Tag Archives: TSOG

High Times Interview, 2003

Paul Krassner Interviews
Robert Anton Wilson

from High Times #331, March 2003

I [Paul Krassner] first met Bob Wilson in 1959. The ’60s counterculture was in its embryonic stage, exploding out of the blandness, repression and piety of the Eisenhower-Nixon administration, Reverend Norman Vincent Peale’s positive thinking and Snooky Lanson singing “It’s a Marshmallow World” on TV’s Lucky Strike Hit Parade.

Wilson had written his first article, “The Semantics of God,” which I eagerly published in The Realist. “The Believer,” he wrote, “had better face himself and ask squarely: Do I literally believe ‘God’ has a penis? If the answer is no, then it seems only logical to drop the ridiculous practice of referring to ‘God’ as ‘He.'” Wilson then started writing a regular column, “Negative Thinking.”

His books include The Illuminatus! Trilogy (with Robert Shea); the Cosmic Trigger trilogy, The New Inquisition, the Schrodinger’s Cat trilogy, Prometheus Rising, The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Wilhelm Reich in Hell, Natural Law, Sex and Drugs, and Everything is Under Control: An Encyclopedia of Conspiracy Theories.

He is also the subject of a feature-length documentary movie by Lance Bauscher, Maybe Logic: The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson, featuring 23 different Bobs, Tom Robbins, R.U. Sirius, George Carlin and myself. For more information, go to maybelogic.com.

In 1964, I published Wilson’s front-cover story, “Timothy Leary and His Psychological H-Bomb.” “The future may decide,” he began, “that the two greatest thinkers of the 20th Century were Albert Einstein, who showed how to create atomic fission in the physical world, and Timothy Leary, who showed how to create atomic fission in the psychological world. The latter discovery may be more important than the former; there are some reasons for thinking that it was made necessary by the former….”

I hereby nominate Bob Wilson as the third greatest thinker of the 20th Century, who continues to explore his consciousness and communicate his ideas and causes—with passion, wit, imagination and insight—into the 21st Century. This interview was conducted by the electronic magic of e-mail.

Q. You’ve written 34 books with the aid of pot. Could you describe that process?

A. It’s rather obsessive-compulsive, I think. I write the first draft straight, then rewrite stoned, then rewrite straight again, then rewrite stoned again, and so on, until I’m absolutely delighted with every sentence, or irate editors start reminding me about deadlines—whichever comes first. Hemingway and Raymond Chandler had similar compulsions but used the wrong drug, booze, and they both attempted suicide. Papa succeeded but poor Ray didn’t and just looked like a sloppy alcoholic. (He tried to shoot himself in the head and missed.) Faulkner also had obsessive components and died by falling off a horse, drunk. I don’t think booze is a very safe drug for us obsessive-compulsives. Almost as bad as becoming known as a Sage. By the way, Congress should impeach Dubya and impound Asa Hutchinson.

Q. The piss police read High Times. What would you like to tell them?

A. “You are all equally blessed, equally empty, equally coming Buddhas.” But some of them are such assholes it will take a long time to get from there to here.

Q. Columnist Clarence Page recently wrote about the DEA raiding “a legitimate health co-operative [WAMM, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana] that was treating more than 200 patients, some of them terminally ill, in Santa Cruz. Snatching medicine out of the hands of seriously ill patients sounds like terrorism to me. In this case it was federally sponsored and taxpayer-financed.” Tell me about your own relationship with WAMM.

A. I thought you’d never ask. Long before I needed WAMM, Valerie Coral, the founder, came regularly to my Finnegans Wake reading/rapping group and I considered her incredibly bright. As I learned about her WAMM activities, distributing pot to terminal cancer and AIDS patients, sitting with them, giving love and support during the death process, I decided she was also a saint. I never thought I would become another WAMM patient. My post-polio syndrome had been a minor nuisance until then; suddenly two years ago it flared up into blazing pain. My doctor recommended marijuana and named WAMM as the safest and most legal source. By then, I think I was on the edge of suicide; the pain had become like a permanent abscessed tooth in the leg. Nobody can or should endure that. Thanks to Valerie and WAMM, I never have that kind of torture for more than an hour these days. I pop one of their pain pills and I’m up and back at the iMac in, well, if not an hour, then at most two hours. By the way, Congress should impeach Dubya and impound Asa Hutchinson. Or did I say that already?

Q. I think you did.

A. Well, it bears repeating.

Q. When the City Council staged a public giveaway of medical marijuana, a DEA agent asked, “What kind of message are city officials sending to the youth of Santa Cruz?” How would you answer him?

A. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” I didn’t invent that; I found it in the back of my dictionary, in a dusty old historical document called “U.S. Constitution,” which Dubya seemingly has never heard of, but it’s supposed to be the rules of our government. I wish more people would look at that document, because it has a lot of other radical ideas that seem worth thinking about. Look it up before the Bush Crime Family forces dictionary publishers to remove it. Congress should impeach Dubya and impound Asa Hutchinson. Or does this begin to sound like an echo chamber?

Q. How does all that tie in with your new book, TSOG: The Thing That Ate the Constitution? First, what does TSOG mean, and how do you pronounce it?

A. TSOG means Tsarist Occupation Government and I pronounce it TSOG, so it sounds like a monster in a Lovecraft story. The book presents the evidence that ever since the CIA-Nazi-Tsarist alliance of the 1940s, the Tsarists have taken over as the “brains” of the Control System and America has become a Tsarist nation, with the Constitution only known to those who peek in the back of their dictionaries, like I did. Hell, we even have an official Tsar and he has the alleged “right”—or at least the power—to come between my doctor and me, and decide how much excruciating pain I should suffer before dying. What next? Is he going to rule on controversial questions in physics and astronomy? In mathematical set theory? In biology? Believe me, there’s no Tsar mentioned in the Constitution. Personal doctor/patient matters are left to the individuals. You see, this was supposed to be a free country, not a Tsarist despotism.

