Category Archives: Excerpts

A collection of literary excerpts from the mind of Robert Anton Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many sadists do the majority of us want?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Trends That Scare the Hell Out of Me

“Four Trends That Scare the Hell Out of Me”

 by Robert Anton Wilson

Published in Loompanics’ Greatest Hits, 1990

 To paraphrase H.G. Wells, modern history has become a race between education and miseducation. There are very few people around who really don’t know anything, but there are multitudes who know many things that don’t happen to be true.

The trends in the modern world that most terrify me all result from the general tendency, increasingly manifest since the 18th Century, whereby education has ceased to be a Church monopoly (outside Ireland and the Islamic nations) and has increasingly become a State monopoly. In a memorable phrase from Ezra Pound, we have been delivered from “one gang of damned scoundrels (tonsured)” to “another gang of damned scoundrels (untonsured).” The results have been pre­dictable.

In the days when the Church was All and the Individual was Nothing, schools were staffed by Church employees who taught that obedience to the Church was the supreme virtue. Today, when the State is All and the Individual is still Nothing, schools are staffed by State employees who, not surprisingly, teach that obedience to the State is the supreme virtue. This should be called progress?

In this context, the second trend in our world that seems ominous to me consists of a continuing increase in State power everywhere, even in the formerly “democratic” Western capitalist nations.Everybody seems aware of this in general, but I would like to cite some recent and horrific examples.

When I was a boy (even though Roosevelt II was already President and the New Deal had begun) you could walk into a bank anywhere in this country with five dollars in your pocket and start an account without showing I.D. or answering any questions you thought impertinent. (The banks seemed glad to get their hands on your cash in those days.) When I returned to the U.S. early this year, after six years in Europe, I couldn’t find a bank in Southern California that would take my money, even though I had over ten thousand dollars in travelers checks for my initial deposit and, knowing the drift toward totalitarianism, had I brought my passport and credit cards as I.D. The banks would not accept the credit cards (and matching signature) as I.D. and the passport alone was not enough, even though guaranteed by the U.S. State Department. They all insisted on a California driver’s license, which as a new arrival I did not have.

Of course, I have since learned that other States do not act as “strictly” yet as California, but I also have observed that everything that starts in California eventually spreads throughout the nation.

Similarly, in California now, if you are in a car that is stopped for a traffic violation, you must have I.D. or you will be taken into custody – even if you are not the driver. See how it goes? First drivers must have I.D. which seems reasonable to almost everybody but the most “extreme” or “eccentric” libertarians; now passengers must have I.D., too… and how far are we from the nightmare of the old anti-Nazi movies where the question “Do you haff your papers?” notified the audience that we were seeing a totalitarian State and that the hero was about to be caught in its coils.

In June this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the public has no “reasonable expectation” of privacy when they put their garbage out for the night, so the police may now rummage through anybody’s trashwithout even bothering to get a search warrant. If you don’t relish the thought of the gendarmerie peering through your old love letters, financial re­cords, discarded porn magazines, marijuana stems or other signs of your individual foibles or weirdities, you will just have to imitate Our Glorious Leaders in Washington and buy yourself a paper shredder. This is hardly what I thought they meant when they taught me to sing that song about “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The third trend that disturbs my slumber is the steady increase of what looks like “deliberate stupidity” or “duckspeak” in political debate. I want to be very careful here. The term “deliberate stupidity” was coined by Arthur Koestler to describe certain contortions of Marxist (or actually, Stalinist) logic in the 1930s and 1940s, which Orwell later called “duckspeak” – the substitution of slogans for thought, and dogma for analysis; in short, a general rejection of common sense on the part of alleged intellectuals. I am less judgmental than Koestler or Orwell and not at all sure the stupidity is totally deliberate, but I do find it appalling.

The Nazi ideology was based on the proposition that some Jews are bankers and therefore all Jews “are” “evil;” cur­rently fashionable Radical Feminism offers the isomorphic proposition that some men are rapists and therefore all men “are” “evil.” In bon ton Liberal circles it seems strictly forbidden to notice, or comment upon, the ghastly similarities pf these two systems of organized bigotry. It is also forbidden to remark that overt male sexism, as an openly avowed Ideology of hate, has virtually disappeared (however much covert male sexism may remain…) while the Rad Fems stir up more and more overt female sexism, as an openly avowed Ideology of hate. But openly avowed Ideologies of hate, which ascribe alleged group qualities to individuals, can only be considered “true” or “sincere” stupidity in the very ignorant and uneducated; in the educated, they seem to deserve Koestler’s charge of deliberate stupidity.

Pop Ecologists and Ecomaniacs (as distinguished from scientific students of ecology) frequently represent extremes of duckspeak never equalled by either the, Nazis or the Stalinists, and in most “New Age” magazines the polemics against reason are totally redundant; one cannot read a paragraph of this stuff without realizing the authors seem to be either deliberately or ignorantly imitating the Dark Ages, apparently under the leadership of such glorifiers of medievalism as Fritjof Capra and Theodore Roszak.

Some New Agers seem to have made a whole career out of duckspeak, and I often wonder if any of them ever realize consciously that the last 300 years of history, which they totally condemn, were the only centuries in which any individual liberty has ever appeared on this backward planet, except as the prerogative of a repressive aristocracy. The modern epoch the Eco-cult despises appears to be the only historical period in which freedom of speech or of the press, or any libertarian tendency whatsogoddamever, has been allowed to the masses. Pop Ecologists generally choose Francis Bacon or Rene Descartes as the prime villains of history, and that obscures the palpable fact that most of the values they reject are more closely associated with Thomas Jefferson and our tattered but still weakly surviving Bill of Rights.

The fourth trend that appalls me is the “war” against crack. As far as I can obtain objective scientific data about this derivative of cocaine, I would say that crack should be considered the most dangerous drug ever introduced to this country. This gives me nightmares when I consider that the government’s way of trying to control the crack problem imitates the same techniques that have been so monumentally counter-productive in dealing with other drugs. Washington has taken the course that seems guaranteed to make crack even more popular and lucrative.

There were only a few thousand heroin addicts in the U.S. when the government declared “war” on that drug; now there are millions. There were less than 200,000 pot smokers, mostly in New Orleans and Texas, when the government declared “war” on that drug; now there appear to be somewhere between 40 million and 70 million regular users, depending on whose estimate you believe. LSD seems such a powerful psychological change-agent that I, personally, don’t believe it would have ever gotten out of the laboratories onto the streets, if the government hadn’t declared “war” on it. And so on. Nothing increases the sales and profits of a drug like making it illegal. The result is always the same: the young, the adventurous, the scientifically curious, the artistic and other adventure some types get very interested, a black market appears, the mob sees profits and takes over, and the prices go sky-high, with an ever-increasing rise in police cor­ruption and violent crime associated with the import and distribution of the for­bidden substance.

Now crack is about to go through this same process. There are two crack-related murders a week in South Central Los Angeles, and other cities are moving up to compete with that record. With a full-scale “war” against crack, based on the same technique as other anti-drug “crusades,” we can expect the corruption, the violence and the prices to rise steadily and dizzily.

I can only conclude that, unless the people come to their senses and demand that the government take a more intelligent and less military approach, the Mafia will graduate from a billionaire club to a trillionaire club and soon own all the banks, instead of just owning most of them.

(submitted to rawilsonfans by RMJon23)

Four Trends That Give Me Hope

“Four Trends That Give Me Hope”

 by Robert Anton Wilson

Published in Loompanics’ Greatest Hits, 1990

Despite superficial impressions caused by our brutally short lifespans (73 years average, at present), something that can be called “progress” clearly exists in history and can be demonstrated mathematically. Brooks Adams, Alfred Korzybski and Buckminster Fuller, among others, have given examples of this “progressive factor” in their books. A recent and more rigorous demonstration comes from the French economist-statistician, George Anderla, who used Information Theory to convert knowledge into binary units and calculated how fast these units increased since the birth of Christ.

Taking all knowledge at 1 AD as x, the rate of acceleration has been as follows: 1500 AD – 2x, 1750 AD – 4X, 1900 AD – 8x, 1950 AD – 16x, 1960 AD – 32X, 1967-64X, 1973 AD – 128x.

That this process is accelerating is immediately obvious; the acceleration of the acceleration is clearer if we express this in terms of the time interludes for each doubling of knowledge. Then we see that the first doubling took 1500 years, the second 250 years, the third 150 years, the fourth 50 years, the fifth 10 years, the sixth 7 years and the seventh 6 years.

All available indicators suggest that the doubling has accelerated further since Anderla completed his study in 1973. Patents granted per year, new books, new computer software, new scientific papers, etc., have all continued to “multiply like rabbits.”

Of course, the pessimist or cynic can say that “we” will just mis-use new knowledge as “we” have, allegedly, misused all previous knowledge. I have disputed this view (and given more details on the Anderla calculations) in my Prometheus Rising; in this brief space, I will say only that as knowledge increases, and as tech­nology increases, human options widen. At the very least, people today can choose from a larger variety of kinds of misery than our forebears in 1888 and much, much more than those in 1788.

I also object to the fictitious “we” that cynics invoke as the omnipresent fuck-up factor in history. I have never met “we” except in books of grammar or politics, or other works of fiction; in experience, I only encounter phalanxes of individuals. Some individuals mis-use knowledge and some use knowledge very intelligently. I assume that as knowledge increases, however much the stupid continue to mis-use it, the intelligent will find in­creased options give them greater free­dom in which to exercise their ingenuity.

A second evolutionary trend that I find hopeful consists in the accelerated speed of travel and communication in the mod­ern world. According to Professor Platt of Michigan State university, speed of travel has increased a thousandfold since 1900 2nd speed of communication a millionfold; and both are increasing faster ail the time. The “one town world” forecast by Bucky Fuller is appearing all around us. Look through the Restaurant section of any large city’s phone directory and you will find the cuisine of the whole planet available; walk through an art museum and you will see all the art of humanity; turn on the TV in a really big city and you will find Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Spanish, English, Jewish, French and vari­ous other imports available at the turn of a dial. Like all increases in options or pos­sible choices, this omni-cosmopolitanization seems to me a liberating and wonderful evolutionary transformation.

Concretely, my childhood reality-tunnel was bordered by one neighborhood in Brooklyn; my current reality-tunnel is bordered by Berlin and Maui, those being the furthest-apart points that I visited last year. They are 12 time-zones, or halfway around the planet, from each other, and I expect to see China next year. (I also expect to visit a space colony sometime in the next 20 years…) Similarly, in a recent computer conference, I spoke to people all over the US and Canada; that would have been science-fiction if I wrote it 30 years ago…

Having friends who are Punk Rockers in Berlin, computer executives in San Jose, actors in London and Dublin, psycholo­gists in Maui, etc., has not only re-edu­cated me but liberated me from mental limitations I didn’t know existed until I lost them. “What one fool can learn, another can,” as the ancient primate proverb says. More and more people are traveling all the time (one man flew the Atlantic in 1928 and 200,000,000 flew it in 1978), so I have high hopes that existen­tial re-education through experience will eventually liberate more and more minds.

As the potential knowledge and the potential human experience available to us both multiply faster, our lifespans are also increasing, a third trend that fills me with joy. In 1976, a survey found 500 people over 100 years old in England; in 1986, a similar study found over 3000. In America, lifespan has increased so fast since the 1970s that life Extension Re­searcher Durk Pearson admitted to being surprised by it (on a recent Donahue show). Ironically, due to AIDS, more money is being spent on immunological research than ever, and research on the immune system is the most likely path to super-longevity. We may all live hundreds of years, or longer.

With more space (due to faster travel), more time (due to longevity) and more knowledge (due to the accelerating In­formation Explosion), I see no reason to believe that any past limits on me or you or “humanity” in general need to be re­garded as permanent. I think we are mov­ing rapidly toward some evolutionary Quantum Jump of which the “Harmonic convergence” is only the Mickey Mouse cartoon version of simple minds.

The fourth trend that gives me hope consists of all the problems and symp­toms of breakdown on this planet which motivate most of the cynicism and panic around these days. Ecological mismanage­ment. The Permanent War Economy. The increase of State power to the point where government has become a pest in everyone’s life. The continuing risk of nuclear war. All these problems seem as real and dreadful to me as they do the cynics, but I see them in a different light. In a world of increasing information, in­creasing richness of experience and in­creasing lifespan, our problems may serve as the evolutionary challenges which will force more and more people to use our new options creatively.

After all, it seems quite likely that there would be no “progress” and no evolution at all, if serious problems did not compel living beings to innovation and experiment.

