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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Arthur Hlavaty on The ILLUMINATI PAPERS

(Editor's Note: The following article is a reprint of Arthur Hlavaty's review of Robert Anton Wilson's The Illuminati Papers. It was published in 1981 in The Golden Amateur Press Association, a consortium of fanzines devoted to Illuminatus!-related topics that Hlavaty founded. If the term "amateur press association" is unfamiliar to you, you may consult this for background.

Mr. Hlavaty will not need an introduction for readers such as myself who are involved in science fiction fandom, a "conspiracy" fully as weird and wonderful as any chronicled in ILLUMINATUS!, but for outsiders I should explain that science fiction fandom has been an organized literary and social activity since at least the 1930s, with publications, conventions, its own jargon, its own social conventions and so on. Hlavaty has been a BNF ("big name fan") and well-known fan writer for decades and was a finalist for the Hugo Award for "best fan writer" from 1980 to 1991. He blogs here. -- Tom Jackson)

The Bloodshot Pyramid

By Arthur Hlavaty

Thus is an experiment of sorts. What I am doing is taking The Illuminati Papers & going through it as if it were an apa, and I were writing mailing comments. No effort will be made to make these comments intelligible to those who have not read the book.

Glossary. The first few definitions seem operational to the point of confusion, if such is possible. If "consciousness"="information received & decoded by a structure," then. all radios are conscious. 1,# These are interesting definitions. They include presumed empirical data (e.g., the Leary 8-circuit model of the brain), and thus must be discarded or modified if the data turn out, to be incorrect.

At this point, I think I'll make a couple of general statements:

1) I will from time to time, put in a quote from the book, followed by *****". That means "I agree," "I like."

2) I do not like the layout of the book, specifically the funny shape and the subliterate practice of putting parts of the book in

big letters

to emphasize them.

The Abolition of Stupidity. "This goal [the abolition of starvation] is rational, practical, and desirable; so it is naturally denounced as Utopian, fantastic, and absurd." *****

"There is nothing rationally desirable that cannot be achieved sooner if rationality itself increases. [Therefore,] Work to achieve higher intelligence is work to achieve all of our other goals.'" This is an inspiring thought to me, since one of the things I am most interested in is the improvement of communications, and an awareness of how language can be either implement or handicap.

What I like about this article is that it points out that "brainwashing"/"psychedelic"/"deprogramming"/"reprogramming" tools are just tools, and that the use of them, rather than their inherent nature, determines their value. What I question is the assumption that we now have, or soon will have, tools of a precision far higher than generally known today.

Some further thoughts (tentative) on reprograming, metaprograming, etc. We can consider 2 approaches to this—as a science, and as a Craft. A fully developed science is one in which the data can be gathered, and the treatment applied, by anyone capable of reading dials. A Craft requires a practitioner who can receive & decode information in ways that cannot be fully explained (by intuition, etc.) Throughout history there have been advances in the science of intelligence increase (Aristotelian logic, General Semantics, and many others, some of which are mentioned here). There have also been Craft.persons (Zen masters, dervishes, and now psychiatrists).

Advances in the sciences of communication will make it easier for more people to use the Crafts. I am, however, very suspicious of any statement that we can ever reduce all of this to a science—for instance, the supposed far more precise & predictable neurochemicals. I hope to see such chemicals, but I remain skeptical. The history of psychochemicals (such as heroin) indicates that they are always liable to have side effects and unpredictabilities. Let me put it this way: I am convinced that LSD, in the hands of a skilled practitioner, is an enormously effective metaprogramming tool. In the hands of a well-intentioned bungler, it is a menace. I would like to think that we have psychochemicals which are easier to use for their desired goals, but I very much doubt that we will ever have foolproof ones. (Analogy: rote teaching of arithmetic was practically foolproof; it could be done by anyone above the imbecile level. The catch is that it was tiresome & oppressive, and anything that could be learned by it can now be done better & faster by a $10 machine. The "new Math" can teach the child how to think much better, but the teacher has to teach it creatively, responding to the individual student. Any attempt to impose it mechanically produces nonsense.

Eight Circuits of the Nervous System. The first four strike me .as a most useful map. I like 4-part divisions, such as the Jungian functions, and the theory in Chapter 4 of Thompson's At the Edge of History. I am insufficiently acquainted with the higher circuits (if any) of my mind to comment on the second four at this time.

