Robert Anton Wilson, left, and the front cover of the Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea.
I really enjoyed the night even though I am not that familiar with the work of Robert Anton Wilson (I have read a bit about him on the internet but haven’t read any of his books).
The night involved Coldcut (and possibly another guy?) playing electronic, mostly ambient, music while psychedelic visuals played on the screen behind them. This would be over-laid with film and audio footage of RAW talking about various things. It was nice but sometimes the visual effects they were using seemed a little old and naive. In between sets we got to hear from some very interesting people talk about the work of Robert Anton Wilson and how his work had influenced them.
Musician and artist Bill Drummond is best-known for his time in the band the KLF. I first heard of the Illuminatus books when Paul told me he wanted to read them and that the Ancients of Mu Mu as referenced in the KLF song (Justified and Ancient) were actually from these books. And when the KLF referenced the JAMS (and also released songs as the JAMS) this stood for the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. So it was quite a thrill to see this man speaking – although he didn’t talk about the KLF or K Foundation at all (they burnt a million pounds – their remaining profits from the KLF – as the K Foundation). He talked about reading the Illuminatus Trilogy as a 23-year-old, again as a 33-year-old and recently as a 53-year-old and how much he got out of the books each time and how different they seemed. Last year when RAW was dying and his family was running out of money, messages were sent out asking to donate money to help RAW die in comfort. Bill Drummond admitted to not being that concerned and thinking the US should just have a better National Health Service. After realising how much RAW had given to him he asked for advice on what he should spend the £750 he was paid for appearing at the gig. I hope he was given some good ideas.
Comics legend Alan Moore read an extract from the end of Mask of the Illuminati and then came back later and read a nice tribute to RAW where he mentioned many writers and commentators from various parts of the 20th Century that influenced RAW and others like him.