Category Archives: Essays

A collection of essays from the mind of Robert Anton Wilson

Brain Books

“Brain Books,” Trajectories, Autumn 1996, No. 16/17.

I have another list that I revise every couple of months.  This is not my “Ten Favorite Books” so much as a list of the ten books I wish everyone would read:  the ten books I most feel the lack of in people who otherwise seem intelligent.  These books would fill anyone’s cranium with useful information.

In order of priority, the list would begin with:

1. Ulysses by James Joyce.  Nobody has really entered the 20th century if they haven’t digested Ulysses.  And if they haven’t entered the 20th century, they’re going to fall pretty far behind pretty soon, as we enter the 21st.  There’s a guy I correspond with occasionally who spends all his time fighting with Fundamentalists over Darwin.  He’s living in the 19th century; nothing in the 20th century has affected him yet.  He’s carrying on the brave battles of Thomas Henry Huxley a hundred years later.  I know some people who are back in the 18th century – Burkian conservatives, trying to apply Burke’s principles to modern times.  I sometimes do that myself – try to apply some of Burke’s principles.  But not all of them!  I don’t think he’s written in stone either.  At any rate, everyone should read Ulysses to get into the 20th century.

And everybody should struggle as much as they can with:

2. The Cantos, by Ezra Pound.  And that means getting to the last page.  You may give up on some pages, and say, “I’ll never figure this stuff out!”  But keep going until you get to the last page.  Pound offers something no other writer except Dante has ever attempted – and Dante does it in a medieval way that doesn’t mean much to modern people.  Pound offers a hierarchy of values.  We’ve heard so many voices from the East telling us “All is One,” and we’ve got so many puritanical duelists of all sorts telling us, “No; there’s good and bad.”  And they all define those terms in their own way:  the Christian “good and evil” duality; the ecologist’s “nature good; man bad” duality; the feminist’s “woman good; man bad” duality, and so on.  Against this monism and dualism Pound offers a hierarchy of values, in which he gives you a panoramic picture of human history, very much like Griffith’s Intolerance, only in it, Pound shows levels of awareness, levels of civilization, levels of ethics and levels of lack of all these things.  And you realize that you have a hierarchy of values too, but you’ve never perfectly articulated it.  Every writer gives you a hierarchy of values.  But by making this the central theme, Pound makes you face the question, “Will I accept this as the best hierarchy of values?”  I can’t, because the guy had a screw loose.  Great poet, but a little bit funny in the head at times, trying to synthesize Jefferson, Confucius, Picasso and Mussolini.  So what you’ve got to do is struggle with Pound, and create your own hierarchy of values to convince yourself that you grok more than he did.  And he combined genius and looniness.  It’s an invigorating book to get you out of dualism, which is the Western trap, and monism, which is the Eastern trap, to attain realism: a hierarchy of values.

Another book I wish everybody would read:

3. Science and Sanity by Alfred Korzybski.  this one gives you the tools to enable you to avoid most of the stupidity prevalent on this planet at present. It won’t cure all forms of stupidity, and you really have to work at it; it doesn’t do magic.  But if you use its principles, you’ll gradually cure yourself of a lot of prevalent forms of stupidity.  If you work at it hard enough, you may cure yourself of most.  I don’t know; I’m still working at it.

4.  Ovid.  I wish everybody would read Ovid.  The great myths of our particular culture – the Greek and Roman myths – can’t be found in any one book, except Bullfinch or Ovid, and Ovid has a much better style than Bullfinch.  So read Ovid and get the whole panorama of classical myth.  Classical myth has so much meaning that it permeates every bit of modern psychology.  The myths of other cultures have much to offer, but we still need our myths.  So we might as well face up to them.  It’s our culture; let’s not lose it.  And let’s find out something that happened before 1970.

5. The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer – just because it’s so damn good.

6. Justine, by deSade — because everyone needs to be shaken up.  Justine asks you some pretty fundamental questions.  And you may not find them easy to answer.

7. Instead of a Book by a Man Too Busy to Write One, by Benjamin Tucker, which contains the best arguments for minimizing force and maximizing options; the best argument for extreme Libertarianism that anyone has put together.  He deals with concrete issues in economics, and makes a damn good case for a maximum of liberty and a minimum of coercion as a formula for a happy and prosperous society.

8. Progress and Poverty, by Henry George.  Not that I agree with it.  But everyone’s heard of Karl Marx and Adam Smith.  If you read Tucker and George, you get the idea that there are more than two choices.  You don’t have to choose between them.  There are other options, not in between, but at right angles to those choices; a hierarchy of possibilities.  George poses a challenge to both Marxism and orthodox capitalism.

9. The Open Society and its Enemies, by Karl Popper, which introduces you to a lot of aspects of modern scientific thought, but in a different way than Korzybski, and applies them to tearing apart most of the arguments for determinism and totalitarianism.  I think determinism and totalitarianism have done so damn much harm that everybody needs a good inoculation against them.  Popper seems the best inoculation.  He fled both the Communists and the Nazis, and had good emotional reasons for detesting totalitarianism.  He was a physicist, so he expressed himself in terms of a very deep and trenchant philosophical analysis of what’s wrong with theories that claim, “We know what’s best (?) and we know how to achieve it – and we know who has to be killed to make it happen.”

10. Shakespeare.  I think everybody should read Shakespeare, not only because he was such [a] great poet, but because he’s under so much attack these days.  You might as well check him out for yourself, and it will give you an idea of how just dumb the politically correct people who attack him seem in comparison to him.

Other recommended authors:

Jonathan Swift.  All of Gulliver’s Travels.  There are some anthologies which contain not only this, but a selection of his other writings, too.  Swift does a great job of tearing apart conventional ideas about almost everything.  He’s very, very liberating; almost psychedelic in some passages.

Nietzsche.  There are a couple of good one-volume editions which contain both Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ.  The two should be taken together.  They represent Nietzsche at the height of his…whatever it was. More than any other writer in the history of philosophy, Nietzsche set out to refute everyone who came before him, without exception and without mercy, and he had the intellect to do a damn good job.  He tears down so many accepted ideas that you’re left floating in a kind of nihilistic void.  Many people find this terrifying.  I find it exhilarating, and I manage to recover from it every time I subject myself to re-reading something by Nietzsche.  There are a lot of other good books by Nietzsche, but I’d especially recommend those two.

Olaf Stapledon.  There’s a one-volume edition that contains both First and Last Men and Last Men in London.

Then, when somebody has read that much, I think intelligent conversation can begin.  Otherwise, we’re pretty much on the level of grunting.

(digitized and posted to alt.fan.rawilson by Eric Wagner)

 

Also from Recommended Reading on RAW’s site:

The Mass Psychology of Fascism, by Wilhelm Reich, M.D.
Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce
Machine Art, by Ezra Pound
Selected Prose, by Ezra Pound
Harlot’s Ghost, by Norman Mailer
Go Down, Moses, by William Faukner
The Alphabet vs. the Goddess, by Leonard Shlain
Confucius: The Great Digest, The Unwobbling Pivot, The Analects trans. by Ezra Pound
Chaos and Cyberculture, by Timothy Leary, Ph.D.
Critical Path, by R Buckminster Fuller
Digital McLuhan, by Paul Levinson
Saharasia, by James DeMeo, Ph.D.
The Natural Economic Order, by Silvio Gesell

To which RMJon23 once remarked:  “I’m surprised neither list included Peter McWilliams’ Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest RAW wants everyone to read that one, too.

 

Other recommendations:

Recommended Viewing (scroll to the bottom of that page)

From the Paradigm Shift Interview:
As of today (August 11, 1997) I find the most interesting ideas in traditional Buddhism, Nietzsche, Charles Fort, several quantum physicists (Nick Herbert, David Bohm, Fred Wolfe, David Finkelstein) and in Rupert Sheldrake. Add together the Buddhist yoga of detachment from fixed ideas and emotions, Nietzsche’s and Fort’s merciless assault on the cultural prejudices that are so deeply embedded we usually don’t notice them, quantum uncertainty and holism, Sheldrake’s special variety of holism, and I think we have the beginning of a hint of the New Paradigm we need.  But after looking at this list I realize I should have included Korzybski’s general semantics, Bandler’s neurolinguistic programming and Leary’s evolutionary-existentialist neuro-psychology or info-psychology as he most recently labeled it.

 

Origin unknown:
The living writers whose work especially interests me at present include Douglas Adams, William Burroughs, who still seems topical no matter how old he gets, Tom Robbins, who writes the best sentences of anybody working in English today, George V. Higgins, who sees humans with a wonderful irony and writes the most realistic dialogue I’ve ever seen (even better than Joyce or Hemingway), and a lot of scientist-philosophers who seem to me to be giving us wonderful new ideas and perceptions: Rupert Sheldrake, Ralph Abraham, Terrence McKenna, Barbara Marx Hubbard, the fuzzy logic people, Riane Easier, Nick Herbert, Nicholas Negroponte, Marilyn Ferguson, Peter Russell, Fred Alan Wolfe . . . and of course, Tim Leary, who is ill, but may have a few unpublished books that might still blow all our minds.

 

excerpt from Thought of the Month:  30 Apollo 78 p.s.U.:
“There are only two kinds of artists: the plagiarists and the revolutionaries.”  – Paul Gauguin
In my opinion, the primary “revolutionary” Masters of our past century include Picasso, Klee, Pound, Joyce, Faulkner, Ginsberg, Frank Lloyd Wright, D.W. Griffith, Chaplin, Welles, Clint Eastwood, Stravinsky, Gershwin, Epstein, Brancusi, Carlin : the man or woman who doesn’t know their work deeply and richly still lives in the 19th Century as the rest of us prepare to enter the 21st. The artists on that list haven’t become familiar enough to stop surprising us. We still need to interpret our interpreters, as Ellman said of Joyce.

Reinventing Foods: The New Alchemy

Reinventing Foods: The New Alchemy

by Robert Anton Wilson

from The NeuroNomicoN: The Journal of True Illuminism
Volume 1. Number 1., July 1996

        Long ago, back in the dark ages around 1920 actually, one of the high-fruit/vegetarian fad diets of the period was promoted with the slogan, “You are what you eat.” The amazing thing about this seemingly simple-minded over-generalization is that modern science has tended to confirm it (although not the diet that inspired it).

Everything you eat or drink has effects on every part of your body, and on the integrity of the body-as-a-whole.  Even more exciting: everything we eat and drink also effects our “minds,” which are functions of our brains. French-fried potatoes are as “psychedelic” as LSD, although in a very different (and long-range) fashion.  As neuroscientists have discovered the links between our brain chemistry and our experiential/perceptual world, the avant garde third of the population is turning on to “Designer Foods” or “food supplements” that contain the seeds of a new 21st-century alchemy.

As Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi wrote in The Three Pound Universe, “Everything we know from subatomic particles to distant galaxies, everything we feel from love of our children to fear of enemy nations is experienced and modeled in our brains.  Without the brain, nothing, not quarks, not black holes, not love, not hatred would exist for us.” And what the brain experiences as our “reality” depends on the chemicals that serve as its language.  In this knowledge lies the possibility of higher intelligence and even longer life.

Since the 1960s, when a few young and radical scientists raised the idea, increasing numbers of neuroscientists have been talking of “life extension,” “prolongevity,” “rewinding our biological clocks,” even of eventual immortality.  The more we learn about brain chemistry, the more plausible the goal becomes.  Thus, books like Ettinger’s The Prospect of Immortality and Harrington’s The Immortalist made only a small stir in some futurist circles when they came out in the 60s, but as research advanced and results become more promising, the idea spread to the mass media.  In 1982, Life Extension, A Practical Scientific Approach, by Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw became an international bestseller, and “health food” and vitamin stores began selling more and more compounds such as vitamins C and E and amino acid supplements. The pace has accelerated every year since then.

EVOLUTIONARY TURNING POINT

We are at a major evolutionary turning point, because we are actually learning how to feed our brains on the nutrients that rewind and rejuvenate our biological clocks.  For instance, growth hormone (called GH by scientists) tends to produce many of the qualities we consider youthful clear skin, high energy, preferential production of muscle and bone rather than fat, rapid healing of wounds, “sparkle and bounce,” and general immunological efficiency (ability to fight off diseases).  We loose all this as we age because our brains no longer send the signals telling the pituitary gland to release GH.  The most recent research, reported in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, shows that elderly men, deficient in GH, given high doses of GH soon appear, by several important measures, to possess the health profiles of men 20 years younger as if they had “lost” 20 years of aging.

Is it possible to reset this biological clock and “persuade” the brain to start sending those GH signals again? Yes, and the answer lies in the careful formulation of the amino acids arginine and choline plus specific vitamins and minerals that act to maximize the use of the substances.  Once the brain gets enough arginine and choline, it begins sending the signals that release GH.

