Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
Illuminatus! The Golden Apple

Illuminatus! The Golden Apple

by Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson, 256 pages

Finished on 12th of May, 2023
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As the second book of the trilogy, it doesn’t do much to further the storyline if you could even call it that. It reads like an LSD trip the authors had and that’s maybe even true. There are some slight hints at a sort of showdown coming up in next book.

🎨 Impressions

I immediately started reading this second book of the trilogy after finishing the first one, but after around 50 pages I had to take a break and start a different book. This one is taking it to new extremes in terms of a confusing storyline. The time jumps continue, you’re never quite sure who is currently talking and from whose perspective we’re presented with the situation – if that situation itself is clear at all. I think there’s a big chance the authors were taking some sort of hallucinogens while coming up with the story, if you could even call it that.

Finally, about 100 pages in, there’s a continuous discussion between two of the protagonists, Hagbard Celine and George Dorn, in which Hagbard explains the inner workings of the Illuminati. This acts as exposition and was desperately needed in order to keep me as a reader. Then, there’s an abrupt break and this book’s first two sex scenes commence. Rather pointlessly, though, not furthering the story one bit.

Near the middle of the book, the story of the sunken continent of Atlantis is told. This was a fun read, finally. There was a highly advanced society living on that continent once, many thousands of year ago. Capable of space travel, even. Never at war with each other. But finally, possibly started by Illuminati interference, the Atlanteans divided into two camps, the neophobes and neophiles, as they are described. People who fear the new and people who love the new. This is not much of a difference to our modern human society, where conservatives and progressives are constantly at odds with each other. The one half wants everything to stay the same while the other half want to change and improve things.

I can’t remember which half got so angry at the other one, they built a rocket which flew directly into the sun and triggered a calculated flare which struck Earth right where Atlantis was located, destroying the whole continent. The leaders who initiated that destruction hid on the other side of the Earth where the solar flare couldn’t reach – right within the Himalayan mountains. And survived there in secret. The island of Fernando Poo, just off the coast of Equatorial Guinea, is the last bit of the Atlantean continent which is still above the ocean. If the surviving Atlanteans turn out to be the start of the Illuminati, is unclear to me, but probably not.

The main plot of the rest of the book revolves around the planned Rock Festival called “Woodstock Europa”, which will take place at the fictional Lake Totenkopf near the real city of Ingolstadt, Bavaria. The Illuminati want to use the festival which will draw hundreds of thousands of spectators as a place for a showdown. Now, Zombie Nazis enter the game. Of course. The idea goes like this: Hitler and his inner circle took 100 of their best soldiers and fed them magical body-conserving cyanide pills, in fact killing them all. Their bodies, in full equipment, were then lowered to the bottom of Lake Totenkopf onto a huge plateau, waiting to be awoken again thirty years after the war, right when the band called “American Medical Association” plays their fifth song during Woodstock Europa in Ingolstadt. Hitler and his men thought this would be their chance to finish the job, being Zombies. That’s the plan, anyways. But we’ll have to wait until the third book to see how that turns out.

Meanwhile, the preparations for the festival are discussed. Hagbard and his submarine crew want and need to be there because they know about Hitler’s plan and would like to intervene. Then, all the bands playing at the festival are listed. Pages upon pages of made-up band names, quite funny ones. One of the band names is “Nirvana”, by the way. The book was published 15 years before that famous band started.

A few more chapters then deal with the Cthulhu Mythos, stories about fictional godlike monsters popularized by writer H.P. Lovecraft. This book’s character called “Mama Sutra” talks about a few of the creatures and how there’s more reality to them then most people might think. The connection to the plot is not obvious at all, though.

As a side note, this book talks about the word “fnord”, which is another word which has entered mainstream because of the publication of the Illuminatus! Trilogy. The word “Fnord” is a mind-control device used by the Illuminati and injected into certain texts because of its hypnotic power. Brainwashed people aren’t able to see or notice the word, but when they come across it, a feeling of unease sets in. That’s the desired effect.

Near the end of the book, the crime overlord Robert Putney Drake comes into play again. I liked his character, but this chapter was quite dull and didn’t further the plot line at all.

All in all, it’s very difficult for me to say what this book was about and what the plot of it was. Near the end it got a bit easier to digest but the first third of the book were just painful to read. The book ends with a sort of cliffhanger, because that discussed Rock Festival is about to start, during which the Zombie Nazi army is planning to kill everyone and take over the world. But the excitement about that within the book and displayed by the characters is quite underwhelming. Still, I was now finally wondering what would happen at that festival.

Taken as a standalone book, this one doesn’t hold up at all. As part of the trilogy, it’s just slightly better. I would rate this a 2 out of 5 at most. Could have easily done without reading it.

📔 Highlights & Notes

Book Three: Unordnung

The Aneristic forces, especially the Illuminati, are structure freaks: they want to impose their concept of order on everybody else.

The hardest thing for a man with dominance genes and piratical heredity like me is to avoid becoming a goddam authority figure. I need all the feedback and information I can get – from men, women, children, gorillas, dolphins, computers, any conscious entity – but nobody contradicts an Authority, you know. Communication is possible only between equals.

