Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson — An Interview with Prop Anon

 

Interview with Prop Anon by R.U. Sirius

I don’t think anyone would have suspected it back in the ’60s and ’70s, but the author Robert Anton Wilson may have emerged as the most influential counterculture figure of those times. Who else has massive followings of fans fighting over the implications of his politics and philosophy? I can’t think of anyone.

RAW requires no introduction with this crowd but for those of you stumbling in, here’s a wikipedia page with a full bibliography.

PROP ANON is the author of the upcoming Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson, the first official biography of the late counterculture philosopher. He started his career as a Hip-Hop artist whose 2010 album Squat the Condos presaged the Occupy movement. In 2014, Prop switched musical gears and released a Stoner Rock album called HAIL ERIS! with his band, HAIL ERIS!  

R.U. Sirius: Is there anything about Bob’s childhood that indicates that he will become a counterculture philosopher of note?

Prop Anon: Bob was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn and spent his childhood in one of its most remote neighborhoods, Gerritsen Beach. He described the one-road-town as an “Irish Catholic Ghetto,” as he grew up a prodigious youth who survived two bouts of Polio, child abuse at the hands of the nuns who ran his grammar school, and a narrow-minded working-class neighborhood. The polio that nearly killed him was almost completely cured by The Sister Kenny Method — which today is considered ‘alternative’ medicine, but in 1935 denounced as quackery by the medical establishment. Sister Kenny proved everyone wrong and eventually was considered an alternative medicine pioneer. More indirectly he received inspiration from his favorite contemporary artist, Orson Welles. Welles played with the notion of uncertainty in nearly all his work, and this spoke to Bob. Bob was a fan of Welles’ since his 1938 ‘War of the World’s” was performed on the radio, which catapulted the then 23-year-old Welles to fame. Events like these, and more, sent the message early on to Bob that a keen sense of self was a necessary survival tool. He possessed the desire and capacity to live counter to the dominant culture, and he did. Wilson, like many of his generation, faced some serious existential threats living in a society deeply immersed in bullshit. As a response he developed a highly functional ‘Bullshit Detector.”

RUS: Were you able to learn much about Bob’s time at Playboy? Fun stories from the Bunny Empire? Did he like Hef?

PA: There are some stories about Bob’s time at Playboy, which he never wrote about in his books. One story he called ‘How I became a Paranoid,’ which began when a mysterious Playboy executive visited his office during a workday and told him that his name was added to Chicago PD’s ‘Red Squad,’ which was a list of radical people the authorities put under surveillance. An early example of Red Squad behavior was seen in 1886, when Chicago agents targeted Anarchists with surveillance directly after the Haymarket Affair in 1886. 85 years later, there were specific Red Squad agents that targeted people like Bob, who they would have called a ‘closet hippie.’ In others, a person who had a regular job and didn’t dress like a hippie yet were protesting the Vietnam War. During this visit, Bob and Arlen, were at their peak of political activism. Both were involved with local Anarchist groups; Arlen was an early member of the Anarcho-Feminist group and magazine, Siren. She was also a part of the Chicago Woman Liberation Union (CWLU) Bob was exploring a Surrealist angle of Anarchism, through his associations with Franklin Rosemont and the Chicago Surrealist Group. They were both part of an Anarchist group that changed its name for every event. On top of that, Arlen and Bob were sociable people who hosted parties and discussion groups at their apartment.

In Bob’s office the mysterious executive had shut the door and told him that a police informant had tipped the Chicago PD off to Bob’s activities as a gunrunner for the Black Panthers. Bob said that he and Arlen were actually helping the Panthers with their influential Free Breakfast program for local children. After Bob denied the accusation he asked how Playboy was able to find out about police informants circulating through radical circles within Chicago. The executive told Bob that Playboy had their own cadre of informants, who heard the whispers of police informants and then reported to Playboy, especially when it concerned someone who worked at Playboy. Perhaps this Playboy editor was playing a prank on Bob. There was never any tip to the ‘Red Squad,’ just a great bullshiter who wanted to test Bob Wilson. However, the FBI’s COINTELPRO was going strong during this time, and the extent of the spying on activist communities by law enforcement agencies was not fully known to the public as of 1971. Bob later said this conversation sparked the idea for the character Tobias Knight from Illuminatus! Knight is a quintuple-agent and is the punchline to the joke highlighting about how many agents and informants there were in resistance movements of the late 60s, and continue to be today.

