Tag Archives: Maybe Logic

The Persistence of False Memory

“The Persistence of False Memory” by Robert Anton Wilson, published in Wake Up Down There!: The Excluded Middle Anthology, by Greg Bishop, ed., 2000.   Submitted to RAWilsonFans.com by R. Michael Johnson (RMJon23).

Preposterous Perception has received almost as much publicity lately as the claim by Prof. Jesus Magdalena La Puta (University of Madrid) that, via computer enhancement, he positively identified the “face an Mars” as the late Moe Howard, or possibly Moe’s brother, Shemp. Nonetheless, despite some fair-minded academic debate, PP remains the area of science most beset by emotional, and often scandalously acrimonious, controversy-even more so than La Puta’s alleged Howard Head. The doctrine of PP holds, you see, that almost all of us see crazy and “unbelievable” things most of the time – almost all the time – even when we’re not an acid. Why don’t we remember this? Because we repress the memory in order to fit into a repressive society.

Many experts – or “pseudo-experts” as their critics call them – vehe­mently deny that PP exists at all. Other experts – or “pseudo-experts” as the other side prefers to say – claim that denying PP marks one as akin to those who deny the greenhouse effect or the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

In fact, the whale PP feud has opened a “can of worms” that begins to look more like a can of cobras. We face here the almost unthinkable question: who has the objectivity to distinguish Skepticism (in the scientific sense) from Denial (in the neurotic sense)? Or even from Denial (in the legal sense)?

Perhaps the problem began with Whitley Streiber. As professor H.H. Sheissenhasen (University of Heidelberg) has written,” Maybe somewhere out in space, on a galaxy far away, same especially perverted little aliens do exist. Maybe these vicious little buggers (I speak precisely) occasionally get their hands or tentacles an same especially nefarious drug, something combining the worst of PCP and the old ‘King Kong’ or ‘White Lightning’ home-brew distilled in the American Ozarks.

Maybe after these aliens have became totally “wasted” or “stoned out of their gourds” (as our students’ argot has it) one of them cries “Hey, fellas, let’s hop in the flying saucer and buzz over to Earth and have another go at same of that sweet Whitley Strieber ass.” And maybe they whiz across billions and billions of light years just to ram the poor man’s rectum with weird instruments one more time..

Maybe. Nonetheless, some doubts arise in any dispassionate contempla­tion of this scenario.

Dr. David Jacobs (Temple University, Philadelphia), on the other hand, insists that, after careful study of extraterrestrial sexual abuse, he believes that these people have indeed literally suffered alien rape, an experience so much more traumatic than ordinary rape that most victims block out the memory entirely-until Dr. Jacobs skillfully helps them recall it.

Dr. Richard Boylan, [see interview in chapter 6] meanwhile, continually circulates an exasperated letter warning that Dr. Jacobs lacks training in psychotherapy. Boylan also urges the American Psychological Association to “denounce” Jacobs as “untrained” and “unlicensed.” Dr. Jacobs, according to Boylan and other critics of his work, has his doctorate in history and thus has no more qualification to deal with borderline mental states than a Certified Public Accountant would have.

Curiously, when Jacobs appeared on the Joan Rivers TV show, whoever writes the subtitles attributed an M.D. to him. Did he acquire an M.D. some­time, in addition to his Ph.D. in history? If so, would that” qualify” him to claim more expertise than a mere historian in judging whether hypnotic visions belong in the category of the real or the hallucinatory?

Don’t expect me to answer such questions. Maybe “the Shadow knows,” but I’m as uncertain as Hamlet after he got home from studying philosophy at college and encountered what seemed to him a possible appearance of his father’s ghost.

Budd Hopkins, a chap who doesn’t even bother to claim psychothera­peutic training, supports Dr. Jacobs. But Budd claims to have hypnotically uncovered memories of extraterrestrial sexual molestations not just in 80 people, like Jacobs; but in “hundreds.” The experts (or pseudo-experts) on the other side, of course, claim that Hopkins did not exactly unearth these memo­ries, but implanted them. .

In the April/May 1993 Fortean Times – a  magazine devoted to free and op en discussion of the most heated, and fetid, disputes in science and/or “pseudo-science”-Dennis Stacy of MUFON notes that “early” (pre-­Hopkins) UFO abduction allegations lacked the sexual element that has entered the field since Hopkins started probing the unconscious of hypnotized subjects. But since Hopkins’ books got into print, and then got picked up on TV, Stacy indicates, it now seems impossible to find an “abductee” who doesn’t claim genital or rectal molestation.

