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

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

RAW Semantics on the new RAW edition

RAW Semantics, the Twitter account for the blog, on the new Hilaritas Press edition of The New Inquisition:

"To me, chapter 1 alone seems worth the price of entry - and that's just the beginning. A must-read, must-acquire book, if you don't already have it. (Douglas  @rushkoff

 seems an inspired choice for the introduction to this new edition)"


I bought the new edition a couple of days ago and started it Monday night. (It's one of the few RAW titles I have not read.) Enjoying it so far, although the comment about Carl Sagan in the first chapter seemed a bit gratuitous. I will share my impressions at some point.


Rarebit Fiend said...

Tom- While I plan on ordering the new edition I do have an older edition that isn't in my apartment so I can't check the first chapter at the moment.

However, based on what I remember RAW's irritation with Sagan was mostly based on Sagan taking his training as an astronomer and extrapolating a lot, perhaps too much, authority from that specialized background and his celebrity. I will admit I don't care for most so-called "science ambassadors." I don't understand how being an astrophysicist (Degrasse Tyson) or engineer (Nye) gives you the right to declare that atheism is the only rational belief. Also considering the condescending and sometimes downright abrasive tone that these science communicators take on with others it doesn't add to their appeal. Example: Degrasse Tyson's every fucking statement online.

Specifically Sagan's CSICOP-adjacent activities were very annoying to RAW- I brought up how Sir Charles Nagas in "The Widow's Son" is a clear caricature of Sagan and the CSICOP event he writes about in "Right Where You Are Sitting Now."

As someone who despised (still do) the overreaching tomes of Daniel Dennett and Dawkins as well as the sheer bigotry of Sam Harris and was at the time active in the paranormal community this book came into my life at the precise time I would agree with it the most. Professional skeptics are too often irritating and instead of berating people who have religious beliefs or think Bigfoot is out there they should probably take their *vast scientific knowledge* and do something useful. I get taking down hucksters like Biggest Douche in the Universe John Edwards but bitching about UFO hunters is stupid at best and regressive at worst. Mind you business.

I will finish by saying that I think CSICOP, science ambassadors, and evangelical materialists do a lot to push people away from science.

That said, I'm not sure how I'd receive this book today. I don't remember thinking it was the weakest RAW book, rather I'd say that would have been "Natural Law" (pretty uninteresting unless you're brushed up on 80s Libertarian arguments) or "TSOG" (which struck me as hysterical at parts). I'm currently reading "TSOG" again and am enjoying it more than the first couple times. I mean, weak RAW for me is like bad pizza, so I usually end up reading his stuff over and over regardless. My thoughts on TSOG this time around is I think it is a lot more clear how much pain RAW was in during the time of the writing, which makes what I perceive as bitterness more understandable, and while I see what he's doing it is hard in 2020 to read a white writer slip into "Song of the South" patois.

Anyways, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book. Right now I agree that we need more science than less. But science should stick to taking care of diseases, space travel, and engineering not trying to meddle in metaphysics.

Inigo Montoya said...

New Inquisition reminds me a bit of arguments made by Paul Feyerabend - see especially Farewell to Reason.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Well, I'm reading Chapter One and enjoying much of it, and then I come to a paragraph where Wilson writes that some generalizations are probably much more accurate than others, and then he writes, "But these generalizations remain in the area of _probability_. They never claim the certitude claimed by the Pope, Dr. Carl Sagan and the priests of other Idols."

It just felt like a gratuitous comment about Sagan, without an preamble. Maybe Wilson can convince me Sagan is as bad as your average DEA agent, but we'll see.

Oz Fritz said...

Perhaps Wilson had a bone of contention with Sagan about something we don't know about? They both wrote for Omni Magazine. I think Sagan may have been part of the editorial board, while Wilson plied his wares there as a freelance writer making Sagan potentially higher up in the pecking order. Perhaps Sagan and Wilson disagreed over the editing of the latter's pieces?

Also, perhaps Wilson liked the esoteric pun with Sagan's initials, CS? Qabalistically, this can indicate healing. In the sentence Tom quotes: ..."They never claim the certitude claimed by the Pope, Dr. Carl Sagan,..." RAW calls him Dr., probably accurately, but he rarely got referred to as such in the media to my recollection. RAW also calls him a Pope - RAW acted as a Discordian Pope and made other people Popes.

The initials of The New Inquisition add to 69, a number indicating reversal. The chapter getting examined this week in Nature's God has the title "The Reverser of Laws"
The subtitle for the new release = Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science. The first part, "Irrational Rationalism" suggests a reversal of laws and adds to 210, a number previously explained as quite significant in esoteric work. "Citadel of Science" shows us the CS initials once again. It might seem irrationally rational, or paradoxical, to simultaneously criticize someone on a personal level while using the same statement to promote something on a non-personal level.

Inigo Montoya said...

I've read a bunch of Sagan. I wouldn't say, offhand, that he claims certainty as to his ideas. But I may be misremembering.

Oz may be on to something, that there is more to it than we know.