“[..] Have you ever heard of Thule? That’s the German name for the fabulous kingdom the Greeks called Atlantis. Whether this kingdom ever existed is immaterial; the belief in it has existed since the dawn of history and beliefs motivate actions. In fact, you cannot understand a man’s actions unless you understand his beliefs.”

Christianity focused obsessively on the crucification of Jesus – which is really irrelevant to what he taught while he was alive – and remained a kind of death worship.

“Has no one explained to you that the human race is divided into two distinct genotype – neophobes, who reject new ideas and accept only what they have known all their lives, and neophiles, who love new things, change, invention, innovation? For the first four million years of man’s history, all humans were neophobes, which is why civilization did not develop. Animals are all neophobes. Only mutation can change them. Instinct is simply the natural behavior of a neophobe. The neophile mutation appeared about a hundred thousand years ago, and speeded up thirty thousand years ago. [..]”

If you whistle while you’re pissing, you have two minds where one is quite sufficient. If you have two minds, you are at war with yourself. If you are at war with yourself, it is easy for an external force to defeat you. This is why Mong-tse wrote: “A man must destroy himself before other can destroy him.”

I came all the way back and stopped myself as I was about to kick him in the face as he lay there unconscious. Zen in the art of face-punching. I had knocked a man out with two blows; I who hated Hemingway and Machismo so much that I’d never taken a boxing lesson in my life.

If you don’t see the fnord it can’t eat you, don’t see the fnord, don’t see the fnord…

Then I got a hunch, and turned quickly to the advertisements. It was as I expected: no fnords. That was part of the gimmick, too: only in consumption, endless consumption, could they escape the amorphous threat of the invisible fnords.

“For instance, we wouldn’t want you to mention that Fernando Poo is one of the last outcroppings of the continent of Atlantis, you know.”

“Any culture that arises in the next twenty thousand years or so is going to have the rot of Atlantis in it. Therefore I decree a non-cultural time of eight hundred generations. After that we may allow man free reign on his propensity for building civilizations. The culture he builds will be under our guidance, [..]”

“[..] Lake Totenkopf is one of Europe’s famed ‘bottomless lakes’ which means it has an outlet into the underground Sea of Valusia. [..]”

Hitler, Himmler and Bormann fed cyanide to all the troops, killing several thousand of them. Then their bodies, dressed in full field equipment, were placed by divers on a huge underground plateau near where the Sea of Valusia surfaces as Lake Totenkopf.

“The American Medical Association’s fifth number at Woodstock Europa will send out biomystical waves that will activate the Nazi legions in the lake, and send them marching up the shore. [..]”

“[..] For the Illuminati, that will mean the fulfillment of the project that has been their goal since the days of Gruad. A total victory. They will all simultaneously achieve transcendental illumination. For the human race, on the other hand, that will be extinction. The end.”

Book Four: Beamtenherrschaft

There, the human cargo was stamped, catalogued, processed, executed with gas, tabulated, recorded, stamped again, cremated and disposed. “This is beaurocracy,” said Dionysus, and he smashed his wine jug in anger; beside him, his lynx glared balefully.

[..] and the same tug in space-time grips Adam Weishaupt two centuries earlier, causing him to abandon his planned soft sell and blurt out to an astonished Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Spielen Sie Strip Schnipp-Schnapp?”

“You win, you bastard,” Harry said, tossing the gun back. “I want to know how you do it.” – “Part of you already knows,” Hagbard smiled gently, putting the gun back in the drawer.

George should start with variation #1, the Liebestod, or orgasm-death trip, Hagbard decided. Make him aware of the extent to which he treats women as objects.

You see, and I urge to take another drink right now, every religious leader in human history has been a member of the Cult of the Yellow Sign and all their efforts are devoted to hoaxing, deluding and enslaving the rest of us.”

You see, religion is always a matter of sacrifice, and whenever there is a sacrifice there is a victim – and also a person or entity profiting from the sacrifice.

As science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke has commented, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The real brain behind this movement, however, was Weishaupt’s wife, Eve; but they knew that, even in the Age of Reason, humanity was not ready yet for a liberation movement led by a woman, so Adam fronted for her.

Briefly, then, Telemachus Sneezed deals with a time in the near future when we dirty, filthy, freaky, lazy, dope-smoking, frantic-fucking anarchists have brought Law and Order to a nervous collapse in America.

“Welcome, brother in the True Faith! War is the Health of the State! Conflict is the creator of all things!”

Conspiracy was its own reward to me, now; I didn’t care what I was conspiring for. Art for art’s sake.

“[..] Surely, we all know what privilege is in this club, don’t we, gentlemen? Do I have to remind you of the Latin roots, privi, private, and lege, law, and point out in detail how we have created our Private Law over here, just as the Politburo have created their own private law in their own sphere of influence?”

“Privilege implies exclusion from privilege, just as advantage implies disadvantage,” Celine went on. “In the same mathematically reciprocal way, profit implies loss. If you and I exchange equal goods, that is trade: neither of us profits and neither of us loses. But if we exchange unequal goods, one of us profits and the other loses. Mathematically. [..]”

How do you feel after reading this?

This helps me assess the quality of my writing and improve it.

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