This formula is the secret of POWERMAKER II, a food supplement designed by American research scientists Pearson and Shaw, who brought life extension into the mainstream with their 1982 bestseller on the subject. Pearson and Shaw have developed a vast knowledge of nutrient metabolism, and follow current research with an intensity matched by few other practicing scientists, constantly revising their formulations as new research dictates.  They recently were honored by the American Aging Association, for significantly raising public awareness of the possibility that biomedical aging research will increase the functional lifespan.  POWERMAKER II is used by powerlifting champion Les Cheney and other atheletes, who have discovered that it helps build stronger muscles without any of the problems of anabolic steroids.  Others simply use POWERMAKER II to slow down the effects of aging and give themselves more years of productive, energetic living.  Pearson and Shaw’s work on GH is being hailed as one of the great contributions to anti-aging research.

The very name “alchemy” contains another key to long life. “Alchemy” comes from the Arabic al-kymiya, which derives from the Chinese kim-iya, which designated the ephedra sinica plant.  This plant is the source of ephedrine, a chemical which does indeed improve the user’s chances of achieving a long life by reversing the natural tendency of humans to grow more obese as they age through the promotion of preferential fat burning via a process known as brown fat thermogenesis.

CHANGES IN CONSCIOUSNESS AND PERCEPTION

Two recent articles in a medical journal suggest that ephedrine was in fact the mysterious “Soma,” which was praised so extravagantly in early Hindu scriptures because of the dramatic changes it allegedly produced in consciousness and perception. Ephedrine is the major ingredient in THERMOGEN TEA, a popular weight-reducing agent also designed by Pearson and Shaw, who once again seem to have created one of the potions that the alchemists never found or, as the ethmology of ephedrine suggests, found and lost. Thus, with GH boosters and ephedrine, we are definitely on the trail of longevity the Hermeticists sought.  As for “True Wisdom,” the second major goal of the alchemists, we may not have the exact formula yet, but we do have some compounds known to boost mental efficiency.  Lecithin, for instance, a natural source of choline, increases general IQ of retarded persons, although it seems less effective with persons of average or superior intelligence.  Choline works equally well with persons of all intellectual levels and, with the proper co-factors, increases the brain’s ability to focus, to concentrate, to solve problems and, particularly, to enhance speaking and writing performances.

Choline is itself converted into acetylcholine, a ubiquitous neurotransmitter that has been known to improve comprehension and memory as well as muscle tone.  Choline is combined with fructose, copper, and B vitamins, in a product called MEMORY FUEL another fruit-flavored powder that is pleasant to drink, non-addictive, legal everywhere, and similar to certain stimulant drugs but without their long-term nefarious effects.         The co-factors are necessary, incidentally, because none of the chemicals mentioned are themselves neurotransmitters (the brain’s own signaling devices).  Pearson and Shaw have made a particularly important contribution by ascertaining the proper co-factors for a number of brain chemicals.  To release a neurotransmitter, a scientist must first find the chemical that starts the synthesis of the neurotransmitter and then the co-factors that carry the process through to the actual release of the substance.  Thus, the naturally occurring amino acid phenylalanine plus the proper co-factors in proper proportions causes the brain to produce the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, a powerful stimulant.

The good news: You can get all the phenylalanine you need without extensive hunting in medical supply outlets.  It appears, with all the co-factors necessary to produce noradrenaline, in two products now available, BLAST and FAST BLAST, which include caffeine to enhance the stimulant effect.  A milder version, for people who are doing intellectual work with an emergency deadline but who don’t want to get too “wired,” is called RISE & SHINE; it contains phenylalanine plus co-factors but no caffeine.

All these products are sold as powders that mix with water or fruit juices, making a drink that most people find delicious.

INCREASING SEX DRIVE

You might also be interested to know that choline+arginine+the proper co-factors= increased sex drive.  These compounds, you may remember, are the major ingredients in POWERMAKER II, which many are using not only to just turn fat into muscle and live longer, but also to enjoy a more zestful sex life.  It doesn’t cure impotence, but if everything else is functioning properly, POWERMAKER II makes sexual experience more intense, especially if one is already using MEMORY FUEL.  For maximum sex boost, take POWERMAKER II about 45 minutes before going to bed together.

Although the effects may be similar, there is an important difference between manipulating the brain’s own chemicals with the body’s own trigger chemicals and attacking the brain with alien compounds that only create a simulation of the natural “high” of healthy functioning.  The difference Between the new legal compounds and illegal drugs is much more important than any superficial similarities.  After a brief “flash,” followed by stimulation, cocaine causes the brain’s noradrenaline and dopamine levels to drop drastically, which is why, when it wears off, cocaine users experience “lows” and depressions that cause them to take more and more of the stuff, leading to addiction (or at least addict-like behavior…).  Phenylalanine on the other hand, stimulates increased production of noradrenaline and permits release over an extended period. There is no “low,” no depression, no crash, and no compulsion to take more and get “high” again.

Durk Pearson defines the major difference between these new “designer” brain fuels and traditional hard drugs as follows: “Designer Foods are non-addictive.  They’re absorbed quickly by the body.  It’s nothing more than normal processing of nutrients.  And because neurotransmitter production is increased, rather than supplies being depleted, dose reduction has no toxic side-effects as is the case with most drugs the effects don’t diminish even if taken over a long period of time.”

The late Norbert Weiner, founder of the science of cybernetics, defined brain malfunctions (emotional and/or mental “illness”) as “disturbances in the traffic” — the traffic of brain chemicals, that is.  Few forms of emotional/mental stress have been correlated with actual brain damage in the gross sense, but people with such problems do not perceive/feel/think like the healthy norm.  The problem, as Weiner suggested, seems to lie in traffic jams or misdirected traffic among the brain chemicals.  Most of the conspicuous symptoms of aging also correlate with “disturbances in the traffic” between brain chemistry and immunological system, and between those and other body systems.

UNCLOGGING BRAIN TRAFFIC

No matter what diet you eat, these “traffic problems” will probably catch up with you eventually, simply because of air and water pollution, and the other toxins in our environment.  But several vitamins, minerals and amino acids have been found to be useful in fighting off and reducing the effects of these pollutants, and Pearson and Shaw have combined them all in a formula called SUPER RADICAL SHIELD (SRS), which is designed to finesse the metabolic pathways.  Through correlated strengths and strategic bioavailabilities, SRS contains many compounds that have been proven in nutritional studies to contribute to the longer life of experimental animals.  “If we took nothing else, we would take our SUPER RADICAL SHIELD,” Pearson and Shaw have said.

Since recent medical research indicates that even heavy smokers escape some of the dangers of the habit if they take a form of vitamin A called beta carotene every day, Pearson and Shaw also designed a BETAMAX CAROTENE capsule, for those who haven’t yet quit smoking. (There is also a hefty dose of this beta carotene in SUPER RADICAL SHIELD).

“Better living through chemistry,” which started out as a commercial slogan of the Dupont corporation, became the motto of the pot-smoking youth revolution of the 1960s.  Now as the epochal discoveries made by brain scientists in the last two decades begin to yield safe, effective commercial products of the sort that we have been describing, it has an entirely new meaning.  We are the first generation to have the knowledge to reprogram our brains, which means that we are also learning to reprogram our bodies, since every body function is determined by brain chemistry.

You really ought to try some of these new brain fuels and have fun with your new head!  Who knows?  The new alchemy may not only give us longer life, and True Wisdom but also the traditional Hermetic goal of Perfect Happiness.

A Modest Enquiry: Some Possible Problems with a New Santa Cruz Anti-Discrimination Law

“A Modest Enquiry: Some Possible Problems with a New Santa Cruz Anti-Discrimination Law” by Robert Anton Wilson, published in Popular Alienation: A Steamshovel Press Reader by Kenn Thomas (ed.), 1995.  Submitted to RAWilsonFans.com by R. Michael Johnson.

I fear that a new law banning discrimination in renting or hiring on the basis of “personal appearance” or “sexual orientation” creates certain intractable logical problems which may lead to protracted legal struggles. In the following note I attempted to explain my misgivings to the Hon. Neal Coonerty, author of the law.

1. To avoid expensive and unnecessary litigation (one of the primary goals of any landlord or business operator) all of us should have a clear and unambiguous idea of what actions can potentially lead to litigation. Except as a last resort in collecting bad debts, litigation always seems a cure worse than the problem. Thus, in most matters, the avoidance of litigation and the comprehension of the guidelines to avoid litigation always remain paramount concerns.

But in matters relating to intangible and subjective inner processes of choice and decision, one simply cannot formulate clear and unambiguous guidelines to avoid litigation.

Nobody, not even the Hon. Councilperson Coonerty, ever really “knows” why you choose A over B. (According to the Freudians, even you don’t know.) Thus, you can never prove that your motive qualifies as “legally pure.” Any attempt to find such “proof” leads inevitably to Kafka-like abysses.

Historically, in societies aiming at freedom, legislators do not even attempt such control over the citizens’ invisible and unknowable states of mind, realizing that this leads to what Burke once called “that great Serbonian bog where armies whole have sunk.”

In other words, when accused of “thought crime,” you face the sort of no-win problem confronting Joseph K. in The Trial: you can never find a Court metaphysically capable of judging your inner “state of grace” (or lack of it) or attorneys who can find any sort of legal evidence that will “prove” innocence or guilt. I doubt that Constitutional scholars can even form a coherent idea of what might constitute eitherevidence or proof in this matter.

Pragmatically, the only rule most businesspeople have for dealing with our current herd of “politically correct” lawmakers (those who do increasingly try to control our invisible, unknowable mental states) consists of “When in doubt, play it safe.”

In the present context, considering the matter of appearance first, this means that if two candidates apply for the same job, or the same domicile, the “pragmatically safe” choice will award the job or domicile to whoever of the two (in ordinary language) “looks funnier” or “looks weirder” or “looks uglier,” etc., because if one chooses the candidate who looks less “funny,” “weird,” or “ugly,” an expensive lawsuitmight result.

Thus, under the “when in doubt, play it safe” rule, I suspect that in only one year after the Coonerty law comes into effect, tenants and employees in Santa Cruz will begin to look slightly strange and a bit bizarre, considered as a group, compared to the present year.

2. NOW, assume conservatively that only 1/20 of all jobs become available in a year’s time, due to deaths, retirements, the founding of new enterprises, people moving elsewhere (to find better jobs, to- live closer to parents or children, etc.). This means that the Santa Cruz Strangeness Quotient (SCSQ) will increase 1/20 in one year.

It then follows that in, say, five years the SCSQ will reach 5/20 or 25 %; in 10 years, SCSQ will = 50% etc.

In 20 years then, the SCSQ will change 20 x 1/20 or 100 % and all employees here will look decidedly “weird” compared to people elsewhere.

Tourists will then come from nearby towns, or some not so nearby, to gape and ogle at Santa Cruz natives, for the same reason people have always gone to circuses, carnivals, freak shows or horror movies. We should carefully consider if we really want a town that looks like that. Maybe “we” (or a loud minority of us) do – I certainly stipulate that it would boost tourism-but we need to debate and carefully consider this issue fully before plunging ahead.

(And let us at least pray that the debate and consideration can occur thoughtfully, without the herds of the politically correct howling, chanting and otherwise drowning out all voices not entirely consistent with their Dogma.)

3. In the above calculus, I have considered only a single generation. The results of Coonerty’s Law over a period of a few generations appear even more dramatic. In brief, the law can only produce a breeding population of very “strange”-looking men mating with equally “strange”-looking women. In several generations, the statistical definition of ‘human’ will perforce change, and businesspeople wishing to play it safe will hire only the strangest of the strange, the weirdest of the weird. Ergo, Santa Cruz must eventually, by anti-Darwinian selection, take on the look of one of those “sinister and ill-regarded” hamlets in the terror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, where everybody looks vaguely ape-like, frog-like, fish-like or somehow inhuman (see e.g. “The Dunwich Horror” or “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”)

4. If you have jobs to offer or rooms to rent, the probability of a lawsuit against you will decrease as the number of “odd-looking” tenants or employees increases. Thus, under the “play it safe” rule, the more truly amazing-looking or nearly unbelievable tenants or employees you can find, the safer your legal position becomes.

Thus, within a generation, to attend to business, seek a profit and avoid interminable legal expenses and court appearances, you will do well to fill your premises not just with the somewhat “ugly” or mildly “unattractive,” but with the truly, hideously loathsome, and especially the “terrifying” and “eldritch” – i.e. with those who look as if they had in fact escaped from Lovecraft’s fantasy, or from Tales From The Crypt.

5. A paradox then arises. At the precise point when Santa Cruz does look like Horror Comix, the Coonerty law will encourage legal actions by those who appear (or think they appear) conspicuously gor­geous and/or handsome.

