Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Robert Anton Wilson article from Oui magazine

How the Hippies Changed Physics by David Kaiser is a new book about the oddball physicists that Robert Anton Wilson discusses in Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati — people such as Jack Sarfatti, Nick Herbert, and so on.

In the notes, Kaiser references an article by Robert Anton Wilson from Oui magazine, published in 1979, which discusses quantum mechanics and many of the topics which the "hippie physicists" obsessed over. In fact, if you read Wilson's article first, you can read the Kaiser book as a "sequel" to many of the topics Wilson raises. (For example, Sarfatti and then Herbert both used Bell's theorem to try to invent a way to achieve faster than light communication. Both ideas were not viable, but according to Kaiser, Herbert's idea was so clever, it helped give birth to quantum cryptography.)

Anyway, I have now obtained a PDF of that Wilson article, which is a valuable explanation of certain concepts of quantum mechanics and has much other useful material. (It's surprising that it's never been reprinted, to my knowledge.) You can read it here (right click to download, then read it in any PDF viewer. Google "PDF viewer" in the unlikely event your computer doesn't already have one.) I also have posted it under "Feature Articles and Interviews." I gratefully acknowledge the help of Michael Johnson, who supplied the article from his copious RAW files.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Encyclopedia Britannica probably ignores this topic

Wikipedia actually has an article on "Celine's laws." That's as in Hagbard Celine, one of Robert Anton Wilson's more memorable characters. The first law: "National Security is the chief cause of national insecurity." The second law: "Accurate communication is possible only in a non-punishing situation." (I prefer Wilson's paraphrase that communication occurs only between equals.) The third law: "An honest politician is a national calamity"

Monday, August 29, 2011

A pragmatic suggestion for sombunall

On at least some of the laptop computers that I used for reading articles on the Internet, the type can seem rather small -- an obstacle for reading long articles such as some of the pieces listed in the "Feature Articles and Interviews" section on the right side of the page.

When I am reading a long article, I often find it useful to use Readability, a free browser app that blows up the type for an article and eliminates much of the distractions (such as advertising). (I don't have any tie with the Readability folks and I gain nothing by pointing you to it -- it's just a useful tool I sombunall of you might be interested in.)

Somebunall is the term Robert Anton Wilson coined for "some but not all." You can read an explanation of the term at Michael Johnson's recent blog post, "Somebunall Philosophical Problems," which I just used Readability to read. (But you'll have to hit the back button on your browser to watch the video Michael posts.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

'Was missing pilot snatched by aliens?'

If you don't have enough conspiracy theories involving terrestrial players to worry about, you can always wonder what the off-planet "folks" are up do. "Was missing pilot snatched by aliens?" is the headline for an article at, Jack Sarfatti's Web site.

"RUMOURS a RAF Binbrook pilot was abducted by aliens have been published in newly-released Government files on UFOs.

"Reports describe how Capt William Schaffner was never seen again after his Lightning plane merged with a UFO over the North Sea on September 8, 1970. A second later the UFO is said to have sped off travelling at more than 20,000mph."

Lots of other unusual stuff at, too.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reality outpaces satire

It must be hard to be a satirist in today's world. The boldest satire can't keep pace with current events.
An Islamic terrorist group in Nigeria has claimed responsibility for setting off a bomb that killed 18 people.

The group's original leader, Mohammed Yusuf, rejected the idea that the world is round because the contention is not Islamic. Further Islamic wisdom from Mr. Yusuf is not available, as he died in police custody, "officially as he was trying to escape." The group, Boko Haram, originally rejected guns as too Western and carried bows and arrows instead, but a massacre by the Nigerian army convinced the group it needed a weapons upgrade.

Meanwhile, in domestic news, the U.S. federal government is insisting that trucking companies are obligated to allow admitted alcoholics to work as truck drivers.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Best Tweet after the earthquake

From Bobby Campbell (@RGC777), "Is this a bad time to plug my new cover for RAW's "The Earth Will Shake"?!"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jesse Walker announces new book

Reason Magazine managing editor Jesse Walker has announced he has secured a contract with a major publisher for his second book, The United States of Paranoia.

The new book, tentatively due out in fall 2013, is a history of American political paranoia and discusses the role conspiracy theories have played in American politics and culture.

"The central argument is that conspiracy theories aren't just a feature of the fringe but have been a potent force across the political spectrum, in the center as well as in the extremes, from the colonial era to the present. I also argue that conspiracy stories need to be read not just as claims to be believed or debunked but as folklore," Walker says.

Robert Anton Wilson is expected to figure prominently in the new book as the godfather of what Walker calls "the ironic style of American conspiracism." Walker says this is "a sensibility that treats alleged cabals as a bizarre mutant mythos to be mined for laughs, metaphors, and social insights."

