Category Archives: Interviews

Robert Anton Wilson Interviews

The Realist Archive

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With the completion of The Realist Archive Project, we present an index of contributions to The Realist by Robert Anton Wilson:

Man Becomes What He Hates (short poem)
No 6, February 1959

The Semantics of ‘God’
No. 8, May 1959

“Splitting Bad Hairs” and “Wilson Replies”  (letters on “The Semantics of ‘God'”)
No. 9, June/July 1959

Negative Thinking: DETERGENT DEMOCRACY
No. 10, August 1959

Negative Thinking: A COLUMN OF MISCELLANEOUS HERESIES
No. 11, September 1959

Negative Thinking: Sex Education for the Modern Liberal Adult   (text)
No 12, October 1959, reprinted in The Best of The Realist 

Negative Thinking: Notes on a Skeptical Mystic
No 13, November 1959

To the White Citizen’s Councils
Negative Thinking: The Morality of Head-Hunting
No 14, December 1959/Janurary 1960

Negative Thinking
No 15, February 1960

NEGATIVE THINKING: The Doctor with the Frightened Eyes
No. 16, March 1960, reprinted in Coincidance

Negative Thinking: Letter to a Lady in Iowa (on Caryl Chessman)
No. 17, May 1960

An Impolite Interview with Albert Ellis questions by Krassner and Wilson
Supplement  – May 1960, reprinted from Issues 16 and 17

NEGATIVE THINKING: The Semantics of the ‘Soul,’ Part One
No. 18, June 1960

negative thinking: Ezra Pound at Seventy-Five
No. 19, July/August 1960

negative thinking: The Semantics of ‘Soul’, Part Two
No 20, October 1960

negative thinking: The New Art of the Brave
No 22, December 1960

negative thinking: Is Capitalism a Revealed Religion?
No. 27, June 1961

negative thinking: What I Didn’t Learn at College   (text)
No. 29, September 1961

negative thinking: Letter to a Man in Washington
No. 30, December 1961

negative thinking: [on Hugh Hefner]   (text)
No. 41, July 1963

Timothy Leary and his Psychological H-Bomb   (text)
No. 52, August 1964

The Anatomy of Schlock by A Nonymous Hack   (text)
No. 62, September 1965, reprinted in The Best of The Realist

The Fatal Snowball Fight on Cumberland Avenue
No. 65, March 1966, reprinted in The Illuminati Papers

Three Authors in Search of Sadism or Thirteen Choruses for the Divine Marquis
No. 67, May 1966, reprinted in Coincidance

The Cybernetic Revolution   (text)
No. 72, December 1966

The Great Beast – Aleister Crowley   (text)
Nos. 91-B, 91-C, 92-A, 92-C; Winter 1971-72

Married: Connubial Bliss Blues
No. 100 – Jan-Feb 1986

Why I Voted For Michael Dukakis
No. 108, Winter 1989

The Future is Coming!
No. 111, Winter 1990, reprinted in part in Cosmic Trigger 2

Is Alan Cranston Full of Shit?
No. 114, Fall 1990

The First International Orgasm Conference
No. 117, Summer 1991

Out of the Innsmouth Triangle   (text)
No. 120, Summer 1992

The Persistence of False Memory
No. 124, Summer 1993

Tim Leary is Tripping Again
No. 133, Summer 1996

excerpts from Everything Is Under Control
No. 140, Autumn 1998

 

ronald-reagan

Playing Kickball with Chaos

Playing Kickball With Chaos:
An Interview Robert Anton Wilson

by Faustin Bray

from Magical Blend #48, October 1995


Champion of the underdog and self-appointed caretaker of conspiracy theories, with a deep philanthropic twist, Robert Anton Wilson has amused, bemused and infused readers with his witticisms and ponderings for almost thirty years. He is that rarest of creatures – a futurist with a sense of humor. Cantankerous? Yes. Ornery? Certainly. But while others have fallen into jaded cynicism, Wilson’s passion for learning has kept his wit razor sharp and ready to parry.

Chaos and Beyond is Robert Anton Wilson’s latest book. A collection of essays and stories from the magazine, Trajectories, the cast of characters the book presents is pure Wilson: Dee Scott Appel, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Timothy Leary, Linus Pauling, Robert Newport, Edward Kellogg III, Peter Russel, George Carlin and even Ed McMahon.

A prolific writer who takes delight in turning a mirror on society so that it can, for a moment, see itself and hopefully learn something, Wilson detests political correctness as just another form of fascism. Refusing to pull his punches, he can be, as his initials indicate, RAW.


People seem quick to agree that the world is becoming more and more chaotic, but what they mean when they use the word is not always clear.

Robert Anton Wilson: What I’m talking about is the upsurge of the totally unpredictable, a system that may be determinist but still can’t be predicted until after you see what it’s done. A mathematician named Theodore Gordon did a paper about three years ago showing that chaos increases where information flow increases. This is something I’ve been writing about for years, the fact that information is increasing faster all the time. For example, in the 1,500 years between Christ and Leonardo da Vinci, we had one doubling. Now information is doubling every eighteen months. That means there is more and more chaos. Coming out of this chaos are some astounding things: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of Nelson Mandela to the presidency of South Africa, treaties being worked on between the Israelis and the PLO, and the IRA and the British government . All of these things were totally unpredictable before they happened.

Those represent the sunny side of chaos. What about the dark side?

Robert Anton Wilson: One example that I give is the McMartin pre-school satanism case, where over a hundred teachers and clergymen were accused of running a satanic, child pornography ring. After prolonged investigation, no evidence of a pornography ring was ever discovered, no evidence of satanism was discovered. Out of a hundred accused teachers, the police indicted seven, dropped charges against five and ultimately brought only two to trial. The jury refused to convict even those two. It seems to have been total hysteria, but there are still people down there who say “no smoke without fire, it couldn’t all have been hysteria; somebody must have been guilty of something.” But it’s the classic case, just like Salem all over, and there have been thirty-three other cases, not as well publicized. I caught a sociologist in Chaos and Beyond who studied thirty-three of these panics of that sort coming out of nowhere, people just going nuts all at once. It happens. Look at Nazi Germany. It’s incredible. You change society rapidly enough, and make people uncertain enough, and some of them will jump on to the craziest damn belief systems. That’s part of the chaos we’re going through, too. Beside the satanic hysteria, there’s the UFO abductions. Thousands of people have claimed they have been abducted and sexually molested by little Grey buggers from outer space. The idea seems to be that these characters get into some particularly vicious neurochemicals every so often. Then, about the time they’re really zonked on them, one of them says, “Hey, I got a great idea. Let’s get in the flying saucer and zoom a couple of billion light years over to Earth and have another go at Whitley Strieber’s ass. And there’s poor Whitley suffering again, and nobody takes him seriously. I’m sorry, but I’m one of the guys who thinks he’s having terrible experiences, but I don’t take them literally. That’s part of a sociological trajectory, too. There’s more and more of these UFO abduction cases reported.

What are the signs of chaos and why do you think it’s happening now?

Robert Anton Wilson: Information is doubling faster than ever before and the amount of available energy is higher than ever before. The social systems existing on the planet are all inadequate to manage the kind of technology and the kind of energy economy we’ve got now. Radical changes are needed. And naturally you’ve got a variety of people of varying degrees of sanity and rationality, with different programs about what needs to be done. But everybody knows that something needs to be done.

What do you think of your role in terms of gathering all of the information that you do? What is it you’re serving in our culture at this time?

Robert Anton Wilson: I picked up the phrase “guerrilla ontology” from somebody in the physics/consciousness research group back in the seventies. I forget who invented it-Jack Sarfati, Nick Herbert, Fritjof Capra, Saul Paul-Sirag, Fred Wolf, Elizabeth Rausher I forget who the hell came up with the term “guerilla ontology,” but I liked it a lot and I’ve been using it to describe my own activities. It has a distinct family resemblance to deconstructionism, except the deconstructionists only seem to want to deconstruct Western civilization. I’m interested in deconstructing the rigid thought patterns that keep us from achieving our full potential and unleashing the full creativity of the human race for solving it’s problems, instead of just bitching about them.

A lot of people feel this is a crescendo moment, that we are on the threshold of a meta-jump. Colin Wilson talks about it, so does Barbara Marx Hubbard. It’s the idea of co-evolution into a great expansion of evolutionary overmind. It’s something that’s going to step us up to another level. What do you think?

Robert Anton Wilson: I’ve always had a strong intuition that all of this that’s been going on, from the first unicellular organisms up to the present, is not all a bad joke intended to end up in catastrophe. It’s going to higher and higher levels.

What would be a good way for people to look at the chaos that’s going on now in terms of information overload?

Robert Anton Wilson: What I try to get at in all of my books, and especially in this one, is the notion that we cannot solve our problems by looking around to find out who’s to blame for them and punishing them. This has been tried throughout history, and it’s never produced any worthwhile results. It’s led to a lot of what subsequent generations regarded as senseless persecutions. A little while ago, before the tape started, you were wondering whether it was warm milk or cold milk that increases your tryptophan. This is the first generation in human history where a large percentage of the population have talked about how to change their brain chemistry to function better. It’s no accident that we’ve got this incredibly brutal and stupid war on drugs, because obviously a lot of people are going to be experimenting with things the government doesn’t think it’s safe to let us experiment with. I’m sixty-two, and I keep waiting for the day when the government thinks I’m old enough to make up my own mind about issues like this. But I guess I’ll have to keep waiting. They’ve already taken my tryptophan. Now they’re trying to take away my vitamin C.

One of the things that strikes me about Chaos and Beyond is the sense of information overload it provokes.

Robert Anton Wilson: I would say the book contains as much information as I could pack into one volume. The idea was to hit the reader with so much information that they would experience, in reading the book, what information explosion and chaos mean. We haven’t changed much genetically since the last Ice Age, but we are changing culturally. We have more and more information. We’re creating all sorts of different types of cultures after a hundred thousand years or so of a hunter- gatherer society. We mutated into cities and then into the Industrial Revolution, and now we’re going in a dozen different directions, including outer space. We’re creating what Teilhardde Chardin called the “noosphere”-a mind world that’s totally our own product. And yet the mind world does change the material world, because every time a part of the mind world is sufficiently accurate, it can be duplicated in the material world, and we’ve got a new tool, a new machine, a new technology that will do things we couldn’t do before.

Raw Circuits

RAW Circuits

Surviving With Robert Anton Wilson

by Tiffany Lee Brown

from FringeWare Review 08:20

Deep in the heart of darkest California, home to cults, crystals, and the techno-elite, pioneers of the psychedelic revolution live in quiet houses alongside surfers, artists, and programmers. Tourists flock to the beaches and craft shops while hippies drum in peaceful parks and hearty yuppies unload their cycling gear.

In one such community lives Robert Anton Wilson, icon to Discordians, conspiracy theorists, modern mystics, subgenii, and trippers the world over.

Best known for the The Illuminatus Trilogy (with Robert Shea), Wilson’s writing romps from the medieval Church to the Chicago Democratc Convention, from puns to ciphers, from LSD to JFK,  fusing impressive historical research with mindbending science fiction and postmodern fable.

When I first met Wilson in 1991, I’d just spent a couple of years immersed in his works: Masks of the IlluminatiCosmic Trigger: Vol 1, the Schroedinger’s Cat Trilogy, etc. I wasn’t sure whether his writing had helped me toward indelible epiphanies, led me to Chapel Perilous, or just fucked my brain so hard it didn’t know which way was up. Perhaps it had done all three; in any case, I immediately liked the man himself. Even while illustrating its ambiguity, he seemed solidly grounded in what passes for reality, treating with equal parts cynicism, humour, and hope.

In spite of flooded highways and multitude of glitches on the part of my usually-trusty tape recorder, I managed to talk survival and politics with Wilson..

fwr: We’re interested in how people process their own instinct to biosurvival, and how they deal with it in relation to society. This theme recurs in your work, most specifically in Prometheus Rising, in which you presented a tutorial of Timothy Leary’s 8-Circuit model of consciousness. Do you still use that as a construct?

raw: Yes. I find the 8-Circuit model very, very useful. I’ve been saying for a long time now that everything is temporary these days, and the a-Circuit model will be obsolete in 15 years. Then someone pointed out to me, “You’ve been saying that for 20 years!” I haven’t found a better model yet.

I don’t call them Circuits anymore, I call them the eight Systems. I think Leary used too much cybernetic metaphor; “Systems” are a little more complex and abstract, and the word sounds better. The first thing is that Leary believes behavior results from genetics, imprinting, and conditioning. He hardly ever mentions learning, but I’m sure if you backed him into a corner he would admit that it plays a role, too.

Even if you don’t believe Leary’s model all the way down the line, there’s plenty of things which are neither conditioning nor genetics- they result from imprinting, or learning, or situational conditions. John Dillingerwas a heterosexual outside of prison, and a homosexual inside prison. I think that’s a pretty general pattern. This “either/or” I don’t like.

So, you’ve got four factors to behavior, and the Biosurvival System has a genetic drive to survival. Through bad imprinting this instinct can be negated, as in the case of autistic infants who don’t make any effort to be alive at all. The main biosurvival drive is to find a Mommy, and reptiles don’t have that drive because they’re born ready to deal with the world as it is. But mammals need a certain period of nurture; so we all have some sort of mother complex, to some extent. There is a strong bond to the mother, and some degree of neurological damage appears to occur if there is no bond.

Throughout history, the Biosurvival System has been attached to the tribe. Since tribalism has broken down and civilization has gotten more and more abstract, the biosurvival urge has hitched to “Survival Tickets”, what we call money. It’s not just Americans, it’s everybody in the industrial world that is money-mad. We don’t have tribes, we don’t have extended families, we don’t even have families anymore- so everybody’s biosurvival drive is attached to money. When the money disappears, people experience dizziness, anxiety, general sense of panic, and near-death experience –which is what tribal people feel when they’re lost from the tribe.

In traditional societies, exile from the tribe was considered a terrible reproof. In Shakespeare, Romeo says, “Exile! The damned use that word in Hell!” Everybody in Shakespeare hates the idea of exile; nowadays, nobody gives a damn, because our survival drive isn’t attached to the family and the tribe, it’s attached to money. Nobody minds going into exile if they can take a million dollars with them.

So how do you get your money? There is no general answer. Everybody’s gotta figure that out for themselves.

fwr: One of FringeWare’s exercises in community has been fostering some online tribalism, using the Internet to find like minds. We even try to earn survival Tickets through the Internet, without giving our energies over to the usual corporate entities…

raw: On the Internet, you don’t know who you’re talking to, so you respond to people’s minds. Ageism, racism, and sexism become less an issue in that environment. In a sense, people are fundamentally their minds; a strange thing for me to say, since I try to put things into functional and non-Aristotelian terms, and I just came up with something very Aristotelian.

But the mind of a person is what interests me most about them, and the Internet puts you in a position to interact with the mind, with the Third Circuit or Semantic System. You don’t know their colour or gender or sexual orientation.

fwr: It seems to me that government creates itself in an attempt to satisfy biosurvival urges; since we lack organic tribes or families, we create an external structure to act as our tribe, our protective father archetype, our nurturing mother, and to allocate our Survival Tickets.

raw: I agree with Tom Payne – government is a necessary evil. Or George Washington, who said “Government is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” I think government has become our master too much, and I find a great deal of morbid humour in the right-wing talk show hosts who are blaming it on the liberals. Most of the things the government does which have annoyed me have been done by conservatives. The government has become a monster that pries into our private lives and harasses us; continually, the conservatives have had as much blame to take for this as the liberals. It’s amazing how they can get away with saying that the liberals are to blame.

fwr: How do you suggest that Americans get involved with politics, or should they at all?

raw: For years, I was in the anarchist  headspace: “Don’t vote, it only encourages them.” I didn’t vote for years. Then I went through a change; part of it was living in Europe, then moving back here, and part of it was the end of the Cold War, in which I began to see the differences between the Republicans and the Democrats again. During the Cold War, those differences tended to disappear. The Democrats have been corrupted to some extent, but they do pretend to be on the side of the working class. And some of them really are trying to help.

The main thing I learned from Europe is that a multi-party system is better than a two-party system. Every part of Europe has amenities that are distinctly absent here, due to the fact that they have three or four parties in their parliaments. A party that only represents a minority can change things, through blocking the legislation of the major parties.

I tend toward the libertarian, but I think – and this is going to shock every Libertarian who reads it – I think every country in Europe that’s had a socialist government has benefited from it. Having four or five parties, with the radicals winning occasionally, tends to produce a more balanced society than here, where we’ve got basically two right-wing parties, one of which has a nostalgia for its left-wing past. Relative stasis here – even Perot, whom I trust about as much as I would trust David Rockefeller – Perot was helpful in the sense that he made the debate more interesting in the last presidential election.

But if I could be dictator for a day and pass any law I wanted, I’d pass a law that every medium- television, radio, papers- has to give equal coverage to any political party that has over a million members. The media keeps telling us that a third party can’t win- well, they win all the time in Europe, and they would here if they got some coverage. The media always starves them out. If people knew more about the Libertarians, or about Peace and Freedom . . .  the thing is people need to see more than just this incredibly narrow choice that they’ve got in the two-party system.

fwr: The media presentation encourages us to stay uninvolved. It generally presents two viable parties, and prevents those in the third parties as freaks, losers, or radical revolutionaries who wanna blow shit up.

raw: Every country that has a multi-party system has a higher voter turnout than we’ve got. We’ve got the lowest voter turnout in the Western world, and we were the first major democracy formed. People have gotten so disillusioned with it that they don’t bother; at the polls, they’re confronted with “not a choice, but a dilemma” as John Anderson said back in 1980.

The rest of the world is changing – Mandela comes out of prison and now he’s president? Apartheid is ended? You look at the USSR coming apart, the Berlin Wall coming down, the British and the IRA negotiating — the whole world is undergoing tremendous change because of the information revolution. And mathematically, this does lead to more unpredictable systems appearing.

As information flow increases, according to chaos Theory, unpredictable increases. So we’re gonna see a lot of surprising changes here. The way the country went to the Liberal side in ’92 and toward the Conservative side in ’94 is just a hint of the way the system is moving towards chaos, changing rapidly. I don’t think anyone really understands the changes: I think the pundits are just guessing about why it went the way it did. The people are dissatisfied.

fwr: How could we make third parties viable in American politics?

raw: Educate, talk about it, try to get the media to adopt such a law. If Clinton and Gingrich had a debate with a Libertarian, somebody from Peace and Freedom, and someone from the Green Party and the American Independent Party, boy the voters would turn out. Everybody would see somebody up there who was close enough to them to be worth voting for, and we’d have a more interesting Congress.

It’s going to surprise everyone. I think the changes that are going to happen have a good chance of occurring nonviolently, because of what happened in South Africa and others. Any attempt at a violent revolution in this country wouldn’t last very long. Nobody could overthrow this government, it’s so goddamned powerful and it’s got so many atom bombs to begin with.

The one thing I’m keen in keeping is the division of powers within our government.

fwr: One option for handling the discrepancy between how we think we ought to live and the reality of living in society is to “drop out,” or withdraw from the social or governmental structure. Have you made experiments in extracting yourself from American government and society?

raw: I extracted myself from the major society by going to live on a farm for a while, twice I did that, once in Ohio and once in Mendocino. It didn’t really work; rural life is okay for those who like it, but I’m not one of them.

I also did so by moving to Europe. The IRS doesn’t tax you when you’re in Europe unless you make over $75,000 a year. I went over there because I was so fed up with the pinhead bureaucrats in the IRS and their pinhead rules that get more incomprehensible every year.

Newt Gingrich was right in claiming the Clintons are counterculture McGovernicks or whatever the hell he called them. They’re definitely counterculture types who are trying to cover it up by acting respectable. You read about what they were doing in the 60’s, and

they have the same sort of education and background- they’re the first First Family in my lifetime that I would enjoy having dinner with, that I would enjoy conversation. I feel that all this hatred that’s being directed at them is directed at me, too; it’s directed at the whole aspect of American society that they represent- and we’ve turned out to be a much smaller group than we thought we were after the last election.

I like Hillary and Bill; I don’t like all the compromises they’ve made, but compromise is what government’s about.

fwr: I guess compromise is the problem I have with the government and with today’s structures for seeing to my survival needs; I know that compromise is necessary for any kind of social unit to exist, but it seems so impossible to reach acceptable compromises. You seem to have reached an equilibrium, which I admire, actually. You write good stuff, get it published, you have a home and family you care for. Yet a lot of your work is incredibly subversive.

raw: But in a good-hearted way. I don’t hate anybody.

* * *

BOB ’95

So, what’s up with Robert Anton Wilson in 1995? Is he resting on his hard-won laurels, drawing Social Security and drinking Guinness all day? Are he and his lovely wife Arlen lounging on cruise ships while some flunky ghost-writes their memoirs?

Nope. Wilson’s still cranking out his trademark prose and publishing Trajectories newsletter. “I’ve completed Cosmic Trigger 3,” he says, “which like everything when I’ve finished it, seems like the best thing I’ve ever written. I started thinking of things that would round out Cosmic Trigger 2, which I’d thought would be the last, and it turned into a whole new book.”

“I didn’t set out to be a trilogy writer, it’s just sort of happened,” he adds with a chuckle. CT3 will be available later this year from Falcon Books.

Previously, Wilson and Robert Shea has begun work on Bride of lIIuminatus, collaborating on the outline together. He explains, “The title derives from my saying to Bob Shea, “Let’s name it after the first great sequel.’ He said, “Bride of Frankenstein.”  Then I thought that the first great sequel was really the New Testament. They said, “Hey, the God book is selling. Let’s do ‘Son of God!‘”

Shea passed away before the book had been written. Regretfully, Wilson says he’s writing Bride of the Illuminatus pretty much on his own now – though he did stick with the title Shea suggested. “It does make more sense to do the Bride before the Son, so I decided to follow the Frankenstein model,” he says with a laugh. “I may do a Son of Illuminatus later.”

There’s also a new Wilson book on the shelves of your local bookstore right now:  Chaos and Beyond, a collection of articles from the first six years of the Trajectories newsletters.

* * *

Miss Brown (a.k.a. magdalen) guest-edited Issue #8 of Fringe Ware Review with Erika Whiteway (a.k.a. outrider), in which this interview was first published. Nowadays, she is a Portland-based writer and performer who edits New Oregon Arts and Letters. – online at 2GQ.org. Though copyright is unfashionable, she’d appreciate it if you’d contact her should you be interested in reproducing this interview in whole or in part. Please seem magdalen.com for more info. Thanks.

Reprinted here at RAWilsonFans.com with permission.

On a Rainy Day

AN INTERVIEW

Robert Anton Wilson – March 1995

On a rainy day in March, intrepid Internet geek CCN traveled to Capitola, California with a cracked Realistic mini casette recorder and a bottle of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey to record an interview with local author Robert Anton Wilson.

CCN:  What would you call your writing: conspiracy literature, science fiction, futurism?

RAW: Well, I used to call it “guerrilla ontology,” which is a term that I picked up in the Physics Consciousness Research Group. I forget who coined the term and nobody in the group seems to remember who coined it either. It was just going around the group. It could have been Fred Wolfe, Jack Sarfatti, or maybe Nick Herbert. Everybody in the Physics Consciousness Group seems to have written a book by now and has gotten better known …

CCN: When was this?

RAW: Somewhere back in the ’70s. I like “guerrilla ontology” as a description. Ontology is the branch of philosophy that tries to understand what’s real and what isn’t, or what’s the difference between real reality and mere appearance. Guerrilla ontology is closely related to French deconstructionism. I didn’t realize this while I was developing guerrilla ontology, but our approach is to knock down everybody else’s attempt to settle the question. Our attitude is: There is no final answer.

What the scientifically illiterate consider the final answer is just the latest model. The latest model, presumably, will include more facts than any previous model, or it won’t become prevalent. The latest model will be the best we can do at this time, but it will be replaced by a better model in five years, if not sooner.

