New Libertarian Notes interviews RAW, Part Three
CRNLA: To return to life extension, space migration and higher intelligence, I worry about the potential of all that being screwed up by the politicians. How do you feel about that?
RAW: If the oncoming mutation to interstellar immortality is screwed up by the politicians (or the corporations), it will be because those of us who see the opportunities in modern science are not adroit enough to outmaneuver the forces of inertia, stupidity and greed. Well, if we're not intelligent enough to overcome such obstacles, then we don't deserve to carry off the mutation at this stage of evolution. The thing to do, in that case, is to sit down and have a good Taoistic laugh at our own presumption. Meanwhile, until the game is over, I happen to think we're winning. The other side is very, very stupid. Concretely, I say that if we have colonization of L5 by 1990, and longevity at about the same time, I think the game is won; some human seed will become cosmic and immortal. Robert Phedra, M.D., has already predicted life extension to 1,000 years.
CRNLA: A thousand years is OK for a start, but it's not enough. Would you settle for "indefinite life extension" if it means transferring your thoughts to a synthetic storage system?
RAW: I'd consider it, but temperamentally I'd rather blast off for the stars when lifespan reaches about 400 years. I think in a 400 year cruise around the galaxy we'd contact races who have immortality already and we might arrange a trade for the technology of it. (Maybe they'd want an unexpurgated Illuminatus. I'm for space, actually, whether there are immortals out there or not. Aside from that bias, I'd support life extension by whatever means, from cryonic suspension to cyborgism to coding ourselves into our computers or whatever. Contrary to the last 2,500 years of "philosophy" among the domesticated and neurotic carnivore species we adorn, there is nothing noble or beautiful or dignified about dying. Like poverty, it is ugly, nasty, brutal and primitive. The function of intelligence is to do better than those mammalian norms.
CRNLA: Could you give us a bibliography on everything you've had published and who published it and if it's still in print?
RAW: Hell, no. I've got about 1,000 articles in print and I can't remember where most of them were printed and don't really care to. The things I'm willing to stand by, in addition to Illuminatus, are the essays being collected in Prometheus Rising: Sex and Drugs, a Playboy Press paperback; my piece on "The Future in Sex" in Oui, November 1975; the article on brainwashing by Leary and me in Oui for June 1976, (which I especially commend to those who thought the consciousness-warps, ego-fissions, reality-mutations and sex-role roulette in Illuminatus were "fantasy"); "Scientific and Experimental Magic" in Gnostica, January 1975; and two pieces on Caryl Chessman and the Marquis de Sade in The Realist, dates unknown. Most of what I wrote before last week bores me.
CRNLA: What kind of stuff was the 500 pages that got edited out of Illuminatus?
RAW: It was sacrilegious, blasphemous, obscene, subversive, funny, surrealistic, trippy and much like what did get published. The portion of hard anarchist propaganda in what got cut is perhaps somewhat greater than in what got printed, but I do not attribute that to a government conspiracy. Editors always amputate the brain first and preserve a good-looking corpse. I knew that, and told Shea they'd do it, so we put in so damned much anarchist material that a lot would be left even after the ceremonial castration.
CRNLA: Is Bob Shea a hard-core libertarian?
RAW: More or less. I really don't want to categorize Shea, who can certainly speak (eloquently) for himself.
CRNLA: Who wrote the Atlas Shrugged parody in Illuminatus? Who wrote the appendices?
RAW: I wrote the Telemachus Sneezed section -- which is not just another kick at poor old Rand, but also a self-parody of Illuminatus, and of Moby Dick, and of my arcane Joycean use of Moby Dick parallels in Illuminatus. Unfortunately, that section was particularly mauled and truncated by the editors. Originally, it was trans-Melvillian satire on all ideology and morality, including my own lapses into ethical thinking. I also wrote the Appendices on various occasions when very stoned as a parody on my style in my more academic essays.
CRNLA: What was Hagbard doing in a government printing office?
RAW: Hagbard was visiting the Discordian agents who have infiltrated the government and sneaked parodies into the bureaucratic forms: SMI2LE = infinity. (Space Migration plus Intelligence Increase plus Life Extension = cosmic consciousness.
CRNLA: Any word on how sales are doing?
RAW: Fine. I might not have to take up highway robbery and murder to get rich after all.
CRNLA: That's good. Who is Tarantella Serpentine and why is she working for Limit newsletter?
RAW: The Discordian conspiracy has been radically decentralized from the beginning, in accordance with Malaclypse the Younger's principle that "We Discordians must stick apart." The last I heard, Tarantella was a fictional character, working in a San Francisco massage parlor (in my other novel, The Sex Magicians.) It doesn't surprise that she has a life of her own, outside my imagination. Illuminatus is only part of a total art work, or "happening" known as Operation Mindfuck. A group of New York Discordians, for instance, celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Illuminati with a public reading of Principia Discordia (which also exists) outside the UN building on May 1 this year. A lodge of Crowleyan magicians in Texas has officially changed their name from the Temple of the Hidden God to the Ancient Illuminated Good Old Boys of Houston. Emperor Norton posters, endorsed by the Illuminati, are for sale through Solidarity Books in Chicago. Everything the Birchers ever claimed about the Illuminati is gradually coming true.
