Tag Archives: The Realist

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

Out of the Innsmouth Triangle

Out of the Innsmouth Triangle

by Robert Anton Wilson

 from The Realist, No. 120, Summer 1992

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Backwood superstition, ” I thought scorn­fully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cthulhu fthagn!

The Great Beast – Aleister Crowley

aleister-crowley

by Robert Anton Wilson

from Paul Krassner’s The Realist
Issue No 91-B, September – October 1971;
91-C, November-December 1971;
92-A, January-Febuary, 1972;
92-B, March-April, 1972

O – The Fool

All ways are lawful to innocence. Pure folly is the key to initiation.  – The Book of Thoth

Crowley: Pronounced with a crow so it rhymes with holy: Edward Alexander Crowley, b. 1875 d. 1947, known as Aleister Crowley, known also as Sir Aleister Crowley, SaintAleister Crowley (of the Gnostic Catholic Church), Frater Perdurabo, Frater Ou Mh, To Mega Therion, Count McGregor, Count Vladimir Svareff, Chao Khan, Mahatma Guru SriParamahansa Shivaji, Baphomet, and Ipsissimus; obviously, a case of the ontological fidgets – couldn’t make up his mind who he really was; chiefly known as The Beast 666 or The Great Beast; friends and disciples celebrated his funeral with a Black Mass: or so the newspapers said.

Actually it was a Gnostic Catholic Mass (even John Symonds, Crowley’s most hostile biographer, admits that at most it could be called a Grey Mass, not a Black Mass – observe the racist and Christian-chauvinist implications in this terminology, but it was certainly not an orthodox R.C. or Anglican mass, I mean, cripes, the priestess took off her clothes in one part of it, buck naked, and they call that a Mass, gloriosky!

So the town council had a meeting – this was the Ridge, in Hastings, England, 1947, not 1347 – and they passed an ordinance that no such heathen rites would ever be tolerated in any funeral services in their town, not never; I sort of picture them in the kitch Alpine-Balkan garb of Universal Studios’ classic monster epics, and I see Aleister himself, in his coffin, wearing nothing less spectacular than the old black cape of Bela Lugosi: fangs showing beneath his sensual lips: but his eyes closed in deep and divine Samadhi.

Because that’s the sort of images that come to mind when Aleister Crowley is mentioned: this damnable man who identified himself with the Great Beast in St. John’s Revelations in an age when the supernatural is umbilically connected with Universal Studios, Hearst Sunday Supplement I-walked-with-a-zombie-in-my-maidenform-bra gushings and, God’s socks, Today’s Astrology (“Listen, Scoorpio: This month you must look before you leap and remember that prudence is wiser than rashness:  Don’t trust that Taurus female in you office” – I repeat: God’s socks and spats); this divine man who became the Logos when Logos was just a word to pencil into Double-Crostics on rainy Sundays; this damnable and divine paradox of a Crowley!

Listen, some critic (I forgot who) wrote of Lugosi “acting with total sincerity and a kind of demented cornball poetry” and the words, like the old crimson-lined black cape, seem tailored equally well for the shoulders of Master Therion, To Mega Therion, the Great Beast, Aleister Crowley.  This is the final degradation:  this avatar of anarchy, this epitome of rebellion, this incarnation of inconsistency, this man Crowley whom his contemporaries called “The King of Depravity,” The Wickedest Man in the World,” “A Cannibal at Large,” “A Man We’d Like to Hang,” “A Human Beast”; and, with some anti-climax, “A Pro-German and Revolutionary.”

Now, to us, he is quaint.  Worse:  he is Camp.  Worse yet:  he is corny.

We don’t even believe his boast that he performed human sacrifice 150 times a year, starting in 1912.

None of these cordial titles was invented by myself.  All were used, in Crowley’s life-time, by the newspaper John Bull, in it’s heroic and nigh-interminable campaign to saveEngland from the Beast’s pernicious influence.  See P.R. Stephenson, The Legend of Aleister Crowley.

I — The Magician

The True Self is the meaning of the True Will: know Thyself through Thy Way.  – The Book of Thoth

For there is no clear way, even on the most superficial level of the gross external data, to say what Edward Alexander Crowley (who called himself Aleister: and other names) really was trying to do with his life and communicate to his fellows.

Witness: here is an Englishman (never forget that: an Englishman, and bloody English at times he could be) who in the stodgiest year, of the dreariest decade of the age we call Victoria, commits technical High Treason, joins the Carlists, accepts a knighthood from Don Carlos himself, denounces as illegitimate all the knighthoods granted by “the Hanoverian usurper” (he also called her a “dumpy German hausfrau” – poor Vicky), yes, and then for years and decades afterward continues, with owl-like obstinacy, with superlative stubbornness, with ham heroism, with promethean pigheadedness, to sign himself “Sir Aleister” –  a red flag in the face of John Bull.

But more: the same romantic reactionary, the same very parfet bogus knight, hears that the French authorities, scandalized by the heroic size of the genital on Epstein’s statue of Oscar Wilde, have covered it with a butterfly – and, bien bueno, you guessed it, there he is, at twilight with hammer and chisel, sworn enemy of the Philistines, removing the butterfly and restoring the statue to its pristine purity – but why by all the pot-bellied gods in China, why did he turn that gesture into a joke by walking, the same night, into London’s stuffiest restaurant, wearing the same butterfly over the crotch of his own trousers?

A Harlequin, then, we might pronounce him, ultimately: the archetypal Batty Bard superimposed upon the classic Eccentric Englishman?  And with a touch of the SardonicSodomist – for didn’t he smuggle homosexual jokes (hidden in puns, codes, acrostics and notarikons) into his various volumes of mystical poetry?

Didn’t it even turn out that his great literary “discovery” the Bagh-I-Muattar [The Scented Garden] was not a discovery at all but an invention – all of it, all, all! from the pious butpederastic Persian original, through the ingenious but innocent English major who translated it (and died heroically in the Boer War), up to the high Anglican clergyman who wrote the Introduction saluting its sanctity but shivering at its salacity – all, all from his own cunning and creative cranium?

Yes: and he even published one volume, White Stains (Krafft-Ebing in verse) with a poker-faced prologue pronouncing that “The Editor hopes the Mental Pathologists, for whose eyes alone this treatise is destined, will spare no precaution to prevent it falling into other hands” – and, hot damn, arranged that the author’s name on the title-page would be given as “George Archibald,” a pious uncle whom he detested.

Sophomore pranks?  Yes, but in 1912, at the age of 37, he was still at the same game: that was the year he managed to sell Hail Mary, a volume of versatile verses celebrating the Virgin, to London’s leading Catholic publishers, Burns and Oates: and he even waited until it was favorably reviewed in the Catholic press (“a plenteous and varied feast for the lovers of tuneful verse,” enthused the Catholic Times) before revealing that the real author was not a cloistered nun or an uncommonly talented Bishop, but himself, Satan’s Servant, the Great Beast, the Demon Crowley.

But grok in its fullness this fact: he really did it.  You or I might conceive such a jest, but he carried it out: writing the pious verses with just the proper tone of sugary sanctimoniousness to actually sell to a Papist publisher and get cordial reviews in the Romish press – as if Baudelaire had forced himself to write a whole volume of Edgar Guest:  And just for the sake of a horse-laugh?

To understand this conundrum of aCrowleywe will have to Dig.

II — The High Priestess

Purity is to live only to the Highest: and the Highest is All; be thou as Artemis to Pan.  –  The Book of Thoth

These jokes sometimes seem to have an obscure point, and one is uneasily suspicious that there might be Hamlet-like method in this madness. Even the alternate identities can be considered more than games: They might be Zen counter-games. Here’s the Beast’s own explanation of the time he became Count Vladimir Svareff, from The Confessions ofAleister Crowley: An Autohagiography.

“I wanted to increase my knowledge of mankind. I knew how people treated a young man fromCambridge. I had thoroughly appreciated the servility of tradesmen, although I was too generous and too ignorant to realize the extent of their dishonesty and rapacity. Now I wanted to see how people would behave to a Russian nobleman. I must say here that I repeatedly used this method of disguise – it has been amazingly useful in multiplying my points of view about humanity. Even the most broad-minded people are necessarily narrow in this one respect. They may know how all sorts of people treat them, but they cannot know, except at second hand, how those same people treat others.”

And the Hail Mary caper has its own sane-insane raison d’etre:

“I must not be thought exactly insincere, though I had certainly no shadow of belief in any of the Christian dogmas… I simply wanted to see the world through the eyes of a devout Catholic, very much as I had done with the decadent poet of White Stains, the Persian mystic of Bagh-i-Muattar, and so on… I did not see why I should be confined to one life. How can one hope to understand the world if one persists in regarding it from the conning tower of ones own “personality?”

Just so: the procedure is even scientific these days (Role-Playing, you know) and is a central part of Psychodrama and Group Dynamics. “You have to go out of your mind before you can come to your senses,” as Tim Leary (or Fritz Perls) once said. Sure: you can even become Jesus and Satan at the same time:  Ask Charles the Son of Man.

For Artemis, the goddess of nature, is eternally virgin: she only surrended once, and then to Pan: and this is a clue to the Beast’s purpose in his bloody sacrifices.

III — The Empress

This is the Harmony of the Universe, that Love unites the Will to create with the Understanding of that Creation. –  The Book of Thoth

The infant Gargantua was sent to a school run by the Plymouth Brethren, the narrowly Fundamentalist sect to which his parents belonged.  He commends the school in these cordial words from his essay “A Boyhood in Hell”:

“May the maiden that passes it be barren and the pregnant woman that beholdeth it abort!  May the birds of the air refuse to fly over it!  May it stand as a curse, as a fear, as a hate, among men.  May the wicked dwell therein!  May the light of the sun be withheld therefrom and the light of the moon not lighten it!  May it become the home of the shells of the dead and may the demons of the pit inhabit it!  May it be accursed, accursed – accursed for ever and ever.’

One gathers that the boy Alick was not happy there.  In fact, the climax of his miseries came when somebody told the Headmasters that he had seen youngCrowleydrunk on hard liquor.  Our anti-hero was put on a diet of bread and waters and placed in coventry (i.e., nobody, student or teacher, was allowed to talk to him), without being told what offense he committed; this Christian punishment (for his own good, of course) lasted one full year – at which point his health collapsed and a relative not totally committed to Plymouth Brethren theology insisted that he be removed from that environment before it killed him.

This incident is a favorite with the Beast’s unsympathetic critics; they harp on it gleefully, to convey that they are not the sort of religious bigots who would torture a child in this fashion; and they also use it to explain his subsequent antipathy to anything bearing the names or coming under the auspices, of “Jesus” or “Christ.”

It was this school, they say, which warped his mind and turned him to the service of the devil; a nice theory for parlor analysts or term papers, but it has the defect of not being quite true.  The King of Depravity never did embrace Satan, as we shall see, and he kept a very nice mind full of delicate distinctions and discriminations; of this experience he himself says, “I did not hate Jesus and God; I hated the Jesus and God of the people I hated.”

But now we jump ahead, past adolescence (skipping the time he seduced a housemaid on his mother’s bed; sorry, Freudians), past Cambridge (missing a nice 1890-style student riot) and past mountain-climbing (by 1901, he and his favorite fellow-climber, Oscar Eckenstein, held most of the climbing records in the world between them – all but one to be exact); we came now to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; caveat lector; we enter the realm of Mystery, Vision – and Hallucination; the reader is the only judge of what can be believed from here on.

IV — The Emperor

Find thyself in every Star. Achieve thou every possibility.  – The Book of Thoth

It seems that the Golden Dawn was founded by Robert Wentworth Little, a high Freemason, based on papers he rescued from a hidden drawn inLondon’s Freemason Hall during a fire.  No: it wasn’t Little at all, but Wynn Wescott, a Rosicrucian, acting on behalf of a mysterious Fraulein Sprenger in Germany, who herself probably represented the original Illuminati of Adam Weishaupt.

No: not so either: behind the Golden Dawn was actually a second Order, the Rose of Ruby and Cross of Gold – i.e. the original medieval Rosicrucians still in business at the old stand; and behind them was the Third Order, the Great White Brotherhood – i.e., the Nine Unknown Men of Hindu lore – the true rulers of earth, one can only say, if the last theory be true, that the Great White Brotherhood are Great White Fuckups.

The true true story of the Illuminati, Rosicrucians etc. – or another damned lie – is given in Illuminatus: or Laughing Buddha Jesus Phallus Inc., by Robert J. Shea and this writer, to be published by Dell this year, unless the Nine Unknown Men suppress it.

Well anyway, whenever the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn came from, there it was almost practicing in the open in London in the 1890’s, with such illustrious members as Florence Farr (the actress), Arthur Machen (the horror-story writer: you must have read his Great God Pan?), George Cecil Jones (a respectable chemist by day and a clandestine alchemist by night) and William Butler Yeats (a poet who thought his verse was superior to Crowley’s, he is described in Autohagiography as “a disheveled demonologist who could have given much more care to his appearance without being accused of dandyism.”).

In 1898, the King of Depravity was admitted to the Order: Crowley took the new name Frater Perdurabo which means Brother I-Will-Endure-To-The-End; he later changed it to Frater OuMh or Brother Not Yet – and began acquiring great proficiency in such arts as the invocation of angels and demons, making himself invisible, journeying in the astral body and such-like Wonders of the Occult.

In one critical operation of magick the Wickedest Man in the World failed abjectly in those early days; and this was the most important work of all. It consisted in achieving the Knowledge and Conversation of one’s Holy Guardian Angel – what, precisely, that may mean will be discussed later.

The usual operation, as found in The Book of Sacred Magick of Abra-Melin the Mage, requires six months’ hard work and is somewhat more grueling than holding the Ibis position of Hatha Yoga for that interlude, or working out pi to the thousandth place in you head without using paper or pencil.  The beast’s critics like to proclaim that he couldn’t manage this because he was incapable of obeying Abra-Melin’s commandment of chastity for the necessary 180 days.  We will later learn how true that claim actually is.

Invisibility, by the way, isn’t as hard as Lamont Cranston’s Tibetan teachers implied.  After only a few months practice, guided by the Beast’s training manuals, I have achieved limited success twice already; and my cats, Simon and Garfunkel, do it constantly.  There is no need to look for mysteries when the truth is often right out in the light of day.