Q. You were brought up as a Catholic and became a Marxist when you were 16. What disillusioned you about each of those belief systems?

A. Their rigidity. All rigid Belief Systems (B.S.) censor and warp the processes of perception, thought and even empathy. They literally make people behave like badly-wired robots. Philip K. Dick noticed this too, and worried a lot about the possible robots among us. Some people think he was crazy, but I’ve never met anybody with rigid beliefs who seemed fully human to me. Phil got it right: a lot of them do act like robots. Especially in government offices and churches. Gort, Dubya marada nikto, dig?

Q. What was the purpose of what you call the Christian conspiracy?

A. Well, I regard the Bill of Rights as the result of a conspiracy by the intellectual freemasons of the Enlightenment Era. It’s always had a precarious existence because of the rival Christian conspiracy to restore the dark ages—Inquisitions, witch-hunts and all. With the Tsarist take-over, the Christians appear to have won. Not a single clause in the Bill of Rights hasn’t gotten either diluted or totally reversed.

Q. Why are you so skeptical about organized skepticism?

A. Like I keep saying, rigid Belief Systems frighten me and make me think of robots, or “humanoids”—some kinda creepy mechanism like that. Organized skepticism in the U.S. today contains no true skeptics in the philosophical sense. They seem like just another gang of dogmatic fanatics at war with all the other gangs of dogmatic fanatics, and, of course, with us model agnostics also. Look at the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. They never do any Scientific Investigation at all, at all. Why? My guess is that, like the Inquisitors who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, they have a deep fear that such research might upset their dogmas.

Q. What’s the basis of your obsession with Hannibal Lecter?

A. Hannibal Lecter, M.D., please. In the books, he seems one of the greatest creations in literature to me. I admire Thomas Harris more than any novelist since James Joyce. Everything about Dr. Lecter is likeable and even admirable except that one Nasty Habit [cannibalism], but that habit’s so intolerable, even to libertarians, we can never forget it even when we find him most likeable and most admirable. A paradox like that can inspire Ph.D. candidates for 1,000 years. I mean, how can you resist a psychiatrist who tells a Lesbian patient, as Hannibal did once, “There’s nothing wrong with being weird. You have no idea how weird I am”—and really means it? In the films, of course, Dr. Lecter also has the stupendous contribution of intelligence and eerie charm only Anthony Hopkins can project. By the way, God bless Valerie Coral and God damn Asa Hutchinson.

Q. I thought you don’t believe in God?

A. I have no “beliefs,” only probabilities; but I was not speaking literally there. A poetic flourish, as it were.

Q. I know you don’t believe in life after death, but I’m intrigued by the notion that, during 42 years of marriage, you and Arlen imprinted each other’s nervous systems. Could you elaborate on that?

A. I don’t “believe” in spiritualism, but that does not keep me from suspecting an unbreakable link between those who have loved deeply. To avoid sounding esoteric, let me put it in nitty-gritty terms. I literally cannot look at a movie on TV without knowing what she’d say about it. For instance, if a film starts out well and ends up a mess, I can virtually “hear” her saying, “Well, they had one Story Conference too many….”

Q, Would you relate the tale of Arlen and the Encyclopedias?

A. She liked to collect old encyclopedias from second-hand bookstores, and at one point we had eight of them. When I wrote my first historical novel—back in 1980, before I was online—I used them often as a research tool. For instance, I learned that the Bastille was either 90 feet high or 100 feet or 120 feet. This led me to formulate Wilson’s 22nd Law: “Certitude belongs exclusively to those who only look in one encyclopedia.”

Q. How has the Internet changed your life?

A. It has felt like a neurological quantum jump. Not only does the word-processing software make my compulsive rewriting a lot easier than if I still had to cut my words on rocks or use a typewriter or retreat to similar barbarism, but the e-mail function provides most of my social life since I became “disabled.” I do most of my research on the World Wide Web, get my answer in minutes and don’t have to hunt laboriously through my library for hours. It has improved my life a thousand ways. I also have a notion that Internet will eventually replace government.

Q. How do you discern between conspiracy and coincidence?

A. The way Mr. and Mrs. Godzilla make love: very carefully.

Q. A dinner party was scheduled for March 31, 1981, the day after an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, which, if successful, would have elevated Vice President and former CIA chief George Bush to the presidency. The dinner was immediately cancelled. It would have been held at the home of Neil Bush, and a guest was to be Scott Hinckley, brother of the would-be killer. Hinckley’s father and Bush were friends and fellow oil industrialists. A PR firm issued a statement: “This horrible coincidence has been devastating to the Bush Family. Our condolences go out to all involved. And we hope to get the matter behind us as soon as possible.” Congressman Larry MacDonald was the only legislator who demanded an investigation, but his plane crashed. Whattaya think—coincidence or conspiracy?

A. To me, it looks at first glance like coincidence by about 75% probability. I mean, who would be dumb enough to use an assassin with such obvious links to his employers? But then again, the Bush Crime Family seem to think they can get away with anything, from S&L fraud to stealing an election in the clear light of day with the whole world watching. They must have an even lower opinion of the intelligence of the American people than I do. Maybe I should change the probability down to about 50%. I guess this does deserve further investigation, by somebody who doesn’t fly in airplanes.

Q. Ishmael Reed said, “The history of civilization is the history of warfare between secret societies.” Do you agree?

A. Yes and no. I would say there is no history, singular; only histories, plural. The warfare between secret societies is a history, one that both Ishmael and I have explored. There also exists a history of class war, a history of war (or competition) between gene pools, a history of primate/canine relations, etc., ad infinitum. None of them contradicts the others, except in the heads of aristotelian logicians, or Ideologists. They each supplement all the others.

