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Saturday, February 4, 2023

A few more words on 'RAW Memes'


I have finished RAW Memes, the collection of Robert Anton Wilson quotes selected and illustrated by Rasa. Here's part of what I wrote in a note to Rasa after I finished the book: 

"Wanted to drop you a note after finishing RAW Memes. (I have been reading a few pages at a time, which I would argue is as good a way as any to read it.) 

"The essay at the back, "Bob and Rasa," is really good and adds some genuine additional value for people who buy the book. As you point out, RAW really knew quite a bit about Buddhism. (He was more of Mahayana guy and I have been more on the Theravada side when I study it, but I know enough about all variations of Buddhism to know that RAW knew his stuff.) I'm glad I bought the book."

Wilson's books are laced with references to Buddhism; does anyone know of any place where he wrote an entire article about it? 


Rarebit Fiend said...

I don't know of an article or essay off the top of my head but I feel like there's at least one or two out there that fit the description. His talks on Shinran are quite moving.

I think Wilson probably inherited his preference for Mahayana from the same source I did: Crowley. Crowley saw Theravada as an ultimately nihilist philosophy and heavily preferred Mahayana. Crowley can make quite an impression when you're reading him as your guide to other religions. Of course, I realize Crowley's writings were saturated with his own prejudices and agenda; but it is hard to shake.

Neil Bates said...

In college, I studied Tibetan Buddhism under the great Jeffrey Hopkins, who in one class translated for a Tibetan monk who was in effect the real teacher! It was, yes, enlightening, and I was later able to experience a beautiful selflessness for awhile. Alas, it didn't last. Altho I met RAW in 1987 (BTW he liked my mother's crabcakes), I don't recall anything about Buddhism per se, I should have asked.

I note that "" has (of course!) 23 characters! Cheers.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Rarebit: Zen (i.e. a Mahayana variant) generally has been the preferred brand of Buddhism among intellectuals, although Insight Meditation, derived from Theravada, has been big in recent years. The Crowley information is very interesting.

@Neil, How did RAW end up eating your mother's crab cakes? Is there a story there?

Rarebit Fiend said...

@Tom- I'd recommend reading Crowley's "Three Schools of Magick" chapters from Magick Without Tears for a look at how vitriolic Crowley could be about some forms of Buddhism. It's also a pretty fun, if somewhat misleading, frivolous and patched together look at magical philosophies from Crowley's point of view. He claims it was written by a guy named Gerard Aumont, who was a real person Crowley met, but like many of Crowley's claims- that's an obvious lie.

Neil Bates said...

@Tom: Yes, a story there, a good one (altho i lost some money on it.) I had RAW staying over for a lecture deal arranged through the late Jeff Rosenbaum, of ACE and Starwood Festival fame (sadly i haven't gone yet.) I was living with my mother, RAW stayed at our house! Cool af, and she cooked for him. Lots of discussion and I also kept a Guinness bottle he drank out of. Plus now, GF and I sometimes sleep in the bed he used ;-) .