Dr John C. Lilly on human/dolphin communications.

You’re probably best known as “Dr. John Lilly, the dolphin man.” What is the aim of your current dolphin research? 

At Marine World, we’re working with computers to develop a human/dolphin code, analogous to the Morse code used in telegraphy. The project is called JANUS — for Joint Analog Numerical Understanding System. Like the Roman god Janus, it has two “faces” — a dolphin side and a human side.

A human/dolphin language must contend with the fact that dolphins communicate at frequencies ten times above the human range. While our speech falls between three hundred and three thousand hertz, or cycles per second. dolphins talk to one another underwater at frequencies from three thousand to thirty thousand hertz. If you go into a pool with a dolphin and he starts whistling, you’ll hear what sounds like very high-pitched squeaks. So the problem is to bring their frequency down into our sound window and ours up into theirs.

We’re using a computer system to transmit sounds underwater to the dolphins. A computer is electrical energy oscillating at particular frequencies, which can vary. and we use a transducer to convert the electrical waveforms into acoustical energy. You could translate the waveforms into any kind of sound you like: human speech, dolphin-like clicks, whatever.

Read the whole interview here:

Robert Anton Wilson’s Pulp Illuminations by Erik Davis

Robert Anton Wilson’s Pulp Illuminations

A talk at the Esoteric Book Conference, September 2014

 By Erik Davis


Here is a talk I gave at last year’s wonderful Esoteric Book Conference about Illuminatus!, the occult, and the tension between high and low magic in the 1970s.


I highly recommend the EBC: the perfect (for me) Venn Diagram between esoteric scholarship and practicing occultism, the overlap being book nerdship, friendly enthusiasm, and good gender representation (key for occult conferences). 

John Higgs talks with Rawillumination about his new book on The KLF and RAW

Raw scholars of the highest caliber in conversation. Thanks Tom. 

JMR Higgs talks about his new book on The KLF and RAW

It’s strange to say that a book about a British pop group is one of the best short introductions to the work of Robert Anton Wilson, but it’s also true. JMR Higgs’ KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money discusses the group but puts it in the context of the band’s biggest influence, the Illuminatus! trilogy and Robert Anton Wilson.

So it’s a pop biography that has lucid explanations of reality tunnels, model agnosticism and Discordian philosophy. I also learned about the history of Ken Campbell’s stage production of Illuminatus!

Mr. Higgs entered the literary scene with I Have America Surrounded: A Biography of Timothy Leary, which I plan to read next year. His novel, The Brandy of the Damned, appeared this year and another novel, The First Church on the Moon, is largely complete. The Tumblr companion for the KLF book is here.

Higgs, who lives in the United Kingdom with his family, cheerfully agreed when I asked if I could pose some questions. This interview took place a couple of days ago via email.

What impelled you to write a new book on The KLF? Your bibliography shows that other books have been written on The KLF.

Hi Tom, yeah there have been fanzine histories and The KLF have been mentioned in broader music books, but there hasn’t been a book like this. One of the main reasons for writing it was a desire to write about Robert Anton Wilson and Discordianism, because that was the obvious next step after writing a book about Leary.

I’m a sucker for writing about ideas, but really what I like are ideas that kick up an absolute shitstorm in the wider world. That was fine for a Leary book, because he escaped from jail and was hunted around the world by the US government and so on. But I couldn’t think of a way to write about Bob Wilson which brought more to the party than we already had in that fantastic ‘Maybe Logic’ documentary. So this was my response to that problem – tracing those ideas all the way to that burning of a million quid on a remote Scottish island.

Why do you wish the two members of The KLF had not burned 1 million pounds?

Ah, good question. I said that because every era has a strange undercurrent of previously unthinkable ideas preparing to bubble up to the surface, and during my formative years that current was the Chaos current. The Chaos current, by definition, is never dull but it is not concerned with destination, and for me there’s something unsatisfying about that. (This, in part, was the cause of my unease about the book before putting it out.)