(submitted to by R. Michael Johnson)

Sexual Alchemy

Sexual Alchemy

by Robert Anton Wilson

from GNOSIS Issue #8: Alchemy
Summer 1988
reprinted in Email to the Universe

The Chariot of Antimony by Basil Val­entine (1642) contains the following typical bit of Alchemical exposition:

Let the Lion and Eagle duly prepare themselves as Prince and Princess of Alchemy – as they may be inspired. Let the Union of the Red Lion and the White Eagle be neither in cold nor in heat … Now then conies the time when the elixir is placed in the alembic retort to be subjected to the gentle warmth…. If the Great Work be transubstantiation then the Red Lion may feed upon the flesh and blood of the God, and also let the Red Lion duly feed the White Eagle – yea, may the Mother Eagle give sustain-molt and guard the inner life.’

In general, the preceding passage is representative of the Iimpid clarity of exposition and crystalline lucid­ity of style to be found in alchemical literature. We can already see why so many Rationalist historians have concluded that the alchemists simply went off their skulls from inhaling too many narcotic and/or toxic vapors and wrote hallucinogenic gibberish.

Occultists of various schools, of course, have other ideas. They all agree that alchemical literature was written in code – because “humanity is not ready to receive certain knowledge,” say the esoteric; because any alchemist who wrote clearly would bring down the wrath of the Inquisition on his head, say the more pragmatic. Unfortunately, there are a few dozen theories about what the code means. What follows is the theory that I have found most satisfactory over the years, although I am not smart enough to be absolutely sure it is the one and only correct theory.2

According to Louis T. Culling, Grandmaster of an occult lodge called the G.B.G. (short for Great Brotherhood of God), in his Manual of Sex Magick, the main terms in the code, and their translations, are as follows:

RED LION – the male Alchemist, or his penis.

WHITE EAGLE – the Alchemist’s mate, or her vagina.

RETORT – the vagina and/or womb.

TRANSMUTATION – (or transubstantiation) an altered state of consciousness.

ELIXIR – the semen.3

Applying this key to Valentine’s gnomic paragraph, we find that he is instructing the novice alchemist to find a suitable mate, and to take a “royal” or lofty atti­tude – i.e. he is a Prince, she a Princess, ergo they are no longer ordinary people. (cf. Tim Learys 1960s’ slo­gan, “Every man a Priest, every woman a Priestess, every home a shrine.”) The union of the alchemical mates should be neither in cold nor in heat” —- they must be passionate, not indifferent to each other or merely cas­ual, but they must not be too damned passionate. That is, they should not gallop toward Climax in the man­ner all too typical of our culture. The sexual commun­ion, in short, should be tantric, leading to the “tran­substantiation” – a higher state of consciousness.

The late Dr. Francis Israel Regardie, an egregious chap who had two separate selves and careers — as Dr. Francis Regardie he was a neo-Reichian psychothera­pist, while as Israel Regardie he wrote a series of books which have influenced contemporary American oc­cultism more than the work of any other single author — also taught this interpretation of alchemy, but, un­like Culling, only in the traditional codes. For instance, inThe Tree of Life Regardie offers the following advice on how the Cabalistic Magician may add alchemy to his working armory:

“Through the stimulus of warmth and spiritual Eire to the Athanor, there should be a transfer, an ascent of the Serpent from that instrument to the Cucurbite, used as a retort. The alchemical marriage or the mingling of the two streams of force in the retort causes at once the chemical corruption of the serpent in the menstruum of the Gluten, this being the Solve part of the al chemical formula of Solve et coagula…. the opera­tion should not take less than an hour.4

Dr. Regardie offers the further helpful hint that, complex as it sounds, the operation is “no harder than riding a bicycle.” In correspondence, Dr. Regardie cheerfully acknowledged that I had decoded this cor­rectly. Culling differs from Regardie chiefly in claiming that the ascent of the Serpent requires at least two hours.

If some readers still feel a bit in the dark about what is involved in the prolonged tantric act, consider the following broad hints from Thomas Vaughn, another 17th Century alchemist roughly contemporary with Basil Valentine:

The true furnace is a little simple shell… But l had almost forgot to tell thee that which is all in all, and is the greatest difficulty in all the art – namely the fire… The proportion and regimen of it is very scrupulous, but the best rule to know it by is that of the Synod: “Let not the bird fly before the fowler.” Make it sit while you give fire and then you are sure of your prey. For a close I must tell thee that the philosophers call this fire their bath, but it is a bath of Nature, not an artificial one; for it is not of any kind of water… In a word, without this bath, nothing in the world is generated.5

As Kenneth Rexroth noted in his introduction to The Works of Thomas Vaughn, Vaughn seems to have been less concerned with hiding the secret, like earlier alchemists, than with making it clear by progressively broader and broader hints. There is only one bath from which all creatures are generated and ‘that is the bath of vaginal fluids, which is “not of any kind of water.” The furnace that is also a shell is a nice poetic image of female anatomy, worthy of John Donne -‑ whose poems sometimes suggest that he was in on the secret. Note especially Donne’s “Love’s Alchemy,” with its “pregnant pot” and “The Ecstasy,” with its clear tantric emphasis.

The “bird” (English slang for woman, but also a cross reference to the traditional Eagle symbolism) must sit while the alchemist gives fire. This is, of course, the traditional tantric position, which slows down the sexual communion and creates maximum intimacy and tenderness. Similarly, the lovers in Donne’s “The Ecstasy” sit and make “pictures” in each other’s eyes, leading most commentators to think no sexual connection was involved, but the yabyum (sitting) position of Tantra also demands communion by eye contact.

John Donne and other Elizabethans who show signs of knowing this tradition – Sir Philip Sydney and Sir Walter Raleigh, especially, but try re-reading Shakespeare’s sonnets with this model in mind – probably came under the influence of Giordano Bruno of Nola, who was lecturing at Oxford while Donne was there. It was during those Oxford years that Bruno published his Eroica Furioso, which alternates love poems with prose passages on the union of the soul with God. It is usually assumed that the poems are allegories about the soul’s pilgrimage, but they may just as well be keys to the yoga that produces the ultimate union and communion. (Incidentally, the historian Frances Yates believes that Bruno was the model for at least two of Shakespeare’s characters – Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Prospero in The Tempest.)6

Bruno, of course, ultimately returned to Italy, where the Inquisition locked him in a dungeon for 8 years and then burned him at the stake. Most historians note only that the Nolan (as he liked to call himself) was condemned for teaching the Copernican theory of astronomy, but actually he was charged with 18 offenses, including practising Magick and organizing secret occult societies dedicated to overthrowing the Vatican. Francis Yates suspects that the latter might be true and finds a Bruno-esque influence in the first Rosicrucian manifestoes.7 Certainly, The Alchemical Marriage of Christian Rosycross shows more than a tinge of Bruno’s Tantrism, and “dark sayings” like “It is only on the Cross that the Rose may bloom” strongly suggest both Bruno’s sex-magick and his love of paradox.8 (Two of the Nolan’s favorite koans were “In filth, sublimity; in sublimity, filth” and “In joy, tears; in tears, joy.”)

The question of how this tantric tradition got into Europe has no clear, unambiguous answer. Ezra Pound, in addition to his other achievements and infamies, was one of the leading scholars in the area of early French poetry, and in the revised 1916 edition of The Spirit of Romance included a chapter presenting evidence that a tantric cult existed in Provence at the time of the Troubadours and is referred to guardedly in much of their poetry. In addition to the data presented by Pound, I have noted that the characteristic verse-form of the Troubadours, seven stanzas, may refer to the seven “chakras” involved in tantric yoga. Certainly, there is nothing earlier in European literature (but much in Tantra) to foreshadow Pierre Vidal’s shocking, “I think I see God when I look upon my lady nude.” That was hair-raising blasphemy when written; but even more in the inner tradition of Tantra is Sordello’s lovely:

And if flee you not, Lady who has captured my soul, No sight is worth the beauty of my thought

Pound guessed (and admitting he was guessing) that this “yoga of male and female energies” had surfaced in medieval France after a thousand years of underground existence as Gnostic heresy. Louis de Rougemont, however, in Love in the Western World, presents an impressive body of evidence that the Troubadour yoga had been brought back from the Middle East by crusaders who learned it from Arab mystics, probably the more oddball Sufis.9

Louis Culling, op. cit., claims that the tantric tradition in the West is of definite Sufi origin and is also coded into the Rubiyat of Omar Khayaam. This allegation is based, alas, on “inner teachings” of various occult orders and not on sources recognized by historians. Surely, there seems to be a tantric element in the 14th Century Sufi Mahmoud Shabistari who wrote, “In every atom a thousand rational beings are contained.”

The Ordo Templi Orientis (of which Aleister Crowley was Outer Head for a quarter of a century) teaches the elements of Tantra in nine slow and care-fully scheduled “degrees” of initiation; the first degree unambiguously attributes this tradition to Sufism in general and, in particular, to Mansur el Hallaj – a Sufi martyr who was stoned to death for proclaiming the eminently tantric (and vedantic) doctrine, “I am the Truth and there is nothing within my turban but God.” (Some O.T.O. initiates think the true story of Mansur is the origin of the myth of Hiram in orthodox Masonry.) In my Sex and Drugs: A Journey Beyond Limits (Falcon Press, 1988), I give some credence to all these theories but suggest that a major role was also played by Hassan i Sabbah, founder of the Ishmaelian sect of Islam, who used both drugs and tantric sex to produce psychedelic experiences, which allegedly caused many to believe they had literally been privileged to experience Paradise while still alive.

This is the point at which most commentators on this Art tend to stumble or to wave their arms excitedly and start howling in rage. Some think all you have to do is adopt the “right attitude” during sex and – hey, presto – you are an alchemist or a magician or at least a Hermeticist of some sort. Others proclaim that all such yoga is “black” and “left-hand” and undoubtedly diabolical. While I cannot hope to dissolve the preju­dices of the latter group in a short article, I can at least jar the naivete of the former group somewhat.

Tantric yoga requires at least as much discipline as hatha yoga and as much capacity for loving and giving of oneself as bhakti yoga. To be effective at all, that is, the Tantra of sex must have the delicacy of a first-rate ballet troupe and the tenderness of true communion – in the religious sense of that term. Aleister Crowley, our century’s leading proponent of this yoga (and the teacher of Louis Culling, by the way) said this yoga requires “the nine and ninety rules of Art.” Elsewhere Crowley expressed this in the mantra, which has many additional meanings outside Tantra, “Love is the law, love under will.” One only knows if the art has been mastered if one comes to a state of consciousness in which one can immediately grasp, without doubt or hesitation, the meaning of another of Crowley’s hermetic aphorisms, “Every man and every woman is a Star.”

The power of Tantra may be indicated by the fact that Ezra Pound, who never studied this art under a Master, learned enough from his years scrutinizing Troubadour texts that, by 1933, in his essay on Guido Cavalcanti, he speaks of “magnetisms that border on the visible” and consciousness “extending several feet beyond the body.” These are characteristic signs of passing from ordinary sex to meta-sex, from the crude act Shakespeare called a “momentary trick” (and D.H. Lawrence called “the sneeze in the loins”) to tantric transcendence. What happens beyond those magnet isms and that expansion of consciousness is not worth discussing; those who know, know – and those who know not will simply not believe.

One might venture, however, that the mingling of yang and yin magnetisms tends to produce a synergetic third which burns up or consumes the original elements. Kenneth Grant, an oddball Crowleyan obsessed with menstrual magick (“the Mystery of the Red Gold”), speaks of this as the “bisexualization of both partners.”10 More precisely, one can say that, in Chinese terms, active yang becomes passive yang, passive yin becomes active yin, and both tend to merge into the Tao, to re-emerge in new and unexpected forms. Crowley’s notorious 2 = 0 equation, which he alleged explained the universe and would eventually explain quantum mechanics, at least serves as a useful glyph for this stage of the alchemical mutation. And, although Crowley loved to play the bogie-man and terrorize the naive and nervous, one should take with some serious­ness his warning when he says in Magick:

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 Bridalchamber of the Rosy Cross… It is a woman whose cup must be Filled… the Cross is both Death and Generation, and it is on the Cross that the Rose blooms.11

One has to be knowledgeable in both Freudian and Jungian analysis to understand this even dimly, until one has had the experience. But then everybody who did LSD in the ’60s knows a little about Death and Rebirth; we are not a totally unprepared generation for these Mysteries.