I'll have much more soon about Mr. Walker, 40, his new book and his insights into Robert Anton Wilson. His first book, Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America, remains in print.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feminist musicologist: Beethoven the rapist

Beethoven is my favorite composer. I have all of the symphonies and all of the piano sonatas on my MP3 player along with various other pieces. So I was amazed when I read that a feminist musicologist, Susan McClary, considers the Ninth Symphony was a "musical hymn to rape."

Or so Robert Anton Wilson claims in his book, Cosmic Trigger 3: My Life After Death.

McClary wrote, "The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth is one of the most horrifying moments in music… which finally explodes in the throttling, murderous rage of a rapist…”

Wilson commented, "Although I write a lot of satire, I didn’t make this up. You can find McClary’s analysis in Minnesota Composers’ Forum Newsletter, January 1987. She also doesn’t like Western classic music in general, because of its 'phallic violence' and 'pelvic pounding.'

"I insist I did not invent McClary or any of her ravings. Honest to God. Some Femigogues just happen to sound like satire when you quote them verbatim."

I didn't think he made it up, but I did wonder if there was more to the story. Perhaps he was quoting some long-forgotten fringe figure. Wilson was not always generous in his later years in his references to feminists.

But when I did a little research, I found Wilson was not being unfair at all. Susan McClary is considered a prominent feminist musicologist, and she's in the Cleveland area, where I live. She is a professor of musicology at Case Western Reserve University. She is married to a heavy metal musicologist who also is on the faculty. (You can't make this stuff up.) I don't know if she considers Beethoven more sexist than, say, Whitesnake.

If you read the entry on her on Wikipedia, you'll see that her Beethoven-as-rapist thesis has been solemnly debated, with musicologists who actually know something about Beethoven rejecting it.

A genuinely scholarly, feminist analysis of classical music would be useful, because perhaps it would explain why there are so few famous composers who are women. Maybe somebody has done it, somewhere.

As it happens, I ran across the McClary passage as I was reading Ted Gioia's new second edition of his The History of Jazz. It is a marvelously erudite and judicious work. Gioia obviously works hard to be fair-minded, often taking time to defend musicians who he believes have been unfairly attacked. Guess which musicologist is the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ILLUMINATUS! further study

Yesterday's posting prompts me to pose a question, and supply a partial answer. If you are a Wilson fan who is particularly a fan of the ILLUMINATUS! trilogy, where do you go to deepen your understanding of that novel?

In a sense, everything Wilson wrote after ILLUMINATUS! can be read as a sequel or prequel (in the case of the novels) or as an extension of the appendix. Still, I have a few suggestions.

Michael Johnson's article is useful. Eric Wagner's An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson has two good articles that focus on the trilogy, one on the role of Kabbalah, and the other a timeline of events. Among RAW's own works, I would particularly suggest Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati and The Illuminati Papers.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Zack Kopp, a writer in Denver, writes a review of ILLUMINATUS! One nitpick: I don't remember any references to the Church of the Subgenius in the work, and in fact Stang founded Subgenius in 1979, well after the trilogy was first published. Kind of cool that Zack got Tessa Dick, one of Philip K. Dick's ex-wives, to drop by in the comments.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Something I missed

In the comments to yesterday's post, Jesse Walker points to a snippet of Robert Anton Wilson on Ubuweb that I missed: a panel discussion at something called Novacon, featuring William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Timothy Leary, Les Levine and a heckler. It's here, 7:10 long (last track.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

RAW material for RAW

Two of the best compilation sites on the Internet, Open Culture and Ubuweb, contain no Robert Anton Wilson material, as far as I can tell. But they do have writings, recordings and films by people who influenced him.

Ubuweb, for example, has William Burroughs recordings and Aleister Crowley documentaries. Open Culture has a full version of Orson Welles' "The Stranger". There's plenty of other interesting stuff. Both sites are well worth exploring.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What are the core classics?

The Library of America has gotten more interesting in later years, featuring work by H.P. Lovecraft (I read that anthology for Halloween, a couple of years ago), Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., although so far they've skipped Robert Heinlein, which I would think would be an obvious choice.

Anyway, I like to fantasize that someday there will be Library of America editions of Robert Anton Wilson, and even that those folks will call me for suggestions on what to include. (No doubt that will happen any day now.)9

So,what to choose? It seems to me some of the best stuff would be ILLUMINATUS!,the Schroedinger's Cat trilogy, the first two Historical Illuminatus books and the three Cosmic Trigger books. I do like several of the anthologies, but I guess my thinking is they wouldn't release enough volumes to include everything. What would be your picks?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A RAW autograph

Here's a sweet picture: Leila Raven over at Temple Illuminatus holds up her autographed copy of ILLUMINATUS! The photo caption for the posting says, "From when I first met Bob, many years ago now & he signed my very well worn copy of the Illuminatus Trilogy. RIP RAW." (via @Robert_A_Wilson on Twitter.)