I wrote the book to record an aspect of the history I lived through which was in danger of being lost. That’s all well and good, but I couldn’t help think those in earlier eras such as the Enlightenment or the Renaissance or even the Sixties had more fun, and at times when I was deep in the book I would grumble about how what fell to my generation was sodding chaos and money burning.

That said, after getting the book out I feel much happier about the whole thing, and if Cauty and Drummond wanted to burn a million pounds, then good luck to them. There were far worse eras to live through. It was certainly better than the early 20th Century, when the strange undercurrent was all proto-Nazis and Aleister Crowley fucking goats and the like.

Has there been any response by Bill Drummond or Jimmy Cauty to your book?

Not that I’m aware of, but then I wrote the book and put it out without informing them. That’s not an approach I’d use for any other non-fiction book, I should add, but it was necessary for this one.

There are two main approaches to non-fiction – the first is the academic, encyclopaedic approach where you painstakingly pile on fact after fact and hope the accumulated impact on the reader gets the subject across. The second is about capturing the spirit of the thing – something like the Led Zeppelin book ‘Hammer of the Gods’ is a good example of this – and that was what I was trying to do here. An ‘official’ or ‘approved’ or even an ‘acknowledged’ book wouldn’t have been in the spirit of the thing, and that would have damaged the book.

That said, I did meet Jimmy Cauty when I first attempted this book about five years ago. He was a lovely guy and as helpful as you could wish, but speaking to him I couldn’t shake the impression that deep down he wished that no-one would ever mention The KLF or the money burning ever again. Shortly after that the publisher who had wanted to put that book out went kaput, so I put it to one side and left it. Or I tried to, anyway.

Your new book says that the “path” you chose in telling the story of The KLF was determined by a desire to “create a narrative that was (a) a good yarn and (b) something that would mess with the reader’s head on as deep a level as possible.” Does this describe your objectives in The Brandy of the Damned?

I was being a bit flippant there to drum home the notion that all non-fiction books are far from neutral truths, but that said it is pretty close to my approach to Brandy. Although Brandy really is intended to heal and sooth the reader’s head, rather than mess with it. I think of it as a balm. It is supposed to feel complete and satisfying at the end, even if it only makes sense on a subconscious level. It’s supposed to leave you feeling new and clean, and positive. I’m not claiming that I achieved that, of course, but that was the aim.

I’m quite open that all my books are attempts to hack the reader’s mind without them noticing, reprogramme them a little and send them on their way subtly different to how they were before. Advertisers do this all the time, but they are doing it to make you unhappy and to make you want things you don’t actually want. In that context I don’t think what I try to do is too much of a liberty. I get all this from Robert Anton Wilson, of course – anyone who’s read Cosmic Trigger and the like will know how books have the power to alter readers like that.

It’s a lot of work, writing a book, and I couldn’t do it if my ambitions were just to entertain or to distract or whatever. There are enough books that can do that already, and we really don’t need anymore. I have to convince myself that the finished work will be a more valuable use of my time than going round and giving all my friends and family a hug, or hanging out and making them a cup of tea or whatever.

How is the First Church on the Moon coming along? Our friend Orlando Monk from The Brandy of the Damned will turn up again, will he not?

He will – for one scene at least. The book’s going great and the aim is to finish the first draft by Dec 31st, so that I can think to myself, “2012? Oh yeah, I wrote three books in 2012.”

The First Church on the Moon is much more of an out-and-out comedy. Whereas Brandy is aimed at the head, without being rational, First Church is aimed at the heart, without being sentimental. (The third and final part of the trilogy is about sex and death in a way that is neither gothic nor erotic. But that’s a tale for later!)

First Church will be fun and daft and just be a real pleasure to read, with the ambition behind it not becoming apparent until the end. It’s the first thing I’ve done that I think has mainstream appeal, so I’ve got to decide whether to hawk it around big publishers or put it out quickly with the others. Going mainstream with it makes a lot of sense until you realise that it wouldn’t then appear until 2015, which would destroy any momentum I’ve been building up this year. So, you may see it soon, you may not.