This begins to sound too metaphysical. The processes involved can be defined very materialistically, in terms of exercizing to move the center of Consciousness from usual domination by the left brain hemisphere and the sympathetic (active) nervous system to balance between both hemispheres and a growing ability to relax into the parasympathetic (passive, receptive) nervous system. The old mystic terminology lingers on chiefly because it is poetically precise and psychologically highly suggestive.

It is, however, worth quoting Dr. J. W. Brodie-Innes, an initiate of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in England in the 1890s, who said of the relevance of traditional occult concepts:

‘Whether the Gods, the Qlipothic forces or the Secret Chiefs really exist is comparatively unimportant; the point is that the universe behaves as though they do. In a sense the whole philosophy of the practise of Magick is identical with the Pragmatist position of Pierce the American philosopher.12

In other words, we never know “the universe” per se; we know the universe as filtered through our consciousness, and when consciousness alters, the known universe alters. Crowley defined Magick as “the art of causing change by act of will,” and Dion Fortune defined it as “the art of causing change in consciousness by act of will,” and neither was over-simplifying or being cute: The traditional Aristotelian “Iron Curtain” between Mind and Universe has no meaning in magick, for the same reason it no longer has any meaning in quantum physics. As John Lilly wrote:

…if one plugs the proper beliefs into the metaprogrammatic levels of the (brain)… the computer will then construct (from the myriads of ele­ments in memory) those possible experiences that fit this particular set of rules. Those programs will be run off and those displays made which are ap­propriate to the basic assumptions and their stored programming.13

The Puritan looking at the Playmate of the Month sees something disgusting, awful, diabolical, and sinful; Pierre Vidal would see another manifestation of the glory of God. It all depends on the programs in the bio-computer. But all programs have a tendency to be-come self-fulfilling prophecies: a classic case is the sad, melancholy man who sits often in the dark, shunning sunlight, or walks around wearing dark glasses all the time, and gradually becomes even gloomier until he arrives at clinical depression. He has created the set and the setting for depression.

Conversely, those who achieve Divine Union with a beloved sexual partner tend to create their own self-fulfilling prophecies, and the most common effect is that all things become as beautiful as Vidal’s nude lady was when he saw Her as God. This transmutation of experience is technically called “the multiplication of the first matter” and many alchemists said of it, wittily, that this “gold, unlike ordinary gold, could not be spent or used up, because the more of it you pass on to others, the more of it you find you still have.

All religions preach charity and forgiveness; but those virtues are hard to practice when you are surrounded by sons of bitches. When the alchemical gold” is found, when consciousness mutates, you are surrounded by gods and goddesses, and the more of the “gold” you give away, the more comes back to you from an increasingly divine Mother Eagle. Quite simply, it is a short and almost inevitable step from Tantra to pantheism. It is no accident that William Blake, who, like Shabistari, saw “infinity in a grain of sand,” also penned the most searing indictment ever written of the puritan and ascetic hatred of Eros:

Children of a future age

Reading this indignant page

Know that in a former time

Love, sweet love, was thought a crime.14

Robert Anton Wilson is the author of numerous books including the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, The New Inquisition, and Cosmic Trigger (Falcon Press, Santa Monica).



1.       See The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony, reproduced in The Alchemical Tradition in the Late Twentieth Century, ed. Richard Grossinger, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 2nd edition 1983, pp. 34-47.

2.       However, I am quite sure that many readers of GNOSIS are that smart, and you can look forward to seeing their corrections of my ignorant guesses in the letters column of the next issue.

3.       A Manual of Sex Magick, Louis T. Culling, Llwellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1971, p. 57.

4.       The Tree of Life: A Study in Magic, Israel Regardie, Samuel Weiser, New York, 1975 edition, p. 251.

5.       “Coelum Terrae, ” in The Works of Thomas Vaughn, ed, A. E. Waite, University Books, New Hyde Park, NY, 1968, pp. 219-221.

6.       Giordano Bruno the Hermetic Tradition, Frances A. Yates, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1977, p. 357.

7.       The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, Frances A. Yates, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Boston, 1974 ed., p. 216.

8.       Reprinted in Commentary on the Chymical Wedding, Gareth Knight and Adam McLean, Magnum Opus Hermetic Sourceworks #18, Edinburgh, 1984.

9.       Love in the Western World, Denis de Rougemont, Harper & Row, New York, 1974.

10.   The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, Samuel Weiser, New York, 1974, p. 142.

11.   Magick in Theory and Practice, Aleister Crowley, Dover Publications, New York, 1976, pp. 41-42.

12.   For more writings of Brodie-Innes, see: The Sorcerer and His Apprentice: Unknown Hermetic Writings of S. L. MacGregor Mathers and J. W. Brodie-Innes, ed. R. A. Gilbert, Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1983.

13.   Programming and Meta programming in the Human Biocomputer, John C. Lilly, Bantam Books, New York, 1974, p. 50.

14.   From “A Little Girl Lost,” Songs of Experience, William Blake, Dover Publications, New York, 1984, p. 40.

Dreams of Flying

Dreams of Flying

by Robert Anton Wilson

 from Magical Blend #19, May-June-July 1988
reprinted in Email to the Universe

I have recently been reading a most enjoyable novel called The Dream Illuminati by Wayne Saalman (Falcon Press, Santa Monica, 1988). Mr. Saalman has found an epic theme – dreams of flight, and the achievement of flight.

Historically, dreams of flying appeared in the collective unconscious before the reality of flight existed in technology, and it seems plausible that if we understood our dreams better we would use our technology more wisely. Our machines manifest our dreams in matter crafted to coherence, and a psychoanalysis of our culture could easily derive from an examination of how we use science to materialize our fantasies and nightmares.

Mr. Saalman’s science-fantasy made me wonder: Why have we always dreamed of flying, and why have we built flying machines? This question seems “eminently” worth pondering in a world where 200,000,000 people pass through Kennedy International Airport every year, flying the Atlantic in one direction or the other.

To understand the profound, it often appears helpful to begin with clues that seem trivial. I suggest that we contemplate what our children look at every Saturday morning on TV. One of the most popular jokes in animated cartoons shows the protagonist walking off a cliff, without noticing what he has done. Sublimely ignorant, he continues to walk-on air-until he notices that he has been doing the impossible,” and then he falls. I doubt very much that there will be any reader of Magical Blend who has not seen that routine at least onec; most of us have seen it a few hundred times.

It might seem pretentious to see a Jungian archetype adumbrated in crude form in this Hollywood cliché, but follow me for a moment.

When Hollywood wishes to offer us the overtly mythic, it presents Superman, who can “leap over tall buildings in a single bound,” and a more recent hero named Luke Skywalker.

The Tarot, that condensed encyclopedia of the collective uncon­scious, begins with the card called The Fool, and the Fool is depicted walking off a cliff-just like Donald Duck or Wily Coyote in the cartoons. Funny coincidence, what?

A Greek legend (which James Joyce took as the archetype of the life of the artist) tells us of Daedalus and Icarus: Daedalus who, imprisoned in a labyrinth (conventional “reality”), invented wings and flew away, over the heads of his persecutors, and Icarus, the son of Daedalus, who flew too close to the Sun Absolute and fell back to Earth. Like Porky Pig walking off a cliff, Icarus’ fall contains a symbolism many have encountered in their own dreams.

The Sufi order employs as its emblem a heart with wings (and the Ordo Templi Orientis employs a circle – symbolizing both emptiness and completion – with wings). The Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth, had the head of a winged creature, the ibis; his Greek equivalent, Hermes, was portrayed as more human, but had bird’s wings on his sandals.

The Wright Brothers, who made flying possible for all of us, remain beloved figures in the folk imagination-but how many readers can name the inventors ouch equally marvelous (but earthbound) devices as the television, the vacuum cleaner, the computer, the laser or the modern indoor toilet? Yet while other gen­iuses seem “forgotten by the masses,” the classic put-down to satirize any conservative who sets limits to what human art can accomplish remains “I told Wilbur and I told Orville, you’ll never get that crate off the ground.”

I suspect that part of the function of flight consists in destroying our concept of limit; opening us to the insight Dr. John Lilly expressed so eloquently in The Center of the Cyclone:

In the province of the mind, what is believed to be true is true or becomes true, within limits to be found experimentally and experientially. These limits are further beliefs to be tran­scended. In the province of the mind, there are no limits.

The poet Hart Crane, trying to describe what Wilbur and Orville Wright meant to his generation (he died in the 1930s), wrote that from Kitty Hawk onward, he sensed “the closer clasp of Mars.” By 1938 people tuning in on an Orson Welles radio program after the drama started believed they were, hearing a newscast and the Martians were already here. A quantum jump had occurred in the limits of our social imagination_ Humanity had, like the poet, sensed the “closer clasp” of Mars.

Just slightly more than 30 years later, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, like a character in the fiction of Jules Verne, and ten years later, our instruments invaded the Martian desert already familiar to “us” through the visions of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ray Bradbury. If this does not confirm William Blake’s notorious claim that “Poetic Imagination” should be considered another name for God, it certainly suggests that Poetic Imagination may function as another name for Destiny.

Perhaps we should ponder more deeply on the fact that Daedalus means artist in Greek. Daedulus, designer of labyrinths, imprisoned by those he served in a labyrinth he himself built – Daedalus, inventor of wings that took him from the Earth to Outer Space – why does he represent Art, instead of Science?

Well, to understand this we must remember that the ancient Greeks did not distin­guish Art from Science as we do. The genius of an artist, Aristotle says, lies in his texne, the root from which we get our word technology;” but texne basically means skill or craft, or the ability to make things that never existed before.

In our age, by contrast, Stravinsky was regarded as “witty” or “paradoxical” (or deliberately enigmatic) when he called him-self a “sound engineer.” An artist who con­siders himself a kind of engineer? That is a hard thought for us to grasp. Yet a few moments’ reflection will show that as much precise structural knowledge can be found in Stravinsky’s music as in Roebling’s blue-prints for the Brooklyn Bridge-that edifice (considered “miraculous” when it was new) which Hart Crane took as a symbol of the unity of Art and Science.

Our dichotomized and dualistic thinking has been denounced so often lately that I hardly need to labor this point. I would prefer to suggest a possible common origin of both art and science. The musician and the architect, the poet and the physicist, all inventors of new realities-I propose, all such Crea­tors may be best considered late evolutionary developments of the type that first ap­pears as the shaman. Please remember that shamans in most cultures are known as “they who walk in the sky,” just like our current shaman-hero, Luke Skywalker

It should not be regarded as accidental or arbitrary that Swift put Laputa, the home of the scientists, in the sky, in order to disparage the wild-eyed and Utopian scientists of his time for not having all four feet on the ground; Aristophanes put Socrates in the clouds, to similarly disparage speculative agnostic philosophy. Outer Space seems the natural home of all descendents of the shaman, whether they be called artists, philosophers or scientists.

The ironies of Swift and Aristophanes, and the myths of the fall of Icarus and Donald Duck, indicate that the collective unconscious contains a force opposed to our dreams of flight. This appears inevitable. As Jung, the foremost explorer of the collective psyche, often pointed out, an ineluctable polarity exists in the symbols of dream and myth, a “Law of Opposites” which Jung compared to the Chinese concept ofyin and yang energies. Jekyll contains Hyde; love easily becomes hate; Cupid and Psyche reappear as the Phantom of the Opera and Margaritta, and also as King Kong and Fay Wray.

In the present context, the Law of Opposites means that we yearn to soar, yet we fear to fall. Our “inner selves” are mirrored not just in Orville Wright rising like a bird from Kill Devils Hill at Kitty Hawk, but also in Simon Newcombe, the great astronomer who “proved” mathematically that such flight was impossible.

As I have elsewhere suggested, neophilia and neophobia – love of the novelty and fear of novelty – result from the primal polarities of the first imprint of the newborn infant. In other words, what Dr. Timothy Leary calls the bio-survival “circuit” of the nervous system-the oral bio-survival system, I prefer to call it, since it includes the immune, endocrine and neuropeptide sub-systems as well as the autonomic nervous system-imprints either basic explorativeness or ba­sic conservatism very quickly. That explains, I think, why some babies “chortle with delight” when tossed up in the air and caught, while others scream with terror. In­fants who like this experience of flight, I suggest, already have the neophiliac imprint and those who act terrified have the neophobe imprint.

Of course, “the universe” can count above two (even if Aristotelian logicians cannot) and few of us are either pure neophilics or pure neophobics. Rather, we wobble about on a gradient between neophilia and neophobia-between joy and anxiety, between conservatism and experimentalism, between yearning to soar and fear of falling. A t times we feel like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, convinced that “a true Heaven has no limits” and trying to fly higher and faster; other times we become the old Reaganite gulls, nervously warning that to fly too high too fast will ruin your brain and directly contradicts the traditional mores of the flock (“Just say no to soaring.”) We contain both Orville Wright leaping into the air toward a future “where no man has gone before” and Simon Newcombe proving that Orville will certainly fall and smash himself like Humpty Dumpty.

