Robert Anton Wilson often uses an old occultist trick in his books: Hinting that he knows more than he wants to tell. In "Masks of the Illuminati", for instance, there are several references to Aleister Crowley and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. For a great example on how this works (and what happens when it doesn't) read "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco.

Wilson is a fantastic author and a jolly good literary manipulator, but i believe he is a sleeper agent, and Kerry Thornley believed him an outright Conspiracy mole. Something about Wilson rubs me the wrong way; his ideas get you going, but ultimately limit you to HIS ideas. Like any well controled conspiracy pawn, he lets you make your own conclusions while limiting your options to a small, strict data set. Don't let Wilson limit you into his world, use your own data sets, make your own realities. Keep in mind, any real seeker is starving, mad, or dead.

Half of the idea of Wilson's school of thought is that reality is defined by the individual. With this as an initial condition, it only goes to follow that the final step is to take his ideas and incorporate them into something bigger, or take them in a new direction. I think that if you understand his work well enough, you will be able to see that he's not limiting you to his ideas, but, in fact, enabling a self-empowered freedom from being static in your personal philosophy. Perhaps I'm wrong, and just reading into it because I've been a Discordian for a while now. The most significant thing that I've learned from Eris is that humans are constantly changing, learning new things, and expanding their minds. The opening and jumping of frame of reference of the reporter in Illuminatus! is, I think, a very good illustration of that progression. Me personally, I took the red pill.

His books

Author, essayist, philosophist, opium-crazed Sufi nut, ex-Playboy editor, playwright, futurist, exotic dancer and self-proclaimed guerilla ontologist Wilson is still going strong 30 years after the publication of his first book, Playboy's Book of Forbidden Words (source: http://deoxy.org/rawbib.htm. Most famous for Illuminatus Triolgy written with Robert Shea, Wilson is also the author of many wise and witty books which might be found in a number of bookshop sections; I've found him in self-help, new age, psychology and occult, to name a few.

Wilson was a good friend of Timothy Leary, and their ideas cross-fertilised very successfully. See Wilson's Prometheus Rising and Quantum Psychology for excellent discussions of Leary's 8-circuit brain model. The excercises included in these books are (usually) great fun to do, and always interesting.

Three key texts for learning more about Wilson himself are the volumes in the Cosmic Trigger trilogy.
Wilson runs a newsletter, Trajectories, whcih has been published in a variety of media. See http://www.impermanentpress.com/pages2/raw1x.html for more details.

Wilson's own web site is at http://www.rawilson.com, and features a 'Thought for the Week' section.

Reading Wilson is like standing in the eye of a hurricane; cool and calm where you are, while everything else in the world is flying madly in all directions around you.







oh, fnord, of course.

More of Wilson's books:

  • Right Where You Are Sitting Now : Further Tales of the Illuminati
  • The Earth Will Shake (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles vol. 1)
  • The Widow's Son (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles vol. 2)
  • Nature's God (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles vol. 3)


And, to clarify, RAW didn't write the Principia itself1 but rather wrote the introduction appearing in many editions.

He has also made the following video tapes:


And audio tapes:



1 If anyone is to be trusted on this matter. They are likely not, but I believe it is safe to say that the P.D. was written by Greg Hill/Malaclypse the Younger and the late great Kerry Thornley/Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst.

One of the main reasons I have always found reading Wilson's books is time well spend is that he constantly manages to lead you in one direction, and then pulls the rug from under your feet. He leads one to question some of the most basic beliefs one holds for their validity and almost always provides for a great mental rollercoaster ride.

Another aspect is that his books for me always provide interesting bits and pieces, hints of other works that lead one to explore the mentioned crackpots, authors, scientists and occultists in more detail that a person with a normal western-style reality tunnel might do, if at all. So his having enjoyed a wide variety of education and experiences can really pay off for the reader as well, in an intellectual sense. Without Wilson, doubt I would delved into James Joyce, Buckminster Fuller, Crowley, Timothy Leary and other great writers of this and past times.

The only drawback to his works is that they are so firmly rooted in American pop-culture, that people from other backgrounds have trouble understanding half of what he is hinting at, or are simply not as interesting as they are to Americans (such as the Kennedy Assassination and other Americana often found in his works. I myself never found this to be a problem, but I know of people who do.

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