Stacy implies that this evolution in the contents of memory should give us pause, and ambiguously concludes that abduction experiences do not take place “in real space and time.”

I do not feel confident that I understand what kind of space and time Stacy thinks the abductions do occur in.

Meanwhile, reports continue to multiply. One chap, David Huggins, even sells paintings of the numerous extraterrestrial females he has had sex with. They all posed nude for him. You can find one of Huggins’ paintings on the first page of the May 15th issue of Jim Moseley’s Saucer Smear. The ladies look a lot like Playmates of the Month from the neck down, but above the chin, they have that faceless, large-eyed look typical of interplanetary sex maniacs.

Incidentally, the same issue of Saucer Smear has an impassioned letter from a female victim of this cosmic invasion, one Christa Tilton, who writes (in part): “I was outraged by Dr. Richard Neal’s offer…of a $500 pay-off for absolute proof that women abductees are becoming pregnant and losing their fetuses after an abduction experience that many of them are unaware that they experienced…I would pay $500 to any doctor that could prove to me and all other female victims…that we were not abducted and artificially inseminated …” (Italics in the original letter.)

On the other hand, perhaps the real memory mystery began not with these Alien Abductors, but with the Mc Martin Pre-School Follies in Southern California.

As you may remember, that malign fiesta broke loose in 1983 when a woman in Manhattan Beach alleged that a Satanic child abuse cult had infiltrated that part of Southern California. The same woman later alleged that an AWOL Marine had sodomized her dog. This latter detail, and the fact that the woman received welfare as a paranoid schizophrenic, led the police to doubt her story originally, but mean­while the Satanic cult rumor had galvanized parents all over the area.

At the height of the excitement, over 100 teachers at nine schools, and the minister at a local Episcopal church, had all suffered accusations of child molesta­tion, Satanism, ritual human- and animal sacrifice, and playing rock records back­wards. Small (pre-school) children claimed they could remember seeing these things – after consultation with certain psychologists. The police and D.A. could not ignore all that, and eventually placed charges against seven out of the more than a hundred teachers (and one preacher) originally accused by rumor.

Nine schools closed, due to the legal expenses and the loss of funds because parents withdrew children. The Episcopal church also closed.

Eventually, the D.A.’s office decided to release four out of the seven they had originally arrested, citing lack of substantial evidence. Later, charges were dropped against one more. Finally, two out of the hundred alleged “Satanists” stood trial-a mother and her son. (Both came from the Mc Martin Pre-School, and that name got attached to the case thereafter.) The jury refused to convict either of them. The D. A. then brought the son to trial again. The second jury also refused to convict.

The case then more or less died, although in the last two years three of the accused successfully sued some of their accusers for libel and collected over $250,000.

To many, it seems that the most significant fact about this case consists in the “authentication” of the “memories” of the children involved as real memories, not hallucinations, by a group of (youngish) psychologists who have some­what better training than Mr. Hopkins or Dr. Jacobs. Kind of makes you wonder about the “experts” and “pseudo-experts”, doesn’t it?

Sociologist Jeffrey Victor of Jamestown Community College has written that at least 33 “rumor panics” similar to the McMartin case have occurred in 24 states in the last decade. The FBI Behavioral Science Unit (which deals with seria1 killers) says that it has investigated numerous “mass graves” where victims of Satanic sacrifice allegedly lie buried, and found no bodies in any of the “graves.” Not even a shin bone.

Of course, those who have a really fervent belief in the Satanic cult’s real existence in real space-time now believe “the FBI is in on the cover-up.” Why not? Those who believe in the UFO sodomites claim that the whole damned government has conspired together in that truly cosmic cover-up.

Memory seems a kind of silly-putty as one reads deeper in this literature. (Incidentally, the L.A.Times reported, on April 23, 1991 that Radical Feminists and Protestant Fundamentalists show greater belief in the alleged Satanic child molestation cult than the majority of citizens.)

All this led to the formation of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, funded by skeptical psychotherapists-and 3,700 families who had experienced some or all of the trauma of accusation, hatred, public disgrace, and (sometimes) actual arrest and trial when a therapist “helps” a patient “remember” these fiendish doings. Many of these families have passed lie detector tests, won acquit­tals in court, or later had the accusing “adult child” recant the accusation after consulting with a different therapist with a different orientation.

