justifies himself on Stirnerite or Machiavellian grounds. I really think Saroyan was right, naïve as it sounds, in saying that “every man is a good man in his own eyes.”

(Preceding was written in 1976; following was written in 1979)

The difference between Conspiracy Digest and myself is that CD defines the Power Elite as somebody else. I always define the Power Elite as myself and my friends. CD and I are in basic agreement that certain kinds of power are vested in (a) those who monopolize weaponry, i.e. governments, (b) those who monopolize land, i.e. landlords, and (c) those who monopolize currency, i.e. banks of issue. We disagree in that CD regards these traditional monopolies as possessing the only kinds of power that matters on this planet; and I recognize another kind of power, Brain Power. Brain power (the work of all artists, scientists, and symbolizers since the dawn of humanity, but particularly those of the Nineteenth Century) created the “real world” over which monopolists fight each other in the Twentieth Century. Similiarly, Brain power right now, today, is creating the “real world” of the Twenty-First Century, over which the monopolies will then be struggling. The Brain people create the realities over which the Power people fight each other, and the Brain people even create the techniques of the fight…

Week Nine – Yesod

Read the Ninth Trip, Yesod

Read T.S.O.G. & cuss and/or discuss in the forum

Week TenMalkuth

Read the Tenth Trip, Malkuth
Why does the novel end with the shooting of the last American eagle?
Do you regard this as rather corny and obvious symbolism?
Why does the last sentence have exactly five words?
More too-obvious symbolism?
If Joe and the others live in a novel, how about George Bush and Osama bin Laden? How about you and me?

Read, ponder and [if you feel inclined] discuss:

“There are only two kinds of artists: the plagiarists and the revolutionaries.”
— Paul Gauguin

I love this quote because it sums up my own philosophy of art so neatly.

To say it in my own jargon, Gauguin’s “plagiarists” consist of those who do relatively good or relatively bad work within “the style of the period”– the dominant paradigm or current reality-tunnel– and the “revolutionaries” create an entirely new style, i.e a new reality-tunnel (or, in the case of Picasso, a new reality-labyrinth.)

These “plagiarists” (remember: this pejorative term comes from Gauguin, not from me) may provide light entertainment but they have low information in the sense of Shannon’s “Mathematical Theory of Communication.” (where information = the negative of the probability that you can predict the “signal” in advance. If you can always predict it, it ain’t information.)

In general, dogma always produces low information; see, the Fundamentalists (Xtian, Judaic, Moslem etc.), Marxists, Objectivists, Aryan Nation, CSICOP etc.) You always know what such True Believers will say even before they say it, and they all say it in the same words as their Fuhrer. In art, the “style of the period” = an equivalent of (perceptual/conceptual.) dogma, a rigid and familiar reality-tunnel This kind of art reaches a large public immediately, because the mass consists mostly of (in Houseman’s phrase) “fellows whom it hurts to think.” People in general love the familiar and predictable and have “crawly” sensations at the unfamiliar and unpredictable. The “revolutionaries” contain high information and a whole new “style” of reality-tunnel (high unpredictability) and annoy or infuriate the general public. Later, with time, they get consigned to “starters of crazes” or elevated to Masters (those who really did enrich of experience of Universe.)

In my opinion, the primary “revolutionary” Masters of our past century include Picasso, Klee, Pound, Joyce, Faukner, Ginsberg, Frank Lloyd Wright, D.W. Griffith, Chaplin, Welles, Clint Eastwood,, Stravinsky, Gershwin, Epstein, Brancusi, Carlin : the man or woman who doesn’t know their work deeply and richly still lives in the 19th Century while the rest of us have entered the 21st. The artists on that list haven’t become familiar enough to stop surprising us. We still need to interpret our interpreters, as Ellman said of Joyce.

The “plagiarists” appear on popular magazine covers and the NY Times best-seller lists. God bless them, they live happily and sincerely in the same world as the mass audience.

Or — ignore all these leads and discuss what thou wilt…..

Week Eleven

Read appendices aleph, beth, daleth, tzaddi, vau, zain, and cheth

The novel proper mixed fact and surrealism.
Discuss the elements of each of these in the appendices.

Read and discuss
Schrödinger’s Jew

97 years ago today Leopold Bloom, a fictitious man, wandered the streets of Dublin, a real city; and Joyce scholars still argue about his odd odyssey. I would like to add to the confusion with a note about Bloom’s “Jewishness.”

“Is” Leopold Bloom a Jew?

Not according to Orthodox Rabbinical law, which defines a Jew as the child of a Jewish mother. Bloom as the child of a Protestant mother “is not” a Jew.

According to Nazi law, however, a Jew “is” a person with a known Jewish ancestor. Bloom as the son of Rudolph Bloom [born Rudolph Virag], “is” a Jew.

See how easily a person can “be” and “not be” a Jew at the same time?

On the third hand, most humanists define a Jew as one who believes in and practices the Judaic religion. By this definition, Bloom who neither believes in nor practices any religion “is not” a Jew. But Marilyn Monroe, who practiced and probably tried to believe in Judaism while married to Arthur Miller, “was” a Jew by that definition– for those few years, if not before or after.

Extensionally or phenomenologically, a Jew “is” somebody considered Jewish by all or most of the people he meets. By this standard the multi-ordinal Bloom “is” a Jew again.

Once more: in terms of pure existentialism a Jew “is” somebody who chooses to consider themselves Jewish. Bloom obviously doesn’t consider himself Jewish but Irish, most of the time. Only when under verbal assault by the anti-semitic Citizen in Barney Kiernan’s pub does Bloom define himself as Jewish [“And Jesus was a Jew too. Your god. He was a Jew like me.”] Here he obviously has in mind the “known Jewish ancestor” rule, because he adds “And so was his father,” to which the Citizen replies, as a correct Catholic, “He had no father,” and Bloom, unfamiliar with that theology — logic played with deuces, eights and one-eyed jacks wild — can only pragmatically reply, “Well, his uncle then.”

But recalling the incident later, Bloom says “And he called me a Jew, which as a matter of fact I’m not.” Here he returns to his customary “believer in Judaic religion” definition.

I suppose Joyce made Bloom such a tangled genetic and cultural mixture to expose the absurdities of anti-semitism; but I also suspect that he wanted to undermine that neurolinguistic habit which postmodernists call “essentialism” and which Korzybski claimed invades our brains and causes hallucinations or delusions every time we use the word “is.”

For more on Korzybski’s criticisms of “isness,” click

Week Twelve

The Appendices – Part Two

Read and discusss–

The Illuminatus! Play interview

Read final appendices

I’m just learning to use my new computer….more comments, farewells
Will follow–
and a chat

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