Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Q. I want to explore a few vexing questions for Wilsonians. Here's one: What do you think happened to the material that was cut from ILLUMINATUS! at Dell's insistence? Do you believe any of it survives?
A. Jesus H. Christ on a pogo-stick, I wish it would resurface, but I have strong doubts it will. I think if RAW could've recovered it he would've found a way to sculpt it — ideally working in tandem with Shea — into another genius tome and get it into our hands. I see no reason to doubt the official story (from him) that it's lost. 500 pages or so! Can you imagine a 1300 page version of Illuminatus! ??? The reel minds, or rind meals, or...see what I mean?
Q. Do you have any insight into how far Wilson got on BRIDE OF ILLUMINATUS, and why it was never finished?
A. Of this question I have almost no insight. I hope to tease out some more info before my book gets published. When I saw him give a talk after Cosmic Trigger III came out, in Santa Monica, he got that question about Bride. I recall him saying there will be a satire on the OJ Simpson fiasco, and Monica Lewinsky. He said very little about his upcoming book projects, which with hindsight seems like a "smart" thing to do.
Q. How much material was cut from SCHROEDINGER'S CAT when it was reduced from three separate books to one omnibus edition?
A. Quite a lot of really really RILLY cool stuff, to my eyes. I don't have the actual page count difference. I had read the omnibus edition four or five times before I finally scored all three of the originals via Ebay, and I was astonished and delighted there was so much "new" and Wilsonic-trippy stuff that got left out of the one-volume edition. Why? The ways of the publishing houses are inscrutable to me. I have the feeling that if I found out someone who knew the straight answer it would be something like, "Oh yeah. That was Joe 'Bottom Line' Smith who edited that. He took one look at it, said, 'Naw. Sorry. Too big. No one's buying fat books anymore,' then cut out a shitload of pages. He quit soon after that and became a broker on Wall Street."
Do I sound jaundiced?
On the other hand, RAW ended up with New Falcon because they wouldn't tamper-edit his books. The drag of it is: he could've used someone at least proofing his books there. They are filled with typos, and only two of his non-fiction books published by New Falcon have indexes. And I don't think they had any marketing budget to speak of. But I digress...
Q. Did TALE OF THE TRIBE turn into EMAIL TO THE UNIVERSE, or was it never completed?
A. The way I understand it, RAW wanted to write the book that is delineated with tantalizing tidbits at the end of TSOG: The Thing That Ate The Constitution, pp.203-213. He ended up publishing Email To The Universe instead, and there's no bloody way that was what he was wanting for Tale of the Tribe. He ended up finding about half to a third of old pieces that Mike Gathers, Eric Wagner, Dan Clore, myself, and a few others had found in disparate old magazines that had never made it into RAW's published books. We had collected tons of stuff we'd bought on eBay or had stashed in old boxes somewhere, some of it from quite obscure little magazines. Gathers took the time and put it all up at rawilsonfans.com. I think he did a helluva job. One day, New Falcon asked Mike to take certain pieces off the site, and he did without complaint. Those pieces ended up in E to the U. Gathers got a free copy out of it.
There's a quote from RAW in an old entry for him in the reference set found in libraries, Contemporary Authors. He said he had, if I recall correctly, about 1500 articles in print before he made it as a writer. And those articles were in scholarly journals, porno mags, little literary mags, schlocky publications, everywhere. And in a circa 1980 interview with Dr. Jeffrey Eliot he told Eliot he'd rather be "rhino-gored" than to see some of those pieces re-surface. Methinks RAW saw quite a lot of stuff at up at rawilsonfans.com and thought they weren't half-bad at all, at all. I'm glad he was able to put out that last book with our anonymous help. He was having a really tough time those last eight years or so, after Arlen died. His post-polio syndrome really did a number on him; cannabis was a godsend for him, but being stoned all the time definitely slowed his writing down. But I quite like E to the U, don't you?
I think it remains for one of his disciples to carry on and write a heavily-influenced by RAW Tale of the Tribe. The blueprints are on the pages I cited for TSOG, above. And he did an online course for his MaybeLogic Academy that was intensively "Tribe" oriented. There are many others more qualified than I to comment on this projected last book.
Q. Do you believe Wilson's fans will succeed in keeping interest in his writing alive?
A. Maybe it's just selective perception, but I see it, yeah. I think it's building, slowly. I do think Wilson was quasi-tragically ahead of his time. But if it was between dying out or growing interest, my money's on him getting bigger over the next decade or so. Let it ride, too! I hope to be some sort of influence on that, obviously.
Q. How aggressive do you believe Wilson's family will be in bringing his out of print books back into print and bringing new material into print?