CCN: In the Illuminatus! trilogy, there was a character named Markoff Chaney, the midget, who acted as one of the few out of control random elements in all of the various plots, conspiracies and intrigues described in the book.

RAW: His name comes from a mathematical term for a random numerical process.

CCN: It seems the midget would be a good prototype for a guerrilla ontologist in the sense that he spent the bulk of his time throwing semantic monkey wrenches into other people’s environments which shifted their perception of reality, and behavior.

RAW: Yes. I got the idea in a store on Clark Street in Chicago, North Clark Street. I saw a sign which appears in Illuminatus!, and the sign says, “No employee may punch the time card for any other employee. Any deviation will result in termination. The Mgt.”, which obviously stood for the management. But looking at that sign, I immediately conceived of this character, this angry midget who’s on a crusade to stamp out sizism and not to concede a fucking inch to the conceited and arrogant giants who run the world. He wants to get little people recognized for the contributions they’ve made. And he also engages in guerrilla warfare against their expectations. Like, he’s the one who’s wired the traffic signs so they say “Walk” on red and “Don’t Walk” on the green. Everybody has noticed that. Well, that’s his work.

And he engages in a lot of other activities like that calculated to drive the overgrown majority out of their heads and make them a little uncertain. He’s at war with the concept of the average or the normal, actually. These things are very unscientific and dehumanizing terms. He’s been adopted as a hero by gay people and “Stamp Out Sizism,” which is a slogan he goes around graffiti-ing, has been picked up all over the Castro, I’m told.  He later wrote a book…a book called Little Men with Big Balls claiming all important science and art was created by men less than five feet tall. The publisher decided Chaney had some kind of unconscious bias of his own and changed the title to Little People with Big Ideas …

CCN: Well, it sounds as if the efforts of the midget come from his own biases and, perhaps, some personality problems. What is it that drives you to be a guerrilla ontologist yourself? What’s the chip on your shoulder?

RAW: Well, I find that I’m not normal either. Chaney’s problem was very conspicuously visible. Society treats people different if they’re short.  A very good friend of mine, the actor David Rappaport, who played Markoff Chaney on the stage in England and Amsterdam once said, “You see the world entirely different when at a party all you see is people’s crotches and asses.” You have a different view of the world, and…I think I reflect the views of people who are alienated for one reason or another from orthodox society. Some people are alienated in ways that make my books very uncomfortable for them because their form of alienation is part of what I’m satirizing. I’m not only satirizing the normal. I’m satirizing everything that seems absurd or unreasonable to me.

CCN: Certainly, Illuminatus! was a collection of every absurdity on every level, something for everyone.

RAW: There’s hardly anything in that book that isn’t based on something that’s widely believed by some group of paranoids or individualists, or whatever you want to call them, some dissident group.

CCN: But back to the chip on your shoulder that’s leading you to be a guerilla ontologist …

RAW: Chip on my shoulder? I prefer to consider it a dilation of perception. For instance, I’m the American director of the Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal (CSICON). We insist that “the normal” doesn’t exist outside pure mathematics.. In the real world everybody is abnormal in one way or another. As James Joyce said, “The State is concentric, but the individual is eccentric.”  And so we have a $10,000 reward for anybody who can produce any perfectly “normal” man, woman or child, normal in all respects, or even an “average” sunset or an “ordinary” day.  And so far, nobody has collected it. The normal, the average and the ordinary are total fictions.

CCN:  Well, you mentioned Chicago previously, and one of the things that really strikes me about Illuminatus! is that you portray Chicago in a way that indicates that you’ve had some very tough, brutal, personal experiences there.  And so I’m wondering: what’s your problem with Chicago?

RAW: Well, I don’t have a problem with Chicago any more. Illuminatus! was written in Chicago. Shea and I were both living in Chicago when we wrote it.  And our problem was that during the Democratic Convention of 1968, we participated in what appeared to us, or what we were told would be nonviolent demonstrations and, what looked like nonviolent demonstrations from where we were standing at different times. No matter where we went, we never saw any violence by the demonstrators. The police used tear gas, mace, clubs, to beat the hell out of everybody, cream them. They put hundreds of people in the hospital. They claimed that the demonstrators were violent.  I claim that somebody was hallucinating. I never saw any demonstrator do anything violent. And so that was why there was a certain satire aimed at Chicago in general and Mayor Daley in particular. I just did not believe the official version of what happened in convention week. I believed what my eyes saw and my ears heard.

And then a police informer told the Red Squad that I was running guns for the Black Panthers, and… Jesus, I can talk about this now… I wasn’t running guns for the Black Panthers. I was one of the people involved in collecting food for their breakfast program for poor black children. But that wasn’t exciting enough — the fact that we were bringing food. The informer, to improve the story and please his superiors, said I was smuggling guns for them, which led to a tap on my phone and a mail cover and all sorts of things. And I found out about all this immediately because the Red Squad was infiltrated by a spy from Playboy. I was working for Playboy at the time, and the spy immediately informed Playboy’s managers whenever an editor of Playboy was under police surveillance and told them why. They come down to my office, closed the door, and we had a very frank discussion about whether I was or was not running guns for the Black Panthers.  And I convinced him I wasn’t. The executive knew me a bit anyway, and he knew I’m not the type to be into violent revolution. And he said if they do anything nasty to you, Playboy will provide legal counsel.  But it’s kind of nerve-racking to know you’re being spied on by people who think you’re smuggling guns and that people are lying about you and that this is perfectly normal among the subversive squads of our police forces.

CCN: Especially in Chicago. Let me see. Fred Hampton comes to mind.

RAW: Yeah. Fred Hampton got shot. They claimed he was shooting at them, but the evidence indicated he’d been drugged. Obviously, somebody slipped him a barbiturate to knock him out. He was unconscious when the cops came in and shot him.

CCN: So Chicago’s not a good town to be on the bad list of …

RAW: It’s not a good town to be radical in, I’ll say that.  I don’t think Chicago is so bad, it’s just that’s where we were living when we wrote Illuminatus!, in my other novels set in Naples and London and Paris and New York and Dublin and other places, I described illicit and illegal and unconstitutional activities by government agents. This is, I think, a rather constant factor in history that always has to be warned against and fought against.

CCN: Yeah, I just … detected a certain personal amount of energy in your painting of Chicago as so …

RAW: Well, an English friend of mine said that I have a love/hate relationship with England, and that really astounded me. That’s just the way it seems to him because he’s English.  I have a love/hate relationship with every country. They all have something admirable, and they all have governments that do evil things at times. H.L. Mencken said every decent man is ashamed of his government. That sounds sexist nowadays. Every decent person is ashamed of their government …

CCN: Let’s go over your bibliography …

RAW: I’ve got 28 books altogether.

CCN: What are you trying to say in your books?

RAW: There’s no one message. I’m trying to say lots of things.  Schrodinger’s Cat in a sense was an attempt to dramatize how our view of the world would change if any of the eight standard interpretations of quantum mechanics were applied on the microscopic level. There’s a lot of debate about whether they could be applied on a microscopic level, but some think they could. And so in that book, the characters are waves and particles simultaneously, and every section or eigenstate is a parallel universe. . In between sections, the characters are waves, and the next time you see them, they’re a different kind of particle.

And I was very happy when New Scientist called that the most scientific of all science fiction novels because I did put a lot of effort into getting the physics right.  There are three Cosmic Trigger volumes, and the third is just about to be published. The second was called “Down to Earth,” and the third which is coming out next is “My Life After Death.” And these are all attempts to relate my life and my thinking to the major problems of the 20th century…you might say I’m using myself the way Buckie Fuller used himself. He referred to himself as “Guinea pig B” for Buckie. …You might consider me “Guinea pig R” for Robert. And I’m using myself as a typical 20th century model as I’m trying to make sense out of the world around me.

CCN: So, you’re defining yourself as normal?

RAW: No, just typical in the sense of being one of the damn good models around these days. I am typical in the sense that…a lot of people are on the same wave length as me. I get fan mail from people that are absolutely stunned that there’s somebody else besides themselves who thinks this way. So, we’re a minority, but there are a lot of us. On a planet this overcrowded, a minority can have a few million numbers.

CCN: So when you say “think this way,” could you define that for me?

RAW: More scientific than religious. More open than dogmatic. More optimistic than pessimistic. More future oriented than past oriented. And more humorous than serious. I really dread serious people. Especially serious, dogmatic people. I regard them as sort of what Reich called the emotional plague. I regard them as very dangerous.

CCN: Well, I’m glad you mentioned Wilhelm Reich because aside from your references to Chicago, you also make a lot of references to Wilhelm Reich. Could you briefly describe who Wilhelm Reich was, what he did and why your interest in him? Did he present a good working model for you?

RAW: Well, Reich was a pupil of Freud. He was an M.D. from the University of Vienna which is pretty damn high qualifications. He was increasingly radical, and one of the turning points in his life occurred, I forget whether it was ’31 or ’32, one of those years just before Hitler came to power … he got kicked out the Psychoanalytical Society for being too Marxist. And then he was kicked out to the Communist Party too for being too Freudian. He joined the Socialist Party and was kicked out for being too anarchistic, and then he had to flee Germany because he was Jewish. And when he came to the United States, somebody filed a false report with the FBI that he was a Nazi agent which led to him being imprisoned for a period, not in prison, just held in custody until they investigated. He had a great capacity to arouse irrational hatred obviously, and that’s because his ideas were radical in the most extreme sense of the word “radical.” His ideas have something to offend everybody, and he ended up becoming the only heretic in American history whose books were literally burned by the government.

Timothy Leary spent five years in prison for unorthodox scientific ideas. Ezra Pound spent 13 years in a nuthouse for unorthodox political and economic ideas. Their books were not burned.  Reich was not only thrown in prison, but they chopped up all the scientific equipment in his laboratory with axes and burned all of his books in an incinerator. Now that interests me as a civil liberties issue.

When I started studying Reich’s works, I went through a period of enthusiasm, followed by a period of skepticism, followed by a period of just continued interest, but I think a lot of his ideas probably were sound. A lot probably were unsound. And, I’m not a Reichian in the sense of somebody who thinks he was the greatest scientist who ever lived and discovered the basic secrets of psychology, physics and everything else, all in one lifetime. But I think he has enough sound ideas that his unpopular ideas deserve further investigation.

CCN: Unpopular ideas such as about sexuality and the energy of sex, “orgone”?

RAW: Well, first of all…I don’t believe in any more this idea that sexually repressive religions are the main cause of sadism. There are plenty of sexually open societies that have had a lot of sadists in them, so I think Reich was oversimplifying there.  The Orgone Theory I’m still open-minded about, especially because recently there was a Ph.D. dissertation accepted at a German university where they did a double-blind study of the orgone accumulator, and nobody knew who was in the accumulators and who was in the inactive boxes, and yet the people in the accumulators did report the results that Reich said they should feel — tingling mildly erotic sensations and a rise in temperature.  That interests me.

I don’t know why somebody in this country doesn’t have the balls to do an experiment like that. In this country the establishment says he was a nut, period, and they won’t repeat his results. People who do repeat his results tend to confirm him, although none of them have done a real hard, double-blind study. But if they confirm him, they get known as Reichians and dismissed as nuts themselves, and I think there’s an awful lot of prejudice there.

CCN: Yeah, no doubt. And you have a background in psychology? You have a doctorate I understand?

RAW: From an alternative university approved by the state of California. Now, California has four ratings from approved down to authorized. Authorized is the fourth. I forget the two in the middle. Approved is the highest they give. So it’s not a diploma, though. It was approved by the state but it’s not quite orthodox. It’s an alternative university.

CCN: Tell me a little bit about your play, Wilhelm Reich in Hell.

RAW: Well, in a sense…it’s about Reich. It’s about the controversy surrounding him. It’s also about my own doubts and confusions, and it’s in two parts. There’s a long introduction because Bernard Shaw said, “People don’t buy plays unless they have long introductions.” And it worked. People bought Shaw’s plays, and they usually don’t buy plays in book form. So I wrote a long, funny introduction like Shaw always wrote for his plays. And in the introduction I fight with the people who say Reich was a nut and they won’t repeat his experiments because it would just be a waste of time. That’s rhetoric where I’m defending Reich’s right to be heard. The play is what is poetry. Yeats said we make rhetoric out of our quarrel with others and poetry out of our quarrel with ourselves. The play is my own doubt, questioning, how much was sound and how much was crazy in Reich?  I’m never sure. I keep changing my mind. So the play dramatizes my own doubts and questions. When did he go crazy? How crazy did he go? I’m not at all sure about that.

CCN: He died in prison?

RAW: Yeah.

CCN: In the United States?

RAW: Yeah.

CCN: The charge that he was convicted of …?

RAW: Contempt of court.  He was forbidden to use the orgone accumulator any more, and he defied the court deliberately, to dramatize his libertarian position that a court has no right to say that certain lines of scientific research are illegitimate.  That’s the same thing Leary went to jail for, except they had a better rationalization. Namely, one half of one marijuana cigarette. But the judge who sentenced Leary did denounce him for his dangerous ideas. So, it was basically, Leary and Reich have very similar cases. Except, believe it or not, Reich aroused even more fury and prejudice because, like I said, they burned his books and they didn’t burn Leary’s books.

CCN: … Why do you think that was? Reich is known, at least by myself, as somebody who is mainly what you would call a sex researcher, and Leary was exploring the effects of LSD and psycho actives, let’s say.  Why is it that the drugs only landed Leary in prison, but the sex basically killed Reich?

RAW: Well, I think one reason is that Reich ran athwart of the courts in the ’50s when the McCarthy era was ending, but the atmosphere was still there, and things were a little more extreme, a little more fanatical, then than they were when Leary ran athwart of the system. But still Leary was originally sentenced to 37 years, which is pretty heavy for scientific dissent, especially in a country with the First Amendment which is supposed to guarantee freedom of speech. The sexual apsect of Reich’s work, well, that would push people’s buttons. I mean, look at Madonna. All you’ve got to do is come up with something that challenges orthodox sexual ideas and everybody goes off the handle, both the left wing and the right wing.

Who hates Madonna more — the Feminists or the Fundamentalists?  Challenge sexual fascism or the traditional Judeo-Christian code as it’s called and all hell breaks loose. Everybody is down on your case. And they were all down on Reich, everybody from the extreme left to the extreme right.

CCN: When you say orthodox sexual ideas, the first thing that comes to my mind is that we don’t really have any these days.

RAW: Well, we had more back in the ’50’s. There was more of a consensus than there is now.  If Reich were alive today, I think he’d have much less trouble publishing and discussing his ideas. He was just publishing half a century too early. But today, Reich would probably sound conservative.

CCN: Well, what are you working on now? What is your current literary project?

RAW: Well, I just finished Cosmic Trigger III, and I’m working on Bride of Illuminatus!.

CCN: Bride of Illuminatus!?

RAW: Yes. Bob Shea and I agreed to write another book together after all those years of not collaborating. We never had a feud like Gilbert and Sullivan. It’s just that we both got busy with different projects, and we never had the time to work together. And then one day he said, “Why don’t we do a book together. We could fit it into our schedule.” Well, anyway, we decided we could do it, and we got started and then Shea died of cancer which was…the major tragedy of the last couple of years of my life. He was my best friend I think.  So I’m finishing it on my own…. It may not be as funny as the first one because Shea’s death kind of hangs over every page of it in the back of my mind somewhere. But anyway, it’s called “Bride…” because I thought we should follow the Hollywood tradition where the first great sequel was “Bride of Frankenstein,” so why not Bride of Illuminatus!?  Then I realized that the first great sequel was “Son of …”

CCN: Son of Mighty Joe Illuminatus!.

RAW: No, the first great sequel was the New Testament. Somebody said, hey, the God book is doing really good, let’s do Son of God, and they wrote the New Testament.  Most movies do go from Godzilla to Son of Godzilla, and so on. Frankenstein is one of the few that remembered you need a woman for reproduction and went to the bride, next after the original.  So this is Bride of Illuminatus!.  Once we had the title, we had to figure out who the bride of Illuminatus! was…and we’ve got a very interesting heroine, and she’s getting more interesting.

CCN: Any sneak previews you want to share?

RAW: Well, it’s set in 2026, exactly 50 years after Illuminatus! ended, and I didn’t realize when we started, but Internet is going to play a large role in the plot. So is Cryonics.

CCN: Well, I want to touch upon your thoughts about the Internet a little bit later, but one thing I want to talk about since we mentioned Shea is that just to get into the mechanics of a writer, how did you collaborate?

RAW: Well, different writers have had different techniques. What Shea and I agreed on is to write alternate sections, and then I, how shall I phrase it? I persuaded Shea to let me rewrite his sections in order to make the style more uniform. So there are many sections that are almost all Shea in content, but they’re still me in style if you know what I mean. Like, one of the longest sections that’s almost all Shea is the movie about Atlantis… …yet the style is me. I rewrote the thing to get it into the style of the rest of the book, and I added a few key things like the idea of the fur bristling as an expression of emotion and a few other things like that. I also come up with the clouded lenses and I was trying to figure out how people who didn’t have our concepts of sin or mental illness would describe somebody whose perceptions they couldn’t understand, so I came up with the metaphor of the clouded lenses.

CCN: …Well…that’s a very good point because when you say, “Your lens is clouded,” and we talk about that in the context of somebody who’s, let’s say, crazy, we get to the notion of “normal”, “crazy” being defined loosely as “not perceiving normally” or “not behaving normally”. I don’t see pink elephants floating around the room, and let’s say somebody who’s insane and is prone to hallucinations might see these pink elephants. There seems to be a spectrum of human perception and of behavior that might be called normal.

RAW: Then the spectrum is much wider than most people realize. I’ve been doing seminars for nearly 30 years now…originally on general semantics, and then later I broadened it out so much that it’s just a Robert Anton Wilson seminar, it includes so damn much. But in my seminars, I have lots of exercises that show that no two people ever perceive the room the same way or hear the same sounds. So we’re all living in our own epic reality, as they call it in sociology. I like Leary’s term “reality tunnel” because it’s poetic and vivid and people get it right away. We’re all living in our own reality tunnel, and I define psychoses as behavior that has reached the level of the unendurably obnoxious.

I don’t care what the hell people believe. They can bore me by talking about it too much, but that still doesn’t bother me. It’s when they start doing weird or frightening things that I call them mentally ill and want them removed from my environment. We once lived with a schizophrenic in a building in Berkeley, and his beliefs didn’t bother me in the slightest, but his behavior did when he started getting on the phone to the police regularly because he was imagining the building had been captured by terrorists or other fantasies of that sort. We all in the building agreed we couldn’t stand having the police come in so damn often.

And so that’s when I come up with my “objective” definition of insanity. Operationally, nobody has ever defined what’s real to my satisfaction. So operationally, the only definition of psychoses is the condition in which people’s belief systems lead them to act in a way that nobody else can tolerate for a day longer no matter how hard they try.

CCN: Convenience and safety.

RAW: When behavior becomes intolerable, then I call it psychotic. I get somebody to take them somewhere else so I don’t have to put up with them any more.

CCN: Like the definition of a flower and a weed.

RAW: Yeah.

CCN: A weed is just a person you don’t want to be around.

RAW: Yeah.

CCN: I’ve read a few pieces by you and have heard you on the radio talking about androphobia. The women against white males conflict. The impression I get after talking with you, is that in talking about androphobia, there seems to be some guerrilla ontology involved …

RAW: Yes, there is an element of deliberate parody in there. It’s like Markoff Chaney’s crusade against the giants who run the planet, these enormous overgrown ignoramuses who don’t treat midgets with proper respect. And his attempt to prove all culture was created by people shorter than five feet and often shorter than four feet.

CCN: So in this case …

RAW: … but there’s more to it.

CCN: … everything good was created by people with vaginas.

RAW: Yeah. That seems to be the current mythology, and a lot of it is just as crazy as my satire. I don’t think even the craziest feminists are as dangerous as, say, the American Nazi Party. But there is a tendency in feminism that is really crazy, it seems to me. And I often feel like a Jew in Germany in 1931. Nothing bad has happened yet except for about 20 cases of guys whose penises have been cut off. Bobbit is just the one that got all the publicity. The Fortean Times had a list of about 20 others who it’s happened to, honest to God. I feel…well, I’ll trace the background of my thinking. They opened the Nazi death camps when I reached puberty. I think reaching puberty is a point of acute imprint vulnerability, and I developed a horror not just of anti-Semitism but of any kind of group hatred. And this was reinforced by the educational system of New York City when I was in high school. English, civics, history. In lots of courses the teachers spent a lot of time trying to train us not to make reckless generalizations about groups. And as I grew up, I thought every educated person had learned that, and then suddenly this new movement appears that’s devoted to making wild and reckless generalizations about a certain group and that seems to be inculcating hatred and contempt toward that group just like with the anti-Irish thing in the 19th century, the anti-Mexican thing in California now, the anti-Semitic mania in Germany, and a lot of other tragedies in history. It seems teachers stopped teaching about the dangers of group hatred.

And this time the group selected for the target of stereotypes and hate mongering is a group I happen to belong to, so I not only think it’s illogical and historically dangerous, and morally objectionable and so on; I’m also one of the potential victims if it continues to grow more irrational and more violent. We’ve seen a lot of evidence of what this kind of thing can lead to. If they get enough sperm in the sperm banks and start building the gas chambers, I’m in the group that they picked out to be exterminated, the villains. We’re the ones elected the villains like the Jews were in Nazi Germany. Now, I don’t want to carry that too far. I don’t think in the first place Ms. is the main organ of that movement, and they never had a circulation higher than 200,000 at their best, so I am not paranoid or terrorized, but at the same time it irritates me to hear all these unscientific and unfounded libels against the male gender. So I can’t resist satirizing them and pointing out how similar this is to the Nazi generalizations about Jews.

CCN: Well, you’ve just said “they” and the “movement,” and I wonder if you could describe who “they” are in a little bit more specific terms like in terms of the ideology involved and the movement, the things that you are reacting against here. Obviously, not all feminists want to chop off penises. The feminist movement is yet another spectrum with extremes.

RAW: Yes. There’s quite a wide variety of feminist ideas. I very much approve and like Sharon Presley’s Alliance of Libertarian Feminists. This agrees with the majority of the feminist movement in being Libertarian oriented rather than Marxist oriented. My wife has been a feminist all her life, but she stopped using the word because she doesn’t like the extent to which male-bashing Marxists have taken over the movement. To be specific, I don’t like to name names and attack individuals, but that’s the only way to avoid making reckless generalizations, so I will name a few names. Robin Morgan, Andrea Dworkin, Catherine McKinnon and to a great extent Gloria Steinam, and to some extent Naomi Wolfe, have all written things that I think are as crazy as anything that was ever published in Der Sturmer in the 1930s. They exactly fit Reich’s profile of the similarity of Red Fascism and Blackshirt Fascism. You just take out the word “male” and put in the word “Jew” and it sounds exactly like Nazi propaganda… …and I think anybody who isn’t a little bit frightened by it is living in a dream. They’re trying so hard to be fashionable and politically correct that they stop thinking entirely.

CCN: So you think that we’re seeing an era in which we’re producing more good Germans in terms of this whole political correctness thing because the feminist ideology that you’re referring to here seems to be under the generalized PC umbrella. It’s not just feminism but…you know, the whole “who is the victim now,” you know, and the oppressor seems to be, in general, the “white male.”

RAW: Yeah. “The white male” doesn’t exist, any more than “the normal” or “the average.” The columnist in the San Jose Mercury, Angelo Figueroa, who says white males own all the corporations is a classic case of neurolinguistic neuroses. What he says is true, but it’s false. It’s true in the sense that most, not all, most of the corporations are owned by white males except for the ones that are owned by oriental males, Arab males, etc. … and some of them are owned by women, a few, very few, but a few. But that does not mean that all white males own corporations. This is where you need symbolic logic to avoid getting confused. Label logic often gets you all messed up. All giraffes are animals, but not all animals are giraffes. Most corporations are owned by white males but most white males do not own corporations. I wish people like Figueroa had to spend six months studying elementary logic before they were allowed to vomit their racist and sexist hatreds in print.

