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Monday, June 3, 2024

Dr. Richard Waterloo's favorite book

On X, Dr. Richard Waterloo posts (a short thread of two messages)  "This book for curious 'heads ... Though I love talking about books, the question 'What's your favorite book?' is such a tough one. Prometheus Rising, I'd say, is my favorite because of its profound impact, but few people would really be interested in it so I don't recommend it to casual readers. Great for 'heads."

This raises a couple of interesting points. Is Robert Anton Wilson so "way out" that it's difficult to recommend his books to ordinary readers, or would many people be  interested in him if only he could become better known? I do think that Prometheus Rising is a favorite for many RAW readers. (See this posting about the new Prometheus Rising hardcover and how it is the best-selling book in the Hilaritas catalog). 

I would be hard-pressed to name one favorite book. If I had to name a favorite RAW book, I would have to go with Illuminatus!, which to me is a very rich reading experience that started it all for me as a RAW fan. But I also have a particular fondness for Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth, which as the title suggests is aimed at everyday human concerns that apply to many of us, and perhaps more approachable for readers new to RAW. I plan to read it  yet again soon. 


Doctor Richard Waterloo said...

I had a lot to say about PR, but limited it to one post. I tend to value things that have an effect in the world, and when reading, on me. PR was a head-opening shift that I still live within, though I've dialed back my cosmic perspective in light of current events in the world. Specifically, my shift from leaning ANCAP to leaning ANSOC, if I had to label the transition, but right now it's much more nuanced and practically useless with my level of reach and the world's acceptance of libertarian ideas. It's fine. I'll meet the world where it is.

A book I read years after PR that helped me move from cosmic theory to real-world practice is A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze & Guattari, which I read with Brenton Clutterbuck and some other Discordians. It lays out a metaphysics of chaos theory, systems theory, and (shield your eyes, libertarians) French Marxist theory. It's hard to sum up because of it's density, but if there's a tendency for reality to break apart and piece itself back together, then D&G propose that revolutionary action is done in the space between those two, working to create novelty in the world by doing things outside of current constrictions and possible capture. Dense stuff, but it was a great follow-up to PR.

A book I pick up to read pretty often is Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. I love pol drama and Hunter is an excellent writer. His views and use of racial slurs in the book don't really hold up in 2024, but his frustration with politics is still applicable today. And again, great writing.

Two Zen books that have been helpful to me are Zen Without Zen Masters and Zenarchy, both Discordian adjacent. I can't recommend Zen practice enough to anyone and everyone. Meditate, find compassion, be love in every moment.

Finally, the book that started me down this path prior to RAW was Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse, which views life as a game and a series of games where the finite games are the ones where there's a desired endpoint and the infinite games are played so that they can continue to be played. Though I've moved on from thinking concretely about game-life, I still look at the problems in my life in that context. Skill-building and relationship building infinite games tend to be more valued than finite games. Cooperation over competition is preferable to me.

I could continue to list books, but I guess that's enough to get some juicy convo goin. :)

quackenbush said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oz Fritz said...

I really like PR, but it's not my favorite RAW title and isn't the one I recommend to first time Wilson readers. That would be CT 1. I think I took a strong imprint on that one. It was also the only RAW book I could find at first when I started to read him in the early 80s in Western Canada. I pretty much enjoy everything he's written but am drawn more to his fiction. I recently reviewed Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, that film treatment blows me away. The review is here:

RAW books I'd like to revisit are Quantum Psychology, CT 2 & 3. Somehow those books have disappeared from my library over the years so it's a matter of when I can afford them. I also want to pick up the new Hilaritas edition of Coincidance for the new material it includes.

I highly recommend A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guatarri. It is on a level of difficulty comparable to Ulysses, Gravity's Rainbow, The Cantos that is something you really need to devote yourself to comprehend – not that I've figured it all out by any means, not even close. I wouldn't describe it as Dr. Waterloo does only because I haven't read or studied systems theory, chaos theory or Marxism. I have no doubt those are in there ... and then some. However, this line from his description seems right on the money: "but if there's a tendency for reality to break apart and piece itself back together, then D&G propose that revolutionary action is done in the space between those two, ..." The "space between those two" can be called the Bardo. D & G, particularly Deleuze, appear masters of the Bardo. I also agree that it has very practical applications for spiritual and intellectual growth.

Eric Wagner said...

I find it interesting how often Dr. Wilson pointed back at Prometheus Rising, saying over and over again that if you want to change your life for the better, he recommended doing the exercises in Prometheus Rising. I think Dr. Wilson really improved an already great book in the revised second edition from New Falcon which Hilaritas has made even better.

quackenbush said...

My last comment did not feel well thought out and I deleted it in haste... It's been over 25 years, but I've come to realize that it was the 8 Circuit model that really got me hooked in with RAW and my zeal for his writing and the effect it had on me only grew from there.

That said, at this stage of where I'm at, I tend towards a much more critical eye toward _PR_. The fabled exercise in the book seem, for the most part, geared towards developing one's Third Circuit conceptual understanding of the model as opposed to Antero's approach towards culitivating an experiencial understandiong of those states of consciousness. That's not necessarily a criticism, but rather my assessment.

More crtically, I'd say that Bob's take on dev psych and even Jung is off and his scholarship is lacking. A lot of that stuff is now outdated. And now days when I pick it up, it feels a bit cringe and too far out there to me.

Leary's Exo-/Info-psychology reads like Bucky Fuller on acid, to me. Very big picture philosophical. maybe that also describes leary in a nutshell. Anyway. PR brings the model down to earth and makes it accessible. Bob popularized Leary's work.

All that said, I love that retired asset investment manager JPOShaughnessy will frequently recommend PR to (very straight) guests on his podcast. I think he particularly gets the Thinker-Prover thing. He's a recent convert, not an old head. Anyway...

A more "legitimate" work in my mind, and the foundation of what became Maybe Logic, is Quantum Psychology.

More cringe that PR is Game of Life, but perhaps that's less relevant as Leary serves as primary author. As I continue to think all this out, maybe the brilliance of PR and the 8C model itself superceeds the cringe factor of PR. Maybe the cringe factor is all in my head. But as far as being too "way out," I think that could boil down to what others have already recommended in terms of places to start. Perhaps CT1 is the best bang of the buck.

I struggled to read Illuminatus. I just can't keep track of characters and complexity like that without taking copious notes.

A lot of Bob I don't consider too Way Out, so much as he writes to expand one's third circuit conceptual flexibility. C3 Yoga. And maybe depending on the person, you need to start slow with some basic yoga before doing hand stands and such. I struggled to wrap my head around the idea of immortality when I first encountered Bob. It seemed to weird and I set him aside and went down a huge McKenna rabbit hole before coming back to Bob.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I'll try not to delete this one.