Why did you release your book under the Creative Commons license? Are you unconcerned that some people might obtain copies without paying for them?

That doesn’t really bother me, if I’m honest, the more heads I can get into the better. Putting my books out under the Creative Commons Attribution/Non-Commercial license  and keeping the ebooks DRM free, just seems the healthiest approach to writing these days.

That said, the fact that the character of Orlando Monk declared himself to be Public Domain is more of a worry. I woke from a dream when I was writing ‘Brandy’ thinking, “Shit! Orlando Monk has put himself in the Public Domain!”, so I added that to the text because that book had to be true to my subconscious.

That was more worrying because I’ve got a backstory to that character that I like a lot and think is pretty outrageous, but I’d have to adapt it if others start adding things to the character. The first person who was going to add Orlando Monk to one of their stories, incidentally, died shortly afterwards. That’s not connected, of course, but I mention it whenever possible in an effort to unsettle other writers who might be thinking about using him.

You mention that you did not actually read Illuminatus! until you were 90 percent finished with the book. What did you think of it after reading RAW’s nonfiction books?

I had read the first volume twenty years earlier, but I’d never got round to finishing the full thing. But that first book alone definitely opened me up and changed me for good. Most of the RAW I’ve read has been non-fiction so I’m anxiously waiting for his back catalogue to appear as ebooks so I can have a good wallow in his fiction (they’re not always easy to get hold of in the UK). I’m eager for any news about when his back catalogue will appear on ebook, incidentally!

I think publishing RAW ebooks is important. At the moment his work is kept alive by the Californian counter-culture, the conspiracy theory scene, Libertarians and the like and that’s great, but it’s also stopping his ideas from spreading further, where they are needed. As I say in The KLF book, Bob’s multi-model agnosticism does seem to me to be the only way forward from the whole post-modernism thing, without retreating into false certainties and ignoring the things that brought us to post-modernism in the first place. So I’m genuine when I say that I think he was one of the most important thinkers of the late twentieth century, but I’m aware that may not seem convincing in light of the lurid 70s book covers and so on.

I think a lot about how RAW should be presented to the 21st Century but I don’t really have any great ideas about how to do that at the moment. I will write more about this at some point. But in the meantime, I want to say how important blogs like yours are and the research you do – so thank you for all your work!

The Dam conspiracy conspiracy conspiracy

The Dam conspiracy conspiracy conspiracy

“what the thinker thinks, the prover proves”—recurring theme in the book Prometheus Rising, by Robert Anton Wilson.

Everything seems connected. Some things seem more interconnected than others. Networks connect. New information travels fast. Novelty powers the meme-space race. Reality, from the whole tribes perspective, maybe only what trends on twitter when the question is asked. Its as if relativity is getting more relative, to paraphrase a saying, while the exponential information explosion ripples ever outward, or inward, pulsing, simultaneously. Pull and push.

Dam Conspiracy everywhere! but which ones are worth the time and effort pursuing, if any? And to what end? Do you really hope to piece it all together, create the one singular, most probable scenario universe to one particular space-time event? Or is this an exorcise in information warfare, defense in the art of ratting out the fake and untruths from the real and true. Good luck with that. Perhaps simply thinking in probabilities takes us much closer to the truth?

In my estimation, the whole purpose of The Illuinatus Trilogy, and the collected works of RAW are to force one to think, to decide for yourself what is real, what is put on, what is mostly put on and a little bit real, and/or mostly real with a little bit of put on. Reality is both what YOU make it, but also how those around you perceive it in the ideaspaces we share. This is not to deny that things happen as we perceive them, that would be falling into solipsism, that I aim to avoid like the void. 