This Figueroa asshole, if I may speak precisely, he walks every day, or he drives everyday, past lots and lots of homeless white men begging on the streets, and he doesn’t see them because his definition of “white male” is somebody who owns a corporation. Just like the Nazis didn’t see poor Jews. Their definition of a Jew was somebody who owned a bank. This kind of terminology makes people blind. They can’t see what’s directly in front of them. Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinam cannot see how many poor white men there are in this country. They think all white men own corporations. Just like the Nazi hallucination. I’ve never owned a corporation in my life and I don’t think I ever will own one. I don’t even own part of one. I don’t have any stocks.

CCN: So this is personal for you, being a member of the “hated class” here, being the Jew or the nigger of the ’90s.

RAW: It’s personal in the sense that I refuse to stand there with a polite expression on my face when feminists say nasty things about men. I just won’t do it any more. I feel like a Jew smiling politely at a Nazi in 1931. I won’t do it. If they say something nasty about men, I tell them that sounds as stupid as Hitler talking about the Jews. I know it’s not nice, but I tell them to their face. If the Jews were less nice in 1931, more of them might have survived.

CCN: You’re on the Internet now.

RAW: Yeah.

CCN: You’re what is referred to as “net newbie.”

RAW: Yes.

CCN: What are your thoughts on the Internet as an environment, and your experiences as a newbie?

RAW: I think technology used properly in a decentralized way can solve all of the problems that are confronting this planet. That’s my favorite solution to all problems: better technology and more decentralization, and Internet seems to me the most successful example of what I believe in and hope for. It’s a technology that’s so radically decentralized that I don’t think anybody will ever be able to control it.

CCN: Well, there are various efforts under way in Congress to control the content of the network. The most recent is the “Decency in Communications Act” in the Senate.

RAW: I signed a petition against it. I like the idea of an electronic petition. And I also wrote to Bill Clinton to organize the Democrats against it. It’s stupid in the first place, but if they could try to enforce it, the result would be that America would fall behind the rest of the world as the Internet continues to grow. They’d be dragging people out of business.

CCN: But, in general, how are you finding your experience on the network?

RAW: There are a lot of things that are really exciting to me. One day, I exchanged e-mail with a friend in Munich twice in one day and sent a fax to a reporter in Australia, and I thought, my God, I really am living in a global village. I begin to see some of my favorite futurist, especially McLuhan and Fuller in an entirely new way. It’s becoming more real and concrete. I’ve been thinking about these things for years, but now it’s becoming easier to think about because I’ve got a concrete example to illustrate …

CCN: But when you say “it’s becoming more real and concrete,” what it? The “global village of McLuhan” it? The “future is here now” it? “We’re able to talk to each other no matter where we are physically” it?

RAW: One way of looking at is Bucky Fuller made a lot of graphs of trajectories. And he predicted that by the 1980s we would be crossing oceans in seconds. And he said he was stunned himself by that, and he couldn’t imagine how we could do it, what kind of technology would make that possible? Well, we’re doing it. It’s just that our physical bodies aren’t traveling along with us. I still go on lecture tours every year, but I always hate the airports, I hate the airplanes. I have post-polio syndrome which is not anything serious, but everybody who had polio had or has it to some extent. I get terribly cramped and have a lot of muscular problems on long airplane trips. But I have to do it because I get a lot of money out of my lecture business.

But it’s wonderful that a lot of things I can do in cyberspace without traveling at all. I’m beginning to see how a time will come, I don’t know all the details, a time will come in which I can get paid for my ideas by people in Tokyo and Berlin without actually traveling to Tokyo and Berlin in those god damn uncomfortable planes. I won’t have to travel. In order to compete, the airlines will have to make more comfortable airplanes, finally, which they should have done 30 years ago or 50 years ago. It’s ridiculous that airplanes are so uncomfortable.

CCN: So one effect of the Internet might be more leg room.

RAW: Yes, they might build airplanes that you’re not uncomfortable in, just so they can compete.

CCN: We can only hope, that and better food.

RAW: [laughs] And better food, yeah.

CCN: Have you met anybody on the Internet now? One of the great things about the Internet is the fact that you can meet people in safety. You can meet mind to mind without having to worry about the safety of the body or even the comfort.

RAW: I like that. You know, the Irish have a wonderful custom. I lived in Ireland for six years. They have a wonderful custom. You never invite anybody to your home, and you never expect anybody to invite you to their home when you’re first getting to know each other. You agree to meet at a pub. That’s very comfortable because you don’t have to figure how the hell to get them out the door if you don’t like them. All you do is say, “Oh, geez, it’s getting late,” and you leave the pub, you know. And we don’t have an equivalent institution in America. E-mail does it. If you find somebody who’s incompatible, you just stop answering them and they get off eventually.

CCN: You mentioned something earlier in conversation about the ramshackle nature of the Internet …

RAW: Yeah, the ramshackle. I started referring to Internet as “ramshackle techno-anarchism” because it’s growing and changing all the time, and the parts aren’t always perfectly compatible, and I’ve begun to discover that some things are not mistakes on my part, it’s just the system is weird. And it always will be because there’s always new software and hardware, and things are always changing and being added. And sometimes I’m going through Cern, and suddenly I’m cut off, and God knows why. But I’m pretty sure, some cases, it’s not a mistake I made, it’s just that’s the nature of the system. But that’s the way the world is more and more becoming. Internet helps you to get used to the fact that we’re living in a world where everything is being torn down and rebuilt continually. The Buddha understood that, but very few people since Buddha have understood it.

CCN: What do you think the Internet’s going to do politically? Previous forms of communication, especially mass communication have all been broadcast oriented. With the Internet you can send e-mail to the author and say, “I loved your book” or “the book stinks.” It’s the same with politicians who are now getting on the net. There’s more direct feedback mechanisms. What do you think this is going to do to society to suddenly have a dialog capable, planet-wide communications system?

RAW: I have very high hopes for it. I think, well, to quote an unpopular poet, Ezra Pound, “Peace comes with communication.” They did a show about Internet on channel 54 a few weeks ago in which they presented some evidence, which I don’t recall too well, that Internet played a large role in the failure of the coup in Russia, the attempt to restore hard-line Communism. And, I think, well, this is long before Internet, this was one of the things that I developed out of the study of general semantics 30 years ago, 40 years ago. Communication tends to solve problems.  Not always, but it tends to solve problems. Breakdown in communication tends to aggravate problems.

And, so I see Internet as potentially the greatest contribution to world peace that’s come along in my lifetime, and may have played an indirect role in a lot of other things that have happened besides blocking the hard-line coup in Russia. Since ’89, we had not only the overthrow of the Soviet empire, the most peaceful, nonviolent revolution over the greatest land mass from East Berlin to Vladavostok. Nothing like that has ever happened in history before. After that, we’ve had the establishment of the Palestinian state, the peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, very uneasy but still it’s there, it’s working. They’re both working toward it.

And Nelson Mandela come out of prison. He’s not only a free man, he’s now the president of the country. And the IRA and the British are beginning to negotiate. The IRA is negotiating with everybody else. The British are agreed to join in the negotiations, and the president of Sean Fein was a guest of the White House on St. Paddies day. Internet may be playing an indirect role in all these things.

CCN: When you talk about communication, one of the statements in Illuminatus!, and actually a theme frequently in your books whether it’s stated explicitly or not, is that communications is only possible between equals. Let’s look at the Germans and the Jews. How do you get through somebody’s thick skull?

RAW: Well, you picked a really hard case …

CCN: Bosnians and Serbs, I mean, we could look at the feminists, the feminists and the white males …

RAW: Let’s go back to the Nazis and the Jews. I don’t think Internet, even if it existed then, would have necessarily deflected the general path of Nazism, the general direction it was going in. But I think if it had existed, a hell of a lot more Jews would have found out soon enough how bad it was and got out quicker, so there would have been a lot more survivors. I think that’s pretty damn clear. At least, I mean…we’ve got to distinguish survivors and escapees. There were those who went into the camps and survived through sheer good luck, and then there were the escapees who never went into the camps because they got out before that happened. Internet would have increased the number of escapees. There would have been a more clear understanding of what was going on. Internet would have, undoubtedly, put enough pressure on the United States to accept more Jewish refugees. Roosevelt wanted to, but he knew what he was up against in Congress so he couldn’t.

CCN: So the “ship of fools” would have been impossible.

RAW: The “ship of fools” would have landed in New York, and they all would have gotten off.

CCN: So, at the very least, even if there’s not communication with the adversary, there would have been communication amongst the folks in the same boat, so that organization would have possible, survival oriented organization.

RAW: And also to some extent Internet might have cut down the size of the Nazi Party. Communication does tend to break down prejudices in the long run.

CCN: Well, let’s look at the prejudices that exist in America today.  People with a certain level of technological access, income and education now on the Internet find themselves, still, with the fundamental inability to communicate. A large amount of the content of the online discussion groups is little more than personal insults and never ending verbal wars.

RAW: Well, we’ll just have to wait and see just how much good Internet does.  One of the newsgroups I subscribe to is for the topic of Free Masonry, and there’s a very lively discussion going on there between Free Masons and the people who believe Free Mason worship the devil. And I don’t know if the Free Masons have converted anybody yet and have persuaded them that they don’t worship the devil, but it’s fascinating that the conversation is going on. And I think some people may get over the idea that Free Masons worship the devil, some of the people in that discussion. Of course, some people, because of their own emotional problems, will never be cured by any amount of discussion. But discussion, by and large, it’s better than no discussion.

CCN: You wanted to talk a little bit about chaos and society …

RAW: Yeah.

CCN: Chaos. Are you talking about the mathematical chaos or political chaos?

RAW: Well, I’m talking about the mathematical, but the curious thing is that…the Discordian Society which I got involved in back in the early ’60s was based on the belief that chaos is the fundamental fact of existence, and everything that we can put into an orderly form is just an abstraction from the fundamental chaos. I didn’t discover until later that Nietzsche had that idea even before it was Discordian. And now there’s a lot of interpretations of chaos math that say that’s what it’s indicating is that the universe is fundamentally chaotic, and the Newtonian or classically deterministic systems are a minor subcase. But the aspect of chaos that especially interests me now is what I heard about at the meeting of the world future society a couple years ago. A mathematician named Gordon has demonstrated that as information flow increases, chaos increases, chaos in the mathematical sense. That’s the unpredictability.

CCN: So as communication increases in a system, chaos increases.

RAW: The unpredictable increases. What happens is that as information increases, that’s unpredictable knowledge, things we couldn’t predict before, we see the information gives us a new reality tunnel. Out of that, inevitably, comes new technologies, and out of new technologies comes new social forms, and so as the acceleration of information increases, the acceleration of technology increases, and society changes in weird, jerky ways. And you can see this in lots of periods of history where things go one way, and then suddenly they jump and go the other way. And I think right now information is doubling faster than ever before in human history, so it’s only to be expected that the world, the planet, should be changing in very unpredictable ways, such as Nelson Mandela going from a convict to the president of the country in a couple of years. Or the president of Sinn Fein being a guest at the White House. The next thing is Fidel Castro will be a guest at the White House. That’s no more shocking than the head of Sinn Fein being a guest at the White House, it really isn’t. It takes people a while to get used to something like that. John Major is not quite adjusted yet to Gerry Adams being at the White House.

CCN: In Illuminatus!, you talk about neophobes and neophiles, the lovers and haters of things that are new. Might that not be a measure of a person’s ability to deal with unpredictability?

RAW: Yeah, I think people are going to have to get used to a lot more uncertainly which is what all my books are preaching, the acceptance of uncertainty, a high tolerance for uncertainty. Some things you can say yes or no, but more and more there are more and more things where you can’t say yes or no. You can only calculate the probabilities in between, and people are going to have to get more and more used to that. Meanwhile, since most people still think in terms of yes and no, we’re getting more and more bizarre and weird political movements. In this part of the country the weirdest ones we’ve got aren’t quite as weird as what you find on the other side of the Rockies where there are talk shows that are actively their listeners to buy guns and prepare for a march on Washington.

That’s really going on. That’s treason, technically, but they’re still getting away with it because, I guess, because the administration doesn’t want to give them more publicity by busting them, and there’s this very delicate First Amendment issue there too. But I think that kind of weirdness, people who are ready to make war on the government, that’s scarey.  I distrust government in general, but I don’t regard the government as being that dangerous at this point that I’m going to buy automatic weapons and prepare to join a revolution against it. But that’s a yes/no logic. I can see how people are driven to positions like that until they learn to think in terms of probabilities. The world is getting more unpredictable. And one way of handling it is to believe in a conspiracy theory and arm yourself against the conspiracy.

CCN: To turn yourself into a victim of a conspiracy.

RAW: Yeah. There’s also a tendency — it goes way back to the stone ages where the king was regarded as being in charge of the weather–so there’s a tendency to praise the president if anything good happens, and blame the president if anything bad happens, as if the president is a kind of demi-god. And I used to say the president’s popularity goes up and down depending on how many earthquakes and tornadoes we had that year. And, by God, after the recent flooding, there are actually people blaming the government. Sam Farr said the rain had something to do with flood damage too. [laughs]

CCN: So, it seems there’s a lag time involved with social innovation and people’s ability to respond to it. Things are becoming a little bit more reactionary, politically and socially. People are looking for targets to blame.

RAW: Everybody has their own scapegoats or stereotyped groups.

CCN: Is it a reaction to just things becoming unpredictable though?

RAW: Yes, some people, since they don’t have mathematical and sociological, perspectives on the thing, they look around for who to blame. And depending on their upbringing and the biases that seem natural to them, they find some evidence to blame whoever they have a natural tendency to dislike anyway. And so we’ve got a country full of groups that hate each other.. We’re a country full of hatred at present. There are lots of people who get along very well, but every group in the country has members who hate a couple of other groups and are encouraging everybody else to join them in blaming and hating some other group. It’s incredible the amount of scapegoat groups, and you have a choice, depending on what you want. You can pick any group out to hate, and you find out who hates them and write to them, and they’ll send you a whole bunch of books to prove that your hatred is justified.

CCN: Well, what do you think this says about the human race? We have self-esteem problems, and we need somebody to beat up?

RAW: We need better education in science and logic. [laughs]

CCN: Is that really it, though? I mean, let’s go back to the Internet. I know I mentioned this before, but let’s beat the dead horse some more. You know, you have to have a certain level of education and intelligence and access to economic resources to buy a computer and plug into the Internet. And yet, on the Internet you see the ongoing abortion debate, the man vs. women debate, the heterosexual versus homosexual debate, and you see some incredibly ignorant, hateful remarks being spat out from both ends, and it seems that maybe intelligence and education aren’t proof against idiocy or hatred.

RAW: Well, not the kind of education we have so far. We need better education.

CCN: Well, when you say “we,” this is worldwide?

RAW: Yeah … I mean, yeah, it’s worldwide.

CCN: What are your hopes? And about when can we expect to see this education developed and implemented?

RAW: I’ve given up naming dates.

CCN: Not even ballpark?

RAW: No. As Heinlein said, it doesn’t pay a prophet to be too specific. Really, every prediction I’ve made in my books has turned out to be a little bit too optimistic. I have yet to see any grounds for abandoning any of my predictions, I just have to postpone them. And when I started writing about longevity…nobody, hardly anybody else, was writing about it. Now it’s a major topic of not only articles and so on, but of research, real scientific research. We are going to have longer life spans. It’s just not coming as fast as I thought. We are going to have space colonies. They’re just not coming as fast as I thought. But we are going to have space colonies. Everything, I haven’t lost faith in any of my predictions. I’ve just lost faith in my ability to guess the speed at which they’re coming.

CCN: So you’re basically talking the long haul. The historical perspective.

RAW: Yeah …

CCN: Are you a little discouraged? Does it seem like the human race is a little bit stupider than your optimism would want you to say?

RAW: No, I didn’t expect … no, I think stupidity is situational anyway. People can be stupid in one situation and not so stupid a few weeks later. My feeling is that a lot of the irrational behavior we see around today is because of this chaos, this unpredictability and the fact that most people have no tools to understand what’s happening. But I think … that’s only temporary. I think we are moving toward a … well, hell, Newt Gingrich, the head of the party that controls Congress is a fan of the Tofflers, who are not the best futurists around, but…to that extent he’s involved in futurist thinking. And Al Gore was the head of the Senate committee on the future all the time he was in the Senate and has got a very high reputation for the amount of books and articles he’s read, his general erudition in that area, and he’s a member of the World Future Society. And so on both sides of the aisle, in spite of the stupidity on both sides of the aisle, we’ve got people who are really involved in future studies. And we’re going to be moving more and more to the point where that dumb senator with the censorship bill will be impossible because the government will be educated enough to understand that Internet can’t be controlled that way.

CCN: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

RAW: Yeah, the only … the one thing that I really feel strongly about … that we haven’t discussed is Bill Clinton. I feel very strongly that he’s getting a raw deal from everybody. You expect him to get a raw deal from the right, but he’s getting a raw deal from the left too. And the only president I can think of who got so much abuse from both extremes before Clinton was F.D.R., who is now remembered as one of the greatest presidents we ever had.

CCN: Why do you think that is?

RAW: Well, I think we’re in a time where people are very angry and very frightened and very impatient for a solution, and if he’s not doing exactly what they think he should be doing, they think he’s selling them out, and so that comes from both sides. But as far as I’m concerned, I think Clinton is the best president we’ve had in my lifetime.

CCN: Seriously.

RAW: Yeah.

CCN: What makes you say that?

RAW: Because he never says anything conspicuously stupid. Because he frequently says intelligent things. Because he is cutting the deficit. Because he’s appointed more women and minorities to federal judgeships than all three presidents before him combined, which I think is very important to restore, to start to establish an approximation of real justice in the court system. And he’s done a lot of other things that I approve. And all the accusations of him waffling, weaseling and so on, to me that’s a matter of evaluation. To me it just looks like he’s an intelligent man. Intelligent people change their minds.

CCN: That’s true, but he’s more than just a man or a person, he’s a totem, an icon. He’s the guy who has to make the crops come in.

RAW: Yeah, and he hasn’t made the crops come in yet, but I don’t think any American president has such a successful record internationally in solving problems non violently. I think that’s an incredible thing. We’ve never had a president who’s gone into so many hot situations and diffused them. He’s had a lot of help from Jimmy Carter. But he’s obviously, he’s the one in charge. I think you’ve got to give … you can’t say Jimmy Carter is saving Clinton. Clinton is, I think, Clinton is the main strategist, and Jimmy Carter is the front, the one who has the knowledge of the people, the more experience.

But I think the Clinton administration has a very good record for solving violent problems nonviolently, and that’s what we need now that the cold war is over, and we can start to think in new categories. All we need is to study how to make peace. We’ve studied how to make war too long, and we’ve got to learn how to make peace. And besides, I like Hillary. I know every right wing nut in the country seems to … regard her as a mixture of Lady Macbeth and the Bride of Frankenstein, and I think Hillary is a marvelously intelligent and witty person. And, so Bill and Hillary seem like a very attractive combination; As Arlen, my wife, says, “They’re the only first family in our lifetimes that we’d enjoy having for dinner. We’d enjoy conversation with them.” I can’t imagine having an intelligent conversation with George and Barbara or with Pat and Dick or with Ronnie and Nancy.

CCN: Why not?

RAW: They never struck me as being particularly intelligent people.

CCN: Is it possible for a stupid person to become the president of the United States of America?

RAW: It sure looks that way to me. I mean when the doctors announced that Reagan has Alzheimer’s, my reaction was, Jesus, I knew that 10 years ago. What’s the matter with the medical profession that took them this long to figure it out?

CCN: So, would you say, then, that maybe the executive of the country is not really the pinnacle of power. I mean, if a person with certain attention deficits and whatever you want to call Ronald Reagan could become president of the United States, a former Hollywood actor could become president of the United States, do you think this speaks to something about the political scene in America?

RAW: Yeah, they picked a mediocre actor. I wonder if they picked Paul Newman, he would have made a much better president. He’s a better actor, and he’s obviously a more intelligent person. I’d really like to see Barbara Streisand as president.

CCN: She has the power drive for it. What do you think psychologically about somebody who aspires to be president of the United States who wields a lot of power over, let’s say, situations and other people and you or I?

RAW: There’s probably not that much difference. They have a different way of seeking to influence history, but I definitely want to influence history. I don’t admire Karl Marx in particular … he’s one of my least favorite political figures. But if you were to put a gun to my head and tie me to a lie detector and ask me …, “What’s your highest hope for your books?” It would be that they shake up the 21st century as much as Marx shook up the 20th century but in a more constructive way. Not in a destructive way. I really want to change the world. I think everybody has that in the back of his mind. So some people want to do it by becoming president. Buckie Fuller used to answer people who asked, “Why don’t you run for president?” He said, “I’ve got more important things to do,” because his way of changing the world is through inventions. My way is through books. Bill Clinton’s way is through going into that dirty area called politics. Somebody has to do it. Somebody has to clean cesspools too.

CCN: Do you think Clinton and Gingrich might makes some sort of a team? A progressive team? A future thinking team as opposed to an atavistic type of team? Will there be a team at all?

RAW: Well, Clinton has certainly been generous towards the opposition in many ways. When Gingrich’s mother made that mistake on television of quoting Newt about Hillary, instead of taking advantage of that to tromp on Gingrich, Clinton made a joke out of it. “I’m glad Connie Chung didn’t interview my mother.” He’s trying very hard to build bridges. I think that is his main vision of himself as a bridge builder, a problem solver and a bridge builder. That’s what he wants to be, I think.

CCN: Is this the right time for somebody like that?

RAW: Maybe not. Maybe this is a time for extremists. But in that case, we’re in for a bad decade. I hope bridge builders have a chance.

CCN: Oh boy, me too.

Off the Beaten Path

Robert Anton Wilson interview April 1992

Ken Thomas:  You are listening to “Off the Beaten Path”, 30 minutes of flashbacks and fallout from the Beat Generation. My name is Ken Thomas, and I’m here with Phil Gunis and tonight, our guest is Robert Anton Wilson, author of theIlluminatus! trilogy, editor/publisher of Trajectories newsletter, whose list of credentials goes down my arm and are much longer than I can name.  Thank you for being on the program tonight, Bob.

Robert Anton Wilson:  Oh, it’s very nice to be with you.

KT:  So, the purpose here is to talk about you new book.  Is it going to be published by New Falcon?

RAW: No, the new book is published by Dell Books, who’ve handled most of my fiction for the last ten years or so.

KT:  So this new work is fiction.

RAW:  Yes.

KT:  And it’s called?

RAW:  Reality is What You Can Get Away With.

KT:  Is this the latest volume in the current Historical Illuminatus series?

RAW:  No, this is outside that series.  The Historical Illuminatus series is being published by Penguin Books.

KT:  I see.

RAW:  I’ve got four publishers.  It’s complicated, but that’s the way it works out sometimes.

Phil Gunis:  So it is a new work – a novel that we can expect plots, sublots, and so forth with?

RAW:  Well, it’s a novel in the form of a screenplay which has got as much structure as a Monty Python routine, at least.

KT:  I’m always taken aback at how prolific you are.  I think I just recieved a copy of Cosmic Trigger II, and for some reason I always think of you in terms of Thomas Pynchon, who writes kind of similar things, but he does one every twenty years, and doesn’t talk to anybody.

RAW:  Yeah, somehow he makes a living from it.  I don’t know how. I’ve got to keep writing as fast as I can, or I’ll go broke.

KT:  Are you still on the lecture circuit?

RAW:  Yes, very much so.

