Firing the Cosmic Trigger
"...information is the source of all
with Robert Anton
RobertAnton Wilson earned his doctorate in psychology from Hawthorn
University. From 1966-1971 he was Associate Editor of Playboy, and since
then he has written over 26 popular books. He is perhaps best known for
Illuminatus! a classic science fiction trilogy which he co-authored with
Robert Shea. His Schroedinger's Cat trilogy was called "the most
scientific of all science-fiction novels " by New Scientist, and has been
reprinted in many languages. In the area of social philosophy Bob wrote
such books as Cosmic Trigger, Prometheus Rising, and The New Inquisition
He also wrote the introduction to my first book Brainchild. Bob has
appeared as a stand-up comic at many clubs around the world, and regularly
teaches seminars at New Age centers such as the Esalen Institute. Bob 's
poetry has been widely published and in 1 986 he was a guest of the
Norwegian government at the Oslo International Poetry Festival.
Bob has also starred in collaboration with the Golden Horde on a Punk
Rock record entitled The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy, and a comedy record
called Secrets of Power. Bob's play Wilhelm Reich in Hell was performed at
the Edmund Burke Theatre in Dublin in 1986, and many other theatres. H
epresently lives in Santa Cruz, where he continues to write, and co-edit
the futurist journal Trajectories
with his wife Arlen. We interviewed Bob on the evening of June
18th, 1989, at his previous home in West Los Angeles. A sharp-witted imp
with a Brooklyn accent and a twinkle in his eye, Bob never fails to have a
joke up his sleeve. He is a jolly prankster with an alchemical talent for
blending cultural mythos. Bob spoke with us about the Illuminati
machines, synchronicity, mysticism and science,
ecology, extraterrestrials, and the mysterious mythic connection between
Satan and Santa Claus.
RMN: What was it that first sparked your interest in consciousness
ROBERT: Korzybski's Science and Sanity. I was in engineering school and
I picked up the book in the Brooklyn Public Library. He talked about
different levels of organization in the brain-animal circuits, human
circuits and so on. And he talked a lot about getting back to the
non-verbal level and being able to perceive without talking to yourself
while you're perceiving.
It was 1957. I was very interested in jazz at that time, and I told a
black friend about some of Korzybski's exercises to get to the non-verbal
level, and he said, "Oh, I do that every time I smoke pot." I got
interested. I said, "Could I buy one of these marijuana cigarettes from
you?" He said, "Oh hell, I'11 give it to you free." And so I smoked it.
I found myself looking at a quarter I found in my pocket and realizing
I hadn't looked at a quarter in twenty years or so, the way a child looks
at a quarter. So I decided marijuana was doing pretty much the same thing
Korzybski was trying to do with his training devices. Then shortly after
that I heard a lecture by Alan Watts, and I realized that Zen, marijuana
and Korzybski were all relating the same transformations of consciousness.
That was the beginning.
DJB: Many of your books deal with a secret society called the
Illuminati. How did your fascination with this organization begin?
ROBERT: It was Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley who founded the Discordian
Society, which is based on the worship of Eris, the Goddess of Chaos,
discord, confusion, bureaucracy and international relations. They have no
dogmas, but one catma. The catma is that everything in the universe
relates to the number 5, one way or another, given enough ingenuity on the
part of the interpreter. I found the Discordian Society to be the most
satisfactory religion I had ever encountered up until that point, so I
became a Discordian Pope. This is done by excommunicating all the
Discordian Popes you can find and setting up your own Discordian Church.
This is based on Greg's teaching that we Discordians must stick apart.
Anyway, in 1968 Jim Garrison, the D.A. of New Orleans--the jolly green
Frankenstein monster, as Kerry later called him--accused Kerry at a press
conference of being one of the conspirators in the Kennedy assassination.
Garrison never indicted him--he didn't have enough evidence for an
indictment-so Kerry never stood trial, but he brooded over it for years.
Then he entered an altered state of consciousness. I'm trying to be
objective about this. Kerry, who served in the same platoon as Oswald,
became convinced that he was involved in the assassination and that when
he was in the Marine Corps, Naval Intelligence had brainwashed him.