Q. You and I have something in common. Lyndon LaRouche has revealed the truth about each of us: You’re really the secret leader of the Illuminati; and I was brainwashed at the Tavistock Institute in England. Do you think he actually believes such things, or is he consciously creating fiction, just as the FBI’s counter-intelligence program did?

A. I still don’t understand some of my computer’s innards and you expect me to explain a bizarre contraption like the brain of Lyndon LaRouche? I can only hazard that he seems more a case for a bile specialist than a psychiatrist.

Q. What was LaRouche’s factoid about the Queen of England?

A. He said Liz sent Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts over here to destroy us with Oriental religions and drugs, so England could become the top Super-Power again. If you took Liz and England out and put Fu Manchu and the Third World in her place, it would make a great matinee thriller. I think Dubya lives in that film with Mickey and Goofy and Osama bin Laden and Darth Vader.

Q. What’s the most bizarre conspiracy theory you’ve come across?

A. A group called Christians Awake claims Ronald Reagan was a Gay freemason and that he filled the government and courts with other Gay freemasons. I suppose they let Clarence Thomas in as a concession to the Gay Prince Hal lodge.

Q. And what would be the least known conspiracy theory—I mean, that you know of?

A. The Church of Positive Accord believes—and I think they make a damned good case—that the God of the Bible is corporeal, not spiritual. In udder woids, he eats and shits just like you and me. And, contrary to my 1959 heresies, he definitely has a penis. He even has boogers: they proclaimed that in an interview with [SubGenius Church reverend] Ivan Stang. They point out that all “spiritual” ideas of God derive from Greek philosophy, not the Bible, and claim that gaseous Greek god has been promoted by a conspiracy of intellectuals. Just re-read the Bible with that grid and it makes sense, in a Stone Age sort of way. He walks, He talks, He’s a serial killer, and in the sequel He even knocks up a teen-age chick.

Q. Your readers can’t always discern—when you write about the Illuminati, for example—whether you’re sharing information or satirizing reality. Does it make any difference?

A. To quote Madonna, “I’m only kidding—not.” Add my Celtic sense of humor to Niels Bohr’s model agnosticism and out comes my neo-surrealist novels and “post-modern” criticism.

Q. I’ve had many occurrences of satirical prophecy, where something I invented turned out to become reality. Has that happened with you?

A. Well, in Illuminatus! (published 1975), terrorists attack the Pentagon and only succeed in blowing a hole in one of the five sides. Sound familiar? Also, in Schrodinger’s Cat (published 1981), terrorists blow up Wall Street. I don’t regard either of those “hits” as precognition or even “intuition,” just common sense. It seemed obvious to me that the TSOG could not run amok around the planet, invading and bombing damned near everybody, without somebody firing back eventually.

Q. Here’s a confession. In my article on the conspiracy convention in High Times, I did a reverse of satirical prophecy. I had once asked Mae Brussell, the queen of conspiracy researchers, why the conspirators didn’t kill her, and she explained that agents always work on a need-to-know basis, but they would read her work and show up wherever she spoke, in order to get a peek at the big picture, because it was “a safety valve for them,” she said, “on how far things are going.” I asked, “Are you saying that the intelligence community has allowed you to function precisely because you know more than any of them?” And she replied, “Exactly.” Well, in my HIGH TIMES satire, I put those words into the mouth of somewhat fraudulent conspiracy researcher David Icke. Anyway, my question is, do you think the conspirators allow you to live because you know too much?

A. I doubt it. I don’t think they’ve ever heard of me. They don’t read books.

Q. The original meaning of conspiracy was “to breathe together.” What’s your personal definition of conspiracy?

A. When me and me friends gits together to advance our common interests, that’s an affinity group. When any crowd I don’t like does it, that’s a goddam conspiracy.

Q. After my HIGH TIMES column on the Prophets Conference, in which I referred to you as “the irreverent bad boy at this oh-so-polite conference,” why were you disinvited from speaking at future Prophets Conferences?

A. A lot of my fans think I got booted for lack of respect for His Royal Fraudulency George II. I take that as an assertion beyond proof or disproof. The managers said it was for finding a Joycean epiphany in a Spike Lee movie. I take that as an assertion beyond even comprehension.

Q. I’d like to hear about your—perhaps psychotic?—experience with higher consciousness and the resulting epiphany.

A. I have had not one but many seeming encounters with seemingly nonhuman intelligences. The first was a Christmas tree that loved me—loved me more than my parents or my wife or my kids, or even my dog. I was on peyote at the time. With and without other drugs—for instance by Cabala—I have seemingly contacted a medieval Irish bard, an ancient Chinese alchemist, an extraterrestrial from the Sirius system, and a giant white rabbit called the pook or pookah from County Kerry. I finally accepted that if you already have a multi-model ontology going into the shamanic world, you’re going to come out with multi-model results. As Wilson’s Fourth Law sez, “With sufficient research you will find evidence to support your theory.” So I settled on the magick rabbit as the model nobody could take literally, not even myself. The real shocker came when I discovered that my grandmother’s people, the O’Lachlanns, came from Kerry and allegedly have a clan pookah who protects us from becoming English by adding periodic doses of weirdness to our lives.

Q. The dedication in my book, Murder At the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities, reads: “This one is for Robert Anton Wilson—guerrilla ontologist, part-time post-modernist, Damned Old Crank, my weirdest friend and favorite philosopher.” Since these are all terms you’ve used to label yourself, would you explain what each one means?

A. Well, I picked up “guerrilla ontology” from the Physics/Consciousness Research Group when I was a member back in the 1970s. Physicists more usually call it “model agnosticism,” and it consists of never regarding any model or map of Universe with total 100% belief or total 100% denial. Following Korzybski, I put things in probabilities, not absolutes. I give most of modern physics over 90% probability, the Loch Ness Monster around 50% probability and anything the State Department says under 5% probability. As Bucky Fuller used to say, “Universe is nonsimultaneously apprehended”—nobody can apprehend it all at once—so we have no guarantee that today’s best model will fit what we may discover tomorrow. My only originality lies in applying this zetetic attitude outside the hardest of the hard sciences, physics, to softer sciences and then to non-sciences like politics, ideology, jury verdicts and, of course, conspiracy theory. Also, I have a strong aversion, almost an allergy, to Belief Systems, or B.S.—a convenient abbreviation I owe to David Jay Brown. A neurolinguistic diet high in B.S. and low in instrumental data eventually produces Permanent Brain Damage, a lurching gait, blindness and hairy palms like a werewolf.