In simple logic, if everybody in Santa Cruz looks like a member of the Juke or Kallikak families, or the Addams Family, or a relative of Gill Man, a few Venuses and Adonises can argue plausibly thatgood-­looking people have defacto become excluded from dwellings and jobs. These “movie star” types will have suffered “discrimination,” and they can sue. As we have seen, the Coonerty law (enacted) and the “play it safe” rule (un-enacted but omnipresent) will indeed discriminate against the comely, and the law­yers will gladly encourage them in fighting this “injus­tice.”

The increasingly subtle art of avoiding litigation under this law, it then seems, will consist of an initial strategy of hiring or renting to people who look creepy or crawly by ordinary standards, but to reverse this strategy and again hire some “normals” shortly before all Santa Cruz residents actually look like Godzilla and his sisters and his cousins and his aunts.

This requires extremely delicate judgment, and in any choice that requires extreme delicacy, lawyers will happily sue you for not having had quite enough deli­cacy to meet the “intent” of the law. You will never know if you have enough “Aliens” in your office to hire one “Sigourney Weaver” – or you will only find out when a lawsuit against you begins, and the lawyer for the plaintiff asks not only civil damages but $23,000,000 in punitive damages as well.

6. I have used extreme examples to illustrate one possibly defective aspect of this law, but average ex­amples create even worse potential legal disputes. Thus:

“Beauty,” as we have all heard, “resides in the eye of the beholder.”

Two seemingly ordinary-looking people arrive to apply for a job you have advertised. Under the “when in doubt, play it safe” rule (always prudent and usu­ally necessary for survival when dealing withpoliti­cally correct governments), you try to decide which of the two might qualify as a little less attractive. The more unlike my previous grotesque examples these people seem to you, the harder your legal problem becomes. If candidate #1 seems fairly comely but 20 pounds overweight, does that outrank a huge hairy wart on the nose of otherwise-comely candidate #2? How many warts out-rank 30 pounds of weight?

Since the safest choice consists in always choosing the less appealing candidate, and since beauty, as noted, appears relative, the optimum solution, as Game Theory would call it, consists in obtaining a consensus. In other words, install a one-way glass wall in your office and hire a few random citizens to sit behind it and vote on which candidate appears a bit more unattractive. (These citizens could also testify for you, if litigation nonetheless results, to show that you at least made a sincere effort to avoid hiring good-­looking people.)

The Coonerty law does not propose to pay busi­ness people for installing these walls of one-way glass and hiring independent “citizen judges.” This does not seem fair. Should not the city appropriate funds to pay for this, as an incentive to those who truly wish to follow the intent of the law, either out of altruism or just to avoid endless litigation, and as a partial com­pensation for the Judicial and other burdens this law will place on businesspersons?

7. The law does not specifically include smell as part of “personal appearance,” but most people do, in fact, notice odor and consider it in forming a judge­ment of job applicants or possible tenants. Lawyers will certainly insist that the intent of the law should include smell – it certainly seems that the law would have included smell if Coonerty had thought of that ­and, as I understand the legal mind, honest judges will have to agree with this viewpoint.

Once again, the change in Santa Cruz yields to mathematical analysis. Under the “when in doubt, play it safe” guideline to avoid litigation, businesspeo­ple will tend to hire whoever smells less pleasing. Thus in one year, Santa Cruz will smell 1/20 less pleasant than at present, and in 20 years 100% worse than at present, etc.

This can only “level off” when the town takes on a general aroma of an open cesspool and businesses feel “safe” in now and then hiring one or two less malodorous employees. Meanwhile, it would appear prudent to buy a gas-mask.

8. When we turn to the matter of “sexual orienta­tion,” the logical and legal problems multiply like microbes.

Contrary to folklore, nobody can judge another’s sexual preference by their appearance or “body lan­guage.” The most experienced interviewers from the Kinsey Institute, studying sexual behavior for decades, still find that they cannot guess, in advance, whether a subject’s life history will reveal an all-homosexual life­style, an all heterosexual lifestyle, or a mixture, which may run from 90% gay/10% straight to 10% gay/90% straight, or even to 99%/1% either way.

“When in doubt, play it safe” simply does not apply here. The employer will have to guess, and will guess wrong around half the time (as Kinsey interviewers do). The endless litigation can prove satisfy­ing only to the Hon. Mr. Coonerty – and to the lawyers.

9. A way out exists if employers had the right to ask the sexual orientation of candidates, and prudently hire only those with unpopular or minority prefer­ences, but this violates numerous State and Federal ordinances. In this area of law nobody has the right to ask, but under the Coonerty Ordinance all employers will have to guess (with penalties for guessing wrong).

We seem to have surpassed Kafka and arrived at the portals of George Orwell’s Ministry of Love. This does not appear at all like a Constitutional legal sys­tem but like a cruelly labyrinthine trap.

10. No rational person can seriously fear an in­crease in the number of masochists in Santa Cruz; masochists hurt nobody but themselves. But a law banning all forms of “discrimination” will also attract an influx of sadists, will it not?

How many new sadists does Mr. Coonerty wish to lure to our community?

How many sadists do the majority of us want?

Some may claim that the Coonerty Law does not mention sadists and “really intends” only to increase the number of gainfully employed homosexuals here. But the law does not single out homosexuals as some specially blessed group among all the sexual minori­ties, because if it did, it would conflict with State and Federal ordinances against such special group bias. Lawyers will quickly find it profitable to insist on what the law does exactly say.

(Meanwhile, we can expect some spectacular dem­onstrations, with signs like “A LITTLE DISCIPLINE NEVER HURT ANYBODY,” “NO GAIN WITH­OUT PAIN” etc. and the inevitable chant, “Hey Hey Ho Ho Sadophobia Has To Go.”)

11. How many necrophiles do we really want? The Coonerty law opens the floodgates to them also.

12. I have no personal bias against people who want to have sex with toy poodles or dobermans, but what will the toy poodles and dobermans think about this?

Have the Animal Rights people had a chance to comment on this perplexing issue? Has the Hon. Coonerty given any effort to deciding the age of con­sent for dogs? For cats? For swine? For other ani­mals?

In summary, the Coonerty law does not advantage ugly homosexuals only but all unpleasant-looking people with sexual “orientations” different from the majority. It will benefit, not just the groups already men­tioned, but hunchbacked child molesters, dwarfish rapists, obese foot fetishists, pock-marked leather fetish­ists, etc. along with generally ugly suedeaphiliacs, deformed iguanaphiliacs, foul-smelling ichthyophiliacs etc. (See R Kraft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis.)

13. Considering these possible consequences of the Coonerty Law-all of them highly probable eventually, due to well-known propensities of the legal profession – we should perhaps take steps to make the image of Santa Cruz (although a weird one) appear more fey and whimsical (like St. Olaf’s on the TV comedy Golden Girls) than downright monstrous and nefarious (like Lovecraft’s demoniac towns, already mentioned).

(In other words, we will find it easier, in the long run, if nearby towns – and the nation as a whole – only regard Santa Cruz as ridiculous, rather than sinister. People laugh at the absurd, but often attack what they fear. )

To start with, we might order our police to aban­don their present uniforms and dress in clown suits. We could also require that teachers in our schools, male and female, must wear those Groucho Marx comedy spectacles which give the wearer huge eye­brows, an astounding false nose of gigantic propor­tions and a bandito mustache. Statues of Salvadore Dali, say, and/or The Mad Hatter, Pooh Bear, Wile E. Coyote, The Three Stooges (in scuba diving suits) etc., outside each government building would also help create a ludicrous rather than a frightening ambi­ence.

Removing the dull ruminations by DWPS (dead white politicians) from these buildings might also help our Comic, not sinister image, if we replace them with bits of bizarre or inscrutable humor-e.g. Keep the Lasagna Flying Proudly Over Capitola Mall, The Mome Rath Doesn’t Exist That Can Outgrabe Me, When Laws Are Outlawed Only Outlaws Will Have Laws, I Always Believe Three Impossible Things Be­fore Breakfast, etc.

Most helpful of all, perhaps, the Township should consider the propriety of buying some adult standing a regal 8 feet high and allow them to mingle with the City Council during all important public hearings, bringing to our urgent municipal proceedings the ab­surd and pathetic dignity that only these giant wingless birds embody. The mad surrealist poetry of this legis­lative innovation should appeal to both Mr. Coonerty and Ms. Atkins, even if they prefer not to meditate too deeply on its possible symbolism.

14. Assuming that Jeffrey Dahmer’s lawyers somehow win him a parole, he would appear the ideal future Santa Cruz renter and employee. Once he an­nounces, casually, “‘Oh, by the way, I like to so­domize little black boys and then cook them and eat them,” everybody will see him as Ideal Tenant and Ideal Worker, since his presence will in itself serve as a truly spectacular legal, logical and Public Relations argument against any charges of homophobia, sado­phobia, necrophobia or miscellaneous “discrimina­tion” that might later arise.

Other of Dahmer’s orientations will think of this and we expect them to arrive here soon. The politi­cally correct may rejoice in this triumph of their odd logic, but how many others, who have not yet achieved full correctness, can sincerely share the rejoicing?

In none of the above have I considered the emi­gration of businesses away from Santa Cruz and the rising unemployment that will result. Nobody knows how many businesses will just move elsewhere, and I do not attempt to estimate. Perhaps many will stay, because of the lovely scenery and the climate in these parts. Let us hope so. Many, however, will prefer to leave rather than attempting to do business in this Kafka-like context, and we should – also ask, even if we cannot answer immediately, how much more unem­ployment do we really want?

I can only conclude with words attributed to Henry David Thoreau: If you scan the horizon and see a politician approaching with the intent to improve your morals, run for your life.

POSTSCRIPT: Nobody on the Santa Cruz City Council, except the Hon. Coonerty himself, saw fit to answer this communique. Public law prevents me from quoting Mr. Coonerty’s letter to me, but since paraphrase does not violate said law, I can say that Coonerty made no effort to win me to his position but merely suggested that I should bloody well go to hell and take my book on logic with me.


Horseman, Pass By

Horseman, Pass By

by Robert Anton Wilson

 

from Green Egg, Vol. 27, No. 107
Winter 1994-5

 [Editor’s Note: This Winter marks the one year anniversary of Robert Shea’s Cross­ing. In fond memory of his entertaining and heretical writings, we bring you the following article:]

 In a procedure that had grown habitual in the last year, I made my coffee as soon as I woke up (grinding my own gourmet beans: a ritual in honor of Epicurus) and then carried it to the phone alcove. I dialed Bob Shea’s hospital num­ber and recited a bawdy limerick to make him laugh. But his voice sounded weaker than ever, and I had that terrible feeling again, the feeling that I just didn’t know how to do enough to really help.

We talked about NYPD Blue, a new TV show we both liked.

“I’m feeling better,” he finally said in a near-whisper. “A lot better, but I’m tired now.” In retrospect, I don’t know if he wanted to sell some optimism to his own suffering body – to rebuild its immuno­logical defenses with the potent neurochemistry of hope – or if he only said it to spare me further worry and pain, to relieve my anxiety.

The next time I called the Bob Shea Information Line on Voicemail, the message told me he had gone into coma and no more phone calls should be made to the hospital. Even then, I didn’t believe, didn’twant to believe, the truth. When the voicemail message finally changed, after about three more days, and said simply that Bob Shea had died, I went into shock. I should have expected the news, but I didn’t. I had tried to instill hope into Shea and, by contagion, had instilled so much into myself that I had come to expect a miracle.

I sat at the table like a cartoon cat who just got hit with a hammer but doesn’t know it yet and doesn’t know he should fall over. I slowly put down the phone, still unable to believe the truth, still in shock. Shea had seemingly beaten the Big Casino (no new tumors in six months); how could he go and die of the side effects? I looked out the widow. The sun had barely ap­peared – I rise early, with only cinnamon and tangerine streaks coloring the east – but already the breakfast crowd, as I call them, had arrived in my patio. House finches, blackbirds and sparrows hopped and flapped about, pecking at my bird feeder. A mourning dove made its usual grieving sound in a tree, as if it didn’t believe things would ever become less depressing, and a car drove past, invisible behind the patio wall. I still could not make the concepts “Bob Shea” and “death” fit together in my head.

I thought of a grave in Sligo, the wild west of Ireland:

 

Cast a cold eye

 On life, on death.

 Horseman, pass by.

 

Another car rumbled in my street, and the mourning dove complained about life’s injustice again. I became abnormally con­scious of Nature outside my glass patio door. Then another damned noisy car went by, racing: some guy late for work maybe.

Bob Shea and I had never seen birds and flowers and trees in the first years when we knew each other, but we had heard a hell of a lot of noisy cars. Our friendship grew in Chicago, amid the rattle and scuttle of industry, the blood-and-shit smell of the stockyards: I remember it as Dali’s (or Daly’s) asphalt purgatory. The friendship became closer when Bob and I inhaled the haze of tear-gas and Mace dur­ing the 1968 Democratic Convention, the one they held behind barbed wire because Mayor Richard P. Daly (emphatically not Dali, although the idea sounds surrealist) decided to prevent Americans from med­dling in their own government.