Kerry decided Naval Intelligence had also brainwashed Oswald and
several others, and had been manipulating them for years, like the
Manchurian Candidate. He couldn't remember what had happened, but he had a
lot of suspicions. Then he became convinced that I was a CIA baby-sitter
and we sort of lost touch with each other. It's hard to communicate with
somebody when he thinks you're a diabolical mind-control agent and you're
convinced that he's a little bit paranoid.
Somewhere along the line, Kerry decided to confuse Garrison by sending
out all sorts of announcements that he was an agent of the Bavarian
Illuminati. That got me interested in the Illuminati, and the more I read
about it, the more interested I got. So eventually we incorporated the
Illuminati into the Discordian Society. Since the Discordian Society is
devoted to promoting chaos, we decided that the Illuminati is devoted to
imposing totalitarianism. After all, a Discordian Society, to be truly
discordant, should have it's own totalitarian branch that's working
against the rest of the Society.
Pope John XXIV threw out six hundred saints on the grounds that they
never existed. They threw out Santa Claus and a whole bunch of these Irish
saints. The Discordian Society accepted them on the grounds that we don't
care whether these saints are real or not. If we like them, we'll accept
them. And since these saints were without a home, being thrown out of the
Catholic church, we accepted them. In the same way we accepted the
Illuminati, too, since nobody else wants them.
Then, I appointed myself the head of the Illuminati, which led to a lot
of interesting correspondences with other heads of the Illuminati in
various parts of the world. One of them threatened to sue me. I told him
to resubmit his letter in FORTRAN, because my computer wouldn't accept it
in English and I never heard from him again. I think that confused him.
RMN: Who do you think the Illuminati really were--or are?
ROBERT: The Illuminati has been the label used by many groups
throughout history. The Illuminati that is believed in by right-wing
paranoids is a hypothesis that leading intellectuals of the eighteenth
century were all members of the Bavarian Illuminati which was working to
overthrow Christianity. I don't think that's quite accurate; I think
there's a lot of exaggeration in that view. I don't think that Jefferson
was a member of the Illuminati; he just had similar goals. Beethoven was
probably a member, but Mozart probably wasn't. Voltaire probably wasn't,
although he was a Freemason. Anyway, to the extent that the Illuminati
conspired to overthrow Christianity and to establish democracy, I'm in
favor of it.
DJB: What were the Illuminati out to achieve?
ROBERT: The historical Illuminati of the eighteenth century, as
distinguished from all other Illuminati of previous centuries, had as it's
main goals, overthrowing the Vatican, overthrowing monarchies,
establishing democratic republics and giving a scientific education to
every boy and girl. Most of these goals have more or less begun to be
achieved. Compared to what things were like in the eighteenth century
they've largely succeeded, and I think that's all to the good.
RMN: Many formerly held secrets known only to a select group of
initiates, perhaps like the Bavarian Illuminati, are now available at the
local metaphysical bookstore. What do you think are the sociological
implications of such information exchange?
ROBERT: Oh, I think it's wonderful. I believe very much that secrecy is
the main cause of most social evils. I think information is the most
precious commodity in the world. As a matter of fact, I think that
information is the source of all wealth. The classical economic theory is
that wealth is created by land, labor and capital. But if you have a piece
of land, and you've got capital, and you hire labor, and you drill for
oil, and there's no oil there--you won't get rich. What makes somebody
rich is drilling for oil where there is oil, and that's based on having
correct information. I'm just paraphrasing Buckminster Fuller here. All
wealth is information. So therefore, all attempts to impede the transfer,
the rapid transmission of information, are making us all poorer.
DJB: Why do you think it is then, that it took so long for occult
knowledge to come out of secrecy and into the open?
ROBERT: Well, that's largely because of the Catholic church. Anybody
who spoke too frankly for many centuries was burned at the stake. So the
alchemists, hermeticists, Illuminati and other groups learned to speak in
DJB: So you think it was the fear of persecution, rather than a feeling
that most people weren't "ready" for the information quite yet?
ROBERT: Well, I think that's a rationalization, You can't find out
who's ready, except by distributing the information. Then you find out
RMN: The wars in the Middle East and the rising fundamentalism in the
West have been seen by some as the death screams of organized religion.
Both Islam and Christianity, however, have survived many "Holy Wars." What
do you think the fate of organized religion will be?