Then I started calling myself a post-modernist after that label got pinned on me in two different books, one on my sociological works and one on my science-fiction. Then I read some of the post-modernists and decided they were only agnostic about other people’s dogmas, not their own. So then I switched to Damned Old Crank, which seems to suit my case better than either of the previous labels. Besides, once my hair turned snowy white, some people wanted to promote me to a Sage, and I had to block that. It’s more dangerous to a writer than booze. By the way, Congress should impeach Dubya and impound Asa Hutchinson.

Q. Since you believe that the universe is indifferent, why are you an optimist?

A. It may have genetic origins—some of us bounce up again no matter what we get hit with—but as far as I can rationalize it, nobody knows the future, so choosing between pessimism and optimism depends on temperament as much as probabilities. Psychologist John Barefoot has studied this extensively and concludes that optimists live about 20% longer than pessimists. When the outcome remains unknown, why should I make the bet that keeps me miserable and shortens my life? I prefer the gamble that keeps me high, happy, and creative, and also increases lifespan. It’s like the advantage of pot over aspirin. Pot not only kills pain better, but the High boosts the immune system. High and happy moods prolong life, miserable and masochistic moods shorten it.

Q. Recently, when I spoke at a college campus, a student asked what I wanted my epitaph to be. I replied, “Wait, I’m not finished.” What do you want your epitaph to be?

A. I have ordained in my will that my body will get cremated and the ashes thrown in Jerry Falwell’s face. The executor of my will should then shout one word only: “Gotcha!”

Robert Anton Wilson is the coauthor (with the late Robert Shea), of the underground classic The Illuminatus! Trilogy which won the 1986 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. His other writings include Schrodinger’s Cat Trilogy, called “the most scientific of all science fiction novels” by New Scientist, and many nonfiction works of Futurist psychology and guerilla ontology. Wilson, who sees himself as a Futurist, author, and stand-up comic, regularly gives seminars at Esalan and other New Age centers. Wilson has made both a comedy record (Secrets of Power), and a punk rock record (The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy), and his play, Wilhelm Reich in Hell, has been performed throughout the world. His novel Illuminatus! was adapted as a 10-hour science fiction rock epic and performed under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Great Britain’s National Theatre, where Wilson appeared in a special cameo role. He is also a former editor at Playboy magazine.

President Hannibal Lector & the Thing That Ate the Constitution

President Hannibal Lector & the Thing That Ate the Constitution: An Interview with Robert Anton Wilson

By David Jay Brown

Robert Anton Wilson is a writer and philosopher with a huge cult following. He is the author of over 35 popular fiction and nonfiction books, dealing with such themes as quantum mechanics, the future evolution of the human species, weird unexplained phenomena, conspiracy theories, synchronicity, the occult, altered states of consciousness, and the nature of belief systems. His books explore the relationship between the brain and consciousness, and the link between science and mysticism, with wit, wisdom, and personal insights. Comedian George Carlin said, “I have learned more from Robert Anton Wilson than I have from any other source.”

Wilson is a very entertaining writer and both his fiction and nonfiction books can be as reality-shifting as a hearty swig of shamanic jungle juice. Wilson has an uncanny ability to lead his readers, unsuspectingly, into a state of mind where they are playfully tricked into “aha” experiences that cause them to question their most basic assumptions. The writers of many popular science fiction films and television shows have been influenced by Wilson’s writings, and they will sometimes make subtle cryptic references to his philosophy in their stories–often by making the number 23 significant in some way, which refers to Wilson’s strange synchronicities around that number.

Since 1962 Wilson has worked as an editor, futurist, novelist, playwright, poet, lecturer and stand-up comic. He earned his doctorate in psychology from Paideia University, and from 1966-1971 he was the Associate Editor of Playboy magazine. He is perhaps best known for the science fiction trilogy Illuminatus!, which he co-authored with Robert Shea in 1975. The Village Voice called the trilogy “the biggest sci-fi cult novel to come along since Dune.” His Schroedinger’s Cat trilogy was called “the most scientific of all science-fiction novels” by New Scientist magazine.

Wilson has also appeared as a stand-up comic at night clubs throughout the world, and he made a comedy record called Secrets of Power. His more academic lectures are best described as “stand-up philosophy”, and they are as funny and thought-provoking as his comedy routines. He also teaches seminars at New Age retreats, like the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, and his Web site–www.rawilson.com–is in the top two percent of the most visited sites on the internet. Rev. Ivan Stang, cofounder of The Church Of The Subgenius, described Wilson as “the Carl Sagan of religion, the Jerry Falwell of quantum physics, the Arnold Schwarzenegger of feminism and the James Joyce of swing-set assembly manuals.”

Wilson starred on a Punk Rock record called The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy, and his play Wilhelm Reich in Hell was performed at the Edmund Burke Theater in Dublin, Ireland. His novel Illuninatus! was adapted as a ten-hour science fiction rock epic and performed under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Great Britain’s National Theater (where he appeared briefly on stage in a special cameo role).   A documentary about Wilson’s life and work entitled “Maybe Logic” (by Lance Bauscher) was released on July 23, 2003. At the premiere of the film (at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz, California), the mayor of Santa Cruz (Emily Reilly) officially declared that, from that day forth, July 23rd would be “Robert Anton Wilson Day” in Santa Cruz.