A. That one scares me a bit. My impression is that (I will just say "they") they knew he was an author with a particularly devoted fan base; I don't get the impression they understand his work the way fans like you or I do. I hope I'm wrong. Wilson did leave his kids with debts. They may be jaded, I don't know. It's in their best interests — one would think — to maintain control of the rights and to keep him in print, but there are too many moving parts there for me to tell for sure.
If they do have unpublished material I wish they'd let someone like me edit it first! (Am I dreaming?)
Q. You have worked for years as a musician and guitar instructor. Do you have any particular insight into Wilson's writings on music?
A. I asked him why Beethoven, especially the Ninth Symphony, shows up so often and with such prominence in his work. I said, is it because he represents your highest ideas about Enlightenment? He bluntly said he'd had a peak experience while high on acid and listening to the 9th. Ahhh...why didn't I guess that? I asked him if he wrote with music on, and he said he listened to "light" classical sometimes while writing, but his favorites — esp. Ludwig van — were too engrossing; they demanded all of your attention.
He once listed favorite pieces in Usenet under the nym "Mark Chan." I remember they were all classical, maybe a jazz performer or two, and then last, "Iron Butterfly." I think Wilson's take on rock was ironic because he perceived it was the music of his fans, but he thought JS Bach wrote the "sexiest" music in history.
I have a section about RAW and music, so I don't wanna blow my wad here. I will say that I think the hotbed — or one of the hotbeds — for RAW's thinking about music is found in Sigismundo Celine's interior monologues as found within the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles.
Q. I've never noticed any reference to sports in Wilson's writings. Do you know if he had any interest in any sports?
A. I mentioned this to Eric Wagner years ago, and he said RAW had interest and knowledge of Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, and few others, if I recall with any accuracy that email exchange. But by and large, I'd say, comparatively speaking, RAW was not a big sports guy...and can you blame him? Having polio and being as cerebral as he was as a kid? He liked Mailer, I'll say that. Is that sports? He was also an acquaintance of the great Oakland/Berkeley-based writer Ishmael Reed, whose Mumbo Jumbo reminds some of us of Illuminatus! and Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 in tone and antic humor and secret society tropes. Reed says, "Writin' is fightin'!" From Hemingway to Mailer punching Gore Vidal: writers as boxers, trying to knock their fellow (Male? Oh let's let in Joyce Carol Oates for fairness...) writers out of the ring, writin' bein' fightin' 'n all, ya know...
Q. It's my impression that California is a particular hotbed of Wilson fans. Has that been your experience?
A. RAW and Leary had some things to say about the maverick genes lighting out for the territory, and ending up in California, the edge of the Pacific, the Granola State, filled with fruits and nuts. But they were also serious: they thought that genetic neophiles agglomerated in California, where you got Hollywood and Silicon Valley, CalTech and JPL and Berkeley, the progressive-liberalism of San Francisco, and all kinds of weirdo cults and inventors: their kinds of peeps! At times they identified parts of California as the avant garde of 5th circuit Hedonic Engineering: hot tubs and pot, fine wines and tantric cults, surfing and fucking on the beach, then going to a movie after a vegetarian meal. (This all fits more the coast of CA; the inland areas can be pretty conservative and pent-up-regressive, right wing, what have ya. Their point was generally: when there is enough Wealth, more people will activate the somatosensory circuit of "feeling good" floating, which usually leads to tolerance towards others doing their own things. It can happen anywhere.)
I think it's probably right that CA has more RAW readers than any other state, but hell, it's a big-assed state, and the neophilic gene thing was probably a rhetorical flourish not quite fully-baked. I know he has a substantial fan base in Germany. He said he thought it was the children (and their children in turn) who were particularly raised to Question Authority, after the unpleasantness of 1914-45. Anywhere there are freaks like us, we will find guys like RAW. Libertarians and anarchists of various stripe, Discordians and Sub Genii, futurists, New Agers with scientific educations, surrealists, particularly literary science fiction fans, entheogenic enthusiasts, and people who like dense, eccentric and difficult heretical ideas, writers and thinkers will gravitate towards Wilson, wherever they are. Anyone can find him, even right where they are sitting now.
Q. What did you think of Eric Wagner's "An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson"?
A. 1.) He knows more than he let on.
2.) Any first book on an author starts the conversation in a literal way, for me at least, and for that he's to be commended. Subsequent books on Wilson will have to answer some of what Wagner addressed, if only to take issue with him. I'm grateful he got the first book on RAW out there.
3.) There are some tremendous insights in there; there are some things that really opened my eyes, and we're all lucky he spend time with RAW and corresponded with him.
4.) He carries the E-Prime off really well. No mean feat!
5.) Wagner takes his epistemology very siriusly indeed, and that renders his book as at times wildly subjective, intensely personal...really pretty avant in approach, especially for a first book on the subject. I admire him, but I think he hurt his cause a bit by being so subjective (which seems in keeping with a certain strict reading of RAW and Korzybski regarding "what we can know").
