Friday, June 28, 2013

Green Egg: The most important intellectual event of the 20th Century

[Latest in a series of letters from Robert Anton Wilson to Green Egg. I've included the reply from Tim Zell, Green Egg honcho and the founder of the Church of All Worlds -- Tom]

Green Egg Forum, (1974 or so)

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

Genea Steinberg's article on Wil Peigh (GE63) was damn good. Western science went down the wrong trail in ignoring Giordano Bruno's dialectical vision and settling for Newtonian mechanism. The return to Bruno's erotic cosmology in Reich and Timothy Leary is the most important intellectual event of the 20th Century, even if it was so shocking to orthodoxy that both Dr. Reich and Dr. Leary landed in prison.

I don't like Lance Christie's schemata of "revealed," "Taoistic" and "Pagan" religions. (This does not mean that I dislike Mr. Christie and Mr. Zell, and I hope it doesn't mean that they will begin disliking me.) I think the problem is that virtually all the major religions -- I mean the religions with millions of followers, i.e. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism -- have gone through so many evolutionary changes that they now evade categorization. Islam, for instance, has its authoritarian factions and dogmatists, its philosophical and liberal wing, its ecstatic and "pagan" (magick) division, and various blends and combinations of these. Christianity has been the most murderously psychotic of all religions, but Francis of Assisi was a Christian (and a Sufi). The people who excommunicated Spinoza for thinking and the people who brought Sufic sex-magick, science and tolerance to the Occidental world were all Jews. Most Buddhists are atheists but some Buddhists have more gods than the Hindus. In short, we can categorize individuals (although that, too, is fraught with peril) but we cannot categorize religions that include millions of individuals over thousands of years of history.

Lao-Tse, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, al-Ghazali, Dogen Zengi, William Blake and Aleister Crowley all belonged to the same religion, although they are usually classified as a Taoist, a Christian, two Moslems, a Zen Buddhist and two unclassifiable visionaries.

I vote for continuing the interminable letter (or column, or whatever it is) of Steve Erdmann, for a variety of reasons. One, terminating him has an aspect, possibly, of fear, and "fear is failure and the forerunner of failure." Two, cutting him off in mid-stream or mid-diatribe seems somehow spiteful, vengeful, or otherwise angry-embittered-sulky, and it is good training to resist all compulsive emotions and see what the nervous system produces next when simple robotic patterns are rejected. Three, I personally find him entertaining: I keep wondering what new assaults on logic he will produce next. Four, the skilled dialecticians among our readership can practice their debating skills on him better than on one another, since he represents a real, rather than a superficial, difference with most of us. Five, a spectrum is more amusing than a monochrome.

In this connection, I note that Mr. Erdmann's exercise in logic takes the form (reduced to basics), "Communists and Nazis commit atrocities," "Communists and Nazis are pagans," "Therefore, pagans commit atrocities." This syllogism has the same defect (I forget its technical name) as "X and Y are red-heads," "X and Y commit sodomy every Thursday," "Therefore, red-heads commit sodomy every Thursday." Translated into Boolean algebra, Mr. Erdmann's fallacy would be even more glaringly obvious. Even on a vulgar level, he got his effect by simply ignoring the fact that "Pagan" in GE terminology includes various groups and excludes others; especially, it excludes Communists and Nazis. By using a different meaning of "pagan" -- one more or less invented by himself -- he made the word include Communists and Nazis. Any freshman debating team can get the same results by taking one of Mr. Erdmann's terms, re-defining it to suit themselves, and then holding him to blame for the result. For instance, he "justifies" his odd use of pagan by quoting one philosopher, Berdyaeu. He also calls himself "a member of the human race." Quoting one philosopher, Clarence Darrow, who described "the human race" as "the worst sons-of-bitches in the galaxy," I can now "prove" that Mr. Erdmann is a son-of-a-bitch. But this is children's games; anybody can score such points by taking the words of the opponent and changing their meaning. Philosophical debate begins when one eschews such tricks and argues with what the opponent is actually saying. It is more taxing intellectual work than word-games are, but it leads to light instead of heat.

As for the debate between Mr. Erdmann and various others as to whether the Gnostics were Christian or Pagan, any reading of Gnostic literature should clarify that. Some Gnostics were Christian and some Gnostics were Pagan, just as some alchemists were Christian and some were Pagan.

Incidentally, Mr. Erdmann's citation of Communism and Nazism does make a valid point: namely, that Christianity is not today the most murderous cult in the world. Up until 50 years ago, this was not true, and any believer in humanism, tolerance and liberty was justified in regarding Christianity as the main enemy of progress. Now we know that Christianity is only one of several forms that militant intolerance can take, and this is an important lesson. In the final analysis, my opposition to banning Mr. Erdmann from GE is that such a gesture, at least symbolically, suggests the manifestation of such intolerance in our own ranks.
                Love is the law, love under will.
                Robert Anton Wilson
                Discordian Society
                2035 Channing Way
                Berkeley, CA 94704

(Bob -- the reasons you gave for keeping Erdmann around are precisely the reasons we HAVE kept him around as long as we have -- his dissenting articles and opinions have appeared in virtually every issue of GE since #50 -- and, 14 issues later, are just as irrelevant and off-track as when he first began. After 2 years, we have all grown tired of his inane diatribes, and have decided, belatedly, many feel, to consign him to the oblivion they so richly deserve. "Enough IS enough!" -- TZ)


gacord said...

These were great, Tom. Thanks for posting them. I hope you do another round sometime soon.

Eric Wagner said...

Great stuff. It took me a while to figure out that "GE terminology" meant "Green Egg terminology.

I wonder if Rumi, etc., would agree that "Lao-Tse, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, al-Ghazali, Dogen Zengi, William Blake and Aleister Crowley all belonged to the same religion".

Drew Zi said...

Thanks for these letters they were very interesting.