Despite my long history of going to libertarian gatherings and science fiction conventions, I never met Wilson. I did meet Robert Shea once, at a worldcon in Boston.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The lasagna flies at The Oz Mix

Over a The Oz Mix, Oz Fritz discusses Qabalah (his preferred spelling) as "a powerful and effective tool for altering consciousness" and offers a theory on why Robert Anton Wilson advised us to "keep the lasagna flying" in his final message.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Discordians at Temple Illuminatus

Over at Temple Illuminatus, a nest of RAW fans, a new group has been created, Viva Discordia, for folks who are interested in Discordianism. The graphic is from the group.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jeff Riggenbach's RAW article

As a followup on yesterday's blog post, I wanted to point out that a Jeff Riggenbach article on Robert Anton Wilson, based on the podcast, has now been posted.

I should also point out that Riggenbach's book on revisionist historians, Why American History is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism, discusses some of RAW's favorite revisionist historians. You can download it here (link is to a PDF). Or you can even buy a dead tree edition from the Von Mises Institute bookstore.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Jeff Riggenbach on Robert Anton Wilson

Jeff Riggenbach has a podcast series on "The Libertarian Tradition" at that gives a history of libertarianism. His August 4 episode tackles Robert Anton Wilson.

Riggenbach's take, probably a bit controversial, is to emphasize the influence of Ralph Borsodi on Wilson's political thought. At the least, this will give other RAW scholars something to argue for or against. Riggenbach also quotes from "Cosmic Trigger II: Down to Earth" and has a nice anecdote that illustrates how RAW became a big celebrity in the libertarian movement following the publication of ILLUMINATUS!

Borsodi founded the School of Living. RAW worked for them for a couple of years in the early 1960s, when he edited the organization's magazine while living near Yellow Springs, Ohio. The School of Living is still around and currently is located in Julian, Penn.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cosmic Trigger II

I finished Cosmic Trigger II: Down to Earth a few weeks ago, re-reading it after many years, and I can't get over what a good book it is. The subtitle "Down to Earth," is revealing, I think -- while the book is as good an introduction as any to Wilson's thoughts, I was struck by how vivid and immediate the biographical material was. (I read aloud to my wife the section about how Wilson's parents gave him a dime to bring to church, and how he could have used it instead for a trip to the movies, and didn't dare cutting the dime down to a nickle like the other boys.) The various story lines, particularly the incident with the Brooklyn Bridge early in the book, give it more narrative drive than one would usually expect in a memoir. You want to read it to find out "what happens." If you were going to recommend a RAW book to someone with more or less "normal" reading tastes, I suspect this might be it. Cosmic Trigger II is published by New Falcon, so there's a typographical error every couple of pages or so, but kudos to them for keeping it and many other RAW titles in print.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weirdness in Ohio

I tend to think of Ohio, where I've lived since 2003 and where Robert Anton Wilson lived in the early 1960s, as being kind of a prosaic, middle class state. I don't think of it as being a place where one expects oddness, as one might in, say, California. (This is in spite of the fact that the Church of the Subgenius is headquartered right here in Cleveland.) But one oddball Ohioan helped inspire a great work of literature.

In Cosmic Trigger II, in the chapter entitled "Cosmic Economics," Wilson writes about one John Cleves Symmes Jr., who believed the earth is hollow, "shaped more or less like a fat doughnut," as Wilson puts it. Wilson then describes how a Pennsylvania lawyer, Jeremiah Reynolds, led a failed expedition to Antarctica to try to prove the theory.

After that failed venture, Wilson writes, "Reynolds consoled himself by writing a melodramatic and popular book about the cruise, including all the good sea-yarns he had heard along the way. Herman Melville read it and one chapter -- about a giant white whale that had almost incredible cunning a good luck in escaping whalers again and again -- inspired Moby-Dick."