PG:  And what are your audiences like these days?  Are you getting any kind of feedback Post-Reagan that you weren’t getting, say, in the late Seventies?

RAW:  I still get largely young audiences.  Well, there’s always a scattering of people of all ages, right up to my own age, which is sixty.  But still, I attract mostly people around twenty, some under twenty.

KT:  That’s interesting.  The world has really changed so much since I started reading your books in, I guess, the mid- to late seventies. How do you see your early work, in terms of your present-day environment?  Has a lot of what you predicted come true?  Do you expect the same kind of things in the future?

RAW:  Well, the major thing I predicted was that there wouldn’t be a nuclear war, and that humanity would survive.  I feel very – I feel vindicated by recent events on that issue, anyway.  I write non-fiction, as well as fiction, and it’s curious that in my fiction, some of the weird things in my fiction have turned out to be true, and I wasn’t even trying to be a prophet.  In Schrondinger’s Cat, a science fiction trilogy I did in 1979, I have America being overrun by armies of homeless people, and that was supposed to be crazy satire of the worst that could happen.  And now it’s really happened.  Sometimes I feel a little bit guilty, like I caused it.

PG:  Is that creating reality, or is that some unconscious, indirect channeling or something of something coming through there?

RAW:  I don’t like to think I created that reality, maybe I have some gift for free cognition, maybe it’s just a coincidence. I’m sure the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal would know it’s a coincidence.  I don’t have that kind of intuitive certainty, so I sometimes wonder if it might be precognition.

KT:  So if we were to look for some kind of futuristic vision of the world here that’s going to be accurate, then we want to read your new novel moreso than Cosmic Trigger II, is that what you’re telling us?

RAW:  Yes, Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, a new book from Dell, is in the form of a screenplay, which has a sequence of dreams and supernatural events in which the television seems to come alive and take over the house, and it comes from the same level of the unconscious as my other novels, so it probably has just as much insanity and just as much prophecy as my other novels.

PG:  Have you ever had any of your other works made into films?

RAW:  No, that’s one of the major disappointments of my life – a dozen times I’ve had books optioned, but none of them ever went all the way through to production and release – yet.  But, on the other hand, instead of mourning over that, I prefer to contemplate the fact that all my books are still in print – that’s a remarkable record for a writer.

KT:  I’ve always thought that a lot of them would be very difficult to make into a movie – at least I did think that until I saw The Naked Lunch.  Did you see that film?

RAW:  Yes, I liked it a lot.  Well, what astounded me was that Kent Campbell in England managed to turn Illuminatus! into a stage play. It ran twelve hours – there were mystery plays of the middle ages that ran that long.  He really did it, he turned it into a play, and it was done at the Science Ficiton Theatre in Liverpool, the National Theatre of Great Britain, Cambridge University, and on the Continent in Amsterdam, and Frankfurt.

KT:  And you like the way it turned out?

RAW:  Oh, yes, I liked it very much.  I didn’t think it was possible – I don’t see how you could make that into a movie, but you could make it into a TV miniseries.

KT:  A miniseries – that’s what I was thinking…

RAW:  If there are any producers listening, I hope their ears perk up at that.

KT:  I think it’d make a perfect miniseries, actually.  You don’t have any fears that if a TV producer ever tried to do one of your works, that they would turn it into something like The Naked Lunch, which really wasn’t The Naked Lunch, as much as it was biographocal material of Burrough’s and Exterminator, and a few other books.

RAW:  Well, I’m not afraid.  I know what happens when you get involved with mass media.  It would be a fight, but it would be fun, too.

PG:  So does the new work in any way parallel Videodrome, to talk about another Cronenberg film – talking about the influence of the TV, and so forth?

RAW:  I don’t think it has much in common with Videodrome.  It has more in common with the Monty Python gang taking over Cosmos one night.  Not CosmosNova, I mean.  Nova is the continuing science series, Cosmos was the short one with Carl Sagan.

KT:  Nova was the one that did the thing on the Magic Bullet theory, with all the computer graphics that proved that the Magic Bullet therory could work, right?

RAW:  Did they?

KT:  Yeah, Walter Kronkite…

RAW:  That must have been while I was living in Ireland.  I lived in Ireland for about six years in the 1980s.

PG:  I think that took place on the 25th anniversary, there were some specials, and Nova ran one with Kronkite.

RAW:  Did they actually show the bullet turning around eight times in midair.  Must have been wonderful!  Well, that’s Wilson’s Law of the superiority of politics to science, which holds that if A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C, except where forbidden by law.

KT:  I want to get back to your experiences in Ireland, and why you left, but as long as we’ve gone near the Kennedy assasination, we’ve talked to a number of people recently, like Mark Wayne and Dick Gregory about JFK’s assasination, and Ram Das and I’d like to – first off, I’d like to know if you’ve seen the JFK, Oliver Stone movie, and get your response to that, and also I’d just like to pluck your brain specifically about where you were on November 22?

RAW:  Well, I not only saw JFK, I saw the first show on the first day it opened here where I live, in Santa Cruz.  I was very curious, I couldn’t wait, and I had to get out and see it right away, before I could read any reviews, so I could make sure I was making up my own mind.  And I think it’s the greatest movie since Citizen Kane, fifty years ago.  It’s innovative in its film techniques like Citizen Kane, and politically it’s hot as burning coals, just like Citizen Kane, and I liked it a great deal.

PG:  Had you read any of the pre-publicity things in Esquire magazine?

RAW:  Well, somewhere I picked up that Garrison was the hero, which I felt was kind of goofy, but I can see, dramatically, why Stone picked Garrison.  The more responsible conspiracy researchers don’t make interesting stories, they sit and do research, and write books – that’s not cinematic.  Garrison took a man into court and had a trial – that is cinematic.  So naturally, Garrison was the cinematic hero.

KT:  So,you don’t have a very high regard for Garrison’s research?

RAW:  No, not at all.

PG:  And why, specifically, was that?  He wasn’t even near where he should have been with the evidence, or the way that he pursued it?  Is that your feeling?

RAW:  My feeling was that a lot of his evidence was very slapdash, and he didn’t impress me very much.  His evidence didn’t impress me.

KT:  Still, what do you think about Stone’s basic premise – that JFK was killed because he was going to get us out of Vietnam?

RAW:  Well, it’s possible, but I don’t believe it.

PG:  Why do you think it did happen, then?

RAW:  There are a dozen alternative theories that are just as plausible.  I think the Mafia had a lot of reasons for wanting to get rid of Kennedy, especially their concept of honor.  He took a lot of help from them to win Illinois, and then he double-crossed them and started throwing them in jail.  That’s the kind of thing they regard as dishonorable and worthy of punishment.  And there’s a lot of evidence pointing in that general direction, of the Mafia, but then again there’s evidence pointing in the direction of the CIA, but I’m not at all sure you can distinguish the Mafia and the CIA any more. The two are so intertwined that it’s like one entity rather than two.

PG:  Well, that’s exactly what Phil Abage has said, so they’re on the same wavelength, then.  Yeah, but the CIA would have been the one organization that could have perpetuated a coverup for twenty-eight years.  The Mafia could not have done that, do you think?

RAW:  Yes, the Mafia couldn’t have made the alterations in the body between the Parkwin Hospital and the Vetsa Hospital – that had to have come from within the government.

KT:  So you buy David Lipton’s theories?

RAW:  Yes, yes.

KT:  Hmmm.  One of our guests was Kerry Thornley, who is a friend of yours.  Remember Kerry?

RAW:  Oh, how could I forget him?  At one point he was convinced that I was his CIA babysitter.

KT:  Oh, really, he was?

RAW:  He suspected all of his friends at one point or another.

KT:  Well, you know that is interesting – this whole charge of you being connected to the CIA, and Tim Leary being connected to the CIA. It comes up time and again.  What do you think causes that?

PG:  Just random paranoia?

RAW:  Well, there are some people on the left who have no concept of what evidence is, or what proof is, very little sense of intellectual honesty, and if they don’t like you, they just call you a CIA agent. In Nazi Germany, they would have called you a Jew.

PG:  How did you meet Kerry Thornley, and what exactly was your relationship with him in the last few years?  I found him a fascinating person when we talked to him for our interview.

RAW:  I met Kerry though a magazine we both wrote for, called The Libertarian Connection, back in the Sixties.

PG:  And at that time, did he feel that he was a part of a Nazi breeding experiment?

RAW:  Oh, no.  That all happened after Garrison accused him of perjury.  And then Kerry started trying to figure out what had really happened, and then he decided he had been brainwashed by Naval Intelligence while he was in the Marines, and then, retroactively he worked it backwards to the womb, and he’ll eventually find causes going back to the Garden of Eden, I’m sure.

PG:  How did you relate to the different revelations when Kerry would tell you about these things?

RAW:  I did not hide my skepticism sufficiently, so he decided that I was one of the conspirators.  That’s the trouble dealing with people who are in that mental state.  If you don’t believe everything they say, then they immediately promote you to a starring role in the Conspiracy against them.

KT:  Yeah, I noticed that this is something that’s happened between the two successors to Mae Brussels.

RAW:  Oh yeah, each of them is accusing the other of being a government agent.  This happens all the time.  The best portrait of it is in The Life of Brian, the Monty Python movie, with all the Palistine Liberation Organizations more engaged in fighting each other than they are in trying to drive out the Romans.

KT:  Well yeah, that’s what happens.  We interviewed Mark Lane, and Lane was involving E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgess in the Kennedy assassination.  He actually went through a trial that kept Hunt from being able to sue for libel if you say in print that he was one of the people involved in the assassination.  And it seemed pretty straightforward – Mark Lane kind of exposing the CIA.  It wasn’t until after we had aired those programs that we had discovered that in fact people had suspicions about Lane being in the CIA, and we were being used by the CIA to put forth his disinformation story.

RAW:  Well, this goes back to the Sixties.  In the Sixties I was very involved in the peace movement, and more and more people in the peace movement started telling me and telling one another that we were infiltrated by government agents. And after a while, I decided it was true, and we just had to learn to live with it.  There wasn’t much we could do about it. No sense in getting hysterical about it.  But it turned out that we were – that was the “call and tell” program.  Then when the war ended, I got involved in the Timothy Leary defense fund, which was raising money to fight Leary’s case and get him out of prison.  Everybody in the Leary defense fund eventually suspected everybody else of working for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and we were all suspected of being government agents, we all suspected one another.  People would come around and tell me, “John is a government agent,” and the next day John would come around and tell me Jim was a government agent.  I’ve been living in that kind of environment since the late sixties.  I just got used to it.

KT:  Bob, let me generalize this question about the CIA again.  I don’t want to harp on it, but it seems to me that a lot of people are saying that the philosophy that you’ve written on and about, and the philosophy that Tim Leary espouses is all part of a directed campaign to depoliticize youth culture in America.

PG:  Was that part of the plan, when LSD was introduced into the culture, do you think, Bob?

RAW:  Well, I’m very politically involved, so I don’t see how that can depoliticize anybody else.

PG:  I think what Ken may be making reference to is the idea, at least back in the sixties and early seventies, of the image of the “hippy-dippy” stoned-out people just laying out in the grass as opposed to the image of someone who’s as militant as the Black Panthers or the Weathermen, and the difference that psychedelics played with those two groups.

RAW:  Well, we survived, and they didn’t.  I’m not going to deny being a CIA agent.  Hell, the more you deny it, the more people think that there must be some truth in it, like the story about LBJ spreading the rumor that, when he was running for congress, that his opponent was a swinophiliac.  You see, you can say it on radio if you say it in Latin.  That’s somebody who has an inordinate sexual attraction to pigs, hogs, and other distinguished varieties of swine.  And we asked LBJ, “What do you expect to accomplish by all this?”  And LBJ says, “At least I’ll make him deny it!”  I’m not going to deny every idiot charge that’s laid against me, because that makes it sound like they were taken seriously, and there might be some truth in them.

KT:  Okay, good point.  We’ll just leave that topic, then, and talk a little bit about the old motto that we ascribe to you – Space Migration, Life Extension, and the Intensification of Intelligence. Are these still three things that concern you, and how do you feel they’ve been developing?

RAW:  Well, yeah, I ‘m still very interested in all three of them, and I’m glad more and more people have spent more and more time in space colonies, and more and more people are drinking smart drinks than booze, and that life extension research is moving along very rapidly. I think a lot of other things have to happen first before we’re ready for space migration.  I’m more interested in Bucky Fuller’s plan to integrate all of the electrical grids in the world into one grid, which will make electricity cheaper for everybody, and show the governments and corporations of the world that they’ve got more to gain by cooperating than they have by conspiring against one another.

PG:  How do you turn that consciousness around, as far as corporate America goes, do you think?

RAW:  Well, I agree with Fuller – when you show them something that works, and they see how they can make a profit out of it, you turn them around.

KT:  Do you have any interest in the Biosphere project?

RAW:  Yeah, I’m very interested in that.  I’m interested in the sense that I’d like to know more about it, rather than in investing in it.

KT:  Well, we weren’t trying to solicit for it.  You don’t think then, that it’s what a lot of people have said – that it’s just a dead end?

RAW:  No, we’re going to learn a lot from that experiment, I’m sure. We’ll learn even more when we build a complete ecosphere in outer space, but meanwhile, it’s a very good idea to build one on the Earth.

KT:  Well, let’s talk a little bit about what’s going on in space. Are you disappointed, say, in the breakup of the Soviet Union, and of the consequence that it had on their space program, and out own program sort of limping along the way it does?

RAW:  No, I think the breakup of the Soviet Union was absolutely wonderful.  It put the CIA and that whole segment of our government in a hell of a jam.  How can you have an arms race when you’re only racing against yourself?  They’ve got to find some substitute for the arms race now and they’re desperately looking for something that won’t involve improving the living conditions of most of us, because if we are allowed to develop the way technology could allow us to develop, then we’d all be billionaires, and they wouldn’t feel superior to us anymore.  It’s the sentient primate drive to get higher on the tree than anybody else that governs all ruling classes.  I also think the Soviet change began in 1989, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and it’s just when Bucky Fuller predicted it would happen in his book Critical Path, published in 1981.

KT:  Really?  He predicted it to the year?

RAW:  Ah, he didn’t say that the Berlin Wall would come down, he said that by 1989, the world would either begin breaking apart and coming together in a new system, or we’d have a nuclear war, one or the other.  We did not have a nuclear war – the world started breaking apart and forming into a new system.  And Fuller hit it right on the head.  He picked the year exactly.

KT:  So, you don’t feel then that the space programs of the world are stunted, or not what they should be?

RAW:  No, once the dunderheads in Washington begin to realize that there is no more Cold War, once they really understand it fully, I think that if we keep the economy going, they’ll have to invest in space, which is the place where you can get the biggest return on new investment now, and there’s more out there than there is on the surface of the planet, because there’s more out there!

KT:  Have you heard anyting about this photograph from the Soviet Mars probe to the Martian moon of Phobos?

RAW:  No.

KT:  This is something that Don Ecker has been publishing in the latest issue of UFO magazine.  Apparently, before they lost contact with the probe that they sent to Mars, it took a photograph of a fifteen and a half mile long UFO, and Ecker has published this last photograph from the probe.  This is supposedly a topic of conversation between Bush and Gorbachev during their last summit, and supposedly one of the reasons behind SDI research and the whole urge to do a joint Soviet-US Mars mission.  That’s not a conspiracy you’re privy to, I take it?

RAW:  No, this is the first I’ve heard about it, but it’s fascinating. Fifteen and a half miles long?

KT:  Yeah, sure, I’ll send you a copy of the photo.

RAW:  I’d love to see it.

KT:  Do you keep up with conspiracies?  I mean, you’re famous for being a writer of a novel of the greatest conspiracy of history out there.  Are you privy to the details of Danny Cassilaro or Robert Maxwell, or any of that?

RAW:  I don’t recognize either of those names.  I just finished reading Jonathan Manken’s Conspiracies, Coverups, and Crimes, and I’m just starting one called The Illuminati, by Larry Verkit, which is a christian fundamentalist version of … are you there?

KT:  Yes.

RAW:  My phone just tilted.

KT:  Somebody beeped the word “christian”.  🙂  So you’ve read Manken’s book.  What did you think of that?

RAW:  I liked it.  I thought it did a very good job of covering a lot of different theories rather impartially.

PG:  Do you think he dealt pretty fairly with Kerry Thornley, and represented him the way he should have been represented?

RAW:  Yes, I think so.  He could have made Thornley sound like a raving nut, and he didn’t.

PG:  We did an interview with Manken.  I found his book to be fascinating also.  What was your take, for instance, on his mention of Mark Lane as popping up in suspicious places, and surviving Jonestown, when a few others didn’t.  Did you raise an eyebrow at that?

RAW:  Well, I had thought of that myself, but I don’t believe it. It’s just a thought that’s crossed my mind.  You can think of certain things, and then you realize that you can’t prove them or disprove them, and you just leave them in the “I don’t know” file.

KT:  Yeah, we’ve got a pretty thick “I don’t know” file.  Let me get back to your stay in Ireland, and your recent return to California. It all came to mind again for me, recently, when Ireland went through this whole thing recently about the girl and the abortion, that they weren’t going to allow her to leave the country to have an abortion. Can I get your impressions of Ireland, and what kind of a culture does that to little girls?

RAW:  Well, in the first place, that was obviously a put-up job.  I don’t deny that the girl was pregnant, but women leave Ireland every day, and have abortions in England.  It’s a well known fact.  Every side in the abortion debate in Ireland admits it.  The estimates of how many go to England every year vary from three thousand to six thousand.  Four thousand seems to be the most popular figure.  Nobody knows.  There’s no way they can control it.  Ireland may be Catholic, but it’s got a lot of common sense, and it’s not totalitarian.  So the idea of giving women pregnancy tests before they get on a ferry to Liverpool just won’t float.  So nobody knows how many women going to England are pregnant when they leave and not pregnant when they get back.  And somebody for some reason decided that this girl should become a test case, and announced that was why they were going to England, so the government tried to stop it, and the Supreme Court realized that it would make everyone look totally idiotic to the rest of Europe.  There’s also the economic factor there.  If the case goes to the European Supreme Court, Ireland has to obey, or drop out of the EEC.  And if they drop out of the EEC, that will cost them millions of dollars every year.  So they’d rather not go to the European Supreme Court.

KT:  Why did you leave Ireland?

RAW:  Well, chiefly, my wife and I missed our children and our friends back here, and the climate.  As much as I may like Ireland, the climate gets you down after a while if you’re used to California weather.

PG:  Is the spirit of James Joyce still evident over there?  Were you aware of that?

RAW:  Yes, Ireland is the most literary country in the world.  You’ll find fewer Irish scientists than any other nation, but you’ll find more great Irish writers than any other nation.  The Irish have the largest vocabulary of any group in the English-speaking world.  It’s always been an oral culture.  Not in the Linda Lovelace sense, but in the sense of being in love with speech.

PG:  Is Van Morrison a popular musician there, in his own land?  Are you familiar with his work?

RAW:  Yeah, yeah, he’s popular, and U2 was very popular in the neighborhood where I lived before the rest of the world discovered them.  They were very popular in Host(?), which is where I lived, which is on a little known hill north of Dublin.

KT:  So you were there for six years?

RAW:  Yeah, I decided when Ronald Reagan was elected, that I was getting the hell out of this country.  But after a while, like I said, you start missing your family and friends, and even with Ronald Reagan here, you’ll come home.

KT:  Was California a lot different when you returned?

RAW:  No, it was pretty much the same.  Fewer cigarette smokers.

PG:  Were you living in California when Reagan was governor?

RAW:  Yes.

PG:  Was that post-Playboy days, or were you not connected with Playboy magazine then, when Reagan was in the governor’s mansion?

RAW:  Come to think of it, I wasn’t living here when he was governor. Jerry Brown was in by the time I got here.

KT:  You were living in Chicago then?  Could you talk a little bit about what your association with the Playboy empire was like, and the general politics?  It’s kind of a fascinating publishing empire, isn’t it?

RAW:  Well, it’s not that different from any other.  I worked for twenty years approximately for various magazines, and Playboy is not that different from any other magazine job.  You come in to the office, you work at your – in those days, we used typewriters – we didn’t have computers yet.  The glamor is all in the magazine, it’s not in the work being done in the office.

PG:  But they were showcasing writers like James Baldwin and Norman Mailer, and even Kerouac at the time?

RAW:  Yeah, they printed every major writer.  One critic said that they printed the second-rate work of every major writer.  There’s a sudden silence.  Somebody ask something.

KT:  A pregnant pause.

PG:  We could talk about the number twenty-three…

KT:  This is going to be one of those, “we’re not really on the air right now”, so we’re going to have a little break here.  Yeah, this is going to be aired on April 23rd.

RAW:  When did we go off the air?

KT:  Just now…

KT:  Bob, do you remember your time in St. Louis from a few years back?

RAW:  Yeah, I was living in Ireland, and I was on a lecture tour in the States, and I went through about twenty cities in about twenty days, and it was all very much like an acid trip.  All I remember is that giant McDonald’s arch as I went into the city.  I never understood why they put that there – was that where McDonald’s was founded, or what?

KT:  It was actually used as a giant tuning fork in a Captain Marvel comic book one time.

RAW:  Is that was it was for?

KT:  Well, I remember I was escorting you around when you came through St. Louis, and you were talking about the old twenty-three synchronicity.  And I said something about the numerological significance of the radio station we were going to, which was in something called the Sevens Building, and you pointed across the street at a skyscraper and on top was a huge twenty-three – it’s street address was twenty-three.

RAW:  Yeah, somebody took me out for a pizza after my lecture, and be got number twenty-three.  He asked me, “my God, how do you do it?”

PG:  Yeah, Ken really introduced me to that concept.  What’s happening with that twenty-three?  Is that necessarily a benevolent number, or a malevolent number, or just a significant number?

RAW:  Well, you have your choice.  You can decide for yourself.  I haven’t figured it out yet.  Most of the time I’m quite convinced that it’s just a neurological set.  You start looking for twenty-threes, and you just notice them more than any other number.  And then it pops up in such weird contexts that I’m not at all sure that’s the explanation.  I like it.  I like data that I can’t explain because it keeps me thinking.  If I could explain everything, I’d stop thinking. And then I’d either end up in the Vatican or in the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

PG:  So you keep a big “I don’t know” file as Ken and I also do?

RAW:  Oh yes, I have one of the most enormous “I don’t know” files in the Western world.  Hey, how’s that for bragging?  Mine is bigger than yours!

KT:  Let’s take out our “I don’t know” files and weigh them, then we’ll see who’s a real man.  Do you have a new volume of the Historical Illuminatus trilogy coming out?  I know there’s a fourth one planned.

RAW:  Yeah, the fourth one is called The World Turned Upside Down, and when that’ll come out I’m not exactly sure.  The next one coming out is the one from Dell, Reality is What You Can Get Away With, which is due out at the end of April.  By the way, you mentioned my newsletter, Trajectories?  If anybody’s interested in that, it can be ordered from P.O. Box 700305, San Jose, 95170, California.

KT:  And this is the Permanent Press, right?

RAW:  That’s right, Permanent Press – P.O. Box 700305, San Jose, 95170.

KT:  And that is the adress of Robert Anton Wilson’s newsletter, Trajectories.  How often does that come out, Bob?

RAW:  As often as we can manage it.  It’s supposed to come out four times a year.  But it doesn’t matter – if you subscribe, you’ll get four issues, whether it takes us a year, or a year and a half – you’ll still get your four issues.

KT:  How do you know when it’s time to go to press?

RAW:  Whenever I can fit it into my otherwise busy schedule.

KT:  I guess the intent of that question was, you’re sort of like a sensor out there – a finger on the pulse of everything that people that are interested in your writing want to read about.  So how do you know when you’ve got enough, or how do you know you’re reporting the right stuff, or what?