As Joyce so poetically writes:

My great blue bedroom, the air so quiet, scarce a cloud. In peace and silence. I could have stayed up there for always only. It’s something fails us. First we feel. Then we fall-ill seen him come down on me now under whitespread wings like he’d come from Arkangels, I sink I’d die down under his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup.

Despite the multiple dream-images here-the Irish rain falling to become the Irish river Anna Liffey, Lucifer and his hosts falling from Heaven, the falls of Adam and Eve and Humpty Dumpty, Mary receiving the divine seed from the Archangel, Magdeline washing the feet of the Saviour, the Paraclete descending as a dove to bring the Apostles the Gift of Tongues, a housewife washing up the breakfast dishes-Joyce primarily invokes our deep awareness that gravity “pulls us down,” our deep yearning to break-free of this “drag” and soar back to our home above the clouds.

In 1988, the ancient Egyptian and Gnos­tic belief that our origin and our destiny reach far beyond Earth no longer seems as quaint and queer as it did in recent generations. In books like Dr. Timothy Leary’s Info-Psychology, Dr. Francis Crick’s Cosmic Panspermia and Sir Fred HoyleEvolution from Space, there appears a body of evidence strongly suggesting that life did not begin on this planet but arrived here from elsewhere in space. While the interpretations of these brilliant philosopher-scientists differ,’ their various kinds of evidence, from diverse fields of enquiry, does make a strong case that evolution is older and more universal than we traditionally think. One leaves their books suspecting that the orthodox biologi­cal view regarding Earthly evolution apart from Cosmic evolution results from un­voiced pre-Copernican assumptions about Earth’s centrality and its isolation.

In addition to the sophisticated and learned works of Leary, Crick and Hoyle, we have also recently witnessed the growth of a vast body of “vulgar” or at least popular literature arguing the proposition that An­cient Astronauts seeded this planet, not with all life, but merely with (post-Neanderthal) humanity. Instead of dissecting the flaws in the arguments of this seemingly “crank” literature, it might be more illuminating, I think, to wonder why this popular mythos provides the masses with an unsophisticated and anthropocentric form of the theories more soberly presented in works like Info-Psychology, Cosmic Panspermia,and Evo­lution from Space. Why do we find both first-rate and second-rate minds suddenly preoc­cupied with extraterrestrial evolution, while ninth-rate minds increasingly embrace Pop UFOlogy?

And why, one may next wonder, does this theme also appear centrally in the most beautiful, the most “haunting” and the most of­ten-revived science-fiction film of all time-Kubrick’s magnificent 2001?

When one Idea or Archetype appears in learned tomes, in tabloids, in folk-belief, in new cults, and in great art, all at about the same time, one suspects the presence of what Jung called, in his book Flying Saucers, “a shift in the constellation of the archetypes.” In terms of current neuroscience, what Jung means, I think, is that the DNAICNS “dialogue”-the neuropeptide “language” between genes and brain-is preparing us for a new evolutionary leap.

In The Dream Illuminati, there is a scene in which the hero says bluntly:

I realized that 1 was only as free as I thought myself to be and that there was no limit to how high we can fly!

Here we see again that the Archetype of flight carries always an umbilical connection to the idea of the transcendence of all limits. (“What is believed to be true is true or becomes true…”)

And we must wonder again if more than childish fantasy lurks in the concept of Donald Duck walking on air only until he “remembers” that this “is” officially “im­possible” in our current reality-tunnel.

In 1904, when Einstein was starting to write his first paper on Relativity and the Wright Brothers were testing the airplane design that finally worked after many failures, Aleister Crowley, the most controver­sial mystic of our century, “received”-or created by Poetic Imagination-a document which he ever after believed was a commu­nication from Higher Intelligence. In this work, called Liber Al or The Book of the Law, there is contained what purports to be a message from Nuit, the Egyptian star goddess, interpeted in Crowley’s commentaries as the supreme consciousness of the cosmos, or the sum total of all synergetically interac­tive intelligences throughout space-time. Among other things this “entity” or corpora­tion told Crowley;

Every man and every woman is a star…I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy…For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union…Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendor within you: come unto me!

Many interpretations of these verses are possible, of course. Of course.

Personally, after reading some of the current scientists who see evolution as both terrestrial and extraterrestrial, I cannot look at the words of Liber Al without thinking that, in some sense, the interstellar creators who planted life here may be sending us a signal to return to our home in the stars—that “great blue bedroom” which Joyce poetically invokes on the last page of Finnegans Wake and in which the astronaut, David Bowman, abruptly finds himself at the climax of 2001.

Of course, the language of poetic myth, like that of dream, should always be consid­ered analogical and allegorical, not literal; to see only one meaning here means that one will “fall into the pit of Because and perish with the dogs of Reason” (to cite Crowley again). The content of a true archetype con­tains an infinity of mirrors.

For instance, my Dream Diary for 23 April 1968 records that when I woke in the morning I remembered the following images from my night’s hermetic journey:

I am in a Chicago nightclub once patronized by John Dillinger. I find that the present patrons are also a group of gang­sters. They regard me with hostility, and I become frightened. I try to leave; they try to stop me. I open a door.

I find myself on the IRT subway in New York. I am riding in the front car and watch­ing the tunnel ahead of the train (as I did as a boy). Suddenly, I see a brick wall ahead and realize the train is going to crash into it and kill everybody aboard, including me.

I am out of the subway and walking in Cicero, Illinois. An angry mob surrounds me. They seem to know that I was in the recent Martin Luther King march against segregation here. I cannot escape them. Suddenly, I know intuitively what to do. I cry out, “Elohim!” and sprout wings and fly above their heads. The sky is beautiful and I feel free of all anxieties, at peace, unrea­sonably hopeful about everything.

When I awoke, I was thinking of Chesterton’s description of the mystic expe­rience as “absurd good news.”

At the time of this dream, I was involved with Chicago friends in propagating the John Dillinger Died For You Society, a parody of Fundamentalist religions which, like all good jokes, had its serious side. I was fasci­nated by the way that certain outlaws like Dillinger (or Jesse James, or Robin Hood) were virtually forced to live to the full the archetypal myth of Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Christ and Joyce’s Tim Finnegan. I also meditated much on the way in which outlaws who did not even approximately “live” the myth subsequently had their lives rewritten in folk-imagination to conform to it. The first part of the dream-record con-fronts me with the dark side of the archetype, and reminds me that real gangsters are not the mythic figures imposed on them by Poetic Imagination but nasty and frightening sociopaths.

In the second part of the dream, I enter into the Underground Initiation. Although using symbols from my own life (the subway), I find myself retracing the steps of Ishtar in the land of the dead, Odysseus sailing to Hades for wisdom, Jesus and Dante descending to Hell, etc. In alchemy this was called negrito, which Jung com­pares to the initial stages of psychotherapy.

In a sense, the Underworld Journey ap­pears the reciprocal of, and preparation for, the Achievement of Flight. Dante had to walk through Hell before climbing Mount Purgatory and soaring above the clouds to Heaven. In retrospect, I am especially de-lighted with the Freudian wit of the uncon­scious in using modem “Underworld” fig­ures-gangsters-to represent the mythic Underworld.

In the third part of the dream, the tradi­tional Wrathful Demons attack me, personified by the citizens of Al Capone’s home town, Cicero-perhaps because the people out there always reminded me of Wrathful Demons whenever I had to associate with them. I escape by crying out a name from the Hebrew Bible, whereupon I am able to fly, like Dante or Daedalus, from the Pit to the Stars.

What I find most curious about these dream fragments is that, when I experienced them in 1968, I knew nothing about Cabala. I was puzzled on awakening about the name Elohim and the way I had magically used it in the dream. All I knew about that name in those days was that it appears in the first chapter of Genesis and that there is a dispute between philologists and theologians about whether it means “God or “the gods”- i.e. whether the first chapter of the Bible is or isn’t a fragment left over from a polytheistic phase of Judaism.

It was over two years after this very Jungian dream that I became interested in Cabala and eventually learned that Elohim is therein considered a great Name of Power – used in e.g. the Middle Pillar Ritual, which every Cabalist in training is expected to do at least once a week. The function of Cabalistic ritual in general, and this ritual in particular, was once defined by Crowley as “to raise the mind of the student perpendicularly to Infinity” – beyond all limits. This is symbolized in my dream, as in many dreams and myths, by the imagery of flight and the conquest of gravity. The 1968 dream seems to contain precognition of Cabalistic work I would be doing very seriously c. 1971-75.

Of course, if one dares to suggest that a dream contains precognition; the Rationalist immediately declares the connection between the dream image and later waking events is” “mere coincidence.” Those with a psychological block against recognizing electricity would probably say, similarly, that when you flick the switch and the light goes on that “is” also “mere coincidence.”

At the time I had this dream or set of dreams in 1968, I was suffering from a moderately severe depression and the general symptoms of what is now called “mid-life crisis.” I had a very good job at Playboy magazine, with an excellent salary for the ’60s, but I was approaching 40 and wanted to write full-time. (Three years later, after beginning Cabalistic work, I quit my job and have been writing full-time ever since. Al-though I have experienced the usual share of shocks, disappointments and bereavements, I have not suffered clinical depression again.)

The reader might find it illuminating to compare this record with a dream recounted in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces. In this case, the dreamer saw a winged horse with one wing broken, struggling lofty and falling continually back to Earth. Campbell does not even bother interpreting this symbolism, merely inform­ing us that the dreamer was a poet forced to work at a menial job to support his family; one understands immediately.

In a sense, we have all had our “wings” broken; it remains the major function of such “hallowed institutions as organized religion and Free Compulsory Education to see that our “wings” are broken, or at least clipped, before we reach adulthood. How else will society have the insectoid units it needs to fill the cubicles in its hive economy?

But what if we begin to regrow healthy organs of Poetic Imagination and flight? What if we “put on the wings and arouse the coiled splendor within as Liber Al urges? Is it not predictable that society will react with the fury described by Wayne Saalman in The Dream Illuminati? (Think of the careers of Dr. Wilhelm Reich and Dr. Timothy Leary…) Joyce did not name his emblematic Artist merely Daedalus but Stephen Daeda­l s-after St. Stephen, the Protomartyr who reported a Vision and was stoned to death for it.

And does it not appear ultimately beneficial, in evolutionary perspective, that society should react in that manner? Those of us who have no avocation for martyrdom must learn, when we realize how much neophobia remains built into the contraptions of “society” and the State, the art of surviving in spite of them. In a word, we must “get wise in both the Socratic meaning of that phrase and in the most hardboiled street meaning. Neophobia functions as an Evolutionary Driver, forcing the neophiliac to get very smart very fast.

This theme is inexhaustible, but my space and time are not. As a final bit of hermetic wisdom, I offer you Proposition 12 of Aleister Crowley’s masterwork, Magick:

Man is ignorant of the nature of his own being and powers. Even his idea of his limi­tation is based on experience ofthe past, and every step in his progress extends his empire. There is therefore no reason to assign theoretical limits to what he may be, or to what he may do.


‘Leary thinks life was planted here by advanced intelligences lovingly seeking “children” for companionship, while Crick proposes that advanced civilization coldly and scientifically created Earthside DNA as an interesting experiment, and Hoyle argues that some seeds got here by accident (on comets, etc.) and some was deposited by Higher Intelligences for reasons inscrutable to us at present. I suspect that all three theo­ries are influenced by the personal traits of their inventors.

[submitted to by RMJon23]

Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective

Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective

by Robert Anton Wilson

 from Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies and Metaphysics #27, in 1988
reprinted in Email to the Universe

Our esteemed editor, Bob Banner, has invited me to contribute an article on whether my politics are “left” or “right,” evidently because some flatlanders insist on classifying me as Leftist and others, equally Euclidean, argue that I am obviously some variety of Rightist.

Naturally, this debate intrigues me. The Poet prayed that some power would the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us; but every published writer has that dubious privilege. I have been called a “sexist” (by Arlene Meyers) and a “male feminist . . . a simpering pussy-whipped wimp” (by L.A. Rollins), “one of the major thinkers of the modern age” (by Barbara Marx Hubbard) and “stupid” (by Andrea Chaflin Antonoff), a “genius” (by SOUNDS, London) and “mentally deranged” (by Charles Platt), a “mystic” and “charlatan” (by the Bay Area Skeptics) and a “materialist” (by an anonymous gent in Seattle who also hit me with a pie); one of my books has even been called “the most scientific of all science-fiction novels” (by New Scientist physics editor John Gribbon) and “ranting and raving” (by Neal Wilgus). I am also frequently called a “Satanist” in some amusing, illiterate and usually anonymous crank letters from Protestant Fundamentalists.

