Robert Anton Wilson

“Robert Anton Wilson (born Robert Edward Wilson; January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007) was an American author, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized as an Episkopos[dead link], Pope, and saint of Discordianism, Wilson helped publicize the group through his writings and interviews.

Wilson described his work as an “attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth”. His goal being “to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.

“Is”, “is.” “is”—the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don’t know what anything “is”; I only know how it seems to me at this moment.

— Robert Anton Wilson, The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, as spoken by Sigismundo Celine.
Born Robert Edward Wilson in Methodist Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York, he spent his first years in Flatbush, and moved with his family to lower middle class Gerritsen Beach around the age of four or five, where they stayed until relocating to the steadfastly middle-class neighborhood of Bay Ridge when Wilson was thirteen. He suffered from polio as a child, and found generally effective treatment with the Kenny Method (created by Elizabeth Kenny) which the American Medical Association repudiated at that time. Polio’s effects remained with Wilson throughout his life, usually manifesting as minor muscle spasms causing him to use a cane occasionally until 2000, when he experienced a major bout with post-polio syndrome that would continue until his death.

Wilson attended Catholic grammar school, likely the school associated with Gerritsen Beach’s Resurrection Church[citation needed], and attended Brooklyn Technical High School (a selective public institution) to remove himself from the Catholic influence; at “Brooklyn Tech,” Wilson was influenced by literary modernism (particularly Ezra Pound and James Joyce), the Western philosophical tradition, then-innovative historians such as Charles A. Beard, science fiction (including the works of Olaf Stapledon, Robert A. Heinlein and Theodore Sturgeon) and Alfred Korzybski’s interdisciplinary theory of general semantics. He would later recall that the family was “living so well… compared to the Depression” during this period “that I imagined we were lace-curtain Irish at last.”

Following his graduation in 1950, Wilson was employed in a succession of jobs (including ambulance driver, engineering aide, salesman and medical orderly) and absorbed various philosophers & cultural practices (including bebop, psychoanalysis, Bertrand Russell, Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Leon Trotsky and Ayn Rand, whom he later repudiated) while writing in his spare time. He also studied electrical engineering and mathematics at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute from 1952 to 1957 and English education at New York University from 1957 to 1958 without getting a degree from either institution.

After smoking marijuana for nearly a decade, he first experimented with mescaline in Yellow Springs, Ohio on December 28, 1961. Wilson began to work as a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter in the late 1950s. He adopted his maternal grandfather’s name, Anton, for his writings, telling himself that he would save the “Edward” for when he wrote the Great American Novel and later finding that “Robert Anton Wilson” had become an established identity.

He assumed co-editorship of the School for Living’s Brookville, Ohio-based Balanced Living magazine in 1962 and briefly returned to New York as associate editor of Ralph Ginzburg’s quarterly fact: before leaving for Playboy, where he served as an associate editor from 1965 to 1971. According to Wilson, Playboy “paid me a higher salary than any other magazine at which I had worked and never expected me to become a conformist or sell my soul in return. I enjoyed my years in the Bunny Empire. I only resigned when I reached 40 and felt I could not live with myself if I didn’t make an effort to write full-time at last.” Along with frequent collaborator Robert Shea, Wilson edited the magazine’s Playboy Forum advice column. During this period, he covered Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert’s Millbrook, New York-based Castalia Foundation at the instigation of Alan Watts in The Realist, cultivated important friendships with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, and lectured at the Free University of New York on ‘Anarchist and Synergetic Politics’ in 1965.

He received a B.A., M.A. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) in psychology from Paideia University, an unaccredited institution that has since closed. Wilson reworked his dissertation, and it found publication in 1983 as Prometheus Rising.