6.) He definitely "knows" more than he lets on. (I know I already said that.) I wrote the first review of the book at the Amazon site.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
A. I've already ditched about 300 pages, because I'm trying to learn how to do this thing called, umm..."writing a book that would not be boring if I were the reader." Lemme see: I will try to show how RAW's oeuvre is similar to many of his contemporaries, but the interest lies in DIFFERENCE. I will trace the trajectory of his career as a particular kind of Artist-Intellectual. I have outlined his outstanding metaphors and recurring tropes as I have read his body of work, and I note that beneath all the deep play there's an urgency. RAW was very much like Buckminster Fuller, in that he wanted humankind to be "a success in universe." The Bomb seems always lurking behind Wilson's work.
I flesh out a minor bio, I have a long interview in there, and I go over each book, not in E-Prime like Eric Wagner's book The Insider's Guide To Robert Anton Wilson, because I find the E-Prime thing too difficult, although the spirit is there...I'm quite fascinated by RAW's sociology of knowledge and the deeper structures of it. I speculate, bullshit, pull legs, put-on...and try to situate RAW as a thinker, a hairy endeavor indeed for a damned eejit like myself.
Ya know? I just realized something profound. Yosemite Sam was right! Bugs Bunny was INDEED a "long-eared ijit-galoot"! Let that sink in a bit...
I recently realized, via Ed Sanders, via Charles Olson, that I'm trying to do my "Saturation Job." See p.420 of Sanders' book on the Manson group, The Family, 3rd edition. Oh? You don't have that on hand? Okay, here is the relevant passage, for any other writers in a similar quandary:
[Sanders is talking about trying to score ultra-elusive videos of
famous people fucking for who-knows why]:
"Then the meeting ended. During the next few days I strove to complete
the deal, to no avail. I couldn't devote full-time to it, since I had
begun writing my book, the biggest book of my life. My mentor, the
great bard Charles Olson, had written about a 'Saturation Job,' as a
rite of passage for a writer of substance. In a Saturation Job, Olson
pointed out, you studied one subject, whether a place or a person or
persons, 'until you yourself know more about that than is possible to
any other man. It doesn't matter whether it's Barbed Wire or Pemmican
or Paterson or Iowa. But EXHAUST IT, Saturate it. Beat it. And then U
KNOW everything very fast: one saturation job (it might take fourteen
years). And you're in, forever.'"
"Writer of substance." Aye, there's the rub!
Q. I hope you will finish the book, rather than spending years working on it. If you have second thoughts, you can always write another book!
Rudy Rucker, in a book called SEEK that collects his nonfiction, described RAW (at age 62) as an unpleasant person who was only easy to be around when he was inebriated on alcohol or pot. What was your experience with RAW, and what did you think of Rucker's account? Was RAW generally kind to fans?
A. I was disappointed in Rucker's aloofness towards RAW. It would've been easy to find out RAW's wife of 40+ years was dying — I either remember or suspect Rucker knew this yet was still kind of a dick writing about RAW — that his post-polio made long plane trips to places like Portugal (where they filmed) far more uncomfortable than any of us could imagine, and that RAW needed the money desperately, having bills and a brood. It was a dark and difficult time for Wilson, and Rucker seems so blase about Bob's pain. Rucker is freaking brilliant though; I love his books. He's distantly related to Hegel, or so I heard him say when he gave a talk in Berkeley three years ago. All of his books have stimulated me, but some of the math is over my head. He's prolific too. In that piece you cite of Rucker's, if I remember, he said he thought RAW was obviously a genius of some sort; I think the same of Rucker. [Editor’s note: The article, originally published in “bOING bOING” magazine, was about a 1994 movie made in Portugal called “The Manual of Evasion.” The Internet Movie Database lists nothing about the movie, but excerpts are posted on YouTube.]
Rucker once said he liked the IDEA of people doing psychedelic drugs; he himself wasn't interested. Maybe there's a bit of a wedge there? And then again he and Terence McKenna (TM was also in that same Portuguese film with RAW and RR) were born in 1946, while RAW was 14 years older. So there was a generation gap? Who knows? (See my bit about Writin' 'N Fightin' below.)
I could speculate too much about the Rucker perspective on Wilson as depicted in that piece in Rucker's Seek! Selected Nonfiction. I don't want to misrepresent Rucker. Wilson is an object of interest by many a writer/artist/musician, and this picture of RAW by Rucker represents an anomaly, in my experience. I have heard numerous accounts of RAW being incredibly sweet with his fans. When I asked for an interview, he invited me and my wife into his home, and made me feel very comfortable. He seemed like a Buddhist sage with otherworldly intelligence, spoke in complete paragraphs from questions I had not given him beforehand, quoted passages of Pound from memory, had limitless jokes. I had the feeling that interviews were a sort of performance for him, but he was also genuine and warm. I've heard similar stories from others.
