Saturday, September 26, 2015

An update on RAW's futurism

Gerard O'Neill, whose ideas inspired the L-5 Society. 

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at how some of Robert Anton Wilson's futurist ideas from the 1970s have been doing lately.

I have written already about how Peter Thiel and Elon Musk have worked to advance many of his ideas, including space migration and life extension, so now I am trying another angle.

The author biography from Cosmic Trigger says, "President of the Institute of Exo-Psychology, Robert Anton Wilson is a leading figure in the study of extraterrestrial psychology. As Director of the Prometheus Society, a Maryland-based lobby group,  he is actively engaged in the scientific search for immortality. An active member of the L-5 Society,  a group of scientists who are determined to send out the first space-city (designed by Gerard O'Neill of Princeton), Mr. Wilson is engaged in seeking new frontiers for humanity."

Here is an update on those three groups, or at least what I could find:

(1) The Institute for Exo-Psychology sounds like a Timothy Leary thing, but I was not able to get a great deal of information after querying two of Leary's biographers.

When I asked R.U. Sirius "Whatever happened to the Institute of Exo-Psychology?" he replied (on Twitter), "I didn't know it happened in the first place ... "

John Higgs doubts that it's still around, or that it even amounted to much in the first place, but with characteristic kindness and wit, he answered my email immediately:  "In fact, I'd be surprised if it existed beyond some enthusiastic friends in Leary's circle, and a letterhead. I hope I'm wrong though! I for one would love to land a job at the Institute of Exo-Psychology!"

(2) The Prometheus Society. I wrote to retired professor Dr. Charles Tandy, who was associated with the group. He replied,

"An original Prometheus Society brochure I have in front of me right now was published in 1976. Dr. Thomas K. Donaldson (the American/ Australian mathematician who for many years now has been in cryonic hibernation) is listed as a founding member. RAW may have become aware of the PS soon after the publication of this brochure. It says the PS 'is a revolutionary non-profit corporation promoting individual and world survival and the transition to societal utopia and personal immortality.' Among other things, it sought to establish a U.S. National Institute on Low Temperature Biology and (O'Neill) Self-sufficient Extra-terrestrial Green habitats. Uniting the two sets of projects into a third set of projects was a major PS goal: 'a space polis of 100,000 cryonauts' [i.e., cryonicists]. 'With that reality, all past history may be viewed as ages of darkness and death'."

"Although not explicitly-literally, I suppose we could say that in spirit the PS morphed into . For many years the only living founder of the Bay Area Cryonics Society (now the American Cryonics Society), Edgar Swank, served as our volunteer webmaster." 

(3) The L-5 society merged in 1986 with the National Space Institute, which became the National Space Society. See this Wikipedia article, and this one and this one.  I will probably join the National Space Society.

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