V — The Hierophant

Be thou athlete with the eight limbs of Yoga; for without these thou art not disciplined for any fight.  – The Book of Thoth

Early in February, 1901, in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Beast began seriously working on dharana, the yoga of concentration.  The method was that long used inIndia: holding one single image in the mind – a red triangle – and banishing all other words or pictures.  This is in no wise any easy task, and I, for one would have much more respect for Aleister’scritics and slanderers if there were any shred of evidence that they ever attempted such self-discipline, and, attempting it, managed to stay with it until they achieved results.

For instance, after three weeks of daily practice, the Beast recorded in his diary that he had concentrated that day for 59 minutes with exactly 25 “breaks” or wanderings from the triangle: 25 breaks may not sound so great to those who haven’t tried this; a single hour, however, will convince them that 3600 breaks, or one per second is close to average for a beginner.

Toward the end of April, the Beast logged 23 minutes with 9 breaks; on May 6th, 32 minutes and 10 breaks.  I repeat: anyone who think Acid or Jesus or Scientology has remade his or her life ought to attempt a few weeks of this; it is the clearest and most humiliating revelation of the compulsive neurosis of the “normal” ego.

On August 6 the Beast arrived in Ceylon, still working on daily dharana – oh yes, in Honolulu he’d had an affair with a married woman, later celebrated in his sonnet sequenceAlice: An Adultery, published under the auspices of his fictitious “Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth”: his critics always mention that, to prove that he wasn’t sincere; one sometimes gets the cynical notion that these critics are either eunuchs or hypocrites.

Under the guidance of Sri Parananda and an old friend, Allan Bennett, now the Buddhist monk Maitreya Ananda, he plunged into the other “seven limbs” of yoga.  I say that his mountain-climbing involved less self-discipline. I will not argue; I will give a hint only.  Here are the first two steps in beginning to do pranayama:

1.  Learn to breathe through your two nostrils alternately.  When this becomes easy, practice exhaling through the right nozzle for no less than 15 seconds and then inhaling through the left orifice for a like time. Practice until you can do this without strain for 20 or 30 minutes.

2.  Now begin retention of breath between inhalation and exhalation. Increase the period of retention until you can inhale for 10 seconds, retain for 30 second and exhale for 20 seconds.  This proportion is important: if you inhale for as long as, or longer than, the exhalation, you are screwing up.  Practice until you can do this – comfortably – for an hour.

Got it?  Good; now you are ready to start doing the real exercises of pranayama.  For instance, you can add the “third limb,” asana, which consists of sitting like a rock, no muscle moving anywhere; the Hindus

recommend starting with a contortion that seems to have been devised by Sacher-Masoch himself, but choose a position that seems comfortable at first, if you want – it will turn into Hell soon enough.

All this has a point, of course; when pranayama and asana mastered, you can begin to do dharana without constant humiliating failures.  Congratulations: now you can add the other “five limbs.”  Of course, the temptation (especially after your foot is no longer merely asleep but has progressed to a state gruesomely reminiscent of rigor mortis) is to decide that “There isn’t anything in yoga after all” or “I just can’t do it” and maybe there’s something in Christian Science or the Process or probably another acid trip would really get you over the hump.*

Footnote: *Oh yes, brethren and sistern, we have known people capable of much rationalization.  Back in 1901, even, the Beast discovered that some of the “lesser yogis,” as he called them, used hashish to fuel the last gallop from dharana to dhyana; and he later recommended this to his own disciples – but always with the provision that the results so obtained should be regarded as an indication and foreshadowing of what was sought, not as a substitute for true attainment.  The Beast achieved dhyana, the non-ego trance, on October 2, 1901, less than 8 months after beginning serious dharana inGuadalajara.

VI — The Lovers

…rest in Simplicity, and listen in the Silence.   The Book of Thoth

This may be getting heavy, but it has to be endured for a while before the band starts playing again. Specifically, we should have some understanding of what we mean by dhyanaand what the Beast has accomplished in those 8 months. The best analysis is probably that given by the Wickedest Man in the World himself in his Confessions:

“The problem is how to stop thinking; for the theory is that the mind is a mechanism for dealing symbolically with impressions; its construction is such that one is tempted to take these symbols for reality.    “That is, we manufacture units such as the inch, the chair, the self, etc., in order to organize our sense-impressions into coherent wholes, but the mind which performs this kind service is so built that it cannot then escape its own constructs. Having imagined inches and chairs and selves, the mind then perceives them “out there” in the physical world and finds it hard to credit that they exist only in the mind’s own sorting machinery.    “Conscious thought, therefore, is fundamentally false and prevents one from perceiving reality. The numerous practices of yoga are simply dodges to help one acquire the knack of slowing down the current of thought and ultimately stopping it altogether.”

The mind’s self-hypnosis, of course, arises anew as soon as one comes out of dhyana. One never retains the ego-less and world-less essence of dhyana; one retains an impression thereof polluted by the mind’s pet theories and most resonant images. The Beast calls this adulterated after-effect of dhyana “mixing the planes” and regards it as the chief cause of the horrors perpetrated by religious nuts on the rest of us throughout history:

“Mohammed’s conviction that his visions were of imperative importance to “salvation” made him a fanatic… The spiritual energy derived from the high trances makes the seer a formidable force; and unless he be aware that interpretation is due only to the exaggeration of his own tendencies of thought, he will seek to impose it on others, and so delude his disciples, Pervert their minds and prevent their development…    “In my system the pupil is taught to analyze all ideas and abolish them by philosophical skepticism before he is allowed to undertake the exercises that lead to dhyana.”

By 1904, the Beast had come to the conclusion that all he had seen and performed, among the Magicians and among the yogis, could be explained by combining the known psychology with the emerging beginnings of psycho-chemistry. He had pushed mysticism as far as one can, and retained his Victorian Rationalism.

Then came the cataclysm ofCairo.

VII — The Chariot

The Issue of the Vulture, Two-in-One, conveyed; this is the Chariot of Power. – The Book of Thoth

Ever since his initiation into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898, the Beast has been practicing astral voyaging almost daily. This is considerably easier thanpranayama, asana, dharana, and it’s good clean fun even from the beginning.

If you are an aspirant, or a dupe, merely sit in a comfortable chair, in a room where you won’t be interrupted, close you eyes, and slowly envision your “astral body,” whatever the blazes that is, standing before you. Make every detail clear and precise; any fuzziness can get you into trouble later.

Now transfer your consciousness to this second body – I don’t know why, but some people stick at this point – and rise upward, through the ceiling, through the other rooms in the building, through the stratosphere, until you have left the physical universe entirely – to hell with it, Nixon and his astronauts are taking it over anyway – and find yourself in the astral realm, where NASA isn’t likely to follow with their flags and other tribal totems.

Approach any astral figures you see and question them closely, especially about any matters of which you wish knowledge not ordinarily available to you.

Return to the earth-body, awake, and record carefully that which has transpired. The diary of such astral journeys, carefully transcribed, is the key to all progress in High Magick, once the student learns to decipher his own visions.

The skeptical reader, if there are any skeptics left in this gullible generation, might point out that this process begins as an exercise of imagination and that there is no reason to think it ever crosses the line to reality. Quite so: but that objection does not diminish the value of the visions obtained.

The Beast has been at some pains to write a little book called “777” which is a copious catalog, in convenient table form, of the 32 major “astral planes” and their typical scenery, events and inhabitants. Using one’s own Magical Diary and the tables in “777” together with a few standard reference works on comparative religion, one can quickly discover where one has been, who has been there before and what major religions were founded on the basis of some earlier visitor’s account of what he had seen there.

One need not hold any occult hypothesis about these visions; you can even say that you have been exploring Carl Jung’s “Collective Unconscious” – or, more fashionably, that you have been deciphering the ethological record of the DNA code (Tim Leary’s favorite theory about LSD voyages, which fits these astral trips just as neatly). The important discipline is to avoid “mixing the planes” and confusing your explanation with the actual vision itself; or, as the Beast says in Liber O:

“In this book it is spoken of the Sephioth, and the Paths, of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes and many other things which may or may not exist.

“It is immaterial whether they exist or not. By doing certain things certain results follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophical validity to any of them…

“The Student, if he attains any success in the following practices, will find himself confronted by things (ideas or beings) too glorious or too dreadful to be described. It is essential that he remain the master of all that he beholds, hears, or conceives; otherwise he will be the slave of the illusion and the prey of madness…

“The Magician may go a long time being fooled and flattered by the Astrals that he has himself modified or manufactured… He will become increasingly interested in himself,imagine himself to be attaining one initiation after another. His Ego will expand unchecked, till he seems to himself to have heaven at his feet…”

The teachers of Zen have the proper tactics against this danger of grandiosity:Crowley’s independent discovery of this strategy led to those behaviors – the jokes, the “blasphemies,” the shifts in name and identity – which led to his reputation as a kook, a Satanist, and the Wickedest Man in the World.

Having watched the decline into dogmatism and self-aggrandizement of various heroes of the New Wave of dope and occultism, some of us are maybe ready to see that the Beast’s incessant profane mockery against himself and his Gods was a necessary defense against this occupational hazard of the visionary life.

But then came the Mystification of Cairo – and beyond it, the Mindfuck inChina… and the discovery of the value of human sacrifice.

VIII – Adjustment

Balance against each thought its exact opposite. For the Marriage of these is the Annihilation of Illusion.  – The Book of Thoth

In March, 1904, the Beast and his first wife, Rose, were inCairo, and he was trying to teach her some Magick, a subject which bored her profoundly. And now this is the part we warned you about, take it or leave it, this is what seems to have happened – Rose went into a kind of trance and began murmuring various disjointed phrases, including “It’s about the Child” and “They are waiting for you.”

It soon developed that some god or other was trying to communicate;Crowleyasked 12 questions to determine which god and, gulp, her answers were correct, consistent and revealed a knowledge of Egyptology which in her conscious mind she did not possess.

Like: “What are his moral qualities?” “Force and fire.” “What opposes him?” “Deep blue” – until one god emerged that fit the box just as sure as Clark Kentfits the phone booth at the Daily Planet; Ra-Hoor-Khuit, or Horus in his War God aspect.

The Beast then took Rose to theBoulakMuseumand asked her to pick out the god in question. She walked past several statues of Horus – which The King of Depravity observed stolidly, although, he says, “with silent glee” – and then (shiver!) she stopped before Stele 666, Ra-Hoor-Khuit. “This is him,” she said.

Sorry about that, fellow rationalists.

And, of course, alas and goddam it, 666 – the Number of the Beast in St. John’s Revelations – was Crowley’s own magick number and had been for years.

Those who want to invoke the word “coincidence” to cover the rags of their ignorance are welcome to do so. Some of us have a new word lately, synchronicity, coined by no less than psychologist Carl Jung and physicist Wolfgang Pauli – and I’ve read their books and must admit I came out as confused as I went in; as far as this brain can comprehend,coincidence is meaning-less correspondence, and synchronicity is meaning-ful correspondence, and if that makes you feel superior to the custard-headed clods who still saycoincidence, you’re welcome to it.

And there’s more: when the Beast acknowledged Ra-Hoor-Khuit on the other side of the astral phone hook-up, he was turned over to an underling, one Aiwass, an angel, who told him among other things that the true Word of Power isn’t abra-ca-dabra but abra-ha-dabra and the letter adds up to 418, which was the number of Crowley’s home on Loch Ness in Scotland; and Aiwass’s own name adds up to 98, which is also the number of love and will, the two chief words in his total communication, which is known as The Book of the Law – But enough; the proofs, mathematical and cabalistic and coincidental (if you must) run on for pages.

In summary, the Beast had been playing a Game against himself for six years, since 1898, invoking the miraculous and the proving after the fact that it was “only” his mind.

Now he had to begin considering that he had made himself the center of an “astral” field effect, having the qualities of an intelligence greater than his, and signifying same by multi-lingual and numerological correspondences coming not from “inside” but from “outside”: Rose’s mind, the “independent” decisions of the curators of the Boulak Museum and, then, a certain Samuel bar Aiwass.

For, in 1918, Crowleyhad adopted the name To Mega Therion, which means The Great Beast in Greek, and adds to 666, and, in an article in The International, he asked if any of his readers could find a word or phrase of similar meaning, in Hebrew, which would also add to 666.

He was himself no mean cabalist and had tried all sorts of Hebrew synonyms for “beast” but none of them added to anything like 666; yet the answer came in the mail – Tau,Resh, Yod, Vau, Nun, equal 666 – and it was signed Samuel bar Aiwas.

Aiwas is the Hebrew equivalent of Aiwass, and also adds to 93, the number of his Holy Guardian Angel.

But meanwhile came the Chinese Mindfuck.

IX — The Hermit

Wander alone; bearing the Light and thy Staff.  – The Book of Thoth

One day inRangoon, in 1905,Crowleyhappened to mention to a man namedThorntonthat there is no necessary connection between the separate quanta of sense-impression. Philosophy-buffs are aware that this has been observed by David Hume, among others, andThorntonreplied with another truism, pointing out that there is no necessary connection between the successive states of the ego, either.

The beast, naturlich, was aware that the Buddha had spotted that disturbing fact a long time ago, but suddenly the full import of it hit home to him on an emotional level.

Chew on it: he could not absolutely prove that there was an external world to Aleister Crowley, but merely that there appeared to be a tendency for sense-impressions to organize themselves to suggest such a world, Lord help us; and he could not absolutely demonstrate that there was an “Aleister Crowley” doing this organizing but only that there seems to be a tendency to aggregate internal impressions in such a way as to suggest such an entity. (Get the Librium, mother). All intelligent people have noticed that at one time or another – and quickly brushed it aside, to carry on in the only way that seems pragmatically justified, assuming the reality of the World and the Self.

The Beast, after the workings of his Magick, the experience of his dhyana (in which Self, indeed, had vanished for a time) and his encounter with the ever-lovin’ Aiwass, was not satisfied to rest in assuming anything.

There was no absolute proof that he had ever achieved dhyana, for instance, but only a tendency to organize some impressions into a category called “memory and to assume that they corresponded to “real” events in a time called the “past.” Nor could reason alone prove that he had seen a “miracle” in “Cairo,” or performed “Magick” in “London,” or suffered in a “school” run by “Plymouth Brethren,” or had a “biological” “relationship” “with” “beings” know as “Father” and “Mother.”

“About now,” he scribbled in his diary on November 19, “I may count my Speculative Criticism of the Reason as not only proved and understood, but realized. The misery of this is simply sickening – I can write no more.”