Conspiracy Digest Interview 1. "Most conspiracy buffs are adrenaline freaks and really get off on frightening the blue daylights out of themselves (and others). This is the same weird imprint that makes people go to sadistic horror movies." This refers to a theory that I don't recall seeing in print, but is discussed by Wilson in a cassette made for Gnostica. The idea is that people learn a particular response to bad situations—rage, fear, stoic suffering, etc.—and that the response becomes imprinted at the neurological level in the form of a chemical addiction. Thus at some level, we are programmed to get into situations in which we can react in our chosen way. Since my own reaction of choice tends to make me sick (asthma), I would like to find some way to reprogram that part of me.

Throughout the interview, we see Wilson transcending both the naive view in which things in the public sphere "just happen" or respond to the will of the people, the invisible hand of the free market, or the commandments of God, and the overly paranoid view that things are really & truly run by a tiny little clique who actually know all.

The redefinition of "Power Elite" is most interesting, and an implicit rebuke to these who think that we must change the world/change society" by political means.

Neuroeconomics. I question the assumption that the first human tribes lived in perfect pack-bonding love until the conquering State arose (from where?) and "created" poverty. Here is my own conjecture: The first human packs were run in a thoroughly dictatorial manner by the 'gest & meanest bucks, who beat the shit out of anyone who stepped of line. I would assume that our ancestors, being at least as smart as wolves, had built-in controls that kept them from fighting to the death, but it was not the most loving of situations. I postulate that after a while, some of the smarter women (& perhaps some smart but puny males) discovered that food gathering & preparation were at least a supplement to the hunt, and created a revolution that brought about a matriarchal society. This lasted for a while, until the males (or some of them) realized that such a society was still vulnerable to poverty in case of crop failures, bad weather, etc. The patriarchy that came from this had 2 approaches to poverty: 1) Science—figuring out ways to get more from the environment; and 2) The conquering State—beating the shit out of neighboring tribes to whom we weren't all that closely bonded anyway. The conflict between these 2 methods remains to this day.

My other quarrel with this approach is that I believe the pack bond, by its very nature, applies to a limited number of people. There is a very human trait of dividing the world into Our Pack and THEM (niggers, commies, furriners, mundanes, etc.). Today we live in a mass society in which we are influenced by millions if not billions of others, and it is quite natural not to be able to extend one's love & trust quite that wide. The answer is decentralized arrangements. If we can return to a setup where we can live in somewhat similar-thinking tribes, we will have a true alternative to both rugged individualism and anthill collectivism.

These are tangential arguments. The idea that money is the biosurvival imprint strikes me as a Truth. One additional evidence of this is the warm feeling that many people (including me on occasion) get from spending money, almost independent of what is purchased.

Coex! Coex! Coex! Excellent literary analysis. If Life Extension does come about, and I get in on it, I hope to give Finnegans Wake a proper study.

From: The Order of the Illuminati. Interesting. I don't know chess well enough to know how good it is.

Hey, Man, Are You Using Only Half Your Brain? "Wouldn't you like to learn the secrets of the West, previously known only to the adehts at the esoteric Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies?" *****

Conspiracy Digest Interview 2. Excellent analysis of the USLP smear of Joel Fort.

Top Secret. A very plausible theory.

Ten Good Reasons to Get Out of Bed in the Morning. It has always seemed to me that the self-fulfilling prophecy effect doesn't work if you believe in it; in other words, if you do something because it will work by itself, the self-fulfilling prophecy may take place; but if you do it because of the self-fulfilling prophecy, then you don't really believe in the thing itself, so it doesn't work.

Beethoven as Information. It will surprise some people to learn that I have a tendency to shut up when I know absolutely nothing about the subject under discussion. That tendency predominates here.

Incident on Cumberland Avenue. I remember seeing this in The Realist when it was first published. Wilson was already one of my favorite writers, and so I looked forward to reading it, and was a bit disappointed when it turned out to be mere reportage. (Well done, but not of that much interest to me.) Now it is reprinted and I'm not sure why. (Except perhaps as a further display of the awesome Wilsonian versatility.) Since I do operate in the Paranoid mode from time to time, I will point out just for the record, that I myself have never seen any outside verification that the incident took place.

Conspiracy Digest Interview 3. The game continues: The unnamed interviewer grimly pushing for his view of a world totally controlled a little clique of Bad Guys; Wilson doing the psychic judo and guerrilla epistemology intended to flip him into a more interesting open-ended reality (in vain, I fear).

According to the Everett-Wheeeler-Graham model, there exists at least one universe where Vlad impaled the honest monk and at least one where he impaled the dishonest one.