Wilson married freelance writer and poet Arlen Riley in 1958.[11] They had four children, including Christiana Wilson Pearson and Patricia Luna Wilson. Luna was beaten to death in an apparent robbery in the store where she worked in 1976 at the age of 15, and became the first person to have her brain preserved by the Bay Area Cryonics Society. Arlen Riley Wilson died in 1999 following a series of strokes.” (Wikipedia)

Christopher Langan

“Christopher Michael Langan (born March 25, 1952) is an American whose IQ was reportedly believed to be “between 190 and 210”. In Morris 2001, Langan relates that he took what was billed as “the world’s most difficult IQ test” in Omni magazine, and he gives his IQ as “somewhere between 190 and 210”. He has been described as “the smartest man in America” as well as “the smartest man in the world” by some journalists. Langan has developed a “theory of the relationship between mind and reality” which he calls the “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe” (CTMU)

Langan was born in San Francisco, California, in 1952. He spent most of his early life in Montana, with his mother and three brothers. His mother was the daughter of a wealthy shipping executive but was cut off from her family’s fortune. Christopher did not grow up with his biological father, as the man died or disappeared before Christopher was born. Because Christopher’s father was absent, the family struggled to escape poverty.

During elementary school, Langan was repeatedly skipped ahead and was tormented by his peers. Langan claims he was brutally beaten by his stepfather, Jack Langan. Jack Langan denies this claim. Chris Langan recalled that his “stepfather constantly asked [Chris] difficult questions, and when I’d give him correct answers to those questions, he’d bat me in the mouth or something of that nature to let me know he didn’t appreciate a guy trying to be smarter than he was.” At the age of twelve years, Langan began weight training, and forcibly ended the abuse by throwing his stepfather out of the house when he was fourteen, and telling him never to return.

Langan says he spent the last years of high school mostly in independent study, teaching himself “advanced math, physics, philosophy, Latin, and Greek”. He earned a perfect score on the SAT (pre-1995 scale) despite taking a nap during the test. Langan attended Reed College and later Montana State University, but faced with financial and transportation problems, and believing that he could teach his professors more than they could teach him, he dropped out.

In 1999, Langan and others formed a non-profit corporation called the “Mega Foundation” to “create and implement programs that aid in the development of severely gifted individuals and their ideas” (the organization’s designation for those with IQs of 164 or above).

Langan told Muscle Magazine that “you cannot describe the universe completely with any accuracy unless you’re willing to admit that it’s both physical and mental in nature” and that the CTMU “explains the connection between mind and reality, therefore the presence of cognition and universe in the same phrase”. He calls his proposal “a true ‘Theory of Everything’, a cross between John Archibald Wheeler’s ‘Participatory Universe’ and Stephen Hawking’s ‘Imaginary Time’ theory of cosmology.” In conjunction with his ideas, Langan has claimed: “You can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics.”

The CTMU has gained both praise and controversy in the scientific community. Robert Seitz, a former NASA Executive and Mega Foundation director, stated that “every physicist is inundated with amateurs’ ‘Theories of Everything,’ but Chris’ CTMU is very, very different”. On the flip side, the CTMU theory has been criticized for its use of convoluted language. Langan’s use of terms he has invented (or redefined) has made his exposition obscure. Some suggest this is deliberate.

Chris Langan grooms a horse at his ranch in Missouri.
Asked about creationism, Langan has said:

“I believe in the theory of evolution, but I believe as well in the allegorical truth of creation theory. In other words, I believe that evolution, including the principle of natural selection, is one of the tools used by God to create mankind. Mankind is then a participant in the creation of the universe itself, so that we have a closed loop. I believe that there is a level on which science and religious metaphor are mutually compatible.”

In a 2014 radio interview, Langan said that he has worked on the P versus NP problem and thinks he can prove that P does not equal NP.

In March of 2017, Langan’s article “An Introduction to Mathematical Metaphysics” was published in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 2 (2017).” (Wikipedia)

John Waters

“John Waters (born 28 May 1955) is a former Irish journalist whose career began in 1981 with the Irish political-music magazine Hot Press. He went on to write for the Sunday Tribune and later edited In Dublin magazine and Magill. Waters has written several books and, in 1998, he devised The Whoseday Book — which contains quotes, writings and pictures of 365 Irish writers and musicians – that raised some €3 million for the Irish Hospice Foundation.

He wrote a weekly Friday column for The Irish Times. He was briefly fired during a dispute with the then editor, Geraldine Kennedy, but was shortly thereafter reinstated. In March 2014, Waters left the Irish Times, and shortly after started writing columns for the Sunday Independent and Irish Independent.

Waters has referred to himself as a “neo-Luddite” or later as a “luddite”. At one stage he refused to use e-mail and stated his concern that society ignores the negative aspects of the Internet.

In his articles titled Impose democracy on Iraq and Bush and Blair doing right thing, Waters explained his support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a position based on his belief that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the West due to its possession of weapons of mass destruction.