RAW:  Oh, I never know.  If you try to make sure you’re right, you’ll never put anything on paper.  Somebody asked T.S. Elliot about who was the most important poet in the twentieth century, you or Pound or Yeats, and Elliot said, “it doesn’t profit to think about such questions.”  And it absolutely doesn’t.  I mean, trying to decide whether your work is good enough to publish, well, that’s up to the publishers to decide.  If you believe the good things that people say about you, you become a megalomaniac.  If you believe the bad things they say, you become a depressive and stop writing.  So you’ve got to ignore all of it – the praise and the denunciation – and just do the work.

PG:  I think that Henry Miller knew a couple of characters like that in Paris, didn’t he, Bob?  Boris, who was always going to write a novel, but never did?  Do you remember that character?

RAW:  Oh, he’s in Tropic of Capricorn.  That’s funny you should mention Henry Miller.  I just drove by the Henry Miller Memorial library a couple of days ago.

PG:  Tell us about that…

RAW:  There’s nothing to tell.  I just drove by it – it was on my way to Epsiland(?).

KT:  Were there people sitting around remembering Henry Miller?

PG:  Did you go into the library?  What did they have in there?

RAW:  No, I was just on my way to E..(?), I just drove by.  There was a lot of trees – I couldn’t even see the library.  In that part of California the trees are so thick, you don’t know what’s behind them. I often suspect characters out of places like Lovecrafts Dunwich and Innsmouth are hidden behind those trees.

KT:  While we’re on the topic of historical figures, let’s talk about Wilhelm Reich a bit.  I know you wrote a play, Reich in Hell, and I know he’s had an influence on you, or at least he’s somebody who’s ideas you haven’t too fearful – like the rest of the writers of the twentieth century – to talk about.  How did you get introduced to Reich’s work?

RAW:  When they burned his books.

KT:  Really, right when it was happening?

RAW:  Yeah, I was quite young then, and I’d never heard his name, until it was in the newspapers that they were burning his books.  That got me kind of irritable.  I don’t approve of burning books.  I was quite shocked that it was happening, and that all the liberals in New York were just ignoring it, who said, “he’s a nut, so it doesn’t matter.”  I thought the purpose of the First Amendment was to protect the nuts.  Besides, who knows who’s a nut?  It takes a hundred years to decide sometimes.  So I didn’t approve at all what happened to Reich, and I started making inquiries, and I got to read three or four of his books while they were all still banned.  People wouldn’t let me borrow them – I had to sit in their apartments and read the books.  I felt like I was living in the days of the Inquisition.

KT:  Because it was underground stuff, really.

RAW:  Well, there were these books, and people would let you look at them in their house, but they wouldn’t let you take them out of their house.  In the Sixties, I was working for Playboy, and I was interviewing all sorts or psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists, behavioral scientists, and a hell of a lot of them would say, “I agree with Tim Leary,” and then the government threw Tim Leary in jail, and then everybody shut up and nobody agreed with him any more.  And I got the feeling, hey, the Inquisition never did end, did it?  I finally wrote a book called The New Inquisition, in which I expressed my suspicions on that point.

KT:  So you kind of got into Leary the same way you got into Reich, you heard about his incarceration, or no?

RAW:  No, I got interested in Leary before he was incarcerated.

KT:  So you’re not only interested in the criminal element?

RAW:  Oh, no…the thing about Leary being a CIA agent…

KT:  Well, that would make him a policeman.

RAW:  …the last time we got together, no, not the last time, but a recent time, at NYU there was a group of anonymous and therefore courageous left-wingers handing out a leaflet saying that Leary and I were both CIA agents, and Leary didn’t get a copy of it, so I showed him one, and Leary said, “Jeez, I wish I could find a way to make those bastards pay me all the back pay they owe me!”  I feel the same way every time I’m accused of being a CIA agent.

PG:  Did you get aquainted with Tim Leary pre-Millbrook days, or post-Millbrook days?

RAW:  Well, I read Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality pre-Millbrook, and I met Leary at Millbrook.

PG:  And what are some of your memories of that whole scene at Millbrook at that time?

RAW:  Well, I’m sorry to sound like an advocate, but my impression was that Leary was one of the most brilliant people that I’ve ever met. Very much like my impression when I first met Buckminster Fuller, and William Burroughs.  The three people who gave me the sensation that I am in the presence of higher intelligence.

PG:  And would you elaborate a little bit on why you put William Burroughs in that company?  What do you see in Burrough’s writing, or his particular brand of intelligence that you put him in that company?

RAW:  Well, it’s the choice of words.  I first read Seventeen Episodes From Naked Lunch in a magazine called Big Table, and I felt no writer since James Joyce was able to put words together so efficiently and effectively to create the exact images and emotional overtones that he wanted.  And I began to notice that not only was he a great prose poet, but he had a lot of interesting ideas, too.

KT:  Have you also had some familiarity with Alfred Korzybski at that point?

RAW:  Yes.  That’s one thing that Burroughs, Leary, Bucky Fuller and I all have in common – we all have familiarity with Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics.

KT:  Could you give us a couple sentences that explain Korzybski for our listeners?

RAW: Oh, that’s a hard one.

KT:  I know.  And then the history of the world after that, in ten minutes.

RAW:  Korzybski was an engineer and mathematician who, in World War I was so horrified with what the human race was doing to itself – he didn’t even have to wait for WWII, he saw it in WWI – he decided to apply scientific method to understanding human behavior, and tried to develop a system which would teach people to be less in insane.  This system he called Human Engineering, and then he discovered someone else was using that word, so he changed the name a couple of times, and he finally ended up calling it General Semantics.  Semantics because it deals with evaluations, and General because it’s not just limited to the study of words, it deals with how words affect the nervous system.  He coined the word “neurolinguistics”, which is very popular nowadays.  His main emphasis was on how words hypnotise us, and how we can learn to wake from the hypnosis that’s created by words.  Well, that’s it – that theme in Burroughs, “rub out the word”, “the word is virus”, all that comes from Korzybski.

PG:  And you don’t think in any way that perhaps Burroughs has centered more on the aspects of control with language rather than liberation?

RAW:  Oh, yes, Burroughs has stressed the dangers of language, even more than Korzybski and he hasn’t said as much as Korzybski did on how we can use language to liberate ourselves from the control of language.  There is a difference there, definitely.

KT:  Do you maintain contacts with men like Burroughs and Leary – well, I know you talk to Leary all the time, it seems like – but what about Burroughs and Ginsberg and those kind of writers?

RAW:  I’ve met Burroughs a few times.  I wish I had met him more often.

KT:  I’d like to get back to your relationship with Tim Leary.  You actually got into pre-LSD Leary. It sounds like you read the Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality, which is all of his scientific work, trying to understand personality, and got off on that.

RAW:  Yes, well I thought that was the first really mathematical and visualizable, topological map of how people relate to each other that really did have the precision of science, and really could be used to make predictions.

KT:  And when did you first meet Leary, himself?

RAW:  In, 1964, in Millbrook.

PG:  Keeping in mind this scientific approach to analyzing or predicting human behavior, and again to tie in here with what went on in Millbrook and your experiences there, do you think Richard Albert, Baba Ram Dass, has totally missed the boat, or do you think that some of what he does and says makes sense as far as personal application to modern life?

RAW:  Well, that’s like, “the armadillo missed the boat, should we all be elephants?”  Really, Ram Dass is the on the right trip for Ram Dass.  If you ever investigate how much charitable work he’s doing to help people who are suffering, it’s absolutely staggering.  How can anybody say that’s the wrong thing to do?  It’s the right thing for him.  I think that anybody who goes through the psychedelic or yogic experience comes out different, and evolution always produces differences – the spotted owl, and the goose, and the mosquito, and the shark, and the Congress of the United States, and some of them I find ugly, and some of them I find attractive, but they’re all part of the evolutionary process.  I wish that there were less of them that looked like the Congress, and that more of them had the beauty of sharks or hummingbirds.

KT:  As long as we’re on the topic of Congress, or we’ve moved there, can I get your impressions on the current presidential race?

RAW:  Well, you know there’s selective nouns for birds – there’s a parliament of owls, and a exultation of hawks.  The word for turkeys is a congress of turkeys, and that’s exactly what we’ve got in Washington.

KT:  How true, how true.

RAW:  There’s one character down there – I was listening to a talk show on the radio yesterday – who wrote over $400,000 worth of bad checks in his Congressional career.  They not only can’t balance the national budget, they can’t balance their own budget.  The amazing thing is, these people were ordinary human beings, just like you and me before they went into politics, and moved to whatever planet it is that they live on now.  Which has no contact at all with reality or financial responsibility, obviously.

KT:  Do you favor any particular candidate in this race this year?

RAW:  Wile E. Coyote.

KT:  Wile E. Coyote!  Beep-beep!  Listen, we’re going to have to wind this up – I think we’ve taken an hour of your time.  I think we’ll have plenty to be able to put otgether a program on.  Um, are there any last thoughts?  Anything you want to communicate to our listeners?

RAW:  Yeah, a phrase from William Butler Yeats, a great Irish poet. “A statesman is an easy man, he tells his lies by rote.  A journalist invents his lies, and rams them down your throat.  So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbors vote.

KT:  (laughs)  Thank you.  This has been “Off the Beaten Path”, and you’ve been listening to Robert Anton Wilson, author of Reality is What You Can Get Away With, and publisher of Trajectories newsletter and the author of the famousIlluminatus! trilogy.  And with that, we’re going to power down…

High Times Interview, 1991

The HIGH TIMES Interview:
Robert Anton Wilson

 by Philip H. Farber

from High Times # 195, November 1991

Based on Robert Anton Wilson’s incredible and varied career, it’s hard to know what to expect when you meet him. This is a guy who spent five years in the ’60s as an editor of Playboy, then went on to coauthor (with Robert Shea) the mind-boggling llluminatus! (cut into a trilogy by its publisher), got his PhD in psychology, wrote the “new-age” classic Cosmic Trigger, collaborated on two books with Timothy Leary, wrote a whole bunch more on his own, released a punk-rock album, and toured as a stand-up comedian. Robert Anton Wilson has expanded as many minds with his books as all the Sandoz acid ever manufactured.

A small surprise, then, to finally see this white–bearded, Buddha-like man dressed in the same casual suit that your college physics professor wore-a slightly wacky Buddha, to be sure, cracking jokes and reciting Monty Python routines in a pleasantly gruff Brooklyn accent. Wilson’s conversation is startlingly like his books, his words tying together an amazing diversity of facts, theories and punchlines in a way that gently prods at your sense of reality.

Oh well, as Wilson’s readers know well enough, it’s always fun to watch as your preconceptions are blown to little, tiny bits.

HIGH TIMES: Who do you think is responsible for the “War on Drugs?”

Robert Anton Wilson: I suppose the Eli Lilly Company.

HT: How do you figure that?

RAW: The War on Drugs is chiefly a war on pot, according to Judge Sweet. Eighty-five percent of the drug budget is going into pursuing pot-smokers. They’re trying to drive pot off the market because the CIA is a making a big profit out of the cocaine business, and Eli Lilly provides the materials that the Colombians need to make cocaine out of the coca. So they want to keep the cocaine business going. By the way, do you know who owns Eli Lilly?

HT: No, I don’t.

RAW: The Quayle family owns a large part and George Bush owns a large part.

HT: How much do you think the US government is involved in maintain­ing that supply of materials from Eli Lilly to Colombia?

RAW: Well, the government isn’t doing anything to stop Eli Lilly from sending those materials down to Colombia and there’s lots of cases where the CIA has been caught red-handed laundering drug money. They were running a bank in Florida a few years ago – the WorId Finance Corporation – which was mainly a cocaine-money laundromat. And then there was a bank in Australia which the CIA was running, which was laun­dering heroin money [The Nugan Hand Bank; see Jan. ’91 HT]. Most of their banks were tied in with the Swiss Alpine Bank in the Bahamas, which was run by Roberto Calvi, and Archbishop Marcinkus, so they could run the money through the Vatican Bank, where it leaves no record.

HT: I’ve noticed that a lot of the so-called anti-drug propaganda is phrased in a strange, negative fash­ion-sort of reverse suggestion. For instance, “Keep on smoking crack and you’ll end up with nothing,” could be taken as a suggestion to keep smoking crack. Do you think this is deliberate, or are they just stupid?

RAW: Never underestimate the stupid­ity of the establishment in this country. The stupidity of the establishment approaches to infinity.

HT: The executive branch of the government, the CIA and the Vatican Bank are pretty monolithic institutions to be working against. Do you think there is much chance of cannabis being legalized in America?

RAW: Yes, because there are more and more people becoming aware of the valuable properties of hemp, thanks to Jack Herer and a lot of others-but especially Jack Herer. There are more and more people who know that we could be running our cars on hemp oil and not polluting the air the way that ­petroleum pollutes the air. A lot of people know that we can print books on hemp paper, and that will slow down the destruction of the forests. A lot of facts like that are becoming more widely known. It’s an uphill battle against deception, greed and igno­rance – but it’s not hopeless.

HT: Are there some ways to do this that you think haven’t been fully explored, but can be?

RAW: I think we should study the samizdat methods that were used in the Soviet Union to transmit information when the censorship was so strict there. We’ve got computer networks, that’s one avenue for distributing information. Meanwhile, we do have alternative radio. We have Pacifica and National Public Radio where a lot of information gets out that can’t get into the major media. I think more and more people are aware of that while listening to those radio stations.

HT: We’ve been talking about hemp being legalized. What do you think is the possibility of any psychedelic being legalized or even just accepted by the public?

RAW: I’m beginning to think that there’s a real chance that research will be legalized again. There are more and more people in the psychotherapeutic professions who are speaking out, and it has been re-legalized for research purposes in several countries in Europe: in Switzerland, Germany and Holland, among others. There is defi­nitely a movement toward, at least, legalizing research again. It does seem, with the passing of time, that more and more people can see how stupid it is to forbid scientific research in an area where the research that was done thirty years ago was so promising.

There was evidence, in the early sixties when research was legal, that LSD was useful in the treatment of alcoholism, schizophrenia – all sorts of psychological problems. Leary took a bunch of convicts, and when he was through with his therapy, the over­whelming majority of them never com­mitted another crime for the rest of their lives. And for as far as the follow-up studies followed them, they were still law-abiding citizens – the most astonishing feat in the history of behavioral science! There was all the evidence that people learn languages faster with acid. And there was the research on religious experiences, like the Good Friday Experiment.

All of that was so promising that it’s hard to believe that we can return to the days of the Holy Inquisition, and that promising areas of scientific research can be forbidden indefinitely. Especially, as I said, when it’s begin­ning to open up in Europe.

HT: You mentioned the Good Friday Experiment – what was that?

RAW: That was an experiment in the early sixties where twenty theology students were in a chapel on Good Friday and ten of them got psilocybin and ten of them got placebos. The ten who got psilocybin all had mystical experiences of the highest quality.

HT: What kind of research is being done in Europe, that you know of?

RAW: Mostly, it’s clinical. All that I’ve read about is just that therapists are allowed to use it in the treatment of their patients.

HT: Is there a way that you’d like to see psychedelics used by this society?

RAW: My personal opinion, based on what was done in the sixties, and what has been done underground-in a clan­destine way since-is that it’s proba­bly the wonder drug of the twentieth century, much more than penicillin. Intelligently used, acid has nearly infi­nite potential.

HT: Do you think that a resurgence in psychedelic use now would pro­duce the same kind of cultural ferment that it did in the sixties – bringing ideas up to the surface?

RAW: Undoubtedly. The main effect of psychedelics is to break down conditioned and imprinted circuits in the brain. You start using your brain in new ways, which means new impres­sions, new perceptions and new ideas.

HT: How can clandestine experi­menters with psychedelics approach these experiences?

RAW: It should be approached seriously, with a religious attitude or an attitude of philosophical inquiry.

HT: What do you mean by a reli­gious attitude?

RAW: An expectation that your whole world is going to collapse and that you’re going to be reborn. If you don’t expect that, if you think you’re just having fun, you’re likely to have a terrible shock which can frighten you.

HT: That kind of experience might be frightening to a lot of people.

RAW: It is. It causes acute paranoia in politicians who’ve never used it, and it’s done some damage to people who have tried it. If they’re not prepared properly.

HT: Do you think electronic highs – light and sound machines, or electro­magnetic headsets – can fulfill some of the same uses?

RAW: Not yet, but I think we’re get­ting closer to that all the time. I expect within two or three years we will have electronic equivalents. There are dif­ferent machines that are approaching it from different angles, I don’t know where the breakthrough will occur. There are so many different types of brain-altering machines that someone is going to come up with one that acts just like LSD.

HT: You sometimes talk about the evolutionary value of stupidity in connection with the development of these machines….

RAW: Yeah, I’ve often wondered why there’s so much stupidity in the world. It’s got to be serving some function. Nothing survives a long-term evolution unless it has a function. And I finally decided that the function of stupidity is to force the intelligent to become more intelligent. The Inquisition vastly accelerated science, and I think that the New Inquisition that we’re currently living through has inspired all sorts of creative work that wouldn’t have hap­pened if LSD had remained legal. People wouldn’t have been searching into so many alternatives if they’d had LSD available for legal research.

HT: In your recent novel, Nature’s God, you’ve got these great scenes with George Washington smoking some herb in his campaign tent. Is this purely fiction, or do you think that cannabis really was influential in the founding of the United States?

RAW: Oh, George was a pothead! That was documented by Dr. Michael Aldrich back in the sixties. I quote a lot of the documentation in two of my previous books, in one of the appen­dices to Illuminatus!, and in Sex and Drugs[Playboy Press, ’73].

HT: Is there something inherent in cannabis that had people thinking about independence?

RAW: You know, the first hemp law we had in this country obliged farmers to grow it. Hemp was considered so valuable that they wanted everybody who owned a farm to grow some. Yeah, hemp played a major role in American history. The Constitution was written on hemp paper. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp. All of our early ships were built largely out of hemp.

HT: What about the buzz itself? Did that altered state affect the thought and events that were going on at that time?

RAW: Yeah. Pancho Villa was another pothead. I think if you compare the military campaigns of Washington and Villa, you’ll see that they were both influenced by marijuana. They were very nonlinear, that’s why they kept going so long against such impossible odds. The British were thinking in a linear, Aristotelian way, and Washington was thinking in a nonlinear way. That’s how he wore them down over six years.

HT: Do you think there is a way to approach the headspace of George Washington for the purpose of gain­ing individual autonomy, which seems to be the present battle?

RAW: There’s a Sufi word, that I don’t remember, for the man who drinks wine in secret and doesn’t get caught.  Jesus said, “Be as harmless as doves and as subtle as serpents.” In a mad world, one has to pretend to be at least partly mad in order to pass as normal.  Or, as J.R. “Bob” Dobbs says-Praise “Bob” – “Act like a dumb shit and they’ll treat you like an equal.”

HT: Do you think that the rise of strange new religions – like the Church of the SubGenius [who “worship” J.R. “Bob” Dobbs] – is having some effect on the culture?

RAW: When I first started talking about these deliberately surrealist religions, ten years ago, most people had never heard of them. Now when I talk about them, people in the audience have already heard of them, and they yell “Praise ‘Bob'” and “Hail Eris” and things like that. I was at MIT recently and I saw in one of the men’s rooms, written on the wall, “‘Bob is the only hope now.” So, definitely, these religions are impacting all over our culture.  There was an Atari computer a while back that, when you first tired to use the printer, it printed out a hundred “Bob” heads before it would do anything else.

HT: Was that intentional or a virus.

RAW: That was somebody at Atari.  Atari gave up trying to find out who did it and just sent a letter of explanation to people who complained.  People were writing in and saying, “Why is my computer printing out pictures of Hugh Hefner?” I never realized “Bob” looked like Hugh Hefner until I read that.

HT: Is the Discordian Church, such as it ever was, still at large?

RAW; Oh, it’s very active.

HT: What’s the evidence of that?

RAW; The Chaos Computer Club in Germany-they infiltrated the whole American defense [computer] system.

HT: Are there Discordians active to that extent in the USA?

RAW: One hears rumors.

1988 OBIE Interview

1988 OBIE interview

ROBERT ANTON WILSON

Interview: 1988

artrulea

This is an edited transcript of an interview which took place in Los Angeles on April 23, 1988. I would like to thank Bob Wilson and his wonderful wife Arlen for inviting me into their home, and special thanks to Bruce Eisner for helping to arrange it. The interview was broadcast on college radio station KFJC, 89.7 FM in Los Altos Hills, California five weeks later. –David A. Banton

artrulea

DAB: This is David B, here in Los Angeles in the home of Robert Anton Wilson. It is April 23, 1988, a significant day in Robert Anton Wilson philosophy. What is the significance of 23?

RAW: Well, 23 is a part of the cosmic code. It’s connected with so many synchronicities and weird coincidences that it must mean something, I just haven’t figured out yet what it means! In several of my books, including the Illuminatus trilogy and Cosmic Trigger, I have given examples of a tremendous number of coincidences connected with 23. Take today as an example, April 23: this is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, April 23, 1556 and his death, April 23, 1616. Also April 23, 1616, the same time Shakespeare died in England, Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, died in Spain. April 23, 1014 is when Brian Boru died, he was the first high king of Ireland to be a political as well as religious leader. He unified all Ireland and drove the Danes out, and on April 23, 1014 he was killed by one of the Danes after the battle of Clontarf, where he defeated the Danes for the final time, and liberated Ireland from foreign rule. August 23, 1170 is when the Normans came in, and Ireland has been under foreign rule again, in whole or in part, ever since. On Aug. 23, 1920 James Joyce was discussing coincidences with a friend in a Paris bar when he suddenly saw a giant black rat and fainted dead away. So that ties Joyce together with the invasion of Ireland, and Shakespeare, and Brian Boru. All of this is in (James Joyce’s) Finnigan’s Wake, by the way.

DAB: You have a whole series of books focusing on the Illuminati. What is the Illuminati, and how did that become an inspiration for so many books?

RAW: Well, the Illuminati was a secret society in Bavaria in the 18th Century. A certain number of paranoid individuals believe the Illuminati still exists and has either taken over the world, or taken over most of the world, or something like that. I discovered the anti-Illuminati literature in the late 60’s when there were all sorts of weird conspiracy theories going around. And then I discovered there were two ambiguities connected with the Illuminati. First, there are those who say the Illuminati don’t exist, versus those who say the Illuminati still exist, and then among those who say the Illuminati do exist, there are two schools of thought: those who claim they’re the arch-villains of all history, and those who claim they’re the heroes who are trying to liberate the human race from superstition and ignorance. And so, I decided a group that ambiguous, where we don’t know whether they exist or not, and we don’t know whether they’re the good guys or the bad guys, they’re the perfect symbol, to me, for all the confusions of the age we’re living through, and all of the rampant paranoia of our time. Conspiracy theories have never been more popular, not even in Nazi Germany.

RAW: Recently, Falcon press has been reprinting a lot of your books, and there’s a little joke in the list of Falcon Books. With so many of them by Robert Anton Wilson, it asks, is Falcon Press owned by Robert Anton Wilson? Well, is it?

RAW: No, that’s just one of the publisher’s little jokes. Falcon Press is actually owned by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which was the English branch of the Illuminati, according to some conspiracy buffs. Of course, it wasn’t really, that’s just what some nutty people say. And I want to also deny Mae Brussel’s claim, uh, no it’s not Mae Brussel, it’s Lyndon LaRouche. Lyndon LaRouche claims I’m the head of the Illuminati; there’s no truth in that whatsoever. Mae Brussel is the one who said I’m an agent of the Rockefeller conspiracy. That is the truth, I can’t deny that one! Actually, my whole cellar is full from floor to ceiling with bars of gold sent to me personally by David Rockefeller for all the services I provide for the Rockefeller Conspiracy.

DAB: Ah-ha!

RAW: I confessed that several years ago when Mae first made the charge against me, and I confess as frequently as possible to that, because the more people who believe my cellar is full of bars of Rockefeller gold, the better my credit rating will be, so I don’t see how that can harm me at all. It can only do me good.