Beyond Theology. This is the OUI article on the new problems in !ntum physics & good stuff like the collapse of the state vector. (How marvelously anarchistic! That's even better than those free radicals in Chemistry.) Anyway, before I forget, I'd like to mention that if you want to go deeper into this sort of thing, there's a new book out called Mysticism and the New Physics by Michael Talbot (Bantam pb, $3.50).

I am suspicious of the extent which I welcome & believe this sort of thing. I've always wanted believe that Mind is (in its final essence) real, and Body (in its final essence) is not. This .is partly because I have an excellent mind & a mediocre body. Contrary to people who use ad hominem arguments, the fact that I very much want to believe this sort of theory does not necessarily make it false. It does, however, mean that I would be well-advised to guard against my tendency to believe insufficient evidence.

I have noticed that the more uptight I am, the more I tend to feel that "I" am hunkered down in a tiny space directly behind my eyes. In better moments, I feel that my consciousness is at the back of my head or a bit behind it. I am sometimes able to move my consciousness back there, whereupon I feel better. This positive feeling goes with a feeling that the world is my body. I believe this sort of thing, but I am not yet ready to live as if I believed it.

The Goddess of Ezra Pound. I was raised to despise Pound (and his poetry) for his anti-Semitic oinkings; there predictably came a time when appreciating the poetry would prove what a noble & forgiving person I was, or somesuch. I hope I am now beyond both of those. As with Finnegans Wake, it would take the hope of Life Extension to turn me to a full study of The Cantos. Thus I do not know whether this analysis is the True Meaning of Pound, or merely the work of a man clever enough to be able to prove that the Hidden God was really Bugs Bunny. .

Conspiracy Digest Interview 4. The hardcover edition of Colin Wilson's The Occult said that Hubbard was involved with the O.T.O. in California, witnessed at least one act of sex magick, and later claimed to have been "investigating for Naval Intelligence." In the paperback, this became "Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics has described how he was sent in to investigate by Naval Intelligence, and caused the group to disperse." At the time of these publications the Church of Scientology was notorious for suing anyone who said a disagreeable word about them.

Conspiracy Digest Interview 5. Inspiring answer to those who believe that the political tunnel reality is the important one.

Infinite Cruelty. At Bob Wilson's suggestion, I read a couple of Chandler's books a few years ago. I enjoyed them, but was not as impressed, perhaps because I'd read so many of his imitators that the effect of the original was diluted. (But then I'm the one who thought of Kafka as a second-rate Pynchon.)

Stupidynamics. I have no particular comments on this essay, but I find it fascinating & filled with useful insights. Incidentally, I should perhaps point out that some of these essays are things I've read years ago, and some (like Beyond Theology) have already reprogrammed me to some extent. Others, like this stupidity essay, are still being processed.

Paleopuritanism & Neopuritanism. A good essay, except for one omission. There is a feminist (not Women's Liberation) element which opposes what they call pornography, not out of neopuritanism, but because they have redefined pornography. Paleopuritans are against porn because it glorifies fucking (or sucking or whatever) & treats it as a good thing. I see nothing wrong with that. But there is a kind of writing that glorifies sex that a man takes from a woman thru fear, fraud, or status. Some feminists carefully define "pornography" to mean only this kind of writing. I disagree with their belief that this writing (loathsome as I consider it) should be censored, but they are not the kind of neopuritans Marvin Gardens is talking about.

(Second thought on the glossary) Leary's 8-circuit model is a map, rather than an empirical statement. As such, it cannot be disproved (even as Freud's & Berne's maps of the mind cannot). It may, however, someday be superseded by a more productive or more interesting map, and if Dr. Leary is a true scientist, he hopes that it will be.


Anonymous said...

Interesting new columnist you've got there. He's a typical or stereotypical libertarian, still living in his parents' attic in his 30s and thinks he can tell people who work for a living what real life is like. But like all of them, he's right about quite a few things. He'll learn.

quackenbush said...

That's a great piece that sparks a ton of good discussion points for me.

Certainly pharmacology has progressed significantly in the last 35 years, but I don't think Prozac and Ambien are any sort of fix to anything, just the latest Western Allopathic Band-Aid. (I view them as useful tools for very specific applications, but nothing more than an temporary aid.)

Regarding the 8-Circuit Brain, this map sure hasn't caught on much, but I still find it highly useful. Antero Alli has taken the model and stripped out the Wilson-Leary-HinduChakra escapist tendency via vertical transcendence, and fleshed out the model in a more vertical-horizontal multi-dimensional model which I find much more practical.

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