“whatever you say it is, it isn’t”—Alfred Korzybski

The conspiracy, in one sense, is that our brains, and our hearts and senses all seem to push toward making meaning and truth, and beauty for that matter, out of the signals we receive. What these signals are, how they came to be what they are, and why we put them into patterns and recognizable forms, symbol systems, pictures, song, remains as much a mystery as proposing what is outside the limits of the inflating universe. 
My purpose for writing this is not to put down conspiracy research, or theories, or individuals who propose them, but simply to try and reinforce what RAW says so much better than anybody else I have known, read or heard tales about:

“According to Alfred Korzybski, any “idea” or mental state is a brain circuit which the brain itself can contemplate, thereby having an idea about the idea, or a mental state about the mental state, etc. There is no theoretical or real limit to the higher ordering process; it is the “infinity within” of which mystics speak.—Dr Robert Anton Wilson, the metaprogramming circuit, Prometheus Rising, pg. 195.

Alfred Korzybski, should be at the very top of any serious conspiracy researchers list of founding individuals who developed principles and methodology for doing good honest research. At the least this may lead to a kind of probabilistic reasoning, or a system of communicating based upon a wide array o f data.
RAW for instance, crafted complete books of non-fiction abiding by the pretty strict rules of English Prime (E-Prime), or English language with the remove of beingness, or the beingness of isness. A major cause for confusion in Aristotelian either/or reality tunnels: see politics, religion and the music press. I advise any conspiracy researcher worth their weight in paperclips, to delve into E-Prime, for the sake of sanity. Familiarize yourself with disinformation and the ego tripping wizards of what is, often accompanied by the ongoing lyric of ‘I’. The mix of fact and metaphor. The mix of ‘isness’ with ‘I’ ness…running wild into the cage of certainty.

“to is, or not to is, maybe NOT a question worth thinking about too long”—Steve fly

Don’t get me wrong, ‘I’ would call myself a conspiracy researcher due to having read most of RAWs output, and I have built my own scheme of things, based on what I have read and heard, seen and intuited in my own life. RAW would probably list Alfred Korzybski, Ezra Pound, Karl Popper, Carl Oglesby, Noam Chomsky and Paul Krassner as some of his top conspiracy theory quality critters. Read them. Search each one at DuckDuckGo.com, or another search engine and see for yourself why these individuals and their ideas are important for us all now, and how they distinguish themselves from the popular sensationalist ‘pop conspiracy boom’ co-opted by the global entertainment market, and questionably extended the reach of the gov-corp disinformation ops themselves. I once met Richard Metzger who started up Disinformation.com, and who was a good friend of RAW, the use of the word disinformation by no means refers to him or the website by that name, Metzger flipped in back in the face of the gov-corp disinfo IMHO.

Let RAW clarify for us, once again:

“Every secret police organization is engaged in both the collection of information and the production of misinformation euphemistically called “disinformation.” That is, you score points in the secret police game both by hoarding signals (information units)—hiding facts from competitors—and by foisting false signals (fake information units) on the other players. This creates the situation I call Optimum SNAFU, in which every player has rational (not neurotic) reasons for suspecting that each and all may be trying to deceive him. As Henry Kissinger is alleged to have said, anybody in Washington who isn’t paranoid must be crazy. Maybe the UFOs really exist objectively—or maybe the whole UFO phenomena is a cover for a secret police disinformation ploy. Maybe there are Black Holes where space and time implode—or maybe Black Holes were invented to befuddle Russian scientists and send them into “the little man who wasn’t there” semantic spookery. Maybe Jimmy Carter really exists—or maybe he is, as National Lampoon once claimed, an actor named Sidney Goldfarb trained to project an attractive down-home “image”. Perhaps only three alpha males at the top of the security pyramid really know the answers to these questions—or perhaps these three are being deceived by certain subordinates, as Lyndon Johnson was deceived about Vietnam by the C.I.A.—Robert Anton Wilson, The SNAFU principle, Prometheus Rising. Pg. 226.

To continue, I suspect one good measure of a characters contribution to humanity could be based on how much, and in what way, they share signals. With particular focus on factual, useful, scientific tools that help benefit all humanity, simplifying the equation, creating a new synthesis, balanced, fair, funny and obviously to the benefit of all. Like a good contract. 

