It saddened me last week to hear of the death of Robert Anton Wilson. I enjoyed reading his work and of the sceptical “model agnostic” stance he took to it; I got hold of Prometheus Rising, much impressed with his take on Timothy Leary’s 8-circuit system of neuro-consciousness, last year. His interest in destroying human beings as socialized robots, awakening them to the possibilities of their individual natures, came across strongly enough, and I found his elaboration on Leary’s systems quite illuminating….
Another book of his I heartily took to was his questioning, iconoclastic Natural Law or Don’t Put A Rubber on Your Willy, which puts a few concepts that I once upon a time took for granted under rigorous revaluation . I select a few choice quotes:
According to Ohm’s law, if current is 2 amperesand resistance is 5 ohms, then voltage will be 2 x 5 or 10 volts. It seldom is, exactly. ….The explanations are “instrument error,” “human error” and the fact that conditions in a real laboratory are never those of the Ideal (Platonic) Laboratory, just as a real chair is never exactly the Ideal Platonic chair and real horseshit isn’t Ideal Platonic Horseshit. (For those who did not have the dubious benefit of education in classical philosophy, it should be explained that, according to Plato, every chair we encounter in sensory-sensual experience “is” an imperfect copy of the Ideal Chair, somewhere outside space-time. From this I long ago deduced that every horse encountered and endured in space-time is also an imperfect copy of the Ideal Platonic Horse and all the horseshit I have ever stepped in is just an imperfect copy of Ideal Platonic Horseshit. I’m sure some Platonists have thought of this before me, and not only believe in the Ideal Platonic Horseshit but have religious ecstasies in which they can actually smell it.
All the arguments in modern Natural Law theory would immediately make some kind of sense if one inserted the word “God” in them at blurry and meaningless places in the jargon. It seems that the word is left out because the Natural Law cultists do not want it obvious that they are setting up shop as priests; they want us to consider them philosophers.
….in my original article, editor Konkin inserted another footnote, alleging that “faithful ideologists” have never attained power anywhere…..it has that same structure as the Christian argument that “true Christians” have never done cruel, murderous things like the alleged Christians who were responsible for the Crusades, the Holy Inquisition, the witch-hunts, the continued Catholic-Protestant terrorism in Northern Ireland, etc. This appears to be, again, the essentialist argument: what you see only looks like bread, but “in essence” it is the body of Christ.
The attempt to remove moral choice from the realm of humanity and place it in a “spooky” or Platonic superhuman realm, thus, has historically usually been allied with political conservatism and reaction; libertarians who espouse this mysticism should be aware they are using the ammunition of the enemy, which may blow their heads off someday.
I think this last quote gives a good model for his general life orientation:
I am not claiming to offer Eternal Truth here (I don’t know where such a commodity is to be found) but only stating an attitude. If Ideologists ever convince me that this pragmatic, individualistic, scientific attitude is incompatible with libertarianism, then I will find some other name for myself and not use the word “libertarian” anymore. I am not interested in Ideologies and don’t give a damn about labels at all, at all. I am interested only in what makes the world a little more reasonable, a little less violent and somewhat more free and tolerant than it has been in the past.
RAW and Uncut – long may his memory last….
wow, RAW sounds wonderful! i’ve never read any of his work before, but i am impressed by that last quote!
Prometheus Rising was great stuff. Have you read his Illuminatus trilogy?
I’ve briefly heard of it, but nothing more than that. What’s it like?
It’s fiction (so unlike most of his other stuff), but very good fiction. Imagine if he tried to put all his ideas in a novel, I mean all his ideas ever. It’s literally packed with stuff. Then imagine that crossed with a satire of all the occult-undergound and conspiracy theories in the world. It’s funny rather than serious, and good humor at that.