He started on a walking journey across Chinawith his wife and daughter, or his earth-body did; his mind was on a far weirder trip. “He had become insane,” writes unsympathetic biographer John Symonds in The Great Beast; “If this happened to any of us,” adds sympathetic biographer Israel Regardie in The Eye in the Triangle, “we too might feel we had become insane.” Of course, lately it has happened to a lot of us, thanks to the free enterprise pharmacopia of the streets, and we know with bitter memory what the suffering Beast was going through.

And it wasn’t six or ten hours in his case; it lasted four solid months, whileChinadrifted by like the eye in the triangle. We’ve been there, and some of us did the Steve Brodie out the window (the triangle?) and never came back and some of us found weird clues in songs like “Helter Skelter” – what triangle? – Rocky Raccoon went up to his room and Sharon Tate must die – doesn’t it? – Because John Lennon wouldn’t lie to us when a man is crashing out like American life bomb went authoritarian (what eye?) – So we’ll write PIG on the wall and they’ll blame it on the spades, see? Oh, yes, Charlie, I see – Sixty-four thousand, nine hundred twenty-eight, because 7-Up Commercials and we start from Void and anything we manufacture is necessarily composed of the elements of Void even when you call it your Self or your World – And then there was the strawberries…

Manson, hell; you could turn into Nixon that way.

X – Fortune

The axle moveth not; attain thou that.  – The Book of Thoth

The Beast described this 120-Days-of-Bedlam in a poem called Aha!:

The sense of all I hear is drowned;
Tap, tap, tap and nothing matters!
Senseless hallucinations roll
Across the curtain of the soul.
Each ripple on the river seems
The madness of a maniac’s dreams!
So in the self no memory-chain
Or casual wisp to bind the straws!
The Self disrupted! Blind, insane,
Both of existence and of laws,
The Ego and the Universe
Fall to one black chaotic curse…
As I trod the trackless way
Through sunless gorges of Cathay,
I became a little child!

“The are waiting for you,” Rose, in a trance, had said, a year earlier. “It’s about the Child.”

WhenCrowleyreturned toEngland, after becoming “a little child,” he received a letter from chemist George Cecil Jones, a friend in the Golden Dawn. Jones, who recognized what happened, wrote: “How long have you been in the Great Order, and why did I not know? Is the invisibility of the A.A. to lower grades so complete?”

Israel Regardie, a biographer sympathetic to Crowley, but dubious about the existence of the A.A. (the Third Order, or Great White Brotherhood, behind the Rose of Ruby and Cross of Gold) comments thoughtfully, “I do not wholly understand this.”

Herman Hess, who described the Third Order very clearly in Journey to the East, gives the formula for initiation in Steppenwolf:

PRICE OF ADMISSION:

YOUR MIND

XI – Lust

Mitigate Energy with Love; but let Love devour all things.  – The Book of Thoth

One act remained in the drama of initiation: the achievement of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.  This most difficult of all magical operations had been started anew even beforeCrowleyleftChina, and, for all of his previous failures, he was determined to complete it successfully this time.  As mentioned earlier, this invocation takes six months and requires a rather full battery of magical and mystical techniques.

Sometime after his return to England, the Beast arranged to have George Cecil Jones “crucify” him (I am not totally sure what this means, but suspension on a cross, even via ropes, gets quite painful in a very short while) and, while hanging on the cross, he swore an oath as follows: “I,Purdurabo, a member of the Body of Christ, do hereby solemnly obligate myself… and will entirely devote my life so as to raise myself to the knowledge of my higher and Divine Genius that I shall be He.”

I n Chapter 9, “The Redemption of Frank Bennett,” in The Magick of Aleister Crowley, John Symonds tells how with a few words Crowley brought a species of Samadhi orSatori to Frank Bennett, a magician who had been striving unsuccessfully for that achievement over many decades.

The words wore, in effect, that the Real Self or Holy Guardian Angel is nothing else but the integration that occurs when the conscious and subconscious are no longer segregated by repression and inhibition.  It is only fair to warn seekers after either-or answers that in Magick Without Tears Crowley flatly denies this and asserts that the Angel is a separate “Being… of angelic order… more than a man…”

After the Crucifixion, the King of Depravity went on plowing his way through the required 180 days (the essence of the Abra-Melin operation is “Invoke Often”) and adding other various techniques.

On October 9, 1906 The Beast recorded in his Magical Diary:

“Tested new ritual and behold it was very good… I did get rid of everything but the Holy Exalted One, and must have held Him for a minute or two.  I did.  I am sure I did.”

On October 10, he added: “I am still drunk with Samadhi all day.”  And a few days later, “Once again I nearly got there – all went brilliance – but not quite.”  By the end of the month, there was no longer any doubt.  Eight years after commencing the practice of Magick, Aleister Crowley had achieved the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

XII — The Hanged Man

And, being come to the shore, plant thou the Vine and rejoice without shame.   – The Book of Thoth

The Beast lived on for 41 more years, and did work many wonders and quite a few blunders in the world of men and women.  In 1912, he became the English head of the OrdoTempli Orientis, a secret Masonic group tracing direct decent from Knights Templar.  In 1915, he achieved a vision of the total explanation of the universe, but afterwards was only able to record, “Nothing, with twinkles – but WHAT twinkles.”

In 1919, he founded the Abbey of Theleme in Sicily- but was quickly expelled by a moralist named Benito Mussolini after English newspapers exposed the scandalous sex-and-dope orgies that allegedly went on there.

Somewhere along the line, he became the Master of the A.A. or Great White Brotherhood (assuming it ever existed outside his own head, which some biographers doubt) and began teaching other Magicians all over the world.

He married, and divorced, and married, and divorced.

He wrote The Book of Thoth, in which, within the framework of a guide to divination by Tarot cards, he synthesized virtually all the important mystical teachings of East andWest; we have used it for our chapter-heads.

He landed onBedloesIslandone day, representing the IRA, and proclaimed theIrishRepublic, repudiating his English citizenship.

He wrote The Book of Lies, a collection of mind-benders that would flabbergast a Zen Master, including the pregnant question, “Which is Frater Perdurabo and which is the Imp Crowley?”  He got hooked on heroin; kicked it; got hooked again; kicked again; got hooked again…

He died, and his friends buried him with a Gnostic Catholic Mass which the newspapers called Black.

But he is best remembered for writing in 1928 in Magick in Theory and Practice that the most potent invocation involves human sacrifice, that the ideal victim is “a male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence,” and that he had performed this rite an average of 150 times per year since 1912.

XIII – Death

… all Acts of Love contain Pure Joy.  Die daily.  – The Book of Thoth

Crowley’s admirers, of course, claim that he was engaged in one of his manic jokes when he boasted of performing human sacrifice 150 times a year;  he was not joking at all, as we shall see.

Even his bitterest critics (except Rev. Montague Sumners, who was capable of believing anything) admit that it’s unlikely that a man whose every move was watched by newspapers and police could polish off 150 victims a year without getting caught; but they are, most of them, not above adding that this ghastly jest indicates the perversity of his mind, and, after all (summoning those great and reliable witnesses, Rumor and Slander) there was some talk about Sicilian infants disappearing mysteriously when he was running his Abbey of Thelema there…

We have got to come to a definitive conclusion about this matter or we will never grasp the meaning of his life, the value of his Magick, the cause of his vilification, or the true meaning of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

XIV – Art

… make manifest the Virtue of that Pearl.  – The Book of Thoth

In 1912, we said, the Beast became English head of the Ordo Templi Orientis. This occurred in a quite interesting manner: Theodore Reuss, Head of that Order in Germany, had come to him and implored him to stop publishing their occult secrets in his magazine, Equinox.

The Beast (who had been publishing some of the secrets of the English Rosicrucians – but this wasn’t one of them) protested that he didn’t know anything about the O.T.O. and its mysteries.  Reuss then proclaimed that the Beast did know, even if he had discovered it independently, and that he must accept membership in the 9th degree with the accompanying pledges and responsibilities.

The Beast, who was already a 33-degree Freemason, thanks to a friend inMexico City, accepted – and found that his “new ritual” to invoke the Holy Guardian Angel in 1906 was the most closely-guarded secret of the Ordo Templi Orientis.

“Now the O.T.O. is in possession of one supreme secret,” the Beast writes in his Confessions.  “The whole of its systems… was directed towards communicating to its members, by progressively plain hints, this all-important instruction.  I personally believe that if this secret, which is a scientific secret, were perfectly understood, as it is not even by me after more than twelve years’ almost constant study and experiment, there would be nothing which the human imagination can conceive that could not be realized in practice.”

Israel Regardie, the Beast’s most perceptive biographer, comes close to revealing the secret in a book called The Tree of Life.  However, he remarks that the method in question is “so liable to indiscriminate abuse and use in Black Magic” that it is not safe to reveal it directly; he therefore employs a symbolism which, like a Zen riddle, can be decoded only after one had achieved certain spiritual insights.

Charlie Manson understands at least part of this Arcanum of Arcanums; his misuse of it is a classic example of the danger warned of by Crowleyin Liber O: “he will be the slave of illusion and the prey of madness…  His Ego will expand unchecked, till he seem to himself to have heaven at his feet…”

The secret, of course, is the formula of the Rose and Cross which, as Frazier demonstrated in The Golden Bough, is the magic foundation under all forms of religion.

XV — The Devil

With thy right Eye create all for thyself…  – The Book of Thoth

A word about Evil; the Beast’s frequent injunctions to “explore every possibility of the Self” and realize your True Will etc. have often been misunderstood, especially when quoted out of context, in which case he sounds battier than those armchair enthusiasts of mayhem and murder, Stirner and Nietzsche and Sorel.

But the Beast was not an armchair philosopher, but rather an explorer, mountain-climber and big-game hunter who knew violence and sudden death well enough to call by their first names; he did not romanticize them. Her are his actual instructions about Evil from Liber V, an instruction manual of the A.A.:

“The Magician should devise for himself a definite technique for destroying “evil.” The essence of such practice will consist in training the mind and body to confront things which cause fear, pain, disgust, shame and the like. He must learn to endure them, then to become indifferent to them, then to become indifferent to them, then to analyze them until they give pleasure and instruction, and finally to appreciate them for their own sake, as aspects of Truth. When this has been done, he should abandon them if they are really harmful in relation to health or comfort…

“Again, one might have a liaison with an ugly old woman until one beheld and love the star which she is; it would be too dangerous to overcome this distaste for dishonesty by forcing oneself to pick pockets. Acts which are essentially dishonorable must not be done; they should be justified only by calm contemplation of their correctness in abstract cases.”

Digest carefully that last sentence. These shrewd and pragmatic counsels are not those of a bloody-minded fool.

XVI – The Tower

Break down the fortress of thine Individual Self that thy Truth may spring free from the ruins. – The Book of Thoth

Now, The Morning of the Magicians by Pauwels and Bergier was a best-seller, especially in the hip neighborhoods, so I can assume that many of my readers are aware of the strange evolution of some forms of Rosicrucianism and Illuminism in 19th CenturyGermany.  Such Readers are aware that there is certain evidence – not a little evidence, but a great deal of it – indicating that Adolph Hitler joined something called the Thule Society in Munich in 1923, and then later obtained admission to its inner circle, the Illuminated Lodge, and that it was here he acquired certain ideas about the value of human sacrifice.

It is, in fact, not only possible but probable that the attempted extermination of European Jewry was not only the act of insane racism but a religious offering to gods who demanded rivers of human blood.

The same psychology possessed by the Aztecs toward the end.  The omens, the oracles, the astrological skryings all pointed to doom, and the blood sacrifices correspondingly multiplied exponentially, hysterically, incredibly… and south in Yucatan much earlier, the Mayans, who always tired to restrict the blood sacrifice to one or two a year, deserted their cities for an unknown reason and fled back to the jungle; they shared the same astrological beliefs as the Aztecs, and it is plausible to suggest that they ran away from a similar oracle telling them that only more blood could preserve the empire.

In fact – I note this only for the benefit of future students of paranoia – a similar theory about our own glorious rulers has sometimes crossed my own mind.  Why not?  Every time an S-M club is raided by the fuzz, the newspapers mutter vaguely that among the clientele were “prominent” and “high-placed” individuals; and don’t ever tell me,Clyde, that those birds actually believe the milk-water “liberal” Judeo-Christian faith that they mouth in their public speeches.

Is this the answer to the question we all keep asking – year after unbelievable year, with growing disgust and despair and dementia – Why are we in Vietnam?  “Many gods demand blood” the Beast once commented sardonically – “especially the Christian god.”

XVII – The Star

…burn up thy thought as the Phoenix.   – The Book of Thoth

And, yes, there is a link between Crowleyand Hitler.  Douglas Hunt, the Beast’s most hysterically unfair critic said so in his Exploring the Occult, and he was closer to the bullseye than the Beast’s admirers.  There is a link, but it is relationship of reciprocity, for Hitler and Crowley are the reverse of each other.  Thus (and now we plunge to the heart of the riddle) here are the mind-bending, gut-turning words from Chapter XII, “Of the Bloody Sacrifice and Matters Cognate,” in Magick in Theory and Practice:

“In any case it was the theory of ancient Magicians that any living being is a storehouse of energy varying in quantity according to the size and health of the animal and in quality according to its mental and moral character. At the death of the animal this energy is liberated suddenly.

“For the highest spiritual working one must accordingly choose that victim which contains the greatest and purest force.  A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the must satisfactory and suitable victim.”

A footnote is appended here, not at the end of this sentence but attached to the word “intelligence.”  This footnote is perhaps the most famous sentence the Beast ever wrote:

“It appears from the Magical Records of Frater Perdurabo (i.e.,Crowleyhimself) that He made this particular sacrifice on an average about 150 times every year between 1912e.v. and 1928 e.v.”

This certainly seems clear, and horrible, enough, but the chapter concludes with the following further remarks:

“You are also likely to get in trouble over this chapter unless you truly comprehend its meaning…

“The whole idea of the word Sacrifice, as commonly understood, rests upon an error and superstition, and is unscientific. Let the young Magician reflect upon the conservation of Matter and of Energy…

“There is a traditional saying that whenever an Adept seems to have made a straightforward, comprehensible statement, then it is most certain that He means something entirely different…

“The radical error of all uninitiates is that they define “self” as irreconcilably opposed to “not-self.” Each element of oneself is, on the contrary, sterile and without meaning, until it fulfils itself, by “love under will,” in its counterpart in the Macrocosm.  To separate oneself from others is to lose that self – its sense of separateness – in the other.”

