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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Robert Anton Wilson's amusing friend Tim

I've been reading Chaos and Beyond, one of the very few Robert Anton Wilson books that has been allowed to go out of print. It's a collection from his newsletter, "Trajectories," and while there is plenty of RAW material, there are also contributions from a number of other writers.

I've been particularly impressed so far by the pieces chipped in by Timothy Leary; he apparently was a very funny writer. (I admit I've never sampled his writing before, unless you count his foreword to Cosmic Trigger I.)

In one of his "Trajectories" pieces, Leary says he's had little luck publishing letters to the editor in Los Angeles newspapers that were written under his own name, but had done pretty well by writing letters using phony names.

"The most effective info-raid technique, I have found, is to avoid stating dissident opinions openly," Leary writes. "Simply adopt the current Establishment line, exaggerate it a bit (in the manner of Voltaire) and 'defend' it in the passionate jargon of the true believer. Satire reaches those deaf to logic and evidence."

As an example, Leary offers the following letter to the editor, written under one of his false names, Mary Alice O'Brien, during debate over a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning:

Dear Editor,

Even flaming liberals agree that scrawling anti-American or anti-religious graffiti on the Washington Monument should not be constitutionally protected. Nonetheless, some card-carrying ACLU lawyers apparently convinced the Supreme Court that a flag bought and paid for by some mental patient is not a national monument.

Surely, now other self-appointed Civil Liberties lawyers will defend the more insidious case of "closet creeps" who will undoubtedly continue to burn flags in the privacy of their own homes, thus evading detection and prosecution even if Bush's proposed Amendment is passed. Can not our schools and police educate children to turn in such parents?
In the current climate of global disrespect for authority and for sacred symbols, should not the right to possess, transport and sell sacred symbols like the flag, the Blessed Sacrament, guns and Bibles be restricted to patriotic and God-fearing citizens whose loyalties are beyond suspicion and who can be counted on not to desecrate in public or in private?

For example, suppose you saw a Jesse Jackson follower like Willie Horton swaggering down the street with a flag in his hand, or a Dukakis follower with a Bible in his hand. Wouldn't it make you wonder uneasily what they might do with these sacred relics when nobody is watching?

Mary Alice O'Brien

In a more serious vein, or at least a different one, I wanted to share Dr. Leary's contribution to The Book of Rock Lists by Dave Marsh and Kevin Stein. Despite his encyclopedic writings on almost everything, Robert Anton Wilson left little behind in the way of rock criticism. So instead, Dr. Leary steps in with "Timothy Leary lists the techno-erotic vector bands":

1. David Bowie
2. King Crimson
3. Manuel Göttsching
4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
5. Roxy Music (Brian Eno, Brian Ferry)
6. Klaus Schulze


Anonymous said...

"I admit I've never sampled his writing before..."

Do! Do do do! In fact that was pretty much what RAW said in his contribution to "Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In" -


Leary's work in the Seventies in particular is the source for many of RAW's obsessions e.g. the 8-circuit model and the westward flow of power/information. And RAW contributed to some of these books, incuding the wonderful, glorious, bugfuck "Game of Life."

quackenbush said...

I found "Flashbacks" a fantastically fun read, but obviously a big ego book. Can an autobiography not be a big ego book?

"The Intelligence Agents" and particularly "Chaos and Cyber-Culture" blew my mind when I read them. I was less enthusiastic about subsequent readings of "the Intelligence Agents." "Info psychology" reads like Bucky Fuller on acid to me.

Oh! "Neuropolitique"! That's up there with "Chaos & Cyberculture."

Haven't read Politics of Ecstacy. I consider "The Psychedelic Experience" to be a sacred text.

LJ said...

"Flashbacks" was neither serious nor accurate, but I prefer the later books to "The Pyschedelic Experince" as Leary later apologised for the over emphasis on religion. The "Psychedelic Prayers from the Tao teh Ching" was better-- the Dao De Jing is a much deeper book than al that primitive stuff about demons and bardos.

Shame the "Game of Life" is his least available book-- that must mean something.

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