represents organized infophobia, science represents infophilia, and over a span of generations, infophilia always wins out.
David: What is infophobia and infophilia?
Bob: I coined the term infophobia to synthesize Dr. Timothy Leary’s work on neuropsychology and Claude Shannon’s mathematical theory of information. Basically infophobia represents an attitude of fear towards certain types of signals. Some people are afraid of T.V. Some are afraid of Internet. Some are afraid of learning foreign languages, etc.
Infophilia represents the opposite extreme–the desire to learn many symbol systems, and use them for fun and profit. Primarily, I feel that anything that accelerates the flow of information helps solve all of our problems; anything that jams the signals, distorts them, warps them, or just tells flat lies, increases all of our problems. I consider this a scientific foundation for the first amendment to the Constitution, and for civil liberties in general. Or, as Paul Krassner summarized it, “Fuck Censorship!”
David: Do you think that the human species is going to survive the next hundred years, or do you think we’re going to drive ourselves into extinction?
Bob: Maybe we’ll destroy ourselves and maybe we’ll achieve what Bucky fuller called total success in Universe. I see no social profit, and no personal psychlogical profit [except to masochists], in assuming pre-ordained failure and general disaster. I assume the unknown future remains unknown, so why not try for the best we can imagine?
David: What do you think is the biggest threat to the human species?
Bob: Stupidity, especially in the form of those “faith-based organizations” so beloved by Tsarists. All my hope centers around research-based organizations.
David: Assuming that we do survive, how do you envision the future of the human race?
Bob: Mix Dr. Timothy Leary’s SMIILE scenario–Space Migration + Intelligence Increase + Life Extension–with Trotsky’s Perpetual Revolution, and/or Jeffersons’s “revolution every ten years”, and serve piping hot. With relish.
David: What do you think happens to consciousness after the death of the body?
Bob: I haven’t died yet, so I can’t speak with any assurance about that. My guesses remain guesses. I grant equal repect to the opinions of all men, women and ostriches, but no matter how sure any of them sound, I still suspect them of guessing, just like me. I wish they would use that liberating word “maybe” more often in their speculations.
If I must flounder around in metaphysics, “the great Serbonian bog where armies whole have sunk,” I know of only five possibilities: (1) heaven, (2) hell, (3) reincarnation, (4) “union with God” or some other entity a lot like “God,” and (5) oblivion. Only (1) heaven, seems frightening to me; an eternity of “bliss” with nobody around but Christians– such messmates as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others of that ilk–really sounds awful. There’s even a sinister rumor that the streets “are guarded” (brrrrrr!) by the United States Marines. Fortunately, according to the leading proponents of this model, I can’t get sent there because I don’t believe in Christ. Oh, goody.
Of course, (2) hell sounds almost as bad, but it has its good points. Everybody I admire from all history will get sent there, so the conversation should prove lively and stimulating. Besides, I find it impossble to believe that “God” (i.e. the assumed “Mind” behind the universe] suffers from the kind of sadistic psychosis necessary to delight in eternal torture, and if “He” [or She or It] does have that kind of nasty streak, well, as a part-time Buddhist, I’ll just have to forgive “Him” (or Her or It). I’ve started practising for this eventuality by forgiving all the people who’ve made this planet a good simulation of hell.
(3) The reincarnation model seems cheerier and somehwhat less goofy than these morbid notions, so it doesn’t bother me. I even wish I could believe in it.
(4) “Union with God” seems a great idea to me, if I understand it, like an acid trip that never ends. Now that’s what I’d prefer, if I have any choice in the matter.
Finally, there’s (5) the oblivion model. I’ve never understood why so many people, like Woody Allen, find oblivion totally dreadful. If you’re oblivious, that implies no experience and, of course, no experiencer either. How can you fear or even resent what you will never experience? It seems to me that only an advanced case of narcissism, or a mangled confusion of the map with the territory, can explain the bum rap that oblivion gets from most people. We all go there every night, between dreams, and it doesn’t hurt at all.
David: What is your perspective on God, and do you see any teleology in evolution?
Bob: Well, since the only kind of divinity that makes sense to me seems decentralized, I assume it must possess what cybernetic theory calls “redundance of potential control” — maximum feedback all around. In organisms, groups (flocks, herds), machines and groups of machines, that implies change and evolution, which in a feedback system means learning, and that seems like a kind of teleology.
By the way, Norbert Weiner pointed that out way back in 1948 in his book Cybernetics: Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, and the whole Internet Revoltion dates from that, but I guess most biologists felt daunted by his mathematics. They still seem to think we would have all remained amoebas except for “copying errors.” I’ll believe that when I believe that if we all threw our junk in the same field for four billion years it would accidentally organize itself into a jet airliner.
David: Can you tell me about the film “Maybe Logic”, and about your reaction to the mayor of Santa Cruz’s proclamation at the film’s premiere that July 23rd will officially be “Robert Anton Wilson Day” in Santa Cruz?
Bob: My ego grew three inches in 24 hours.
David: What are you currently working on?
Bob: I’m learning to walk for the third time. (I hope). Promoting the Guns and Dope Party. And I’m writing a book on the decentralization of power that I think Internet will create.
David: What gives you hope?
Bob: The research of psychlogist John Barefoot, which indicates that optimists live roughly twenty percent longer than pessimists. Why should I make myself miserable with gloomy thoughts, cut my life by one fifth, and miss out on the bio-tech revolution, just to become fashionable with the New York intelligentsia?