He wrote an article titled Two sides to domestic violence, which criticised the lack of gender balance in Amnesty International’s campaign against domestic violence in Ireland. Waters cited the National Crime Council report, conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute, which found approximate gender symmetry in most measures of domestic violence and he pointed out that despite these statistics, funding for women victims of domestic violence (€15 million) disproportionately outstrips funding for male victims. Waters’ article led to a response from the head of Amnesty International’s Irish branch.

Waters also devoted much of his column space in The Irish Times to discussing the role and importance of religion and faith in society. In an interview, he has described people of faith as “funnier, sharper and smarter” than atheists. In a 2009 article titled “Another no to Lisbon might shock FF back to its senses” Waters voiced his opposition to gay marriage stating that it was “potentially destructive of the very fabric of Irish society”.

He is an active participant in the Catholic cultural movement Communion and Liberation. He has given at least one talk to the Iona Institute.

He was a member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland until he resigned in January 2014, during time that he was a litigant seeking damages from the broadcaster RTÉ.

In 2015, he became involved with First Families First in calling for a ‘No’ vote in the referendum for the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015.

aters has written a number of works of non-fiction as well as plays for radio and the stage. The title of his first non-fiction book, Jiving at the Crossroads, is a pun of Irish president Éamon de Valera’s vision of a rural Ireland including “comely maidens dancing at the crossroads”. In the book, Waters comments on modern Ireland. Another non-fiction work, Lapsed Agnostic, describes his “journey from belief to un-belief and back again.”” (Wikipedia)

Erik Davis

“Erik Davis (born June 12, 1967) is an American writer, scholar, journalist and public speaker whose writings have run the gamut from rock criticism to cultural analysis to creative explorations of esoteric mysticism. He is perhaps best known for his book Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, as well as his work on California counterculture, including Burning Man, the human potential movement, and the writings of Philip K. Dick.

Born in Redwood City, California in 1967, Davis grew up in Del Mar before attending Yale University, where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in English. He wrote a senior thesis on science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, and has since written a number of articles in the popular press about Dick and his unusual religious experiences. Davis would go on to co-edit The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, which was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011.

While at Yale, Davis began writing for Nadine, an on-campus magazine that turned out a number of rock critics and pop culture writers in the 1980s and 1990s. Soon after graduation in 1988, Davis pitched his first story to the Village Voice, a review of the Swiss heavy metal band Celtic Frost.

Writing for the Village Voice throughout the early 1990s, Davis also contributed to Spin, Details, Rolling Stone, and Wired magazines, writing about music, art, film, pop culture and technology.

In July 1995, Davis published a piece in Wired magazine called “Technopagans”, which was one of the precursors for Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, a dense cultural history of the mystical, magical, and apocalyptic dreams and fantasies that haunt modern technoculture. Published by Harmony Books, the book is a cult classic of media studies and was eventually translated into five languages. It was re-released in paperback by Serpent’s Tail in 2004 with a new afterword.

Throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, Davis continued to write for both popular magazines and scholarly publications, and also expanded his speaking career, where his eclectic interests in subject ranging from music, art, popular culture and esoterica led to speaking engagements at such diverse venues as Stanford University, the British Museum, Burning Man, the Boom Festival, the Houston Jung Center, the Ojai Foundation, and Esalen.

In 2000, Davis won a Maggie Award for his profile of UFO contactee and Silicon Valley mogul Joe Firmage.

In 2005, he released his second book, Led Zeppelin IV, a monograph on the signature album from one of rock’s most celebrated bands, published by 33⅓. In 2006, Blender magazine included it in their list of the 40 Greatest Rock ‘N Roll Books.

In 2006, Davis cemented his reputation as a seminal writer of California counter-culture when he released The Visionary State: A Journey Through California’s Spiritual Landscape, a coffee table book of pictures and rich essays about California’s alternative spiritual movements and architecture. With photographs by Michael Rauner, the book was published by Chronicle Books. A prolific blogger for his site Techgnosis.com, Davis also released a fourth book in 2010, a collection of essays and journalism entitled Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica, published by Yeti Publishing.