The chapter, let us remember, is called “Of the Bloody Sacrifice: and Matters Cognate,” and the Beast was a precise, almost pathologically sensitive, stylist.  If the whole discussion was about the “bloody sacrifice,” where the duce are the “matters cognate”?  And why does the footnote modify “male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence” instead of the last word in the sentence, “victim”?

Let us review:  The Beast originally failed in the invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; his final success came after:
(a) his success in both the physical and mental disciplines of yoga.
(b) the achievement of accomplished skill in astral voyaging, and
(c) the death of the mind in China, after which he himself became “a little child;” the new ritual which successfully invoked the Angel in 1906 was the same which the Ordo TempliOrientis had kept as a secret for unknown centuries – presumably, other occult groups here and there, like the Beast, have also discovered it independently; because of his oath as a 9th degree member of the O.T.O., the Beast could not disclose it publicly; due to his love of both poetry and cabalism, we can be sure that the code in which he hints at it – the language of bloody sacrifice – would have some innate and existential (not merely accidental) correspondence with the true secret. Finally, the ritual seems somehow connected with “love under will” and losing (the) self – its sense of separateness – in the other.”

But some readers already know the secret and others have guessed…

XVIII – The Moon

Let the Illusion of the world pass over thee, unheeded.  – The Book of Thoth

Ezra Pound has remarked somewhere that Frazer’s Golden Bough, all 12 fat volumes, can be condensed into a single sentence, to wit: All religions are either based on the idea that copulation is good for the crops or one the idea that copulation is bad for the crops.

In fact, one can generalize that even the highest forms of mysticism are similarly bifurcate, some going back to ideas derived from the orgy and some to ideas derived from the ritual murder.

Leo Frobenius, in a series of heavy Germanic treatises on anthropology still untranslated from the Deutsch, has demonstrated, or attempted to demonstrate, a periodic oscillation between these two systems of magick, which he calls Matriarchal and Patriarchal. Two spin-offs from the Frobenius thesis in English are Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God andRattray Taylor’s Sex In History.

The Beast himself (aided by the handy revelations of friend Aiwass) suggests that magicko-religious history, at least in the Occident, has passed through The Age of Isis(primitive matriarchy), the Age of Osiris or the Dying God (civilized patriarchy, including Christianity) and is presently entering The Age of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, in which woman will appear” no longer the mere vehicle of the male counterpart, but armored and militant.”

How’s that for a prophecy of Women’s Lib?

Thus, if the orgy is the sacrament of The Age of Isis, as Frazer indicates, the dying god – or the dying population – is the sacrament of the Age of Osiris. The link between ritual sex and ritual murder is not merely historical or sequential: they are the same sacrament in two different forms.

And the latter becomes magically necessary whenever the former is no longer functionally possible whenever that is, orgasm is no longer a true [although temporary] “death” and becomes only the “sneeze of the genitals” which all forms of psychotherapy are admittedly or overtly trying to alleviate.

It is a truism that, on the psychological plane, repressed or unsatisfied sex seeks relief in sadism or masochism: it is more true on the astral or magical plane (whatever that is) that is the spiritual spasm cannot be found through love, it must be sought in violence.

And so we see that human sacrifice is the characteristic sacrament of such peoples as the Aztecs (read any history of Mexico to find out how much male chauvinism, prudery andNixonian macho they wallowed in), the Holy Inquisitors of the middle ages, the Nazis, and some power elites closer to home; while matriarchal cultures such as the Danubians of pre-historic Europe, the pre-Chou folk of China, the first dwellers in the fertile crescent, etc have left behind clear evidence of an equal and opposite ritualized eroticism, some of which has survived via the Taoists in china, The Tantrists in India, the “Old Religion” or witch cult in Europe…

But the Beast was not trying to reinstate the Age of Isis, like these; his magick, he tells us again and again, is preparation for the Age of Horus.

XIX – The Sun

Make Speech and Silence, Energy and Stillness, twin forms of thy play. – The Book of Thoth

Even outside the Manson Family, there is a lot of religious balling going on these days by people who have rediscovered part of the ritual of Isis; what the Beast was teaching was nothing as facile as this. The following words from Chapter VII, “The Formula of the Holy Graal,” in Magick are meant with dreadful literalness:

“The Cup is said to be full of the Blood of the Saints; that is, every ‘saint’ or magician must give the last drop of his life’s blood to that cup (in) the true Bridal of the Rosy Cross…

“It is a woman whose Cup must be filled. It is…the sacrifice of the Man, who transfers life to his descendents…For it is his whole life that the Magus offers to Our Lady. The Cross is both Death and Generation, and it is on the Cross that the Rose blooms…”

The sacrifice must be a real death, a true Rosy Crucifixion, if it is to replace the more violent magic of the Osirian Age. I forbear further quotation, for the secret is concealed beneath many a veil throughout the Beast’s works, but it involves at least: a mastery of pranayama, allowing the postponement of orgasm until the magick working is performed at length and in properly exalted enthusiasm; skill in astral voyaging, so the astral body may be busy in its own plane also; perfection in dharana, so that one ray of the mind remains in perfect coordination on the symbol of the Holy Guardian Angel.

What happens, then, can be considered either the true, natural oceanic orgasm which the Patriarchal Age has tended to destroy – or a new and artificial creation produced by this complicated yoga. It’s the same debate we hear endlessly about acid: does it restore our “natural” form of perception, or does it “artificially” create a new form?

And, thus, we can understand Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, who is being created. He is “the Child” that Rose’s Cairo vision invoked; the “little child” that the Beast became after his bad trip to China; “the male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence” who was sacrificed an hundred and fifty times a year after 1912; the Beast himself; and also Aiwass, the Holy Guardian Angel, both an internal aspect of Crowley’s mind and a separate “Being…of angelic order…more than a man,” for the question posed by the materialist (“Inside or outside? Subjective or objective?”) loses meaning in that trance of Samadhi where all the opposites are transcended into a unity that is also a void.

XX – The Aeon

Be every Act an Act of Love and Worship. – The Book of Thoth

In an early issue of his magazine Equinox, the Beast wrote with uncharacteristic solemnity:

I. The world progresses by virtue of the appearance of Christs (geniuses).
II. Christs (geniuses) are men with super-consciousness of the highest order.
III. Super-consciousness of the highest order is obtainable by known methods.

Therefore, by employing the quintessence of known methods we cause the world to progress.

In the first issue, in a more characteristic vein, he wrote:

We place no reliance
On Virgin or Pigeon
Our method is Science
Our aim is Religion

He did his work seriously and humorously, stubbornly and flexibly, wisely and sometimes unwisely, synthesizing – from High Magick and from yoga, from Cabalism and the Koran, from experiments with hashish and peyote and nitrous oxide to years of study of the Tarot and comparative religion, slowly extracting “the quintessence of known methods.”

After him came Wilhelm Reich, who discovered the same quintessence independently, and was also hounded, vilified and slandered.  And after Reich was Timothy, who finally let the djinn out of the bottle and in a decade changed the face of the world by a century’s worth.

But the Beast started the Revolution, and some of us now see that it is the essential Revolution, far more important than that of economics, and that he and his good buddy Aiwassdefined it better than Marx or even better than the frontal-lobe anarchists, when they (he?) wrote in The Book of the Law:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law…
To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I
will tell my prophet,  & be drunk thereof!…
There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt…
It is a lie, this folly against self
I am alone: there is no God where I am…
Every man and every woman is a Star…
The word of Sin is restriction…
Remember all ye that existence is pure joy;
that all the sorrows are but shadows; they pass
and are done; but there is that which remains…
Love is the law, love under will…

For the Age of the Child is upon us; and those who seek to preserve the Aeon of Osiris and death are themselves only dying dinosaurs.

XXI – The Universe

And blessing and worship to the prophet of the lovely Star.  – The Book of Thoth

And yet – and yet – Manson reminds us, our brothers and sisters in the Movement remind us, sometimes our own unexpected behavior reminds us: there have been such millennial voices often in the past and they have been heralds not of a Golden Dawn but only of a false dawn.

If there is on central lesson to be learned from the Beast, it is not really Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, which has been around since Rabelais; not even the more profound and gnomic Every man and every woman is a Star; not even the formula of the Perfect Orgasm for which Norman has been searching so loudly and forlornly lo! these many years; it is rather his humor, his skepticism, his irony that reveled in the title of Beast and, even, at times, Ass; the rationality that warned against becoming “the prey of madness” by trusting one’s visions too quickly, and the common sense which said that, even if good and evil are identical on the Absolute plane, a man operating on the relative plane simply doesn’t enjoy a toothache or invent rationalizations to pick a brother’s pocket; the solemn warning that the sacrament is not completed until the Magician offers “the last drop of his life’s blood” to the Cup, and dies; but, above all these, the simple historical record which reveals that with all the ardor, all the dedication, all the passion he possessed, it still took eight years (including four months’ madness) before he broke down the wall that separates Ego from the true Self and that Self from the Universe.

The Cybernetic Revolution

The Cybernetic Revolution

By Robert Anton Wilson

 From The Realist, No. 72, December 1966

Paul Revere 1976, two hundred years after the origi­nal, will be a guy galloping through every middlesex, village and farm, yelling: “Grab your guns, boys, the machines is a-coming!”

The Triple Revolution Manifesto got a great deal of gassy publicity a few years ago. There is no need to reiterate the obvious here. The reader has already heard of translating machines, song-writing machines, chess-playing machines and totally automated factories.

The labor dispute that almost put New York’s news­papers out of business last year was provoked by fear of automation, and the same fear has inspired most of the recent waterfront troubles.

The Negro riots of summer 1964 are attributed, by some sociologists, to the accelerating unemployment rate of urban Negroes. One statistic suggests the whole picture: in 1963 there were exactly 500,000 – one half a million – less mine workers employed than in 1945, and in 1964 there were again 125,000 less than in 1963.

At the Realist’s expense I attended the 3-day Confer­ence on the Cybercultural Revolution held at the Hotel Americana in New York.

The panelists were all well qualified engineers, man­agers, sociologists, etc. – Ph.D.’s were as thick, in the crowd; as sailors in the balcony of a 42nd Street tit movie-and they all seemed in basic agreement with the Triple Revolution Manifesto’s projection of massive ­unemployment directly ahead of us: massive unemployment utterly unlike the Depression of the ’30s, because there will be no “cure” for it.  It will be permanent.

And it is not merely the “proletariat” who are threat­ened. I, for one, came out of the conference seriously wondering how soon Paul Krassner was going to re­place me with a Bad-Joke-and-Radical-Propaganda machine.

Among the many possibilities seriously discussed by the conferences – this is straight reporting, not a Realist satire – was a gizmo called the “Friend-o-Mat, with a voice programmed to sound human and mellow, which would dispense Freudian, Adlerian, Jungian or any other kind of therapy to several patients at a time. All that remains is the deathless dream of an immortal limerick:

There was a young man from Racine

who built a screwing machine;

Concave and convex

It would suit either sex

And jacked itself off in between.

But even that machine is probably possible with the new mathematics and sophisticated hardware of cyber­netics. Cybernetics is, basically; an exquisitely subtle mathematical theory describing self-organizing and self-regulating systems “biological or mechanical.”

The theory is applicable to any form of self-correct­ing behavior, in the electro-colloidal system known as an animal, and shows how to duplicate that behavior in an electronic-metallic system known as a machine.

The irony of the cybercultural revolution is that this state of affairs is what we have always dreamed of. “Machinery is the moral substitute for slavery,” some­body wrote a long time ago; we have always thought that super-machinery would mean man’s liberation from toil and the freeing of his energies for “higher” artistic or scientific activities.

Now that the super-machinery is at our door, we begin to realize that it might bring, not liberation, but stagnation or starvation.

The latter alternative is, indeed, the ultimate impli­cation of cybernetics, if we return to the philosophy of classical capitalism as espoused by Barry Goldwater or Ayn Rand. Capitalism has inherited from Feudalism – and from the earlier theocracies, slave, states and sultanates – a certain idea which is completely: incom­patible with cybernetic technology.

I will try to state that idea as baldly as possible. This is it: The human race is divided into two groups – the People Who Matter and the People Who Don’t Matter.

The PWM are those who own the planet earth. Their ownership is a “legal fact,” although not an existential fact, and is demonstrated by land-titles, franchises, bank charters, stocks, bonds or other documents, certi­fied by the king or the congress, indicating the exact dimensions of their share of ownership. The PWM have an absolute right to exist, symbolized by these documents and guaranteed by the State.

The PWDM, on the other hand, do not own any part of the earth, and, therefore, do not have any absolute right to exist. They may obtain a relative right to ex­ist, however, by finding (or being found by) masters among the PWM who will employ them to toil, and compensate them by food and lodging, under slavery, or by wages, under capitalism.

Note that it is the State which decides who are the PWM and who are the PWDM.

Under Feudalism, and earlier systems, the PWM con­sisted only of the relatives of the king, and, since pro­duction was mainly agricultural, the principle form of ownership of the planet was through land-titles. Thus, the “nobility” became lords-of-the-land, land­lords, and levied a tax upon those who actually worked the land, the tax being known as “rent.”

The franchises, bank charters, stocks, etc., owned by the modern nobility are the same type of tax placed upon the productive process; capital interest is’ the “rent” of capital.

A man born into the PWM has his right to exist guaranteed by the State due to his inheritance of these certificates of ownership.

A man born into the PWDM, on the other hand, has no accepted worth in and of himself and obtains the right to exist only when a PWM will employ him.

This age-old class division is the idea mentioned above which is completely incompatible with cyber­netics, and I trust that I have stated it baldly enough.

Before Cybernation, the authoritarian structure had at least one slight protection built into it for the PWDM, which is that they are needed: the PWM can­not survive without the millions of PWDM grubbing and toiling away to produce the commodities of the nation. For this reason, the PWM have never allowed all of the PWDM to starve completely.

This is exactly where the nightmare of cybercultural revolution begins, for, in a cybernated age, the PWDM are no longer necessary. The PWM could let them all starve and be served forever after by machines.

The fellow who called machinery “the moral alterna­tive to slavery” never thought of this.

And among the PWDM are a class whom the partici­pants at the Cybercultural Conference jocularly called “the noodles.” The noodles think of themselves as being among the PWM, but by our definition, since they do not own any inherited franchises or charters of owner­ship over the planet, they are actually among the PWDM.      .           .

