The Kindly Seer of Cleveland asks, "Could you talk about your Maybe Logic course on Schroedinger's Cat? Why did you choose to focus on this work?"
Well, I just did this write-up for the kind folks at Maybe Logic:
“Some have even proposed that Schrödinger’s Cat is actually a manual of shamanism in the form of a novel, but that opinion is, almost certainly, exaggerated.” - Schrödinger’s Cat, pg. 12
I first discovered the genius of Robert Anton Wilson through his three part novel Schrödinger’s Cat in 1982. Thirty years later it remains my favorite book, one which I think repays deep inspection and contemplation. This class will examine the book as “a manual of shamanism,” using it as a tool for transforming our nervous systems and our realities. Bob wrote this book after the greatest crisis of his life, the murder of his daughter Luna. In the novel characters deal with tragedy, attempting to alchemically transmute the lead of their lives into gold. Novelist Paul Chuey called this book “a pornographic quantum mechanics textbook.” In the 1980’s I thought of it as a modern Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with the reader in the role of Alice, his or her reality warped by Wilson’s hologrammatic prose. The tools Bob found useful for reimprinting the nervous system, pranayama, Joyce, magick, Beethoven, etc., each play a dynamic role in the novel, opening pathways for discovery for the attentive reader.
Well, Schrödinger's Cat an attempt to write a new kind of science fiction. New Scientist magazine, I'm happy to say, called it the most scientific of all science-fiction novels, which really pleased me very much. It pleased me so much I quote it every chance I can.
What I was trying to do with Schrödinger's Cat: Instead of going as far out as I could in my imagination, I tried to follow where modern physics is going (what are the main lines of interpretation of the universe in modern physics?) and just write about a universe that fits modern physics. And that is so mind-blowing it seems crazier than anything a science-fiction writer could invent. As a matter of fact, a lot of it does sound like science fiction.
- Robert Anton Wilson, http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/rawilson.htm
This class will use the one volume 1988 revision of the novel. The eight weeks of the course will examine the text in light of the eight circuit model of the nervous system. The text gives many practical suggestions for reimprinting these circuits throughout the text.
Begin reading Book One: The Homing Pigeons, pg. 349 – 418
Each week of this course I would like you to listen to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 106 at least once, preferably with your eyes closed.
Please try to develop a first circuit practice for the duration of this course. This could involve a half an hour each day of martial arts or yoga, or simply walking for a half an hour each day.
Movie of the Week: Chinatown
Read pg. 418 - 486
Add a half an hour of either pranayama or sitting meditation each day.
Movie of the Week: Citizen Kane
Read pg. 486 – 545, 1 – 10
Add a half an hour of kabbalistic study each day.
Movie of the Week: The Magnificent Ambersons
Read pg. 10 – 78
Add a daily fourth circuit practice.
Movie of the Week: The Lady from Shanghai
Read pg. 78 – 146
Add daily cultivation of fifth circuit awareness.
Movie of the Week: Mr. Arkadin
Read pg. 146 – 214
Add daily awakening of the sixth circuit.
Movie of the Week: Touch of Evil
Read 210 – 278
Attempt to metaprogram some aspect of your perceived reality.
Movie of the Week: The Trial
Read pg. 278 – 347
Awaken to the possibilities of the eighth circuit. Bob Wilson saw the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as a skeleton key to the eighth circuit.
Movie of the Week: F for Fake
Eight Ways to Listen to Beethoven
I. As for music – where did we first hear it, who sang or hummed to us, and against what part of her body were we held? - Prometheus Rising (revised edition), pg. 48.
II. We are not talking about mere increase in linear IQ – third-circuit semantic cleverness. We are talking of also the kinds of right-brain intelligence that Nicholl acquired from Jungian neurogenetic research and Gurdjieff’s meta-programming techniques. We are talking of say, Beethoven’s intelligence, which so disturbed Lenin, who could not bear to listen to the Appassionata (Sonata 23) because it made him “want to weep and pat people on the head, and we mustn’t pat them on the head, we must hit them on the head, hit them hard, and make them obey.” More of Beethoven’s intelligence is needed, desperately, to create a signal that the current Lenins cannot ignore, that will make them weep, and stop hitting heads. – Ibid, pg. 277
III. The left-handed, on the contrary, specialize in right-brain functions, which are holistic, supra-verbal, “intuitive,” musical and “mystical.” Leonardo, Beethoven and Nietzsche, for instance, were all left-handed. Traditionally, left-handed people have been the subject of both dread and awe – regarded as weird, shamanic, and probably in special communication with “God” or “the Devil.” – Ibid, pg. 98 – 99.
IV. “To me, the Hammerklavier sounds like an unsuccessful attempt at Tantric sex. And the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies sound like monumentally successful attempts.” - Frank Dashwood in Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy, pg. 426.
V. Beethoven, we remember, was left-handed. Since the left hand is neurologically linked to the polymorphous right brain, one might say he was genetically inclined to right brain activities, that is, to sensing coherent wholes, to plunging into neurosomatic bliss almost “at will,” and to sensory-sensual raptness and rapture. Everybody “knows” that the Sixth Symphony is “pantheistic,” but whether Beethoven was an ideological pantheist or not, that way of responding to nature is normal and natural right-brain Circuit V functioning. That is, anybody on the Fifth Circuit will “talk like a pantheist” whether or not he has developed a “philosophy” about pantheism. The miracle of Beethoven is not that he felt the universe that way – a few thousand fifth-circuit types throughout history have also felt and sensed nature that way – but that he mastered the third-circuit art of music with such skill that he could communicate such experiences, which is precisely what the ordinary “mystic” cannot do. - Prometheus Rising, pg. 183.
This progression, from primate emotion to post-hominid tranquility, from “man” to “super man,” is the Next Step that mystics forever talk of; you can hear it in most of Beethoven’s later, major compositions. – Ibid, pg. 188.
VI. Beethoven, to cite him one more time, said, “Anybody who understands my music will never be unhappy again.” That is because his music is the song of the Sixth Circuit, of Gaia, the Life Spirit, becoming conscious of Herself, of Her powers, of Her own capacities for infinite progress. - Ibid, pg. 204.
VII. Mind and its contents are functionally identical: My wife only exists, for me, in my mind. Not being a solipsist, I recognize the converse: I only exist, for her, in her mind. Lest the reader exclaim, like Byron of Wordsworth, “I wish he would explain his explanation!”, let us try it this way: If I am so fortunate as to be listening to the Hammerklavier sonata, the only correct answer, if you ask me suddenly, “Who are you?” would be to hum the Hammerklavier,. For, with music of that quality, one is hypnotized into rapt attention: there is no division between “me” and “my experience.” - Ibid, pg. 219.
VIII. Mystics stammer, gibber and rave incoherently in trying to discuss this. Beethoven says it for them, without words, in the fourth movement of the Ninth Symphony. The words of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” which Beethoven set to this virtually superhuman music, are a linear third-circuit map conveying only a skeleton key to the multi-level meanings of the 8-circuit “language” of the melodic construction itself, which spans all consciousness from primitive bio-survival to meta-physiological cosmic fusion. – Ibid, pg. 269