In early 2006, Davis started working with composer Mark Nichols on the libretto for a rock opera inspired by Burning Man. The resulting production debuted in October of 2009 and was entitled How to Survive the Apocalypse: A Burning Opera, in which Davis also performed as the bunny-suited, bullhorn-wielding narrator. Davis also wrote extensively about West Coast festival culture in photographer Kyer Wiltshire’s 2009 book Tribal Revival.

In 2010, Davis began pursuing a PhD in Religious Studies at Rice University in their Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism program. He has taught courses at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Rice University, Pacifica, and CIIS.[citation needed]

Davis has appeared in a number of documentaries about technology and countercultural topics, including DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Electronic Awakening, and The Source Family. Along with Maja D’Aoust, he hosts a weekly podcast devoted to the “cultures of consciousness” called Expanding Mind, which is part of the Progressive Radio Network.” (Wikipedia)

Ayn Rand

“Ayn Rand (/ˈaɪn ˈrænd/; born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, Russian: Али́са Зино́вьевна Розенба́ум; February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful in America, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead.

In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982. Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge, and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism, and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral, and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, and instead supported laissez-faire capitalism, which she defined as the system based on recognizing individual rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and classical liberals.

Literary critics received Rand’s fiction with mixed reviews, and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy, though academic interest has increased in recent decades. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.” (Wikipedia)

Antonin Artaud

“Considered among the most influential figures in the evolution of modern drama theory, Antonin Artaud associated himself with Surrealist writers, artists, and experimental theater groups in Paris during the 1920s. When political differences resulted in his break from the Surrealists, he founded the Theatre Alfred Jarry with Roger Vitrac and Robert Aron. Together they hoped to create a forum for works that would radically change French theater. Artaud, especially, expressed disdain for Western theater of the day, panning the ordered plot and scripted language his contemporaries typically employed to convey ideas, and he recorded his ideas in such works as Le Theatre de la cruaute and The Theater and Its Double.

Most critics believe that Artaud’s most noted contribution to drama theory is his “theater of cruelty,” an intense theatrical experience that combined elaborate props, magic tricks, special lighting, primitive gestures and articulations, and themes of rape, torture, and murder to shock the audience into confronting the base elements of life. Les Cenci, Artaud’s play about a man who rapes his own daughter and is then murdered by men the girl hires to eliminate him, typifies Artaud’s theater of cruelty. Les Cenci was produced in Paris in 1935 but was closed after seventeen dismal performances. Another example of Artaud’s work is The Fountain of Blood, a farce about the creation of the world and its destruction by humans, especially women. Like many of Artaud’s other plays, scenarios, and prose, Les Cenci and The Fountain of Blood were designed to challenge conventional, civilized values and bring out the natural, barbaric instincts Artaud felt lurked beneath the refined, human facade. Of The Fountain of Blood, Albert Bermel wrote in Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty: “All in all, The Fountain of Blood is a tragic, repulsive, impassioned farce, a marvelous wellspring for speculation, and a unique contribution to the history of the drama.”

Although Artaud’s theater of cruelty was not widely embraced, his ideas have been the subject of many essays on modern theater, and many writers continue to study Artaud’s concepts. Author George E. Wellwarth, for example, in Drama Survey, explained the theater of cruelty as “the impersonal, mindless—and therefore implacable—cruelty to which all men are subject. The universe with its violent natural forces was cruel in Artaud’s eyes, and this cruelty, he felt, was the one single most important fact of which man must be aware. . . . Artaud’s theater must be ecstatic. It must crush and hypnotize the onlooker’s sense.” Another description of the theater of cruelty was offered by Wallace Fowlie in an essay published in Sewanee Review. Fowlie wrote: “A dramatic presentation should be an act of initiation during which the spectator will be awed and even terrified. . . . During that experience of terror or frenzy . . . the spectator will be in a position to understand a new set of truths, superhuman in quality.”

Artaud’s creative abilities were developed, in part, as a means of therapy during the artist’s many hospitalizations for mental illness. While being treated in a hospital by Edouard Toulouse, Artaud was encouraged to express himself in poetry, which Toulouse later published in the journal Demain. Artaud’s life and his work, despite the efforts of psychotherapy, reflected his mental afflictions and were further complicated by his dependence on narcotics. At times he expressed faith in God; other times he denounced the Church and deified himself. He was also obsessed with the human body; he loathed the idea of sex and expressed a desire to separate himself from his sexual self.

