The Robert Anton Wilson continues while I slowly work on getting some new stuff out.
Incidentally, the new cover design is a clue that Wilson burned through two publishers with this series before the third volume of the series was finally put out.
Raw Feed (1992): Nature’s God: Volume 3 of the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, Robert Anton Wilson, 1991.
Each of the three novels in this series has a different emphasis, a different style.
The Earth Will Shake was pretty much a straightforward novel with an emphasis on the various warring Illuminati and the meaning of various occult symbols and initiations. That emphasis on symbology and initiation grew more in The Widow’s Son with less character development and a large element of philosophy and humor (in the footnotes especially).
Nature’s God has large dollops of philosophy, mysticism and humor.
I was bored by the ceremony where Maria Babcock and Sigismundo Celine mystically meet out of the body. I also was bored by Maria Babcock’s initiation into the craft of women.
The whole misanthropic and iconoclastic chapter called “The Wilderness Diary of Sigismundo Celine” was interesting to read (and reminded me of Marcus Aurelius Meditations or Robert Heinlein’s The Notebook of Lazarus Long) and even had some things worth thinking about but plot and story screech to a halt during this long segment.
I felt the same way about the chapter “My Lady Greensleves” dealing with Maria Babcock’s initiation into women’s craft though you could argue that this is plot moving forward at least.
By far the most interesting and best part of the novel was Seamus Muadhen and his experiences in the American Revolution. Wilson elegantly outlines the grueling experience of the war for the rebels who fought it. Thomas Jefferson’s and George Washington’s notion of Nature’s God as a giver of natural law, inalienable rights is contrasted with the Marquis de Sade’s notion of a meaningless, mechanistic universe where sadistic acts have as much value and meaning as anything else.
Nature’s God is also contrasted with Celine’s view that all philosophy, all values derive from man. In Muadhen’s mind, as he fights the seemingly hopeless Revolution, he questions the existence of Nature’s God and his interest in his mind. In a sense, being a Rebel soldier is an initiation for Muadhen into higher truths just like the Babcocks and Celine have their initiations.
Muadhen comes to see that reality can not be explained by any one system, religion or science. The strange Dark Day of May 19, 1780 shows that. I’d never heard of that strange event, but the Encyclopedia Americana confirmed it. And, in his mind, he comes to doubt the existence of Nature’s God, or, at least, a God concerned with man. Doubts, that is, till the timely rain which prevents the British retreat at Yorktown. Then he doubts his doubt.
I also liked the image of Jefferson and Washington (quite profane in this book) as sorcerers enchanting men with their words. Why else would men endure so much so long for so hopeless a cause when paid just in glittering words? Washington may be a literal sorcerer as he raps three times at sites around his siege works at Yorktown.
The series promises to be filled with more action (though one reads Wilson for iconoclasm, philosophy, humor, occult lore — not action) since Celine returns to Europe to harass the Duke of Orleans and Adam Weishaput, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati. However, Wilson wrote no more works for this series.