The FMFS attempts to educate the public about the simple fact that many “memories” – even (or some would say especially) those activated under hypnosis-do not always correspond with real events in real space-time. That is, “memories” can derive from hallucinations, from hypnotic suggestion, or even (as in one famous exper­iment) from simply hearing about an alleged event from many sources one trusts.

Dr. Jean Piaget, generally considered the world’s leading authority on developmental psychology, relates how he “remembered” an alleged (non­violent and non-sexual) event in his childhood all his life-until he learned that he had only heard about it from his parents, who heard it from a maid, who had invented it .to avoid admitting a minor malfeasance.

At this point, Preposterous Perception appeared in the literature, thanks to Professor Timothy F.X. Finnegan of Trinity College, Dublin. I should mention at once that Prof. Finnegan serves as president of CSICON -The Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal-and has developed, in several books, the system known as Patapsychology (not Parapsychology, although that error seems ubiquitous). Scholars trace Patapsychology to Alfred Jarry’s Pataphysics and Jacques Derrida’ Deconstructionism, but Prof. Finnegan has always insisted he got his basic inspiration from one Sean Murphy of Dalkey (a suburb on the southern coast of Dublin Bay). Murphy’s first fundamental finding (as Finnegan always called it) states succinctly, “I have never met a normal man or woman; I have never experienced an average day.”

Nothing else definitive appears on the record about this Sean Murphy of DaIkey, except a remark attributed to one Nora Dolan: “Sure, the only hard work that Murphy fellow ever did was picking himself up off the floor and getting back on the bar stool, once a night.”

As developed by Prof. Finnegan and his associates in CSICON, Murphy’s principle holds that the “normal” and “average” exist only in mathematics – i.e. “in pure fiction,” Finnegan always adds – and that daily life in ordinary space-time (Marx’s sensory-sensual reality) consists of nothing but enormities, aberrations, eccentricities, oddities, weirdities, anomalies, and a few occasional “approxima­tions to the normal.” In the last sentence of his Golden Hours Finnegan concludes: “The ‘normal’ labels that fictitious abstraction which nobody and no event ever exactly exemplifies.”

Finnegan’s work has won great acceptance among general Semanticists, surrealists, militant gays, sci-fi writers, libertarians, acid-heads, the Vertically Challenged Liberation Front (those we used to call midgets), and some really strange people, such as iguanaphiliacs, necrophiles, and lycanthromaniacs. On the other hand, Finnegan has become persona non grata with most academic philoso­phers, with the Fundamentalist Materialist wing of orthodox science and, espe­cially, with the religious of all sects.

The Finneganoid or Patapsychological “school” (which includes such writers as De Selby, J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, S. Moon, Wildeblood and as a posthu­mous recruit, Foucault) holds that Preposterous Memories do not have any less “validity” than any other memories, since (in De Selby’s words), “All that we know derives from A) our own perceptions, which a thousand well-known experiments have proven fallible and uncertain, and from B) the instinct to gossip; sometimes called Public Opinion, which sociologists now consider equally unreliable.” (The “instinct to gossip” plays the same panchrestonal role in De Selby as the “will to power” in Nietzche, or “the id” in Freud.)

La Tourneur of the University of Paris has argued (Finnegan: Homme ou Dieu?) that the enigmatic Murphy played a larger role in Finnegan’s intellectual development than the mere statement of the First Fundamental Finding implies. Attempting a sketchy translation (I cannot capture La Tourneur’s crisp­ness), the French savant speculates:

“The more time the overly-analytical pedant Finnegan spent in the same pub with the unsophisticated ‘naive realist’ Murphy, and the more pints of Guinness they consumed, the easier it became for the philosopher to perceive what Murphy had discovered first: that nobody in Ireland looked like a normal Irishman, that no room in any house formed a precise 90° rectangle, that nobody’s life story made sense in any dramatic, novelistic, or even logical way and, most noteworthy, after leaving the pub, that every street contained myste­rious and vaguely inhuman shadows, especially after a 14-pint evening.”

