I can’t remember if I read ‘the Dice Man’ or ‘Prometheus Rising’ first, but I know it was in my early 20s and they changed my life (cliché alert). The Dice Man feels very dated now, but I’ve been rereading Prometheus and other Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) books throughout the last 20 years. Basically, they’re about changing ourselves; we’re not stuck with our ‘personalities’. It takes work and an open mind, but surely we’re worth it?
I’ve got so taken with ‘Quantum Psychology’ this time that I’ve found a couple of people to do the exercises with, so I thought I’d try and explain what is so important to me about RAW’s ideas.
You can find loads of biographies about him in cyberspace. Briefly, he was an amazingly wellread, multi-disciplinary thinker. Being brought up catholic, and being treated for childhood polio by a method not recognised by the American Medical Association may have made him question religion, authority and dogma. Amongst other things he studied maths and engineering, co-edited Playboy and wrote 35 books which are very hard to classify: philosophy, heresy, self-help, conspiracy theory etc. etc. The most famous is the ‘Illuminatus Trilogy’, which I didn’t really like- seemed to be written for spotty teenagers to me.
But I’ve loved all the other books. Each to their own.
Another basic idea is that nothing is definitely true– however likely it may seem, remember it’s only a theory. He lost me when he got on to living forever, but that might be because I was brainwashed by ‘Dancers at the End of Time’ (Michael Moorcock) into thinking that it would all get pretty boring. It would certainly change society and politics if we knew that if we fuck up the planet we’ll have to live with the consequences. Forever. Mind you, humans are pretty stupid.
RAW loves to use different methods to get his point across, hence slightly different books aimed at teenagers, geeks, spods, conspiracy theorists etc. And he loves to have a laugh. But he’s also deadly serious- THINK! Don’t accept anything as ‘the truth’. And don’t just read his books, do the exercises. Experimentation is the best way to learn.
An example of an exercise:
Read a rightwing newspaper every day for a week. Try to believe everything you read. Then try it with a leftwing one, and then a (so-called) middling one. Think about how they all made you feel.
If you don’t actually do it, you’ll never really know will you? We all have beliefs, but it’s good to challenge them.
I suppose I should read Illuminatus again and make every effort to love it.
I can’t do him any justice, just read the books. I’d start with Prometheus Rising, or if you’re a bit more open minded: The Cosmic Trigger.
Go on, you might learn something.