As far as Wilson and Hefner went, from my research, it seems like Bob did not really know Hefner on a personal level. He and Arlen, did however, attend some of Hefner’s movie nights at the Playboy mansion while Bob worked at Playboy. Wilson appreciated Hefner’s stance on Civil Liberty issues within the United States. Both were committed to the First Amendment, and Playboy was a progressive voice within the media when it came to such issues. Something about his job at Playboy must have worked because Bob was able to harness his ability as a writer. He honed his craft while working at Playboy, wrote Illuminatus! with his co-worker and friend, Robert Shea, and managed to provide full medical and dental insurance for his family while getting paid, Playboy worked well for Bob and his family.

 

RAW & Robert Shea

 

R.U.S: Robert Shea — coauthor of Illuminatus Triology — sort of ended up being “the quiet one”. What can you tell us about Shea and he and Bob’s relationship?

PA:Wilson and Shea became fast friends at Playboy. They would hang out together at the bar on payday. They, and their wives, would all hang out, smoke weed, watch TV or listen to records and think of funny sketches that made each other laugh. They had a lot in common: Both raised Irish Catholic, both left the Church young, both seeking to become full time free-lance writers. They both really dug into the Anarchist perspective. After Illuminatus!, Shea went on to start an Anarchist newsletter called No Governor, which Wilson contributed to. Wilson had a talent for collaborating with like-minded artists and thinkers; his and Shea’s collaboration resulted in Illuminatus! and that was itself a further collaboration out of their involvement with The Discordian Society. The two continually spoke of writing their sequel, Bride of Illuminatus, which they barely started before Shea was diagnosed with cancer. Shea’s death left Bob deeply distraught. Michael Shea, described seeing Bob at his father’s funeral looking shook by the whole event. Bob’s eulogy, Chimes at Midnight, published in Cosmic Trigger vol. III, written shortly after Shea provides a glimpse into Bob’s thoughts about his dead friend. Read more “Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson — An Interview with Prop Anon”

The Cyberpunk Issue — Pull Quotes from MONDO 2000 Issue #1 (1989)

A cyberspace experience might be a simulation of an entirely imaginary world as long as the space is physically lawful and self-consistent. Autodesk

 

Bush doesn’t want us to know whether he’s telling the truth of lying, but he wants us to be sure he’s not stoned while doing it. Robert Anton Wilson

 

McLuhan seemed to be giving permission for youth culture, rock & roll, and post-print libidinal tactility to finally, mercifully dismantle linear stuffed-shirt Western Civilization. Terence McKenna

 

Gibson has produced nothing less than the underlying myth, the core legend, of the next stage of human evolution. Timothy Leary

His females are shaman ladies, sophisticated wizards, playful, humorous, hip diviners. Timothy Leary

 

Burroughs found 50’s science fiction and used it like a rusty can opener on society’s jugular. William Gibson

McLuhan’s revenge. Media monsters . . . the worst street gang you ever ran into were, at the same time, intense conceptual artists William Gibson Read more “The Cyberpunk Issue — Pull Quotes from MONDO 2000 Issue #1 (1989)”

Pull Quotes from “Kids Do The Darnedest Drugs”: Issue #2 High Frontiers

Image by Lord Nose

I’m pretty sure we only printed 2,000 copies of High Frontiers #2 (1985) just like #1. But this time, we sold most of them. Ron Turner at Last Gasp was very excited by it. He was sure we would be sued by Disney because we had the three-eared Mickey Mouse holding the Central Intelligence Agency hit of blotter acid. And all that happened, according to Turner, was that someone from Disney went to a single popular magazine rack in L.A. and made them pull it from the shelf and hand them over. Odd. Not sure how that works. Maybe some of the workers at Mouschwitz just wanted some free copies.

Image by Lord Nose

Excerpt from Freaks in the Machine: MONDO 2000 in Late 20th Century Technoculture (in progress)

 

The hydrogen bomb (was) the flash of the first synapse of an etheric brain which is extended temporally as well as spatially. Robin Hoor Khuit

 

 

Everyone was looking at Ram Dass like he must be the Magus riding out of the north.  Peter Stafford

 

Learn how to control your own nervous system and the whole universe is yours; that’s the transmutation the alchemists were working for.  Robert Anton Wilson

 

 

There are about six different realities that Bell’s Theorem makes possible, none of them are ordinary. They’re all preposterous Nick Herbert

 

Joyce, Guernica, Auschwitz, lunar landings, nuclear weapons, psychedelic religion, and computer networking — markers on a path that may eventually carry us toward functional anarchy  Terence McKenna

 

 

When you take MDA and LSD simultaneously, you get a sort of matrix multiplication effect where you can observe yourself in all possible incarnations. Zarkov

 

 

[With the Brotherhood of Eternal Love] It was a religious zeal that life is better suited to being high.  Michael Hollingshead

 

 

Revolution and evolution, they’re both a process. A revolution never ends; or once a  revolution ends, it’s  probably a dictatorship  Paul Krassner

