RAW Week: My Weirdest Summer Ever, by Erik Davis


17 Responses to “RAW Week: My Weirdest Summer Ever, by Erik Davis”

  1. All this talk of RAW… OK, I’ll bite: Although I’m a big SF fan, I’ve never read him. Actually I’d never even heard of him before his death. I’m not trolling. So, my question is: is he still worth reading NOW ? Should I read him knowing that I hate most fantasy ? And which book would you recommand ?

    • Don’t read him as sci-fi, read him as philosophy. He’ll teach you how to maintain your hold on identity by relinquishing your hold on reality. If you want a hilarious, sexy, scary monster of an epic then you could do a lot worse than the Illuminatus! Trilogy; if you’re interested in philosophy, check out Cosmic Trigger.

      • neilinchicago says:

        Oddly, I agree with the original list.
        Illuminatus! was written to be the ultimate conspiracy novel: they’re all true!  One thing which is clear, among the ambiguities, is that Shea and Wilson stole material anywhere they could find it.  It’s a wide-ranging romp.  Incidentally, the little bibliography which appers near the beginning of the book is completely real, and Shea and Wilson themselves only wrote one or two of them.
        Prometheus Rising, despite its eclecticism, is one of Wilson’s most linear presentations.  He’s piggy-backing on Leary, but don’t sweat that part.
        Cosmic Trigger, in my opinion, will tell you more about the person, his trials and ambitions, than any other book.

        Beyond that, keep in mind that Bob was a commercial writer, and had no problem recycling material to pay the rent.  If you’re a completist, you’ll waste a lot of time.  You will really want half his writing if you become a serious fan, but not necessarily much more.

    • Yes, he is still worth reading, although if you’re not already a fan, I could easily nominate at least six or eight of his books to skip.

      If you prefer fiction, and are only going to read one book to decide, I strongly recommend /Masks of the Illuminati,/ historical fiction in which Einstein and Joyce team up to solve the mystery of a young upper class British twit who thinks he’s being hunted by Crowley.

      If you prefer non-fiction, I recommend volume 1 of his autobiography, /Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati./

    • Cowicide says:

      Robert Anton Wilson has an excellent entry at Wikipedia:


      From there you may find the path to the books that’ll best suit your fancy.

    • dan o'shea says:

      hey guillaume, great question. if there is one thing i would recommend to all human beings, it would be to ensure that you expose your mind to the thinking of robert anton wilson. ‘prometheus rising’ and ‘cosmic trigger’ are essential non fiction reading, and the ‘illuminatus trilogy’ is mind blowing fiction. you will not be the same person having read these books. also, the net is full of videos of great bob talks. maybe logic being amongst my favoutire r.a.w memes.

      • Unless someone already has an existing interest in magick and/or the occult, I really can’t recommend Prometheus Rising as a starting point. And if somebody is only going to read one book, I can’t recommend Illuminatus! as their starting point, no matter how much I love it.

        Roughly the first 1/3rd of volume 1 of Illuminatus! is an homage to James Joyce’s Ulysses. I know several people, personally, who have wanted to read RAW, but who just plain got bored with being confused before they got to the point where the story starts being told in any way that makes sense. If you’re already a fan of ’70s New Wave science fiction, and are used to not having the slightest idea what you’re reading for the first 50 to 100 pages, the first 50 to 100 pages of Illuminatus! will not set you off. If you’re not used to that, you just have to take the word of the rest of us that it’s worth slogging through that part to get to the good stuff, that it does get better.

  2. Cowicide says:

    Thank you, Erik.

  3. jenjen says:

    I read the Illuminatus! Trilogy right after Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. It’s both hilarious and scary how perfectly they go together.  

    • neilinchicago says:

      *laugh*  After I read Foucault’s Pendulum, the next time I saw Bob, I told him it was an alternate version of Illuminatus!.  he said, “Good!  Now I don’t have to read it.”

  4. Madmolf says:

    Adding to the chorus, i guess a lot of us went through that weird summer/year and the R.A.W, K. Dick, Crowley, Douglas Adams regimen is the usual fare. 

    And yes, you come out of that phase a different person. I guess you become someone who does things seriously without taking himself seriously (herself if you’re a girl. Although I believe this to be more of a guys thing). Reality is one universe among all the multiverses, no need to worry.

    • Genevieve Heinrich says:

      Maybe “more” of a guys’ thing, but definitely not exclusively… although I came to RAW later; for me that “weird year” consisted of Tom Wolfe and Kurt Vonnegut.

  5. mwiik says:

    Gee, see what happens when you type

    prometheus rising pdf

    into google. Gee.

  6. Wreckrob8 says:

    What’s with the Crowley thing? I find him unreadable.

  7. scodav says:

    Tangent!!   Hey Erik, I lived in Barrington Hall for a few months in 1970.  One day I came home to find the place crawling with cops.  A room filled with bomb-making materials had been found in the building…

  8. Psilocrosse says:

    Ah, the things they do, allow and do not allow in order to keep the counter culture in check. One a day soon the counter culture will align more of less with the mainstream and something big will happen. Maybe the Society of the Psilocrosse ( http://psilocrosse.bravehost.com ) will have something to do with it.

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