Interview w/ Robert Anton Wilson -- Is There Reason For Optimism?

>ROBERT ANTON WILSON<bold>, </bold>described by futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard as "One Of The Leading Thinkers Of The Modern Age," will be adding his genius and humor to The Prophets Conference, taking place the weekend of August 27-29 in the beautiful setting of Port Townsend, Washington. Wilson will be presenting a workshop entitled "There's A Seeker Born Every Minute," and he will participate on a panel called together to investigate the reality and implications of the UFO phenomenon and how it effects us. Other UFO panelists are Dr. Edgar Mitchell, John A. Keel, Joe Firmage, Dr. Steven Greer, Dr. John Mack, and Marcia Schafer. Leading novelist and prophet of sorts Tom Robbins is tentatively scheduled to join Wilson's conference lecture/workshop. Robbins plans to dialogue and read >from his next book.

>Information at: <<>


>The following is a fascinating interview with Robert Anton Wilson appearing in "Common Ground" Vancouver, July 1999 Issue.


>The author of the Illuminatus Trilogy tells us his news

>Robert Anton Wilson is the coauthor, with Robert Shea, of the underground classic "The Illuminatus!<italic><underline> </underline></italic>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 <italic>New Scientist</italic>, and several nonfiction works of Futurist psychology and guerilla ontology, such as "Prometheus Rising" and "The New Inquisition." Wilson, who sees himself as a Futurist, author, and stand-up comic, regularly gives seminars at Esalen and other New Age centers. Wilson has made both a comedy record (<italic>Secrets of Power</italic>) and a punk rock record (The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy), and his play "Wilhelm Reich in Hell" was performed at the Edmund Burke Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. His novel <italic>Illuminatus! </italic>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 briefly on stage in a special cameo role.

>He will be a speaker at The Prophets Conference in Port Townsend, WA, August 27-29. For information call toll-free 1-888-777-5981.


>TELL US about your career, interests and accomplishments?

>If you think surviving 67 years on a brutal, backward and superstitious planet ranks as an accomplishment, I've done that.

>My interests include Jungian psychology, Reichian bio-psychology, Leary's neuro-psychology, general semantics, quantum mechanics, synergetic geometry, Crowley's magick, neurolinguistic programming, ethnomethodology, movies in general and especially the films of Orson Welles and Clint Eastwood, Buddhism (Zen, Tibetan and Shinran flavors included), "Finnegans Wake" by James Joyce, the "Cantos" of Ezra Pound, Andy Warhol, Elmyr de Hory, the Three Stooges (especially Moe Howard), the obsessive rituals of serial killers and the similar but contrasting rituals of the State in re: capital punishment, whether or not God has a willy (theogenderology), how many planets with intelligent life-forms have received by now the first broadcasts of "I Love Lucy" transmitted in the 1950s, and a lot of other weird stuff. Maybe I did too much acid in the '60s.

>WHAT PROJECTS are you working on?

>I've gotten started on a new book, "The Tale of the Tribe," about the influence of anthropology on Joyce and Pound, and their influence on Internet (via Marshall McLuhan. who got his whole "global village" scenario out of "Finnegans Wake" and the "Cantos," and always said so.)

>I've also started tinkering with an old and unsatisfactory book of mine called "PLAYBOY's Book of Forbidden Words." My first and worst book; worst, after the editors at Playboy Press did to my manuscript what the Roman Army did to the Sabine women. And I didn't fight back enough because of my ignorance and inexperience. Now I'm doing the book the way I wanted it to come out the first time. I now call it "Robert Anton Wilson's Book of Black Magick and Curses" and it will include all the anthropological and neurolinguistic theorems that Playboy excised. The language of obscenity and scatology, with all its poetry and pain, its bitter wit and its witchcraft, has never had as much study as it deserves. Great artists in that area of Big Taboo--artists like Swift, Rabelais, Joyce, George Carlin etc. -- tell us more about ourselves than a googolplex of books on social science.

>WHAT BOOKS have influenced your life and what books are you reading now?

>I think movies have influenced me more than books, especially movies like F For Fake, The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, Touch of Evil, High Plains Drifter, Honky Tonk Man, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Citizen Kane, Bird, Intolerance, A Perfect World, and, of course, The Silence of the Lambs. I do like a lot of books, too, especially those by Joyce, Pound, Faulkner, Mencken, Mark Twain, Jonathan Swift and those two Class Acts from the pulps, Raymond Chandler and H P Lovecraft.