I can only conclude that I am indeed like a visitor from non-Euclidean dimensions whose outlines are perplexing to the Euclidean inhabitants of various dogmatic Flatlands. Or else, Lichtenstein was right when he said a book “is a mirror. When a monkey looks in, no philosopher looks out.” Of course, we are living in curved space (as noted by Einstein); that should warn us that Euclidean metaphors are always misleading. Science has also discovered that the Universe can count above two, which should make us leery of either/or choices. There are eight – count ’em, eight – theories or models in quantum mechanics, all of which use the same equations but have radically different philosophical meanings; physicists have accepted the multi-model approach (or “model agnosticism”) for over 60 years now. In modern mathematics and logic, in addition to the two-valued (yes/no) logic of Aristotle and Boole, there are several three-valued logics (e.g. the yes, no and maybe Quantum Logic of von Neumann; the yes, no and po of psychologist Edward de Bono; etc.), at least one four-valued logic (the true, false, indeterminate and meaningless of Rapoport), and an infinite-valued logic (Korzybski). I myself have presented a multi-valued logic in my neuroscience seminars; the bare bones of this system will be found in my book, The New Inquisition. Two-valued Euclidean choices – left or right of an imaginary line – do not seem very “real” to me, in comparison to the versatility of modem science and mathematics.

Actually, it was once easy to classify me in simple Euclidean topology. To paraphrase a recent article by the brilliant Michael Hoy [Critique #19/ 20], I had a Correct Answer Machine installed in my brain when I was quite young. It was a right-wing Correct Answer Machine in general and Roman Catholic in particular. It was installed by nuns who were very good at creating such machines and implanting them in helpless children. By the time I got out of grammar school, in 1945,1 had the Correct Answer for everything, and it was the Correct Answer that you will nowadays still hear from, say, William Buckley, Jr.

When I moved on to Brooklyn Technical High School, I encountered many bright, likeable kids who were not Catholics and not at all right-wing in any respect. They naturally angered me at first. (That is the function of Correct Answer Machines: to make you have an adrenaline rush, instead of a new thought, when confronted with different opinions.) But these bright, non-Catholic kids – Protestants, Jews, agnostics, even atheists – fascinated me in some ways. The result was that I started reading all the authors the nuns had warned me against–especially Darwin, Tom Paine, Ingersoll, Mencken and Nietzsche.

I found myself floating in a void of incertitude, a sensation that was unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable. I retreated back to robotism by electing to install a new Correct Answer Machine in my brain. This happened to be a Trotskyist Correct Answer Machine, provided by the International Socialist Youth Party. I picked this Machine, I think, because the alternative Correct Answer Machines then available were less “Papist” (authoritarian) and therefore less comfortable to my adolescent mind, still bent out of shape by the good nuns.

(Why was I immune to Stalinism – an equally Papist secular religion? I think the answer was my youth. The only Stalinists left in the U.S. by the late ’40s were all middle-aged and “crystalized” as Gurdjieff would say. Those of us who were younger could clearly see that Stalinism was not much different from Hitlerism. The Trotskyist alternative allowed me to feel “radical” and modern, without becoming an idiot by denying the totalitarianism of the USSR, and it let me have a martyred redeemer again a I had in my Catholic childhood.)

After about a year, the Trotskyist Correct Answer Machine began to seem a nuisance. I started to suspect that the Trotskyists were some secular clone of the Vatican, whether they knew it or not, and that the dogma of Papal infallibility was no whit more absurd than the Trotskyist submission to the Central Committee. I decided that I had left one dogmatic Church and joined another. I even suspected that if Trotsky had managed to hold on to power, he might have been as dictatorial as Stalin.

Actually, what irritated me most about the Trots (and now seems most amusing) is that I already had some tendency toward individualism, or crankiness, or Heresy; I sometimes disputed the Party Line. This always resulted in my being denounced for “bourgeoisie tendencies.” That was irritating then and amusing now because I was actually the only member of that Trot cell who did not come from a middle-class background. I came from a working class family and was the only genuine “proletarian” in the whole Marxist kaffeklatch.

At the age of 18, then, I returned to the void of incertitude. It began to seem almost comfortable there, and I began to rejoice in my agnosticism. It made me feel superior to the dogmatists of all types, and adolescents love to feel superior to everybody (especially their parents – or have you noticed that?). Around the same time as my Trotskyist period, I began to read the first Revisionist historians, whom I had been warned about by my high school social science teachers, in grave and awful tones, as if these men had killed a cat in the sacristy. My teachers were too Liberal to tell me I would go to Hell for reading such books (as the nuns had told me about Darwin, for instance), but they made it clear that the Revisionists were Evil, Awful, Unspeakable and probably some form of Pawns of the Devil.

I recognized the technique of thought control again, so I read all the Revisionists I could find. They convinced me that the New Deal Liberals had deliberately lied and manipulated the U.S. into World War II and were still lying about what they did after the war was over. (In fact, they are still lying about it today.)

The Revisionist who impressed me most was Harry Elmer Barnes, a classic Liberal who was a til of a Marxist (in methodology) – i.e., in his way of looking for economic factors behind political actions. I was amused and disgusted by the attempt of the New Deal gang to smear Professor Barnes as a right-wing reactionary. Barnes, in fact, was an advocate of progressive ideas in education, economics, politics, criminology, sociology and anthropology all his life but the New Deal Party Line had smeared him so thoroughly that some people have heard of him only as some cranky critic of Roosevelt and assume he was a Taft Republican or even a pro-Nazi. In fact Barnes supported most of the New Deal’s domest policies, and dissented from Liberal Dogma only in opposing the spread of American adventurism and militarism all over the world.

Charles Beard, another great historian of classic Liberal principles, agreed that Roosevelt deliberately lied to us in World War II and was smeared in the same way as Professor Barnes. This did not encourage me to have Faith in any Party Line, even if it called itself the modern, liberal, enlightened Party Line.

(I have never been convinced by the Holocaust Revisionists, however, simply because I have met a great many Holocaust eyewitnesses, or alleged eyewitnesses, in the past 40 years. Most of these people I seemingly met by accident, in both Europe and America. A conspiracy that has that many liars planted in that many places–or has always paid such special attention to me that it placed these liars where I would meet them – is a conspiracy too omnipotent and omnipresent, and therefore too metaphysical, for me to take seriously. A conspiracy so Godlike in its powers could, in principle, deceive us about anything and everything, and I wonder why the Holocaust Revisionists still believe that World War II occurred, or that any of past history ever happened.)

I reached 20 and became an employee (i.e. a robot) in the McCarthy Era and the Eisenhower years; my agnosticism became more total and so did my suspicion that politics is a carnival or buncombe (as Mencken once said). It seemed obvious to me that, while Senator Joe was a liar of stellar magnitude, a lot of the Liberals were lying their heads off, too, in attempts to hide their previous fondness for Stalinism. That was something I, as a former Trotskyist, knew about by experience. In bon ton East Coast intellectual circles, before McCarthy, Stalinism was much more “permissible” than Trotskyism; it was almost chic. If I still regard the McCarthy witch-hunt of the 1950s as abominable, I also remember that some of the victims had engaged in similar witch-hunts against the Trotskyists in the early 1940s.

It is probably impossible for a social mammal to be totally “apolitical.” Even if I was allergic to Correct Answer Machines, my mind kept searching for some general social ideas that I could take more or less seriously. For a while I dropped in and out of colleges and in and out of jobs and searched earnestly for some pragmatic mock-up of “truth” without a Correct Answer Machine attached. And yet both Left and Right continued to appear intellectually bankrupt to me.

*     *     *     *

Coming from a working class family, I could never have much sympathy for the kind of Conservatism you find in America in this century. (I do have a certain fondness for the classic Liberal Conservatives of the 18th Century, especially Edmund Burke and John Adams.) After I married and had children to support, the abominations of the Capitalist system and the wormlike ignominy of the employee role began to seem like prisons to me; I was a poor candidate for the Conservative cause. On the other hand, the FDR Liberals, I was convinced, had lied about World War II; they first smeared and then blacklisted the historians who told the truth; and they had jumped on the Cold War bandwagon with ghoulish glees.

I was anti-war by “temperament” (whatever that means – early imprints or conditioning? Genes? I don’t know the exact cause of such a deep-seated and life-long bias). Marxist dogma seemed as stupid to me as Catholic dogma and as murderous as Hitlerism. I now thought of myself as an agnostic on principle. I was not going to join any more “churches” or submit to anybody’s damned Party Line.

My agnosticism was also intensified by such influences as further reading of Nietzsche; existentialism; phenomenolgy; General Semantics; and operational logic. There have remained major influences on me and I want to say a few words about each.

Nietzsche’s philosophy of the Superman did not turn me on in youth; coming from the proletarian, I could not see myself as one of his aristocratic Uebermenschen. On the other hand, his criticism of language, and of the metaphysical implications within languages, made a powerful impression on me; I still re-read one or two of his books every year, and get new semantic insights of them. He is, as he bragged, a hard nut to digest all at once.

Existentialism did not convert me back to Marxism (as it did to Sartre); it merely magnified my Nietzschean distrust of capitalized nouns and other abstractions, and strengthened my preferences for sensory-sensual (“existential”) – modes of perception-conception. The phenomenologists—especially Husserl and the wild man of the bunch, Charles Fort – encouraged my tendency to suspect all general theories (religious, philosophical, even scientific) and to regard human sense experience as the primary datum.

My polemics against Materialist Fundamentalism in The New Inquisition and the Aristotelian mystique of “natural law” (shared by Thomists and some Libertarians) in my Natural Law; or, Don’t Put a Rubber On Your Willy are both based on this existentialist-phenomenologist choice that I will “believe” in human experience, with all its muddle and uncertainty, more than I will ever “believe” in capitalized Abstractions and “general principles.”

General Semantics, as formulated by Korzybski, increased this anti-metaphysical bias in me. Korzybski also stressed that the best sensory data (as revealed by instruments that refine the senses) indicates that we live in a non-Aristotelian, non-Euclidean and non-Newtonian continuum. I have practised for 30 years the exercises Korzybski recommends to break down Aristotelian-Euclidean-Newtonian ideas buried in our daily speech and retrain myself to perceive in ways compatible with what our instruments indicate about actuality.

Due to Korzybski’s neurolinguistic training devices, it is now “natural” for me to think beyond either/or logic, to perceive the unity of observer/observed, to regard “objects” as human inventions abstracted from a holistic continuum. Many physicists think I have studied more physics than I actually have; I merely neurologically internalized the physics that I do know.

Operational logic (as formulated by the American physicist Percy Bridgman and recreated by the Danish physicist Neils Bohr as the Copenhagen Interpretation of science) was the approach to modern science that appealed to me in the context of the above working principles. The Bridgman-Bohr approach rejects as “meaningless” any statements that do not refer to concrete experiences of human beings. (Bridgman was influenced by Pragmatism, Bohr by Existentialism.) Operationalism also regards all proposed “laws” only as maps or models that are useful for a certain time. Thus, Operationalism is the one “philosophy of science” that warns us, like Nietzsche and Husserl, only to use models where they’re useful and never to elevate them into Idols or dogmas.

Although I dislike labels, if I had to label my attitude I would accordingly settle for existentialist-phenomenologist-operationalist, as long as no one of those three terms is given more prominence than the other two.

In the late ’50s, I began to read widely in economic “science” (or speculation) again, a subject that had bored the bejesus out of me since I overthrew the Marxist Machine in my brain ten years earlier. I became fascinated with a number of alternatives – or “excluded middles” – that transcend the hackneyed debate between monopoly Capitalism and totalitarian Socialism. My favorite among these alternatives was, and to some extent still is, the individualist-mutualist anarchism of Proudhon, Jossiah Warren, S.P. Andrews, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker. I do not have a real Faith that this system would work out as well in practice as it sounds in theory, but as theory it still seems to me one of the best ideas I ever encountered.

This form of anarchism is called “individualist” because it regards the absolute liberty of the individual as a supreme goal to be attained; it is called “mutualist” because it believes such liberty can only be attained by a system of mutual consent, based on contracts that are to the advantage of all. In this Utopia, free competition and free cooperation are both encouraged; it is assumed persons and groups will decide to compete or to cooperate based on the concrete specifics of each case. (This appeals to my “existentialism” again, you see.)

