robert anton wilson

Robert Anton Wilson's daughter Christina on the new edition of her father's book, Ishtar Rising

As you might know, Robert Anton Wilson (1932 - 2007) is one of Boing Boing's patron saints. Raw's humor, skepticism, optimism, and ability to reveal the deep weirdness underlying almost everything were deeply influential to Carla and me when we launched bOING bOING as a zine in 1987. In fact, we kind of started the zine as an excuse to interview RAW at his house in Santa Monica that year. I'm very grateful I was able to get to know RAW, and honored that he wrote a regular column for bOING bOING. I'm also grateful to have become a friend of Bob's daughter, Christina, a delightful person who is active in keeping her father's books in print. Here's an essay Christina wrote about a new edition of Ishtar Rising, a book originally published by Playboy Press called The Book of the Breast. — Mark

A while back, we knew that Hilaritas Press would soon be working on releasing a new edition of Robert Anton Wilson's Ishtar Rising, prepping it for publication by removing tons of typos (thanks to Gregory Arnott, Chas Faris, Rasa, and a few select others), and inserting a timely new foreword by Grant Morrison. We were excited to be manifesting what we had intended; to publish and make available as many of RAW's books as we could. I had originally read the book in its The Book of the Breast form in my early twenties, having just returned from India (yep, went to gain enlightenment, but instead gained disillusionment — which has served me well!) Read the rest

Wilson and Shea's Illuminatus! trilogy to become TV series

According to the nerd media website, Bleeding Cool, Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's crazed, over-the-top, post-modern sci-fi satire, the Illuminatus! trilogy is slated to become a TV series. No details are given about where it might land, but given Hivemind's association with Amazon Prime and Netflix, one of these outlets is a likely bet.

Illuminatus! as the show will be called, will be executive produced by Dinesh Shamdasani and Hunter Gorinson for Hivemind, and Iris McPherson and Kirstin Winkler for Kallisti. Taylor will serve as executive producer and showrunner.

“The series’ staggering influence has only continued to grow with each passing year not just because it explores and indulges the most compelling depths of America’s conspiratorial imagination, but because it also gives us the tools and knowledge to understand it. If there was ever a series primed for 21st century television, it’s Illuminatus!” said fellow former Valiant Comics employee, Hunter Gorinson, Hivemind’s VP of Brand & Content Strategy.

Illuminatus! joins Hivemind’s roster including Amazon’s science-fiction series, The Expanse, Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher and the Sony movie Bloodshot, based on the Valiant comic.

[Image: My Illuminatus! trilogy from when I was 18 years old.]

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Full press release below:

LOS ANGELES, CA– December 11, 2019 – Hivemind today announced that it has partnered with writer/director Brian Taylor (HAPPY!, CRANK) and European production company Kallisti for a new television series based on THE ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY – the hugely influential science-fiction franchise created by authors Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea that first introduced the concept of "the Illuminati" into the popular consciousness, while simultaneously fueling, deconstructing, and skewering America's modern-day obsession with conspiracy theories. Read the rest

Revisiting Operation Mindfuck

Over at Medium, BB pal Douglas Rushkoff explores how today's propaganda -- born in the 17th century to propagate the Catholic faith and reborn in the 20th century as "public relations" -- is no longer about convincing people to believe in whatever story the source happens to be selling. Today, Doug writes, "the primary goal of government propaganda is to undermine our faith in everything. Not just our belief in particular stories in the news, but our trust in the people who are telling the stories, the platforms, and fact-based reality itself." Interestingly, he traces this kind of systematic reality disruption to the counterculture. From Medium:

Before Watergate anyway, it felt as if the press and the government were on the same side, telling the same story to us all. There was no way for the underfunded counterculture to compete with mainstream reality programming—except by undermining its premises. The flower children couldn’t overwhelm Richard Nixon’s National Guard troops, but they could put daisies in the barrels of their rifles.

Taken to the extreme, this sort of activist satire became Operation Mindfuck, first announced in 1975 by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea in their Illuminatus Trilogy!. The idea was to undermine people’s faith in government, authority, and the sanctity of consensus reality itself by pranking everything, all the time.

The idea of Operation Mindfuck was to break the trance that kept America at war, blindly consuming, and oblivious to its impact on the rest of the world. Destabilize the dominant cultural narrative through pranks and confusion.