In Antonin Artaud: Man of Vision, author Bettina L. Knapp wrote of the theorist’s mental illness: “Artaud was unable to adapt to life; he could not relate to others; he was not even certain of his own identity.” Knapp commented that “Artaud was in essence constructing an entire metaphysical system around his sickness, or, if you will, entering the realm of the mystic via his own disease. The focal point of his universe was himself and everything radiated from him outward.” Referring to Artaud’s The Umbilicus of Limbo, Knapp indicated Artaud “intended to ‘derange man,’ to take people on a journey ‘where they would never have consented to go.'” She further explained, “Since Artaud’s ideas concerning the dramatic arts were born from his sickness, he looked upon the theater as a curative agent; a means whereby the individual could come to the theater to be dissected, split and cut open first, and then healed.” Knapp also offered an explanation of Artaud’s popularity long after his death: “In his time, he was a man alienated from his society, divided within himself, a victim of inner and outer forces beyond his control. . . . The tidal force of his imagination and the urgency of his therapeutic quest were disregarded and cast aside as the ravings of a madman. . . . Modern man can respond to Artaud now because they share so many psychological similarities and affinities.”

Similar words were issued in a Horizon essay by Sanche de Gramont, who wrote of Artaud: “If he was mad, he welcomed his madness. . . . To him the rational world was deficient; he welcomed the hallucinations that abolished reason and gave meaning to his alienation. He purposely placed himself outside the limits in which sanity and madness can be opposed, and gave himself up to a private world of magic and irrational visions.”

Artaud spent nine of his last eleven years confined in mental facilities but continued to write, producing some of his finest poetry during the final three years of his life, according to biographer Susan Sontag. “Not until the great outburst of writing in the period between 1945 and 1948 . . . did Artaud, by then indifferent to the idea of poetry as a closed lyric statement, find a long-breathed voice that was adequate to the range of his imaginative needs—a voice that was free of established forms and open-ended, like the poetry of [Ezra] Pound.” However, Sontag, other biographers, and reviewers agree that Artaud’s primary influence was on the theater. According to Sontag, Artaud “has had an impact so profound that the course of all recent serious theater in Western Europe and the Americas can be said to divide into two periods—before Artaud and after Artaud.”” (Poetryfoundation)

Michel Houellebecq

“Houellebecq graduated as an agronomist in 1980, married and had a son; then he divorced, became depressed and took up writing poetry. His first poems appeared in 1985 in the magazine La Nouvelle Revue. Six years later, in 1991, he published a biographical essay of the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, a teenage passion, with the prophetic subtitle Against the World, Against Life. Rester vivant: méthode (To Stay Alive) appeared the same year, and was followed by his first collection of poetry. Meanwhile, he worked as a computer administrator in Paris, including at the French National Assembly, before he became the so-called “pop star of the single generation”, gaining fame with his debut novel Extension du domaine de la lutte in 1994 (translated by Paul Hammond and published as Whatever).

He won the 1998 Prix Novembre for his second novel Les Particules Élémentaires (translated by Frank Wynne), published in the English-speaking world as Atomised (Heinemann, UK) or The Elementary Particles (Knopf, US). The novel became an instant “nihilistic classic”, though Michiko Kakutani described it in The New York Times as “a deeply repugnant read”. The novel won Houellebecq (along with his translator, Frank Wynne) the International Dublin Literary Award in 2002.

In 2000, Houellebecq published the short fiction Lanzarote (published in France with a volume of his photographs), in which he develops a number of the themes he would explore in later novels, including fringe religions and cult leaders. His subsequent novel, Platform (2001), earned him a wider reputation. It is a romance told mostly in the first-person by a 40-year-old male arts administrator, with many sex scenes and an approving attitude towards prostitution and sex tourism. The novel’s depiction of life and its explicit criticism of Islam, together with an interview its author gave to the magazine Lire, led to accusations against Houellebecq by several organisations, including France’s Human Rights League, the Mecca-based World Islamic League and the mosques of Paris and Lyon. Charges were brought to trial, but a panel of three judges, delivering their verdict to a packed Paris courtroom, acquitted the author of having provoked ‘racial’ hatred, ascribing Houellebecq’s opinions to the legitimate right of criticizing religions.