I am leading to a critique of the new whistle blower phenomena, and the way in which the information is communicated. When filtered through some of the most balanced sources that I personally like and can get along with, like boingboing.net, the Guardian, The Huffington Post, io9, dangerous minds, etc; still lack the attention to the whole human organism that a character like Amiri Baraka and Alan Moore exhibit. I mean in the special cohesion found in great works of art, often more detailed and obscure, the sense of time when reading a novel vs. a typical blog entry or news item. The urge to fill in the missing information often pulls us toward massive generalizations about our senses,  processes sensed and how everything fits together, self, the individual in history, and our moving experience of wakefulness, now.   

Each to their own, and give thanks to the wondrous diversity of forms we can get our information, in the age of global Internet. However, I feel a good question concerns the difference between scripture and regular writing? How do we create special writing and communication that celebrate the human traits of humanity, the triumph of the individual over the state, over ideology and the deceptions of perceptions. How to break free from alphabetical chains, categorical cages and get beyond language?

RAW might point us to James Joyce, Marshall Mcluhan, Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound in this respect. All whom dipped a toe to five into the future and dared to propose, and to perform by example a whole new style, a new synthesis, an innovation and condensation of past knowledge and psychological craftsmanship into never before seen language. Language art, the art and crafts of poetry, and the antidote to the infinite conspiracy conspiracy conspiracy regress, IMHO.

James Joyce might be my favorite conspiracy author,the master of connectivity in language.  I think that Joyce and Pound, Yeats, and Burroughs stole back the fire from the big bad thief, they stole back the arts of disinformation, the double cross, Orwellian double-speak, and created quintuple agents with missions way beyond anything any Harvard spy professor or Oxford/Cambridge cocka could compete with. Not a chance. And the great Irish poets and writers–to call up a nationality and apply a stereotypical and misleading title for them–stand atop the world in the field of capturing the tragic/comic truth of life, whole. Or, truths in the plural. True enough I like to think. A strong maybe, probably true, like the second law of thermodynamics. 

If you choose to follow any of this advice about reading RAW and checking out some of his in depth works  concerning the characters I mention above, or not, please go ahead and have some fun with it, write your story, your own conspiracy, pull it apart and build it up again. Do it again. Critique your own strongest arguments. Eventually you may be able to meditate upon such activity before engaging, and save a lot of time and effort which cd. be applied elsewhere, perhaps working toward gaining some agency, or agency on behalf of your local community with which to at the least install protections, possibly some semantic standards with which to weed out disinformation at the root?

In light of the principle that blinkered and limited perception shrinks and limits the universe, we could say that the common jewel of the conspiracy theorists tackle-box–the all powerful, all controlling super Illuminati–makes the biggest fool out of those who shout the loudest. That is, unless the shouting turns to singing, dancing, storytelling, jokes and some good old fun such as RAW and Robert Shea demonstrate in Illuminatus Trilogy! And RAW demonstrates throughout his entire life’s work as a writer, teacher, playwright, scientfic philosopher, and genuinely really nice guy. Read him! Compare this with the monotonous paranoid ravings of those who proclaim to have discovered some universal truth about a highly complex historical event, no jokes, no alternative models, just an advertisement to sell books or other schwag. 

“It is what it is”—James Brown

“Nothing is”—Sun Ra

–Steve fly
Amsterdam, 26/3/14  

The Late Great Robert Anton Wilson Event Part 1 – John Higgs

One day before heading down to London on the bus from Dudley, to see the show at the Horse Hospital i had the following experience:

yesterday, in Stourbridge i had an encounter with an Angel, or what Arthur Koestler calls…’the library angel’ category of coincidence, or in my case the charity shop Angel. Let me explain, i walked into the British heart foundation shop and started scanning the books, and within just 2 minutes i found ‘The Wild Boys’ by William S. Burroughs for a bargain price of £1.50, and on the shelf below a copy of ‘The Trial’ by Franz Kafka for just 50p. A few hours later i opened up ‘Wild Boys’ and on the acknowledgment page i became spooked to discover that the only text mentioned, for permission to quote from is non other than ‘The Trial’ by Franz Kafka. A splendid intersection point and angelic contact coincidance.

