Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Markoff Chaney's war against the tape measure

It may exist only in our minds, but as we go through life, we each hold a "tape measure" in our mind, wondering if we "measure up" in our looks, in our performance at work, in the quality of our blogs, in the number of people who follow us on Twitter, and on and on and on. It's a constant fear and sense of competition that Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson tapped into when they created the character of Markoff Chaney in Illuminatus!

Michael Johnson (who cites an interview that the Chaney character, who also appears in Schroedinger's Cat, was a 99 percent RAW creation) has a very good blog post up discussing Chaney and putting him in the context of other works of literature. I would add the protagonist in    " 'Repent Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," in which a character named Everett C. Marm rebels against a severely regulated society and commits acts of sabotage such as releasing thousands of jellybeans. The story was written by Harlan Ellison, who famously is not particularly tall.

During the 1970s, a science fiction club I belonged to at the University of Oklahoma obtained some funding from student government to bring several writers to campus. One of them was Ellison, and at a "meet the author" party a libertarian friend of mine, Steve Browne, asked Ellison what he thought of Illuminatus! Ellison replied that he liked it and thought it was funny.

1 comment:

fuzzbuddy said...