His next novel; The Possibility of an Island (La Possibilité d’une île, 2005), cycles between three characters’ narratives; Daniel 1 (a contemporary comedian) and Daniels 24 and 25, neo-human clones of Daniel 1. He later adapted and directed the film based on his novel. In 2008, Flammarion published Ennemis publics (Public Enemies), a conversation via e-mail between Michel Houellebecq and Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Houellebecq has also released three music CDs on which he recites a selection of his poetry. Two of them, Présence de la mort and Établissement d’un ciel d’alternance (his “best”, as handwritten by Houellebecq in the 2007 libretto) were recorded with composer Jean-Jacques Birgé in 1996 for Radio France and Grrr Records labels. Présence humaine (2000), on Bertrand Burgalat’s Tricatel label, has a rock band backing him.

A recurrent theme in Houellebecq’s novels is the intrusion of free-market economics into human relationships and sexuality. Whatever (Original title, Extension du domaine de la lutte, which literally translates as “extension of the domain of the struggle”) alludes to economic competition extending into the search for relationships. As the book says, a free market has winners and losers, and the same applies to relationships in a society that does not enforce monogamy. Westerners of both sexes already seek exotic locations and climates by visiting developing countries in organized trips. In Platform, the logical conclusion is that they would respond positively to sex tourism organized and sold in a corporate and professional fashion.

Although Houellebecq’s work is often credited with building on conservative, if not reactionary, ideas, his critical depiction of the hippie movement, New Age ideology and the May 1968 generation, especially in Atomised, echoes the thesis of Marxist sociologist Michel Clouscard.

His novel The Map and the Territory (La Carte et le Territoire) was released in September 2010 by Flammarion and won the prestigious Prix Goncourt. This is the tale of an accidental art star and is full of insights on the contemporary art scene and the prices paid. Slate magazine accused him of plagiarising some passages of this book from French Wikipedia.[6] Houellebecq denied that this was plagiarism, stating that “taking passages word for word was not stealing so long as the motives were to recycle them for artistic purposes”, evoking the influence of Georges Perec or Jorge Luis Borges, and advocated the use of all sorts of raw materials in literature, even advertising, recipes or math problems.[7]

On 7 January 2015, the date of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the novel Soumission was published. The book describes a future situation in France (2022) when a Muslim party is ruling the country according to Islamic law. On the same date, a cartoon of Houellebecq appeared on the cover page of Charlie Hebdo with the caption “The Predictions of Wizard Houellebecq.”[8] In an interview with Antoine de Caunes after the shooting, Houellebecq stated he was unwell and had cancelled the promotional tour for Soumission.”

Richard Tarnas

“Tarnas was born on February 21, 1950 in Geneva, Switzerland, of American parents. His father, also named Richard Tarnas, worked as a government contract attorney, former president of the Michigan Federal Bar Association, and professor of law. His mother, Mary Louise, was a teacher and homemaker. The eldest of eight children, he grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he studied Greek, Latin, and the Classics at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy.

In 1968 Tarnas entered Harvard, graduating with an A.B. cum laude in 1972. He received his Ph.D. from Saybrook Institute in 1976 with a thesis on psychedelic therapy.[1][2] In 1974 Tarnas went to Esalen in California to study psychotherapy with Stanislav Grof.[3] From 1974 to 1984 he lived and worked at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, teaching and studying with Grof, Joseph Campbell, Gregory Bateson, Huston Smith, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, and James Hillman. He also served as Esalen’s director of programs and education.[4] Jeffrey Kripal characterizes Tarnas as both the literal and figurative gate-keeper of Esalen.[5]

From 1980 to 1990, Tarnas wrote The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View, a narrative history of Western thought which became a bestseller and remained in use in universities as of 2000.[6][7] Passion was highly acclaimed by Joseph Campbell, Huston Smith, Stanislav Grof, John E. Mack, Stanley Krippner, Georg Feuerstein, David Steindl-Rast, John Sculley, Robert A. McDermott, Jeffrey Hart, Gary Lachman, and others.

Tarnas is the founding director of the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where he remains a core faculty member as of 2014.[8]

Tarnas’ second book, Prometheus the Awakener, published in 1995, focuses on the astrological properties of the planet Uranus, describing “the uncanny way astrological patterns appear to coincide with events or destiny patterns in the lives of both individuals and societies”.[9] Tarnas suggests that the characteristics associated with the mythological figure Uranus do not match the astrological properties of the planet Uranus, and that a more appropriate identification would involve the mythological figure Prometheus.