Land monopolies are discouraged in individualist-mutualist anarchism by abolishing State laws granting ownership to those who neither occupy nor use the land; “ownership,” it is predicted, will then only be contractually recognized where the “owner” actually occupies and used the land, but not where he charges “rent” to occupy or use it. The monopoly on currency, granted by the State, is also abolished, and any commune, group, syndicate, etc., can issue its own competing currency; it is claimed that this will drive interest down to approximately zero. With rent at zero and interest near zero, it is argued that the alleged goal of socialism (abolition of exploitation) will be achieved by free contract, without coercion or totalitarian Statism. That is, the individualist-mutualist model argues that the land and money monopolies are the “bugger factors” that prevent Free Enterprise from producing the marvelous results expected by Adam Smith. With land and money monopolies abolished, it is predicted that competition (where there is no existential motive for cooperation) and cooperation (where this is recognized as being to the advantage of all) will prevent other monopolies from arising.

Since monopolized police forces are notoriously graft-ridden and underlie the power of the state to bully and coerce, competing protection systems will be available in an individualist-mutualist system, You won’t have to pay “taxes” to support a Protection Racket that is actually oppressing rather than protecting you. You will only pay dues, where you think it prudent, to protection agencies that actual perform a service you want and need. In general, every commune or syndicate will make its own rules of the game, but the mutualist-individualist tradition holds that, by experience, most communes will choose the systems that maximize liberty and minimize coercion.

Being wary of Correct Answer Machines, I also studied and have given much serious consideration to other “Utopian” socio-economic theories. I am still fond of the system of Henry George (in which no rent is allowed, but free enterprise is otherwise preserved); but I also like the ideas of Silvio Gesell (who would also abolish rent and all taxes but one–a demmurage tax on currency, which should theoretically abolish interest by a different gimmick than the competing currencies of the mutualists.)

I also see possible merit in the economics of C.H. Douglas, who invented the National Dividend–lately re-emergent, somewhat mutated, as Theobold’s Guaranteed Annual Wage and/or Friedman’s Negative Income Tax. And I am intrigued by the proposal of Pope Leo XIII that workers should own the majority of stock in their companies.

Most interesting of recent Utopias to me is that of Buckminster Fuller in which money is abolished, and computers manage the economy, programmed with a prime directive to advantage all withoutdisadvantaging any – the same goal sought by the mutualist system of basing society entirely on negotiated contract.

Since I don’t have the Correct Answer, I don’t know which of these systems would work best in practice. I would like to see them all tried in different places, just to see what would happen. (This multiple Utopia system was also suggested by Silvio Gesell, who was not convinced he had a Correct Answer Machine; that’s another reason I like Gesell.) My own bias or hope or prejudice is that individualist-mutualist anarchism with some help from Bucky Fuller’s computers would work best of all, but I still lack the Faith to proclaim that as dogma.

There is one principle (or prejudice) which makes anarchist and libertarian alternatives attractive to me where State Socialism is totally repugnant to my genes-or-imprints. I am committed to the maximization of the freedom of the individual and the minimization of coercion. I do not claim this goal is demanded by some ghostly or metaphysical “Natural Law,” but merely that it is the goal that I, personally, have chosen – in  the Existentialist sense of choice. (In more occult language, such a goal is my True Will.) Everything I write, in one way or another, is intended to undermine the metaphysical and linguistic systems which seem to justify some Authorities in limiting the freedom of the human mind or in initiating coercion against the non-coercive.

…and then came what Charles Slack calls “the madness of the sixties.” I was an early, and enthusiastic, experimenter with LSD, peyote, magic mushrooms and any other compound that mutated consciousness. The result was that I became even more agnostic but less superior about it. What psychedelics taught me was that, just as theories and ideologies (maps and models) are human creations, not divine revelations, every perceptual grid or existential reality-tunnel is also a human creation–a work of art, consciously or unconsciously edited and organized by the individual brain.

I began serious study of other consciousness-altering systems, including techniques of yoga, Zen, Sufism and Cabala. I, alas, became a “mystic” of some sort, although still within the framework of existentialism-phenomenology-operationalism. But, then, Buddhism–the organized mystic movement I find least objectionable–is also existentialist, phenomenologist and operationalist….

Nietzsche’s concept of the Superhuman has at last become meaningful for me, although not in the elitist form in which he left it. I now think evolution is continuing and even accelerating: the human brain is evolving to a state that seems Superhuman compared to our previous history of domesticated primatehood. My favorite science is neuroscience, and I am endlessly fascinated by every new tool or technique that breaks down robot circuits in our brains (Correct Answer Machines) and spurs creativity, higher intelligence, expanded consciousness, and, above all, broader compassion.

I see no reason to believe that only an elite is capable of this evolutionary leap forward, especially as the new tools and training techniques are becoming more simple. In neuroscience as in all technology, we seem to follow Bucky Fuller’s rule that each breakthrough allows us to do more work with less effort and to create more wealth out of less raw matter.

Once I broke loose from the employee role and became self-supporting as a writer, the “horrors of capitalism” seemed less ghoulish to me, since I no longer had to face them every day. I became philosophical, like all persons free of acute suffering. I prefer to live in Europe rather than pay taxes to build more of Mr. Reagan’s goddam nuclear missiles, but I enjoy visiting the U.S. regularly for intellectual stimulation….

I agree passionately with Maurice Nicoll (a physician who mastered both Jungian and Gurdjieffian systems) who wrote that the major purpose of “work on consciousness” is to “decrease the amount of violence in the world.” The main difference between our world and Swift’s is that while we have stopped killing each other over religious differences (outside the Near East and Northern Ireland), we have developed an insane passion for killing each other over ideological differences. I regard Organized Ideology with the same horror that Voltaire had for Organized Religion.

Concretely, I am indeed a Male Feminist, as L.A. Rollins claimed (although seeing myself often on TV, I deny that I simper; I don’t even swish); like all libertarians, I oppose victimless crime laws, all drug control laws, and all forms of censorship (whether by outright reactionaries or Revolutionary Committees or Radical Feminists).

I passionately hate violence, but am not a Dogmatic Pacifist, since I don’t have Joan Baez’s Correct Answer Machine in my head. I know I would kill an armed aggressor, in a concrete crisis situation where that was the only defense of the specific lives of specific individuals I love, although I would never kill a person or employ even minor violence, or physical coercion, on behalf of capitalized Abstractions or Governments (who are all damned liars.) All these are matters of Existential Choice on my part, and not dogmas revealed to me by some god or some philosopher-priest of Natural Law.

I prefer the various Utopian systems I have mentioned to the Conservative position that humanity is incorrigible and I also think that if none of these Utopian scenarios are workable, some system will eventually arrive better than any we have ever known. I share the Jeffersonian (“Liberal”?) vision that the human mind can exceed all previous limits in a society where freedom of thought is the norm rather than a rare exception.

Does all of this make me a Leftist or a Rightist? I leave that for the Euclideans to decide. If I had to summarize my social credo in the briefist possible space, I would quote Alexander Pope’s Essay On Man:

For forms of Government let fools contest;

Whate’er is best administered is best:

For modes of Faith let graceless zealots fight;

He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.

review of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

reviewed by Robert Anton Wilson

from Magical Blend #17, 1987
reprinted in Email to the Universe

Some people may wonder what a holistic detective agency is, but this new book by Douglas Adams, author of the famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, will explain that for them, with such transcendental clarity that the mind, as in Dante’s Paradise, is nearly blinded by the light.

Can you believe that the disappearance of a cat in London seven years ago cannot only be caused by, but equally be the cause of, the miraculous appearance of the music of J.S. Bach more than twohundred years ago?

If this thought is incomprehensible to you, then you should either study quantum physics or read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

Mr. Adams not only explains the relationship between the missing cat and the Goldberg Variations, but also demonstrates how a sofa can get wedged into a stairwell in such a way that you not only cannotget it out but mathematical analysis will prove that it never could have gotten wedged in that position in the first place.

Oddly, there is no fantasy in this book. Dirt: Gently is as logical as Sherlock Holmes and all the macoronic inter-connections he masters are necessary parts of the world of modem physics.

It may be startling to contemplate probability matrices in which everything is the cause of everything in one sense and nothing is the cause of anything in another sense, but such is the probable world in which we probably live according to current science, and it is in one matrix that Dirk Gently has to move a sofa through a solid wall (and incidentally save humanity from extinction-for which he does not charge extra) before the missing cat is located.

Unfortunately, the cat is dead. But that’s only in one probability matrix. In the matrix next door, the cat is probably alive, but we’ve lost Bach. While cat-lovers and music-lovers ponder that conundrum, at least the matrix in which humanity is destroyed has been avoided.

But the damned couch is still stuck in the stairwell, in the probability matrix where we lost Bach and saved the cat.

Alas, I fear that those who talk of “holistic medicine” have little inkling of how holistic sub-atomic physics is. I can only urge that all who wish a glimpse of how our probable universe probably operates should rush right out and buy this marvelous book, which is a thriller, a mystery, a farce and the most scientific novel of the year.

The Relativity of ‘Reality’

“The Relativity of ‘Reality’”

by Robert Anton Wilson

from Neurolog #4, 1978
reprinted in Email to the Universe

From the viewpoint of semantics, “reality” is a multi-ordinal concept, having different meanings on different levels of abstraction. On the lowest level of abstraction “reality” refers to immediate sensory consistency. “Is there really a kangaroo in that chair?” can be answered by obtaining the consensus of the group; or, if everybody is stoned, by bringing in some objective observers with objective instruments, etc. On the highest level of abstraction, “reality” refers to logical consistency with a body of established scientific fact and theory. “Is entropy real?” can be answered by consulting a reliable textbook on thermodynamics. Between the level of kangaroo and the level of entropy, there are many other levels of abstraction and, hence, many kinds of “reality.”

For instance, “Is the Gross National Product real?” is a question on a certain level of abstraction; and if equally intelligent people can, and do, argue about this it is because they are talking on different levels of abstraction and are not aware of the fact that there are different levels of abstraction and different kinds of “reality.”

This is the semantic relativity of “reality.”

2. Every tribe has its own “reality-map,” or worldview, or weltanschauung. What is “real” to the Eskimo is not what is “real” to the Zuni Indian or the Congolese or the Japanese Buddhist or the German businessman or the Russian commissar, etc. If you travel around the world with the naive assumption that everybody is living in the same “reality,” you will make numerous embarrassing mistakes, insult countless people unintentionally, make a splendid ass of yourself and generally contribute to the worldwide belief that tourists are a Curse of God sent to punish peole for their sins. To recognize that every culture, and sub-culture, has its own “reality” is the prerequisite of sophistication, tact, and true tolerance. Otherwise you come on like the Englishman who claimed all Chinese understand English if you just shout loud enough.

This is the anthropological, or cultural, relativism of “reality.”

3. Every nervous system creates its own “reality.” Out of the billions, or billions of billions, of energies intersecting the room in which you read this, your brain, performing 100,000,000 processes per minute (almost all of them unconscious to those circuits called the ego and recognized as “me”) arranges a few hundred or thousand into the Gestalt which you experience as the “reality” of the room. To demonstrate this, in my Exo-psychology classes, I will have the students describe the hall outside the lecture room; no two will describe exactly the same hall. Or, I will have everybody write down what they hear in the room during a minute of clock-time; no two lists of these sounds will be identical. A variety of chemicals introduced into the nervous system, or direct brain stimulation with electrical impulses, or yoga, etc., will create an entirely different neurological “reality” while you are still sitting in the “same” room.”

This is neurological relativism, or the relativity of perceived “reality.”

4. Two scientists moving at different accelerations can measure the same phenomenon with equally accurate instruments and obtain totally different readings of it extensions in the space and time dimensions. (Einstein, General Relativity.) On the quantum level, a variety of different philosophical reality-maps, or “models,” describe equally well both the experimental data and the mathematical equations that are known to “fit” the data. Any attempt to get around this by adding more sophisticated instruments leads to adding still more sophisticated instruments to monitor the first set, and so on, forever. (Von Neumann’s “catastrophe of the infinite regress.”)

This is physical Relativity, or the relativity of instrumental “reality.”