Bob and I have been good friends for over fifteen years, and he has been an important source of inspiration for me. Bob is particularly fond of the writings of James Joyce and Ezra Pound, and I’ve learned a lot about Finnegan’s Wake, The Cantos, and his own Illuminatus! by going to his weekly discussion groups. Actually, it was Bob’s book Cosmic Trigger that not only inspired me to become a writer when I was a teenager, but it was also where I first discovered many of the fascinating individuals who would later become the subjects of my interview books. So it was a great thrill for me when Bob wrote the introduction to my first book, Brainchild. I interviewed Bob for my next book, Mavericks of the Mind in 1989, and then again for my new book Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse in 2003. To follow are some excerpts from the interview that had to be cut from the new book.

At 73 Bob remains as sharp and witty as ever. Bob has an uncanny ability to perceive things that few people notice, and he has an incredible memory. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of many different fields–ranging from literature and psychology, to quantum physics and neuroscience. He is unusually creative in his use of language, and he has his own unique style of humor. Despite many personal challenges over the years, Bob has always maintained a strongly upbeat perspective on life, and–regardless of the circumstances–he never fails to make me smile every time I see him. Everyone who meets him agrees; there’s something truly magical about Robert Anton Wilson.

David: What were you like as a child?

Bob: Stubborn, it seems; maybe pig-headed. My mother often told me how, when I had polio at age 4, I kept trying to get up and walk. She said that no matter how hard I fell, I’d stand and stagger again until I fell again. I attribute that to Irish genetics–after 800 years of British occupation, the quitters did not survive to reproduce, you know. But I still loathe pessimism, masochism and every kind of self-pity. I regard loser scripts as actively nefarious and, in high doses, toxic. Due to that Nietzschean attitude, and the Sister Kenny treatment, I did walk again and then became highly verbal.

A neighbor said, even before I started school, that I should become a lawyer because no judge could shut me up. I attribute that, not to genetics, but to the polio and polio-related early reading skills. Due to a year of total-to-partial paralysis,I missed a vital part of normal male socialization and never became any good at sports, but I devoured books like a glutton. The nuns at the Catholic school where my parents sent me did shut me up for a while. Catholic education employs both psychologocal and physical terrorism: threats of “Hell” and physical abuse. But they never stopped me from thinking–just from saying what I thought.

David: What inspired you to become a writer?

Bob: The magic of words. One of the biggest thrills of my childhood came at the end of King Kong when Carl Denham says. “No, it wasn’t the airplanes–it was Beauty that killed the Beast.” I didn’t know what the hell that meant, but it stirred something in me. In fact, it felt like what the nuns told me I would feel after eating Holy Eucharist–what we call a mystic experience–except that I didn’t get it from the eucharist but from a gigantic gorilla falling off a gigantic skyscraper and having that line as his epitaph. I wanted to learn to use words in a way that would open people’s minds to wonder and poetry the way those words had opened mine.

David: Why do you think politics on this planet is such a huge mess, and human beings are so violent towards one another?

Bob: Because most people have never heard of maybe logic and live in an either/or world, which applied to ethics and social policy becomes a good/evil world. Human vanity then determines that all the damned eejit always put themselves in the good position and anybody who disagrees in the evil. Look at any literary/politics journal–any journal of the nonscientific “intelligentsia”–and you’ll see that they all sound as medieval as George W. Bush or Osama bin Laden. Violence comes of self-righteousness and self-righteousness comes of right/wrong logic, without maybes.

David: Who is the TSOG, and why do we need to keep this “thing” from eating the U.S. Constitution?

Bob: I coined the term TSOG to mean “Tsarist Occupation Government” and to sound like a monster from a Lovecraft horror story. In a constitutional democracy, decisions concerning your health depend on your own judgement and that of your doctor. When such life-and-death matters get decided not by you and your doctor but by an allegedly omniscient Tsar, we have neither constitution nor democracy anymore but blatant and brutal Tsarist tyranny.   Look at America today: we not only have a Tsar but he has more spies and informers working for him than Russia had in the days of Konstantin Pobedonostsev, who served as an advisor to Alexander III and Nicholas II. Pobedonostsev managed such an army of snoops that they called him “the Grand Inquisitor.” Read Turgenev and Dosteovksy and you’ll see how much America in the early 21st century has become like Russia in the 19th.

David: Tell me about your decision to run for governor of California, and about the Guns and Dope Party.

Bob: After I had written several articles and a whole book on the TSOG, my friends kept asking me to run, and I kept refusing, until it seemed every other nutcase in California had gotten into the act, so I finally made the leap. The Guns and Dope Partyrepresents my attempt to unify the libertarian right and the libertarian left, not on a theoretical or ideological basis, such as Norman Mailer once tried, but just on the rule all horse-traders understand: give me something of value and I’ll give you something of value.

I want the dopers to fight for gun rights and the gun people to fight for medical and recreational rights, because together we make a majority in the Western states, and especially in California. Besides, I agree with the gun people about this government. If only the police and the army have guns, we have a de facto totalitarian state that can do anything it pleases. The War on Some Drugs seems like an overture or dress rehearsal for such a totally Tsarist nightmare.

A few decades ago, Henry Kissinger said, “Anybody in Washington who isn’t paranoid must be crazy.” Under Dubya, I feel that anybody outside Washington who doesn’t feel paranoid about what’s going on in Washington must be crazy. First they take our money by force to do with as they please [the accursed IRS] , then they want to disarm us, and they dare call this democracy? I don’t think Jefferson or Adams would agree. They’d call it tyranny, and so do I.

David: Why do you think Hannibal Lector would make a better president than George W. Bush?

Bob: I started the Lecter for President write-in campaign to make people think about style in politics. Look: Dr. Lecter doesn’t kill for money. He has some standards, however egregious. Dubya seems to have none at all. Besides, Hannibal has a decent education and a sense of humor. He frightens me much less than Dubya. If we must have a serial killer in the oval office, and most Americans east of the Rockies seem to think we must, I’d prefer one with some class and panache. Dubya has as much of those as the stuff you step in and scrape off on the curb, hoping it’s not as bad as it smells.