The chapter describes the oddball monument to Symmes in Hamilton, Ohio. I've put a photograph of it at the top of this post.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Excerpt from 'How the Hippies Saved Physics'

The Institute of Noetic Sciences has published an excerpt from How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser. That's the book I've blogged about here, which is all about the offbeat physicists, such as Nick Herbert and Jack Sarfatti, who Robert Anton Wilson wrote about it Cosmic Trigger 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati. The excerpt should give you a pretty idea of what the book is like. (Via Jack Sarfatti on Twitter.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

'Program or Be Programmed' study guide

Over at the Maybe Logic blog, Bogus Magus notices something that I had missed: A free study guide has become available for Douglas Rushkoff's excellent latest book, Program or Be Programmed, a guide to living in the digital age. It's useful for book groups, or simply for people who want to delve more into the topics of the book. To get your copy, send a blank email (no subject line, no text in the message area) to You'll immediately get a message with a link to download a PDF document.

My interview with Rushkoff is available here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A basic income guarantee

Robert Anton Wilson advocated giving everyone in the U.S. a guarantee of a basic income (in "The RICH Economy" in The Illuminati Papers, probably in some other places that don't immediately come to mind.) I've been intrigued by the concept but haven't found a really good discussion of the idea.

So I'm grateful to Michael Johnson for taking up the topic on his blog, in a posting entitled, "Missing Public Discussions: Universal Basic Income." Aside from his own comments on the subject, and from his discussion with the estimable Sue Howard in the comments, credit Michael for discovering a European philosopher, Philippe Van Parijs, who has thought and written extensively on the topic. Michael links to several pieces; my favorite was an essay, "A Basic Income for All," where Van Parijis discusses his ideas. Van Parijis also has written an entire book on the topic, Real Freedom for All, which I intend to track down and read.

A small minority of libertarian folks mostly go along with the libertarian program, but also favor social justice/a safety net/parts of the welfare state. Those folks are variously called "liberaltarians" or "left-libertarians" or "neoclassical liberals" or "classical liberals." I am (more or less) one of those folks. It's a good way to be alienated from just about any recognizable political movements; the "liberals" don't like you because you are too libertarian, while the "libertarians" don't like you because you favor letting the government help poor people. I think a few people at Cato and Reason may be closet liberaltarians; Will Wilkinson, formerly of Cato, came out the closet and was duly eased out of the organization.

Anyway, nobody cares what I think, but here are some thoughts, anyway (1) A basic income guarantee, coupled with a universal health care system, would provide a reasonable safety net. (2) Almost everyone would be better off, except for an army of bureaucrats who would lose their jobs, if all of the various components of the welfare state, such as Social Security, food stamps, temporary assistance for needy families, vouchers for farmers markets (yes, there is such a program) and so on were eliminated, replaced with a basic income guarantee that covered everyone, and (3) Almost everyone also would be better off if Medicaid, Medicare, Army hospitals, Indian hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Care Centers, etc. etc., were all eliminated and similarly replaced by a universal health care that covered everyone and followed one set of rules. I'll add that anyone who insists that such a system must be funded by the government and run by government employees, as it is in Britain, doesn't know enough about the subject to express an informed opinion.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today's conspiracy theory news

The Daily Mail in Britain is reporting that tapes of Jackie Onassis will reveal she believes Lyndon Baines Johnson had a role in the assassination of John Kennedy.

Not a word about this on NPR as I drove to work this morning.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A theory for why Rome fell?

In Cosmic Trigger 2, which I've just finished, Wilson once again explains the SNAFU principle, in an interview published in ROC magazine, which apparently was published in Cleveland, Ohio:

In the power game, the more successful you become, the more motive people have for lying to you. The lie to flatter you, to avoid contradicting your prejudices, to keep their jobs, to tell you what they want to hear, etc. Have you ever told the truth, the whole truth, to anybody from the government? It's the same in any authoritarian organization, be it an army, a corporation or a patriarchal family. People say what those in power above them want to hear. In the big power struggles, the most successful conspiracy of the decade becomes the stupidest conspiracy of the next decade, because it never hears what might offend its self-image. Communication is only possible between equals. The power game creates total communication jam and everybody near the top drifts slowly but inexorably into a kind of schizoid fantasy. Then they get replaced by younger, hungrier predators who are not successful enough yet to frighten everybody into lying to them, and hence have at least a partial knowledge of what the hell is really going on.

I've been reading books for years about the "fall" of the Western Roman Empire, conventionally pegged as finishing up in A.D. 476. Couldn't this function as yet another theory for what went wrong, with the absolutist Roman emperors not getting the feedback they needed? (Even as the western empire fell apart, coins were being made proclaiming the glory of "Unconquered Rome.")

Then again, elsewhere in the book, Wilson quotes Alan Watts as follows: "The greatest error of the historians is the idea that the Roman Empire 'fell.' It never fell. It still runs the Western World, through the Vatican and the Mafia."

