CCN: When was this?
RAW: Somewhere back in the '70s. I like "guerrilla ontology" as a description. Ontology is the branch of philosophy that tries to understand what's real and what isn't, or what's the difference between real reality and mere appearance. Guerrilla ontology is closely related to French deconstructionism.
I didn't realize this while I was developing guerrilla ontology, but our approach is to knock down everybody else's attempt to settle the question. Our attitude is: There is no final answer.
What the scientifically illiterate consider the final answer is just the latest model. The latest model, presumably, will include more facts than any previous model, or it won't become prevalent.
The latest model will be the best we can do at this time, but it will be replaced by a better model in five years, if not sooner.
CCN: In the Illuminatus! trilogy, there was a character named Markoff Chaney, the midget, who acted as one of the few out of control random elements in all of the various plots, conspiracies and intrigues described in the book.
RAW: His name comes from a mathematical term for a random numerical process.
CCN: It seems the midget would be a good prototype for a guerrilla ontologist in the sense that he spent the bulk of his time throwing semantic monkey wrenches into other people's environments which shifted their perception of reality, and behavior.
RAW: Yes. I got the idea in a store on Clark Street in Chicago, North Clark Street. I saw a sign which appears in Illuminatus!, and the sign says, "No employee may punch the time card for any other employee. Any deviation will result in termination. The Mgt.", which obviously stood for the management. But looking at that sign, I immediately conceived of this character, this angry midget who's on a crusade to stamp out sizism and not to concede a fucking inch to the conceited and arrogant giants who run the world.
He wants to get little people recognized for the contributions they've made. And he also engages in guerrilla warfare against their expectations. Like, he's the one who's wired the traffic signs so they say "Walk" on red and "Don't Walk" on the green.
Everybody has noticed that. Well, that's his work.
And he engages in a lot of other activities like that calculated to drive the overgrown majority out of their heads and make them a little uncertain. He's at war with the concept of the average or the normal, actually. These things are very unscientific and dehumanizing terms. He's been adopted as a hero by gay people and "Stamp Out Sizism," which is a slogan he goes around graffiti-ing, has been picked up all over the Castro, I'm told.
He later wrote a book...a book called Little Men with Big Balls claiming all important science and art was created by men less than five feet tall. The publisher decided Chaney had some kind of unconscious bias of his own and changed the title to Little People with Big Ideas ...
CCN: Well, it sounds as if the efforts of the midget come from his own biases and, perhaps, some personality problems. What is it that drives you to be a guerrilla ontologist yourself? What's the chip on your shoulder?
RAW: Well, I find that I'm not normal either. Chaney's problem was very conspicuously visible. Society treats people different if they're short.
A very good friend of mine, the actor David Rappaport, who played Markoff Chaney on the stage in England and Amsterdam once said, "You see the world entirely different when at a party all you see is people's crotches and asses." You have a different view of the world, and...I think I reflect the views of people who are alienated for one reason or another from orthodox society.
Some people are alienated in ways that make my books very uncomfortable for them because their form of alienation is part of what I'm satirizing. I'm not only satirizing the normal. I'm satirizing everything that seems absurd or unreasonable to me.
CCN: Certainly, Illuminatus! was a collection of every absurdity on every level, something for everyone.
RAW: There's hardly anything in that book that isn't based on something that's widely believed by some group of paranoids or individualists, or whatever you want to call them, some dissident group.
CCN: But back to the chip on your shoulder that's leading you to be a guerilla ontologist ...
RAW: Chip on my shoulder? I prefer to consider it a dilation of perception.
For instance, I'm the American director of the Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal (CSICON). We insist that "the normal" doesn't exist outside pure mathematics.. In the real world everybody is abnormal in one way or another. As James Joyce said, "The State is concentric, but the individual is eccentric."
And so we have a $10,000 reward for anybody who can produce any perfectly "normal" man, woman or child, normal in all respects, or even an "average" sunset or an "ordinary" day.
And so far, nobody has collected it. The normal, the average and the ordinary are total fictions.