ROBERT: I would like to think that organized religion is on it's way
out, but I've been doing a lot of research on the eighteenth century for
my historical novels. Voltaire thought that the Catholic church would be
gone in twenty years, and it's hung around for two hundred years since
then. When the Pope disbanded the Jesuits, Voltaire said that's the end,
the Catholic church is falling apart. Well, a few years later they
reorganized the Jesuits. The Knights of Malta are running the CIA
apparently, and the Catholic church just refuses to die. Fundamentalism
has staged a comeback. It's fantastic.
I'm a big fan of H.L. Menken. He was a very funny social critic of the
1920's. His books went out of print for a while, because the things he was
making fun of didn't exist anymore. Now his books are coming back into
print because all those things exist again. He was making fun of the same
type of thing that Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, and that whole crowd stand
for. It's astonishing the way that this seemingly dead historical
institution came back, like the Frankenstein monster. Every time you think
it's dead, it rises up again to afflict us. The Ayatollah. The Grey
Wolves. The Grey Wolves are the biggest heroin dealers in the Mid-East
because they believe Allah wants them to kill Jews and they can't get
enough money to buy guns without selling heroin. That makes about as much
sense as most of the Christian theology I've heard.
I'm a mystical agnostic, or an agnostic mystic. That phrase was coined
by Olaf Stapledon, my favorite science fiction writer. When I first read
it, it didn't mean anything to me, but over the years I've gradually
realized that "agnostic mystic" describes me better than any words I have
found any where else.
DJB: How about "transcendental agnostic"?
ROBERT: Yeah. The word agnostic has gained the association of somebody
who's just denying, but what I mean is something more like the ancient
Greek concept of the zetetic. I find the universe so staggering that I
just don't have any faith in my ability to grasp it. I don't think the
human stomach can eat everything, and I'm not quite sure my mind can
understand everything, so I don't pretend that it can.
RMN: In Riane Eisler's The Chalice and the Blade, she proposes that
there has been a cultural transformation from a cooperation between the
sexes to the dominion of male over female. She says that we're now at a
stage when men should be learning from women. What do you think about
ROBERT: Curiously, 1 was an early advocate of the theory of the
primordial matriarchy. I got turned onto that by Robert Graves when I was
in high school. I read The White Goddess, and then I happened to read a
little-known book by a Scottish psychiatrist named Ian Suttie called The
Origin of Love and Hate, in which he used the model of history evolving
from matriarchy to patriarchy and back to matriarchy. Some of these ideas
have been around my head for about forty years.
Currently I tend to agree with Eisler. There's no evidence of a
matriarchy at all. There's evidence of a partnership society. It's been
coming back for the last two hundred years. Arlen calls it "stone-age
feedback." As European civilization conquered and exploited the Third
World, ideas from these places came drifting back to Europe. Diderot,
Voltaire, Rousseau, the whole enlightenment was influenced by the ideas of
these "primitives" having a more natural and happier way of life than we
do. Democracy, socialism, anarchism, and all the radical ideas of the last
two hundred years were inspired by studying stone-age cultures from the
first proto-anthropologica1 reports.
I've been an advocate for a partnership society for years, before
Eisler used that term. The term I used was "voluntary association" which
comes out of the American Anarchist tradition. This was a school of
philosophical anarchists in New England in the nineteenth century who are
very little known. I got fascinated by them in the sixties and read most
of their books. The idea of voluntary association migrated to Europe and
became syndicalism, only the syndicalists added to it the idea of
overthrowing the existing system by violence, so the whole idea developed
a bad reputation. I think the basic idea of voluntary association, or
partnership, is the one towards which we should aspire. It's the most
human, just, fair, decent and intelligent form of society.
RMN: Do you have hope that we can achieve it?
ROBERT: Yes, I do, in spite of the evidence we see on all sides of
stupidity, ignorance, bigotry and the seemingly inexhaustible lust of the
masses to be trampled on by Fuhrer figures and father figures. I see the
last two hundred years as a staggering, groping, fumbling toward a
RMN: Riane Eisler doesn't address the masculinity of the Devil-the fact
that in this society, the dark side as well as the light side of spiritual
power is depicted as male. Do you have any ideas about that?
ROBERT: They do have some shadowy feminine counterparts. There's the
Lilith, the female Devil, and buried in Judaism there's the Shekinah, the
female aspect of God. I'm more interested in the way that the Devil
infiltrated Christianity disguised as Santa Claus. Very few people realize
the archetypes are the same. It's the old pagan fertility god. Satan is
the caricature that the Christian church created, but the fertility god
came back as Santa, and he wears the same red suit as the Devil. The name
Satan and Santa are made up of the same letters; you just move one and
you've changed Santa into Satan.
