Robert Anton Wilson Speaks to Me From Beyond the Grave
Robert Anton Wilson: Beyond Conspiracy Theory – V. Vale (2019)
Robert Anton Wilson (A.K.A. RAW) has been one of the most important literary figures in my life, ever since I first picked up the Illuminatus Trilogy around age 19-20. I devoured almost all of his books, even digging up the out of print ones through the internet. His ideas on philosophy, language, reality tunnels, and general agnosticism are deeply important to me and help drive my intellectual curiosity and awareness of the world around me. Through his work I have been introduced to other awesome writers and thinkers such as Buckminster Fuller, Alfred Korzybski, and Benjamin Tucker. His passing in January of 2007 from Post-Polio Syndrome complications was felt very deeply by me, especially as I thought it silenced a voice that had so much more to share. This is what he posted online just a few days before his death, after a groundswell of support managed to raise money for his crippling medical debt, "I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying. Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd."
A few months ago, as I was perusing the internet, I saw a post about a new book being published, containing a recently re-discovered interview of RAW from 1985 found in the RE/Search Publisher archives. What a surprise! I placed my pre-order and waited. When it arrived in my mailbox I was so excited. When I began reading it, and could hear RAW’s voice in my head again, I was thrilled.
Reading so much in the field of occult knowledge, conspiracy theories, and such high weirdness sometimes leaves me with a deep need for some humor, as so many of the writers of these books seem humorless. They feel like they must take themselves very seriously or else their ideas will not be properly considered. Robert Anton Wilson never fails to be hilarious. Reading this interview reminded me of how funny RAW was, and how much his humor actually shines a light on our reality. He who cannot find something to laugh at is not looking hard enough.
This book not only contains the aforementioned interview, but also several other sections that Robert Anton Wilson had prepared for publication. These items were to be part of a book about RAW to be published by RE/Search Publications in the mid-1980’s, but the project was shelved, and the interview was archived and forgotten. These parts include a list of 50 books from RAW’s personal library, which is bad-ass for a book nerd like myself! It also includes a section with a 120+ question International Conspiracy Trivia quiz he created, and a listing of 8 different lecture titles and descriptions, lectures that RAW was available to deliver to any group or organization that wished to invite him to speak. Many of these are available to view on YouTube.
One of the greatest things about Robert Anton Wilson was that his ideas were not framed as high intellectualism, suitable solely for the refined mentalities of elite thinkers. His work speaks directly to the normal human, hoping to stir something in them that will improve their life and the lives of those around them. Not only did he describe his ideas in his fiction books, but he expounded upon them in his non-fiction work, providing methods and techniques by which to help expunge the conditioned reactions we all have, and allow us all to understand ourselves and the world around us as much more than an either/or scenario. This is the core of his “Guerrilla Oncology,” which is how RAW described his writing. It sucked you in with a good story while at the same time rewriting the way one thinks. He fought an endless battle against what is called Aristotelian logic, the idea that every question can be answered solely by a Yes or No. This faulty logic has caused so much trouble to our world, and has invaded our collective thought so successfully that no one thinks about it anymore.
RAW pushes a “Maybe Logic” where every question has many more possible answers than just Yes/No. For example, “Does acupuncture actually work?” The answer could be Yes, No, Maybe, I Don’t Know, etc. Nothing in our experience just “IS.” Instead of “You are evil,” RAW would state it as “You seem evil to me at this time.” Instead of the statement “Beethoven is better than Mozart,” which is inherently meaningless, RAW would say “Beethoven seems to me to be much better than Mozart.” This is a true and verifiable statement, applicable only to the mind that is speaking, and not a wholesale generalization. This is how scientists talk, because it is the only really truthful way to convey information and it allows for the variety of experience and chance that is inherent in our existence. Our language is limited and unless we recognize it and fight it, our thinking is also limited.
I am so glad I got a chance to order this book and add it to my Robert Anton Wilson collection. I highly recommend his books, and hope that more and more people will read them and understand the point. Thanks to V. Vale from RE/Search for sending me the book, and for including such a cool photograph of Robert Anton Wilson alongside! Much appreciated!
(This book can be ordered directly from RE/Search Publications HERE )