Wilson remarks, "I didn't believe that when Alan said it; I thought it was one of jokes. Now, I wonder."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jack Sarfatti on Twitter

After I finished How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser, I found Nick Herbert's blog, Quantum Tantra. Since then, I have begun following Jack Sarfatti's Twitter feed, @JackSarfatti. Mr. Sarfatti's interests have not changed very much since he was mentioned in Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger I.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Freemason news roundup

A couple of dispatches on how the freemasons have continued to remain controversial:
John Benefiel, head of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network in my home state of Oklahoma, on the Statue of LIberty: "You know where we got it from? French Freemasons. Listen, folks, that is an idol, a demonic idol right there in the middle of New York Harbor." (Citation here.) (His organization thoughtfully provides a "prayer of release from freemasonry." I'm also pleased that Oklahoma City's divorce from Baal has gone through.)

Meanwhile, Jesse Walker has spotted Marshall McLuhan's anti Masonic conspiracy theories.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jesus the medical marijuana user?

Who are you going to side with — the DEA or Jesus of Nazareth?

The ILLUMINATUS! trilogy has a couple of brief satirical references to Jesus, I seem to recall, including one scene in which Jesus teaches the disciples Catholic-style church bingo. But here is something interesting: A classical scholar says that Jesus "was almost certainly a cannabis user and an early proponent of the medicinal properties of the drug," according to an article in the Guardian, which quotes Carl Ruck, professor of classical mythology at Boston University.

The Guardian's piece cites an article in "High Times" magazine, entitled, "Was Jesus a Stoner?" It says that Jesus used anointing oil and incense that had a cannabis extract.

"High Times" is not exactly a disinterested observer, but when I poked around the Internet, I also found this article in a Canadian newspaper, the National Post, which also cited Professor Ruck. Participants in the Eleusinian Mystery initiation drank a potion with a substance "similar to LSD," Ruck says.

I can't shed any light on the professor's claims, despite my hobby of reading classical history. Professor Ruck has degrees from Yale and Michigan and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has written 12 books, including two Latin textbooks, and a tome called Sacred Mushrooms of the Goddess: Secrets of Eleusis.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Death of Robert Ettinger

Cryonics pioneer Robert C. Ettinger died recently and was duly frozen. His son said, "We were able to freeze him under optimum conditions."

Robert Anton Wilson wrote about his interest in cryonics and the immortality movement in Cosmic Trigger 1 and elsewhere. Can anyone explain why Wilson did not opt to have himself frozen when he died?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Noble Eight-Fold Path

By Robert Anton Wilson

(This piece, published in "New Libertarian Weekly 65," March 13, 1977, was a sequel to the article I reprinted yesterday, "Eight Kind of Libertarians." -- Tom.)

In my previous column, I distinguished eight types of libertarians. To recapitulate:

1. The bio-survival libertarian, or anarcho-fascist, is Darwinian, anxiously and bitterly aware of being involved in a life-or-death struggle.

2. The emotional libertarian, or mammalian politician, is concerned with capturing territory and status; SHe is the emotional game-player, the Oneupmanship expert.

3. The symbolic libertarian, or Mr. Spock, is obsessed with logic, linear processes, mechanism and rationality.

4. The domesticated libertarian is the Utopian moralist, determined to right all wrongs and establish pure Justice everywhere.

5. The neurosomatic libertarian is your basic Hippie or Tantric yogin, i.e. the Hedonic Engineer.

6. The neuroelectric libertarian is the Black Magician (so-called), i.e. the Head Tripper free of all categories. "Nobody knows who I am or what I do, not even myself," says Don Juan to Carlos Castaneda, perfectly defining this type from inside.

7. The neurogenetic libertarian is an Evolutionary Agent, dedicated not just to freeing hirself or humanity from political authoritarianism but to freeing life from all limits of space, time or death.

8. The metaphysiological libertarian is operating at de Chardin's Omega Point, at one with all metaphysiological libertarians throughout space-time and beyond space time. (In mtystical literature these types are known as the Secret Chiefs, the Bodhisattvas or the Illuminati.)

These eight types are determined by statistically random imprints that are bonded into the nervous system at moments of imprint vulnerability. (See ethology and Dr. Leary's Exo-Psychology for further details on that.) The random element is part of the DNA blueprint (or "Mother Nature's plan," to be folksy about it) to ensure that we remain a diversified species.

Thus, there are eight kinds of authoritarians, also. Eight kinds of men. Eight kinds of women. Eight kinds of Armenians. Eight kinds of Italians. Eight kinds of Buddhists. Etc.