RMN: That's interesting. The Devil and sexuality are correlated in many
people's minds. Religious and political authorities have consistently
attempted to control human sexuality and nip individual freedom in the
bud. How do you see the role of sexuality evolving into the future?
ROBERT: I was just reading Jean Shinoda Bolen's book Gods in Everyman
yesterday, and I found some of myself in Hades, though that's the younger
me back in my adolescence and early twenties. I also see parts of myself
in Hermes, but I see a great deal of Dionysus. My mystical feelings and my
sexual feelings are so close together that I find it hard to understand
how Western society ever separated them. But that just goes to show that
I'm a Dionysian type. Our society is run by Zeus types and Apollo types to
whom the separation is perfectly natural.
RMN: Do you think society is evolving towards a more Dionysian
ROBERT: Yeah. We have been since the sixties. Woodstock was a Dionysian
festival--it was the rebirth of Dionysus--and right away the lid came
down. My God Dionysus is loose! King Pentheus immediately called out the
cops. The Dionysian religion had entered his kingdom and he tried to crush
it, but he was torn apart by his own mother. That's a warning of what
happens when you try to suppress Dionysus; it's one of the classic Greek
myths. Look what happened to Nixon--he got torn apart. The only president
to be forced to resign. Reagan escaped unscathed but I still have an
intuition that he's going to be repudiated. I think the people are going
to be as disgusted with Reagan as they were with Nixon--eventually. I even
had high hopes that George Bush was going to be impeached. Of course, he
picked Quayle as impeachment insurance, but I just have a strong
suspicion, based on Confucius, that the general decline of morals and
manners in this country, the general increase in the sleaze factor in
American life and the general corruption and crookedness, are all due to
the fact that people like Nixon and Agnew get away scot-free. They had
television pictures of DeLorean peddling cocaine. When I heard about this
I said, "A man with that much money isn't going to be convicted, even if
they have him on television." And he wasn't.
Once everybody becomes aware that the rich can commit any crime in the
book and get away with it, then the general attitude is, "Well, why don't
we do the same?" The whole sociobiology of Confucius is when the ruling
class are decent, honorable, gentlemen scholars, the people will be well
disposed; when the government is a bunch of thieving rascals, the people
will become thieving rascals.
We've seen so much of that, and the only hope I can see is that some of
the malefactors in high places get punished so that a sense of justice and
order is reestablished in this country. I'm not a vengeful person and I
have a great deal of compassion, even for Nixon and Reagan, but I think
some of those people have to go to jail to restore the idea that there is
justice in the universe.
RMN: The whirlwind ecstasies of the sixties have, for many, settled
down into a gentle breeze. What do you feel were the fleeting and lasting
effects of this cultural phenomena, and how have your attitudes developed
since that time?
ROBERT: Well, we were just talking about that this morning. What
survives of the sixties? What survives in different forms? I think Bucky
Fuller hit the nail on the head. He said that around 1972, the brighter
people realized that there are more effective ways of challenging the
system than going out in the streets and running their heads against
policemen's clubs. So they got more subtle. People are working on
different levels and in different ways, and it's become less
confrontational, but I do believe there are still a lot of people working
for the ideals of the sixties.
DJB: You mean like in the movie industry?
ROBERT: Yeah, and in television, in computers, in banking, all over the
DJB: Really, in banking?
ROBERT: Yeah. I've met a couple of bankers who are really very hip
DJB: Timothy Leary and Aleister Crowley both played similar roles in
history and both had a significant influence on your evolving belief
systems. Tell us about the effect these two people have had on your
understanding of consciousness.
ROBERT: Well Crowley was such a complicated individual that everybody
who reads Crowley has a different Crowley in his head. There's a million
Aleister Crowleys depending on what part of him people are able to
understand and integrate. Crowley, as the leader of the Illuminati and the
Argentum Astrum the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), was continuing the project
of overthrowing Christianity and added his own twist of reviving Paganism
(which goes back to Giordano Bruno who wanted to do the same thing).
Crowley is an interesting figure and has had a bigger historical impact
than most people realize. The NeoPagan movement is bigger than anybody
knows, except the Fundamentalists, who think it's a Satanic movement --
which from their point of view, I guess it is.