Read the rest

The magic theatre of High Weirdness

In Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf we visit a mysterious and strange magic theatre, where some pretty weird things happen. Meant for madmen and madwomen only, the price of admission is nothing less than one's mind. In High Weirdness, you are invited to enter another kind of magic theatre. It is a place of magic and madness, heaven and hell, beauty and terror. Luckily, the price of the ticket is not your sanity, but just the price of the book, High Weirdness, the latest literary exploration by Erik Davis.

Erik Davis, PhD

A long-time Boing Boing pal, Erik Davis is an intellectual of the highest caliber: a persuasive and provocative essayist, an erudite and unconventional scholar of religions, a charismatic and engaging speaker, an adventurous-minded tripster and all-around experienced explorer of the edges of our reality. Davis is one of the most admired and refined interpreters of all matters mystical, psychedelic and occult. His decades' long travels in hyper-reality—roaming seamlessly from musical festivals to Burning Man to academia—make him a uniquely qualified cyber-anthropologist, a keen observer of our contemporary and turbulent cross-cultural mazes of techno-mystical realms, fringe subcultures, neo-shamanic practices, pop mythologies, conspiracy theories, and spiritual impulses. For those who arrived late to Erik Davis' extensive body of work, let me single out three important contributions: his classic (and still  relevant) read Techgnosis; his musical hermeneutic homage to the Led Zeppelin IV album; and his podcast, a cornucopia of weekly interviews with artists, intellectuals and all sorts of weirdos, all concerned with the cultures of consciousness.  Read the rest

Archive of the incredible mid-1960s magazine, "fact:"

In 1963 Attorney General Robert Kennedy prosecuted Eros magazine publisher Ralph Ginzburg for violating federal obscenity laws when Eros ran 8-pages of photos of a naked black man and naked white woman embracing each other (see page 72 of the fourth and final issue of Eros). After a long trial, which went to the Supreme Court, Ginzburg was found guilty and in 1972 was sent to federal prison. He was released on parole eight months later. (Arthur Miller said of the conviction, a man is going to prison for publishing and advertising stuff a few years ago that today would hardly raise an eyebrow in your dentist's office.")

In 1964, during his legal battles, Ginzburg launched a quarterly social commentary journal called fact:, and it was a masterpiece of design and content. Bringing to mind the best of Esquire, Rolling Stone, Spy, and The Realist, fact: was "dedicated to the proposition that a great magazine, in its quest for truth, will dare to defy not only Convention, not only Big Business, not only the Church and the State, but also — if necessary — its readers." (From the introduction to 1967's The Best of Fact, by Warren Boroson). The first issue had a delicious takedown of Time magazine, the titan of news magazines in 1964, with quotes from dozens of intellectual luminaries attesting to Time's treacherousness, propensity to lie, and prejudices (P.G. Wodehouse: "Time is about the most inaccurate magazine in existence."). The first issue also ran an Madison avenue advertising executive's "sojourns in heaven and hell while experimenting with peyote, belladonna, and marijuana," a profile of American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell (titled "The Man Who Thinks Goldwater is a Communist"), a piece examining "The Sexual Symbolism of Christmas," and an essay by Bertrand Russell on the inadequacy of the nuclear test ban treaty. Read the rest

Infinitown is a procedurally generated city that seems to go on forever

This eBoy-esque procedurally generated city brings to mind short story by J.G. Ballard called "Report on an Unidentified Space Station," which appeared in one of my favorite science fiction anthologies, Semiotext(e) SF which was edited by Rudy Rucker and Robert Anton Wilson.

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This WebGL experiment is an attempt to create a procedural city that feels alive and is fun to watch. First, we generate a finite grid of random city blocks. Then, using some tricks, the viewpoint wraps around this grid, which creates the illusion of an endless cityscape."

By pinching and zooming on a trackpad, you can change the point of view. Not sure how to do it with a mouse, because I don't use one. Read the rest

Interview with Timothy Leary archivist Michael Horowitz

How a scholarly hippie got pulled into the orbit of the psychedelic revolutionary whom then-President Nixon labelled “the most dangerous man in America”

A review of Cosmic Trigger, a play based on Robert Anton Wilson's autobiography

What do you after you Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out? Well, you go and Find The Others.

Last May 2017, I flew to London for the staging of Cosmic Trigger — The Play , a sheer delight for any Robert Anton Wilson fan, a masterpiece of high weirdness befitting the book it derives from. The experience proved to be more mind-shattering and category-defying than I could have ever imagined. A 23-night run hosted at The Cockpit Theatre, the play is an ambitious theatrical event: an intense four-hour long immersive happening, an experimental and multi-layered metafiction, intellectually challenging and spiritually intoxicating, a disorienting dance of Discordian confusion and uncanny mindfuck. An extraordinary cast of actors created a colourfully wild, merry parade of countercultural icons—along with Robert Anton Wilson and his wife Arlen, Robert Shea, Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, William Burroughs, Albert Hoffman, John Lilly, Jacques Vallee, Aleister Crowley—in brief, great fun!