DAB: Speaking of the Golden Dawn, they have a mysterious reputation as some sort of secret society, and you say there is some variation of that going on today?

RAW: Oh yes, the Golden Dawn has three chapters in the Los Angeles area alone. It’s got chapters all over the country, in England, in Canada, New Zealand, Australia . . . and I believe there’s a chapter in Switzerland, I don’t know where else.

DAB: What exactly do they do?

RAW: Well, the Golden Dawn is a hermetic society devoted to altering consciousness on a planetary scale. Its objectives cannot be defined more clearly than that. It’s a Cabalistic, Rosicrucian, magickal group. Among the more famous members of the Golden Dawn have been William Butler Yeats, the great Irish poet; Arthur Machen, the great fantasy writer; Florence Farr, one of the great actresses of the Victorian age, who incidentally was the mistress of both Yeats and Bernard Shaw, that’s an interesting link; and, oh of course, Aleister Crowley was a member of the Golden Dawn all his life. The current head of the Los Angeles Temple of the Golden Dawn is a close friend of mine. However, I am not a member of the Golden Dawn myself.

DAB: Nor have ever been?

RAW: (laughing) Nor have I ever been! Except that the head of the Golden Dawn says I am . . . he was asked that question in an interview, Christopher Hyatt, the head of the Golden Dawn, the Outer Head. He was asked if I was a member, and he said Wilson belongs to all groups and none. I think that’s such a perfect definition, I don’t attempt to improve on it.

DAB: You mentioned Aleister Crowley. You’ve written about him a lot. How did you first become interested in him?

RAW: Sometime around 1970, or ’69, I was having lunch with Alan Watts and I mentioned the Illuminatus trilogy, which I was working on at the time, and the symbolism of the eye on the pyramid, which is the symbol of the Illuminati. And Alan said, that reminds me, the best book I’ve read all year is called The Eye in the Triangle by Israel Regardie, and I took Alan Watts very seriously. I mean, he was a very funny man, but when Alan said something was worth reading, I took that seriously, so I went out and bought the book, The Eye in the Triangle, and it turned out to be a biography of Aleister Crowley. Israel Regardie was Crowley’s secretary for a while in the 1930’s. Then later he was a psychotherapist right here in Los Angeles . I got into correspondence with Dr. Regardie for several years, before his death, and learned quite a bit from him about the inner traditions of the Golden Dawn, and about Crowley’s work.

DAB: So how about the eye in the triangle, what does that symbol represent?

RAW: The eye on top of the pyramid, let’s start with, the eye on top of the pyramid represents the transcendental ego as distinguished from the normal ego. It represents your awareness of your role as an evolutionary agent with all past generations holding you up to the position you’re in now. The pyramid represents all past generations and the open eye represents your realization of your oneness with all past generations, especially all past generations of magicians. Reality, as we call it, is the temporary resultant of continuous conflict between rival gangs of magicians and shamans. The eye in the triangle by itself represents the Eye of Horus. Horus is the lord of two horizons in Egyptian mythology; that means he’s the lord of the rising and the setting son, birth and death, and all other opposites. War and meditation are two of his chief characteristics.

DAB: The average person would think of a magician as a side-show entertainer. What is a magician, in your definition?

RAW: Well, it’s an ambiguous word. It can refer to prestidigitation, conjuring, other show business tricks, or it can refer to the ancient science of the magi, which is where the word magic comes from etymologically, it’s the science of the magi. It’s the science of rapid, voluntary brain change, how to use the human brain for fun and profit.

DAB: That brings us to something you’ve written about called the HEAD Revolution: Hedonic Engineering and Development.

RAW: The HEAD Revolution is my term for what’s been happening since the 1960’s, the discovery of newer and better technologies all the time for rapid alteration of brain functioning. We’ve gone from psychedelic drugs, to biofeedback and Lilly isolation tanks, and a lot of fascinating new machines like the Mind Mirror, which is an accelerated biofeedback system that gives you a continuous profile of both hemispheres of your brain, and which frequencies they’re working on. Every year, the technology of rapid brain change gets more advanced, trying to figure where it’ll be five years from now particularly makes me dizzy, it’s moving so fast at present.

I think it’s a great example of the evolutionary function of stupidity. When the government made psychedelic research illegal in the 60’s, scientific, open above-board research I mean, that did not stop research, the research just went underground, together with a great deal of partying and hell-raising and whatnot with those drugs. I thought it was the stupidest thing the government ever did, but in retrospect I think stupidity has an evolutionary function, because when they stopped that research, all the leading researchers in the field went into other areas, and so we’ve discovered dozens of other ways of rapid brain change. Lilly worked on his isolation tank, others went into biofeedback. Stan Grof, who came to this country seeking scientific freedom because he felt he didn’t have enough scientific freedom in Czechoslovakia, he came to this country seeking scientific freedom and they told him he couldn’t do any more LSD research, so he went to work on breathing techniques and the effect of sound on the brain, and has developed some very interesting post-Reichian, post-yogic techniques of brain change. So, by and large, the stupider the establishment is, the smarter the rebels become. Establishment stupidity is the greatest spur to creativity in evolutionary history. That’s why I think Reagan has been a godsend to this country. He’s brought more stupidity to Washington than anybody in my lifetime, and there’s been a tremendous upsurge of creativity while he’s been in there.

DAB: Have you tried any of these new brain machines?

RAW: Every one I can get my hands on. I started out with the Pulstar, which sends magnetic pulses into the brain, and the brain goes into the rhythm of those pulses, so you go to any frequency you want to go to, you move down from beta to alpha, to theta to delta, wherever you want to go, with direct magnetic impulses. I tried the Isis ,which uses light, and the Synchro-energizer, which uses light and sound, and the Neuro-pep which uses light and sound. I have a Pulstar, and Neuro-pep, and an Endomax. Endomax uses impulses against the mastoid bones behind the ear, and affects the hypothalamus directly, which controls the neuropeptide system in the whole body. And recently, I got to try the Graham Potentializer, which is a long, table-like contraption between two electromagnetic generators, and it revolves in a certain mathematical pattern that Graham has worked out. He claims ten sessions on that will raise your IQ tremendously. I only had one session on it, so I can’t judge yet, but after one session I was high as a kite, and I was feeling delighted with myself and the world for about 24 hours afterwards.

The Graham Potentializer is much more expensive than the others. I think what will happen, the way it’ll reach the mass market, is not people buying Potentializers, but people setting up places like with Lilly tanks, where you can go in and rent an hour on a Graham Potentializer like you can go in and rent an hour in a Lilly tank in most cities these days. When I go around the country on my tours, I always ask my audiences, can you get an hour in a Lilly isolation tank here, and in the last year I haven’t been anyplace where the answer wasn’t yes. No matter where you go in this country now, you can rent time in a Lilly tank. I think in a couple of years, you’ll be able to rent time on a Graham Potentializer, wherever you go.

The latest one I’ve tried is the Mind Mirror, which is the most sophisticated biofeedback system to come along. It gives you an instantaneous reading. I found out I’ve got a disorganized awakened brain, I found that very interesting, I kind of suspected it.

DAB: What exactly is a disorganized awakened brain?

RAW: Well, it’s a pattern that’s similar to the awakened brain state measured in Zen masters and yogis, but it’s not quite, it’s a little more raggedy. It’s usually found in scientists and artists, and some psychics.

DAB: Do you think these new brain technology tools and the flotation tanks are good enough to replace say, LSD and other chemicals for brain change? Are those no longer relevant?

RAW: I think the avant-garde edge of the consciousness revolution, the HEAD Revolution, is moving away from chemicals towards machines, because you can get much more precise control. Molecules are great big ungainly things to throw at your brain compared to electronic impulses. I think pretty soon, within five years, we’ll be able to have a little computer keyboard, and just punch in the right code to send the right impulse into your brain, to have any brain experience you want. The first time you tasted chocolate ice cream, you just punch in the right code, you get that back; your first sexual experience, you punch in the right code you get that; samadhi, you punch in the right code, you get that. And so on. I think that can’t be more than five years away, the way this technology is moving.

DAB: In the 70’s you and Leary came up with the SMIILE formula, which stands for Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, and Life Extension. Do you still find those three things to be important?

RAW: Oh, very much so. Space migration is tremendously exciting to me, because it’s the opening of a new frontier. Historically, every time a new frontier has opened, there’s been a big upsurge of creative energies, a Renaissance effect, a creativity boom, and the human race badly needs that at this point. Also, I think most of the energy problems that it’s fashionable to worry about will be solved when we get out of the closed system of one planet and start dealing with many worlds. When we have hundreds and hundreds of space colonies dotted all over the earth-moon system, or as far out as the asteroid belt probably, then there won’t be any more energy problem, there’s so damn much energy out there compared to the energy available on the surface of the Earth. And it will also solve the population problem, more and more people will be migrating into space, I’m sure. I want to go myself, some people think that’s whimsical in a man my age, but I’m expecting rejuvenation technology will be along in the next 10-15 years . . .

DAB: The Life Extension part of SMIILE . . .

RAW: Yes, I figure 20 years from now, I’ll be 20 years younger instead of 20 years older.

DAB: So you think you’ll make it into space one day then?

RAW: Oh, absolutely!

DAB: Do you think you’ll run into any UFO’s? You talk about that a lot, do you believe in UFO’s?

RAW: Of course! I don’t know what they are, but to deny them is like denying frogs falling out of the sky or brick walls, these are very obvious things. You may have different explanations of them. I don’t know what UFO’s are, I don’t know whether they’re spaceships, or time ships, or a special kind of hallucination triggered by abnormal electromagnetic conditions . . . that’s a theory suggested by a psychologist named Persinger, which I find very persuasive, but not totally convincing. Or maybe they’re archetypes escaped from the collective unconscious, as Jung suggested, or maybe they’re all heat inversions. I don’t know, maybe there is no one theory that accounts for all of them. But they’re certainly there, to say that they’re not there is like saying that Charlie Chaplin doesn’t exist. Charlie Chaplin may have been an actor, but he existed in some sense. Charlie Chaplin and UFO’s are at least as real as the Gross National Product.

DAB: We’ve covered the Space Migration part of the SMIILE formula, what about Intelligence Increase?

RAW: Well, I think these brain machines I’m talking about are going to play a tremendous role in raising intelligence. Graham, who claims to do more scientific measurement than anybody else in the brain-machine field, he claims he can demonstrate a definite increase in IQ in anybody who has used the Potentializer more than 10 times. And I’ve seen, I think it’s pretty clear that most of these machines have some effect on the IQ, as well as general health and tranquilization.

DAB: Life Extension: You were once Director of the Prometheus Society, right? Weren’t they involved in that?

RAW: I was the Western Director.

DAB: Does that group still exist and are you still involved with them?

RAW: I sort of lost touch with them, I don’t know whether they still exist or not. I’ve lived in Ireland for five years, I sort of lost touch with the L5 Society, the Prometheus Society, and a lot of things I was involved in before I went over to Europe. Now I’m trying to reestablish connections with groups that interest me.

DAB: What is the L5 Society?

RAW: That’s a society of scientists and others that are concerned with colonizing the L5 area, which is La Grange Point 5. There are 5 La Grange points around the moon, which are places where the gravity of Earth and Moon are approximately equal to each other, and they’re good places to build space colonies, for engineering reasons. L5 used to be considered the best. The latest calculations I’ve seen indicate that L4 may be better, but the L5 Society has already got that name, so I doubt they’re going to change it, even if we end up colonizing L4 instead of L5.

DAB: You’ve been living in Ireland for the last 5-6 years, now you’re back here in California . What are you current plans?

RAW: Oh, I intend to hang around LA for quite awhile, but I’m doing a lot of traveling, too. So far this year, it’s only April, so far this year I’ve been in Phoenix, Dallas, New York, New Jersey and Boulder, Colorado. Next week I go back to Austin, Texas, and at the end of May I’m going over to Europe and doing lectures all over Germany and Switzerland and Holland. And I intend to keep traveling, I find it exhilarating to be a citizen of the planet, rather than of one particular place.

DAB: Are you planning to go back to Ireland eventually?

RAW: Well, I am going back to Ireland to pick up a lot of my property I left there last Fall. When I came over here the last time I was doing a lecture tour, I didn’t expect I’d get hired to write a movie, so I didn’t go back to Ireland to get all my gear right away. I was trying to figure out how long will I be on the movie, how long do I want to be here, and so on, I’ve got involved in several other projects around Hollywood and it’s obvious I’m going to be here for quite awhile, so I’m bringing more of my gear over from Ireland while I’m doing the European lecture tour. But nothing is permanent, I may be living in Switzerland in five years, or I may be living in Mexico, or maybe in Japan.

DAB: I understand you’ve been working on a book about James Joyce.

RAW: Well, I was working on a book on Joyce, and I finally decided that for financial reasons, the kind of money you make out of writing scholarly books on Irish writers is not really huge. I’m publishing about a third of the Joyce book together with essays on other writers, under the title Coincidance, and that’s due out any day now from Falcon Press. Meanwhile I’m working on more commercial ventures. There will come a time, sometime in the future, when I will write a whole book on Joyce. Meanwhile, I’ve got a third of a book on Joyce bound together with two-thirds of a book on other subjects.

DAB: What is your fascination with Joyce?

RAW: I could talk all day about that! Joyce was more interested in synchronicity more than any other writer before me, and he influenced me a great deal. My fascination with synchronicity grows more out of Joyce than out of Jung. Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake are all about synchronicity, and they came out long before Jung ever wrote anything on the subject. Joyce fascinates me because of many other things. In Ulysses, he was the first one to write a relativistic novel, the first Einsteinian novel. Every other novel before Ulysses had one point of view, which was supposed to be the objective point of view, and in Ulysses, Joyce refuses to give you an objective point of view. He gives you about 54 different points of view, and leaves it up to you to decide which of the various narrative voices you’re going to believe. And I find that a very appropriate style for the 20th Century, it’s entirely compatible with relativity and quantum mechanics . . . the amount of deception and propaganda in the 20th Century world, where you can’t take anything at face value. It’s compatible with modern philosophy, everything from Nietzsche and Wittgenstein on, we’ve learned more and more about how the mind creates its own reality-tunnel; it’s entirely compatible with modern psychology and neurology and cultural anthropology.

I don’t see why anybody is still writing Victorian novels, I think everybody should be writing Joycean novels, to be contemporary, to be compatible with modern science, modern philosophy and modern civilization in general. People who are writing pre-Joycean novels, it seems to me like they’re riding around in a stagecoach instead of using a car or a plane.

DAB: Of all the books you’ve written, how many are novels, 6 or 7 maybe?

RAW: It depends on how you count. If you count the Illuminatus trilogy as one novel, you get a different figure. If you count the Schrödinger’s Cat trilogy as one novel, you get a different figure. If you count the Illuminatus trilogy as three, and the Schrödinger’s Cat trilogy as three, then I seem to have nine novels in print.

DAB: And the other three are Masks of the Illuminati . . .

RAW: The Earth Will Shake, and The Widow’s Son.

DAB: Aren’t those two books part of a trilogy, too?

RAW: No, that’s part of a pentology.

DAB: A pentology?

RAW: Yes, that’s a series of five books.

DAB: And so far two of them have come out.

RAW: That’s right. I’m working on the third, which is called Nature’s God.

DAB: And what is the basic concept behind that series of books?

RAW: Well, that series deals with European, and to some extent, American history, between 1764 and 1824. That was a period in which all the rules changed, everything, the whole Western world went through a total change. We went from feudal, agricultural monarchy to capitalist democracy and industrialism. Everything changed, the style of music changed, we went from Baroque to Romantic, everything changed. Philosophy changed, it was in that period that David Hume’s books appeared, knocking the bottom out of all previous philosophy. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations appeared there, the Declaration of Independence, of course. I’m taking that as a model to show how revolutions work. They work on many levels besides violent revolutions, there are non-violent revolutions, but they’re all tied together. We’re going through a period like that right now, and what got my started writing those novels was to give an example of a previous period that was as revolutionary as the period we’re living through; to show some of the general laws of what happens when society goes through rapid transition. We’re going through a dozen revolutions at once right now, too.

DAB: So the new novels could almost be thought of as an earlier . . . For example, the Illuminatus Trilogy took place in the seventies, right? So the new series takes a similar view, but from an earlier cultural revolution.

RAW: Well, the pentology deals with 1764 to 1824. Masks of the Illuminati deals with the 1890’s to 1914. Illuminatus is set in the 70’s, but has flashbacks to the 1930’s and everything in between the 30’s and the 70’s. The Schrödinger’s Cat trilogy is set in the 80’s and the early 90’s, and when I write a few more and fit them into the pattern , I’ll have a complete history of the Western world from 1764 to 2001.

DAB: That’s quite a feat! Do you have a favorite of the books that you’ve written? I think my personal favorite right now is the Schrödinger’s Cat trilogy.

RAW: Oh, thank you, that’s the one that got more bad reviews . . . you know, that’s about to be reprinted, I’m happy to say. But that got more bad reviews than anything else I’ve ever written, it only got two good reviews I ever saw. The “LA Times” said it was hilarious, multi-dimensional, a laugh a paragraph, something like that. “New Scientist” in England had the other good review, they said it was the most scientific of all science-fiction novels. Everybody else said it was unintelligible, deliberately obscure, pretentious, incoherent, everything they say about Joyce!

DAB: Right, like when Finnegan’s Wake came out.

RAW: Yes, exactly, just like Finnegan’s Wake. As a matter of fact, it’s my attempt to translate Finnegan’s Wake into a quantum comedy. Even the title has the same rhythm as Finnegan’s Wake: Finnegan’s Wake, Schrödinger’s Cat, Finnegan’s Wake, Schrödinger’s Cat, there are all sorts of analogies built in.

DAB: You appeared on a punk rock album by a band called the Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy?

RAW; No, that was the title of the album, the name of the band is the Golden Horde.

DAB: How did you get involved with that project, and what exactly did you do on that?

RAW: Well, they came up to me after a lecture in Dublin, and said, we’re a punk rock group. And I said, yes, I kind of suspected that from the way you’re dressed. And they said, we’d like to have you on our next record. And I said, hey, I’d love that, I’d love to make a punk rock record. Not many men my age get invited to make punk rock records. And I wrote a whole bunch of lyrics, and they picked out the ones they liked, and then they lured me down to the studio to improvise some surrealist poetry in between in the songs, and so it’s a combination of rock and poetry and surrealism and gnosticism. It’s basically Celtic-Gnostic punk rock.

DAB: Is this album available anywhere that you know of?

RAW: It seems to be released on a need-to-know basis. People have found copies of it in the United States. I have seen them, I have autographed them. It’s very hard to find, but not impossible.

DAB; You have another album called “Secrets of Power,” made up of talks you gave . . .

RAW: No, that was a stand-up comedy act I did in a nightclub in England. I’m doing stand-up comedy these days, just because I’ve never done it before. I’ve done stand-up comedy in London, Dublin, New York, San Francisco and a couple of other smaller places I don’t quite recall. I think I’m getting better at it all the time, and I’m enjoying it, I’m having a great time. It’s a tremendous challenge. When you’re doing a lecture, or even a workshop, they don’t have to be laughing all the time. But when you’re in a nightclub, they’ve got to be laughing all the time or you feel like you’re dying up there, and it gives you a tremendous adrenaline rush. It’s the next best thing to skydiving, as far as scaring the hell out of yourself for fun. As Edmund Kean said on his deathbed, Sir Edmund Kean the great British actor, his last words were, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” And it really is, so I enjoy the challenge.

DAB: Leary’s been doing some stand-up comedy, too. Have you seen his act?

RAW: Oh, yes!

DAB: Back to the album: The “Secrets of Power” album is released on the Illuminated Records label. How was that arranged?

RAW: Well. the boys down at Illuminati Headquarters said, Bob, we want you to put . . . no, no, I’m not supposed to reveal that! The cover story is that the people who started the record company named it after my Illuminatus novels. And then when they discovered I was in Ireland, and they were in London, they decided to have me do a record for them. That’s the cover story, anyway, and I’ll stick to that!

Oh, this morning I looked at “Bride of the Monster” for the first time.

DAB: “Bride of the Monster”?

RAW: It’s an Ed Wood movie, he made the world’s worst movies. He made “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” you must have heard of that. “Bride of the Monster” has Bela Lugosi live, instead of his (Wood’s) wife’s chiropractor pretending to be Bela, as in “Plan 9”? This one has Bela Lugosi while he was still alive, and Tor Johnson, the guy who played the sheriff in “Plan 9,” he plays Bela Lugosi’s moronic assistant. Bela plays a classic mad scientist, and it is just as bad as “Plan 9,” it’s incredibly bad! Ed Wood was a backwards genius, he set out to make horror movies and he didn’t know how to do it, and he ended up making, unintentionally, he made the funniest movies ever to come out of Hollywood. Ever scene in this movie which tries to scare you is so stupid that you bust out laughing. Ed Wood is proof that Mencken was wrong. Mencken said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” Well, Ed Wood did go broke by underestimating their intelligence. It is possible, you can underestimate the intelligence of the masses!

DAB: So, you’re a fan of bad science fiction movies?

RAW: Oh, yes. Bad movies are generally just plain bad, and you can’t stand them, but bad science fiction and bad horror is funny. And the worse it is, the better it is, because the less convincing, the more amateurish, the more stupid and clumsy it is, the funnier it gets. Like “Plan 9,” with that immortal line, “The message couldn’t get through because of the weather conditions in outer space.” “Bride of the Monster” has some really wonderful stuff, too. There’s an atomic explosion at the end and the main characters are all standing around, there’s no fall-out, no blinding white light, none of the side effects of a real atomic explosion, just a mushroom shaped cloud and they stand there and look at it. And the chief of police says, “He meddled in God’s domain,” which is probably the corniest line in the history of films, but this together with an atomic explosion that isn’t an atomic explosion, it’s absolutely hilarious. I think there should be an Ed Wood memorial toilet somewhere in Hollywood. He brought movies, he brought his movies down to the crap-house level!

DAB: What about good science-fiction? A lot of your books are considered science-fiction, although they are often hard to categorize. Do you have any current favorite science-fiction writers?

RAW: The guy who wrote Neuromancer,William Gibson. I’d say he’s my current favorite. Phillip K. Dick, but he’s dead, or they claim he is. They took the liberty of burying him anyway. There are people who think Phil isn’t dead, you know.

DAB: Like some people think Jim Morrison isn’t really dead.

RAW: That’s another interesting question. Why did so many photographs disappear from the LA Police Department connected with the Bobby Kennedy assassination?

DAB: One of your recent books is The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about this book.

RAW: I coined the term irrational rationalism because those people claim to be rationalists, but they’re governed by such a heavy body of taboos. They’re so fearful, and so hostile, and so narrow, and frightened, and uptight and dogmatic. I thought it was a fascinating paradox: irrational rationalists. Later on I found out I didn’t invent that. Somebody else who wrote an article on CSICOP, that’s the group they all belong to: Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Somebody else who wrote about them also used the term irrational rationalism. It’s a hard term to resist when you think about those people.

I wrote this book because I got tired satirizing fundamentalist Christianity, I had done enough of that in my other books. I decided to satirize fundamentalist materialism for a change, because the two are equally comical. All fundamentalism is comical, unless you believe in it, in which case you’d become a fanatic yourself, and want everybody else to share your fundamentalism. But if you’re not a fundamentalist yourself, fundamentalists are the funniest people on the planet. The materialist fundamentalists are funnier than the Christian fundamentalists, because they think they’re rational!

DAB: They call themselves skeptical.