The Crowley who interests me is the scientific Crowley. He traveled all
over the world, got initiated into every secret society he could, studied
every occult system, studied Sufism in North Africa, Taoism in China,
Buddhism in Ceylon and he tried to understand them all in terms of organic
chemistry and physiology. He laid the groundwork for the scientific study
of mysticism and altered consciousness. That's the Crowley I'm fascinated
by--Crowley the scientist, who co-existed with Crowley the mystic, Crowley
the poet, Crowley the adventurer and Crowley the Great Beast.
RMN: The Golden Dawn from which Crowley got much of his inspiration was
a mystical school which is still lively today. Have you found this system
able to remain flexible enough to adapt to the cultural and psychological
revisions that have occurred since the Order was first established?
ROBERT: There are several Golden Dawns around, like there are several
OTO's and several Illuminatis and so on. All of these things are
fractionated, and of course, everybody with a power drive involved in
these things claims to be the leader of the real and authentic Secret
Chiefs. The Golden Dawn which I find most interesting is the one of which
Christopher Hyatt is the Outer Head. He's a fully qualified clinical
psychologist with a good background in Jungian and Reichian therapy and a
great deal of theoretical knowledge of general psychology.
He was trained in the Golden Dawn system by Israel Regardie who was
also a psychologist as well as a mystic. I think Hyatt knows what he's
doing; I think he's got his head on right. He doesn't have delusions of
grandeur. He's not a prima donna and he's free of most of the deviant and
aberrant behavior that's chronic in the occult world. What are the goals
of the Golden Dawn? Unleashing the full positive potential of human
RMN: What are the methods involved?
ROBERT: The original Golden Dawn in the 1880's used Kabbalistic magic.
Crowley revised it to include Kabbalistic magic and yoga and a bit of
Sufism. Regardie revised it to include a great deal of Reichian bodywork,
and an insistence that anybody who enters the Order should go through
psychotherapy first. He became aware that people who get into Kabbalistic-type
work, especially in the Golden Dawn tradition, who haven't had
psychotherapy, are likely to flip out or scare themselves silly. Regardie
also insisted that they should know General Semantics, which is
interesting since it was General Semantics which got me interested in the
study of alternative consciousness.
RMN: Why did Regardie want this to be included?
ROBERT: General Semantics is a system that is very useful in clarifying
your thinking. If you understand the rules of General Semantics, you're
more or less immune to most of the errors that are chronic at this stage
of civilization. One of the rules of General Semantics is avoid the is of
identity, which is a rule I just broke when I said "General Semantics
is..." It's very hard to avoid the is of identity in speech. We all use it
all the time. I'm getting pretty good at avoiding it in my writing.
Whenever you're trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with my
thinking? Why can't I get to the bottom of this? Why am I confused about
this problem? Write it down and take out every "is" and reformulate it in
some other way. You'll find that your thinking has been tremendously
It's like the celebrated problem in quantum physics in the 1920's. The
electron is a wave. The electron is a particle. Those two things
contradict each other totally, which led to a lot of physicists saying
that the universe doesn't make sense, the universe is irrational and so
on. If you reformulate it without the "is" of identity, there's no paradox
at all. The electron appears as a wave when we measure it in certain ways.
The electron appears as a particle when we measure it in other ways.
There's no contradiction. There are a lot of other ideas in general
semantics that are equally useful in clarifying thought.
DJB: That's one of the claims of the recent technology of brain
machines. What experiences have you had with them, which ones do you find
the most promising and what kind of potential do you think they hold for
ROBERT: The most outstanding experience I've had with a brain machine
was with the first one, the Pulstar. I had an out-of-body experience which
registered as flat brain waves on the EEG, and that fascinated me. That
was the first objective sign I had ever seen that something was going on
in out-of-body experiences besides heightened imagination. I don't see
much difference between a lot of the brain machines around. Some are
demonstrably inferior, and out of charity I won't mention their names.
Some claim to be very superior to all the others, but as far as I can see,
most of them function pretty much the same.
At present, I'm more interested in the light and sound machines than I
am in the electro-magnetic machines, because there is some legitimate
cause for concern that sending electro-magnetism into your brain too often
may not be good for you. The whole field is growing very fast. There's a
bunch of tapes put out by Acoustic Brain Research in North Carolina. They
use only sound, but they combine it with subliminals and Ericksonian
hypnosis in a way that I find very effective. They're using sound at the
same frequencies that you find in the electro-magnetic machines, or the
light and sound machines.