CRNLA: Do you feel frustration living in the "real" world? After reading Illuminatus it's a downer to get back to reality -- even my usual escapist literature is depressing. How do you feel about that?
RAW: Every nervous system creates its own "reality," minute by minute -- or, in the language of Don Juan Matus, we live inside a "bubble" of neural abstractions which we identify with reality. In metaprogramming systems like Tibetan Tantra, Crowleyanity, or Leary's Exo-Psychology, you can make this neurological fact into conscious experience, and you will never be bored or depressed again. Just reading the scientific evidence that this is true, in social psychology or general semantics or neurology or whatever, will not liberate you; one needs actual re-training, in Tantra or Crowley or Leary, to experience what I'm talking about here. It is a great privilege to be conscious in this universe. Those who understand, shine like stars.
CRNLA: I was just speaking in relative terms. Actually, I'm quite excited about reality -- it's probably my favorite thing. I was just wondering if sometimes all the fnords tend to get you a little pissed-off.
RAW: Never. As Tim Leary says, the universe is an intelligence test. The things that hinder me are opportunities to learn more and develop further. That's where amoral thinking is distinctly superior to moral thinking. If you recognize that your latest problem is totally without moral significance -- for instance, you have a disease which you can't, by the wildest stretch of imagination, blame on anybody -- then it's just a question of coping with the situation as best you can. When you realize that people are just as automated as bacteria or wild animals, then you deal with hostile humans the same way you deal with infections or predators -- rationally, without claiming you're "right" or they're "wrong." Then you begin to understand Crowley's great Law of Thelema (Do What Thou Wilt) and you're free, really free, instead of being an actor in a soap opera written by the superstitious shamans who created morality 30,000 years ago. You are also free of anger, hatred and resentment, which are great burdens to drop. They live happiest, my friend, who have understood and forgiven all.
CRNLA: Are there real people, alive or in history, who resemble any of your characters (Hagbard in particular)?
RAW: Absolutely. There are hundreds of thousands of Hagbards around, and all the sleep-walkers are potential Hagbards. They only need to be shaken a bit and awakened. As Jesus said, "Ye are all gods, ye are all children of the Most High."
RAW: Have you ever walked into some public place like a shopping center and said to yourself something like, "Christ, it's solid earthlings! You'd think there'd be at least a couple of aliens strolling around looking at the shops, etc." ?
RAW: Curiously, I belong to a loose association of skeptical Contactees -- people who have had a Contact experience but are too skeptical to take it literally. There are over a hundred of us in the U.S. alone, most scientists, and I think that the gradual surfacing of this story will be one of the major cultural shocks of our time. Right now, Martin Gardner has already registered his viewpoint and I trust that MIT will have the courtesy to print Dr. Sarfatti's rebuttal. I must add that most of us who are involved in this have grown extremely doubtful about the now-conventional extraterrestrial explanation and are trying out various explanatory models that are even more mind-blowing. Those who are interested in this subject might look up my article, "The Starseed Signals," in Gnostica for June 1975, and Dr. Jacques Vallee's book, The Invisible College. As the divine Mullah Nasruddin said, "If you haven't seen me before, how do you know it is me?"
CRNLA: What are your plans for future books?
RAW: Prometheus Rising will be published by Llewellyn next year. It's a collection of my essays on space age occultism and post-LSD consciousness. I hope it will knock holes in the Christian revival, the Hindu revival, the Buddhist revival and all the other neolithic metaphysics going around these days. A book on immortality research, possibly entitled Death Shall Have No Dominion, is going around New York seeking a publisher. A book on Dr. Timothy Leary, and a new novel called Schrodinger's Cat, about quantum paradoxes and parapsychology, are also in the works. Leary and I are working on a collaborative venture called The Game of Life which started out as one volume and became three. It modestly attempts to deduce the next four billion years of evolution from the data of Leary's brain-change research.
CRNLA: Who did you know in the old Berkeley crowd such as Danny Rosenthal, Sharon Presley, Tom McGivern? How about Kerry Thornley?
RAW: I never heard of any of those people except Kerry Thornley and Sharon Presley. Kerry is one of the co-creators of Discordian atheology, which is why volume one of Illuminatus is co-dedicated to him. Sharon is a fine person who I've only met twice but liked vastly. I'm sure all those others are excellent people, too, but I've never met them.
CRNLA: The editor of New Libertarian Weekly, SEK3, would like you to write for them -- "... we're a hell of a lot better than SRAF and can even pay a token amount, and can run stuff he can't get past Playboy and Oui."
RAW: I'd be delighted.
CRNLA: Do you have any concluding thoughts for our readers?
RAW: Absolutely not. As Korzybski said, nothing is conclusive, and every sentence should end with an et cetera. Or perhaps Woody Allen said it better: "Not only is there no God, but you can't even get a plumber on weekends." The answer to that, of course, is to become your own god and your own plumber. That may be the fundamental secret of the Illuminati.