In conclusion, “reality” is a concept borrowed from the theologians who, being bankrupt, are in no position to loan anything to anybody. We would do better to restrict ourselves to questions that can be answered. Such questions will take the form, “At this date, with the knowledge presently possessed by humanity, which model best accords with the facts?” When it turns out, as it usually does these days, that several models work equally well, we might then ask: which models are most amusing? most optimistic? most worthy of our time and energy? most elegant and esthetic? And we can keep in mind, too, biologist JBS Haldane’s warning, “The universe may be not only stranger than we think, but stranger than we can think.”


Mr. Wilson is the author of the Illuminatus! trilogy, Cosmic Trigger, and diverse other works.

(submitted to rawilsonfans by RMJon23)

Science Fiction Review #17 Interview

An Interview with Robert Anton Wilson

Conducted by Neal Wilgus

Science Fiction Review #17, May 1976
two short excerpts published in The Illuminati Papers

SFR: I know you’re co-author of Illumatus!, have written for GnosticaGreen Egg and others and were once assistant editor of Playboy – could you fill us in on the details of your life and present activities?

Wilson: Well, to begin with, I never balled Sophia Loren on a bearskin rug.  I think that’s what gives my writing its unforgettable poignance and haunting sense of cosmic search.  I’ve got about a thousand articles in print, in everything from scholarly journals to tabloids of the sleaziest nature, some poetry here and there, a few short stories.

My other books are Sex and Drugs: A Journey Beyond LimitsPlayboy’s Book of Forbidden Words and The Book of the Breast, all non-fiction, and The Sex Magicians, a rather funny porn novel featuring Markoff Chaney from Illuminatus!

I was busted for civil rights activities in ’62, walked a few yards behind Mailer in the Pentagon protest of ’67, got tear-gassed at the Democratic Convention of ’68.  I’ve worked as a longshoreman, astrology columnist, reporter, medical orderly, laboratory assistant, engineering aide, encyclopedia salesman and most of the things you find on writers’ resumes.  And I was an Associate Editor, not an assistant editor, at Playboy.  The difference is as important as that between a mere Congressman and an anointed Senator or between a zebra and a horse with striped pajamas on.

I have a beautiful red-headed wife, four kids, and a cat named Conan the Bavarian.

SFR:  Robert J. Shea is Senior Editor at Playboy and I understand Illuminatus! was written in 1970 while you were an editor.  Could you tell us something about Shea?

Wilson: Illuminatus! was written in 1969-1971, while we were both Associate Editors.  Shea had what it takes to stick it out at the Bunny Empire and is now Senior Editor.  I quit after five years because I got bored and wanted to do something more amusing.  Shea has a beautiful blond wife, a son, a home in a prosperous suburb and passes as a well-adjusted citizen.  I have long suspected that he is actually a time-traveling anthropologist fro the 23rd Century doing a report on primitive civilizations.  When I try to pump him about that, he becomes very evasive and looks nervous.  To the best of my knowledge, he has never balled Sophia Loren on a bearskin rug, either.

SFR: Could you give us some idea of how Illuminatus! was written? Who wrote which parts?

Wilson: Most of it was communicated to us telepathically by a canine Intelligence, vast, cool and unsympathetic, from Sirius, the Dog Star. I was aware of being a channel for interstellar sarcasm, but Shea thought he was inventing his part of the transmission. In general, the melodrama is Shea and the satire is me; but some of the satire is definitely him and some of the melodrama is certainly me. “When Atlantis Ruled the Earth” is 99% Shea. The sections about Simon Moon, Robert Putney Drake and Markoff Chaney are 99% me. Everything else is impossible to untangle. The celebrated Blow Job on the beach, for instance, is almost all Shea, but I think my lyrical additions to the text add to the esthetic beauty and philosophical richness of the symbology and give more existential meaning to Georges ultimate ejaculation into Mav’s warm, passionate mouth, in a Maileresque sense. Of course, this is only important if you agree with Vonnegut’s claim that the function of the modern novel is to describe Blow Jobs exquisitely.

SFR: Illuminatus! incorporates much of the Cthulhu Mythos, refers often to H. P. Lovecraft and even includes a short scene in which HPL appears.  Is it you or Shea that’s the HPL enthusiast?

Wilson: It’s me.  I went through a period in the early 1960s when I kept having the Lovecraft horrors every time I took peyote.  Cthulhu leering at the window.  Yog-Sothoth oozing down the chimney.  Azathoth invading my neurons with vampiric psychic-horror vibes.  It was like a non-stop Creature Weatures without commercials, every time I gobbled a cacti.  A lesser man would have changed his religion, I assure you, but I managed to recapture the Reality Studio and banish them all with violent Cabalistic imprecations.  They don’t dare show their faces, or lack of faces in any of my universes anymore.

SFR:  Will there be more collaborations with Shea?  A sequel to Illuminatus!?

Wilson:  That depends on our Contact, the Mad Dog fro Sirius.  Right now, we’re working on separate novels.  Mine has some of the characters from Illuminatus! and much of the same psychedelic style.   It concerns the aftermath of a sex-change operation and what happens to the amputated penis.  To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first novel ever written with a penis as the protagonist and I’m hoping for a huge sale, especially in San Francisco.

SFR:  The theme of “immanentizing the Eschaton” runs throughout Illuminatus! but the phrase is never defined or explained.  In the framework of the book this seems to imply that various secret societies are working to bring about the end of the worked – is that a valid interpretation?

Wilson:  The phrase was coined by a Christian historian, Eric Bogelin, and refers to the Gnostic doctrine that people aren’t really as hopeless as Christians think.  Eschaton, form the Greek, means the last things, and, in Christian theology, these are Heaven and Hell.  Immanentizing the Escaton means seeking heaven within the “immanent” universe, i.e. the only universe we know.

To a thorough going Christian pessimist like Vogelin anybody who tries to be happy or make others happy is dangerously close to Gnostic heresy.  I am all for immanentizing the Escaton in this sense, next Tuesday if possible.  Vogelin detects immanentizing tendencies in humanists, liberals, technologists, optimistic philosophies of evolution like Nietzsche’s communists, anarchists and most of the post-medieval thought of the Western World, all of which are overtly or covertly aiming at the verboten “heaven on the material plane.”

In the novel, we make the point that conservatives are also in danger of immanentizing the Eschaton by continuing a Cold War that can only result in Hell on the material plane – nuclear incineration.

In one sense, Illuminatus! is a reduction to ad absurdum of all mammalian politics, Right or Left, by carrying each ideology on logical step further than its exponents care to go.  Voltaire used that satirical judo against the Churchman and I decided it’s time to turn it on the Statesman.  The only intelligent way to discuss politics, as Tim Leary says, is on all fours.  It all comes down to territorial brawling.

SFR:  I understand the Eschaton them stems from an anti-Gnostic campaign in the National Review some time ago.  Could you fill us in on the origins of the term?

Wilson:  As I say, it was coined by Vogelin.  The anti-Gnostic them was chronic in conservative circles during the early 60’s and even got into a Time editorial once.  As an ordained priest of the Gnostic Catholic Church, I find this amusing, since it makes most of the educated classes into unknowing disciples of us Gnostics.  As Marx said under similar circumstances, “I once shot an elephant in my pajamas.  How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

SFR:  What is your relationship with Timothy Leary?

Wilson:  Are you sure you’re not from Gay Times?  Dr. Leary and I are just good friends.  I mean, really, do you mind, Bess?  Honestly!  Well if you must have the truth, I’m playing Zola and Tim is Dreyfuss – or, at least, that’s one of my old scripts.  I suppose Tim might think he’s Johnson and I’m Boswell.  Then there’s the theory that I’m his C.I.A. “babysitter” and supervised his whole campaign of mind-rot and betrayal of the New Left.  Actually, if you want the facts, which are always funnier and more interesting than myths, Dr. Leary is the ring-leader and I’m an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to immanentize the Eschaton by achieving higher intelligence, longevity and extra-terrestrial migration in this generation.  In the next generation (for which, due to longevity we’ll both still be active) the hope is to achieve immortality and starflight.  I told you the truth was more interesting than the myths.

SFR:  Why are you suing the Neo-American Church for $1,000,000?  Isn’t that just a promotion device to publicize Illuminatus! and the new book you’re writing with Leary?

Wilson:  The Neo-American Church, who most certainly did not ball Sophia Loren on or off a bearskin rug, have claimed that Illuminatus! is actually written by Dr. Leary and that Shea and I are co-conspirators in a legal fraud committed by Tim to evade contractual obligations, whatever that means.  (Neither Dr. Leary nor his lawyers nor the Justice Department are aware of any contracts that would prevent Tim from publishing Illuminatus! as his own book, if he had indeed written it.)  The Neo-Americans have accused Shea, Dr. Leary and myself of a felony, and they have done so maliciously and untruthfully.  In the American legal game, maliciously and untruthfully accusing somebody of a felony is a libel.  The persons so damaged in reputation may collect pieces of green paper, blessed by the Federal Reserve and called “money,” in proportion to the damage, as estimated by 12 jurors who are hopefully sober at the time.  Happily, the two typists who typed the originally ms. of Illuminatus! are still at Playboy, many of the editors heard Shea or me read parts of it when it was coming out of our typewriters (after business hours, Hef!) and there are dozens of accessory witnesses. The Neo-Americans have fouled and will have to pay the penalty.  It does me no good in publishing circles to have my funnies book attributed to somebody else, or to be accused of a Clifford Irving fraud.

SFR:  How serious are you about the rule of fives and the Importance of 23?

Wilson:  Being serious is not one of my vices.  I will venture, however, that the idea that there are no conspiracies has been popularized by historians working for universities and institutes funded by the principle conspirators of our time – the Rockefeller-Morgan banking interests, the Council on Foreign Relations Crowd.  This is not astonishing or depressing.  Conspiracy is the standard mammalian politics for reasons to be found in ethology and Von Neumann’s and Morgenstern’s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.  Vertebrate competition depends on knowing more than the opposition, monopolizing information along with territory, hoarding signals.  Entropy, in a word.  Science is based on transmitting the signal accurately, accelerating the process of information transfer.  Negative entropy.  The final war may be between Pavlov’s Dog and Schroedinger’s Cat.

However, I am profoundly suspicious about all conspiracy theories, including my own, because conspiracy buss tend to forget the difference between a plausible argument and a real proof.  Or between a legal proof, a proof in the behavioral sciences, a proof in physics, a mathematical or logical proof, or a parody of any of the above.  My advice to all is Buddha’s last words, “Doubt, and find your own light.”  Or, as Crowley wrote, “I slept with Faith and found her a corpse in the morning.  I drank and danced all night with Doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.”  Doubt suffereth long, but is kind; doubt covereth a multitude of sins’ doubt puffeth not itself up into dogma.  For now abideth doubt, hope, and charity, these three and the greatest of these is doubt.  With doubt all tings are possible.  Every other entity in the universe, including Goddess Herself, may be trying to con you.  It’s all Show Biz.  Did you know that Billy Graham is a Bull Dyke in drag?

SFR: Could you tell us something about the authors and ideas that have influenced you?  Are you a long-time science-fiction/fantasy fan?  A neo-Pagan or occultist?

Wilson:  My style derives directly from Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Raymond Chandler, H.L. Menken, William S. Burroughs, Benjamin Tucker and Elephant Doody Comix, in approximately that order of importance.  Chandler has also influenced my way of telling stories; all my fiction tends to follow the Chandler mythos of the skeptical Knight seeking Truth in a world of false-fronts and manipulated deceptions.  (Of course, this is also my biography, or that of any shaman.)  The writers who have most influence my philosophy are Aleister Crowley, Timothy Leary, Alfred Korzybski and Karl Popper (and a few Logical Positivists) are absolutely necessary for epistemological clarity, especially when you get to the growing edge of science, where the hot debates are going on, and even more if you wander into the occult.  Sci-fi and fantasy are my favorite forms of fiction; I think the so-called “naturalists” and “social realists” have committed high treason against humanity by selling their gloomy perspective as the “real” reality.  A book that lacks the element of heroism is a crime against the young and impressionable, in my opinion.  A book full of anger and self-pity is another crime. Needless to day, as a libertarian I don’t mean literally that these are crimes to be punished in court.  The only final answer to a bad, sad book is to write a good, funny book.  (I love debate and hate censorship.  Accuracy-of-signal and free flow of information define sanity in my epistemology.  I should have included Norbert Weiner among the primary influences on my thinking.)

As for neo-Paganism and the occult: I’m an initiated witch, an ordained minister in four churches (or cults) and have various other “credentials” to impress the gullible.  My philosophy remains Transcendental Agnosticism.  There are realities and intelligences greater than conditioned normal conscious recognizes, but it is premature to dogmatize about them at this primitive stage of our evolution.  We’ve hardly begun to crawl off the surface of the cradle-planet.