The noodles, you see, are the non-technical mana­gerial and administrative groups. (The technical man­agers and administrators, although also – by our defini­tion – PWDM, cannot be allowed to starve by the PWM.)

What will happen to the noodles, briefly, is that they will be in exactly the same leaky boat as the “gooks,” “niggers,” “errand boys” and other proletarians.

Although their higher salaries have allowed them to rub elbows and socialize (somewhat) with the PWM­ – and although they have, because of this, built up the delusion that they are among the PWM – the noodles will soon have their noses rubbed vigorously in the messy fact that they are, and always have been, PWDM.  (It couldn’t happen to nicer guys, could it?)

But we are exaggerating (I hope). Our PWM aren’t like the kings and sultans of olde. During the last great depression, without having to shoot or exile any of them, Roosevelt managed to get them to cough up may­ be $1 out of every million to go into a government dole, to keep them PWDM from starving.*

And Lyndon Johnson has read the Triple Revolution manifesto, or at least had one of his secretaries write to the Triple Revolution Committee and tell them that he had read it. So, let’s all relax, fellows; we can be sure that as cybernetic unemployment spreads, the dole will gradually expand to make up the difference, and nobody really will starve.

It seems to be this elevated level of utopian optimism that the Triple Revolution Committee would peddle to us. The picture I get is a 4-decker society in which: (a) The PWM retain their ownership of the planet through their land-titles, franchises, stocks, bonds, etc., and continue to rake off interest, or usury, on every productive process, while

(b) A technological elite actually runs things, and:

(c) The governing class, at gun-point – all taxes are collected at gun-point, let’s keep our eye on the ball here and not forget an unpleasant truth even if it is people like Goldwater who nowadays remind us of this particular truth – holds up the PWM and the techno­logical elite to collect just enough from them to dis­tribute a permanent dole to:

(d) Millions of bored and unemployed ex-workers and ex-noodles (who, presumably, will have lots of movies and TV to fill the long hours when they are too tired to fornicate any more).

By and large, the best brains of the Cybercultural Conference seemed to go along with this Triple Revo­lution formula, although I can’t imagine why. To me, it sounds like hell on earth. The best thing that can be said for it is that it is better than sticking to the old PWM mystique in the pure form of feudalism and classical capitalism.

The Triple Revolution formula is something that could arise only in America. It is a pure product of our national muddle-headedness and our refusal, ever, to ask fundamental questions and re-think fundamental assumptions.

Capitalism is under suspicion all over the world, ex­cept here. Here it is not an economic system but a re­vealed religion. Questioning it is a sign of eccentricity, if not depravity.

The Triple Revolution is not a revolution at all, being neither original nor radical (most of its ideas were long ago hashed out in the Social Credit and Technoc­racy movements).**

The whole Triple Revolution is nothing more than Hopalong FDR Rides Again – Capitalism plus the dole, period.

The irony of the Triple Revolution program is that it is based on ignoring the fundamental principle of cybernetics itself. The Triple Revolution program is an adaptation of cybernetics to our local (capitalist) au­thoritarianism (just as the ultimate Soviet program for cybernetics will be an adaptation to their own Statist authoritarianism).

But cybernetics itself is profoundly anti-authoritarian, and if we merely followed the logic of cyber­netics to its ultimate conclusion we would easily find the solution to the problems created by cybernetics. All of these problems, it will turn, out, are the result of not following cybernetics logically; they are the result of trying to dilute cybernetics with the logic of earlier systems.

Consider for a moment, not the hardware, but the essence of cybernetics. Cybernetics is a mathematical theory describing self-regulating’ or self-organizing systems. The general theory is’ applicable to mechani­cal, biological and social systems.

The material of the system doesn’t matter – you can be dealing with transistors and electric circuits; or with the nervous system of a cat or a man, or with a herd of cows or a tribe or nation of men – what makes a system cybernetic, or non-cybernetic, is the structure of the materials.

If, the structure allows for feedback from the envir­onment and alteration of behavior in accordance with the feedback, you have a cybernetic system. The essence of cybernetics is just that: an information flow that allows for self-correction.

‘This information flow is only possible where there is a structure to transmit and receive the information. It is perhaps necessary to point out that “structure” and “information” are very high order abstractions in cybernetic theory. The governor of a generator will illustrate this.

The first generators had a nasty habit of accelerat­ing until they tore themselves apart (no feedback). The governor was then invented. This is a pair of balls on a pair of flexible arms, attached to opposite sides of the generator. When the speed exceeds a certain point, the balls are thrown out by centrifugal force, creating a drag in the air. This slows the rotary velocity, until the balls fall back into place, the drag ends, and the machine starts accelerating again.

In this way, the speed is kept oscillating in the vicin­ity of a safe point where the generator will not tear itself apart. A thermostat controls a furnace in the same way. The balls of the governor, as much as the temperature-reading of the thermostat, are said to feed back “information” in cybernetic terminology. They “inform” the generator about its speed, just as the thermostat “informs” the furnace about the amount of heat it is generating.

There is an old Navy tradition that the steersman always repeats an order to the captain before executing it. If the captain says, “Sixty knots,” and the steers­man replies, “Fifty knots, sir,” it is obvious that he has mis-heard and the captain can correct him. This is another example of a feedback, or self-correcting, system.

Feedback can be very “smooth” and continuous. When I reach for a bottle of water, the eye feeds back to the brain information about how far my hand has moved, and how far it still must move, and the feed­back occurs continuously, every micro-second, until I reach the bottle.

If it is a bottle of bourbon I am reaching for, and I have already reached for more than I should have, the feedbacks in my nervous’ system work less “smoothly,” more “jerkily,” and I may even land on my nose in the middle of the floor. The first cybernetic anti-aircraft guns had just that jerky kind of motion.

There is also a condition of two much feedback. In human beings, this takes on the form of the Hamlet kind of neurosis – self-checking carried to the point of indecision, and paralysis. This also has its mechanical analogy. An early model cybernetic anti-aircraft gun was built with so much feedback that it kept correcting its direction of fire and never did fire.

A mechanical system is said to have “redundance of control” when it has optimum feedback – not too much and not too little. In redundance of control, every part of the system feeds back information to every other part, and the system as a whole is self-regulating. An automated factory works on this principle.

Democracy, from the point of view of cybernetics, is an attempt to introduce redundance of control to the social organism. Note that every step forward in de­mocracy – limited suffrage, universal suffrage, the ref­erendum, the recall, division’ of powers, etc. – has in­creased the feedback in the system.

It can be argued that democracy as we know it does not yet contain optimum feedback, but for the moment we will accept the democratic State as a model of suffi­cient feedback and self-correction.

Let us, from this perspective, contemplate for a mo­ment the “economic States” which divide the control of this country with the political State – let us, that is, contemplate the Corporations. How much feedback do they possess?

A long time ago, I decided that the corporations possess very little feedback and are, from a cybernetic point of view, unstable and primitive systems. At that time, I made myself a bet: nobody employed by a uni­versity, I bet myself, would ever announce this discov­ery in public, although it is a very simple application of cybernetic principles.

To my astonishment, on the second day of the Cyber­cultural Conference, Professor William Perk of the University of Southern Illinois, criticized the corporations on exactly these grounds, pointing out in detail how the basic feedbacks of the democratic State are completely lacking in the modern corporation.

Professor Perk went further and remarked that the citizen, spending- most of his life as the servant of an authoritarian corporation, is conditioned to submission and obedience and is gradually made psychologically incapable of participating fully in the freedom of the democratic State.

An, anecdote once told to me by Tobey McCarroll of the Humanists is very a propos here.

Mr. McCarroll, as a lawyer, was representing some Indians in their perennial fight against the Grand Land Thief, or the U.S. Government as we prefer to call it. While he was conferring with, the chiefs of the tribe, an archeologist appeared and requested permission to dig for relics in certain mounds whi.ch he believed were graves. The chiefs soberly gave permission, although they knew that the mounds were actually cesspools. The savant dug his way down into the dung, without a single Indian speaking up to warn him.

The folklore of all repressed peoples is full of such crude jokes. The Indians-like all repressed groups­ had long been forced to realize that they are not infor­mation-channels or feedback-channels in the major so­ciety. What they see, hear, smell, deduce, know or suppose is of no interest to the control centers of the society.

Having this realization beaten into them for several centuries, they are not about to start volunteering in­formation now. (The legendary poker-facedness of both Indians and Negroes, in the old days, frequently was a mask for this type of hostility, but always expressed in a context of doing what the master class demanded: communicating.)

Every authoritarian society creates this type of vol­untary “stupidity.” The employee of every corporation practices it most of the time, although not as much as the Indians. Any system lacking feedback encourages this species of sabotage.

(The Italian anarchist labor unions once tied up the railroads, not by striking; but merely by obeying all the laws on the books. Because there had never been enough feedback, the law-makers had never discovered how absurd and impractical most of their laws were – until the workers started obeying them.)

The PWDM are always in the position of non-feed­back senders to the PWM. This is the very definition of an authoritarian society. The PWM make the deci­sions, and the PWDM merely obey them. Any cyber­netics engineer knows that no mechanical system can imitate human intelligence if it has this non-feedback structure. .

Only the fact that capitalism has become a revealed religion keeps people from realizing the simple truth enunciated by Professor Perk: the Corporations, lack­ing feedback, lack human intelligence. As a whole, every Corporation behaves ten times more stupidly than any particular member of it.

Cynics have puzzled for a long time to explain the “hydrostatic principle of organization,” as Oliver Wen­dell Holmes called it; that is, the principle by which an organization, like water seeking its own level, sinks to the intelligence level of its stupidest member. This is that principle in a nut-shell. It is not a law of organi­zations at all, but just a law of organizations without feedback.

And this is why America is a schizophrenic and un­comfortable civilization. The political unit is, at least partly, democratic; the economic unit – the Corporation – is more authoritarian and centralized than any sultanate of old.

The citizen is told to be an individual, to be respon­sible, to think globally, to participate in the world’s activity – and, once in four years, he gets a chance to make a mark on a piece of paper.

The rest of the time, he lives as a medieval serf, within an organization that is exquisitely totalitarian. And these “private States,” make no mistake about it, dominate not only the time of the citizen, but all of the other dimensions of his” life as well, much more than the public State does.

The owners of the corporations, under capitalism, are the PWM, just as the owners of the land were, un­der feudalism. You might almost say, from the point of view of this kind of radical cybernetics, that capi­talism is the continuation of feudalism by other means.

I think that the tendency of this argument should be obvious to the reader by now. Either the PWM and their Corporations have a true title by ownership of the planet, or they do not. If they do, Ayn Rand is right and the State has no justification for coming along with a gun and robbing them to feed the PWDM.

If, on the other hand, the whole PWM mystique is just the modern form of “the divine right of kings,” if it has no basis in justice, then it is time we had as much balls as our ancestors had when they hauled Charlie Stuart I up before the court and stripped him of his powers.

It is time, in short; that the corporation go the way of the monarchy, and be replaced by democratic self-regulating institutions; institutions that would belong, not to a few of the people, but to all of the people. If the people really do own the planet, then there need be no State dole: they will merely receive dividends from their joint’ stock companies which will run their machin­ery for them, and they will have to take on the responsibility of making the decisions for these companies.

If the people are too stupid to run their own com­panies, then, by God, the old authoritarian system is justified, and the earth does belong to a minority. In that case, I see no reason why the talented minority should be robbed to feed the incompetent. This, really, is the choice that cybernetics sets before us: do we be­lieve in man, or do we believe in an elite of super-men?

The Triple Revolution is merely another American muddle, a refusal to face the issues, and an attempt to have one foot in each boat, while the boats are obvi­ously going in opposite directions.

Far be it from me to condemn stupidity utterly. It’s been around so long that I’m sure it must have some use. It does appear, though, that in facing the particu­lar challenge of cybernetics, intelligence may be of more use than stupidity. In that case, we will have to define the issues crisply and make a definitive choice.

Either we can trust the people, or we must trust an elite. It would be melodramatic, corny and inaccurate to state this choice as Socialism or Fascism, because most forms of socialism are fascism. Whatever you want to call it, however, the choice remains.

God knows, I wouldn’t attempt to influence such a conglomeration of heretics as the Realist readership, on how this choice should be decided. The choice is probably out of our hands, anyway; the corporations own 98% of the wealth.  I’ll see you on the unemploy­ment line. . .

 

* Corporation taxes are higher than that, of course – as conservative readers will quickly write to tell me. Very true, but I still remain dubious about how much of corpora­tion taxes goes into the various doles and how much goes into warfare and cold warfare to protect the corporations from rebellion on the part of their foreign serfs.

** And Ezra Pound went to the jail and the bughouse for insisting on precisely these ideas over Rome Radio 20 or so years ago. Remember?

 

The Anatomy of Schlock

The Anatomy of Schlock

by A Nonymous Hack

from The Realist, No. 62, September 1965
reprinted in The Best of The Realist

For three months, I have worked as an editor in the coun­try’s leading schlock factory. My boss assured me that our schlock reached 30,000,000 Americans every month, and that, brethren, is a lion’s share of the schlock market.

Let me define my terms. Schlock is the next level down, below kitsch. Kitsch is naive, maudlin, hokey, unsophisticated. Commercial folklore, so to speak. Its flavor is bland, and, like American food, it is processed to be without any strong flavor, good or bad. Kitsch is “I Found God When My Doctor Told Me I Had Cancer,” “Jackie Kennedy Tells Why She Will Not Re- Marry,” “Should Wives Enjoy Sex? ”

Schlock, on the other hand, is brutal, lumpen-prole, aggres­sive, hairy; like carnival hot-dogs, so spicy you might vomit if you’re over-sensitive. Schlock is “He Beat His Grandmother to Death With Her Crutch,” “Love-Starved Arab Peasant Wom­en Raped Me Twenty Times,” “The Disease That Liz Caught from Dick.”

I got into the schlock market when I answered a New York Times ad for an editor for a slick men’s magazine. I passed the interview with flying colors and was hired. Then it was ex­plained to me that, in addition to the slick men’s magazine, I would also be editing three pulp men’s magazines.

The three pulps were, of course, pure schlock. They sported titles like (these are actual examples) “The Corpse Lovers,” “Inside Those Queer Bars,” “How to Find Your Favorite Vice,” “The Big Snatch,” “My Mommy Was A Hustler,” “Girls Who Suck You Dry.” Of course, the more raunchy of these titles did not live up to the expectations they aroused: schlock is not hard-core pornography but soft-core. “The Big Snatch” was about kidnapping and “Girls Who Suck You Dry” was about girls who take all your money and leave you.