In Finnegan’s own words (Archaeology of Cognition, p. 23), “A world where most men prefer sex with little children to sex with grown women, most allegedly Christian parents secretly engage in bloody Satanic rituals, and every third person has suffered anal, genital, and other harassments by demonic dwarfs from Outer Space makes just as much sense – and just as little sense – where the world is run by the ghost of a crucified Jew, George Bush had rational reasons (which nobody can now remember) for Bombing Iraq again two days before leaving the White House, and the barbaric, bloody-handed English Army still occupies six of Ireland’s 32 counties without Mr. Bush or any other American Policeman-of-the-World ever threatening to bomb them back to the Stone Age.”

On the other hand, La Puta (of the Moe Howard computer enhancements) argues (La Estupidez de la Tourneur) that Finnegan had merely rediscovered the proto-existentialism of Edmund Husserl, which does not accord any superiority in “realness” to any kind of perception over any other kind of perception. The letter bomb sent to La Puta from Paris shortly after this has never been traced to La Tourneur, despite the scandalous polemics of Prof. Ferguson (Alabama Creation Science University and Four Square Tabernacle) – who also claims to have seen the Moe Howard head on Mars with his own computer “enhancement.”

Ferguson’s later writings, with their unsubstantiated attempts to link Finnegan with Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army, merely illustrate mindless madness, a strange cultish submission to the doctrines of La Puta and a Presbyterian inability to understand robust Irish humor. However, this does not mean we should naively accept de Selby’s counter-claims, attempting to find “sinister and signifi­cant” links between Ferguson, the late Clay Shaw, and the Bilderbergers.

Meanwhile, Prof. Finnegan continues to champion the Linda Napolitano case, on the grounds that “since this sounds on the surface like the most absurd UFO story of all, it has the greatest probability of proving true eventually.” Under hypnosis by the egregious Budd Hopkins, Ms. Napolitano remembered (or thought she “remembered”-as you will) ‘an abduction in which she got teleported or schlurped, out of her New York apartment, into a UFO, and then the Little Grey Bastards performed their usual molestations. She also remembered (or ‘remembered”) two CIA agents who later kidnapped her and attempted to drown her – part of the Cover Up, you know.

On the other hand, Jerome Clark, one of America’s leading UFO investiga­tors, lately sends out tons of mail, (or so it seems) denying that he ever endorsed the Napolitano case-although others claim to have documentary evidence that lark did endorse the whole Napolitano yarn less than a year ago. Clark now says that all this alleged documentation-circulated by rival UFO investigators – amounts to malicious libel perpetuated just to make him look like a fool.

I don’t know what it all means, but, like Ms. Tilton, I’ll gladly pay $500.00 to anybody who can prove that none of this weird shit ever happened, since I feel sure every bit of it did happen, although not necessarily in ordinary space-time.

A shocking photo, recently produced by Prof. Ferguson, shows Clark, Oliver Stone, La Tourneur, and Jim Moseley (editor of Saucer Smear) standing with G. Gordon Liddy on the Grassy Knoll as the Kennedy death car pulls near. Moseley holds a Confederate flag, La Tourneur appears to have some hood on his lead – whether Satanic black or Ku Klux white does not appear clearly, due to shadows – and Liddy, of course, has a Smoking Gun in his hand.

Almost all the “experts” have denounced this photo as an obvious scissors­-and-paste forgery. The one dissident voice belongs to Professor H.H. Hanfkopf, who in his book, The CIA: Pawn of the Interstellar Bankers attempts to demonstrate hat all the conspiracy theories of this century served only as misdirections to conceal the fact that paper money contains highly addictive drugs to make us Hopeless slaves of the Green Slime Entities of Algol.

That’s why you never feel you have enough money, Hanfkopf says, and continually need to increase the dose a little bit more than you could survive on last month. In reality, not in metaphor, the Green Stuff has addicted us.

As the more restrained Sheissenhosen would say, “Maybe.”


High Times Interview, 1980

Robert Anton Wilson

The Author of The Illuminatus Trilogy Expounds on Multiple Realities, Guerrilla Ontology, LSD, Life Extension and Things that Go Bump in the Night

By Michael Hollingshead

from High Times #56, April 1980

On the back of every U.S. one-dollar bill sits the Great Pyramid, eye blazing omni-di­rectionally from its apex, all a part of the Great Seal of the United States of America. Though this symbol is usually traced back to the myths and legends of the Masons, the full story of the Great Pyramid was finally revealed with the publication of the Illuminatus trilogy.