The most advanced shamanic techniques – such as Tibetan Tantra or Crowley’s system in the West – work by alternating faith and skepticisim until you get beyond the ordinary limits of both.  With such systems, one learns how arbitrary are the reality-maps that can be coded into laryngeal grunts by hominids or visualized by a mammalian nervous system.  We can’t even visualize the size of the local galaxy except in special High states.  Most people are trapped in one static reality-map imprinted on their neurons when they were naïve children, as Dr. Leary keeps reminding us.  Alas, most so-called “Adepts” or “Gurus” are similarly trapped in the first post-rapture reality-map imprinted after their initial Illumination, as Leary also realizes.  The point of systems like Tantra, Crowleyanity and Leary’s Neurologic is to detach from all maps – which gives you he freedom to use any map where it works and drop it where it doesn’t work.  As Dogen Zenji said, “Time is three eyes and eight elbos.”

SFR: Would I be right in saying you probably lean more toward the libertarian from of anarchism than the classic leftist variety?

Wilson:  My trajectory is perpendicular to the left-right axis of terrestrial politics.  I put some of my deepest idealism into both the Left anarchism of Simon Moon and the Right anarchism of Hagbard Celine in Illuminatus!, but I am detached from both on another level.

Politics consists of demands, disguised or rationalized by dubious philosophy (ideologies).  The disguise is an absurdity and should be removed.  Make your demands explicit.  My emphasis is on whatever will make extra-terrestrial migration possible in this generation.  The bureaucratic State, whether American, Russian or Chinese has all the clout on this planet for the foreseeable future. The individualist must fulfill hir genetic predisposition to be a pioneer, and the only way SHe can do that today is by moving into space faster than anyone else.  I think the maverick Seed is included in the DNA scenario to serve that function in each epoch.  I’m leaving Earth for the same reason my ancestors left Europe; freedom is found on the expanding, pioneering perimeter, never inside the centralized State.  To quote another Zen koan, “Where is the Tao?”  “Move on!”

SFR: You’re involved in an organization called the DNA Society which is interested in biological engineering and immortality, the creation and exploitation of higher forms of consciousness.  How serious are you about this?”  How close are we to achieving this on a broad scale?

Wilson:  Let me refer the reader to the The Prospect of Immortality and Man Into Superman by Ettinger, The Biological Time Bomb by Taylor, Te Immortality Factor by Segerberg, Terra II by Dr. Leary and Wayne Benner, the writings of John Lilly and Buckminster Fuller, and my article “The Future of Sex” in Oui for November 1975.

With that documentation, I assert that the basic longevity breakthrough will occur before 1980.  Segal, Bjorstein or Froimovich, among others, may be very close to it already.  The basic principles of reimprinting or meta-programming the nervous system, as discovered by Leary and Lilly, will be accepted and used in daily practice by around 1985.  A neurogentic quantum jump in life-expectancy, intellectual efficiency and emotional equilibrium (or, as Leary calls it, Hedonic Engineering) will be revolutionizing human life before the 21st Century.  Some of us will be alive when the Immortality Pill is found between 2050 and 2100.

SFR:  Dell’s marketing of Illuminatus! As a trilogy rather than a long novel and its hardsell advertising of the books seem designed to make it a “cult” novel like Stranger in a Strange Land and Dune.  Do you think it will succeed?

Wilson:  The senior execs at Dell had very little faith in such a madcap prank as Illuminatus! for a long time; it took the enthusiasm of five junior editors in succession, each of whom fought for publication, before the Alphas at the top of the herd were persuaded.  Then they split it up into 3 volumes (and cut 5—page of the more spaced-out stuff) because he investment in paper to print it as one volume seemed too great a business risk to them.  They only gave it an advertising budget, finally, after it became a success without advertising.  As for my private opinion as one of the co-authors of this accursed neo-Necronomicon, why, I think it should be promoted as a major historical event, similar to the publication of Ulysses or the bombing of Hiroshima, and not as a “cult” novel at all.  Did you know that Disney was a secret peyote and jimson weed cultist and his last words were “Red, white and blue cockroaches dancing in harmony.”?

SFR:  Illuminatus! has heavy doses of obscenity and sex, requires  pretty broad background knowledge and uses unconventional stream-of-consciousness techniques – do you think thee things will be an obstacle for large numbers of readers?

Wilson:  There is no such animal as “obscenity,” scientifically speaking, until and unless somebody invents an obscenometer which can be pointed at a book and will give you an objective reading of how many smuts or microsmuts of “obscenity” are in it.  Meanwhile, “obscenity” is just a word used by people with sex-negative imprints and confuses their private map with the objective territory.  Sex seems to be the most festive aspect of mammalian life and should be enjoyed and celebrated to the full.

I started the “Linda Lovelace for President” campaign two years ago, by having a rubber stamp made with that slogan and using it on my envelopes.  (I correspond extensively with editors, writers, witches, scientists and other culture-makers.)  To my delight, the campaign has already resulted in a move with that title, Linda Lovelace for President, and I hope the idea will continue to snowball and become a mammoth write-in vote next November, which would be a perfect Discordian action to commemorate the first anniversary of Illuminatus!  In a sane society, cock-sucking would be esthetically judged in terms similar to novel-writing, grand opera, swordsmanship, etc. and Linda would be an honored artist.  I mean that gal can really swallow Peter.  But I digress.

I don’t think the reader needs to be particularly erudite to appreciate most of the humor in Illuminatus!  I’ve received lots of fan letters from teen-agers, and nobody is particularly erudite at that age (although I thought I was).  There are lots of “in” jokes that will only be appreciated by mathematicians, or physicists, or Joyce scholars, or acid-heads, or Cabalists or other special interest groups, but that’s just the icing on the cake.  Some traps are deliberate, of course; as Josiah Warren said, “It is dangerous to understand new things too quickly.”  I have tried to shield my readers from that danger.  Besides, a book should last and not get worn-out.  I’ve been reading Finnegans Wake for 27 years now and I still find loads of new jokes and subtleties every time I get into it.  I hope Illuminatus! might last that way for its real aficionados.  There’s lots of fun, for instance, in store for anybody who starts relating the contents of the ten chapters to the Sephiroth on the Cabalistic Tree of life after which the chapters are named.

Finally, there is virtually no stream-of-consciousness in Illuminatus!   The narrative technique is based on D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, which I think is the greatest movie ever made.  Of course, to get Schroedinger’s Cat and the new physics in, I had to introduce parallel universes alongside of or on top of the Griffith time-montage.  But, as McLuhan pointed out, the newspaper uses similar collage or mosaic effect every day.  Only static, archaic notions about what a book “should be” prevent people from just going along with the ride when similar cinematic-journalistic matricies are applied to the novel.  Hitchcock uses the Griffith cross-cut continually, for tease-effect and suspense.  People only object when the tens reaches the intensity of a Zen riddle and makes them genuinely uncomfortable about their current reality-map.  Well, Illuminatus!  reflects post-LSD consciousness, the new (post-

Bell’s Theorem) physics, the occult revival, etc. and therefore is an utter failure, In its ambitions, if it doesn’t make people uncomfortable with static reality-maps.  There may be red, white and blue cockroaches in the universe next door.

SFR:  Who really did kill JFK?

Wilson:  In the universe created by Earl Warren, Lee Harvey Oswald did it, acting alone.  In the universe created by Mark Lane, it was done by a cabal of right-wing millionaires and former CIA agents.  In my current universe, that’s just one of the many mysteries remaining to be solved.  I might add – “without fear of contradiction,” as Hitler used to say – that, whereas current IQ tests only measure one dimension of intelligence, future psychology will measure n-dimensional intelligence, according to how many universes a person can occupy simultaneously.

SFR:  Is it true that your initials, RAW, are an Illuminati joke revealing you are really Ra, the Egyptian Sun God?

Wilson:  No. Actually, I’m Kharis the Mummy, and who took my tanka leaves?”

SFR:  What did happen to Joe Malik’s dogs in Illuminatus!?

Wilson:  I’m surprised that a person of your intelligence hasn’t seen through that little koan.  Anybody trained in classic detective-story thinking can solve that mystery quite quickly, by simply reviewing the evidence in an orderly fashion and then making the logical deductions.  Actually, the first step is to ask, did anybody ever see the dogs, or were they only inferred?  If the answer doesn’t appear from sifting the data through that question, re-read page 33 of Volume II very slowly.  I might add that other “loose ends” complained of by certain distinguished critics (nameless assholes, actually) are, like the disappearing dogs, easily penetrated by a reader of lively and skeptical intelligence.  But where are my tanka leaves?

SFR:  Here’s a hard one.  If George Dorn was a student at Columbia at the time of the 1968 student strike, how could he possible be as young as 23 in the novel, which is obviously set in the late1970s?

Wilson:  The novel is set in a very specific year of the 1970s, which can also be deduced from the dialog on pages 118 of Volume II.  If you don’t have any tanka leaves do you have some Columbian Gold?

SFR: I realize the Squirrel is not inferior to most of the characters in Illuminatus!, but I’m still wondering what purpose he served. Did he serve any?

WILSON:  One of the first things you learn in this business is that you just follow orders and you don’t ask questions.  They told me we needed a squirrel, and I put the squirrel in.  Once you start asking why, you lose your effectiveness immediately and then you’re no good to anybody, not even yourself.  It’s your balls in a sling then, friend.  I shit you not.  “Termination with maximum prejudice” – as the boys around Alexandria and at CFR headquarters in New York.  The overlords, on Sirius, don’t like it when any of us in Earth Control get out of line, believe me.

Actually, I think it has something to do with giving a DNA-eye view of history. It makes more sense in the original, before 500 pages were sent down the Memory Hole by the Reality Monitors at Dell, but even in the truncated published version, we have representatives of all the major races; nations and tribes if WoMankind; the gorillas and dolphins, representing Higher Intelligence; the squirrel, representing mammal-kind and at an even more primitive level than the human characters; FUCKUP representing non-biological intelligence; Leviathan, standing in for unicellular life Writ large, as it were; the American Eagle, for the domination of the air; the squinks (Swift-Kick Inc.), as designers of the local galaxy; etc. Together with the linear jump across time-zones and the non-linear warps of space-time itself, this should create a perspective transcending normal human chauvinism, oxygen chauvinism, Type G star chauvinism, and other parochialites imposed on “realistic” novels by the taboo against asking serious philosophical questions in so-called serious fiction. In other words, the squirrel and the other infra- and sub- and supra- and trans- human characters are there to dramatize Ouspensky’s injunction “Think in other categories.”

SFR:  Thinkers of the John Birch persuasion have linked the “Illuminati to the modern super-rich so-called Bilderbergers, but there was no mention of this idea in Illuminatus!  How come?

Wilson:  That idea is in Illuminatus! several times, but the word “Bilderbergers” somehow didn’t get included.  Probably a thought-ray from Bilderberger Hq. managed to knock out that particular synaptic connection in our brains.  The Sphere of Chaos which controls the Elders of Zion, the Rothschild banks, the Federal Reserve, etc., in the diagram on p. 97 of Vol. I, is a portrait of the “Bilderberger” wing of the Conspiracy without the “Bilderberger” label.  Curiously, the single most intelligent and least nutty of all the conspiracy books I’ve read (and I’ve literally read thousands by now) is The Naked Capitalist by W. C. Skousen.  Skousen describes the Rothschild-Rockefeller-CFR network in brilliant detail, but he doesn’t use the word “Illuminati” and only mentions “Bilderberger” conferences in passing.  I presume that these omissions must have some sinister meaning.  Quite possibly, Skousen, along with Shea and me, is influenced by psionic Ascended Masters who prevent us from seeing, or revealing, too much.

SFR:  What is your reaction to the reviews of Illuminatus!?

Wilson:  They’ve all been most kind and gratifying, but I get the distinct feeling that none of them have really understood the book.  Of course, I enjoy being told how witty and imaginative we were, but thus far only Dr. Leary and an occult journal called Green Egg have noticed that the satire is only the surface.  Something else is going on under and above and alongside of the joking.  Like Bernard Shaw, I have to look askance at my own skill in disarming my audience by making them laugh, and I almost wish I had provided a Shavian preface warning everybody that the final joke only becomes obvious to those who decipher the appendices called “The Tactics of Magick” and “Operation Mindfuck.”  Or, as Shaw said, the funnies part of this comedy is that I really am a menace. Heh-heh-heh.  (Murkey laugh.)

SFR:  Thank you, Mr. Wilson.

(submitted to rawilsonfans by RMJon23)