David: Can you tell me about the film “Maybe Logic”, and about your reaction to the mayor of Santa Cruz’s proclamation at the film’s premiere that July 23rd will officially be “Robert Anton Wilson Day” in Santa Cruz?

Bob: My ego grew three inches in 24 hours.

David: What are you currently working on?   Bob: I’m learning to walk for the third time. (I hope). Promoting the Guns and Dope Party. And I’m writing a book on the decentralization of power that I think Internet will create.

To find out more about Robert Anton Wilson visit his Web sites: http://www.rawilson.com/ & http://www.gunsanddopeparty.com/

David Jay Brown is the author of two New Falcon titles, Brainchild and Virus, and was a contributor to the New Falcon book Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation. David is also the co-author of the three volumes of interviews: Mavericks of the MindVoices from the Edge, and Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press this Spring. To find out more about David’s work visit his award-winning web sites: http://www.mavericksofthemind.com/ andhttp://www.sexanddrugs.info/

DangerMedia Innerview

The DangerMedia Innerview

by Kevin Kovelant, a.k.a.Naile

“I used to be an atheist, until I realized I had nothing to shout during blowjobs. ‘Oh Random Chance! Oh Random Chance!’ just doesn’t cut it….” – R.A.W. DragonCon, 2000.

Robert Anton Wilson is a name that many are familiar with. He is co-author of the infamous Illuminatus! Trilogy, with Robert Shea, he is a hero to many of us here at DangerMedia, and many more outside of DangerMedia. As such, I was nervous about approaching him. After all, here was a man who had utterly changed my life in college with a simple book called Cosmic Trigger. He was a guest at DragonCon this past year in Atlanta, and I was lucky to land an interview with him. I will admit, I approached this interview nervously, but soon found myself relaxing and enjoying the task at hand. Here I was, able to finally talk to a man I’d wanted to meet for the last 11 years. As “Bob” reassured me, once we were getting started…

“talking and writing are two of my favorite occupations.”

What followed was a wide-ranging conversation dealing with books, conspiracies, poetry, and everything in between. A logical starting point was with the Illuminatus! Trilogy… definitely the most intertwined series of in-jokes, speculation, fnord, and conspiracy theory ever published.

Illuminatus! to me is like Citizen Kane to Orson Welles. Everybody says its his greatest work, everybody thinks Illuminatus! is my greatest work. But nobody wants to hear about something they did early in their careers. It implies I’ve been going downhill ever since.”

Yikes! Afraid I’d hit a raw nerve (no pun intended), Bob did reassure me that

“I do like Illuminatus! In spite of the fact that more people have read it than any of my other books. You know, I’ve written so many things since Illuminatus! But its not that bad. Somebody told me today that Coincidance was his favorite book, somebody else said The Widow’s Son, and somebody else said Prometheus Rising. So that cheered me up. Some people have read some of my other books.”

Bob also assembled a rather impressive volume of conspiracy theories, Everything Is Under Control. I’d found this to be a useful reference guide (okay, I’m a bit of a conspiracy buff), but learned that it had not been as comprehensive as originally envisioned…

“Its not as good as it should have been, though. The reason that it wasn’t, is my wife was dying when I was writing it. I was not in my best state of concentration. That’s why it is shorter than its supposed to be. That’s why there’s so much white space around the different items. They tried to make the book longer than it was. What they should’ve done is give me more time after my wife’s death to recover, and really write the book the way they wanted. But they wanted to get it into print in a hurry. So, I feel it’s a very incomplete book. If I had included all the conspiracy theories I wanted to, it would be much funnier, and much more confusing. There are so many conspiracy theories around.”

I wanted to know more…. After all, with so many conspiracy theories available, how does one pick and choose which one is right for them? One of my personal favorites has been the Priory Of Sion, as exposed in the book Holy Blood Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh, and Nichols. I found a sympathetic ear!

“The Priory Of Sion fascinates me, because it has all the appearances of being a real conspiracy, and yet if you look at the elements another way, it looks like a very complicated practical joke by a bunch of intellectual French aristocrats. And half of the time I believe it really is a practical joke by a bunch of intellectual French aristocrats. And then part of the time I think it is a real conspiracy.”

Delving deeper, we found that trading conspiracy theories was even more fun than trading Pokemon cards! Bob shared a few more with me.

“Another one I like a lot is one from Birmingham, Alabama, that claims that the United States has been run by Freemasons ever since the beginning, but they added that the Freemasons are really a gay secret society. Even George Washington was gay. Everybody knows he was a Freemason, right? George Washington was gay, and all the Freemasons are gay, we’ve been run by gays for two hundred years, and that’s why Jesus created AIDS, to punish this country. I think that’s the craziest conspiracy theory I ever heard! Its one of my favorites, because it is so incredibly absurd, and yet there are people quite capable of believing it.”

His favorite though?

“The conspiracy theory that’s my favorite, is the one I invented myself. That’s the TSOG. Not to be confused with the ZOG. The ZOG is a right-wing conspiracy: The Zionist Occupation Government. I haven’t ever found any evidence of any Zionists in our government. But we do have a Tsar, no doubt about it. I traced it back to 1945, when Hitler’s Chief of Soviet Intelligence Rheinhard Gehlen surrendered to the American Army after first burying several truckloads of data about the Soviet Union that he had obtained while working for Hitler, which he had gathered from all of his connections in the Soviet Union, which were all led by General Vlassov, who was a Tsarist who had infiltrated the Red Army, just to betray the Communists. And so the CIA, when they were formed -Gehlen was working for the OSS for three years- then the OSS turned into the CIA, and Gehlen became the head of the Soviet Penetration section, and his chief agent in the Soviet Union was this Tsarist, General Vlassov. The Tsarists had infiltrated the KGB, and the Red Army. So all of the United States’ Cold War policies were based on reports about what the Soviet Union was doing or planning to do came through Tsarists and Nazis. So no wonder the United States policies got more and more crazy and Right Wing as the years went by! But then as I traced the influence of Tsarism on the American Government, the next thing I knew, we had an official Tsar! And he’s in charge of what medicine we take! Which inspired me to write not my best poem, but what I think will be my most widely quoted poem:

Oh the sick can’t get their meds in the States
The sick can’t get their meds in the States
The sick can’t get their meds
They are hounded by the Feds
They are dying in their beds
In the States.

