|Just what is the Illuminatus! Trilogy and what is its connection to the KLF? Stuart Young has been delving into the mysterious world of 23's.|
|Illuminatus! is a huge cult sex-drugs-occult-paranoid conspiracy theory-science fiction book, where reality shifts and nothing is as is seems.
Or is that what I want you to believe? It was first published in the mid seventies, written by Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Shea (who were employees of Playboy when they wrote it),
originally as three separate novels: The Eye In The Pyramid, The Golden Apple, and Leviathan, but now most availible as the collected Dell edition (ISBN 0-440-53981-1). Forbidden Planet generally stock copies.
'Illuminatus!' tells the tale of the international conspiracy the Illuminati, who attempt to order and control mankind, and receive individual power (become illuminated) by causing mass deaths. Their arch enemies The Justified Ancients of Mummu (The JAMs), are "an organization (or disorganization) who are at least as old as the Illuminati and represent the primeval power of Chaos". Along with afiliated groups the LDD and the ELF (Erisian Liberation Front), the JAMs are engaged in a secret war to prevent the Illuminati from 'immanatizing the eshcaton' (bringing closer the end of the world). The JAMs were members of the Illuminati, but were expelled at the behest of a faction protesting "kick out the JAMs". The illuminati control all the record companies, which is why all music is very dull, and how they managed to incorporate the anti-JAMs gibe "kick out the jams" into a MC5 song. The JAMs started their own company to bring out good music, and combat the Illuminati.
The book is obviously a product of the sixties US counterculture, and of the liberated sexual attitudes prevalent in the Playboy offices. It mixes factional sources with fiction and constantly re-interprets and changes the 'facts' until the reader is left utterly confused. It makes use of the concept of synchronicity, where connections are made between apparantly unrelated incidences, and of numerology, and brings to the readers attention the occult significance of the number 23. Only the Lords of Mu know whether there is more significance to 23 than any other number, but what is definately true, is that once the reader is informed, and shown where 23 crops up, they will notice 23's popping up oddly themselves. A large part of the fun the book introduces one to, is either spotting 23's or hiding them in works deliberately for others to spot. Finally the book promotes discordiansm, "a religion disguised as a joke or a joke disguised as a religion?" Discordians worship the female god of chaos Eris, and are involved in the chaos vs order war.
When Drummond and Cauty decided to "kick out the old" and attack the music industry, they named their group the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and their record company the Kopyright Liberation Front (The KLF). Much of their recorded output features chants of Mu Mu! And their recordings are (c) the sound of Mu (sic). They took many concepts from the book and incorporated them into their work and these are listed below, but if you haven't read the book, and you intend to, you might want to spot them yourself.
|The Stage Play|
When Drummond was at art college in Liverpool in 1976, he was 'involved with the set design', and did the music (along with teenage musical prodigy Ian Broudie),
for the first ever stage production of Illuminatus! which opened in Liverpool on the 23rd of November '76.
The 5 part, 10-hour, science-fiction rock-opera epic was directed by Ken Campbell, and the 23-strong cast included Jayne 'Big In Japan' Casey, David 'Time Bandits' Rappaport, and featured Robert Anton Wilson as a naked extra.
The play moved to London where it was seen by the young Cauty who would read the books because of the production.|
According to Broudie in MixMag Jan 97, "One day, I was sat with my brothers guitar in its case. Suddenly, this massive bloke comes over, gets it out and starts singing a Kinks song at the top of his voice, smashing the strings like a nutcase. He broke three strings and I was going, Who the hell are you? We shared a bus home and he mentioned he was a stage manager and there was this new sci-fi play at the Liverpool School which needed some music." The production included a two-minute song played by Broudie on his brothers guitar, and Drummond later asked Broudie to join Big In Japan.
© Stuart Young, 1994,97