“Published on 3 Nov 2013
The Late Great Robert Anton Wilson Event Part 1 – John Higgs

Watch Part 2: http://youtu.be/HsBWj5jNadw

John Higgs (http://twitter.com/johnhiggs/ http://johnhiggs.com/)
Daisy Eris Campbell (http://twitter.com/DaisyEris/)
Hosted By Scott Wood of The London Fortean Society (http://twitter.com/ForteanLondon/ http://forteanlondon.blogspot.co.uk/)

at The Horse Hospital 23/Oct/2013″

Illuminatus Trilogy! and Annonymous hacking culture

This article from Wired has produced a more condensed article (that follows)including a fantastic quote about Illuminatus Trilogy! by Shea and Wilson, linking the History of hacker culture directly to the novels, and so further back, deeper into the sub-history of dada, surrealism, satire. I would argue this reaches right back to the 1580’s and Giordano Bruno’s ‘pantheism’, and can be tracked by simply following the route Robert Anton Wilson defined for us: Bruno, Giambattista Vico, Friederich Nietzsche, Ernest Fenollosa, William Butler Yeates, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Alfred Korzybski, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon, Norbert Weiner, Marshal McLuhan, and Orson Welles.


Understanding Anonymous: The Culture Of Lulz

from the it’s-not-an-organization dept

We’ve written a number of times about the not-really-a-group Anonymous, and just how little those who position themselves “against” Anonyomous understand what it is they’re fighting against. But even for those who are “of internet culture,” explaining just what Anonymous really is certainly can be difficult. Either you live it and you get it, or you don’t. That doesn’t mean that everyone who “gets” Anonymous agrees with Anonymous. Hell, even Anonymous doesn’t agree with Anonymous much of the time — which is part of the point. But for those who are used to arguing against a group or those with an established position, the entire concept of Anonymous is completely alien.

Quinn Norton is putting together what looks to be a brilliant exploration of Anonymous and related efforts. The initial piece is the best I’ve seen to date in encapsulating what Anonymous is. The key point? It’s a culture. And, it’s a culture with a long heritage of similar efforts that many people didn’t get at the time, but there’s definitely a (rather non-linear, of course) relationship:

The birthplace of Anonymous is a website called 4chan founded in 2003, that developed an “anything goes” random section known as the /b/ board. 4chan itself comes from a Japanese-language predecessor called 2chan, founded in 2001. Before that, the lulz and hacker pranking was alive and well in old-school IRC chat rooms, EFnet, and the 1990s hacker scene.

But if you’re going back that far, add as influences Mondo 2000, and publications like RE/Search, and a billion shitty zines that were dead by 1996. But those all came from something, too.

Hacker culture, and almost all of computer culture back in the day is shot through with the Discordian edge of 1960/1970s counter-culture and Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus. So from there it’s the yippies, Andy Kaufmann, and the Situationists we need to first comprehend. Or do we head back to early 20th century absurdists of Dada? Or maybe we venture all the way to that olde booke of epic trolling lulze, Tristram Shandy?

We’re all the way to 1759 now.

Perhaps this means the 1960s Discordians are right, and there’s a Ha Ha Only Serious giggle that is cosmic in nature. That there is a part of reality, a force of physics, that is actually a Fundamental Sense of Humor. But the gravity we deal with can only be explained to an even larger amount of Dark Humor, woven into the fabric of the universe.

Of course, those who don’t get Anonymous still won’t get Anonymous after this article. In fact, they’re likely to be more confused, or more sure than ever that it’s “just a bunch of bratty kids” or something along those lines. And thinking that works exactly to Anonymous’ favor, which is part of the joke, in which everyone is the punchline.