RAW: Yes, but they’re not skeptical! They’re never skeptical about anything except the things they have a prejudice against. None of them ever says anything skeptical about the AMA, or about anything in establishment science or any entrenched dogma. They’re only skeptical about new ideas that frighten them. They’re actually dogmatically committed to what they were taught when they were in college, which was about 1948-53, somewhere in that period. If you go back and study what was being taught in college in those days as the latest scientific theories, you find out that’s what these people still believe. They haven’t had a new idea in 30 years, that’s all that happened to them. They just rigidified, they crystallized around 1960.

DAB: The Amazing Randi recently “debunked” Uri Geller, the guy who bends metal. What do you think about the Amazing Randi in particular? I understand that he has investigated some of these faith healers, he’s debunked some of that. So some of the work that he’s done seems to be rational. What would be an example of something irrational that he’s done?

RAW: Well, his whole critique of the research of Plutof and Targ, at Stanford Research Institute. Randi was not there, he was not on the scene, and yet he claims to know what was going on there better than the two scientists who were supervising it. This implies 100% accurate telepathy. He was in New Jersey at the time of the experiments. The only way he could know better than the scientists running the project what was going on in their laboratory is if he had 100% accurate telepathy. Now he’s offering a $100,000 reward to anybody with 100% accurate telepathy; he should give all the money to himself! How else could he know? If he wasn’t there, he can’t know, he’s only guessing, and to the extend that he thinks he knows, and doesn’t realize he’s guessing, that’s what I mean by irrational rationalism. He’s lost all track of reality. He doesn’t know when he’s guessing anymore.

I’ve heard him make charges against scientists that remind me of Joe McCarthy. The only excuse for such things is that such a person doesn’t realize he’s guessing anymore, he thinks any suspicion that crosses his mind must be true. And that’s the only way you can forgive them, because every ethical system has some equivalent to the Bible injunction against bearing false witness against your neighbor. Anybody who goes around charging so many people with being frauds and criminals and whatnot, the only way to forgive them is that they don’t understand the seriousness of what they’re doing. And they believe they are infallible. If he had any sense of fallibility, he couldn’t do such things.

DAB: Let’s talk about the whole New Age movement happening now, Shirley McClaine, crystal healing and all that: Didn’t I hear something about you writing a book about that?

RAW: Yes, I’m writing a book about New Age sewage.

DAB: New Age sewage?

RAW: Yes, I got the idea from William Erwin Thompson, the anthropologist. He pronounces New Age as “Newage” so it rhymes with sewage. And I thought, boy there sure is enough of that around, isn’t there, New Age sewage. Just because there’s a slight chance people may not have read my other books, and may read The New Inquisition, and think I’m only against one type of fundamentalism, I decided to make the sequel to it, an attack on the imbeciles on the other side. And so, I’m going to tear into Ramtha and all these other sages who come back . . . the main thing Ramtha proves is you can be dead 40,000 years and still be a bore. That may be interesting news, but that’s . . . Everything I’ve heard from Ramtha sounds like an editorial from the Reader’s Digest in 1958 or something.

Then there are these ecological loonies who would like to abolish the human race so that the trees could live in peace again. I think they’re kind of funny. Then there’s these animal rights activists who also seem to have a very low opinion of humanity. I don’t know why they don’t all commit suicide, and get rid of the most, I mean, if you hate humanity, you’ve got to regard yourself as one of the prime offenders, because you know yourself better than the rest of humanity. If they have a low view of humanity, they must have a very low view of themselves. I wish they’d remove themselves from the scene and stop annoying the rest of us. I like people, I like humanity.

DAB: Except for the ones who don’t like people?

RAW: Well, I like them, too, I just find them a bit of a drag!

DAB: Is the Pope infallible?

RAW: I regard that as a game rule of the Catholic game. If you want to play the Catholic game, you’ve got to accept that rule. Like if you want to play baseball, you’ve got to accept the rule of the umpire, who is considered infallible. I don’t believe umpires or popes are de facto infallible, it’s just a game rule. I choose not to play the Catholic game. I’d find myself terribly constricted to live in a world where some right-wing Polish schlimazel is supposed to be infallible. I’d sooner accept Randi as infallible than the Pope.

DAB: Don’t you, in fact, hand out Pope cards?

RAW: Oh yes, I do. Kirby Hensley set out back in the 50’s to make every man, woman and child, and other miscellaneous, on the planet a clergy-entity.

DAB: Clergy-entity?

RAW: Yes, well clergy-person has human chauvinism in it, and Hensley got over that very early in his career. After ordaining all sorts of men and women, he started ordaining chimpanzees and parrots, and house cats and all sorts of critters. A friend of mine named Malaclypse the Younger got the idea that it’s not enough to make everybody a clergy-entity, let’s make everybody a Pope. He started printing up Pope cards and distributing them, and I thought it was a good idea, so I started distributing Pope cards too, and there are oh, a couple hundred at least Discordians who are distributing Pope cards.

Only recently, the Vatican announced that Cardinals can give indulgences over television, which raises some interesting theological problems, because if you make a videotape of it when a Cardinal is giving an indulgence and you play the videotape over and over, do you get perpetual indulgence? And then can you join the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in San Francisco? The Jesuits haven’t answered that, yet. But while they’re working on it, I figure, well, if they can do indulgences over television, I can do pontifications over television, or radio. So every time I’m on a television or radio show, I make the whole audience Popes.

As a matter of fact, everybody who is listening to me right now, if they take a deep breath and relax while I say the magic formula, “Spectacles, testicles, brandy, cigars,” they’re all Popes. Everybody listening, they’re all now as infallible as the guy in Rome, or Randi, or Carl Sagan, or the Ayatollah Khomeini, or any other authority on the planet. You’re all equally infallible, and take crap from nobody!

DAB: And they thought they were just listening to the radio!

RAW: Yes, they didn’t know I was about to liberate them totally, did they?

artrulea

Man Bites Dogma

Man Bites Dogma

A Conversation with Robert Anton Wilson 
about Politics, Religion, Drugs, and Quantum Mechanics 

by Michael Dare

wilsonrobertantondare

He’s been called a cult figure to various lunatic fringe groups, Tom Robbins calls him “a dazzling barker hawking tickets to the most thrilling tilt-a-whirls and daring loop-o-planes on the midway of higher consciousness,” he calls himself an iconoclastic comedian, and whether Robert Anton Wilson is a philosopher or a public nuisance is now up to you. His books, The Illuminatus Trilogy, Schroedinger’s Cat, and The Cosmic Trigger all fall somewhere in between non-fiction and pure fantasy, full of unquestionable facts and quotes that somehow always add up to utterly preposterous conclusions. This devotion to eccentricity and breaking down barriers reaches it’s zenith in The Illuminati Papers, a book seemingly written by characters from all his other books. It contains, among other esoterica, a whole page of Haiku by Raymond Chandler in which Wilson has simply taken short descriptive excerpts from Chandler’s work and reformatted them into beautiful miniature poems.

With all the passion of a religious crusader, Robert Anton Wilson is out to destroy all personal belief systems, to force every one of his readers to seriously question any and all thoughts they hold dear. His specialty is in analyzing systems that seem to contradict each other and trying to find the points at which they do agree. In Prometheus Rising he synthesizes the works of Leary, Jung, Freud, Sagan, Gurdjieff, Berne, and several others into a general system that shows how much they have in common, where they disagree, and why. His newest work, Reality is What You Can Get Away With, reads like a screenplay by Picasso – it’s cubist, outrageous, completely non-linear, constantly startling, and very funny. All of his books are part of a series; they’re cinematic, full of cross cutting, montages, flashbacks, and flash forwards. But no one seems to be able to figure out if this new one is a movie or a book since it actively defies both definitions. He’s raised the put-on to the highest art form.

Wilson holds a Ph.D. in psychology, edited the Playboy Forum for six years, has made a comedy record (Secrets of Power) and a punk rock record (The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy), the stage version of his Illuminatus trilogy has been seen in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Seattle, Jerusalem, and was performed recently in Liverpool by the London National Theater in a 12 hour noon to midnight marathon. His latest play, Wilhelm Reich in Hell has only been seen in Ireland where Wilson has lived for the past five years. A screenwriting job brought him to Hollywood recently, where he has been delivering lectures and running fantasy role-playing encounter groups. These evenings are enlightening, self-contradictory, very funny, and hazardous to your dogma. We started out talking about one of his favorite subjects.

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wilsonrobertanton2  DARE
Do you see everything as a conspiracy?

WILSON
No. Somebody once accused me of claiming that everything is subjective, but I don’t make statements about everything, I only make partial statements. I think conspiracy is very prevalent behavior on this planet. It even precedes humanity. Lions conspire – one lion will frighten a herd of antelope to get them running in a certain direction where the other lions will be waiting there to eat them. That’s a conspiracy against antelopes, and I’m sure the antelopes are very bitter about it. Ants conspire, they seize territory and drive off interlopers, rats have very vigorous conspiracies, when a rat from a strange pack gets into a house they’ll hunt him down and kill him. It’s just like the mafia, “Don’t do anything on our territory.”

DARE
Is it possible for a conspiracy to be benign?

WILSON
It would have to be open. The difference between a conspiracy and an affinity group is that when me and my friends do it it’s an affinity group and when someone we don’t like does it it’s a conspiracy. Conspiracies run the literary world, the art world, marijuana arrives here due to conspiracies. It’s a conspiratorial world.
People naturally form groups and to the extent that they’re competing with each other, they try to hide what they’re doing. The best explanation of conspiracy is in The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, a very thick mathematical treatise. It explains that it’s very beneficial to have conspiracies in competitive situations – the bigger an alliance you form, the quicker you move ahead.
The function of every alliance is to conceal information from the other alliance and to spread false information, just like in a poker game. You don’t want them to know what hand you’ve got but you want them to think they know. Poker is the essence of conspiracy. Everybody’s trying to deceive one another. A benevolent conspiracy would have to be open, without the factor of concealment, and everybody’s invited in. That’s the only kind of conspiracy that could really improve the world.

DARE
So you think that Summit Conferences should be broadcast live to everybody?

WILSON
Of course. People are so paranoid about the Bilderbergers because they’re so secretive. For all we know they’re only getting together to look at stag movies once a year. The Bilderbergers have a lot of members in common with the Tri-Lateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. To a great extent they’re financed by the Rockefellers and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. They’re all part of one gang that meets once a year in secret. They’re called the Bilderbergers because their first meeting was in Bilderberg. They get more coverage each time they meet because they’re so secretive about what they’re doing. They say they’re meeting to discuss international harmony and the peaceful resolution of our problems, but no one’s allowed to hear what they’re talking about.

DARE
Would giving away the Bilderberger’s secrets make them more benign?

WILSON
No, it would just make them more paranoid, more devious. My business is not to expose but to collect comparative exposes so that the readers can see that conspiracy is normal behavior and that there’s no one big conspiracy that runs everything.
In the ’30s, the Nazis were very much into the theory that the Jewish bankers controlled everything, and that led to such horror that it became forbidden to think about conspiracies at all for decades thereafter. The first people who said there was a conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination were all denounced as obstinate nut cases and wandering loonies. My attitude, after looking at the evidence for a long time, is that there is no one big conspiracy, that the historians who refuse to admit conspiracy as a factor in history are just over-reacting to stupid conspiracy theories.
There really are conspiracies of varying sizes, but they’re so busy fighting each other that they have nothing to do with us. Most of them are for monetary reasons. There are conspiracies to decide whose book is going to be reviewed on page one of the New York Times or the Herald Tribune. Often it’s the same book in both, more often than coincidence or even synchronicity can account for. There are commercial conspiracies to fix prices. Some have ideology or mysticism behind them. I don’t think you can understand history until you understand the element of poetic whimsy and sheer irrationality in the minds of so called practical people.
In WW2, both Churchill and Hitler thought they were in direct communication with God. So did MacArthur and Patton. Hitler and Mussolini both outlawed Freemasonry in Germany and Italy. The leaders of the war against them were Roosevelt, a 33rd degree Freemason, Churchill, another high ranking Freemason, Hoover, the head of the secret police in America was a 33rd degree Freemason

DARE
What exactly to those degrees stand for?

WILSON
They indicate how many initiations you’ve gone through. Actually, any Freemason who is nominated to the presidency of the United States gets elevated to the 32nd degree right away. Then if he’s elected, he’s given the 33rd degree, which is only honorary. The 32nd degree in mainly concerned with the Knights of Malta, who are the enemies of Freemasonry.
The Freemasons claim that the Knights of Malta have sworn an oath to stamp out liberalism, free thought, and restore the total reign of tyranny and superstition that existed in the dark ages. It’s a secret society within the Catholic Church that doesn’t seek publicity at all. Very little is known about it. William Casey of the CIA was a Knight of Malta, Alexander Haig is a Knight of Malta. According to Gordon Thomas, an English journalist, the Knights of Malta now act as couriers between the Vatican and the CIA. His theory is very complicated, but it illustrates how conspiracies operate in the real world as distinguished from paranoid fantasy.
The Gray Wolves are a Muslim fundamentalist group who deal heroin to get money to buy arms to carry on their campaign to exterminate Israel. They’ve been very involved in gunrunning because they have a link with the Bulgarian secret police, who are very much into selling munitions underground. The KGB uses the Gray Wolves for operations that, if they’re ever blown, can’t be traced back to Russia. Roberto Calvi of Banco Abrosiano was taking a great deal of this heroin money from the Gray Wolves and the mafia and running it through the Vatican Bank, which doesn’t have to show records to anybody. The Italian government can’t examine their records, it belongs to the government of the state of the Vatican, so they’re the only ones who can look at their own books. If you can get illicit money into the Vatican Bank, it disappears forever, nobody can find any trace of it.
The Gray Wolves had a grudge against the Pope because of his involvement with Calvi, who embezzled so much money that everybody got swindled. He was found hanging from a bridge in London, his secretary was pushed from a window at Banco Abrosiano the same day, a few more executives have died mysteriously since then. Calvi’s partner in the swindles, Michele Sindona, was convicted in this country of 65 counts of stock and currency fraud and faking his own kidnapping to escape prosecution. Back in Italy, he was convicted of the murder of the examiner hired to investigate his bank. After that they were going to put him on trial for conspiracy in 80 murders, but he was poisoned in his cell. All of this is part of how the Bulgarian secret police hired a killer from the Gray Wolves to get the Pope.

DARE
Isn’t the Pope just a figurehead without much power, sort of the Gerald Ford of the Vatican?

WILSON
That’s not true, the Pope does have a lot of power. Consider the case of Pope John Paul I. He was a rebel who didn’t like the way the church was being run, and in 1978 he announced that he would be going through a complete overhaul, throwing out a lot of the old crowd and bringing in new people. Observatori Politico sent him a list of 115 Freemasons in the Vatican, including members of P2, who had infiltrated 900 members into the Italian Government, including the secret police. John Paul ordered an investigation, and within a few days he was mysteriously found dead.
The Vatican has never shown a death certificate and no autopsy was performed. They told two different stories about who found him dead, things disappeared out of his bedroom that have never been accounted for, including his will, his medicine bottle, and his glasses. Pecorelli, the editor of Observatori Politico who sent him the list of P2 and other Freemason members in the Vatican, was shot to death through the mouth, Mafia fashion, on the streets of Rome a few weeks later. You can’t explain that in terms of one big conspiracy, there are obviously interlocking and feuding conspiracies – the Mafia, P2, the Freemasons, the Bulgarian secret police, the CIA, and God knows who else.
Licio Gelli, the grandmaster of the P2 Lodge, was on the payroll of the CIA and the KGB. He was that kind of operator. He disappeared from Italy, which shows how many friends he had in the police. He showed up in Switzerland a few months later to take some money out of a bank account, and he was recognized and arrested. The Swiss put him in a maximum security prison but he was out within two days. One guard claimed he was hypnotized. The fascinating thing is that if you look at pictures of Reagan’s second inaugural, you’ll see Licio Gelli right next to Reagan.
Most of this information can be found in two books, In God’s Name by David Yallop, and In Banks We Trust by Penny Lernoux, which explains how the whole international banking system interlinks with the heroin and cocaine laundering business that the Vatican has been running.

DARE
Are you saying the Pope is a drug dealer?

WILSON
The biggest drug laundromat ever busted in this country was the World Finance Corporation in Miami. The president and several other senior executives were convicted. Two directors of the bank were allegedly former CIA agents, but the prosecutors were blocked in Washington when they tried to investigate the connections between the bank and the CIA.
In any case, the WFC had all this money going into it from South American countries that are in the cocaine business, and they sent it to the CIS Alpine Bank in the Bahamas, which is owned by Archbishop Marcinkus who runs the Vatican Bank, which is where the money ended up. After that it’s in a black hole, it disappears from human vision forever, most likely ending up in Swiss bank accounts. The profits from this go towards keeping those dictators in power, maintaining the secret police and the death squads.
After the second world war, Liccio Gelli was shrewd enough to start an escape route for Nazi war criminals, getting them to South America for a fee, giving them new identities, and complete cover. He kept in touch with them as they found jobs as organizers of the death squads, doing the same sort of things they did in the ’40s, only now they’re doing it for Ronald Reagan and the money is going into the Vatican Bank. Obviously you can’t run a church on just Hail Marys.
The only reason cocaine is illegal is because there’s so much money to be made out of it while it’s illegal. If it were legal, the prices would go way down.

DARE
So Nancy Reagan’s whole JUST SAY NO campaign is just a ploy to keep the prices up?

WILSON
Or sheer stupidity. There’s so much money in the cocaine business that a lot of Latin American governments depend on it for their survival. The CIA has been in the cocaine business for 20 or 30 years now, and it’s very useful for them to keep it illegal. That way they can use it as a form of currency that doesn’t leave any records. When you hear about big cocaine busts, those are just renegades, the entrepreneurs who were trying to work outside of the system.

DARE
You’ve painted a rather bleak picture of a conspiratorial world. Are there any positive actions we can take to change things?

WILSON
In my books, I’m trying to show people how to free their own minds. I think that’s the first step. People have got to become less mechanical and more aware. My books are all constructed as mindfucks, to get the readers to open their brains up, receive new signals, and come out of their conditioned patterns of thought and perceptions.
There are a lot of Utopian ideas in my books that I don’t think are impractical at all. I call them Utopian because they’re beyond anything the human race has achieved in the past, but we’re moving incredibly fast. I think there are changes right ahead of us that are even bigger than the industrial revolution. The human life span will be doubled by the year 2000 and quadrupled by 2010. One man flew the Atlantic in 1928, 200 million flew the Atlantic in 1978. Taking that fifty year time span as a model, people started going into space in the 1960s so by 2010 we should have 200 million going into space every year.

DARE
Are there any existing political systems you admire?

WILSON
Scandinavian socialism. I found the Scandinavians to be about the most admirable people in Europe – clean streets, a low crime rate, a general air of high civilization – luxuries for all and a total absence of slums, poverty, and ugliness. They seem very happy and productive, with one of the most way out futurist movements in the world. They’re the California of Europe.
I hate to sound like a Marxist, which I’m not, but the reason you haven’t heard about Scandinavian Socialism is because the media of this country is controlled by rich people who are scared shitless of socialism. They want Americans to think there’s only one type of socialism, Soviet Communism, which is the kind of place where dissident scientists get thrown in lunatic asylums, all of which is true. Americans are paranoid about Russians but Scandinavians regard them with amusement; they’re those backwards people who think that you can only have socialism by putting all the poets and painters in jail. The Scandinavians reward their poets and they don’t put anyone in jail for dissident political opinions.

DARE
Aren’t you scared of getting in trouble, of finally saying the one thing you shouldn’t have said?

WILSON
We’re all living in a world in which one cannot apply one’s highest ideals without getting into a lot of trouble. I’ve gotten in trouble, but I haven’t gone to jail, which shows I may have more common sense than Tim Leary. I certainly don’t claim to be more intelligent than him. He’s the most intelligent human being I’ve ever encountered.

DARE
Do you share his conclusions about LSD?

WILSON
LSD breaks up habitual circuits of the brain. It opens new circuits, breaks down old circuits, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that it destroys brain cells. LSD is very much a metaprogramming device, it changes the basic programs, that’s why it’s dangerous. It creates acute paranoid states in bureaucrats who’ve never used it.
To get the best out of it needs a scientific or religious approach, one or the other. People who are just tripping for the fun of it are more likely to imprint a whole new reality tunnel or personality on themselves that they weren’t looking for. If you’re going to do LSD, you should decide the changes you’re aiming at and structure the trip to lead to that kind of change.
There’s no doubt that you can change every part of your personality with LSD, that’s why Leary calls it a re-imprinting drug. It changes basic imprints which are much more rigid than conditioning. There’s no doubt that I am a different person than I am before I took it.
I was a statistical materialist before I started experimenting with LSD, that is I didn’t believe the laws of the universe were absolutely deterministic because I knew enough quantum mechanics to know that it broke them down. But I was still a statistical materialist, everything could be explained by the accidental permutations of little hunks of energy that solidify into matter. I was perfectly satisfied with that explanation of the universe, and I never realized that I was as dogmatic about it as any Catholic was about their faith. After LSD impacted on me, I became a total agnostic, and I’m not dogmatic about anything anymore. I know that every system I make up is my own brain making up a system. None of the systems is big enough to include the whole universe, so all of my beliefs are only relatively true. Some are undoubtedly wrong because I’m not that brilliant that I never make a mistake.
There are a lot of people who don’t realize how conceited they are. By asserting with such certitude the things they believe in, they don’t realize that they’re saying “I’m the smartest person in the world, I can answer all the questions.” People like Carl Sagan. I just don’t know how he can be so sure of everything when, by and large, the more intelligent you get, the more you realize you can’t be sure of anything.

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DARE
Since Newtonian physics don’t apply to sub-atomic particles, how can you apply logic on the quantum level to objective reality?

WILSON
There’s a lot of disagreement among quantum physicists on that subject, but I am very interested in, and almost believe, the school that includes David Bohm, who was driven out of the United States during the McCarthy era, and considered the most brilliant pupil of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
There is a non-locality principal in quantum mechanics, which means that things are correlated even if they’re not connected mechanically or by energy transmissions. Up until this was discovered, everything in physics could be explained by energy transfers. You hear me because sound waves move from my voice to your ear, and so on.
Then they discovered that there were things that were moving in harmony with each other, and that there was no way that energy could be getting between them. Energy can’t move faster than speed of light, and yet these actions were instantaneously correlated. There are several approaches towards understanding non-locality, but, as Schroedinger put it, the sum total of all minds is one. The appearance of separate egos is only a hallucination, like that of the flatness of the earth or the movement of the sun around the earth. These ideas have all been corrected, and the idea that we’re different from the animals has created mass hysteria. The appearance of separate egos is a hallucination. We are all facets of one mind.

DARE
But it’s a necessary hallucination. You can’t play chess with yourself.

WILSON
It’s necessary for the game on this planet that every organism have a sense of self and a sense of the hive, the pack, it’s us against the rest of them out there. Antland Uber Alles is the song the ants sing in T.H. White’s Merlin stories, and every gene pool has that basic philosophy, just as every individual has it’s “self”. You can go through consciousness alterations by means of yoga, certain types of shamanic magic, and various drugs that teach you how to identify with the gene pool instead of your private ego. You can get beyond that and identify with the whole biosphere.

DARE
Can you actually affect your own genetic structure so that these structural changes can be passed on to other generations?