In 2006, Tarnas published his third book, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. It claims that the major events of Western cultural history correlate consistently and meaningfully with the observed angular positions of the planets.[10] The book received favorable reviews in Tikkun magazine,[11] in an anthroposophical journal,[12] and in the web magazine Reality Sandwich,[13] but was panned in the Wall Street Journal.[14]

Tarnas featured in the 2006 film Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within, a documentary about rediscovering an enchanted cosmos in the modern world.[15]

In 2007 a group of fifty scholars and researchers in the San Francisco Bay Area formed the Archetypal Research Collective for pursuing research in archetypal cosmology. An online journal, Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, edited by Keiron LeGrice and Rod O’Neal, began a year later, based on the research orientation and methodology established in Cosmos and Psyche.[16] Advisory-board members include Christopher Bache, Jorge Ferrer, Stanislav Grof, Robert A. McDermott, Ralph Metzner, and Brian Swimme. Contributors have included Keiron Le Grice, Richard Tarnas, Stanislav Grof, and Rod O’Neal.

In 2008 Tarnas was invited to address members of the Dutch Parliament about creating a sustainable society.[17]

In 2007 John Cleese and Tarnas gave some public lectures together at Esalen and in Santa Barbara. The lectures discussed regaining a connection to the sacred in the modern world.[18] Cleese and Tarnas then taught a seminar at CIIS called “The Comic Genius: A Multidisciplinary Approach”” (Wikipedia)

Richard Spencer

“Richard Bertrand Spencer (born May 11, 1978) is an American white supremacist. He is president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, as well as Washington Summit Publishers. Spencer has stated that he rejects the label of white supremacist, and prefers to describe himself as an identitarian. He has advocated for a white homeland for a “dispossessed white race” and called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to halt the “deconstruction” of European culture.

Spencer and others have said that he created the term “alt-right”, which he considers a movement about white identity. Breitbart News described Spencer’s website AlternativeRight.com as “a center of alt-right thought.”

Spencer has repeatedly quoted from Nazi propaganda and denounced Jews, and has on several occasions refused to denounce Adolf Hitler.

Spencer and his organization drew considerable media attention in the weeks following the 2016 presidential election, where, at a National Policy Institute conference, in response to his cry “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”, a number of his supporters gave the Nazi salute and chanted in a similar fashion to the Sieg heil chant used at the Nazis’ Nuremberg rallies. Spencer has defended their conduct, stating that the Nazi salute was given in a spirit of “irony and exuberance”.” (Wikipedia)

“Richard Spencer is President and Director of The National Policy Institute and Washington Summit Publishers. He is the founder and Editor of Radix Journal and RadixJournal.com.

He was formerly an Assistant Editor at The American Conservative magazine and Executive Editor of Taki’s Magazine (Takimag). In 2010, he founded AlternativeRight.com.

Spencer is a frequent essayist and blogger at Radix Journal; he hosts the weekly Radix Journal podcast; and records regular video blogs.

Spencer’s publications and activities have been reported on by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio, The Rachel Maddow Show, Buzzfeed, Salon.com, Vice.com, among many others. Spencer has been a frequent guest commentator on the cable network RT International.

Spencer has addressed every NPI conference and has been a guest speaker at the Property and Freedom Society, The Traditional Britain Group, American Renaissance, and the HL Mencken Club.

Richard holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia and a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago. He was a doctoral student at Duke University, before becoming a journalist.” (National Policy Institute)

Valentin Tomberg

“Valentin Tomberg was born in St Petersburg on 27 February 1900. His parents, of Baltic German extraction, taught him their Lutheran faith. While still an adolescent, he was drawn to Theosophy and the mystical aspects of Russian Orthodoxy and attracted to the visionary teachings of Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900), who helped to revive the Orthodox reverence for Sophia, the hypostasis of Holy Wisdom. Tomberg knew Shmakov’s Tarot book, and in 1920 he encountered some members of Mebes’ group. They befriended him and tutored him in Mebes’ use of the Tarot as an encyclopedic system of occultism.