Well, I have a family to support (as Adolph Eichmann may have said when his job was first explained to him); I sat down and began writing schlock. I produced such gems as “Wild Sex Freaks of History,” “A Prostitute Reveals Her Naked Soul,” “If You Think You Have V.D.,” “Can Lack of Sex Cause Cancer?” and “How Cowards Dodge the Draft.”

In between these epics, my magazines were crowded with cheesecake layouts, and I found that writing the captions to these was more fun, even, than writing the articles. As on all such magazines, the cheesecake came out of a file-the models had signed away everything, including (I think) their children’s life insurance, on a release form that couldn’t be broken by Clarence Darrow himself – and I invented whatever I wanted to say about them.

In creative and ironic raptures one day (and a bit dismayed , by the hard, whore-like expressions on the broads the art de­partment had handed me), I picked up the heaviest cruiser in the lot – a mauler who looked like she was 38 years old and had been a whore for 20 of those years in the $10-a-throw Sands Street section of Brooklyn – and wrote that she was a Sunday School teacher from Indiana.

The others I gave the usual fictional backgrounds, making them” girl scientists,” “typists,” “airline hostesses,” and so forth. Once in a while I would make one a “Greenwich Village hipster” and have her say something like “I dig the peyote scene” or “William Burroughs is my favorite writer,” but I was careful not to pull that one too often.

Meanwhile, another department of the schlock factory also published a tabloid newspaper – the kind that features head­lines like “Iron Lung Patient Rapes Two Nurses.” The editor was understaffed. (This didn’t prevent the publisher from con­tinually suggesting that he fire somebody – the publisher wor­ried that every department was overstaffed.)

Just for the hell of it, and because I was getting to enjoy schlock in a perverse sort of way, I took on writing the ESP col­umn in this newspaper. I read the predictions that had ap­peared over the past several months and began grinding out my own predictions, out of the blue. It was surprisingly easy. Among other things, I predicted that Lyndon Johnson would be assassinated, that anti-American riots would occur in another Latin American nation, that the $15,000,000 pornog­raphy collection on the closed shelves of a large public library would be robbed by a mob led by a defrocked priest “well known in occult circles,” that flying saucers would be in the news again, that shocking discoveries would be made at Stone­henge throwing new light on ancient Egypt and revealing how man came to be on earth (ESP bugs, I reasoned, are generally also the types who believe that man was deposited here by fly­ing saucers and that Egypt is full of occult mysteries}, that peanut butter would be found to contain radioactive isotopes, and that a Hollywood star would be involved in a sex-and-LSD orgy.

In a short while, I began getting letters from fans. Many of them congratulated me on the number of my predictions that came true, although actually none of them ever came true. Ap­parently, these people possess a very convenient kind of mem­ory. (When Kennedy was shot, many astrology magazines ad­mitted they hadn’t predicted it, but I recently heard from an as­trology buff that all the leading astrology magazines had pre­dicted it!)

As an experiment, I tried the most outlandish prediction I could imagine in my ESP column. I predicted that a new island would rise in the Pacific Ocean, covered with strange non­-Euclidean buildings bearing inhuman hieroglyphics. I had lifted this from “The Call of Cthulhu,” by H. P. Lovecraft. The ESP fans ate it up. They are always expecting things like that to happen anyway.

I was becoming a schlock meister, a veritable uber­schlockmeister. I started dreaming up titles for tabloid stories. All the stories in the tabloid, you see, were fictitious. (Inciden­tally, the best inspirations are never used. They are too far out. Such as: “Kicked Out of Ku Klux Klan for Negro Blood – He Becomes Muslim Leader.”)

The staff would have a bull session each Monday morning and work out 15 or 20 ideas for the next issue. “Say, how about this,” somebody would cry. “Mad Hunchback Sells Hunch to Butcher/Woman Poisoned by Hunchburger?”

“Nah,” the editor would say, “Too far out in left field.”

“How about, ‘Vice Squad Cop Catches V.D. From Prosti­tute He Arrested’? ”

“Great, ” the editor would reply, “We’ll use that one. ”

And so another “news” story would be born. I often reflected that we represented the next stage in journalism, after The New York Times. The Times merely alters and selects facts to fit a particular political line. We invented our facts on the spot, a much more creative process.  If it is the destiny of man to “transcend mere reason and empiricism,” and to “achieve a rebirth of myth and magic,” as many modern philosophers think, I can safely claim that we schlockscribes in our grubby offices were doing more to further that end than the Times.

I soon discovered that my predecessor on the men’s pulps had applied the same formula: “Woman Gives Birth to Pup­pies” appeared in the tabloid; “Women Who Have Given Birth to Animals” had appeared several issues back in one of the men’s pulps. A girl who regularly had intercourse with a dog­ – a spectacle she performed for money in a Mexican whore­house – had “worn down her immunity” to dog sperm and thus became impregnated. The pulp archly stated that the story had appeared “in several Mexican newspapers” but that “some doc­tors” claim it is impossible. The tabloid picked it up without any reservations. Folklore students of the future will have to wade through tons of this schlock in stalking down the origins of various contemporary folktales.

The schlock-sex field is much tougher than schlock-crime or schlock-ESP. “This is kind of tame,” the publisher, or schlock­fuehrer, would say occasionally. Since he fired one person every week without fail (and thus kept us all in that half-mad kind of frenzy necessary to the production of true schlock), this remark would spread terror throughout the factory. We would outdo ourselves with “Teen-Age Sex Club Seduces Parents” or “Wolf-Men Who Drink Blood for Lust.” Then, the schlockfuehrer would come around again, looking worried. “Take out ‘cunni­lingus,’ ” he would say (referring to a factual story, for once, about a crusader for sexual freedom), “you gotta be careful in this business. ”

My predecessor, I discovered while going through back is­sues, had named one model “Senora Maria Theresa Fellatia” and said she was waiting for an appointment “with her phy­sician, Dr. Cunnilingua.” Somehow, this one went through. It is altogether possible that the publisher didn’t know either of those words at the time.

The biggest panic occurred when some pubic hair was dis­covered in one of my pulps, in an issue done by my predecessor but on which I had corrected the blues (last stage before publication). The printer discovered the small dark tangle and called the publisher, saying we could all go to jail. The publisher came thundering into my office, gibbering: “Pubic hair! You let pubic hair go by! Goddamn it, pubic hair! We can all go to jail! ”

The printer, fortunately, was able to correct the plate. After that, I scrutinized each crotch with the kind of care I usually give only to living girls. Anybody who passed my office and saw me studying a vulva through a magnifying glass would have thought, “What a horny bastard! He’s really in the right job.”

In spite of the one-firing-every-week policy, I enjoyed myself in the schlock factory. Most of us laughed a great deal, es­pecially after each firing (we knew then we were safe for another week). Schlock is fun to write. The best, of course, is the stuff you have to reject for publication, but which everybody in the office enjoys. “Jayne Mansfield Revealed To Be Male Has-Been Who Had Sex-Change Operation,” was one the publisher dreamed up himself, and for two hours nobody could talk him out of it. His lawyer finally made him see reason, which is too bad. It would have been the tabloid’s best-selling issue. . . until Jayne sued them out of existence.

Another one the whole office loved was “The Four-Letter I Word That Sue Lyons Calls Burton,” which was based on a gossip column item that Sue Lyons called Burton “Bull,” but: the readers wouldn’t find that out until after they bought the magazine and read the story. My all-time favorite, cooked up by a girl who worked on the movie mags, was: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer Catches Leprosy/Audience Splattered by Flying Or­gans.” Alas, the editor of the tabloid thought that was too much even for his audience.

The movie magazines were, like all good schlock, basically dishonest. The stories were more-or-less true but were given the schlock-treatment by our staff. An item would be lifted out of Hedda Hopper or Louella Parsons and then jazzed up with a suggestive or blood-curdling title and developed into a whole story. Everything in the story, except the key fact, would be fabrication. As long as none of the stars were made to look criminal or foolish, we never had any complaints from the stu­dios’ legal departments.

Intrigued by a cover-line on one of our “true confessions” mags – “Stripped Naked in the Subway/Nobody Would Help Me” – I found that no incident remotely like it occurred any­where in the story. The little 60-year-old lady who ground out three of these mags, writing most of them herself, had carried journalism even further than our tabloids.

At this point, the publisher gave me another magazine to do – a detective mag. He also gave me, at last, one assistant to help with the three schlock mags. The assistant proved to be a talentedschlockscribe and quickly was grinding out “Sixty Streets of Sin” and “He Asked Me To Sleep With His Wife” at a sizzling rate. I let him take over two out of the three schlock mags, and concentrated on one schlock mag, my slick, and the detective mag.

My career in the schlock factory was brought to a close when I began preparing my first issue of the “slick.” It was an imita­tion of Playboy, with lots more cheesecake. Looking over Play­boy and its other imitators, I decided that the key to success in this field was, in a word, balls. I set out to create the boldest, most sophisticated, raciest men’s magazine ever. The editor-be­fore-the-editor-before-me was fired for making it “too in­tellectual.” I was careful to avoid that error.

The publisher said he didn’t want schlock in this one maga­zine – “It’s our class publication,” he used to repeat – but he was such a pure, dedicated schlockmaestro that everything he touched turned to schlock. Looking over past issues, I dis­covered that the only non-schlock one that had been put out by the editor fired for being “too intellectual.” “Not schlock and not egghead,” was my guiding principle. I revamped my table of contents several times, making it more schlocky each time. I kept two non-schlock articles, a factual piece about Cuba, and an interview with a prominent novelist, and tried to make the rest of the pieces come out as both schlock and non-schlock simultaneously. This I did by giving them schlock titles but sophisticated insides, or, in one case, a sophisticated title with schlock insides.

It didn’t work.

One week the tabloid editor was fired on Monday, his suc­cessor was fired on Wednesday, and the publisher called me in­to his office on Thursday. “I don’t want you printing writers who are writing The Great American Novel,” he began. He told me my whole issue was too intellectual and that several stories were being dropped from it. He ended the interview on a paternal note: “I got a reputation for doing a lot of firing, ” he said, “but I’m trying to change that. I’m not going to fire any­body without two week’s notice, from now on. As for you, you’re still okay in my book. You just have to learn a little.”

He had made a similar speech to the tabloid editor before fir­ing him. I typed up a job resume that night and brought it into the office half an hour before starting time the next morning. I had run off 20 copies of it on the office photostat machine when the schlockfuehrer called me into his office and fired me.

Until a replacement for me could be found, everything – the slick, the whodunit, and the three pulps – was put in the hands of the little 60-year-old lady who did the confession magazines.

Timothy Leary and his Psychological H-Bomb

Timothy Leary and his Psychological H-Bomb

By Robert Anton Wilson

from The Realist, No. 52, August 1964

The future may decide that the two greatest thinkers of the 20th Century were Albert Einstein who showed how to create atomic fission in the physical world and Timothy Leary who showed how to create atomic fission in the psychological world.  The latter discovery may be more important than the former; there are some reasons for thinking that it was made necessary by the former.

Nuclear fission of the material universe has created an impasse which is not merely political but ideological, epistemological, metaphysical.  As Einstein himself said, atomic energy has changed everything but our habits of thought and until our habits of thought also change we are going to drift continually closer to annihilation.  Timothy Leary may have shown how our habits of thought can be changed.

After the outburst of unfavorable publicity about Dr. Leary in the mass magazines in November and December 1963, most readers presumably know who Timothy Leary is and what he has been doing.

He is the man who, together with Dr. Richard Alpert, conducted several experiments at Harvard on “psychedelic” (mind-altering) chemicals; as a result of these experiments, Dr. Leary pronounced some very shocking and “radical” ideas at various scientific meetings, and attempted to implement these ideas by setting up an organization through which these mind-changing chemicals could be legally made available to whomever wanted them.

When the authorities found out what Dr. Leary was attempting, the laws were quickly changed to make the distribution of these chemicals a government monopoly, and Dr. Leary and Dr. Alpert were removed from their positions at Harvard.

Leary and Alpert now live, with an “extended family” of 22 others, in an old estate in Millbrook, New York, and I drove up there on a recent week-end to get their side of the story and find out what their present plans are.

Let me admit that several of my best friends have been kicked out of various university positions, like Leary and Alpert, for thinking independent thoughts, the one crime never permitted in an American university.  I found Leary and Alpert the least embittered of any of these expelled heretics that I have ever met.

”Harvard was right,” Leary says calmly.  “We were planning to leave anyway, before they asked us to.  We believe in every man’s right to play his own game, but he must contract with others as to where and when the game should be played, what the rules are, and so forth.  Nobody has the right to inflict his game on others.  We don’t believe, for instance, that a baseball team has the right to charge out onto a football field where a game is in progress and start their own game and get in everybody else’s way.  Harvard had a verbal game, and we’ve got a non-verbal game.  Obviously, we have to find our own field.”

The “extended family” mentioned above is part of Leary’s game.  Criticisms of the restricted, authoritarian mold of the patriarchal family have been around for about a hundred years now, such criticisms coming equally vehemently from Marxists, Reichians, anarchists and Borsodians.  Leary, instead of merely criticizing the patriarchal-authoritarian family game, has started his own libertarian and decentralized family game.

The extended family at Millbrook consists of Dr. Leary and his town children, Dr. Alpert, Dr. Ralph Metzer and his wife and children, a jazz musician and his wife and five children, a Negro family, and one or two others.  Various visitors are continually coming and going – among them Catholic priests, psychologists, anthropologists, beatniks, ex-convicts who became friends of Leary’s during his work in the prisoner rehabilitation field, Buddhist monks, etc. – and a sign immediately inside the front door of the main house tells you:

Like other games, the visiting game is best played when the parties involved have an explicit contract as to the roles each shall play and the over-all rules.

If you are an invited guest, please contact the member of the family who invited you.

If you are uninvited, please restrict your visit to one hour and remain here until one of us can be with you to show you about.

The Millbrook community is on an estate of 5,000 acres and includes twenty small cottages as well as the two castle-like main houses.  The “family” remains in the bigger of the two main houses, except when somebody wants to withdraw for a while for meditation, writing, or just to escape other people’s games.
”We have our own transcendental games, which are just as much of a hang-up as the conventional social games,” Dr. Alpert told me, with a wide grin.  “When it gets too gamey for somebody, out to the cottage he goes.”