Imprint vulnerability is coded into the DNA tapes so that, for example, the newborn gosling is vulnerable to imprinting a protective mother entity immediately after hatching. The random element enters because, during the vulnerable period, anything roughly matching the genetic archetype will be imprinted. Thus, Lorenz reports a gosling that imprinted a ping-pong ball and followed it about attempting to nest with it and vocalizing to it as it would toward a real Mother Goose. Evidently, the fact that the pingpong ball has a round white body, like a Mother Goose, was enough to trigger the genetic imprinting process.

Similarly, Ardrie reports a newborn giraffe which imprinted a jeep, which it subsequently attempted to nurse from and followed around with imploring cries. Here the four wheels of the jeep evidently passed the scanners as the same signal normally transmitted by the four-legged Mama Giraffe.

In the past 6000 years domesticated humanity has been herded into vast urban hives at repetitious and stereotyped tasks, a process we optimistically call civilization. As in the ant-hive, these human hives have often kept a slave population and made war on other hives. Obviously, the total insectoid society of Maoism is the highest, most complex form of this fourth neurogenetic circuit. Humanity has been temporarily evolving away from the mammalian norm and toward the insectile.

(Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive is a magnificent SF saga extending the process a few steps beyond even Mao.)

If this is the "civilized" norm, then all libertarians are, in some sense, rebels against civilization, i.e. against domestication.

The first circuit libertarian is rebelling backward to an early evolutionary stage; hence, the fierce Darwinian rhetoric in Stirner and libertarians of this type.

The second circuit emotional libertarian is rebelling backward also, but toward a more recent evolutionary stage, the mammalian pack or hunting-warrior band.

All political parties are basically hunting-warrior bands adapting themselves to the fourth circuit domesticated hive. Second circuit libertarians flock to parties and conspire endless to capture control of the hive and "set it free." This is like plotting to take over a whorehouse and set the whores and customers "free" to practice chastity. That is, people who want chastity are not in whorehouses and people who want freedom are not in domesticated hives.

Third circuit libertarians, whose patron God is Daedalus, are always plotting to engineer a libertarian hive by creating the perfect logical model of what is desired and teaching its value to others. This is based on the error of assuming everybody else is, or should be, a third circuit computer like Mr. Spock.

Fourth circuit libertarians are in a particularly ambiguous position since the fourth circuit is inherently hive-oriented. These types become anarcho-communist mystics, vegetarians, etc. and are usually to be found in mini-hives some hundreds of miles from the nearest macro-hive, practicing their own "libertarian" version of typical hive-taboo morality.

Fifth circuit libertarians turn on, tune in and drop out. They sometimes enter fourth circuit mini-hives briefly but as soon as they recognize the local taboo system as a permutation or combination of those of the macro-hives, they leave and float elsewhere. Probably, they will eventually float off the earth entirely to establish Tantric "Heavenly Cities" in space. Imagine a micro-L5 designed along the lines of Hassan i Sabbah's Garden of Delights and you get my idea of where fifth circuit libertarianism is going.

Sixth circuit libertarians are the allies of the future. Where circuits I to V identify the imprinted neural construct with "reality," the sixth circuit type participates consciously in the process of selecting alternative "realities." (Gurdjieff called this Self-Remembering; John Lilly calls is "self-metaprogramming.") By the standards of the earlier circuits, the sixth circuit libertarian appears to be a magician, a witch, a weirdo or perhaps a practical joker or clown. To hirself, the sixth circuit libertarian is engaged in freemasonry (to use that mystical term correctly for once), i.e. synergetic co-creation of new realities, Guerrilla ontology, Discordianism.

Seventh circuit libertarians are Taoistic, alchemical, hermetic Evolutionary Agents. When Camus writes, "If a mass death sentence defines the human condition, rebellion is its consequence," he is defining seventh circuit libertarianism.

If fifth and sixth circuit libertarians seem spooky, few or crazy to fourth-circuit domesticated hive dwellers, seventh circuit types seem absolutely diabolical. The archetypes are Satan, Prometheus, Dr. Faustus, Baron Frankenstein, all the mad scientists in all the kitsch classics who refused to be stopped by fourth circuit moralists warning them, "There are things Man was not meant to tamper with."

If an ideal fourth-circuit hive could be built on libertarian lines (e.g. Dante's earth paradise), the seventh-circuit libertarian would scornfully leave on the next starship. SHe would visit a fifth circuit Garden of Delights for a week's vacation occasionally, but wouldn't dream of living there. A sixth circuit psionic circus (e.g. what fourth circuit types call miracles, synchronicities or parapsychological phenomena) would amuse hir for only two or three weeks. SHe is in search of nothing less than transcending the boundaries of time and space.

When Socrates drank the hemlock he acted out the greatest Zen koan in the history of the West. He was exemplifying his adoration of seventh circuit evolutionary values over first circuit bio-survival. Those who credit his act to bravery or stubbornness have not understood it.