Written during 1968-69 by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, at that time both editors at Playboy, the Illuminatus trilogy has gone on to become one of the great classics of the last decade. A science-fic­tion epic, a detective story, a weaving to­gether of most of the known conspiracy theories of the past five millennia, the Illu­minatus trilogy is an inkblot of modern times: funny, wild, scary, sexy, political, philosophical, mystical-in short, modern moksha medicine.

Illuminatus captivates the reader with its incredibly complex plots, subplots, over ­and underplots, its madcap humor, its yellow submarine, its explanation for the Jack Kennedy assassination, its armies of revivified Nazi soldiers marching up from the depths of a Swiss lake in the middle of a rock concert, as well as its anarcholiber­tarian political philosophy. The trilogy has already been published in English (Dell), German, French, Japanese and Swedish.

It has also been adapted for the stage and performed in a nine-hour version by the National Theatre Company of London. Over the past three years other presenta­tions of the stage version have been seen in Liverpool and Cambridge,England, and in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Seattle. The film version of the Illuminatus is currently in preproduction.

Robert Anton Wilson has been bringing back communication from the farthest reaches of the mind and culture for more & than a decade. Described by anthropologist Roger Wescott as a polymath, Wilson sees his role as artist-psychologist (Ph.D.) enabling him to plumb the collective genet­ic archives for the myths that will deter­mine our future.

Born in Brooklyn on the 18th of January, 1932, Wilson says: “I share most of the traits associated with all the great Capri­corns: Jesus, Cary Grant, Joseph Stalin and Georges Gurdjieff.” His interests range far and wide over modern times: life exten­sion, new theories of physics, intelligence increase, space travel and settlements (he is an active member of the L-5 Society and often lectures on topics concerned with the future move into space).

His interests in life-extension research were put to a supreme test with the violent death of his teenage daughter, the victim of a robbery. Wilson and his wife made ar­rangements for the brain of their deceased child to be preserved in cryogenic suspen­sion; awaiting medical and brain-computer advances that might enable identity recon­struction at some future time.

Wilson’s involvement with the Physics Consciousness Research Group in the San Francisco Bay Area (they have made him chief literary spokesman for their more far-out ideas) may well yield the results necessary for such things as brain-to-brain communication and identity reconstruc­tion. His other interests and activities touch on topics as varied as astronomy, sex, magic, psychopharmacology and con­spiratorial history.

In order that his readers might better follow Bob Wilson as he charts the un­known, he published a “neurological auto­biography” entitled Cosmic Trigger (Pocket Books) in 1978. He has also written Sex and Drugs (Playboy Press) and coauthored, with Timothy Leary, Neuropolitics (Peace Press). His latest work of fiction, The Uni­verse Next Door (published earlier this year by Pocket Books), is the first volume of a tetralogy called Schrodinger’s Cat. The three volumes ofIlluminatus and the four volumes of Schrodinger’s Cat are part of a series of 12 novels Wilson intends to com­plete that will cover the entire scope of mystical, conspiratorial and scientific his­tory from 1776 through the 21st century.

Robert Anton Wilson, epistemologist, magician, psychedelic pioneer and master wordsmith, is one of the most exciting and imaginative talkers of the late 20th century. Michael Hollingshead talked with Bob high above the hills of Berkeley,California.


High Times: One critic has described Illuminatus as a “psychedelic novel.” What is a psychedelic novel?

Wilson: Illuminatus is a psychedelic novel in the sense that it is a novel of initiation and revelation in which the characters go through various forms of brain-change. Robert Shea and I were generally dis­mayed and pissed off by the stupidities of American politics in the late ’60s, when we began it. We had this strong drive to write a satire on all political movements, all the way across the spectrum.

High Times: The book that followed, Cosmic Trigger, was that also in the psy­chedelic mode?

Wilson: Well, I regard it more as “guer­rilla ontology.” The reader is challenged to decide what’s real and what’s fantasy. My books are the literary equivalent of magi­cal initiation. That’s the sort of thing you face when you get involved in conscious­ness games.

Hiigh Times: In other words, your books are intended to turn readers on?

Wilson: Yes. They’re intended to provide the literary equivalent of LSD or of magical initiation. I want the reader to ask the hard­est question in philosophy: What’s real? Most people think they know what’s real, but they don’t at all.

High Times: Really?

Wilson: People just know what they were conditioned to think of as real.

High Times: The Illuminati themselves are members of a mystical, secret brother­hood whose origins go back a very long time indeed but whose membership has had an upsurge since the so-called modern phase began in the Bavaria of the late 18th century. Have you ever met any of the Illu­minati yourself?