The protesters chanted, “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, We don’t want your fucking war! Five, six, seven, EIGHT: Organize to smash the State!” Another canister of tear gas exploded nearby and, eyes streaming, Shea and I ran down Michi­gan, cut into a side street, and evaded the clubbing administered to those who couldn’t run as fast as we did. If you want to know what happened to those less fleet of foot than us, you don’t need to call some archive to dig out the 1968 footage; just look at the Rodney King tape again. Cops have simple ideas of fun, which do not change much over the generations.

I counted back, sipping my coffee, and decided Shea and I had known each other for just a few months less than thirty years. A human can grow up in thirty years, from diaper to the first tricycle, to the first orgasm and even to a Ph.D. A human can learn to work at a regular job or learn how to beg on the streets, or court and marry and become a parent, or join the army and get a leg blown off. Most humans in his­tory, before 1900, did not live longer than 30 years. A friendship that long becomes more than friendship. Shea meant as much as any member of my family.

Way back in ’65, when Shea and I both started working for The Playboy Fo­rum/Foundation, we drifted into the habit of lunching together. Soon, we developed the tradition of going to a nearby bar every second Friday (read: payday), and drink­ing a half-dozen Bloody Marys after work while discussing books, movies and every major issue in civil and criminal law, logic, philosophy, politics, religion, and fringescience – insofar as one can distinguish between those two topics or any of the others, which explains why each of us found the other’s ideas so stimulating, and why, in our years, the Playboy Forum dis­cussed more far-out notions than it has before or since.

I remember our WHO OWNS ERIK WHITETHORN? series, in which we pub­licized a woman, Mrs. Whitethorn, who had sued the government for trying to draft her son, Erik, 18. She claimed she owned Erik until he reached 21, and that the gov­ernment could not take him from her. Shea and I gave that case all the coverage we could, since we wanted people to really think about whether an 18-year-old be­longs to himself, to his mother, or to the President (Richard Nixon, in that case.)

Alas, Erik, like many young people, didn’t want to become a tool of his mother’s idealism, and finally ended the debate by willingly enlisting in the Army. (Madalyn Murrary’s son also rebelled against be­coming a battering ram in her assault on Organized Religion.) We had to drop the debate after Erik donned his uniform and went off to napalm little brown people. I like to hope that some Playboy readers of those years still occasionally wonder whether humans belong to themselves, to their parents, or to the State.

Mostly, in the Playboy Forum, we fol­lowed the ACLU’s positions, which Shea and I passionately share (as does Hefner, or he wouldn’t have started the Forum and the Foundation) but often, as in the Whitethorn case, we pushed a bit further and sneaked in some anarcho-pacifist pro­paganda-never in Playboy’s voice, of course, but as the voice of a reader. Some of those “readers” later became more re­nowned as characters in three novels we wrote…

Among my sins, I turned Shea on to Weed. I turned a lot of people on to Weed in those days. I had a Missionary Zeal about it, but now that I think back, so did a lot of others at Playboy in those days. Maybe I should say that I helped turn Bob on to the Herb.

On one gloriously idiotic occasion we got our hands on some super pot from Thailand and had the dumbest conversa­tion of our lives.

“What did you say?” Shea would ask.   I’d grapple with that, but amid mil­lions of new sensations and a rush of Cosmic Insights, I’d lose it before I could find an answer. “What did you say?” I would ask slowly, trying to deal with the problem reasonably.

“I asked… uh… what did you just ask?”

And so on, for what seemed like Hindu yugas or maybe even kalpas. That night inspired the “Islands of Micro-Amnesia” in Illuminatus. Maybe a similar night in­spired the Lotus Eaters in the Odyssey?

One payday Friday, when Bob and I sat in our favorite bar consuming our usual Bloody Marys and gobbling our usual pea­nuts, a priest at a near-by table struck up a conversation. Soon he had joined us and I quickly became convinced that I under­stood why the conversation persistently veered toward the Platonic ideal of true love between (male) philosophers. I then pulled one of my nastier pranks. I said I had to get home early, and left Bob to navigate for himself. A half-hour after I arrived home and got out of my shoes, the phone rang. Shea had called and asked me, with awe-as if some­body had killed a goat in the sacristy – “Do you think that priest was a homosexual?”

I admitted the sus­picion had crossed my mind.

“My God,” Shea said. “You really think it’s possible?”

He became much less naive in only a few months after that, since a lot of our Forum/ Foundation work in­volved consultations with the Kinsey Insti­tute. I regard this incident as atypical, and hope it doesn’t make Shea seem ob­tuse, even for a time almost thirty years ago (when the Church brazenly denied all priestly shenanigans and bullied the media into not even printing the cases that got to court). But this adventure had something strangely typical of Bob Shea also, in show­ing a kind of innocence that, in some respects, he never lost.

Shea probably, at that time – still young, remember – would not have be­lieved that Roy Cohn, who made a career of driving Gay men out of government, himself led an active Gay life. Shea took a long time to learn how much deception exists in this world, because he himself always acted honestly. He accordingly thought clergymen who preach celibacy will practice celibacy, and even that politi­cians who call themselves liberals will act and think liberally.

Anyway, that cruising priest caused enough Deep Thought, for Shea and then for me, that he finally became transformed and immortalized as Padre Pederastia in Illuminatus.

Around the time we met the priest, Shea told me that he had remained Catho­lic until the age of 28 (if I remember correctly after all these years. Maybe he said 27 or 29?) Aside from his shock at the thought of gay clerics, he did not seem like somebody newly escaped from Papist thought-control and I never did understand how he had stayed in that church so long.

(Having quit Rome at 14, like James Joyce, I had assumed all intelligent people go out at around that age…) Shea never did ex­plain why he stayed in so long, but he once told me, in bitter detail, why he finally bailed out.

His first wife, it appears, went totally mad shortly after the wedding. After a lot of agony and psychiatric consultation, Bob finally accepted the verdict that he had married an incurable schizophrenic. He found it more than he could handle, and sought an annulment, which led to a meet­ing with a monsignor.

To Shea’s horror, neither psychiatric evidence nor any other evidence nor church law itself had anything to do with the monsignor’s conversation. The monsignor only wanted to know how much cash money Bob could pay for an annulment. Shea offered as much as he could afford, as a young man beginning at the bottom of the magazine industry, in a cheesy imita­tion of Playboy. The monsignor told him to go home and think hard about how to raise more money. End of interview.

Shea got a civil divorce and never went into a Catholic church again. Still, when I first knew him (only five or six years after he quit the Church) he consid­ered abortion a criminal act – and didn’t know that gay priests existed. He learned a lot, in those wild last years of the ’60s, and he learned it fast. His Kennedy liberalism got gassed to death by Daly’s storm troop­ers and he became another fucking wild anarchist, like me.

I remember one night when we got stoned together (Bob and his wife, Yvonne, and Arlen and me) and looked at Franken­stein Meets the Wolf Man on TV. They still had cigarette commercials in those days and one of them, that night, showed a guy and a gal walking in a woodland and passing a lovely waterfall etc. As they lit up their ciggies, the slogan said, “You can take Salem out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of Salem.” I guess they wanted us to get the association “Smoking Salems = breathing good fresh country air.” As soon as the commercial ended, Lon Chaney Jr. came back on screen and started suffering acutely (remember his expressive eyes?) as he turned into a wolf. “You can take the man out of the jungle,” I said with stoned solemnity, “but you can’t take the jungle out of the man.” Like most of my marijuana whimsies, that went down my Memory Hole and I forgot it immediately.

Imagine my astonishment when the complex Darwin/Wolf Man, Salems and all, showed up in Illuminatus. Shea hadn’t forgotten.

In 1971, after we finished Illuminatus, I quit Playboy in the midst of some mid­life hormone re-adjustment. I didn’t understand it that way at the time; I just decided that I could not live out the second half of my life as an editor (read wage slave) who only wrote occasionally; I had to become a full-time-free-lance writer, or bust.

Instead, I became a full-time writer and busted. It took 5 years to get the Shea-Wilson opus into print and meanwhile Arlen and I and our children damned near starved: but that’s another story. While we wandered about, looking for the least hor­rible place to live in poverty, Shea and I started writing to each other almost every week. Later, as we both became more “commercial” and hence busier, the letters dropped to two a month or fewer, some­times; but for 23 years we wrote about every important idea in the world and filled enough paper for several volumes. I hope some of that will get published some day.

When Playboy fired him, Shea en­dured terrible anxiety about keeping his house, and dashed off a few novel outlines while looking for another job. He sold his first novel before finding a job and never stopped writing again. I still treasure his comment on why the Bunny Warren cast him out. “I worked hard and was loyal to the company for ten years.” he wrote. “I guess that deserves some punishment.”

Whenever I had a lecture gig in or near Chicago, Shea invited me to stay at his house. Yvonne always went to bed early and Shea and I talked and talked and talked for hours, just the way we did in the early days of our friendship. I always felt that Yvonne didn’t like Shea’s literary friends, but I never took it personally.

And then, suddenly, Yvonne left him for a much younger man, and I don’t know (or really want to know) about the details. I worried for a while that Bob would die of depression, and I shared in empathy the vast waste-land he must have felt around him, 60 years old, alone in a big house, and dumped by a wife who ran off with a young stud who might call him “Gramps.” Maybe I project too much here. At 62 myself, I perhaps see in Bob’s desolation the deepest anxieties of all aging males.

Oh, well, Yvonne just split the scene. She didn’t Bobbitize the poor bastard on her way out.

Then, at a Pagan festival where we both had lecture gigs, Shea met Patricia Monaghan. I saw what happened: a kind of magic, real love at first sight. Pat gave Shea’s last two years a transfinite boost of TLC and almost youthful joy. The day before he lapsed into coma, he arranged to marry her. I think of the wedding cer­emony as the last thing he could do for Pat, and the last thing she could do for him.

For years and years, in many places – in Ireland, in Germany, in Cornwall, in Switzerland, on the central coast of Cali­fornia – I often found myself wishing Shea could visit me and see the panoramic views that I found so wonderful. I still feel that at times, and find it hard to understand that he will never visit me now. Never.

Shakespeare made the most powerful iambic pentameter line in English out of that one word, repeated five times: “Never, never, never, never, never.” I first realized how much pain that line contains when my daughter died. Now I realize it again.

The birds have all flown away and the patio stands empty. Empty? Could an old­time acid-head like me believe that? I looked again and realized anew that every plant and vine pulsed with passionate life in it, millions of cells joyously copulating. I started to remember a line from Dylan Thomas but couldn’t quite get it: “The force that through the green shoot drives the flower, drives my something some­thing.” I grinned, remembering Shea’s wit. Once I had written, in one of our disputes, “I find your position amusingly rigid.”

“I’m glad you find me amusingly rigid,” he wrote back. “Many women have paid me the same compliment.”

Out of the Innsmouth Triangle

Out of the Innsmouth Triangle

by Robert Anton Wilson

 from The Realist, No. 120, Summer 1992

From the greatest horrors, irony is never absent. I will forever curse the dark, dreadful and demonic destiny that led me to the unhal­lowed and accursed town of Salem to confront the noisome and foetid Creature invoked by the hideous spells of Das Verichteraraberbuch, yet I thought I was only on a simple assign­ment to cover the founding of a new trade union…

Oh, yes – you may not know Das Verich­teraraberbuch (“The Book of the Mad Arab”). This is Adam Weishaupt’s infamous and un­speakable translation of Olaus Wormius’s loathed and abominatedNecronomicon (“The Book of the Names of the Dead”), the least bowdlerized and most terrible Latin rendition of the vile and venomous Al Azif (roughly, “Songs You Hear Alone in the Desert at Night”) of Abdul Alhazred, “the Mad Arab.”

Recent scholarship indicates that the adjec­tive “mad” traditionally associated with Alhazred is a dubious translation of the term used by his contemporaries, khou-k’ou, which may also mean “intoxicated,” “wildly enthusiastic,” “poetically inspired” or even “stoned out of his gourd.” Be that as it may, the psychotheology of this remarkable bard holds that every time we experience a so-called “dream,” a trans-spatial monster called Cthulhu is actually attempting to take over our minds and make us his slaves.

Why, why, I ask myself-as with shaking hands I pour another glass of laudnum to hold off the surreal and Dantescan fantasies that now haunt my nights-why did I go to that eldritch city, and why on the fearsome Walpurgis Night?

The answer was money – filthy lucre. Paul Krassner had promised to pay me handsomely if I attended the first annual meeting of the I. W. W. (International Witches and Wizards-‘­the world’s first magickal trade union), suc­cessfully infiltrated the nameless Sabaat that would follow, and returned alive and still sane enough to write about what I had experienced.