 

 

I realized that I was seeing “god central.” The central panel I saw was the control panel of the entire universe.  Zarkov

 

 

There was a giant punk goddess with a green mohawk and full body armor  screaming, “is it finally strong enough for you?” Terence McKenna

 

 

Magnificent extragalactic trisexual desires multiple sex with all creatures any time/any space. Non-smokers only. No weirdoes.  Amalgam X

 

Bastards of Young

 

“Muslim punk rockers” The Kominas

 

by Prop Anon

 

Bastards of Young, a punk rock road documentary, recently released by filmmakers Rakesh Baruah and Marcus Ricci, is 60 minutes of raucous action narrated by the poets of the future. A movie like theirs could not have come at a better time than in today’s angry and confused cultural landscape. For three weeks in August 2009, Baruah and Ricci rolled their cameras nonstop as they followed three unique musical voices on their nationwide US tour. What they captured was all the mayhem and chaos such a cross-country tour manifests. When that tour involves a group of  “Muslim punk rockers,” a Sufi dance rock virtuoso and an Anarchistic Hip-Hop artist the outcome makes this documentary worth watching.

The Kominas were formed in 2005 when Basim Usmani gave his friend Shahjehan Khan a cassette tape that read ‘Punk 101.’ Shaj quickly adapted his guitar playing style from classic rock to the infectious grooves of bands like The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Damned, NOFX, The Misfits, and the two began crafting their own brand of Punk. The Kominas wrote a couple song and threw them up on their myspace account, little did they know that they were about to tap into a cultural Zeitgeist. Why? They were singing about their experience growing up as Pakistani Americans raised by Muslim parents and the struggles they faced in their experience as young Americans. Luckily, they were funny and their highly ironic lyrics followed in the tradition of all the best punk rock has to offer. Based off two myspace songs the band received an absurd amount of media attention, and as they grew as a band they continually faced the criticism that they were handed something they did not yet earn. Most bands spend years in the trenches before receiving any attention, but for the Kominas this was different and they were willing to prove their detractors wrong. Over the next few years they were joined by Imran Malik, on drums, and Arjun Ray on guitar, and they created their first album ‘Wild Nights in Guantanamo Bay;’ released in 2008. By the time of the 2009 tour, The Kominas were ready to prove all detectors wrong and show and prove that they were constantly evolving musicians with a vital perspective needing to be heard. The future of America may just depend upon it.

Bastards of Young reveals the struggles faced while on a D.I.Y. nationwide tour embarked on by musicians hungry to speak their minds. In 2009, I was nearing the completion of my first album Squat the Condos, a Hip-Hop record that was calling attention to the rapidly increasing price of everyday life in cities like New York. My song Luxury Condos epitomized of that message. Sarmust, aka Omar Waqar, played his Sufi dance indie rock with an intensity that made instant fans. His songs addressed topics like partition, hate crimes, and rocking the fuck out.

This film does an excellent job chronicling the mad road driving men ahead when facing the perils of physical injury, malnutrition, and no sleep to reveal the joyful nature at the heart of all great music. Since 2009, the Kominas have evolved their sound and continue to tour to growing audiences. Me, I’m just trying to pay rent, but I won’t give up on the music. Watching this documentary makes me want to hang out with all these guys. Oh snap, I did! Well, I’m real glad I did.

Sufi rocker Sarmust

Bastards of Young documents friendships made under the rubric of punk rock and Hip-Hop. Friendship is one of the themes explored within, and the fun times that can be had when people put friendship before all else within the music industry. Baruah and Ricci are talented filmmakers and their movie adroitly translates the excitement of music and the open road. The statement is clear: counterculture is not locked away in online nihilistic holes spewing venom and crying for an America that never existed. The counterculture is on the road, making friends, having fun and challenging hatred. Bastards of Young demonstrates that America’s hope resides in the people making a place for themselves while making room for others. This is Punk Rock, this is Hip-Hop, this is America, and this is the future.

PROP ANON is the author of the upcoming Chapel Perilous: The Life and Thought Crimes of Robert Anton Wilson, the first official biography of the late counterculture philosopher. Prop Anon started his career as a Hip-Hop artist whose 2010 album Squat the Condos presaged the Occupy movement. In 2014, Prop switched musical gears and released a Stoner Rock album called HAIL ERIS! with his band, HAIL ERIS!  