Leary was already playing an interview game when I arrived – Dr. Roger Wescott, the anthropologist-poet-libertarian-epigramatist-linguist-semanticist, was making a tape with Dr. Leary, so my wife and I wandered around examining the house.  It was the Frankenstein’s Castle sort of place that rich families used to build back in the 19th Century, but finished in very modern style.

There were few paintings, but lots of collages – one that I particularly remember was a psychedelic collage made up of photos of William Burroughs, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley, and other distinguished experimenters with chemical consciousness-expansion, together with sensational headlines about these chemicals, and the formulas for these chemicals;  another was a really wild and way-out thing featuring a score of nude gals from Playboy interspersed with Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and other meditative oriental figures.

Dr. Alpert joined us and we began chatting about the reactions of various groups to psychedelic research.  Alpert admitted that he had never read any Oriental philosophy until after his first experiences with LSD and psilocybin (the two principal mind-enlarging chemicals.)

”I was a logical positivist,” he said, “and all Oriental thought seemed primitive and irrational to me.  But after my first trans-ego experience with psilocybin I realized that a lot of their religious thought was really a very apt description of this type of consciousness-expansion.”

Dr. Leary, meanwhile, had escaped from Dr. Wescott’s interview-game and was plunged into a game that seemed to be even more enjoyable to him: baseball.  Watching him belt the ball with great zest and considerable skill for his 43 years, I recalled his famous comparison of baseball and psychotherapy in his explosive essay, “How to Change Behavior”:

In terms of the epistemology and scientific method employed, the ‘game’ of baseball is superior to any of the so-called behavioral sciences.  Baseball officials have classified and they reliably record molecular behavior sequences (the strike, the hit, the double-play, etc.) Their compiled records are converted into indices most relevant for summarizing and predicting behavior (R.B.I, runs batted in; E.R.A, earned run average, etc.)  Baseball employs well-trained raters to judge those rare events which are not obviously and easily coded.  These raters are known as umpires.

When we move from behavior –science to behavior-change, we see that baseball experts have devised another remarkable set of techniques for bringing about the results which they and their subjects look for: coaching.  Baseball men understand the necessity for sharing time and space with their learners, for setting up role models, for feedback of relevant information to the learner, for endless practice of the desired behavior.

…Baseball is a clean and successful game because it is seen as a game…The nationality game it is treason not to play,  (and it is treason not to play), the racial game, the religious game, and that most treacherous and tragic game of all, the game of individuality, the ego game.

When I was able to lure Dr. Leary back into another interview-game, we retired to the kitchen with a Catholic monk, who was also trying to interview Dr. Leary, and my wife made some coffee.  I asked Dr. Leary how he happened to adopt the game model for his scientific papers on human behavior – did he acquire it from sociologist Huizinga’s Homo Ludens, from mathematician von Neumann’s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, or was it just in the air in behavioral sciences these days?

“Well, it’s been in the air for quite a while,” he said, “and I may have used it once or twice in the old days, but it really came home to me after my first psychedelic experience.” This occurred on vacation in Mexico, where an anthropologist game him one of the “magic mushrooms” which the Indians say “allows a man to see God.”
Leary knew that the mushroom contained the alkaloid, psilocybin, described by psychiatrists as a “psychototomimetic” (insanity-producer) or “hallucinogenic” (hallucination-producer).  Curious, he ate it and waited to see what would happen.  For four hours, his mind “whiled around in some strange universe outside of my ego.”  Nothing in all his psychological training could explain or even verbalize the nature of this experience.

He had been teaching academic psychology for over ten years and practicing as a therapist with disturbed individuals for eight years, but he suddenly realized that there were aspects of the human consciousness which Western science had never described, explained or even investigated.

”I kept searching for words to describe what had happened,” he told me, “and finally I remembered the game model and I said: ‘The space game came to an end, then the time game came to an end, and then the Timothy Leary game came to an end.’”

While the game metaphor is very evocative of the after-effect of the experience, in which one sees very clearly the arbitrary nature of the social roles people play, I personally prefer, in describing the experience itself, my own atomic fission metaphor.  The ego, the psychological individuality of man, is literally blown to atoms.  The decentralized consciousness which remains is described as “union with God” by Western mystics, as “the blessed void” by Eastern mystics, and as “schizophrenic lunacy” by dogmatic old-school materialists.  Because this experience has usually been associated with religion and sometimes with very superstitious religion, a large portion of the scientific community prefers the third description and regards Dr. Leary’s work with considerable hostility.

The typical psychedelic experience – and here I shall attempt to describe it in neutral terminology – seems to consist of four stages.

First there is a gradual disorientation, accompanied sometimes by nausea and sometimes by anxiety.  Psychedelic chemicals seem to act, primarily, on the colloidal structure of the living protoplasm; the action of both nerves and muscles depends upon whether the colloids are expanding toward sol-state or contracting toward gel-state.

The psychedelics seem to lead to an expansion, which means that the muscles lose a great deal of their chronic tension (everybody in our society is defending himself muscularly as well as psychologically) and the nerves transmit more information.

In the second stage, the new relaxation and new information begin to be accepted by the body, and no longer cause nausea and anxiety.  At this point, new perceptions break through – some of them probably hallucinatory, some of them probably not.  You typically see colors brighter, hear music clearer, see motions in a new esthetic way; you may also see something as odd as the alcoholic’s pink elephant.

In the third stage, hallucinations give way to the unstructured perceptions of infancy or idiocy: space and time break down into arbitrary patterns inside yourself which you no longer have the energy to project onto the world (through all this, which burns up considerable energy, you are getting tireder and tireder.)  At the end of this stage, with a strong psychedelic, the ego pattern itself is an abstraction which you no longer have the energy to hold onto as “reality.”

Through both the hallucinatory and transcendental phases of the experience, the body is in a peculiar ecstasy which may, possibly, be our natural state before social conventions fouled us up, or may be an artificial creation of the chemicals.

Finally, in the fourth phase, the ego gradually re-establishes itself, space and time reappear, the ordinary socially-defined “reality” restructures itself.  But you are never again able to believe that this social “reality” is all of reality or that your ego is all of you.

Actually there is nothing very “mystical” (in the pejorative sense of that word) about Dr. Timothy Leary.  Many subjects have reported, after psychedelic experiences, that they achieved “telepathy”, or that their “astral body” left their “physical body” or similar spiritualistic claims.  Dr. Leary is rigidly empirical about such matters.  He ahs devised an experiment which might shed some light on the “telepathy” claim, and he is trying to devise an experiment that would test the “astral body” claim, but he will not offer an opinion until the experiments are repeatedly performed.

Questioning him at great length on these matters, I discovered in him a genuine and vehement distaste for opinion in scientific matters.  He will keep his mouth shut until he has an experience to report.  Indeed,any question I asked him on a matter which had not yet been experimentally explored by himself or some other scientist led him inevitably, not into an opinion, but into a suggestion as to what sort of experiment might shed some light on the subject.  Buckminster Fuller, in my experience with him, has that type of mind; most other scientists, in spite of aiming for it, do not really have it.

The game-model, like the models of modern physics, is similar in structure to the events it seeks to explain; that is, it is offered as a model, not as “the thing-in-itself.”  Modern science more and more recognizes that there is no thing-in-itself.  “The map is not the territory,” as Korzybski used to say.  The value of the game model in describing, analyzing, predicting, and changing human behavior is that it lends itself – much more than Freud’s “ego,” “id,” “censor,” etc. or academic psychology’s “stimulus” and “response” – to a joint personal-and-interpersonal framework.

A man plays his own personal games, but he plays them according to socially-learned rules.

”Even the catatonic,” Leary likes to point out, “is playing a socially-learned game:  the withdrawn ‘crazy’ person, with all sorts of socially-learned ritual ‘crazy’ gestures; and his game achieves its object, which is to get other people to treat him as a withdrawn ‘crazy’ person and ignore him most of the time.  In a mental hospital, the catatonics are very successful in getting the staff to play this game according to these rules.”  Leary also points out how the paranoiac easily draws others into his game of “you reject me all the time.

Leary applies the game model to all human behavior except for random gestures, physiological reflexes and instinctual movements.    All other human movements, he points out, follow “highly systematized sequences,” and each of these highly systematized sequences embodies a socially-learned game, which is artificial, tribal, and arbitrary.

Roman Catholicism is a game in which you make certain ritual gestures, splash yourself with water on certain occasions, refuse certain foods on certain occasions, etc.

Prison is a behavior-change game with four teams – cons, guards, administration, and psychotherapists – and Leary regards it as one of our most tragic games because all four teams have different goals.

Freudian psychotherapy is another behavior-change game, involving only two players, with rigidly prescribed rules; in this case, although the goals of the two players are different, they do not sharply collide as in the prison game.

The ego-game, which is usually a one-upsmanship game, is the game least likely to be seen as a game by the players of it, unless – through chemicals, through the abnormal breathing exercises of Buddhism, through stroboscopic lights, or through some traumatic experience – they achieve the non-game perspective of a trans-ego awareness.

Dr. Leary’s baseball analogy, quoted earlier, has sharpened his eye for precision in goal-planning.  When he started his prisoner-rehabilitation project at Massachusetts State prison, he discarded all of the vaguely-worded traditional goals of “psychotherapy,” “socialization,” “increased maturity,” etc., and set a very simple measurable goal.  He was dealing with 37 convicts who were due for parole within a year. His goal was defined as “keeping the cons on the street.”  The measurement was simple: one year after release, “Where are the bodies of the cons in space-time?”  If most of them are back in prison, as most cons usually are one year after release, Leary’s behavior-change game would have failed its goal.

One year after release, 75% of Leary’s cons were out on the streets, 25% were back in prison.  The usual rate on discharged cons is exactly the reverse, 75% back in stir, 25% still outside.  His behavior-change game had shown considerable promise.

At this point, however, Leary was discharged from Harvard, others were put in charge of the prison project, and more traditional psychotherapy games were instituted.  A year later, most of the cons were back in the joint again.  “Society didn’t really like the results of our game,” Leary told me philosophically. “Most people are still hung up on the blame-game, the punishment-game, the monotheism-game and the cops-and-robbers game.  They didn’t like seeing the cons start learning new games.”

One of the many things that made Leary appear as a shady character around Cambridge was that his first experiment in an “extended family” there included several of the ex-cons, as well as – horrors—a beatnik with long womanish hair.  The neighbors complained.  Leary once wrote in a scientific paper, “The convicts are no longer subjects to me.  They are my brothers.”  This kind of thing just doesn’t go over in the world of academic psychology.

Actually, Leary had started to abandon the dichotomy of therapist-and-patient, researcher-and-subject even before he got interested in psychedelics.  It occurred to him that this game forced psychology into an authoritarian mold which, although useful in explicating the typical behavior of individuals in our authoritarian society, did not indicate all the potentials of humanity.

He began such unorthodox approaches as calling the “subject” a “research associate” and seeing to it that he was treated that way; having a group of subjects – pardon, research associates – give a test to a group of psychology graduate students before the students gave the test to them; asking the research associates to tear up a questionnaire and write down what they thought was important about what had happened;  and tearing down the separation between authoritarian scientist and obedient subject in every other conceivable way.

By the time he got to the prisoner rehabilitation program, he had arrived at such an anarchistic standpoint – anarchistic in the etymological sense of non-authoritarian, not in the pejorative sense of chaotic – that most of the time the convicts were giving instruction and even orders to many of the graduate psychology students in the project.

Leary’s behavior-change game involves three stages: (a) a preparation in which the persons who are trying to learn new games are taught everything presently known about psychedelic chemicals and their effects, including the opinions of those who do not see any beneficial value in these chemicals;  (b) several sessions in which various persons partake of the chemicals and explode their egos – this always begins with the psychologists, so that the rehabilitation group is not asked to take any “risks “ that the coaches haven’t taken first; (c) Re-training.

In this last stage, Leary eschews most Freudian and traditional therapy and takes a common-sense approach very similar to Dr. Albert Ellis’ “rational therapy.”

The coaches use traditional baseball methods on the trainees: setting up role models for the new games, rehearsing the trainees in the new games, feeding back corrections of errors, practice of the desired behavior.

”We’ve now got to the point,” Dr. Leary told me, “of analyzing every game into its nine components.  These components are Roles, Rules, Rituals, Goals, Language, Values, Strategies, Recurrent Sequences of Movements, and Characteristic Space-Time Locations.  The last two are the easiest to observe, record, and analyze.  If you want to know what games a man is playing, share space-time with him, see the flow, flow, flow of his movements during several 24-hour periods.  Then you can begin analyzing what Roles he is playing, what Strategies he uses to reach his Goals, etc.  An unhappy man is either playing a game he doesn’t fully understand or is playing games that are intrinsically unprofitable.”

What games is Dr. Leary himself playing these days?

”This is a sabbatical year,” he told me.  “Dick (Dr. Alpert) and I are writing a couple of books, taking stock, thinking things over.  We – the whole family here – are engaged in ego-transcendence games. We’re trying to find out, in a small experimental community, how much of the non-game perspective of the psychedelic experiences can be carried over into daily life.”

”We’ve already found one of the great dangers,” Dr. Alpert put in.  “There’s a spiritual one-upsmanship game, too.  ‘My ego-loss experience was more oceanic, or more cosmic, than yours.’ All the great Eastern mystical traditions are aware of this, and have gimmicks for counteracting it.  We’re studying all of their games for carrying ego-transcendence into ordinary life.”

I asked Leary about the supposed dangers of the psychedelic chemicals – the great bugaboo being that occasional paranoiac or schizophrenic behavior results from these chemicals, and that some have claimed that such psychotic damage can be permanent.

Leary emphasized again that, in his research, over 90% of all volunteers have had “good” experiences, and that “bad” experiences are caused by the authoritarian doctor-patient game which some researchers have force on their subjects.  Given in a libertarian, humanistic context, the chemicals almost always produce the ego-transcending experience, and, when something unpleasant does occur, it is always temporary.

”Psychologists are always dragging people into small rooms,” he said, “giving them test papers to fill out, and generally enforcing their own game on them.  With psychedelics, this just doesn’t work.  All that the poor guy becomes aware of, as his consciousness expands, is that he’s on the weak end of an authoritarian relationship.  Magnified, as these chemicals magnify things, that feeling becomes paranoia.  It’s the same with that other dread that people have, the fear that these chemicals can be used for seduction by unscrupulous persons.  It just doesn’t work.  You give LSD to a girl and try to seduce her and she’ll see you as a conspirator, which is just what you are.  She might even see you as a Wolf or a Devil and start screaming.”