Indeed, as I drove down the accursed Ayles­bury Pike that followed the evilly twisting path of the ill-reputed Miskatonic River, I was thinking of the $10,000 that Paul, with his usual generosity, had offered me for this assign­ment. The money was a pleasant thought and helped to distract me from unpleasant mulling about the sinister speculations of local ecolo­gists, who remain puzzled and somewhat dis­turbed by the fact that known pollutants, including the toxic and radioactive, do not fully account for the foulness of Mistakatonic water or the awfully mutated creatures that often crawl and slither out of it to attack some lonely farm.

Then I noticed the eldritch bumper-stickers on the Toyota Corolla in front of me: Campus Crusade for Cthulhu; Turn Back to the Necronomicon; Invoke Often!; Have You Hugged Your Shoggoth Today?

As the implications of this swept over me, another car, a virgin vintage Edsel, passed me on the right. I saw from the bumper sticker that this was another of the delegates to the I. W. W.: I brake for ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that gae BUMP in the night. But then I saw absolutely the most sinister bumper sticker I have ever gazed upon, even in the years when I lived in Southern California: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

A reflex shudder involuntarily passed through me. I had never before given much credence to the legends of the “Innsmouth Triangle” – the ill-famed area (bounded by Salem itself, Provi­dence to the south and Dunwich inland) where Cotton Mather once found “more Deviltrie, Daemonalitrie & Abomination than all the reste of Newe England” and where the sullen, inbred and uncouth rustics still insist that Great Cthulhu, and Hastur the Unspeakable, and Iok-Sotot, Eater of Souls, and their min­ions and satraps – e.g., the foul shoggoths and hideous Tcho-Tcho people, alone with Big­foot, the Abominable Snowman and all their. kith and kin-have often broken-through “the Gates of the Silver Key” (somewhere between Dunwich and Innsmouth) to invade our normal space-time from the mad n-dimensional “other world” in which they hold dominion.

“Backwood superstition, ” I thought scorn­fully.

Still, it was, to be frank, unheimlich to be driving behind people who did believe that sort of thing, and to wonder what other enor­mities such twisted minds might harbor. I found myself contemplating the Black Goat With a Thousand Young, and The King in Yellow, and the Hounds of Tindalos, and the Knights of Malta, and. the Centipede Mob, and many such foetid and fearsome things; it was not soothing to have such images running through my head as the sky turned Stygian black and thunder began to roar threateningly in the distance.

I repeated Thurber’s Great Mantra against weirdity: “The mome rath hasn’t been born that can outgrabe me. The mome rath hasn’t been born that can outgrabe me. THE MOME RATH HASN’T BEEN BORN .. .” But I remembered uneasily that de Selby and Comte d’Erlette, among others, claimed that the mome raths were even more formidable (“for­midable”) than the shoggoths.

The journalist Howard Phillips Lovecraft, who has left us the best records of Cthulhoid, UFOnautical and similar abductions in the Innsmouth Triangle, never dared to describe shoggoths explicitly, but he left an impression­istic suggestion that they were physically un­attractive, had loathesome dining habits and could never find gainful employment outside Santa Cruz. (Shoggoths are now a protected species, under the O.A.S. Guacamole and Guano Convention passed in St. Olaf’s in 1978, which also protects the beaked Guatamalan tse-tse fly and the African malaria mosquito.)

The rain was pounding down with the fury of bullets as I turned into the driveway of the Gallows Hilton on 666 College Way in Salem. I noticed another distinctly odd bumper sticker on the Silver Wraith Rolls Royce beside me: Human beings were created by water to carry it uphill. Some form of mystic Wisdom, like a Zen koan, or merely a trite evolutionary observation? “Is not the sea our great sweet mother?” Buck Mulligan had asked. How could I distinguish poetry from pretense on a night like that? I was entering the Twilight Zone, or maybe even Interzone.

Despite the rain, some religious and atheist Fundamentalists were picketing outside the hotel. The Christians had various signs warning against what Rev. Mather had called “Devil­trie, Daemonalitrie and Abominations” and the American Atheist Association and the skeptical factions shared a big banner that said, Repent! You are being irrational!

Passing them all, I fearlessly walked through the entrance door, under the grim inscription, Abandon Hope. The Gallows Hilton, I found, had a tasteful lobby, if you really groove on cobwebs, underground streams, stalactites and lots and lots of crooked candlesticks. The oil paintings were elegantly done and featured such gentry as Brigit Bishop, Bela Lugosi (in his Dracula cape), Abigail Williams, the 23 Holy Martyrs (i.e., the 23 witches hanged on Gallows Hill in 1692), Uncle Aleister (of course) and Frank Morgan as the Wizard of Oz, engraved with the suitable Magick motto: PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN.

A zombie immediately approached me. “May I share something with you? Would you like to learn more about the Church of Scien­tology?” he asked in a flat dead tone. I dodged around him and encountered another of the Undead.

“May I share something with you? The Church of Scientology has the answers you are seeking,” she said in an insectoid but intense whisper.

I escaped her, too, and approached the main desk.

The woman at registration, who bore a dis­tinct resemblance to Anjelica Huston made up as Morticia Addams, told me the Presiden­tial Suite had been reserved after I showed by Realist credentials. She added that all my needs had been provided for-the suite con­tained a Mac Plus word processor with laser printer, a trampoline, two cases of Jameson’s Irish whiskey, garlic and wolfbane over every door and window, three professional circus clowns and five Playboy bunnies. I marveled again how Paul always sees that his writers get the royal red carpet treatment. But, then, with all the money he got in the 1988 pay-off, when he agreed not to publish the full truth about the Girl Scouts’ role in the JFK assassination, he could afford to be lavish.

I rode up in the elevator with another zom­bie and some Hispanic gent who looked like Raul Julia playing Gomez Addams. Gomez’s luggage consisted largely of wire boxes full of live and squawking chickens. A member of the Santaria delegation, no doubt. The zombie also wanted to share something about Scientology.

The clowns were already busy when I en­tered the Presidential Suite, whacking each other with bladders, squirting seltzer and falling over their Bigfoot shoes. They helped me pry open the first case of Jameson’s and then we uncorked two bottles and three Bunnies, got on the trampoline and I distributed the acid.

It was a great night. Uncle Duke would have loved it.

The next morning, I only encountered two zombies in the hall and one on the elevator, “May I share something with you? Have you heard the truth about Scientology. . .” I wished Hubbard hadn’t learned so much about mind control in his days in Naval Intelligence.

After a tasty omelette in the Hannibal Lecter Café – where they use lots of extra ketchup, of course – I went to the first organizational meeting, the registration of delegates. There was the usual problem about the Satanists. Nobody wanted to be associated with them – “It just multiplies the Christian paranoia against the rest of us” – but, due to Roberts Rules of Order, the I. W. W. had to allow a debate.

The Satanists, again as usual, had an eye on the possible support of the Third World brujas and brujos, and argued that preference for “white” magick over “black” magick indi­cated latent racism. All the Politically Correct witches, wizards, mages and shamans looked guilty but stubborn, and still voted with the majority.

That is, the Satanists got voted down. They left, pausing at the door to howl a few colorful Curses and Maledictions, and went off, I guess, to form their own labor union.  The First Church of Satan, Scientist, trailed out at the end of the parade, following Baphomet’s Witnesses, The Four-Square Tabernacle of Beezlebub, the Born Again Assembly of Lucifer, the Crackofarians, the whole Black Studies Department of Miskatonic University and a bisexual punk group called the Left Handed Manque’ Wrenches.

After that, the registration of delegates grew­ more parliamentary and tedious. I decided to stroll around the lobby and see what I might overhear, as a kind of aural montage of the Occult World Today.

“. . . the sect of Fred Mertz, Bodhisattva. They believe that if you look at enough I Love Lucy re-runs when you’re really wasted, even­tually you’ll hear Fred reveal the most esoteric Zen teachings. . . . ”

“That’s the RDNA – Reformed Druids of North America. We’re the RNADNA­ – Reformed Non-Aristotelian Druids of North America. They teach that Nature is good, but we teach that it seems good to us. . . .”

“The chicken really wants to sacrifice her­self for Papa Legba, mon.”

“No, it’s the Rastas who use Weed. We Javafarians use coffee. . . .”

“You’ll love this one: How many Gardner­ians does it take to change a light-bulb? That’s a Craft Secret. . . .”

“What it is, is you’re really inna shit. Inna deep shit. You don’t have any more fuckin’ brains’n a fuckin’ cockroach, so you need a lawyer, get you outa the shit.” Obviously, a character from a George V. Higgins novel who had wandered into the wrong reality-tunnel.

“Blavatsky thought his name was Koot­Hoomi. She didn’t realize she was being taken over by Cthulhu. . . .”

“I was initiated by Crowley himself, on the fifth astral. . . .”

I went into the Papa Tetragrammaton bar and saw the Outer Head of the Golden Dawn chatting with Don Juan Matus, the Outer Head of the Ordo Templi Ashtarte, the Outer Head of the Argentum Astrum, and some oddly garbed strangers who later turned out to be a rock group called the Heads of Easter Island, who had arrived at the table by mistake.

“So what’s the story?” I asked. “What’s really coming down?”

“Failure of the Will,” Don Juan said. “Gringo magicko. A mutual defense associ­ation for timid mediocrities.”

An Outer Head spoke with falcon eyes piercing me. “The Nicaraguan brujas hold the balance of terror. They have a terrible tax bur­den under the new puppet government. Hell, more people use them than use M.D.s, dig? So naturally their taxes are higher’n Godzilla’s shit-house. They put the whammy woogie on Georgie Boy in Tokyo. You didn’t think flu could knock a guy off his chair like that? The conqueror of 1945 at the feet of the conquerors of 1992. Bruja humor.”

One of the Heads of Easter Island suddenly began speaking in a dead hollow inhuman voice: “One of the things that-we’ll dean this up for this marvelous audience-burns me up-put it that way-is the charge that I don’t care. And I can understand it. Times are tough. This state has gone through hell. It’s gone through an extraordinarily difficult time, coming off a pinnacle, you might say, of low unemployment.” He was obviously channel­ing George Bush.

“The sidewalk was in trouble,” another Head said abruptly in the same dead tone, “and the bears were in trouble and I broke it up.  Please put me in that room.  Please keep him in control.”

“For seven and a half years,” the first Head went on channeling George, “I have worked alongside Ronald Reagan, and I am proud to be his partner. We have had triumphs, we have made mistakes, we have had sex. I mean, we have had upsets. . . .”

“I want to pay. Let them leave me alone. French Canadian bean soup.” More Dutch Shultz.

The first Head went on channeling Bushman: “Remember Lincoln going to his knees in times of trial and the civil war and all that stuff. You can’t be, and we are blessed. So don’t feel sorry for, don’t cry for me, Argentina. ”

I got out of there, before George could go any deeper into what he’d call” the pinnacle of low unemployment thing.” I’m a broad­minded man, I hope, and I don’t mind if peo­ple in my vicinity start channeling Cagliostro or John Dee, but I absolutely will not stand still for any walk-ins who spout George Bush and Dutch Shultz in tandem. It’s weirder than 20 years of Jimmy Swaggart shows.

Another zombie caught me as I left the cafe. “May I share something with you? Have you ever tried the E-meter? Do you want to be Clear? Let me tell you about Scientology. . . .” I escaped again without acting out the impulse to mayhem.

It seemed like a good idea to stroll through the huckster’s room. I examined a collection of Hellmark Cards, with quotes from Aleister Crowley- When You Care Enough To Send The Very Beast, said the merchant’s banner. The usual crystals and talismans. A live chicken yard, for disciples of voudon and santaria who had arrived unprepared for the Sabaat. Bumper stickers of the various sects: God is Red(the Native American shamans), Thou Art God (the neo-pantheist pagans), Thou Art Goddess (the feminist neo-pantheist pagans), Yog Sothoth Neblod Zin (Campus Crusade for Cthulhu again), God is a Crazy Woman and Her Name Is Eris (Paratheoanametamys­tikhood of Eris Esoteric), Next Year in Stone­henge (Chasidic Druids of North America).

Another zombie caught me as I left. “May I share something with you? Scientology has the power . . .”

I quickened my step and strolled over to the Inverse Pentagram Bar. Since the sun wasn’t over the yardham yet, I ordered a Virgin Mary. On second thought, I told them to put in a little vodka, but not more than a double shot. (“Moderation in all things,” as Rasputin once told Gurdjieff.) Then I looked around for familiar faces-people who might tell me some of the inside story of what was going on here.

The Inner Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis recognized me and raised his glass, inviting me to his table. This was, as Vito Corleone would say, an offer I could not refuse. Very few people even get to know the name of the Outer Head of the O.T.O.; to have a drink with the Inner Head was a rare privilege indeed.

“So what’s the real story here?” I asked, after we had exchanged the illuminati hand­ shake, the Mason Word, the Rose Cross for­mulae, the secret address of Cthulhu and a few other formalities of that sort.

“It rains,” he said. “Lie down on the floor and keep calm.”