(See the eleuthyria chapter of Fowles' great novel, The Magus.)

Eighth circuit libertarians, having transcended time and space, live already in the future. Dogen Zengi, saying "Time is three eyes and seven elbows." Chuang-Tse saying, "There is no governor anywhere." (What a glorious precognition of cybernetic biology and the quantum inseparability principle!) Crowley's notorious "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." As a Zen classic defines this type, "He walks through the village, shirt open, grinning, looking like nobody special."

Only the eighth circuit libertarian knows that all the other types are right also, in their own way. Yositani Roshi, a great Zen teacher, used to say it to his students in these words:

"You are absolutely perfect just as you are."

-- Robert Anton Wilson

Monday, August 1, 2011

Eight Kinds of Libertarians
By Robert Anton Wilson

[This article, from Robert Anton Wilson's "Illuminating Discords" column in New Libertarian Weekly, was published in issue no. 60 of that publication, Feb. 6, 1977. My thanks to Mike Gathers for supplying me with the clip, and to Jesse Walker, who supplied the article to Mr. Gathers. The sequel to this piece will run tomorrow. -- Tom]

I propose that there are eight kinds of libertarians and that understanding the differences would clarify much of the debate between factions.

The Biosurvival Circuit is activated as soon as DNA life is established on a planet. This is the most primitive level of consciousness (3 1/2 billion years old) and scans only for signals indicating safety (security, warmth, food) or danger (threat, isolation, withdrawal of nurture). This circuit is recapitulated in the first days of infancy and takes a basic biosurvival imprint which lasts for life. In ordinary nontechnical language this circuit is called Will.

The libertarian who has taken his heaviest imprint on this circuit will be obsessed with defense-and-attack on the most basic level of life-and-death struggle against competing organisms. Anarcho-fascists, Sadeans, Stirnerites and vulgarizers of Nietzsche fit this first circuit imprint pattern.

2. The Emotional Circuit is formed as soon as life forms become complicated enough to exert effort against gravity, rear up and compete for territory or status. This appeared with the first amphibians around 500,000,000 years ago. This circuit is recapitulated when the infant starts to walk, send emotional signals by Body Language (kinesics) and struggles for a decision-making role in family politics. (All parents know this imprint period as "the difficult years.") Once again, the initial imprint tends to remain a lifelong emotional game strategy.

In ordinary language, this circuit, pre-occupied with mammalian politics, is called the Ego. Its unconscious aspects are the Id of Freud; Berne calls is the Adapted Child.

Libertarians who have taken their strongest imprint on this circuit will tend toward conservatism, join the Libertarian Party and get embroiled in elections, or become Objectivists.

The first circuit is obsessed with survival in a Darwinian sense; the second circuit with territory and status, i.e. Ego-tripping.

3. The third circuit appeared with the emergence of hominid nervous systems about 1,000,000 years ago. Right-handedness, domination of the brain by the linear left hemisphere and the use of the nine laryngeal muscles for signaling concrete and abstract ideas (language) make up this Symbolic Circuit. It is activated when the child begins handling, manipulating and altering artifacts, and also asking questions such as, "What is this called? How do you use this?"

In popular speech, this circuit is called the Mind. Eric Berne calls it the Adult or Computer.

(In Star Trek land, the first circuit is Scotty, brooding pessimistically over life-support and weapons systems; the second circuit is McCoy, the expert on tribal decorum; and the third circuit, of course, is Spock.)

Libertarians who take their strongest imprint on the third circuit remain obsessed with logic, linear processes, symbolic constructs, science. Typical examples are Bucky Fuller, the semanticist Korzykski, John Stuart Mill. These types never get involved in politics and tend to regard second circuit politics as sub-human.

The transition from the mammalian second circuit to the hominid third circuit is beautifully portrayed in 2001, when Moon-Watcher picks up the bone and realizes he can use it as a tool. The quick transitions from the bone flying through the air to the L5 space colony illustrates the extreme rapidity of change on any planet after the third circuit begins operating.

We have said that life and the first circuit is 3 1/2 billion years old and the hominid third circuit only one million, but these figures are too large to feel. Try it this way: divide by 10 million and make a model by which this planet is only 100 years old, and begin in 1576. Then, life and the first circuit began around 1626. The emotional circuit appeared with vertebrate life about 1926. The hominid third circuit appeared one month ago, and modern science ten minutes ago.

This rapid acceleration after third circuit symbolism appears was called time-binding by Korzybski.