Not only that, Cosmic Trigger — The Play has the inherent magical qualities of a collective ritual or mass initiation: it is "a narrative so utterly complex and so thoroughly self-referential that it becomes to all intents and purposes alive." As magicians know, " by doing certain things certain results will follow."

Hail Daisy Campbell!

The mastermind behind such a unique endeavour and artistic achievement is director Daisy Campbell, who pulled some cosmic and genealogical strings to bring her vision to life. Daisy is the daughter of the late famed British director Ken Campbell, who achieved notoriety in the 1970s for his nine-hour adaptation of the epic science-fiction trilogy Illuminatus! Read the rest

Grant Morrison interview: "Laughter can banish any and all demons"

Image: pinguino

I first encountered Grant Morrison at the Disinfo.com conference of 2000, organized by Disinfo's founder, media magician, Richard Metzger [founder of Dangerous Minds]. As I walked upstairs from the basement hangout zone of NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom, at the beginning of his now legendary lecture, I heard Morrison's bone-chilling scream into the microphone, which reminded me of another Morrison, and thought "Who the fuck is this guy?' He then announced that he was drunk and had just eaten some hash and it was about to kick it in, all with a thick Scottish accent. Such punk rock antics won the rapt attention of the wild crowd, myself included, and over the course of the next hour or so, he voiced all the countercultural excitement of the moment. During that cold February day in New York City, Morrison's message was clear, Magick works, but you should not take his word for it, you have do it yourself to learn how it works.

What originally brought me to this two day conference was the fact that Robert Anton Wilson was the headlining speaker. Throughout the late 90s, and especially 2000, I was completely immersed in the works of three psychedelic philosophers, Timothy Leary, John C. Lilly, and most of all, Robert Anton Wilson. RAW was more than just a psychedelic philosopher, he was the greatest living writer that I'd discovered up to that point.

During his talk, Morrison exuded such optimism and joy that I immediately went out and read as many of his comics I could find. Read the rest

Gifts for Lovers in the Death Throes of The American Republic

Gifts for Lovers in the Death Throes of The American Republic

Share a final candle-flicker of joy before the annihilation begins: Twitter / Facebook.

Silver heart pill container pendant / $100

Compartment will fit 6 small antipsychotic pills comfortably.

Jasmine Absolute Essential Oil / $55

An uplifting, hopeful, and romantic scent. Beautiful as a pick me up, or an aphrodisiac. — Xeni

Personalized End Grain Chopping Block / $190

This personally engraved chopping block is to die for! As you shall, in the brutal civil war portended by the election of Donald Trump. — Rob

Square, lightweight plastic flask from Stanley / $15

Sturdy, multicolored flasks that go around the world with you, perfect for a sneaky V-day cocktail with your sweetie (Previously) — Cory

The Womanizer: comes with a "100% orgasm guarantee"

It's not a vibrator. It's a gadget that suckles the clitoris. Vanessa Marin, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy, said it "induces powerful orgasms in a shockingly short amount of time." — Mark

Barry White: All-Time Greatest Hits / $4

Want to set the mood? Here's the soundtrack your evening needs. — Jason

Defenders Mushroom Extract Blend / $35

Say it with shrooms! This is a high-quality Asian medicinal mushroom extract tonic, an exotic blend with purported adaptogenic properties. It may brighten up your brain and help you cope with stress. Chaga, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake and Turkey Tail. — Xeni

Key Knife / $12

A blade cleverly hidden in a key-shaped handle, which many report having successfully taken through TSA checkpoints — Cory

Crystal Ball / $13

Your loved one might need this to see into the future of our country. Read the rest

Robert Anton Wilson: January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007

Author, futurist, and agnostic mystic Robert Anton Wilson died 10 years ago today. Carla and I interviewed him for the first issue of bOING bOING in 1987. In fact, one of the main reasons we started Boing Boing was to have an excuse to interview him.

Here's what I wrote on the 5th anniversary of Bob's death:

“I regard belief as a form of brain damage.” ― Robert Anton Wilson

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of Robert Anton Wilson's death. Bob was a writer of fiction and non-fiction, most notably the Illuminatus! trilogy (co-written with Robert Shea) and the non-fiction memoir Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati. In all, he wrote 35 books, countless articles and essays, and a couple of plays and screenplays.