During the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent civil war (1917-23) Tomberg’s mother was fatally shot by marauders as she ventured into the streets. Valentin fled with his father and elder brother to Reval (modern Tallinn) in Estonia. He worked sporadically as a farmer, apothecary and teacher. In 1924 he gained steady employment with the Estonian postal service and began to study comparative religion and languages (Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, English, Dutch and German) at Tatu University.

In 1925 Tomberg joined the Anthroposophical Society founded by Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925); Otto Sepp was the Secretary General of the Estonian branch. By 1930 Tomberg was promoting Anthroposophy through lectures and essays, and the Society named him to succeed Sepp when the latter died in 1931. Steiner had specified 1933 as the year of Christ’s Second Coming, which would occur in the ‘etheric realm’. Believers would then be able to advance their spiritual growth by immediate revelations from the ‘Christ-Being’. Tomberg clung to this belief. His series of essays, Anthroposophical Studies of the Old Testament, was privately printed in 1933. Tomberg was encouraged in his spiritual aspirations by his wife, Marie Demski, a French-Polish woman who had lived in Russia. They met during their mutual exile in Estonia. Their only child, a son named Alexis, was born in 1933.

Immediately before the Second World War, Tomberg was invited to address Anthroposophist groups in Swanik, Bangor and Rotterdam. During the war years, however, his story becomes confused. He was forced to resign from the Anthroposophical Society. But was the expulsion because he was elevating himself over Rudolph Steiner, or because he was elevating Christianity over Anthroposophy? He moved to Amsterdam, where some say he was pursued by Nazis. He can next be traced to Cologne, either having been taken there by the Nazis, or having been spirited there to escape the Nazis (or to escape the Allied offensive against the Nazis in Holland). By the end of the war, he was either in a refugee camp or studying the law at the University of Cologne while Allied bombs fell on that city. We can say with certainty that he had left Holland for Germany, and that he had left Anthroposophy for Roman Catholicism.

Tomberg no longer desired a public role. In 1948 friends in England persuaded him to work as a translator at the BBC; based in Reading, he helped to monitor Soviet broadcasts. He retired at the first practical opportunity, in 1960, to write and study, and lived in seclusion with his wife and son. He died on the island of Majorca on 24 February 1973. Marie Demski Tomberg died not long after. His unfinished book, Covenant of the Heart, was posthumously printed. It includes discussions of Christ’s miracles, the Ten Commandments, and the Cabalistic Name of God.

Tomberg wrote Meditations on the Tarot, a Journey into Christian Hermeticism (Amity House, Warwick, New York, 1985). It was published anonymously and posthumously, as he had requested. The book uses the Tarot de Marseille as a pretext for teaching Tomberg’s theosophy, which he says is a living tradition, namely the esoteric church of St John (the ‘heart’ of the Church), as distinct from the exoteric church of St Peter (the ‘head’ of the Church). According to Tomberg, Hermeticism is not a sect or a school, but a mystical predisposition, which he hopes already connects him to his readers. Their shared destiny is to nurture esoteric Christianity until the Second Coming of Christ is complete. The book is primarily inspirational and exhortatory. Tomberg is sympathetic to non-Christian mysticism, notably yoga, Sufism and Cabalism. He avoids Rosicrucianism, perhaps because one of its seminal manifestos — the Confessio — is hostile to Catholicism. He slights all Protestant faiths, and ignores Swedenborg. He condemns dualism, whether Zoroastrian, Manichaean or Gnostic. Each of the Tarot trumps, from le Bateleur to le Monde, occasions a ‘letter’ to the `dear Unknown Reader’. The Fool (le Mat) is discussed in the twenty-first position, immediately before le Monde, still using the placement established by Levi. The French magus is sometimes cited, along with other occultists, in a wide range of mystics, theologians, philosophers and scholars. In his meditation on the Death card, Tomberg includes favourable remarks about Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. Meditations on the Tarot has been well received by Tarotists: it is praised by Antoine Faivre, the noted French historian of esoterism: ‘There is perhaps no better introduction to Christian theosophy, to occultism, to any reflection on esoterism than this magisterial work, not that of a historian but of an inspired theosopher — a rather rare occurrence — one who is careful to respect history’.”

from pp. 209-210, Ronald Decker and Michael Dummett’s A History of the Occult Tarot (Duckworth, 2002)