Wilson: I’ve met quite a few people who claim to be part of the Illumininati. Like I say somewhere in Cosmic Trigger, the final secret may be that you don’t know you’re a member until it’s too late to get out.

High Times: You said just now that you’ were pissed off with the stupidities of American politics in the late ’60s. We are now starting on the ’80s. Are we less or more free today than we were ten years ago?

Wilson: Oh, I think we are a much freer country today than we were back in 1960, in many dimensions. Of course, there’s a bit of a backlash building up against the new freedom, but that was only to be ex­pected. By and large, I think the drug revo­lution had a good effect on America, despite individual casualties. I wish it could have been handled more intelligent­ly, but I guess you don’t have major social changes without a certain amount of up­heaval. So it was perhaps only natural that there would be a certain number of bad trips, and a lot of people getting thrown into jail, and scientific research stopped, and so on. You’ve got to go through these upheavals before a new stage of evolution is stabilized.

High Times: Is there still a future in drugs? What about the year 2000? Will we be turning on then?

Wilson: Well, long before the year 2000 we’re going to have a much bigger drug revolution than we had in the ’60s.

High Times: What sort of drugs?

Wilson: I think psychiatrists, clinical psy­chologists, and so on, will have more and more specific drugs for every type of emo­tional problem. I agree with Nathan Klein and the recent McGraw-Hill poll of scien­tists that the majority of the scientific Com­munity predicts that we’ll soon have drugs to permanently raise your intelligence, for example. I’ve seen this coming for a long time.

High Times: You seem to be talking only of the therapeutic application of drugs. What about drugs for recreational pur­poses?

Wilson: Oh, sure, there will be many more of them. To mention Nathan Klein again, he thinks we’ll have perfectly safe intoxi­cant drugs in the year 2000. I think that marijuana and LSD and everything that has caused so much controversy will be phased out by a much more precise, specific pre­scription type of approach. People will be able to find out just what they need, just the right thing for their mental state at a given time, and they will up-level them to a higher mental state. A friend of mine who is a psychiatrist has predicted, for in­stance, that within 15 years people will be able to go to a psychiatrist and he’ll have a standard set of tests and about 30 differ­ent drugs. After giving you the battery of tests, he will prescribe a drug that’s just right for what’s bothering you. I think that is definitely the direction we’re moving in – control of the nervous system by the ner­vous system. We should be free to choose the circuits in the brain we want to use and not be robots subject to others’ imprints and conditioning.

High Times: You mean people ought to have the freedom to deprogram and re­program their nervous systems?

Wilson: That’s right.

High Times: But doesn’t LSD do that now to some extent?

Wilson: Oh, yes, to a very great extent. But I don’t think LSD is specific enough. I think in some ways it’s a little bit freaky and unpredictable. It needs a very good therapist indeed to get the best results out of it. Its use as a recreational drug has been a mixed blessing. It has done a lot of good for some people, and some people have gone completely ape under it. I think we’ll have much more specific forms of brain-change drugs in the next 10 to 15 years.

High Times: How did you first get interest­ed in psychedelic drugs? Was it as a result of meeting Dr. Timothy Leary?

Wilson: It had nothing to do with Tim. I didn’t hear of Tim until about one year after my first peyote trip. I was turned on first by a Quaker who had discovered pey­ote through Aldous Huxley’s books and was convinced that it was an aid to reli­gious awareness. And he became such an enthusiast of peyote that he went around turning on all his friends. You know, the picture painted by the mass media was en­tirely false. Many people were turned on originally by religious people.

High Times: And many by psychiatrists.

Wilson: Yes. Cary Grant, for example, was turned on by a psychiatrist in Los Angeles.

High Times: Why did a lot of people sud­denly start taking LSD and other psyche­delic drugs in the early ’60s and, indeed, throughout that decade?

Wilson: Most people were seeking to ex­pand their consciousness in order to become freer, higher human beings. Everyone was fantastically idealistic in those days. And at that time there was no criminal element at all. That came later when some people saw that they could make. a profit out of psychedelics, when the government stupidly made the whole thing illegal, thereby shooting the profits sky-high.

High Times: You have pointed out that the religious component was always very strong in the psychedelic sphere. I agree that many people who have used these drugs in this way do obtain a sense of what religious life is really all about, even that the mystical, revelatory experience, via drugs or not, is also a means of expanding one’s consciousness. Do you think that religion could ever become a true science?