At the same time I couldn't help but feel this guy doesn't suffer fools gladly, and was so trying not to be one. The documentarians doing the film about him called Maybe Logic were there when I got there, all their equipment set up, so he was warmed up and I was nervous and he made me feel relaxed. By the end of the interview we were discussing things more as equals, and he was extremely open-minded and listened attentively. He complained that it was hard to keep up on everything; he felt like he'd fallen behind. When I asked him if he'd read this or that book and he hadn't, he said there were a lot of books he had not read! (I admitted to thinking it seemed like he'd read EVERYTHING.) His apartment was filled with gifts from friends and fans, books piled up everywhere.
As far as pleasantness and inebriation, one writer who knew RAW since the 1970s said — and I'm quoting this second hand, so maybe I have it right — that he never saw RAW not stoned! (Let us chalk this up as "lore"?)
Monday, July 26, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Robert Anton Wilson published many articles in "The Realist " before becoming a full time freelance writer, as I (and my learned commenters) discussed here.
'bandito' has now published a more complete list of links to articles from that magazine, in a posting at alt.fan.rawilson, and says many of the links have not been posted before. Apparently the list eventually will be reproduced at rawilsonfans.com, but I also will post them here.
Here's is bandito's posting:
I have been fairly diligent at tracking The Realist Archive and
posting links to Wilsonian articles as they come out. Due to me
being busy with other things, and having handed over the hosting of
the site to Matheny's gPod/Alterati/Hukilau consortium, I have been
lax in updating the website with these links.
However, after some brief correspondence with the owner/creator of the
Realist Archive I realize I have missed many new articles. Anyhow,
here is the complete list of links not yet updated to rawilsonfans.
Many of the triple digit issues are articles that have not been posted
here before as I just discovered their existence today.
# http://www.ep.tc/realist/16/14.html (Ellis interview by Krassner and
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Robert Anton Wilson loved classical music -- one of the many things I like about him -- and particularly championed the music of Ludvig van Beethoven. But he also made a point in his writings to call attention to a much more obscure composer, Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745).
The THE HOMING PIGEONS (third in the SCHROEDINGER'S CAT trilogy), Frank Dashwood hears Zelenka's Concerto for Harp on the radio in the first chapter and notes that it sounds "like Bach" and comes from the Baroque period. In the "No Limits Allowed" chapter towards the end, Dashwood reads about Zelenka when Dr. Hugh Crane hands him a book called THE ANSWER.
Wilson's THE ILLUMINATI PAPERS describes Justin Case (at the end of "Beethoven as Information") as a music critic who likes Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi and Zelenka.
After I saw that, I looked up Zelenka in the Wikipedia (the above link). See also the Discover Zelenka Web site, which asserts, "Most musicologists dealing with music of this period [e.g, the Baroque] agree that the compositions of this long-forgotten musical giant approach or equal those of his contemporaries Bach, Händel, Vivaldi and Telemann in their advanced use of counterpoint, their extreme demands on the players and singers, their ingenuity and resourcefulness, and their overall beauty. "
I plan to check out some of Zelenka's music from the local library.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
STARSHIP: Does writing come easily to you? Do the words flow smoothly and effortlessly?
WILSON: Oh, yes. It comes as easily to me as tennis comes to a professional tennis player. It's my game. To me, it's the third best thing in the world, after sex and Chinese food.
(From a particularly good interview, archived here.)
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
I would like to think that the strong interest that persists in Robert Anton Wilson could lead to a wider acceptance of his writing.
The model I am thinking of is science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. When I first began reading Dick, his readership was pretty much limited to science fiction fanatics. The titles were largely published as mass market, original paperbacks -- much as Wilson's early fiction was published.
Now, there's a Library of America edition of Dick. You can actually buy a three-volume Library of America boxed set, which collects 13 novels, including some of those little paperbacks I used to read as a teenager. Could mainstream acceptance be possible for Wilson?
Sunday, July 4, 2010
There are many ways to learn more about Robert Anton Wilson once you become interested in his work, but here is one: There's actually a book about him, written by someone who knows him well.
AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO ROBERT ANTON WILSON by Eric Wagner, was put out in 2004 by New Falcon Publications, the small press publishing house which continues to do a good job of keeping much of Wilson's work in print. Wagner's book is still in print; my son gave me a copy for Father's Day. Thank you, Richard.
The back cover says that Wagner "has traveled from Ingolstadt, Bavaria, to Aswan, Egypt, from Country Kerry, Ireland, to Honolulu, Hawaii, attempting to understand the ideas behind Wilson's works." This is impressive, but it is also relevant to point out that Wagner corresponded with Wilson for many years and spoke to him many times.