Bob was an intensely curious, intellectually playful, and profoundly insightful person and his writing and talks influenced my world view more than any other writer. He wrote about conspiracy theories, government nuttiness, the future, Freemasonry, quantum physics, magick, occult and paranormal phenomena, human behavior, mental models, psychedelic drugs, cult psychology, and the nature of reality. He had a knack for giving straightforward explanations of hard-to-grok concepts without stripping them of their power or complexity. Before I read RAW's books, the world was confusing and mysterious. After I read his books, the world became much more confusing and mysterious -- but in a good way! Bob converted me from atheism to agnosticism (which, in his words, means "never regarding any model or map of the universe with total 100% belief or total 100% denial"). Read the rest

Long lost Robert Anton Wilson book, Starseed Signals, to be published

RAWIllumination.net announced yesterday that a manuscript by Robert Anton Wilson has been found and will be published by RVP Publishers in the first half of 2017. The manuscript appears to be substantial, weighing in at 340 pages.

RAW and Discordianism scholar Adam Gorightly rediscovered the book and wrote a forward for it. And although the book was never published, it formed the basis for later work, Gorightly writes in his forward: "Starseed Signals laid the foundation for RAW’s landmark work Cosmic Trigger, The Final Secret of the Illuminati, so don’t be surprised if some of the passages in this book seem familiar, to be later lifted and inserted into the Cosmic Trigger narrative."

I assume this book chronicles, at least in part, the period in the early 70s when Wilson and Timothy Leary were convinced that they were in communication with beings from the dog star, Sirius. In the end, RAW wrote off much of the episode to drugs, delusion, and wishful thinking -- and found it all a fascinating experiment in extra-human communications.

[Image via Robert Anton Wilson: The Map Is Not The Territory: The Future Is Not The Past] Read the rest

Last-Minute Valentine's Day Gifts

Last-Minute Gifts for Lovers

Share this on Twitter and Facebook.

Where available we use affiliate links, which help support Boing Boing. Thank you for clicking.

Silver heart pill container pendant / $100

Compartment will fit 6 small antipsychotic pills comfortably.

The Womanizer: comes with a "100% orgasm guarantee"

It's not a vibrator. It's a gadget that suckles the clitoris. Vanessa Marin, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy, said it "induces powerful orgasms in a shockingly short amount of time." — Mark

Square, lightweight plastic flask from Stanley

Sturdy, multicolored flasks that go around the world with you, perfect for a sneaky V-day cocktail with your sweetie (Previously) — Cory

Concrete Park: apocalyptic, afrofuturistic graphic novel of greatness

Concrete Park is a beautifully told war-comic in the tradition of DMZ and Transmetropolitan, but with an even more ambitious storyline, filled with so many warring factions, crosses and double-crosses, and general badassery that it's a good thing that the creators chose to use such stylish infographics, textual notes, and visual tricks to make sense of it all (Previously) — Cory

Laser-cut birchwood landscape rings / $24

Beautiful landscape rings to mix and match from Britain—there are houses, trees and mountains (there's also an acrylic tsunami). Read more — Cory

Sex and Drugs: A Journey Beyond Limits

A classic book of blissed-out altered consciousness by Boing Boing patron saint Robert Anton Wilson. — Mark

Flashing LED Heart Kit / $10

Solder up a special something for your loved one or, better yet, have a romantic maker date and do it yourselves. Read the rest

Video: the occultism of Robert Anton Wilson

Fortean journalist Cat Vincent have a presentation at London's Treadwell's esoteric bookshop about the strange mysticism of bOING bOING patron saint Robert Anton Wilson, author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Prometheus Rising, and Cosmic Trigger, a book that changed my life in weird and wonderful ways.

Fellow enjoys VR sex simulation so much he won't stop when asked to

A young man with a VR headset does not want to part with an inflatable torso dressed up as an anime character.

I interviewed Robert Anton Wilson for bOING bOING (the zine) in 1988 and he told me he was not concerned about virtual reality sex because people who favored it over real sex would be weaned from the gene pool.

Read the rest

Your cyberpunk games are dangerous

How roleplaying games and fantasy fiction confounded the FBI, confronted the law, and led to a more open web

Paramahansa Yogananda, and the legacy of India’s mission to enlighten America

When Steve Jobs departed the world, he had One Last Thing for those who attended his memorial service — a copy of Autobiography of Yogi by the Hindu guru Paramhansa Yogananda, the man who introduced America to yoga and meditation. It wasn’t as paradoxical of a gift as it might have seemed. By Jason Louv

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