4. The Domestic Circuit appeared with the domestication of humanity about 30,000 years ago. (On our 400-year model scale, that would be about 16 hours ago.) This circuit imprints the sexual apparatus for socially useful purposes. (For further details on this domestication process, see Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, and Wilhelm Reich, passim.) This is recapitulated in each individual when the chemical releasers of pubescence activate the sex-mating drives, and imprinting this energy with the local taboo system creates the Adult Personality, (Freud's Super-Ego, Berne's Parent.)

Since this circuit consists of taboo systems sublimated out of powerful erotic energies, the fourth-circuit libertarian is a driven and compulsive Super-Ego figure. ("He's making a list and checking it twice. He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice.") Utopian, psychologically authoritarian and always convinced SHe is the one mature personality in any group, this type appears both in the camp of fanatic militarism and fanatic pacifism; e.g. Heinlein and Joan Baez both seem to be fourth circuit libertarianism.

(Very few fourth circuit types become libertarians actually, and Maoism is the ultimate fourth circuit domestication. On the Enterprise, Kirk is the fourth circuit type.)

5. The fifth neurological circuit, according to Leary's Exo-Psychology, is for extraterrestrial life and, hence, has only appeared in random mutants until recently. It is the Neurosomatic Circuit and mediates biosurvival in zero-gravity. 85 percent of all astronauts have described "mystical" experiences which are actually fifth circuit "highs" similar to the dhyana state in Hatha Yoga or the Turn On you get from neurotransmitters in the cannabis family. Freud called this circuit "the oceanic experience."

Neurosomatic rapture transcends the dualisms of the first four circuits, reverses figure and ground (often in humorous ways) and is appropriately called spacing or floating in popular speech.

Sex and dope cults such as Tantra in India, the Yezidis in the Near East, the Gnostic and Illuminati heresies in Europe, hippiedom, etc., represents fifth circuit libertarianism. "You can't do good until you feel good" (Leary's translation of Lao-Tse) is their basic motto. They are detached from, and amused by, the dualisms of the first four circuits -- the forward-back of biosurvival fight-or-flight patterns, the up-down of emotional politics, the either-or of symbolic logic, the naughty or nice of local taboo systems.

6. The sixth circuit is Neuroelectrical or psionic intelligence: direct awareness and control of Brain functioning. In premature infants, this produces space-time singularities, synchronicities, ESP, and a sense that one is living in a sci-fi story of parallel worlds.

Since this circuit is the point at which brain functioning moves more into the right lobe than the left, its purpose has to do with our future evolution and sixth circuit libertarians are extremely rare thus far; one is more likely to encounter them in fiction than in fact. Conchis, in John Fowles' The Magus, is one example; Hagbard Celine, another. Krishnamurti's slogan, "Be an Individual," is in Krishnamurti's context, a sixth circuit libertarian exhortation. Crowley's notorious saying, "God is the enemy of Man" is another sixth circuit signal, as was Proudhon's antitheism (as distinguished from atheism.)

7. The Neurogenetic Circuit involves direct access to the DNA archives: Jung's "collective unconscious" made conscious. The seventh circuit libertarian is an Evolutionary Agent, a conspirator in the vast DNA plot to achieve Higher Intelligence, Immortality, Supreme Bliss and the gratification of all desires.

When Leary was operating on the sixth circuit, he said, "The body is the car; the DNA is the driver." When he graduated to the seventh circuit, he said, "The nervous system is the car; the DNA is the driver." Again, the type is so rare that the prototypes are found more in fiction than in life -- all of Kazansakis's heroes, especially Odysseus in his sequel to the Odyssey; Prometheus and Daedalus in mythology; Gilgamesh renouncing kingship and all the world to search for immortality; Buddha renouncing all to see Truth.

A classic seventh circuit libertarian is Giordano Bruno, burned by the Catholic Church in February 1600, but the pioneer of modern science and modern Western occultism. (See Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition.) A more modern example is Wilhelm Reich, before he wigged out.

8. Thae highest circuit is Metaphysiological (not metaphysical). This is evolving toward synergetic interlock of galactic higher intelligences into one unified energy field free of body container. (The "Atman" or "Overmind" of mystical literature.) Metaphysiological is out-of-the body, out of space-time, literally infinite.

The formula for opening the 8th circuit is SMI2LE, which means Space Migration + Intelligence (squared) + Life Extension. Space Migration and Life Extension are clear enough, I trust, but Intelligence Squared perhaps requires a word of clarification. It means intelligence-studying-intelligence, i.e. Dr. John Lilly's self-metaprogramming biocomputer.

All of the 8th circuit libertarians known to me are unindicted co-conspirators in Leary's Starseed project, which aims to accomplish the SMI2LE mutation in this generation.

Continued in my next column ...

-- Robert Anton Wilson