Oh the sick can’t get their meds in Iraq
The sick can’t get their meds in Iraq
The sick can’t get their meds
Bombs are falling on their beds
Are we off our fucking heads?
That’s a fact!

I call it The Ballad Of Killer Bill

“I’ve invented this symbol I’m using in my e-mail. Its five dollar signs. This is to avoid all the other conspiracy theories. The five dollar signs represent the one half of one percent of the world’s population that controls almost all the wealth. They may hate one another, they may fight with one another, they may conspire against one another, but they have interests in common which are not the interests of the rest of the world like you and me, and everybody we know. And they do act as a unified force whenever its in their interest. In fact, I think there’s a Japanese word for it. Its when all the competing forces in Japan in industry and banking, when they all decide to work together to get rid of some common problem annoying all of them. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to go back to competing with one another, and back-stabbing each other next week. But when they have one common problem, they all work together. A reporter named Danny Cassalero discovered this. He didn’t even know the Japanese word for it. He just called it “The Octopus”. He discovered that all the power forces in the world, no matter how opposed they seem to be all work together when there seems to be a challenge that challenges all of them. He called it “The Octopus.” I represent it by five dollar signs, representing the people who own almost all the money on the planet.”

Realizing that we had now identified “the enemy”, the next question becomes “how do you fight back?”

“Nobody could fight them successfully by any ordinary means. The militias go out, and they practice shooting, so they can go out and fight the American Government. How can you fight the American Government with those kinds of weapons? The American Government has atom bombs! The only way you’ll ever overturn the Five Dollar Signs, is through ones and zeros. Information! Fucking with the computer systems! The Iraq War was stalled for five days because of a fifteen year old who shut down all the computers in the Pentagon. I DO NOT URGE PEOPLE TO DO THIS, IT IS A FEDERAL CRIME TO URGE PEOPLE TO DO IT, AND I’M DEFINITELY OPPOSED TO IT. I want to be perfectly clear: I DON’T BELIEVE IN THIS, but its going to happen. People who don’t like the way the world is run are going to be fucking more and more with the computer systems of the governments, and the power centers, and they’re going to screw with all of them so much that they’re going to collapse eventually. And as I said, I don’t urge this, I just predict that its going to happen. [laughs] How’s that for skating around a Treason charge? I don’t want to spend thirteen years in a nuthouse….”

Settling deep into paranoia, I decided it was time to call upon some of Bob’s other “disciplines.” After all, I wanted to interview Mr. Welles about more than just Citizen Kane. Bob has written books on a number of other subjects as well, and I wanted to make sure I could cover as many bases as possible in our limited time together. As he told me…

“I’ve written about a lot of different subjects! I’ve got about ten different fan-clubs, depending on which book they’ve read!”

I brought up the topic of magick. Aleister Crowley, and other mystic-types have made guest-appearances in a few of his works. I wondered what affiliations my interviewee might have…

“Christopher Hyatt was asked that, he’s one of my publishers – New Falcon Press, and he said ‘Bob belongs to no group, and to all.’ I like that answer so much, I let it stand. I’ve been initiated into several groups. Like most writers, I’m congenitally solitary. If they put me in solitary confinement, I’d feel just like Timothy Leary when they put him in solitary confinement. He said ‘What’s the problem? All I’ve got to talk to is the most intelligent person I know!’ What’s the problem there? That’s what Timothy told me after he got out of solitary confinement. That’s the way I feel. Being a writer is a lot like a self-imposed life sentence of solitary confinement. I had a wife, and four kids, and most of my days were spent in one room with a typewriter, until I got a computer. Now its one room, with a computer. But I like people, I’m gregarious up to an extent, but magick seems to be a very private and personal thing. I don’t like group workings.”

I inevitably realized I wouldn’t be able to stay out of conspiracy-mode for long. One of the books I had had him sign for me that morning was Sex And Rockets by John Carter, about Jet Propulsion Labs founder and Crowley disciple Jack Parsons. He had written the introduction for it. So, Jack Parsons – murdered, or was it an accident?

“Well, I don’t know, but I’m really fond of the theory that J. Edgar Hoover ordered the assassination of Jack Parsons. This theory is in a screenplay by a guy I know, who’s been working his ass off trying to sell it to a major studio. Of course [Hoover]’s just crazy enough that he could’ve done it. Parsons was planning on leaving the United States. He knew more about rockets than anybody except maybe Werner von Braun. Hoover thought he was a communist, which shows how crazy Hoover was. Parsons was a libertarian. Virtually an anarchist. J. Edgar Hoover knew that Parsons had a lot of friends who were communists. You couldn’t work in science in California in the forties without having a lot of friends who were communists. Hoover was a nut. He thought Parsons was a communist, and the idea of a communist who knew all these top secrets leaving the country… it makes sense to me that Hoover could have ordered the assassination. It’s a theory I’d like to see more widely discussed.”

Hmm. “other disciplines!” I reminded myself. Knowing that Bob had been a close friend of Dr. Timothy Leary’s I was curious to know what his first experience with mind-altering substances was like.

“Do you count marijuana as a psychedelic?” he asked.

“We can.” I assured him.

