Sunday, January 14, 2007


Robert Anton Wilson, one of my favorite crazed but thoughtful writers, left us at age 74 on 1-11-07. It's a little hard to describe his books.. I guess his main thesis would be: "Think outside the box of consensual reality". Or maybe just "Maybe". Heck, read some of his works and come to your own conclusions. For those of you too busy to search, here's a convenient booklist: The Illuminatus Trilogy, Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy, Cosmic Trigger I, II, and III, Prometheus Rising, The Illuminati Papers, The Historical Illuminatus Trilogy (The Earth Will Shake, The Widow's Son, Nature's God), Quantum Software, Email to the Universe, Robert Anton Wilson - Maybe Logic (this last is a DVD - probably not captioned tho).

As a little tribute and to give you an idea of the trippy stuff that came out of RAW's mind, and help you get a handle on what the heck he's talking about, here is an excerpt from the preface to Cosmic Trigger I :
"Reality" is a word in the English language which happens to be (a) a noun and (b) singular. Thinking in the English language (and in cognate Indo-European languages) therefore subliminally programs us to conceptualize "reality" as one block-like entity, sort of like a huge New York skyscraper, in which every part is just another "room" within the same building. This linguistic program is so pervasive that most people cannot "think" outside it at all, and when one tries to offer a different perspective they imagine one is talking gibberish.
The notion that "reality" is a
noun, a solid thing like a brick or a baseball bat, derives from the evolutionary fact that our nervous systems normally organize the dance of energy into such block-like "things", probably as instant bio-survival cues. Such "things", however, dissolve back into energy dances - processes, or verbs - when the nervous system is synergized with certain drugs or transmuted by yogic or shamanic exercises or aided by scientific instruments. In both mysticism and physics, there is a general agreement that "things" are constructed by our nervous systems and that "realities" (plural) are better described as systems or bundles of energy-functions.
So much for "reality" as a
noun. The notion that "reality" is singular, like a hermetically sealed jar, does not jibe with scientific findings which, in this century, suggest that "reality" may better be considered as flowing and meandering, like a river, or interacting, like a dance, or evolving, like life itself.
Most philosophers have known, at least since around 500 B.C., that the world perceived by our senses is not "the real world" but a construct we create - our own private work of art. Modern science began with Galileo's demonstration that color is not "in" objects but "in" the inter-action of our senses with objects. Despite this philosophic and scientific knowledge of neurological relativity, which has been more clearly demonstrated with each major advance in instrumentation, we still, due to language, think that
behind the flowing, meandering, inter-acting, evolving universe created by perception is one solid monolithic "reality" hard and crisply outlined as an iron bar.
Quantum physics has undermined that Platonic iron-bar "reality" by showing that it makes more sense scientifically to talk only of the inter-actions we actually experience (our operations in the laboratory); and perception psychology has undermined the Platonic "reality" by showing that assuming it exists leads to hopeless contradictions in explaining how we actually perceive that a hippopotamus is not a symphony orchestra.
The only "realities" (plural) that we actually experience and can talk meaningfully about are perceived realities, experienced realities, existential realities - realities involving ourselves as editors - and they are all relative to the observer, fluctuating, evolving, capable of being magnified and enriched, moving from low resolution to hi-fi, and do not fit together like the pieces of a jig-saw into one single Reality with a capital R. Rather, they cast illumination upon one another by contrast, like the paintings in a large museum, or the different symphonic styles of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler.
Alan Watts may have said it best of all: "The universe is a giant Rorshach ink-blot." Science finds one meaning in it in the 18th century, another in the 19th, a third in the 20th; each artist finds unique meanings on other levels of abstraction; and each man and woman finds different meanings at different hours of the day, depending on the internal and external environments. - (Robert Anton Wilson, Dublin 1986 - Cosmic Trigger Volume I, New Falcon Publications)

So long and thanks for all the mind candy. Fnord!

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