I thanked him, very warmly and sincerely, and immediately went to my room, to begin packing. It is seldom that Mages of the O. T. O. speak with so few levels of metathesis or allegory. The warning had been almost explicit. The clowns and bunnies bade me a sad farewell and I began creeping, with my two traveling bags, down the dark, echoing back staircase, which had an unpleasant num­ber of bats flying about in its labyrinth. I crossed the Pink Dimension and encountered bumping and whistling things in the Realm of Thud. Shemp Howard and W. C. Fields waved from the Black Pussy Cafe. Re-entering the lobby I checked in with a registration clerk who looked like Kathleen Turner in a Hitler Youth sweater. She gave me ten Scientology pamphlets.

There were no clowns or bunnies in my tiny room behind the elevator shaft. I opened the closet and passed through a hundred wounded galaxies to the Delegates Meeting where the Satanists were standing at the door, trapped in the time-warp, still hurling Curses and Male­dictions before leaving. “May your cows abort, your income tax get audited every year and your crops fail!” “May you drink of dog vomit, eat chimpanzee turds and be forced to memorize Gilligan’s Island scripts!” “May you be condemned to a career of writing for Gnosis and Weekly World News!” “May your daughters join the Radical Lesbians and your sons die in foreign wars to enrich the oil barons!”

Time moved in a quantum lurch. I passed through an aeon of dead time and opened the closet door to find the lobby again. Madonna was at registration and said I had the Triple Moon Goddess Suite. The 3 Stooges dressed as bellhops helped me carry the 23 bags of luggage I had mysteriously acquired. They knocked over every vase and broke every chair we passed, of course, and every time they broke something Moe would stick his finger in Curly’s eye. Don Juan and Don Genaro, for some reason, kept looking over the top of the page and laughing hilariously. I wondered if some wise ass from the Amazon had spiked my Demi-Virgin Mary with ayahuasca.

We were toiling up the hill to the historic gallows of 1692. The Campus Crusade were reciting foul incantations from Alhazred. A bug-eyed octopus led us in singing “Mr. Wong has the Biggest Tong in Chinatown.” Veronica Lake was threatening Frederick March with a whip. “I’ll send my car to pick a you up,” said Chico Marx. Whitley Strieber and some midgets (or were they children? I couldn’t be sure in the half-light of the gibbous moon) were inviting everybody to a party in a big round white brightly-lit edifice that looked like a modernistic hamburger joint, sort of. I passed that by and went on to the Toad Elevat­ing Moment, at which the Tantric Libertarians put a 7-year genital warts curse on everybody who worked for the I.R.S.

We all came down the stairs into the Grand Ballroom. The organizational charter had been finished. Every local of the I. W. W: would be responsible for its own finances and pension fund. If the Teamsters or Mafia tried to horn in, the toad curse would be put on them, too. An international legal team, sup­ported by all locals, would begin a series of libel suits against the worst anti-witch or anti-magick fanatics among “the Christians and Atheists who control the Organization of American States.” Everybody seemed happy and well satisfied, but I was not quite sure I remembered all that had happened, or that most of what I remembered had really hap­pened at all, at all.

It was two nights later that the damnable nightmares began. Cthulhu trying to take control of my mind? Over-work and nervous tension? I know not; I know only that I cannot forget those images of things only a Dore could paint, things that could not and should not and must not be true. . . those wild fan­tasies (they must be fantasies) of dark unin­vited delegates on Gallows Hill that night. . . the loathesome shoggoths and abominable Tcho-Tchos, the mad faceless Nyarlathotep, the unspeakable Alien Intelligence normally masked as J. Danforth Quayle. . . the Wascal Wabbit . . . Ia! Shub Niggurath!

May I share something with you? Scientol­ogy may be the answer to your problems. . .

Cthulhu fthagn!

The Meeting of Science and Mysticism

The Meeting of Science and Mysticism

New theories in physics suggest that “no man is an island” and “the greatest is within the smallest”

By Robert Anton Wilson

 from Fate, May 1992

In 1964 Dr. John Stewart Bell, an Irishman working at CERN nuclear research centre (Switzerland) published a mathematical paper that staggered the scientific world. The central idea of the paper-now Called Bells Theorem – suggested new views about reality so hair-raising that even Dr. Bell himself repudiates most of the interpretations by other physicists about what his mathematics imply.

Bell’s Theorem seems to portray a universe far weirder than science has previously realized – so weird, in fact, that it hauntingly resembles many “mystical” and “superstitious” ideas of the past. For instance, I shook hands with the editor of a Berlin magazine a month ago. Since our hands touched, according to Bell, some particles in my hand remain, and always will remain, in a kind or correlation or “union” with some particles in the editor’s hand. Mystics have talked about such linkages all through history, of course, but science never took such ideas seriously – until Bell came along.

Since so much dispute rages about Bell’s demonstration, we should use careful language in discussing it.

What Bell’s math showed was that 1) if we accept an objective universe separate from our ideas, and 2) if the equations of quantum (sub-atomic) physics accurately describe that universe, then 3) any two particles that once contacted each other continue to “influence” each other, or remain “parts of a unified system,” no matter how far apart they subsequently move in space or in time-even if they move to opposite ends of the universe.

Bell’s math thus suggests that space and time only exist on some levels of the universe-or only in our minds-or that we must assume a level of reality where space and time don’t exist at all. “Here is there,” says physicist Dr. Nick Herbert, when explaining Bell’s Theorem.” There is no difference between anything,” he adds with a twinkle in his eye.

 

THE BILLIARD TABLE EXAMPLE

 

To visualize what this means, and how it differs from all previous science, imagine an ordinary billiard table.

In Newtonian physics, if a ball (let’s call it B), moves, it’s because it is hit by another ball (which we can call A).This accords with the standard mechanical picture of the universe, which most people still identify with “science” with a capital S.

However, in field physics (pioneered in the 19th century by James Clerk Maxwell), ball B might move and ball A along with it, not because of mechanical collisions, but because a magnet below the table has created an electromagnetic field, which causes the balls to jump in a certain direction. Field theories, while in a sense less “materialistic” than mechanical collision theories, still involve connection, interaction and causality. They still live in “the same ball park” as mechanical theories.

In Einstein’s General Relativity, we find a third kind of causality. The balls might move because of the seeming flatness of the table, which we see, only appears on the small scale. On a larger scale the table actually curves. (In the Einstein universe the planets orbit the sun because space itself curves, even though we can’t see the curvature directly and have to deduce it mathematically.) This moves us even further from collision models than the field theories do, but Einstein remains in a ball park we can visualize-with a little extra effort. Einsteinian space-time involves connections, interaction and a kind of determinism-geometric determinism. The mass of matter determines the curvature of space, and the curvature of space determines the movement of matter.

In all these kinds of scientific explanations-the mechanical, the field theory and the geometric (curvature) Theory-the cause of the movement of the billiard balls can be pictured in a mental image and, once we understand the theory, it makes sense to us.

In Bell’s universe, however, ball A and ball B might moves without any of these three types of causes (the only types of causes science recognizes) -and perhaps without any cause at all! In other words, A moves because B moves or B moves because A moves and we seemingly cannot say anything more about the movements. Maybe we can’t even say the much since the word “because” doesn’t really seem to fit this case.

Imagine yourself in a room with such a billiard table. Ball A at one end of the table suddenly turns clockwise and exactly at that moment ball B at the other end turns counter-clockwise. You observe carefully that nobody pushed the balls or fired another ball at them. You check under the table and find no hidden magnets to create field effects. You then think of Einstein and geometry, but when you check, the table has no curvature of any sort. You look at the table again and ball A turns counter-clockwise while ball B turns clockwise. That sort of thing usually only happen in movies about haunted house.

 

SPOOKS,FLIM-FLAM OR…

 

At this point you would probably say, “spooks!” or something similar. James Randi would shout “Fraud!” or “Flim-flam!”

That’s just about what most physicists said when Bell’s Theorem was published. The math was absolutely irrefutable, but the conclusion seemed impossible to believe.

Several experiments, however – most notably, those by Dr. Clauser of the University of California at Berkeley and Dr Aspect at the optical institute in Orsay, France – have shown that atomic particles behave exactly as Bell said they should. For instance, in Aspect’s most recent experiment two photons (particles of light) ejected from a common source (a mercury atom) acted just as Bell predicted, or just like the billiard balls in our illustration. Whenever the photon manifested the mathematical state called “spin up,” the other photon measured “spin down.” This happened despite the total absence of any form ofconnection or cause known to science.

 

ANOTHER MODEL

 

To be even clear about how “mystical” this seems, let me paraphrase a life – size model once used by Dr. Bell in a lecture.

Imagine two men who live in Paris and Mexico City. Imagine that we keep them under observation continually and discover that every time the man in Paris wears red socks, the man in Mexico City wears Blue socks. Now suppose we check every possible communication system and prove that no way exists for the two men to send messages to each other – they can’t get near a phone or shortwave radio or telegraph or any similar device. Then we take the red socks of the man in Paris and put blue socks on him. Immediately – with not a fraction of a second of time delay – the man in Mexico City sits down, takes of his red socks and puts on blue socks.

Even stranger, this would happen every single time we tried the experiment if the man behaved like the atomic particles in Bell’s Theorem and the experiments of Clauser and Aspect.

 

WHAT IT MEANS

 

What the deuce can this mean? Physicists remain in violent disagreement with each other about the question, but all the answers are equally astounding to ordinary folks.

According to Dr. David Bohm of the University of London, “It may mean that everything in the universe is in a kind of total rapport, so that whatever happens is related to everything else; or it may be that there is some kind of information that can travel faster than the speed of light: or it may mean that our concepts of space and time have to be modified in some way that we don’t now understand.” (London Times, February 20, 1983.)

 

A HOLISTIC UNIVERSE

 

Consider the first alternative. If “what happens is related to everything else,” we live in the kind of holistic Universe described by the mystics of the East, especially the Hindus and Buddhists. In the humorous metaphor of Charles Fort, a a bear coughs at the north pole, a bottle of Ketchup will fall out of a wind on in New York City. In the more grim metaphors of Buddhism, if a single angry or cruel act (or thought) occurs anywhere, every sentient being in the universe will feel the effects. In the poetic language of the Englishman, John Donne: No man is an island…if a clod of Spain be washed away, Europe is the less…Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in humanity.

This “non-local connection” (as some call it) may mean that if you have touched a pair of dice your brain can then exercise some control over them, just as most gamblers think. This sounds some wild, science-fiction elaboration of Bell, but it has been seriously proposed by Dr. Evan Harris Walker, an American physicist who deduced, from Bell’s math and the math of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle* just how the human brain should be able to affect the dice.

In The Complete Quantum Anthropologist, Dr. Walker demonstrates that this mathematically theoretical limit of control – “mind over matter” – corresponds exactly to the degree of control demonstrated by Hakoon Forwald, a retired electrical engineer, in a long-running series of experiments on “psychokinesis.” Forwald’s subjects in the years between 1949 and 1970 tried to influence dice by brain power and score just as far above chance as Walker’s math says they should have scored.

It does not seem far from this “psychokinesis” to the traditional belief that if a sorcerer gets a hold of a strand of your hair, anything he does will eventually affect your hair.

 

INFORMATION WITHOUT TRANSPORTATION

 

Before we get spooked too much by this line of thought, let us look at Dr. Bohm’s second alternative:”

Information that can travel faster than the speed of light,” Since no energy can travel faster than the speed of light, this means information without energy. Another physicist, Dr. Jack Sarfatti, has called it “information without transportation.” Such ghostly information moving around without energy or transportation to carry it might explain the kind of things that parapsychologists call telepathy or precognition or ESP.

This sounds a medieval as the sorcerer working magic on a lock of hair, doesn’t it? Nonetheless, two physicists from Stanford Research International (now SRI International), Dr. Harold Puthoff and Dr. Russell Targ, in their book Mind Reach, offer it as an explanation of “distant viewing” (telepathy across thousands of miles.)

 

TIME TRAVEL

 

Even more bizarre, as Dr. Sarfatti has pointed out in many lectures, “information without transportation: could travel into the past. You see, in Relativity Theory, going faster than the speed of light seems impossible because it means going backwards in time. Some interpretations of Bell, however, suggest that information can indeed go backwards in time. This leads to speculations that have previously only appeared in science fiction, not in science.

For instance, it leads to the “Grandfather paradox.” Thus: if I had a time machine, went back to the 1890’s, and for some perverse reason murdered my grandfather before he could marry my grandmother, then when I came back to 1992 I wouldn’t find myself here, would I? Where would I exist, if I existed at all? It seems from a theoretical mathematic basis I would dwell in a parallel universe – one in which I remained sane enough not to go back in time to kill my granddad. But this universe, where poor old granddad, would still exist – except that my father and I wouldn’t live in it.

