JOHN WILCOCK: Four Significant Events in the U.S. Counterculture, 1958 & 1959

A round up of items that helped shape the underground culture of the late fifties. With Paul Krassner, Robert Anton Wilson, Yoko Ono, God's Penis, and Gustav Metzger.

By Persoff and Marshall

From an ongoing interview and biography of John Wilcock, a prolific editor and publisher of 1960's underground newspapers. Visit John's website for a very entertaining weekly column of news and commentary.

Supplemental material, in order of how they appear above:

1) MOTHER JONES on "Interview with Paul Krassner" by Bob Harris ("Two flaming liberal pinkos yuck it up for your reading pleasure.") — Visit Paul Krassner's website, and click here for an entire archive of THE REALIST.

2) ROBERT ANTON WILSON's 1959 article on The Semantics of God from The Realist No. 8.
Be a good pope and revisit 2012's RAW Week on Boing Boing, or visit Bob and say hello.
Dangerous Minds also provides a good sampling of excellent Wilson material. Be sure to download the audio.
INTERNET SACRED TEXT ARCHIVE presents the Principia Discordia, fifth edition.

3) YOKO ONO performing "Voice Piece for Sorprano & Wish Tree at MoMA" and later remixed to be a cover of Katy Perry's Firework. — HISTORY OF OUR WORLD Presents FLUXUS.

4) GUSTAV METZGER's entire 120-word 1959 manifesto "AUTO-DESTRUCTIVE ART" can be found at, which also provides the 1960 "Manifesto Auto-Destructive Art" and the 1961 "Auto-Destructive Art Machine Art Auto-Creative Art".

Lastly, an excerpt from John A. Walker's Cross-Overs: Art into Pop, Pop into Art: Gustav Metzger's influence on Pete Townshend and The Who. (Metzger's work was in the United Kingdom, but his ideas affected U.S. artists.)

Published 1:03 pm Thu, Feb 14, 2013

About the Author


Ethan Persoff (Twitter) is a cartoonist, based in Austin TX. His other comic project is Radio Wire.

Scott Marshall (Facebook) is an illustrator, sound artist, and art director, based in New York City. Previous projects include audio work for Woody Allen (Small Time Crooks), and two scores for full-length dance pieces by choreographer Lar Lubovitch (Men's Stories, The Black Rose).

12 Responses to “JOHN WILCOCK: Four Significant Events in the U.S. Counterculture, 1958 & 1959”

  1. jayson says:

    I find it strange to live in a world where Robert Anton Wilson is not a universally recognized and adored name. I find it tragic to live in a world where RAW can’t talk to us anymore.

    • crenquis says:

       RAW FTW!!!

    • Cowicide says:

      Sounds like it’s time for another boingboing RAW week!!!

      • robertdee says:

        Agreed. We need a bit more of this kind of thing: “The Western World has been brainwashed by Aristotle for the last 2,500 years. The unconscious, not quite articulate, belief of most Occidentals is that there is one map which adequately represents reality. By sheer good luck, every Occidental thinks he or she has the map that fits. Guerrilla ontology, to me, involves shaking up that certainty.”

  2. G.L. Dryfoos says:

    Very nice picture of Uncle Bob.  He’s sorely missed.  I wouldn’t want to be navigating this peculiar century without his writings and inspiration.

  3. Frank W says:

    @ Scott Marshall: I adore fhat picture of Saint Bob! Hope you don’t mind if I print it for my home altar.  Not that I won’t if you do.

  4. NickPheas says:

    Does anyone know if Robert Anton Wilson and Simon Pegg were ever seen in the same room?

  5. jayson says:

    Hard to tell if you’re trolling or simply unaware of her importance as both an artist and a musician. 

  6. UncaScrooge says:

    Yes, damn all to hell this FLUXUS artist that you have actually heard of. She’s no Nam June Paik and she made all the Beatles behave like colossal douchebags!

  7. ebietoo says:

    Ah, who’s trolling whom?

  8. OtherMichael says:

    So would I. Fluxus is a lot more interesting (to me) than the Beatles.

    It’s fun to say that “Yoko broke up the Beatles”, but I think it was the other way around.

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