Thursday, August 19, 2010

RAW: "Insufficiently elitist?"

On Tuesday, I put up a blog posting on the arcane subjects of science fiction fandom and The Golden APA, an amateur press association devoted to to RAW and libertarianism.

By one of those coincidences that fascinated Robert Anton Wilson, a prominent science fiction fan and former Golden APA writer posted a blog entry the next day that mentioned RAW.

Arthur D. Hlavaty is a multiple Hugo Award nominee for "best fan writer" and writes a popular Supergee blog, which is subtitled, "From the Oval Throne of Pope Guilty 1." His post concerns Robert Heinlein, but he adds that "the only other writer who comparably influenced me, Robert Anton Wilson, ... programmed me in ways that were not obvious for months or even years, but who from the beginning seemed neither feminist nor elitist enough."

I posted a comment at the blog, remarking that I could understand the "not feminist enough" criticism, given RAW's frequent barbs aimed at feminists, but that the allegation that RAW was "not elitist enough" eluded me.

Hlavaty replied in the comments: "He never seemed to accept that humans have a wide range of symbol-using ability, occasionally descending to the leftist 'There is no such thing as general symbol-using ability, it isn't hereditary, and those who are born with it shouldn't be allowed to take advantage of it.' "


supergee said...

I was the one who started the Golden APA and ran it for years, as a medium for discussing Illuminatus! and anything I could claim with a straight face was related to it. I don't know how obvious it is, but the point I was trying to make is that I don't agree 100% with anybody. There is so much that I learned from RAW, and I am grateful, but I retain a certain amount of disagreement.

supergee said...

What I disagree with 100% is Captchas.

Bobby Campbell said...

Well that seems like a good point to make indeed! Kinda funny how RAW worked it out that since he recommended not accepting all his B.S., that disagreeing w/ him on one hand amounts to agreeing w/ him on the other.

quackenbush said...

"There is so much that I learned from RAW, and I am grateful, but I retain a certain amount of disagreement. "

Here, here. I find it important to find areas where I disagree with Wilson, simply because I agree with so damn much, but I don't want to elevate him to too high a status...

On the other hand, I don't ever recall ever getting the "leftist" vibe from Wilson that Hlavaty/supergee discusses. Mostly I'm struck with the "How can people be so stupid?" attitude taken in TSOG. Damned old crank.

michael said...

I currently understand RAW as a libertarian feminist, like Wendy McElroy, and, to a certain degree, Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers (moreso Sommers). RAW's wife Arlen was active in the feminist "movement" since at least Betty Friedan's The Feminist Mystique, although I think both RAW and Arlen had read Cady-Stanton and Sanger and others - now widely described as the "first wave" of feminism. They saw the early feminists as radicals and agreed with them, for the most part. When Steinem and MS made feminism into a fairly hard-core IDEOLOGY that demonized men, neither Arlen nor RAW agreed with them, and it's easy to see why RAW disliked so intensely the Rad Fems. I consider his Ishtar Rising required if one wants to understand RAW's feminism. From William Godwin, up to the advent of MS mag, RAW's pretty much what was called a "feminist" for those times.

Arthur Hlavaty and I have an acquaintance-friend in common, Emily Toth. (Emily told me she knew Hlavaty and liked his writing.)

RAW mentions Hlavaty in Natural Law and CT3.

As for Quakenbush's searching for disagreements with RAW: I concur. RAW wrote that, in the 1950s, after his Randroid days, he adopted the philosophies of Bertrand Russell, HL Mencken, and Nietzsche and "imagined himself a freethinker." I think RAW was "OFF" about a lot of things, but I usually find his errors very interesting. Maybe the most fascinating area in which I think he was sorta off was in the level of discourse surrounding his "fundamentalist materialists"/CSICOPpers. But one wonders - fuck it: I wonder - about some sort of meta-rhetoric that may "be" at play there.

supergee said...

I am sure that somewhere out there one can find "Rad Fems" who demonize men, but they are peripheral to the real feminist movement as represented by, let us say, Amanda Marcotte, Avedon Carol, and Jessica Valente, just as Rush Limbaugh doesn't represent libertarians no matter how much he talks about freedom. It is unfortunate that RAW allowed himself to be distracted by this fringe of the movement.

Do give Emily my best wishes. I haven't seen her since college.

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