The same logic that governs such a sci-fi time machine applies to “information that moves faster than light.” If I could send Bell’s kind of information into the past, my grandfather might receive it. He might alter his actions in such a way that I wouldn’t get born in this universe anymore. I would have sent the information from the universe next door, so to speak.

If that doesn’t boggle your mind, consider a further development suggested by Dr. John Archibald Wheeler, often called the father of the Hydrogen bomb. In the Science Digest of October 1984, Dr. Wheeler suggests that the current and recent scientific experiments on atomic energy literally created this universe (or “selected” it out of all possible universes).

In other words, every time we meddle with an atomic system, according to Dr. Wheeler, the  “non-local” effects go every which way into space and time, and some of them affect the nature of the Big Bang from which the universe emerged. You see, Dr. Wheeler has often argued that many, many universes emerged from the Big Bang – more than 10,000-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million-million of them, at least – all of them stacked up in parallel to ours in “super-space,” a geometrical construct he invented to solve some of the problems with General Relativity. Dr. Wheeler now argues, in the light of Bell’s Theorem, that we have, through our experiments, “fine-tuned” the Big Bang to produce the kind of universe in which we can exist and can conduct such experiments. Zillions and Zillions of other universes, without our meddling, evolve in different ways, and most of them collapse inward again very shortly after the Big Bang and thus never produce human beings.

SPACE AND TIME MIGHT NOT EVEN EXIST

 

Then we have Dr. Bohm’s third alternative: “Our concepts of space and time will have to be modified in some way we do not understand. “Many philosophers have examined this idea in the past – especially the Buddhists in the East and Bishop Berkeley and Immanuel Kant in Europe. All come to the same conclusion, basically. Space and time don’t exist “out there,” apart from us. The human brain just invented them to have a filing system for its impressions.

Dr. Nick Herbert presents a scientific form of this theory in his book, Quantum Reality. According to Dr. Herbert, all experience remains “local” (bound by space and time) but reality itself exists “non-locally” (not bound by space and time, or “transcendental”) in exactly the sense of all mystic teachings.

Dr. Bohm states the same idea in a more precise way. As he sees it, the universe may consist of an implicate order much like the software (programs) of a computer and an explicate order, much like the hardware – what we can see and experience – has locality. It remains here, not there, and now, not then.  The implicative order or software, however – which we cannot see or experience but only deduce from our experiments and math – has total non-locality. It exists both here and there, both now and then.

In this model we do not need to posit information without transportation or any of the spook stuff. The information does not travel without a medium because it does not travel at all; it exists already, always, everywhere. In every electron, in every atom, in every molecule, every stone, every animal or person, every planet, every galaxy, however different their locations in space and time, the basic information, or universal blueprint (Bohm’s implicate order) remains the same.

This sounds very much like the Hindu concept of God or the Chinese Tao. In fact Bohm’s implicate order exactly fits Lao-Tse’s paradox of the Tao: “The greatest is within the smallest.” It also strikingly resembles the major axiom of Hermetic mysticism in the West: “That which is above is reflected in that which is below.”

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR BACK IS TURNED?

 

There remains one way to avoid all of these shocking and bizarre sounding interpretations of John S. Bell’s discovery. That way is to deny the first step of the argument – that we can posit an objective universe separate from our ideas. This path, thus far, has appeared only in the works of Dr. David Mermin of Columbia University. In two astounding papers – “Quantum Mysteries for Everyone” and “ Is the Moon There When Nobody Looks?”- Dr. Mermin argues that quantum physics (the physics of small particles, from which Bell began) finally makes sense if we assume the universe only exists when we look at it. If you don’t look at your automobile, and nobody else looks at it, it ceases to exist until somebody looks at it again. Then it pops back into reality – presto!

This theory, known as “solipsism,” has never appealed to scientists or philosophers, although a few cynics have always argued in favor of it, just to annoy the orthodox. Nobody seems to have ever taken itseriously – until now. Dr. Mermin soberly claims that solipsism leads to less absurd results than any other way of interpreting Bell’s math.

I don’t think Dr. Mermin intends to make a joke. He truly fins solipsism less unthinkable than ghostly information moving every which way in space and time with no medium to carry it, or parallel universes being created out of nothing whenever an atomic measurement is made, or the other alternatives that physicists are considering in trying to understand Bell’s theorem.

 

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM JOINED?

 

In summary, Bell’s theorem does not prove the truth of the basic ideas of mysticism, but it definitely makes them seem more plausible than any previous scientific discovery did. Any alternative explanation of the non-local reality described by Bell does not bring us safely home to “common sense.”  The other explanations sound even stranger than anything that mystics have ever claimed. We can only conclude, as the great biologist J.B.S. Haldane did after experimenting with yoga, that “The universe may be, not only queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think.”

 

 

 

For five years(1966-1971) Robert Anton Wilson was Associate Editor of Playboy, Since 1971 he has worked as futurist, novelist, playwright, poet, lecturer and stand up comic. He has 25 books in print, including the Illuminatus trilogy. His latest work, Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, will be published in May by Dell books. Wilson’s play Wilhelm Reich in Hell, was performed at the Edmund Burke Theatre in Dublin in 1986, in Portland, Maine and Long Beach, California, in 1989. The play was read on WBAI (New York) in March, 1989. Wilson is featured in the video Borders, which has been shown on many PBS TV stations and won the first prize in “visions of the future” at the Whole Life Expo IN San Francisco in 1989.

 

 

Editor’s note: The Uncertainty Principle is that “the accurate measurement of one or two related, observable quantities, as position and momentum or energy and time, produce uncertainties in the measurement of the other, such that the product of the uncertainties of both quantities is equal to or greater than h / 2 pi, where h equals Plank’s constant. “ [ – from The Random House Dictionary of the Englaih Language]. Simply put, the principle means that you can know either the position or motion of a particle, but not both.

The Sixties: a flashback

The Sixties: a flashback

by Robert Anton Wilson

 from Magical Blend, #32, Oct. 1991

How many does it take to metamorphose

wickedness into righteousness?

One man must not kill.

If he does it is murder.

But a slate or nation may

kill as many as they please,

and it is not murder …

Only get enough people to agree to it,

and the butchery of

myriads of human beings is

perfectly innocent.

But how many does it take?

-Adin Ballow, 1845

The tear-gas bombs started to explode, spreading a smog of corrosive conjunctivitis among indignant, out-raged eyes. The police fixed their Baby-Blue riot helmets, took out their clubs and, with the honest joy of simple men who love their work, began cracking Peacenik skulls. Bob Shea and I ran down the street, escaping. It was Chicago, 1968.

I was there to protest the war-mongering of the U.S. Government, which had dragged our country into one war after another ever since 1937. Shea was more recently disillusioned with our Wonderful Leaders than I was, but by 1968 he was fed up, too.

We looked back and saw the cops clubbing some demonstrators who couldn’t run as fast as we did, and some who were Gandhians and/or masochists-the Holy Madmen who “put their bodies on the line” for peace. Neither Shea nor I were quite that religious.

“Motherfucker,” somebody howled as a cop bashed him. I could tell from the tone of voice that this was not an insult directed at the cop. It was an exclamation of outraged pain, just as “Son of a bitch!” may often be an exclamation of surprise or even joy.

Most of the demonstrators-except the Weathermen-were genuinely shocked at the violence of the police. They were college kids and middle-aged liberals who had no knowl­edge of the bloody saga of American radicalism. Like the Weathermen, t was neither shocked nor outraged. I had read enough about the history of labor unions to know that, whenever the Establishment is annoyed, they send the cops to beat the shit out of people.

The Concerned Clergymen started singing “We Shall Overcome” again, but were drowned out by the Weathermen chanting “One Two Three Four. We Don’t Want Your Fucking War.”

Deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome

Some da-aay

We Don’t Want Your Fucking War

“Commie bastards….”

“The Feast of Pure Reason,” I said to Shea as we huffed and puffed along.

We ducked into a bar on Michigan Avenue and grabbed a table. I ordered two Bloody Marys. The plush leather and the technicolor bottles of booze on the wall all looked wonder-fully normal and reassuring after what we had been through. I looked at the silvery mirrors with me and Shea and a room full of strangers in them: a net of jewels, each of which reflects and is reflected in each of the others.

Our eyes were still running slightly. On the TV, we could see cops clubbing demonstrators. Voices were chanting, “The Whole World Is Watching, The Whole World Is Watching.” The camera cut to the Hon. Senator Abraham Ribicoff, inside the convention, denouncing the Hon. Mayor Richard Daly for allowing the police to attack nonviolent protestors. The Hon. Mr. Daly, of the family Suidea, shouted some-thing back, greenly empurpled, but the mike didn’t pick it up; from the look on the Hon. Daly’s face, the network probably would have bleeped his words if they had picked them up.

Shea and I drank, thoughtfully, wiping our burning eyes. We knew we were going back out again, in a little while. Our commitment was undefined verbally but we both understood it. We would go out there into the streets and risk getting clubbed but we would not stand still and submit to the clubbing if we could escape. I think almost everybody, except the Hard Core Pacifists, had that attitude.

Eight hours before, at the Playboy Club, l had had lunch with Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, who had both come to Chicago to join the protests against the Vietnam war. I was a Playboy editor then and enjoyed ordering lunch for two of my favorite living writers and putting the tab on my gold Playboy V.I.P. card. The three of us had talked mostly about the poetry of Ezra Pound and very little about the risks we were going to run that night. That was when Ginsberg told me about his remark-able meeting with Pound in Rapollo, Italy. The old man, bent and guilty and looking like Remorse in an allegory, listened to Allen cordially but refused to talk himself, except to issue one bitter self-condemnation for the “stupid, suburban anti-semitism” of his middle years.

I had asked what Allen said to that. Allen told me he quoted I Ching: “No blame.” Pound, still morose, had said nothing in reply.

Shea and I finished our drinks and gingerly stepped out into Chaos and Mother Night again. A horde of Weathermen were tined up in Grant Park, looking like cowboys too poor to have their jeans cleaned. I suspected that, like everybody else from SOS I had ever met, they were from well-to-do families. In accord with the Marxist texts they had memorized, they systematically taunted the police – trying to provoke another attack.

“Pigs Eat Shit, Pigs Eat Shit,” they chanted, over and over. “Pigs Eat Shit Pigs Eat Shit Pigs Eat Shit …”

I thought of poor old Pound, driven honkers by his hatred of war, so that eventually it degenerated into hatred of Jews in his blind, helpless fury, just because he needed a target more localized and tangible than human folly. The Weathermen went on chanting, and I realized, in a shock like a Joycean epiphany, that when opposition to violence becomes hatred of violence it immediately gestates its own violence.

The cops fired more tear-gas cannisters and the Weathermen retreated, still chanting, “Pigs Eat Shit … Pigs Eat Shit…. “

The gassing and clubbing went on for hours… but by now it is as effectively erased from national memory as the much worse police brutality and flagrant bloodshed when the cops broke the unions in Flint, Michigan, and Harlan County, Kentucky, and Paterson, New Jersey, and other places in the early ’30s. It is the business of the schools, and the media, to see that such episodes are not remembered (except by the embittered survivors, who cannot be persuaded to forget). The next gang of peaceful protesters will be just as shocked and outraged when the cops are let loose upon them.

(submitted to RAWilsonFans by RMJon23)

The Illuminatus saga stumbles along

The Illuminatus saga stumbles along

by Robert Anton Wilson

from Mystery Scene Magazine, No. 27, October 1990.  Reprinted in Prometheus: The Journal of the Libertarian Futurist Society, Vol 13, no 2, Spring 1995.

Bob Shea and I began the Illuminatus series in 1969, inspired directly by our work as co-editors of The Playboy Fo­rum. The Forum (not to be confused with The Playboy Advisor) deals with civil liberties, the rights of the individual, and abuses of government power. Natu­rally, in addition to a great many intelli­gent letters from people justifiably indignant about real cases of unconstitu­tional behavior by judges and legisla­tors, the Forum – especially in those days – received a lot of paranoid rantings from people imagining totally baroque conspiracies. One day, either Shea or I­ – we don’t remember which-asked whimsically, “Suppose all these nuts are right, and every single conspiracy they complain about really exists.”

Thus, the Illuminatus saga was born. The idea was simple-a novel, perched midway between satire and melodrama, and also delicately balancing between “proving” the case for multiple con­spiracies and undermining the “proof.” Of course, if Shea and 1 had any real sense of the market we would have real­ized that such a deliberately ambiguous work was not going to have immediate commercial appeal. But once we got started, the writing was so much fun we simply forgot about The Plain Reader in Duluth. We, alas, were writing for some kind of Elite (or Cult). Worse yet: we didn’t even know it, or have a clear idea of which Elite-Cult we were writing for. We had created an unsolved (perhaps unsolvable) mystery that was not merely puzzling like Agatha Christie but dumb­founding, flabbergasting, and more than a bit unnerving-like Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, or modern philosophy in general.