I Hope You Didn’t Dose The Pudding

 

Phriendz with R.U. Sirius
(Sirius – Daddy Phr!day)
Video by Pizza T

i asked my baby for her tantric thing
she tossed away the side of her face
she’s an elevated totally evil wigged-out angel
she shaked clear and showed me her glass spine

i asked my baby for a 5 dollar bill
she says she’s very very smart
she’s a masculine italian gangster movie
she wears those black satin gloves so groovy

i asked my baby to look beneath the sheets
she feels the breath of god caress her
she loves old wiz in Beatle boots
she likes the thrill of the overdosed jester

i asked my baby why we jumped outta the womb
she wants a lie that’s more fulfilling
I smile gee whiz we’re roller-coaster baby-friends
I hope you didn’t dose dose dose the pudding
I hope you didn’t dose dose dose the pudding
I hope you didn’t dose dose dose the pudding
I hope you didn’t dose dose dose the pudding

Part of a MONDOToxicated experience! RU Sirius and his warriors of rock met again using the internet to have band practice and bring you this amazing remix of their own song. Robert Anton Wilson and Terence Mckenna voices were used by the bandmates in the darknet to create the remix.Zane Kesey let us use a recreation of his father’s Furthur bus that Zane personally made himself. Thank you Zane! You are solid!

 

 

 

It’s KLF Day In Liverpool!

Their subversive intrusions into ordinary mediated reality made the Sex Pistols look like Engelbert Humperdinck..

The KLF (otherwise known as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The JAMs and the Timelords) were huge in Great Britain in the late 1980s into the mid 1990s but here in America they were virtually unknown.

Today, August 23, in Liverpool, they return after a 23 year hiatus to do …  something.  We don’t know what. And yes, all this 23 stuff and JAM stuff refers to Robert Anton Wilson’s various playful obsession.

Read more “It’s KLF Day In Liverpool!”

Deeper Into The Magick Grant Morrison Interview Part 2

“You wind back into your mother’s womb, she winds back into hers, like branches retreating into buds on a tree and it all goes back in billions of unbroken lines to the first mitochondrial cell dividing in the pre-Cambrian ocean 3 and a half billion years ago.

Interview by Robert Anton Wilson biographer Prop Anon, and Laura Kang, February 2017 in Brooklyn NY

You’ve told us that your take on magick is a little different than RAW’s. Can you explain how it is different? 

GM: Maybe I’m wrong. I think he saw magic  in the Crowleyan, ritual, alien contact sense — as some collision of psychology and quantum weirdness. For me, it’s much more literal and it’s all about emphasizing the transcendent, psychedelic aspects of the ordinary by following logic to its conclusion. Magick for me is all about maintaining a fluid and creative relationship with things as they are.

Simple things, like adding time, or the 4th dimension to the picture can eliminate a lot of apparent psychic phenomena, like clairvoyance, action at a distance, ESP, reincarnation etc. When you add time, you realize fairly quickly that all living things are intrinsically connected as one singular organism. You wind back into your mother’s womb, she winds back into hers, like branches retreating into buds on a tree and it all goes back in billions of unbroken lines to the first mitochondrial cell dividing in the pre-Cambrian ocean 3 and a half billion years ago. It’s no surprise that sometimes people get a sense of other parts of the structure they belong to, or experience “past lives” — those lives are all still happening, all simultaneously.

That same original, immortal cell is still at it, separating inside all of us. Maybe mitochondrial DNA might be what humans have been calling “soul” for centuries. The fact is, we actually do have an immortal indwelling presence living deep inside the perishable structure of our bodies. Maybe mitochondrial DNA has consciousness and when we narrow down on that waveband, we experience the feelings of timelessness and divinity people refer to as a religious experience… Read more “Deeper Into The Magick Grant Morrison Interview Part 2”

Magic Works: An Interview with Grant Morrision Part 1

Given the options, who wouldn’t prefer to be rampaging around in higher planes, interacting with eternal archetypes and pop culture gods?

Interview by Robert Anton Wilson biographer Prop Anon, and Laura Kang, February 2017 in Brooklyn NY

I first encountered Grant Morrison at the Disinfo.com conference of 2000, organized by Disinfo’s founder, media magician, Richard Metzger. 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. Read more “Magic Works: An Interview with Grant Morrision Part 1”

From “Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in 20th Century Tech Culture”

From the MONDO 2000 history book/memoir Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in 20th Century Tech Culture, yes, still in progress

by R.U. Sirius

Definition Of Vital Terms & Concepts (As Used In The Book)

DMT

The extremely powerful psychedelic drug DMT – Dimethyltryptamine — was a big part of the MONDO weltanschauung, subject to quite a bit of use and even more discussion. DMT is smoked and its effects last about 5-10 minutes. It is arguably the most powerful psychedelic experience, although that is not to be confused with deleriants. Deleriants such as Belladonna (Scopolamine) can take you even further from ordinary reality but the experience generally can’t be remembered and offers no insights or alterations to the imbiber. Read more “From “Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in 20th Century Tech Culture””