The Graham Potentializer does seem a little more powerful than any of
the other machines, but I wouldn't guarantee it because I haven't had
enough experience with it yet. What T want to see is more controlled,
double-blind studies of these machines, because everybody has their own
anecdotal impressions, but we don't really know yet which are the best.
Which wave forms are the best? We don't know that yet. Why do some people
respond better to one than to others? We don't know why. There's a lot
mure to be learned and I'm very eager to see more research.
RMN: Do you think that the use of brain machines requires an
ROBERT: I suspect so. One manufacturer told me that the return rate is
about fifteen percent. I think these machines are much easier than the
biofeedback machines, but they still require some discipline. I think they
require some previous experience with Yoga, or Zen, or some
consciousness-altering work. You need some kind of previous experience or
you just won't know how to use the machine. I don't think the machine
really works as an entrainer unless you practice between sessions, trying
to revive the state without the machine. A lot of people can't do that,
they just assume that the machine will do all the work for them, which is
kind of like thinking that you just get in the car and it'll take you
where you want to go.
DJB: The potential of nanotechnology seems far more vast. How do you
think it's development will affect human consciousness in the future?
ROBERT: I haven't thought much about that. That's an interesting
question. It's going to change everything. Nanotechnology is a much bigger
jump than anything else on the horizon. It's bigger than space
colonization, bigger than longevity. It's a million times bigger than the
industrial revolution. It's going to change things so much that I can't
begin to conceive how much; but everything's going to get dirt cheap. The
ozone layer will get repaired rapidly. We could create redwoods as fast
and as many as we want, and then there's star-flight. I don't know; it's
just a whole new ballgame, and it leads directly into immortalism.
DJB: How about new ways to alter the brain?
ROBERT: Oh, of course. Eric Drexler, in his book on the subject, talks
about constructing micro-replicators that, if you let them loose in the
body, they run all over the place, inspecting every cell. If it's not
functioning properly they go back, get information from the main computer
and repair it. You can obviously do the same thing with brain circuits.
It'll probably replace psychiatry. Nanotechnology is so staggering, we
can't think about it without hyperbole, and it's coming along rapidly. The
Japanese are spending fantastic amounts on that kind of research.
RMN: What do you think about the idea than many inventions are actually
rediscoveries of technologies that have already existed in the past?
ROBERT: That's always seemed very implausible to me. There are some
cases--the steam engine was discovered in Greece and forgotten until Watt
rediscovered it--but I doubt that there are many. Most things weren't
discovered until they could be discovered, until there was the
time-binding heritage, or until the information accumulation had reached
the necessary level. This is why you have so many cases of parallel
discovery in science, where in five years three people patent the same
thing in different countries. As Charles Fort said, "It's steam engines
when it comes steam engine time."
RMN: What if there were times when the information had accumulated but
not the political or social climate necessary to appreciate it? Libraries
have been burned and knowledge chased underground by authoritarian forces.
ROBERT: Well, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should remain
RMN: A lot of people feel that technology is at odds with their
ecological thinking. What do you think is the evolving role of the science
ROBERT: The first book I ever read on ecology was way back in the
forties. It was called The Road to Survival. I've always been fascinated
by ecology because I'm fascinated by whole systems. That's why Bucky
Fuller fascinates me. He always starts with the biggest whole system and
works his way down. I've written a lot of satirical things about pop
ecology because I think a lot of people have got on the ecology bandwagon
who don't know their ass from their elbow about science, and it's turned
into a kind of late Christian heresy like Marxism. It's become a new blame
game, where people go around laying guilt trips on other people. Guilt is
very fashionable in Western civilization.
Albert Ellis said the most popular game in Western civilization is
finding and denouncing no-good shits. I found that so impressive I've
incorporated it into a couple of my own books. Every generation picks out
a group of no-good shits. In the Victorian age it was adolescent boys who
masturbated, and now it's cigarette smokers. There's always got to be some
no-good shits for people to denounce and persecute, and to the extent that
ecology has degenerated into that, it arouses my satirical instinct. But
of course the science of Ecology itself is tremendously important, and the
more people who know about it, the better.