“My first marijuana experience, which seemed psychedelic at the time, was at the Village Vanguard in New York in 1955 or 1956. The Modern Jazz Quartet was playing, and I was a big fan of theirs, and I went to the men’s room to take a leak. One of the musicians was in there smoking a joint, and he recognized me because of the enthusiasm of my applause, and he said ‘Do you want a toke?’ and I said ‘Yeah, man!’ I didn’t know where to contact anybody who had any pot, and I’d been reading about it for years. So I was turned on by a member of The Modern Jazz Quartet in the men’s room of the Village Vanguard. I went back out there, and their second set just seemed even so much better than the first set! It as was the greatest music they ever played, as far as I was concerned.”

In regards to his first actual hallucinogenic/psychedelic experience….

“My first experience with a major psychedelic was with peyote in 1962, and that was full of marvelous philosophical revelations, beautiful colors, magnificent visions, and at the height of it – and this was New Year’s in 1962- and I went into the other room, and looked at the Christmas tree, and the ornaments and everything were beautiful. It was the most beautiful Christmas tree I ever saw. And then I realized that the Christmas tree loved me, and I burst into tears. I was running back to tell my wife and my friends ‘The Christmas tree loves me!!!’ Even telling that story, tears came to my eyes, I remember the experience so vividly!’ The Christmas tree that loves me!'”

Bob then shared his plans for the upcoming U.S. elections with me.

“I’m planning to look at the first debate between ‘Bore’ and ‘Gush’ on acid. A couple friends of mine are coming around. We’ve all agreed that we want to watch that on acid.”

I hadn’t thought of that! and what brought about this idea?

“[This] was inspired by the testimony of Cary Grant’s third divorce trial. His wife charged mental cruelty. One of the accounts of mental cruelty was that he never went to the Academy Awards dinners. Every year she tried to blackmail him to take her to the Academy Awards by buying the most beautiful and expensive gowns that she could to put down all the other rich Hollywood women with their beautiful expensive gowns by having one more expensive and beautiful than any of them. Cary still refused to go. He would stay home, look at the Academy Awards on television, drop acid, and spend the whole five hours jumping up and down on the bed laughing his head off. And I thought ‘That’s really the way to enjoy the Academy Awards!’ And then I realized it would be an even better way to enjoy a debate between a coke-freak who claims he’s not a coke-freak, anymore than a pot-head who claims he’s not a pot-head. And they’re both running for president on a platform devoted to throwing other drug users into jail. It’s the only way to really appreciate modern American politics.”

I just can’t see Cary Grant on acid….

” Oh, Cary Grant was one of the most enthusiastic acidheads in Hollywood. He turned on almost everybody in Hollywood. He went into therapy in his late fifties, with a doctor who used LSD therapy. And Cary Grant thought it did so much good for him, that he went around turning on everybody in Hollywood that he knew. Cary Grant did as much for the psychedelic revolution as Ken Kesey and Tim Leary! Just before he died, he came out of retirement. He did a one-man stage show. He toured the country, and sat in a chair, and would chat with the audience about his career, and his memories, and this and that. Then he’d take questions. In San Francisco, somebody yelled out ‘STILL DOING ACID, CARY??’ and here he is, 84 years old, sits back on his stool, gave that famous ‘Cary Grant grin’, and said ‘Well, if I did, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to talk about it in public!’ I was asked that question when I was on Politically Incorrect, my answer was ‘I haven’t done acid in two days, and I want you to know, its great to be clean!'”

Knowing about the “evolutionary” angle of some of Bob’s works, I wanted to know whether he thought the recent mapping of the human genetic structure and/or cloning, were good ideas, or not?

“I’m 100% in favor of both. As far as mapping the genetic structure, as you can see, I’m in a wheelchair. This is the result of having had polio when I was 4 years old. I’d been entirely mobile since I was cured of polio, but I’ve had increasing leg problems over the years, which is normal. Its called Post-Polio Syndrome. With the mapping of the genetic code, there’s a whole new field in medicine opening up, which gives me great hope I won’t spend the rest of my life in this wheelchair. Plus I’m a congenital optimist anyway. Cloning really turns me on.”

I brought up other recent scientific theories as well, including the idea that life began on Mars.

“Life may have arrived here from Mars, on a meteor. There’s some evidence of that. Our sun is a fifth generation star. I’m sure life began a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away. [laughter]”

So, the Panspermia Theory?

“Not as a belief system, but as a high probability. Its hard to believe in this vast universe, that its only happened once. It’s the last bastion of fundamentalist materialism, which was invented to make us all feel as depressed as possible about everything. I just can’t believe it. As Carl Sagan used to say…’Billions and billions of galaxies! And billions and billions of suns in those galaxies!’ And we can’t possibly be the only one.”

I’d always found Bob’s books to be full of hope for the future. I’d wondered what lessons he wanted to see humanity learn. What advice could he impart to us?

“Don’t believe anything. Regard things on a scale of probabilities. The things that seem most absurd, put under ‘Low Probability’, and the things that seem most plausible, you put under ‘High Probability’. Never believe anything. Once you believe anything, you stop thinking about it. The more things you believe, the less mental activity. If you believe something, and have an opinion on every subject, then your brain activity stops entirely, which is clinically considered a sign of death, nowadays in medical practice. So put things on a scale or probability, and never believe or disbelieve anything entirely.”

Finally, I had to ask. The question we’ve all wanted to know. Does 23 occur because we look for it, or do we look for it because it occurs?

“I don’t know. And I think that’s a great way to end an interview. ‘I don’t know.’ There’s more that I don’t know, than there is that I do know. I think almost all writers -politicians and clergymen do it much more- but anyone who writes books has a tendency to slip into this nasty habit of pretending they know everything. Even when they try to avoid it, people try to force them into it. I started out in my twenties, to be a generalist. I like that term. I find that the older I get, the harder it is, because any area in which people think I know a lot, I’m either five years or twenty years behind the current level of research. You can’t be a generalist nowadays! I’m a great generalist for the 1970’s, but the year 2000, I’m behind in almost everything.”