WILSON
I tend to believe in Sheldrake’s morpho-genetic field, in which he proposes that there’s a non-local connection in biology too. Biologists are denouncing him as a nut and a heretic. Though the first two experiments to check Sheldrake have tended to very strongly support him, they’ve been ruthlessly criticized.
It makes sense that if you’ve got non-local connections in physics that you could have them in biology too. Freud and Jung and Leary have all tried to account for racial memory or our ability to remember past lives. They’ve had to posit that somehow genes are carrying information from one organism to it’s descendants, but this part of modern psychology has always been rejected by biologists because there’s lots of evidence that genes can’t do that. Freud had racial memory, Jung had the collective unconscious, Leary has the neuro-genetic circuit, but there’s no way any of it can work mechanically, and that’s why biologists reject it. The only way it can work is with Sheldrake’s non-local morpho-genetic field, which, if it exists, would let me send signals that will be able to effect the genes of future generations, and not just those directly descended from me. I can control the direction of evolution through thought forms I’m putting out, and so can everybody else.
People can’t stay in their old reality tunnels any longer, they’ve got to start accelerating their brain activity. Very specifically, a world full of Islamic fundamentalists, Protestant fundamentalists, dogmatic Marxists, and Reaganite chauvinist Americans is moving us closer and closer to World War III, and the only thing that’s going to head that off is if people stop being Midwestern Methodist bankers or Shuto computer executives or Muslim heroin smugglers and develop a bigger identity. They’ve got to get out of these narrow little trips. Buckminster Fuller used to say that one of the consequences of the traditional game is nationalism. Planet earth is a spaceship with 150 independent and sovereign admirals all steering in different directions.

DARE
What is the next stage in evolution?

WILSON
The model I use is adapted from Leary. The oral-bio-survival circuit is what the amoebas operate on – taste everything. Babies operate on that too. That’s the circuit we go back to whenever we’re in danger, and depending on what we imprinted there, we will either attack or run away.
Then there’s Freud’s anal circuit, which has to do with claiming territory and status within it. That’s when we go through the mammalian rituals concerning who runs the family, outsmarting our brothers and sisters and trying to run the whole show, imprinting our domination and submission reflexes. It’s why people can hold jobs; their boss becomes a father substitute and they attach all their reflexes to him.
Next there’s the rational circuit in which we do our abstract reasoning with words and mathematics, and the socio-sexual circuit where we imprint the pattern of how we relate to people; with what degree of amity or sexuality. Everybody has a different imprint, and society has only one general set of rules, so everybody is a heretic as far as that circuit is concerned. Those four circuits are the natural child, the adoptive child, the adult, and the parent in Berne’s system.
Beyond that is the neuro-somatic circuit, where, through yoga or drugs or body work like Rolfing, one gimmick or another, you are able to turn on to your own body in a new way, and instead of just reacting to the conditioned and imprinted programs on the first four circuits, you are able to relax and go with the flow and enjoy life.
The sixth circuit is the neuro-genetic circuit, which has to do with morpho-genetic resonances, coming in contact with the experience and religious symbols of your ancestors, learning that they’ve been controlling you below the level of consciousness all your life. This is what Shamanism traditionally deals with. Jungian psychology was the first attempt to deal with it scientifically, now we’ve got dozens of others trying to bring people into harmony with archetypes of the collective unconscious or genetic heritage.
The next is the metaprogramming circuit, which is learning how the brain can work on the brain, how you can imprint different identities and reality tunnels as you go along. Before you get to that circuit, you have no idea what true freedom really is, you’re being manipulated all the time whether you know it or not. It’s the circuit where you develop true choice.

DARE
How do you get there?

WILSON
If you do a lot of work on the 5th and 6th circuits, the 7th tends to click on. First you get a lot of synchronicities, meaningful coincidences, accidental reinforcement from your environment, like someone coming by to loan you a book that’s exactly the one you were looking for. Jung found that his patient’s dreams had more and more symbols out of Greek and Egyptian and Hindu mythology as they progressed into that circuit, even without studying them consciously. They pulled them out of the collective unconscious, which I think is actually the morphogenetic field.
Above that there’s the non-local quantum circuit, which is the circuit in which we get true out of body experiences, cosmic identification with the whole of existence.
We’re learning so much about the latter four circuits, which Leary calls the extraterrestrial circuits, that we’re moving into a new stage of evolution. More people are on the fifth circuit than ever before in history, and there are growing sixth and seventh circuit minorities. It’s not an accident. We’re changing just as we have to change. These circuits were there, ready to be used, when we got to this point in evolution. Earlier, mankind could just coast along on the first four circuits, and only visionaries and mystics and poets ever turned on the higher circuits. Now everyone does it.

DARE
How to you teach people to turn on their higher circuits?

WILSON
You’ve got to teach with humor to make the pill palatable. Besides, humor is the essence of realizing our true situation in space and time. We are these tiny fallible beings crawling around on a relatively small planet, and anybody who pontificates dogmatically about anything is giving evidence that they are an idiot, even if you agree with them. They shouldn’t sound that certain. We think we’re so damn smart and we know so fucking little.

Notes from the Pop Underground

Interview from Notes from the Pop Underground
edited by Peter Belsito, 1985

How would you describe yourself politically and how did you become that way?

RAW: I was born in Brooklyn in 1932, the worst year of the Great Depression. Until World War II, my father was several times unemployed and my childhood memories are of poverty and anxiety. I think this marked me permanently; although my temperament is individualistic in the extreme, I’ve always been a Left Libertarian rather than a Right Libertarian. I loathe Marxism because it is a religion and I detest religions and dogmas, but I find nothing pernicious in democratic socialism, even though I would prefer a syndicalist or anarchist or guild socialist system. If I were forced to choose between democratic Fabian socialism and capitalism (which thank Gott I am not) I would choose the democratic socialist system.

Why do you detest religions so much? Has that loathing led to anything particular about your style of writing?

RAW: I was educated in grammar school by nuns, who filled me with religious horror stories. I think this led directly to (a) my loathing for all religions and (b) my emphasis on horror in my fiction. I think I use horror, not to scare the reader (like Stephen King, for instance) but to transcend horror, by resolving it into satire and crazy humor. My books are never simply journeys into terror but journeys beyond terror, back to sunlight, a good laugh, and renewed optimism. To say it otherwise, I cannot leave the horrors out because they were imprinted on me when I was so young, but I am always looking beyond them. I agree with Sean O’Casey’s great line, “Life contains terrible things but life itself is not terrible.”

How much influence did your parents have on your development as a writer?

RAW: Parental influence? My mother was off her head part of the time during my childhood and I was what is now called a battered child. She gradually recovered after World War II came along and my father became full-time employed at a good salary again, but angry women still make me more nervous than angry men. I always feel I can handle an angry man, but I want to leave the room when a woman starts shrieking. This is probably why, although sympathetic to Feminism, I flee the scene when a Women’s Libber approaches. What about your father’s influence?

RAW: My father’s principle influence on me was saying many, many times, “Ah, God, the union is not what it used to be, but I’d never do without it. When there were no unions, the working man didn’t have a chance, not a chance, he got screwed every way.”

What were your primary interests as a teenager?

RAW: Teenage interests? My main interest was in getting laid, and I was not successful until I got out of my teens, partly because that was in the 1950s and partly because I was still myself recovering from Roman Catholic brainwashing.

When and how did you become interested in scientific theory?

RAW: As soon as motion was autarchic, I got out of the Catholic Church (aged fourteen) and majored in sciences, at Brooklyn Tech and later Brooklyn Polytech. Although I have worked mostly as an editor until age forty and have been a full-time freelance writer since then, I remain fascinated by the hard sciences and especially by Futurism–the attempt to forecast future technology and its effects on social behavior. Everything I write, whether published as fiction or not, is in a sense Science Fiction, an attempt to imagine vividly what science is doing and will be doing to our lives, our minds, our relationships.  I feel that this is the most interesting field for a writer today, just as theology was for Dante circa 1300. We are living willy-nilly in a world science has made, and I keep trying to understand science better so I can understand that world better.

What did your parents think of your leaving the church?

RAW: My parents never objected to my leaving the RC Church; they were fairly lapsed Catholics themselves and sent me to a Catholic school only because they thought “it was good for chiddren.” [sic] What were your literary influences as an adolescent?

RAW: Major intellectual influences on my adolescence were Darwin, H.L. Mencken, Frazer’s Golden Bough, Clarence Darrow, Tom Paine, and Marx and Trotsky for a short while only.

What have been the continuing influences in your life?

RAW: Major continuing influences on my thought: Alfred Korzybski’s General Semantics, R. Buckminster Fuller, and quantum mechanics, all of which impacted on me in my early twenties and continue to mold my way of seeing the world. Timothy Leary has been a major influence almost as long, since 1964. Much of what you write in your books seems to make light of culture and history. With that in mind what do you think the future will be like?

RAW: Although a lot of the ideas in my books are jokes, satires, provocations etc., I am serious about the idea that history is accelerating and I do expect more changes before 2000 A.D. than in ALL previous history. I think we will have life extension by then, and I think we will evade nuclear war but only at the cost of another major depression, more massive unemployment and some kind of gizmo close to world government or closer to world government than the present United Nations. That is, I think governments cannot borrow enough from the international banks to keep on Welfare the growing numbers of the unemployed, so the system will crack somewhere and a new system will emerge out of the chaos.

What is your association with the O.T.O., Golden Dawn and other occult orders?

RAW: Those are only two of the occult orders into which I have been initiated. For a while in the early ’70s I was going around to occult conventions the way some people go to every science-fiction con, and frequently members of one occult order would initiate the members of another order _en masse_. If I listed all my mystical titles, the catalog would be quite impressive (to those who are impressed by titles). Chiefly what I learned from all this hocus-pocus was that ritual can be a very effective method of brain-change or neurological reprogramming, but only if it contains a high element of symbolic drama and a certain carefully calculated shock. That is, the reason most church rituals accomplish nothing and are so bloody *dull* is that the drama and shock are missing. The real reason for the secrecy of occult orders (including the Freemasons) is that the drama and shock are most powerful if the candidate literally does not know what is about to happen next.

A true ritual, containing a neurological shock, can be as effective as many years of meditation or other yogic practices. Of course, it doesn’t always work; amateurs often botch their rituals and the effect then is like a syrupy Disney film that’s supposed to make you cry but just makes you squirm, or a comedy that doesn’t make you laugh, or a horror film that doesn’t scare you. But when a ritual is performed correctly, everybody feels the energy and knows they have entered a new level of reality.

The principal methods of altering consciousness are drugs, meditation, special breathing techniques like pranayama, and a heightening of shock or confusion. A good ritual creates that shock and confusion in which you begin to see with new clarity and hear what is being said. It opens you to experiences that your cultural conditioning has previously armored you against.

After a while, however, all ritual becomes vain repetition. There is no more to learn from it. I dropped out of all occult orders, with no hard feelings on any side, many years ago. My work on consciousness these days is involved only with meditation and yogic breathing. In my experience, those techniques never become repetitious or redundant. You learn more from them every year.

You had an article published in Science Digest in 1982 called “Mere Coincidence?”, which seemed to me to be stretching the limits of science to suit your own ends. At the same time, once I had read the article my interest in “coincidence” was so aroused that I began noticing several per day. Was your article on coincidence one of your jokes or do you defend this theory?

RAW: I’ve been studying this subject for over twenty years now, and still haven’t come to any final conclusions . . . except that it was worthy of further study. The basic question raised by synchronicities, or seeming synchronicities, is: how much of what we experience is created by our own minds? I think that is really the most important question in modern science. It is naive to think our minds are like typing paper and just register experience passively; this has been thoroughly refuted by cultural anthropology, psychoanalysis, perception experiments, and dozens of other bits of clinical data. We do create part, maybe a great deal, of our experience. On the other hand, those who claim we create all our experience are asking us to believe an astonishing doctrine and I see no reason to go that far. So, we create a great deal of our experience, not necessarily all (did you create the universe?), and the Big Question (or the Wig Question) is: how much are you creating right now? Every synchronicity is like a Zen koan, forcing you to ask that question again and think about it deeply.

Freud noticed strange coincidences happening in psychotherapy long before Jung, although he never called them synchronicities. The reason these coincidences make us feel uncanny, Freud said, is because they are isomorphic to things in our unconscious. That is, a coincidence gets our attention, and makes us feel eerie (and nowadays gets called a synchronicity) only if it corresponds to something our unconscious is “trying to tell us” and we are trying to repress. Jung’s theory is that such congruencies indicate a connection across space-time between our minds and other minds, and between mind and matter, this does not seem at all implausible to me. There are very similar ideas in quantum mechanics-non-local connections, they are called, which act as if space-time were unreal. Physicists such as Dr. David Bohm, Dr. E. H. Walker, Dr. Jack Sarfatti, Dr. Fritjof Capra, and many others, have written extensively about such non-local connections, which seem to be mathematically necessary if quantum mechanics is valid. The question still remains when you notice a coincidence that moves you: Is this case an example of that non-local connectedness in nature, or is this case just the result of chance and is the meaning all in your own head? I can’t answer that question, but I think it is worth investigating the subject more and thinking about it.

Someone pointed out to me that your current home (Sandycove, Dublin, Ireland) was also the home of James Joyce, whom you use as a character in Masks of the Illuminati. Why did you move to Ireland, and why Sandycove in particular?

RAW: I always said that if Ronald Reagan were elected President, I would get the hell out of the country. He was elected, so I got the hell out of the country. As W.C. Fields said, “You must take the bull by the tail and look the facts in the face.”

Of all the places in Europe I could have settled, I picked Sandycove on the Dublin shore, because of its associations with James Joyce, my favorite writer. He was as fascinated by synchronicities as I am. In Finnegans Wake, he calls it the “coincidance” – the dance of coincidences that make life possible. Coincidentally enough, he was born on the same day as my mother, February 2, 1882. Eamon de Valera, the most influential man in Irish politics in this century, was born on that day too: February 2, 1882. Is that enough coincidences to make a synchronicity?

Are you aware of the Church of the SubGenius? Do you think the Church of the SubGenius was somewhat based upon your writing?

RAW: There’s a rumor going around that the Head of the Church, Bob Dobbs, is really me under an assumed name. I don’t think I should dignify such wild and irresponsible stories by commenting on them at all; but it is true, you know, that if you say “There’s no prob with Bob” a thousand times you’ll get exactly the same effect as if you had said “Hare Krishna” or “Twas brillig and the slithey toves” a thousand times. Really. You get the same effect from fifty “Our Fathers” and twenty-five “Hail Marys,” too. It’s called boredom.

A while ago I got a record to review in the mail by a group from the Boston area called Magic Mose and His Royal Rockers, featuring Blind Sam. One of the songs on the record, titled “Dating a Witch Beats Dating a Nun,” had your name in it. Did you ever hear it? I think they mention Aleister Crowley, the Bavarian Illuminati and a few other occult figures in the same song.

RAW: Never heard of it, but I’m delighted that somebody has put my name in a song. There was also a group a few years ago, called the Bavarian Illuminati, who had a picture of me on the jacket of one of their records, along with Crowley and George Washington and somebody who looked like King Lear. (Maybe that was Nostradamus?)

How would you describe your style of writing?

RAW: I change my style and perspective from book to book, or even from paragraph to paragraph–as Joyce did–because I am engaged in what I call guerrilla ontology. What e.e. cummings said about Ezra Pound is true of me, also: “The damned sadist is trying to force his readers to THINK!” Ramming dogmas into the reader’s head until the reader starts regurgitating some of them out of his or her mouth-the kind of thing that is called teaching in schools, or conversion in religious cults–doesn’t interest me at all. I try to present a phalanx of urgently exciting puzzles and possibilities, and offer two or three ways of organizing them into a pattern. Or a dozen ways of organizing them, or two dozen. Then the readers can either start thinking for themselves, or be left with all these annoying puzzles to haunt them forever. One of the reviews that pleased me most was by Jay Kinney; he said my books were deliberately annoying. Well, they are – for people who hate to think and want somebody else to do their thinking for them, That’s not my job. Why the hell should I do anybody else’s thinking; when it’s hard work already to do my own thinking? Besides, those who really can’t or won’t think just have to look around – there are hundreds of Perfectly Enlightened Masters who will be glad to do their thinking for them. A Perfectly Enlightened Master is ideal, if you want to become a Perfectly Benighted Slave.

I have a few disciples, despite the fact that I keep telling them I don’t want no bloody disciples. Some of them in Providence, the Providence Random Assembly, have a letterhead that says “Purveyors of Doubt and Choice Since 1976.” I like that. That’s what my books are doing – purveying doubt and choice.

Of course, that’s only the philosophical reason for my style; the real, pragmatic, gut reason that I don’t reveal the final answers is that I haven’t found any final answers yet. Every time I think I have a final answer, I turn it over and find another annoying question underneath it.   I think this keeps me young, or at least curious. If I ever do find any final answers, however, I will gladly share them with the world, and they can elect me Pope or Ayatollah or whatever is fitting for a case like mine, but in the meanwhile all I’ve got to offer is–doubt and choice. As God said to Moses (at least in Illuminatus!), “Think for yourself, schmuck!”

Since Illuminatus! deals with anarchy, rock-‘n-‘roll, and youth culture, and predates Punk rock, do you think that your writing may have had an influence on the Punk scene?

RAW: I never thought of myself as an influence on Punk, but you may be right. I used to be an anarchist and a nihilist, but I had to drop out of that because the anarchists and nihilists had too many rules. I guess I’m still allied to anarchy and nihilism in that I don’t believe in any Authority that wants to tell me what’s true or false or what’s right or wrong; I want to decide for myself. In general – I could be wrong – I have the impression that there’s a lot of anger in Punk, and that’s not my bag at all. As some great philosopher of the ’60s said, “I used to be disgusted, but now I’m just amused.” When a nation of two hundred million allegedly sane people elects Ronald Reagan as President, the only choices are despair or just sitting down and laughing your head off. I prefer to sit down and laugh my head off. Why couldn’t they have picked the fat guy who played the police chief in Plan 9 From Outer Space? He’s just as funny as Reagan and maybe he can count past ten without taking his shoes off.

Is this idea Punk? My basic opinion, after more than fifty years on the planet, is that there is very little difference between wild primates in the jungle and the average domesticated primate in a large city. We are literally living on the Planet of the Apes. Once you realize that, there’s no point in being angry about it anymore. We’re in a zoo, and the biggest, ugliest, meanest baboons are always picked to lead the herd. If you look at the news and think that the incredible stupidities and brutalities you hear have been done by human beings (who are rational beings according to Aristotle) you can only despair or take to heroin, I guess. But if you realize these things are being done by primates–by apes dressed up in funny “customes” [sic], like chimps who drive motorcycles in circuses – then it all makes sense, and it’s quite astounding that the apes can handle the machinery and walk upright and so on. There have been damned few human beings; the human being is something that is evolving and about to happen, but has not happened yet.

Earlier you mentioned Futurism. The only Futurists that I’m aware of were the turn-of-the-century Italians who called their art movement Futurism. Could you explain further what you mean by Futurism?

RAW: Futurism, as I use the word, has nothing to do with the Italian art movement of 1909. Futurism, also called Future Studies or Futuremics, is a branch of sociology and social psychology that studies the effects of technology on society and attempts to project trajectories of where present trends are taking us. My Ph.D. was in psychology only because the university where I got it, Hawthorne, had no department of Futurism or Future Studies; my dissertation was pure Futurism actually. I’ve been studying that field since I was in high school, back in the 1940s. The books that opened me up were Manhood of Humanity and Science and Sanity, both by Alfred Korzybski, a mathematician who was obsessed with social problems. He had two great ideas, and a lot of others too of course, but his main ideas were, one, that information is increasing faster every generation, which leads to more and more rapid technological change, and two, that traditional education and religion both train us to assume certainty prematurely. That is, we are trained to be, or pretend to be, certain about things which just are not certain. The result of this, Korzybski said, is that the world is changing faster and faster, but our ideas aren’t changing and we are growing more and more disoriented. Now, a lot of people have noticed that since then, and many want to stop the acceleration of technology, but Korzybski thought this was impossible. He said language itself creates information–it I tell you a fact, and you tell me a fact, the very telling makes us suddenly discover a relationship between the two facts, which is a third fact. Korzybski also thought language creates a compulsion to communicate – people are in prisons, in fascist and Marxist states all over the world, because they just would not shut up, even when they knew talking would get them in trouble. In a sense, you could almost say Korzybski’s thesis was that we are transmitters created by language to spread information  around the world faster and faster. We can’t stop this, he said, so we have to adjust to it, and we can only adjust to it by changing our brains – by taking out all the rigid  reflexes that create false certainty, and by learning to think in a more flexible, agnostic way. Since this proposal goes directly against traditional education and religion, not to mention advertising and politics, it’s no surprise that few people have ever heard of Korzybski.

Another major Futurist who impacted on me in my youth was R. Buckminster Fuller. I first met him in 1954 and I interviewed him for Science Digest just shortly before his death in 1983. For over thirty years his ideas have been running around in my head, and meanwhile the world has changed rapidly, always in the ways Fuller had predicted. He has more successful predictions on record than any other Futurist. I believe in the argument of his last two books, Critical Path and Grunch of Giants, that we now have the technology and resources to abolish starvation and poverty world-wide and even to give everybody a living standard equal to that of the Rockefellers, and that the only thing preventing this is greed at the top level of society and stupidity at all levels. I think a lot of the rage and fury around these days-terrorism and revolution and coup d’etats and maybe even Punk in a way–is registering the fact that people, without knowing the specific facts about our planetary resources etc. are still able to intuit the general picture. They realize that most of the misery that’s going on is totally unnecessary and is not caused by lack of food to feed people or a lack of transportation to get the food delivered or any kind of real lack; it’s caused only by the greed and stupidity I just mentioned. Spaceship Earth, as Fuller called this planet, could now be a paradise, and instead the Giants (the multi-nationals and governments) are rapidly turning it into a hell. The world situation today is quite like two gangs of lunatics who are fighting and trying to murder each other over possession of a glass of water, in the middle of a rainstorm. To continue the metaphor, if they came out of their hypnotic hate state for even a second, they would wake up and notice that there is enough water falling for everybody to take thousands of gallons of it.

The big question in Future Studies is: will the peoples of the world wake up and see the rainstorm, the potential technological abundance around them, or will they remain fixated on the tiny glass of water (the visible energy) they started fighting over 6,000 years ago? Can they look critically, even momentarily, at their false dogmatic certainties, and see the statistical possibilities and probabilities? All the rage and alienation around us these days is caused by the hopeless feeling that the stupidities and brutalities on the news (every night will continue until they blow us away entirely. Future Studies gives one more hope, eventually, because the pattern emerging does show that information is getting around faster everywhere, so there must be some mental activity occurring behind the melodramatic facade of the two gangs of rival apes throwing sticks and stones at each other.

Gurdjieff said, “Fairness? Decency? How can you expect fairness or decency on a planet of sleeping people?” What he meant by the metaphor of sleeping is what I mean when I say there are many more apes among us than there are human beings. Most people are still controlled by the mammalian emotional-territorial circuits in the old back-brain. I think as the planetary emergency worsens, we as a species will mutate and begin to use the more human frontal lobe circuits. We are being drenched in information and information itself excites and provokes thought. It is even possible that by 1987 something remotely like the idea or a thought might penetrate even the skull of a clergyman or a high school principle.

Other Futurists who’ve influenced me include Marshall McLuhan, Alvin Toffler and Timothy Leary. McLuhan stressed how communication media create the tunnel-reality we perceive, and showed that the information explosion is accelerating even faster than Korzybski realized.  Toffler points out that every major social change has happened, on the average, ten times faster than the major change before it. Leary keeps insisting, correctly I think, that if we survive until 2000 A.D., we will have a lot more space and time than humans ever had before – that is, space colonization and life extension are coming much faster than most people realize.

Nietzsche is a major influence, too. Every year I see more meaning in his famous lines, “What is Man? A bridge between the ape and the Superman – a bridge over an abyss.” The possibility of superhumanity is quite real now: we can live thousands of years, and roam among the stars, and become smarter as a species than we have ever been. But the abyss is quite real, too: we can use our technology and our old ape-psychology of territorial squabling to blow this planet right out of space-time. Despite the evening news, I am an optimist. I think intelligence of the species is greater than the intelligence of the individual; and the intelligence of the earth itself, the living biosphere, is greater than that of any species; and there are hierarchies of intelligence quite invisible to those who think that the abominations of politics are the important things happening on this planet.

(posted across UseNet by Dan Clore)