Some random thoughts on Robert Anton Wilson. So, I've been writing a biography of Wilson over the last number of years. It's been overall a great experience. One that has deepened my respect for writers. Especially writers who seek to "throw their arms around the world," like Wilson did. He was one of these writers. I'm very excited to share this book.
The name of the book is Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson (an apt title that I cannot take credit for. Credit goes to Mitch Horowitz for coming up with that) The title is fitting as Fuck! for these days and times
I started this book way back in late 2015, just before the world took a hard nosedive into Bizarro Land
Or as Grant Morrison has referred to it as the "Collapse of the 32nd Path"
There have been even more twists and turns with its eldritch halls since then. And just as we thought we were emerging from it, a disembodied hand materializes and pulls everyone back!
So we all stand in the Chapel. Will humanity get out and save ourselves from out own destruction?
Wilson, early in his career at least, described himself as a Beatnik. The Beats were many things, but one thing that resonates through time is a submergence into the "low." They got low. A fascination, of sorts, occurred with "the streets." With that an openness to street slang, etc.
Wilson was a "super beatnik" who became part of the Underground Press movement when Paul Krassner started publishing his articles in The Realist starting in 1959. This Underground movement was (somewhat) or at least being open to "the street."
Underground Newspapers were sold by people in the street. There was an immediate engagement with ideas. A huge network of Underground papers spread all over the county and other parts of the world. And then it got destroyed, from both internal and external pressures.
Running concurrent to the UPM was the Free University Movement. Often times, people involved in the papers were also involved in the Free Universities. These two movements are long gone. The internet promised both of these sorts of things, but something insidiously twisted happened.
One thing about RAW was that he never an academic. He did not appear to want to be.
Does this totally discount his theories?
I don't think so
But then again I am not an academic.
I'm a Writer
Another rando thought is that some people have called RAW dangerous and not worth a read because some new batch of idiots are claiming him as a hero. I guess some people read both RAW and Jordan Peterson. I've never read any Peterson. I'd rather listen to a talk by Robert Sapolsky. I guess I never read any Peterson because I was too busy reading Robert Anton Wilson and then reading all the writers, scientist, and philosophers he was telling his readers to look at.
To me Robert Sapolsky is forwarding the lines on inquiry RAW opened up.