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 clearer.
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 ever do.
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 mysterious phenomenon?
ROBERT: I never have one model. I always have at least seven models for anything.
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 attention.