Thursday, November 11, 2010

RAW the immigrant basher? I don't think so

I love it when other writers and other writers quote Robert Anton Wilson. Some of these bloggers do not share my interests or my opinions, and that's cool. RAW was a guy who had a lot of opinions and a lot of interests, so at the end of the day, "my" Robert Anton Wilson is not the same as "Michael Johnson's" or "Eric Wagner's" or "Arthur Hlavaty's." As much as wel all try to understand RAW's thought and work, the portion that particularly interests me may not hold as much fascination for other folks. I wonder sometimes if L. Neil Smith realizes that RAW isn't exactly the kind of libertarian that Mr. Smith is, but that's cool.

But with all of those caveats in mind, I still think it's a stretch for an anti-immigration blog, VDare, to appropriate Wilson's writings for an anti-immigration message.

In a Nov. 7 blog post entitled "Anti-Immigrant Sentiments from Robert Anton Wilson: 'Here Come Those Lousy Vikings Again'," a fellow named James Fulford quotes a passage from Nature's God:

“Historians agree that, when not combing the lice out of his beard or getting drunk, your average Viking preferred to spend his time cracking skulls with axes.

Incidentally, we know the Vikings spent a lot of time combing lice out of their beards because archaeologists have made careful scientific catalogs of the Danish and Norse artifacts found around Dublin Bay, and lice combs outnumber swords and all other implements of war about a hundred to one. As Sherlock Holmes would tell you, “Observing thousands of lice combs, one deduces the existence of many, many lice.” When the Irish said, “Here come those lousy Vikings again,” they were probably being literal.

I know the movie people left the lice out of that epic adventure, The Vikings, starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis, but Hollywood has a tendency to glamorize things."

I have not gotten around to re-reading Nature's God yet (I'm currently busy with Chaos and Beyond) and I don't remember the context for this passage, but I'm pretty sure the Vikings weren't immigrants, any more than the Wehrmacht "immigrated" to Poland in 1939. I haven't read every word Wilson ever wrote, but I've read a lot of them, and if he ever expressed anti-immigrant sentiments, I missed them.

There's also the small point that the kind of scapegoating that Mr. Fulford embraces was anathema to Wilson's way of thinking. Here is a complete list of the blog entry categories listed on Mr. Fulford's blog:

Crime, Immigrant Mass Murder Syndrome, Immigration, Not Reporting Race, Race, and War Against Christmas.

On the other hand, the blog seems quite useful for getting the concept of "reality tunnels" across.


supergee said...

They shouldn't leave books like that around in the humorectomy ward. They just confuse the inmates.

Oz Fritz said...

Once asked RAW sometime in the 1980's what he thought about Bucky Fuller's idea that countries and national borders would be obsolete before too long. He said that he agreed with Fuller about this and mentioned the EU as an indication that it was going in that direction.

michael said...

This "use" of RAW just adds to a long line of ideological groups and affinity groups who have made a "claim" on RAW. The Viking stuff seems such a stretch to me; Fulford manages to excavate a quote from a book of fiction by RAW to support his anti-immigration views, which, if not a strict 180 from how RAW actually thought about the flow of humans across artificial, socially-constructed lines/borders, is in my estimation, around a 175.

Those maps are not only "maps," they are usually called "political" maps. RAW said mammals mark their territories by excretions; homo sap, instead of throwing feces, throw tons of metal and chemicals at each other. "Boundaries" are marked by excretions: pen and ink on paper. And those reified political lines often mark the spot where two armies got sick of the killing and decided to settle on this river or that hill, etc.

NAFTA was sold to the American public as "freedom" "free trade" and that it would make the people in Latin America and Mexico richer, and we would all have much cheaper goods. The wonderful Invisible Hand would take care of it all! O! The beauty of the Hand! Neo-Liberalist economics doing what it does/did/will do.

Let us not neglect to take the opportunity to applaud Mr Fulford for his moxy, bootstrapping and good 'ol Murrkin wherewithall in being born in the US. It took guts...