Wilson: (Laughing) I really should be elo­quent on that subject and not be sloppy. I feel that through the work of Leary and John Lilly and Stanislav Grof and Stan Krippner and others that we are starting to learn precise, operational, scientific procedures for altering human conscious­ness, or “brain-change” as Tim likes to say. It’s a good word, brain-change. I think, though, we have always had a sci­ence of brain-change. After all, shamans all over the world have known techniques, including drugs and various types of ritual initiation, that cause rapid brain-change and the imprinting of new circuits. Even though these techniques have been used and acknowledged over many thousands of years, it is only in very recent times that we are getting a much more precise, sci­entific slant on how they work. And I think this is something completely new in histo­ry. Science – in the modern Western sense – when it appeared 300 years ago, was something completely new and it totally revolutionized the world. It’s still revolu­tionizing the world: It’s the most revo­lutionary force on this planet. But the sudden joining of the scientific revolution with the revolution of sensibility, or mys­ticism, that occurred in the ’60s, and chiefly via the new range of psychedelic drugs by modern synthetic chemistry, is something even newer.

We’ve got a completely new kind of scientist these days. I know quite a few physicists, for example, who’ve used LSD, and I think it has definitely mutated them to a state where they understand physics in a completely new way. They have a kind of emotional and existential relationship with the subatomic world, which-before LSD-was only a theoretical one. There are sociologists whose work shows the influence of LSD. And there are modern psy­chologists who were once involved in LSD research who believe that people can learn how to change their reality. Modern thinking is getting a whole new view of the fact that there is no given reality. Reality is simply something created by our nervous systems and our experiences as we go along. And I think this insight is completely revolutionizing all the sciences. We I have produced an entirely new mentality I that has never existed in history before, I yet one that is both scientific and mystical.

High Times: You seem to attach a lot of significance to the religious component of the psychedelic experience. I’m sure you don’t mean the sort of religion you get in church each Sunday. On the other hand, can you envisage LSD, or any psychedelic for that matter, ever being used in a sacra­mental way in a church kind of structure?

Wilson: I think the ideal way to do psychedelics is in a group.  I don’t think our socie­ty is ready yet for taking psychedelics in a religious context, but I believe that was the way these hallucinogenic substances were used in Vedic times inIndia and also in ancient Greece. From surviving refer­ences it seems to me that they were using a drug plus a ritual to get the person to a specific state of consciousness, what Stan Grof calls the “phylogenetic unconscious,” and Tim Leary the “neurogenetic circuits.” It is the stage where you remem­ber all the genetic archives and the fact that you’ve lived hundreds of thousands of lives before, animal as well as human.

High Times: This brings us naturally to a topic of great interest: life extension. Is it possible that modern science will some day come up with an answer to the prob­lem of dying?

Wilson: I think the breakthrough is definitely coming in the next five years. Some people say it won’t occur for the next 10 to 15 years, but I think they are be­ing unduly pessimistic. I see the momen­tum of the research accelerating. I have absolute confidence that by 1990 I’m going to be younger than I am today. This is the first generation in history where you could say something like that with some degree of sanity. (Laughs.) I really do think that in 1990 I will be younger and more vigorous than I am at this present moment!

High Times: Some scientists have predict­ed that they will be able to increase the human life span to 800 years. Is that a more or less accurate figure?

Wilson: There are various estimates right now. A very good friend of mine, Dr. Paul Segal, has been doing life-extension re­search for 17 years and he prefers the figure 400 to 500 years. Others put it much higher. However, once you’ve suc­ceeded in extending the life span, even if only by 50 years, you could expect that during those 50 years there will be further jumps-say, being able to extend life for 100 years or 200 years – and it could go on forever. It’s a thinkable thought. Alan Har­rington, an extremist who calls himself an immoralist, thinks that we can go on mak­ing these jumps in life extension and some of us will never have to die at all. It is something so new that it is a difficult con­cept to grapple with.

High Times: Isn’t this something many of the new gurus are also saying? And even though they may refer to eternal life in some other, more cosmic dimension, they do seem to be saying that the “particular Me” can live on in some form forever and forever. What do you think about gurus? Ram Dass [Dr. Richard Alpert], Swami Prem Dharmo and Dr. George Litwin come to mind.

