RAW Week Bonus: RAWing in the Rain, by Maja D'aoust

SnakebiteIt was raining hard and I came into work soaking wet.

My Dr. Martens had that darker sheen around the toes where the water had sunk into the petrol-resistant exterior. The smell of damp and of dusty books filled my nose as I prepared for another day of work at the library. It was 1995 in Seattle. The WTO had just formed, The Oklahoma bombing went down, and Grunge was slowly decaying in an acrid smoke after Kurt Cobain's suicide. It was then, on that day, Robert Anton Wilson entered my life.

I had just got in the building, which looked like a huge Viking ship, designed that way on account of all the Norwegians who took up residence in that particular part of town. I shook the rain off of my formidable, flaming red hair when, suddenly, I was vehemently tugged behind the stacks by my coworker.

He was thirty-ish, pagan, had a long blonde ponytail and a nose ring. We would often chat together about Egypt, witchy-poo stuff, and things like that.

"You should really check this book out, I think you would really like it," he said quietly as he handed me a corpulent tome. I looked down at it and saw a checkerboard cover with dolphins jumping over a pyramid with an eye on it. Oh boy, I thought to myself. Like I'm really going to read this obviously new age tedious thing that probably is filled with cheerful advice of how to align my chakras. I humored him politely, as all I wanted to do was take off my wet jacket (which was covered in Metallica patches), took the book and said "thanks, I totally will!" as I snuck past to put my coat in my cubby. Now, it's not that I was opposed to "new age" per se, but I was heavily into OCCULT material and was very snobby about it at the time. If it wasn't older than the 1800's I didn't give a snit about it.

I had just purchased the Hermetic works of Paracelsus, and all the froofy rainbow dolphin material made me cringe as I blasted my Soundgarden tapes on my Sony walkman while walking in the rain. So, I waited until my co-worker went in the back and stealthily snuck the girthy volume onto my cart of books to re-shelve whilst turning up the volume on my headphones. Upon approaching the shelf to replace the seemingly uncouth bundle back exactly in its proper Dewey decimal order, a book directly next to it caught my eye. The cover of this book looked not unlike the covers of some of my Heavy Metal comics, which I was very dedicated to at that point in my life. Prometheus Rising was written in airbrushed chrome lettering with a hermeticy looking fellow emerging from a robot. Now I was interested. I was also a huuuuuuge Frankenstein (the novel) fan, so anything with the word Prometheus in it instantly ignited me in affinity.

As I picked up the book, I noticed that it had the same author as the dolphin book I was so hastily discarding as a froofy annoyance. "Huh, that's weird," I said aloud, which caused the patron a couple of rows down from me to glance up over his rain splotched spectacles, I guess I said it pretty loud as my sense of volume was distorted from my soundtrack. I tucked the radical, roboty book down at the bottom of my cart, and finished my shelving duties. When I went to check it out to myself, I cracked open the cover to peruse the table of contents. The first thing that caught my eye, peering through my still rain wet bangs, was:

"4. The Anal Emotional Territorial Circuit"

These words, strung together like a poem, were unlike anything I had ever come across. I knew in that moment this book was somehow going to create more space inside my mind. While I puttered through my day, I kept returning to that line and couldn't stop trying to decipher what it could possibly mean, or be referring to, and my imagination came up with all manner of explanations ranging from the indecent to the sci-fi. What was he talking about? What was "Anal emotional territory"? And how could it have a circuit? Was this some THX 1138 gay porn romance novel? What WAS this book anyway? I took the number 44 bus straight home, threw off my drenched accoutrement and collapsed on my bed with RAW cradled in my hands like a kitten. It was 4am by the time I looked up, closing the book, having finished the final, smoldering message;





I lay there, listening to the rain beating on my window in the still darkness of the early morning, and I realized everything I thought about the occult was wrong. It wasn't as serious and stodgy as I had made it out to be, nor anywhere near as foreboding. After completing my first "date" with RAW, I saw that esotericism was really, really funny and dynamic, modern and evolutionary AND ALIVE. I learned the occult isn't just in the occult, it's in everything and you can play with it and experiment and like, make stuff happen in your brain. This caused a complete do-over of what I thought magic had to be in order to be acceptable and broke a GINOURMOUS taboo circuit surrounding it in my head. I kinda felt like the green dude on the cover, like I had been released from some robotic concept of perfunctory reality I had created inside my own brain. My mind was blown. He blew my Anal Emotional Territorial Circuit into existence. That ONE little book, less than 300 pages long, lit a creative spark in my neurons that burned into a huge research trail that I would spend years following, leading me to Leary, Regardie, Hubbard, Eliot, Heisenberg and others. This single work was as a Frankenstein monster, grabbing all these dead, dismembered bits and pieces of the past together and reformulating them into a whole new living thing with thoughts and feelings of its own!

I awoke after a couple hours sleep, feeling mighty Promethean, like missing a liver or something, and blearily went into work. I walked through the rain back into the Viking ship. I checked in Prometheus Rising, placed it back in Dewey decimal order, picked up the Illuminatus! Trilogy, dolphins and all, and high-fived my pagan-pony-tailed friend as this librarian learned not to judge a book by its cover.



  1. Have I lost sense of time, or has RAW week been going on for at least two?  Maybe it should be RAW month instead :-)

  2. It was about ’97 when I was living in Wallingford (and taking the 44) when I discovered Cosmic Trigger at Twice Sold Tales.  I was already into the Occult, and was hanging out with others interested in that ilk.  Cosmic Trigger led me to purchase and read virtually all of RAW’s other works.  Then in ’99 RAW came to town, or rather he came to Port Townsend for a UFO Conference.  So naturally I had to get on the ferry and go over there.  Afterwards, I got RAW to autograph my Principia Discordia and as I chatted with him the Seattle Weekly photographer took his portrait.  That photo appeared on the cover of the Sept. 30 1999 issue of the Seattle Weekly and I have it still.  You can’t see me but I’m standing next to RAW, just out of the frame.

  3. Speaking of RAW, there’s one book I found once in a bookstore, didn’t buy, and then never could find it again.  Maybe one of y’all out there knows which one I’m talking about: this was about 8″ by 10″, more like magazine- or workbook-sized.  It wasn’t a novel, it was written like a manual.  I recall it had pictures of Bob (EDIT: i.e., Dobbs) throughout it (though this was definitely a RAW book, not one of the SubGenii books).  I want to say it was called “Illuminatus Companion” but that doesn’t turn up anything.  When I look on Amazon etc. I’m unable to find it (or I’m just missing it).

    Any ideas?

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