RMN: The methods of science and art are beginning to achieve some
wonderful things together. What do you think created such a chasm between
the two disciplines in the first place, and why do you think they are now
ROBERT: Science and art. Now what created such a chasm between them?
Why the hell did that happen? I think I'm going to go back and blame the
Inquisition. Science had to fight an uphill battle against the Inquisition
and this created a historical hangover in which scientists had acute
hostility to every form of mysticism, not just to the Catholic church
which had been persecuting them. I think that rubs off onto art, because
there's something mystical about art no matter how much you try to
rationalize it. If you get a bunch of artists together talking about where
they got their creativity from, they sound like a bunch of mystics.
Then there was the rise of capitalism. I'm inclined to agree with Karl
Marx about that, that every previous form of society has had different
values, a hierarchy of values. Capitalism does tend to reduce everything
to just one value--what can you sell it for? And as Oscar Wilde said, "All
art is quite useless." The value of art depends on who's manipulating the
marketplace at the time. It's spooky. Art is the Schrodinger's cat of
All of a sudden, an Andy Warhol is worth a million, and nobody knows
how that happened. Then it's somebody else the next year. Picasso never
paid for anything in the last twenty years of his life. He just wrote
checks which never came back to his bank. People saved them because they
knew that the signature was worth more than the sum of the check. They
knew it would be worth even more in twenty years, and so on.
Somebody asked a Zen master, "What's the most valuable thing in the
world?" and he said, "The head of a dead cat." The querent asked "Why?"
and the Zen master said, "Tell me it's exact value." That's a good
exercise if you're into creative writing. Write a short story where the
hero's life is saved by the fact that he could find the value of the head
of a dead cat. It could happen. Everything has a fluctuating value.
In capitalism, everything gets reduced to it's immediate cash value.
Citizen Kane, to take one egregious example, is generally considered one
of the best films ever made. It lost money in it's first year, so Orson
Welles had extreme difficulty for the rest of his life getting enough
money to make other movies. Yet Citizen Kane made more money than any
other movie made in 1941, if you count up to the present, because it gets
revived more than any other movie. But the bankers who own the studios
aren't interested in profit in twenty years, they want profit next June.
They want Indiana Jones not Citizen Kane.
RMN: So, if the areas of science and art are merging it indicates a
move away from the capitalist perspective.
ROBERT: Yes. I think information theory has probably done a great deal
to bring science and art back together again. Norbert Weiner invented the
basic equation for information at the same time Claude Shannon did. That's
another example of things happening when they're ready to happen. Weiner
explained information by saying that a great poem carries more information
than a political speech. Information is the unpredictable. As we come to
realize the value of the unpredictable, the value of art has become
You go through a museum and you look at a Leonardo, a Botticelli, a
Rembrandt, a Van Gogh, a Cezanne, a Picasso, a Klee, a Jackson Pollock,
and it's obvious the value of each of them is that they weren't copying
one another. If Van Gogh were copying Rembrandt nobody would give a damn
for Van Gogh. He had the chutzpah to paint his own vision. Somebody having
their own vision instead of just repeating an earlier one in a different
style--that's information. Information is the new and unpredictable, and
information theory led to the computers which fascinate artists. Computers
have opened up whole new areas of art.
DJB: Information is the unpredictability of a signal, but it's not
quite chaos or randomness. It carries a message.
ROBERT: Yeah. When unpredictability gets too high, information turns
into noise. That part of Shannon's theory involves very complicated
mathematics and I'm not sure I fully understand it; I just more or less
intuitively follow it. There has to be an information redundancy ratio
where the highest grade of information is diluted with repetition.
DJB: Because it's so unpredictable one can't relate it to anything.
ROBERT: Yeah. Originality frequently looks like chaos until we learn
how to deal with it, until we find the redundancy in it.
DJB: Have you had any experiences with lucid or conscious dreaming?
ROBERT: I've had a lot of lucid dreams, but I can't think of anything
that's particularly worth discussing. I'd like to learn more about it. It
happens spontaneously sometimes. I have a very rich hypnagogic and
hypnopompic life, like Philip K. Dick. William Burroughs told me that his
characters all manifest as voices in hypnopompic reverie before they have
bodies, or names, or anything else. Robert Shea, an old friend of mine
who's a scientific materialist of the most rigid sort, really blew my mind
by admitting he hears his characters talking. I suspect all writers do. I
think the difference between a writer and a channeler is that the
channeler has found a way to make more money out of it than most writers
DJB: Synchronicity is a major theme that runs through most, if not all,
of your books. What model do you use at present for interpreting this
ROBERT: I never have one model. I always have at least seven models for
DJB: Which one is your favorite?