Wilson: Well, I leave it to Tim Leary to cri­ticize those people. I prefer to think well of my fellow humans and to be as charitable as possible in my judgments. I am remind­ed of something Bucky Fuller said when he was asked what he thought about the Han­cock Building in Chicago: “I can’t think of anything good to say about it so I’d rather not say anything.” (Laughs.)

High Times: How do you feel, then, about traditional religion?

Wilson: I don’t think it’s a big advance to go back to the metaphysics and philosophy of 2,000 or 3,000 years ago. To the extent that gurus tell you to abolish mind and just go with the flow-I think that’s fine for a holiday. I don’t see it as a way of life. I think it gets pretty boring after a while. I want to know more and more precise things. However, I think you can learn a great deal from Tibetan Buddhism, from Zen, from the Hindus. My own preference, amongst all these movements, is Sufism, because Sufism seems to be more dynamic and more of a confrontation with the real world. I can also agree with the Sufis that mere ecstasy is not the goal of life. But all these trips are interesting if you learn something from them, and I think the more you know about everything the better.

High Times: Have you yourself ever duplicated the LSD experience without us­ing drugs?

Wilson: (Laughs.) I’ve done it through Cabalistic magic.

High Times: How did you do that?

Wilson: Well, I think I sort of explained that in Cosmic Trigger. Basically, Cabalistic magic is a complicated way of brainwashing yourself so you can find reality in a variety of entirely different ways. I also think that Cabalistic magic is much easier to do after you’ve done some psychedelics, when you’re used to going through brain-changes. At least, I have found it easier than it is traditionally sup­posed to be, and I attribute this to the fact that I had been experimenting on myself with psychedelics before I got into magic.

High Times: Cabalistic magic, as far as I am able to understand it, makes use of an elaborate symbol system, as indeed does the modern physicist, to tell something about the nature of reality or realities.

Wilson: Cabalistic magic is a way of relat­ing to symbols that turn everything into a joke, eventually, but a joke with a lot of poignant point to it, with lots of astonish­ing surprises on the way.

High Times: Do you know of any ongoing LSD research in this country at the mo­ment?

Wilson: The only research I know any­thing about is all illegal. I don’t know of any legal research.

High Times: It is quite possible that the CIA is still using psychedelics as tools for brainwashing.

Wilson: Well, how are you going to stop the CIA from abusing any technology? As a libertarian, I feel that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. I think it was, has been, and always will be a continuous struggle against the tendency of power groups to use any new technology, or any old technology, for that matter. Yet I think there is an innately self-defeating quality in the power game as it’s played by politi­cians on this planet, especially in the way they use secrecy. I believe the more secre­tive a government, the more it destroys its own effectiveness in the long run. My long­ range hope is based on the notion that eventually power groups will corne to realize this fact themselves, as they will also come to realize that in order to func­tion more intelligently they will need to get more accurate feedback. This means that they have to stop the whole mania of mak­ing things secret and conspiring against their own people, and so on. As Bert Brecht once said, if the government doesn’t trust the people, why doesn’t it dissolve and elect a new people?

I really do think that secrecy is the main cause of most of the problems of the modern world. Any society with a secret police (such as Soviet Russia or Nazi Ger­many or even the United States today) is playing russian roulette with itself. Secrecy breeds paranoia. It creates prob­lems more than it solves problems. Even the people who employ the secret police eventually get paranoid of the monster they helped to create. Nixon was paranoid about his own secret police. Stalin execut­ed three chiefs of the Soviet secret police in a row. You see, the secret police always have the capacity to get more power than any other branch of government. They can blackmail everybody. Even if they don’t do it, those employing them always worry that they might.

The more authoritarian a society becomes, the less feedback there is. The more communication jamming there is, the more inaccurate a picture people have of everybody else, which is why you get these wild, crazy, fear syndromes that have swept across America periodically ever since the National Security Act of 1947. I think at this point in our nation’s history the most constructive things that can be done are essentially nonpolitical, like advancing space industrialization and the human life span, and raising human in­telligence.

High Times: Should anything be banned? Should anything be made illegal in a democratic society? I think it was Truman Capote who said nothing should be banned, except murder. What do you think?

Wilson: I would add that people committing acts of fraud and force against us I should be legislated against. None of us want to be defrauded. And any laws going beyond that point are just impertinences. (Laughs.)

High Times: One last question: Dr, Wilson, what is your business?

Wilson: My business is making people see that there’s more than one reality.