The Konformist

K2K1
February 2001

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Chaos And Beyond:

The Best of Trajectories

Edited and mostly written by Robert Anton Wilson

Impermanent Press

(www.impermanentpress.com)

Robert Anton Wilson Website:

www.rawilson.com

 

Reviewed by Greg Bishop

Editor, The Excluded Middle

It seems strange to see a review of a book that is almost seven years old. If you missed Chaos And Beyond: The Best of Trajectories on initial publication in 1994, no problem. It's still in print, and still reassuring, disconcerting, and perfect for those readers "more interested in creating the future than worrying about it."

Trajectories (now defunct) was the zine arm of the Robert Anton Wilson's mighty intellectual empire, and kept his friends and fans entertained between book projects. A couple of the issues were released on cassette tape and are truly collector's items. Throughout the book, Wilson's contempt for fundamentalists of every stripe comes through, as well as his optimism regarding the future of human technology to improve our lot on this planet and in this life. The book is positively neophilic. (As opposed to "neophobic" - the belief that anything new or innovative must be wrong, harmful, a lie, or all three.)

Most of the articles were authored by Wilson himself, and most of the rest feature the tempered but sharp feminist viewpoint of his late wife Arlen, and Trajectories editor D. Scott Apel. Two articles by the late Tim Leary are included. One of Dr. Leary's contributions is a gloriously funny piece, "Who Owns The Jesus Property?" which describes the controversy surrounding The Last Temptation of Christ as a factional religious battle over film rights to the New Testament.

In these weird times of stolen elections and the old right's new rise to power, it's reassuring in the early 1990s, many of the policies and fallout from President George Herbert Walker Bush's administration were brought into the cold, hard light of logic and compassion by Wilson and his cronies. Wilson reports that in 1992, the Supreme Court, in a majority decision written by Reagan appointee Antonin Scalia, voted to deny the Native American Church permission to exist as a religion, primarily because their chief sacrament was the psychedelic hallcinogen peyote. Scalia wrote that "we cannot afford the luxury" of voiding laws just because they contradicted the first amendment, and the ruling would serve as a weapon against "those religious practices that are not widely engaged in." This was a scary trend towards an erosion of rights in subservience to ideology that most likely will be repeated with the majority of the court (seven) still composed of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush appointees. In another slap to this race of people who were here long before us, there are already proposals from Shrub's Interior Secretary nominee to start reclaiming land from Indian reservations, and giving them over to commercial interests.

Another of Wilson's news items reveals that a 1988 report by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment found that only 20 percent of medical procedures had been validated in "randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials." This means that (at least in 1988) doctors were essentially guessing about treatments around 80 per cent of the time. Is it possible that this situation has changed? In a recent e-mail debate with one of my friends, he assured me that ALL medical procedures were carefully assessed before approval for widespread use. Whoops. I still consider this friend of mine a vastly intelligent person, but "what up?"

Keeping this information public and adding fuel to the small match burning somewhere in the vicintity of the ass of the power elite has been one of Wilson's passions ever since he wrote about "The Semantics Of God" for Paul Krassner's Realist magazine in the early 1960s. It was at that point, according to Krassner, that he adopted the middle name "Anton" because as Krassner said recently with a wry smile, "It sounded respectable."

What better arm of the power elite to rail against almost uselessly than the military-industrial complex and its handmaiden, the national news media? Using his high art form of Swiftian satire, Wilson lambastes Alvin and Heidi Toffler (remember Newt Gingrich's old gurus?) for their analysis of the Persian Gulf atrocity circus. The Tofflers rhapsodized with unconcealed glee at the newer, better, and more efficient ways available to "deliver more and more explosive power over longer and longer distances, in shorter and shorter times, to kill more and more people" as Buckminster Fuller put it so sorrowfully. Sort of sounds like the Tofflers were in a news bunker somewhere feeding spin control to CNN and the broadcast networks during the conflict. For some reason, the "Gulf War Coalition" fried over 200,000 Iraquis (human lives, remember) and failed to get the "Hitler" they were supposedly aiming for.

Bob is still in good health for his 71 years, and now that Georgie Jr. is ready to cash in on his father's legacy (Hussein left alone as a bugaboo for a future excuse, among other things) Wilson has his work cut out for him.

Wake Up Down There!, an anthology of The Excluded Middle, has just been published by Adventures Unlimited.

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