ROBERT: Bell's Theorem combined with an idea I got from Barbara
Honegger, a parapsychologist who worked for Reagan. She wrote a book
denouncing Reagan, Ollie North and the whole crowd, giving inside dirt
about what she discovered while she was at the White House. Long before
Barbara became a controversial political figure, she gave me the idea that
the right brain is constantly trying to communicate with the left. If you
don't listen to what it's trying to say, it gives you more and more vivid
dreams and if you still won't listen, it leads to Freudian slips. If you
still don't pay attention, the right brain will get you to the place in
space-time where synchronicity will occur. Then the left brain has to pay
DJB: What do you think happens to consciousness after physical death?
ROBERT: Somebody asked a Zen master, "What happens after death?" He
replied, "I don't know." And the querent said, "But you're a Zen master!"
He said, "Yes, but I'm not a dead Zen master." Somebody asked Master
Eckart, the great German mystic, "Where do you think you'il go after
death?" He said, "I don't plan to go anywhere." Those are the best answers
I've heard so far. My hunch is that consciousness is a non-local function
of the universe as a whole, and our brains are only local transceivers. As
a matter of fact, it's a very strong hunch, but I'm not going to dogmatize
DJB: Could you share with us any experiences you might have had
communicating with what you thought to be extraterrestrial or non-human
ROBERT: I've had a lot of experiences with what could be interpreted as
extraterrestrial communications. They could also be interpreted as ESP, or
as accessing parts of my brain that are normally not available, or as
contacting a non-local consciousness that permeates everything. There are
a lot of different models for this type of experience. I got fascinated by
the extraterrestrial model at one stage in the early seventies, and still,
every now and then, it makes more sense to me than any of the others.
Other times the non-local model makes more sense, which is a
development of Bell's Theorem. This was stated most clearly by Edwin
Harris Walker in a paper called The Complete Quantum Anthropologist. He
developed a mathematical theory of a non-local mind, to which we can gain
access at times. It's a complete quantum mechanical, mathematical model to
explain everything that happens in mystical and occult experience. That
makes a great deal of sense to me, especially when I found that Joyce was
using the same model in Finnigan 's Wake. I think it also underlies the I
Ching. I explain this at length in my book Coincidance.
DJB: How do you see consciousness evolving into the twenty-first
ROBERT: It staggers my imagination. I get about as far as 2012 in my
future projections, then I can't imagine beyond that. So much is going to
change by then.
DJB: What do you see coming along up to 2012?
ROBERT: In Leary's terms, I think about one-third of the West now
understands the neuro-somatic circuit, and some techniques for activating
it. I think that's going to reach fifty to fifty-one percent pretty
soon--and that will be a major cultural change. I think more and more
understanding of the neuro-genetic and meta-programming circuits are
It's very obvious that quantum physics, parapsychology and all the work
they're doing attaching brain scanners to Yogis and Zen masters means
we're going to learn a great deal about the non-local quantum circuit. I
think the history of mysticism has been sort of like a bunch of
firecrackers with two or three going off every century. With the LSD
revolution it became two or three every month and now it's moving up to
two or three every week. I see a real acceleration in consciousness, just
like in technology.
DJB: Soon it'll be fireworks every day. One final question, Bob. Tell
us about any current projects on which you're presently working.
ROBERT: I've just finished a book called Quantum Psychology subtitled:
How Brain Software Programs Your Self and Your World. I'm working on a
movie, tentatively titled The Curtain, which may or may not ever get
produced. I've been paid enough so that I'm not wasting my time, which is
a good thing to know in Hollywood. There are all sorts of people around
Hollywood who'll get you involved in projects without ever paying you a
penny, if you're dumb enough to do that.
If the movie does get produced it'll have a tremendous impact. I'm also
working on two possible television shows and I'm continuing my historical
novels. I'm doing more lectures in more places than ever before, with
workshops here and there, which involves a lot of traveling. Altogether,
I'm very excited about what the next ten years will bring into my life.