>I've just finished reading "Hannibal" by Thomas Harris and "The General's Daughter" by Nelson deMille, and I'm in the middle of my bi-annual re-reading of Pound's "Cantos." Hannibal Lecter seems to me the greatest villain in the history of crime fiction. By comparison, Professor Moriarty looks like cardboard cutout. Moriarty just became a criminal out of greed, and used his mathematical genius to create puzzles nobody could solve -- except Sherlock Holmes, of course. Dr. Lecter has much more interesting (and esoteric) motives, and his genius comes across a hell of a lot more convincingly than Moriarty's. Doyle only tells you that Moriarty "is" a genius, and we're supposed to take that on faith. Dr. Lecter talks like a genius, and acts like one, too.

>WHAT IS YOUR most serious concern about the planet?

>The Stupidity Problem. As J.R. "Bob" Dobbs has said, "You know how dumb the average guy is, right? Well, mathematically, by definition, half of them are even dumber than that." My favorite philosopher, George Carlin, points out that if you doubt that, take along a pad every time you go out and make a note whenever you see or hear something incredibly stupid. At the end of an average day, you'll have at least 40 notes. And that's even if you don't go into a church or political meeting. We live, potentially, amid Utopian abundance, which remains invisible to most of us because of the Four Blockages named by R. Buckminster Fuller-- "ignorance, fear, greed and zoning laws." I regard ignorance as the prime evil, the source of all the fear, the greed and the zoning laws. We need a pill to make everybody smarter. I guess such a magic potion would also make them happier, healthier, funnier, sexier and less easy to govern. Maybe those last two aspects of the Brain Booster makes the Establishment nervous about it and that's why it hasn't appeared on the market yet. (I hear rumors that such a Head Expander had appeared once, back in the '60s, and quickly got suppressed, but that sounds like just another paranoid rumor. Doesn't it?)

>WHAT DO YOU foresee for the future of the planet and its people? Is there reason for optimism?

>I suspect or intuit that, as Lenin said, "the machine is running the engineers." We can't dismount, even if the horse seems to have gotten out of control. Information will continue to double faster all the time, leading to new technologies, and the new technologies will unleash Chaos (in the mathematical sense), and society will change in unpredictable and unexpected ways. I suspect or intuit that this ever-accelerating info-techno-sociological rev-and-ev-olution follows the laws of organic systems and continually re-organizes on higher and higher levels of coherence, until something kills it.

>Since gene-pools last much, much longer than biological units, or persons, I assume gene-pools have higher intelligence than the isolated units. Since species last longer than their sub-divided gene-pools, I assume that a species has a higher intelligence than any gene-pool within it. And since Gaia or the Big Computer or whatever you want to call the total Terran Geo-bio-mass has lasted billions of years --despite floods and earthquakes and meteors and massive extinctions and Ice Ages -- I assume it has more smarts than any sub-sets like kingdoms, families, genera, gene-pools, etc.

>The reason for optimism lies in the biological fact that it keeps you happy and busy, whereas pessimism just leads to lying around and bitching. I'd rather keep happy and busy than lie around bitching, but I know this will not convince those who really like lying around and bitching. As Nietzsche said that optimism and good health always go together, and so do pessimism and morbidity, in the medical sense of the word.

>COULD YOU speak about aliens on the planet?

>I don't do well speaking about things I don't know anything about, so I'll speak instead about the Unknown and the Inexplicable. I find them inexhaustibly entertaining as objects of speculation, since they obviously include a lot more than the known and the explicated. I suspect and almost believe that the Unknown and Inexplicable played a role in the design of the DNA molecule, as suggested by Sir Francis Crick, Sir Fred Hoyle, Dr. Timothy Leary and others. I also suspect that the Unknown has meddled a lot in human affairs, and the Inexplicable has laid hands, or tentacles, or something, on us many times.

>As Thomas Huxley said, the universe acts a lot like a chess game in which the player on the other side remains invisible to us. By analyzing the moves, we try to form an image of the intellect behind them. Images that have seemed almost believable to me at various times have included the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece (if you develop a Classic Poetry habit, that kind of neurolinguistic programming can happen...) and also, of course, those extra-terrestrials who have so much popularity these days. I have also considered the player on the other side as more impersonal, like the Tao, or more bizarre, like Shiva Dancing, or more abstract, like Philip K. Dick's Vast Active Living Information System (VALIS.) Mostly, though I think of the player on the other side as a pookah -- a resident of Ireland, in rabbit form, who may at any time dump a truckload of the Unknown and Inexplicable right on your doorstep.

>HOW CAN one find out more about your work?

>I think my bruised modesty prevented a proper answer to your first question. Those who want to know about my works and career should consult <<>, and look into my fan club at


>Other outstanding authors and teachers coming to present their work during this unparalleled weekend in Port Townsend Washington are James Twyman, Gregg Braden, Joan Phillips Ocean, and Ilona Selke.

>Complete Prophets Conference Information is Available for you at: <<><underline>

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