The commercial results of this ven­ture in guerrilla ontology were not quite as bad as you might expect. It took over five years to get such a weird book pub­lished, true-and the refrain “I can’t understand that dammed thing” was heard from Senior Editors as often as “1 love it” from Junior Editors-but when it finally got into print, in 1975, the tril­ogy received almost uniformly good re­views everywhere. We even earned fairly decent royalties the first year (al­though we were both so inexperienced that we didn’t realize how rare that was). Illuminatus became a successful Rock Opera in London (1976) and did equally well on the road in Liverpool, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt. English and German editions of the book were pub­lished.

Then the road became rocky. The book sold “steadily, but slowly” and within two years Dell let it go out of print. Nobody wanted to import the play to the United States. Options on the movie rights lapsed. The English edition also went out of print. Nobody wanted to publish it in any other languages. Only the German edition continued to sell.

Then Dell brought out a new print­ing, which also sold “steadily, but slowly” and went out of print in about a year. .. And this was repeated several times. Every time we thought the book was safely afloat again, it sank one more time.

It was 11 years after original publica­tion (1986) before Dell decided to keep the book in print continually. By then, the English edition was back in print, too-but although several of my other books have appeared in a variety of languages, Illuminatus still remains available only in English and German. In the last three years (i.e., 13 to 15 years after publication) the combined royal­ties have increased suddenly and steeply; last year the royalties were as high as any five years in the mid-80s. More and more in-jokes referring to the trilogy creep into other novels, movies and music videos. We have created some kind of “underground classic.” A comic book version is due out soon. The Rock Opera version has been optioned for the stage a few times, in this country, but has recently appeared only in Jerusa­lem.

I have become rather successful on the lecture circuit (and even have a small career as a stand-up comic) and thus have met a lot of Illuminatus fans – the “Elite” (or “Cult?”) that Shea and 1 did not know we were writing for. They tend to be youngish, and make a very motley group indeed-political liber­tarians, sci-fi buffs (Shea and I never thought of the book as science fiction while “We were writing it), neo-pagans, witches, Futurists, space colony advo­cates, longevity and vitamin freaks, and (among the more “mature”) a lot of psy­chologists, psychiatrists, radical M.D.s, and other professionals concerned with the illnesses of our nation. There are also a lot of people who don’t want the Feds taking their dope away, and an assort­ment of anti-IRS “cranks.”

As far as I can make out, the one bond uniting all these diverse groups-and separating them from others with simi­lar convictions-is a deep conviction that the government lies to us a lot, combined with a refusal to buy into any orthodox school of radical analysis. That is, they believe that any Ideology which claims to explain “what is really going on behind the lies” is just guess-work, and they feel that the jokes, insane exag­gerations and surrealistic twists of

Illuminatus are about as plausible, and about as implausible, as the sober, seri­ous, and totally humorless critiques of the New Left, the New Age or any other organized Counter-Culture. In short, while they agree with the Dissenter’s Credo–those people up there are li­ars-they also recognize the trained ex­pertise and elegant finesse of the really top-notch professional liars in govern­ment and media, and doubt that any­body is shrewd enough to guess what the hell is really going on, or who is really in charge of this planet, or if any­body is in charge at all.

Maybe these agnostic heretics are just plain weird, as I seem to be.

Shea has gone on to write a series of mainstream novels. I have gone on writ­ing increasingly weird and bizarre works of satire or fantasy (take your pick) that all go out of print and come back into print etc., just like Illuminatus. As of now, they are all back in print again, and selling better than ever. (Maybe the world is getting so spooky that my sur­realism seems normal.)

I don’t know that this is the best path for a writer, but it seems to be the only possible path for me. If I try to write for the common reader, the results are wooden and nobody wants to print them at all; if I follow my own peculiar hu­morthe books have a sales chart that goes up, and goes down, and goes up and down, but eventually finds a loyal audience.

(article provided to RAWilsonFans.com by Michael Johnson)

Have You Ever Danced With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?

Have You Ever Danced With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?

by Robert Anton Wilson

from Magical Blend, #25, Winter 1989

Well I have finally followed the herd and tromped down to my local movie theatre to see Batman and I can tell you the the experience was not at all unlike Bad Acid. I had thought I was going to see another spectacular but empty “epic” in the Star Wars-Superman-Indiana Jones tradition of American “good clean fun” – a lot of mindless violence between cardboard cut-outs of “good” and “evil.” Instead, I found a film noir that looked as if the ghosts of Dali, Bunuel and Orson Welles had all had a hand in it, aided and abetted by Wilhelm Reich and a horde of estistentialists. It was as escapist as a split lip, and I think it’s the best film about the Reagan-Bush era since Carpenter’s They Live. You haven’t seen such shadows and overhead pans since the last time Orson Welles got enough money to make a movie the way he he wanted to do it, and the musical score (especially the organ solos) is alone worth the price of admission.

“It’s a study in dark and light,” Kim Basinger, the actress who plays Vicki Vale, said in an interview. “I represent light.” The remark is a bit of an understatement. In fact, Ms. Basinger has been garbed in white dresses, especially in the last third of the film, and is treated rather kindly by the (compared to the other characters, who all look ugly, or sinister, or a few bricks shy of a full load, or as if they had escaped from The Andalusian Dog) but she represents something less metaphysical than “goodness.” She represents the only point of sanity in a world gone psycho, the world of Iran-Contra, the pitbull and Morton Downey Jr.

Steven Spielberg, evidently miffed by the complaints that his technically superb films have no depth, has started to add levels of resonance; but all of his levels, as far down as he goes, are equally shallow.Batman goes as deep as Frankenstein or King Kong and will become, I am sure, as much a part of folk-lore and as frequently quoted as either of those masterpieces. Like all first-rate Hollywood films, it leaves you in perceptual confusion about whether it is a very good bad movie or a very bad good movie.

The film hangs on a few logical points that neither the comic book nor the TV series ever confronted overtly. Batman, we all know, wears black. But isn’t it usually the villain who wears black? Somehow, despite this, we have previously been persuaded to accept Batman as a hero. In spectacularly gloomy technicolor, however. Batman looks even more like a villain, in contrast to the gaudy multi-colored clown suits of the Joker, the erudite and poetic nominal villain who seems more like an unhinged concept artist than a criminal of any sort we can understand.

Bats, and man-bats, are associated with vampirism. The logo for the movie takes advantage of this; it looks like both the familiar Batman symbol and a vampire’s gaping mouth. The first thing we hear about Batman in the film, before we even see him, is that he sucks the blood of his victims. We mightexpect him to have a Transylvanian accent.

But wait – did I say his victims? Well, yes, that does seem to be the logic of the situation. The people Batman has killed before the film begins didn’t actually have their blood sucked (I think; you may have to see this film several times to be sure of anything) and they were all criminals, of course, but nonetheless, set against the towering, black, half-faceless, never smiling, totally sinister figure of Batman, the first thugs we see on screen seem victims as surely as a mouse seems a victim when a cat pounces on it. The hoods’ fear that their blood will be sucked seems altogether reasonable under the circumstances, in the world they inhabit.

We are obviously being seduced into a film that is devoted simultaneously to amusing dolts (the path to box office success) and subtly undermining the reality-grids of everybody in the audience with more than a half inch of forehead. The first shot sets us in non-linear space as surely as a Picasso painting or the famous three-minute tracking shot that opens Orson Welle’s Touch of Evil. Welles, in that classic shot, kept both his camera and his actors moving over three blocks of city streets, in so many different directions that we were jerked to attention, trying to figure out what was going on (and what was happening to the bomb we saw in the first two seconds). The opening shot of Batman is a bit shorter and has no actors, but the camera also careens madly through a set that totally disorients us. That is a warning of what is to come.

By the time we find we are in “Gotham” we also recognize that this nightmare-city is a cross between New York, Detroit and Dante’s Hell. Gotham is Orson Welle’s sleazebag Los Robles of Touch of Evil – all the grime, all the garbage, all the corruption, all the dirt, all the violence – but miles wider and (it seems) even miles higher. It is Phil Dick’s Black Iron Prison in VALIS, the mad universe where mankind has been confined by the Demiurge which is attempting to blind us to the Gnosis.

The first cop we see in Batman is both physically fat and morally corrupt, like the first cop we see in Touch of Evil. When Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Vicki Vale sit down to eat, they start at a table so long they can hardly hear each other’s voices, and end at a tiny table where they are practically nuzzling: a reversal of the famous alienation sequence in Citizen Kane. The film is replete with similar in-jokes for Welles addicts: tributes to the man who first discovered film could be noir . . .

If Batman is, as I think, an anarcho-surrealist attack on  the conventions of mass market melodrama (which it pretends  to follow with owl-like solemnity), it is especially interesting to how the “hero” and “villain” react to the charge that they are mentally unbalanced. The Joker (Jack Nicholson in another Academy Award performance) is first told he’s crazy, by an associate, when he unleashes a particulary eldritch and inhuman laugh after killing a rival gangster. With the sweet reasonableness that is always alternating with his total mania, the Joker asks sagely, “Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?”

In fact, Joker’s crimes move slowly from rational felonies for profit into surrealist outrages and something like the Halloween pranks of an especially cunning and nasty child. Yet he laughs like hell continually and may be considered in the process of trying to cure himself of the traume inflicted when Batman, that merciless one-man lynch mob, threw him into a vat of chemicals.

Batman (Michael Keaton) has an even more interesting rationalization for his own insanity. With an almost Pythonesque touch, the film has him, as Bruce Wayne, start to confess his double life to Vicki Vale. He stumbles and hesitates, looks embarassed. She says she will understand. Kim Basinger’s delivery (as Vicki) suggests that she thinks he is going to tell her he’s half-Gay or likes to wear ladies panties or something of that sort. They are interrupted, and only after several other scenes does she discover Bruce’s real secret. “But that’s abnormal” she cries at once–the only voice of sanity in the film, as I’ve said. Indeed, transvestism and/or homosexuality certainly seem like reasonable lifestyles, probably even to a Falwell, compared with Bruce’s compulsion to dress up like a bat and commit murder and/or mayhem on people he thinks deserve “punishment.” (Is this really a Feminist film in disguise? Is Vicki, as the only point of sanity in a mad world, the walking refutation of the mad machismo of both the nominal hero and “villain”)?

At this point the logic of the film seems to undermined the logic of the original Batman myth; but not quite. Bruce
Wayne has answer to Vicki’s charge to abnormality:

“What’s ‘normal’ in a world like this?”

And that has always been, of course, the logic of surrealism. After World War 1, the surrealists hung toilet bowls in sculpture shows and painted things like Debris of an Automobile Giving Birth to a Blind Horse Biting a Telephone precisely to force everybody to ask, “What’s normal in a world like this?” Punk Rock and Heavy Metal today are still asking the same question. In a world where the govern ment is telling us “Just say no” while telling its favorite coke dealers “Just fly low,” dressing up like a bat and taking the law into your own hands makes as much sense as painting Campbell soup cans or making a movie that simultaneously glorifies, challenges, satirizes and (with Swiftian irony) rationalizes a vigilante with a fetish costume . . .

The moronic Bronson and Stallone “one man above the law” films glorify vigilantism with the logic of right-wing para-noids. Batman both challenges that folk fascism and poker-facedly “defends” it on the eminently Existentialist grounds that in a universe without morals or meaning everybody has to create their own reality and take responsibility for it.

All in all, Bruce Wayne/Batman makes more sense than George Bush, Oilie North and the rest of Ronnie Reagan’s Guns, Cocaine and Assassinations Glee Club. But so does the Joker, and that is the really subversive message in the darkest of all film noir nightmares.

“You created me,” Joker says to Batman in the climax; and indeed Batman did dump the poor, deranged chap in toxic waste and start his mania rolling.

You created me,” Batman replies with equal passion; and indeed Joker shot Bruce Wayne’s parents which started his mania growing.

Both Batman and Joker are partly right, in linear causality, but neither is as totally right as he imagines in this nonlinear universe. There hasn’t been such a poetic Jungian moment on film since the four sadists came out of their castle, at the end of Bunuel’s Golden Age, and each one of them looked exactly like Jesus Christ in popular art.

The weed of crime bears bitter fruit, the Shadow once told us; but this dark film tells us the Wheel of Karma has Strange Loops. Batman created Joker, and Joker created Batman, and Gotham created both of them. Who created Gotham? Either Man or God, or both of them, and if this is what Man and God have done, what is left to believe in? The Joker, after wrecking an art museum, decides to preserve one painting, by Francis Bacon. Like the poetry of his best lines (and he gets all the best lines), this seems to imply Joker understands the universe he’s in better than Batman does.

It could only be more pointed if Francis Bacon had painted, instead of a slaughterhouse, Ronnie and Nancy grinning wholesomely, with a thousand dead Nicaraguans sprawled behind them, and the Contras packing the cocaine for Oilie.