All the time Dr. Leary was speaking to me there was a strange sort of contact between us.  I have felt this previously with a few people who have successfully gone through Reich’s peculiar physical-psychiatric therapy, and with three Japanese Zen teachers I used to know, and with very few others.

Dr. Leary is not afraid to touch you, psychologically, and he is not afraid of being touched.  There are no walls around his person.  My wife also commented on this after we left.  Leary also has the kind of weary, patient eyes that some Chinese and Japanese Buddhas have.  At one point, he admitted to me that, before he really understood how to use psychedelics, he had 20 paranoiac experiences (and 150 “good” ones): the paranoias may well have taught him as much as the ecstasies.  I think he could say even more sincerely than Freud, “Nothing human is alien to me.”

Lately Leary has been experimenting with literary methods of conveying the feel of a psychedelic experience on the printed page.  He finds great promise in the permutation-and-combination method of William S. Burroughs, who, in The Soft Machine and The Exterminator, takes a page of his own prose, a newspaper story, a page of Shakespeare, a poem by Rimbaud, etc. cuts them into pieces, shuffles, and copies down the result.  The same pieces are reshuffled, and a second, and third, and maybe a fourth combination is tried.  Then a few more pieces are thrown in, and the shuffling starts again.  (The results of this are far less chaotic than one would imagine.  Burroughs has created a prose of truly poetic, and hypnotic, fascination.)

In telling of his own experiments with this method of composition, Leary subtly began imitating Burroughs, and his face took on the embittered squint of the photos of Burroughs I have seen: a remarkable unconscious empathy.  I remarked that, “Sick as he is, Burroughs is our greatest writer since Joyce.”  Leary said quietly, “Oh, I don’t think he’s sick.”

The Catholic monk, who had gathered from our previous conversation that Burroughs is a homosexual ex-confidence man and morphine addict who killed his common-law wife while trying to shoot an apple off her head, smiled gamely and asked me for the names of Burroughs’ books so he could read them.

Later, Leary was talking of scientific objectivity in psychology.  “The way they’ve always gone about it, their objectivity is completely subjective,” he said.  “They design the experiment and the ‘subject’ is trapped in their little grooves and runs right down the track to the point where they want him to land.  All they’re doing is getting out of an experiment what they feed into it.  I said at a psychologist’s convention that Gautama Buddha was the greatest psychologist of all time, and they were shocked.”

I had one last question before I left.  “Some games just aren’t worth playing. Nowadays, the war game is one that may kill us all.  Do you think your work can help teach human beings how to give that game up and learn a new game?”

Timothy Leary’s handsome Irish face looked tired and patient and I knew he had heard that question several hundred times.  “I certainly hope so,” he said.  Then he grinned, and told me about Allen Ginsberg, the time Leary gave him LSD in an experiment.  “He tried to call Kennedy on the phone, to persuade him and Khrushchev to try it.  He was sure it would save the world.”  Timothy Leary looked sad and tired again.  “I would like to hope so,” he said.

Driving home, my wife said to be suddenly, “It used to bug me that I never met Freud or Einstein.  Well, now I can tell my grandchildren that I met Timothy Leary.”

Sex Education for the Modern Liberal Adult

“Sex Education for the Modern Liberal Adult” by Robert Anton Wilson, published in The Realist, Issue No. 12, October 1959, republished in The Best of The Realist.

The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands and feet Proportion. . .

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

– William Blake

While I was attending college, I worked part-time as an orderly in a hospital. One of my jobs was cleaning up the “stroke” cases, paralyzed old men who could no longer control their bowels. This proved to be useful experience later on, when I became a father – a baby and a paralyzed old man are much the same to one who must care for them, except that a baby’s bowel movement is lighter in color and there is less of it.

I also used to go along on the ambulance to emergency calls. I’ll never forget the first birth I witnessed. I had just read Philip Wylie’s Essay on Morals, and I remembered his statement that a man who hasn’t seen a baby born is a spiritual fop, a traveler on the surface of life. I was, I remember, astonished at the enlargement of the vulva (it was so much bigger than verbal descriptions would lead one to expect). Later, I wrapped the placenta in newspaper, to throw it out.

In spite of having received “a good Christian upbringing,” I can’t remember a time when I really believed that sex was “dir­ty.” When I saw the Family of Man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, I was swept by a wave of tenderness, almost to the point of tears, at the photographs of lovers.

The first time I heard anybody refer to those beautiful pic­tures as “vulgar” (I have heard this opinion twice, once from a 16-year-old Irish Catholic virgin, and once from conservative Russell Kirk) I was flabbergasted. If someone had said that Van Gogh’s “Sorrow” was pornographic, I couldn’t have been more astonished. It still seems to me that our civilization must be basically insane to produce people with such orientations.

During the Korean War, I made a point of donating blood the maximum number of times. I was thunderstruck when somebody told me that donating blood requires “courage.” “What the hell do you mean?” I burst out. “It doesn’t hurt! ” (I was, at that time, nervous whenever I went to the dentist.) “But,” said my friend, “to see your own blood draining out…”

I didn’t understand then, and I still don’t. But I heard the same tone of voice from a co-ed in my college class when I men­tioned my work as an orderly. “You mean you clean up dirty old men?” she said. And I heard the same tone, again, when I was explaining to another girl, why my wife and I believe in Natural Childbirth. “Your wife must be very brave,” she said. (Natural Childbirth, according to the Read Method, is often as ecstatic as the conception itself.)

And I hear exactly the same tone of voice in people who ob­ject to Marilyn Monroe’s joyful femaleness, or some of Red Skelton’s jokes, or Dr. Albert Ellis’s frankness. I can only con­clude that our civilization is full of people who are squeamish and uncomfortable about the basic biological nature of life.

I think that these people are, whether they are “adjusted” to society or not, profoundly, existentially insane.

I was astonished and dismayed to discover – in letters of pro­test which The Realist received after printing Paul Krassner’s “Sex Education for the Modem Catholic Child” – that this lit­erally insane hatred for the physical world still festers in the minds of many who consider themselves enlightened free­thinkers and humanists.

Let us face the facts for once. Man is one cell in a universe of process. His life is part of the carbon cycle. He lives off the fruits of the earth directly, or off the animals whose food-value derives from the fact that they live off the fruits of the earth; and his excrement and (ultimately) his corpse both go back to the earth as fertilizer.

This is the basic existential cycle, the frame in which our values must be found. There is no way of breaking out of it. The other natural processes of the solar system and the great galaxy itself are equally crucial to humanity: if the sun went nova tomorrow, human life would end. The cycle of birth, re­production, and death also dominates us.

Millions of lesser cycles, epicycles, rhythms, and processes make up the structure of our reality: the moon; menstruation; blood pH; metabolism; spring, summer, fall, and winter; di­gestion; respiration.

There is nothing “vulgar” about these processes, nothing “not nice,” nothing “obscene.” They are just there; they exist; and that’s all. Whether we accept these processes, rejoice at their beauty or feelhopeless and disgusted about being involved in them – this tells something about our own mental health, but not about the natural processes.

The most important of the cyclic processes in the life of a healthy adult is, of course, that of pre-orgasmic tension, or­gasm, and post-orgasm relaxation.

Psychiatry, history, anthropology, etc. all seem to bear out the conclusion that it was the Church’s interference with this particular cycle that began the degeneration of mankind, which led ultimately to the present mess in which a great proportion of the population is embarrassed, uncomfortable, or just plain frightened at any crucial biological process.

It is for this reason that I am a militant freethinker and not just a nice, respectably academic “humanist.” The American Humanist Association goes on and on about “stating positive values,” etc., not “being merely negative,” etc. Well, I call my­self the Negative Thinker with good reason.

I just don’t believe any new positive values can enter the life­blood of our civilization until we have first purged it of the poison of the Schizogenic Fallacy: the fallacy that man is a “nice” spirit imprisoned in a “not nice” physical body.

My wife used to believe, as many “liberal intellectuals” still believe, that organized religion is a quaint relic of the Dark Ages, a charming sort of living fossil as cute and as harmless as the duck-billed platypus. She couldn’t understand how I could get so angry about it.

Now, however, with children arriving at school age, she is beginning to develop some of my own militant anger. It is a horrible thing to see innocent children begin to pick up the millennia-old theological rubbish from their playmates; it is more horrible to reflect on how much more they will pick up from children’s TV shows and from our supposedly secular public schools.

Make no mistake about it, old Wilhelm Reich may have been wrong about many things, but not when he wrote, in The Function of the Orgasm and The Mass Psychology of Fascism, that chronic rage and hatred stem directly from “orgastic im­potence” (the inability to achieve total organismic orgasm), and that “orgastic impotence” stems from, man’s rejection of his own physical being.

The child taught to despise his own body and its functions and to identify himself with an imaginary “soul” is eventually going to become full of hatred for everybody and everything in existence. Why? Because one part of him (the sensory, non-ver­bal, existential level, you might call it) is permanently at war with this ridiculous “soul” dogma which his cortex tries to be­lieve. His nervous system becomes schizoid.

He has what Reich calls “muscular armor,” chronic physical­ tension holding back the natural, but (to him) forbidden felicity of the organism. He can’t be comfortable in his body; and, of course, he can’t really get out of it.

The result, according to the usual Freudian mechanisms, is that all this neural frustration and biological rage is projected outward upon the rest of existence. The physical world becomes, as it was to Saint Cyprian, “the creation of the devil.” The rest of mankind becomes “the enemy” to be exterminated, or, more hypocritically, “the damned” to be saved. Every social evil, from the malicious gossip of Mrs. Gilhooley’s bridge-table to the horrors of Belsen, derives from this state of mind.

Now, finally, what of the people who consider themselves “liberal” and “enlightened” but object to “Sex Education for the Modern Catholic Child”? Krassner’s language is uncen­sored, very true. So is the blood, smear, and urine analysis of a competent obstetrician.

Are you upset by Krassner’s reference to sanitary napkins (a puritanical euphemism itself, by the way)? You would be more upset by the case of a girl my wife once knew who inserted her first Tampax without removing the cardboard roll. I don’t suppose anybody could deny that the painful experience of that girl resulted from the stupid taboos of our society which made it impossible for her to learn how a Tampax should be inserted by asking clear and specific questions in plain words.

Are we still living in the Victorian Age? Do you object to a reference to “nocturnal emissions”? The Army, in its psy­chological test for draftees, refers to them as “wet dreams.” If you are afraid of plain language about the natural functions of the healthy human body – your human body – what are you doing reading a freethought journal anyway?

Nobody can deny the point made by Paul Krassner’s Swift­ian little bit of satire – that the precious “natural order” which the Catholic hierarchy is so anxious to save from interference by the rubber industry, this wonderful capitalized Nature that is not the same as the nature known to science (since things can happen which violate it), this sacred “Nature” sees to it that millions of ova are wasted for every one that is fertilized, that trillions of spermatozoa perish without ever reaching an ovum, that hundreds of thousands of babies are born dead every year.

Krassner makes this point by using specific, extensional lan­guage, which is what any semanticist would advise. Who or what would profit if the point were weakened by evasions, sub­terfuges, euphemisms, and Nice-Nelly-ism in general?

A psychiatrist once told me that he makes a point when dis­cussing sex with his patients of using the familiar Anglo-Saxon monosyllables rather than medical terms. “They can never really tell me about their problems if they’re busy searching for ‘nice’ words,” he said. It may seem unrelated, but I am re­minded of Ramakrishna’s remark that, before he could teach yoga to Occidentals, he first had to teach them to weep.

I am a very enthusiastic student of certain varieties of Orien­tal mysticism, some of which seem quite rational to my mind. The purpose of yoga, of what the East calls “ways of libera­tion,” is not to sink into a mindless trance like a masturbat­ing tree-sloth, but to become more acutely aware on all levels of the senses, nervous system, and “mind.” (A Zen master once summed up Buddhism in the one word, “Attention.”)

The first step toward this awareness is to transcend the “muscular armor” which keeps the organism sensitive to those parts and functions it has been told are not “lady-like” or not” gentlemanly. ” (Modern psychiatry insists on “abre­action” – as Mencken put it, the patient has to make a jack-ass of himself before he can be cured.)

Michelangelo wrote that “to create, you must first be able to love.” Einstein, more verbosely, said that the drive toward greater knowledge always begins from “an intellectual love of the objects of experience.” The greatest artist and the greatest scientist of the Western world are at once in recognizing that their creativity arises from “love”; and Einstein seems to have had in the back of his mind Spinoza’s “Intellectual love of a thing means understanding its perfections.” Twenty-five hun­dred years ago in China, Confucius wrote in the Shu King that “the dynasty, Y Yin, came in because the folk had achieved a great sensibility. ”

All of these expressions (the Zen master’s “Attention,” Michelangelo’s “love,” Einstein and Spinoza’s “Intellectual love of things,” Confucius’ “great sensibility,” and I could throw in also Blake’s remark about “cleansing the doors of per­ception”) seem to me attempts to verbalize an experience which, by its nature, cannot be verbalized. One has to ex­perience it.

You have to relax your body, so that the hard kinks of prejudice and fear cannot censor your perceptions. You have to look at things without using words inside your mind, look at things as they are originally perceived without shame or “value” or use-consciousness or purpose of any sort. Every thing you look at will then appear to you, as Blake says, infinite.

This is the “oceanic experience” Freud noted at the root of religion. It is also at the roots of science and art. We are all stumbling into this experience constantly, whenever we are completely relaxed and unafraid – Sunday afternoon in the hammock, for instance.

This experience has created a hundred stupid theologies, true; but, it has also created sciences and arts. In the Occident especially, from the troubadours of the 12th century up to D.H. Lawrence and Ezra Pound, this experience has become the ex­clusive property of wild and erotic independent mystics, while the official churchly mystics have sunk deeper and deeper into a miasmal mist.

It is out of this “oceanic experience” that a rational hu­manism can create “positive values” as an alternative to the de­lusional schizophrenias of Judeo-Christian theology. But these values can only be understood by those who are aware on all levels of their being, sensory as well as rational; and the majori­ty of people will never become aware in this way until those institutions are destroyed which teach man to despise his own body and to fear even to speak of it in plain, honest words.