This topic is related to a recent question over at my blogger-colleague Tom Jackson's blog RAWIllumination.
My knee-jerk reaction: it seems evermore so, aye.
With some introspection (okay, a bowel movement): definitely maybe.
Ken Cuccinelli (my friends and I just refer to him affectionately as "Cooch") is quoted very recently thus:
“My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that … They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society.”
Robert Anton Wilson writes in his book Natural Law (Or Don't Put A Rubber On Your Willy):
"It appears that the reason that the term 'Natural Law' is preferred to 'Moral Law' may be that many writers do not want to make it obvious that they speak as priests or theologians and would rather have us think of them as philosophers. But it would seem to me that their dogmas only make sense as religious or moral exhortation and do not make sense in any way if one tries to analyze them as either scientific or philosophical propositions."
Two recent articles on Cooch and his moralic acid-laced Low-Medium Level Bullshit:
Katie McDonough's "Ken Cuccinelli Keeping The War On Sodomy Alive"
Amanda Marcotte's "Ken Cuccinelli Really Wants To Ban Oral Sex"
Are the voters in Virginia really this retrograde? We'll see. At this point I'll believe anything.
Also, no doubt Cuccinelli as a Republican in 2013 agrees that government is intrusive on the rights, liberties, and freedoms of his corporate sponsors.
Robert Anton Wilson often said he not only wanted government "off our backs" but "off our fronts, too." This latter proposition would seem to exclude Cooch.
Are You Naturally "Unnatural"?
pic I'll be happy to give credit)
One of the weirdest interviews RAW ever did was in November, 1996, with someone named Nardwuar; RAW seemed to think it was a put-on but he played along with good humor.
17 years later, Mark O'Connell at Slate has crowned Nardwuar as the "pop music's best interviewer." (Neil Strauss on Line 1!)
Anyway, I was very surprised that anyone would raise Nardwuar to such lofty heights. But as RAW often said, "Different lanes for different brains."
A link between quantum mechanics and game theory seems to have been found.
Yes, the two areas seem far apart, and RAW did not accentuate Bayesian games, but from the age of 16, in 1948 (!) he was interested in the findings in both areas and how they may interact. The article I cited doesn't mention John von Neumann, but JvN was an early theorist in both areas, and RAW wrote about John S. Bell, Norbert Wiener, von Neumann, Claude Shannon, Erwin Schrodinger and the philosophical implications of the wave equation, the interplay between The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior and multi-valued non-Aristotelian logics, semantics, the ontological basis of math, the EPR gedankenexperiments, Einstein's disagreements with Niels Bohr, how information might play in biology, and psychological theories of interpersonal communication and "games" and how quantum mechanics, language, information, games, and the human nervous system all interact in social "reality."
A few weeks ago, Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse advocated for Philosophy to go public, for the public good. They consider "repackaging" philosophy - by which they mean: the stultifying and dull Thing that philosophy has become in the Academy - and make it more accessible. They reject this as impractical. I disagree with them here, mostly because their arguments using specialized philosophy-language is pretentious in the first place, and they ought to realize that if they unpack their epistemology and ontology and hook it up to their Wittgenstein and other turns of language, they'll see that their use of the copulae "to be" (i.e, use of "is" "am" "are" "was" "were" and "be") seems inconsistent with their overly technical language in the first place. They're writing for each other in small journals, hoping for citations and to keep their jobs as the Humanities wither under the Leviathan of corporate capitalism.
If they can't write about their Big Topics for the intelligent layperson, maybe they aren't as fine thinkers as they suppose themselves "to be"? Take more English courses, academic Philosophers?
Aikin and Talisse then consider that philosophy should go public by addressing the concerns of the public and not arcane subjects. But then they look at the journals and see that philosophers have been writing about immigration, surveillance, human enhancement technologies, the biology of race, the nature of lying and the ethics of torture. But while they don't bluntly say it: those articles are impenetrable. To quote the Beat poet Jack Spicer out of context, "My vocabulary did this to me!"
Circling back around, these advocates for a public philosophy finally realize that philosophy must be repackaged nonetheless, and I wholeheartedly agree with them here:
"On this version of “public philosophy,” what is called for is not a change in what philosophers do or in the topics they address; rather the call for public philosophy is call for better spokespersons for philosophy. It is a request that those who are especially skilled at presenting complex and difficult ideas come forward and speak publicly for the discipline. It is also a call for the profession at large to acknowledge the need for such spokespersons, and to find ways to recognize the scholarly importance of public outreach. But, importantly, it is also implicitly a call for those philosophers who are not very good at representing the discipline to go back to their offices."
And many of us who are longtime readers of Robert Anton Wilson would argue that RAW was doing this in the 1960s, but the exigencies of rising in the Academy, together with an iron curtain put up by mainstream media and the "counterculture" concerning identity and publishing and who gets reviewed and what topics are to be considered out-of-bounds, and "style" (and other Damned Things)...militated against RAW being taken more seriously by people who think public philosophy is important for a healthy democratic society. A "science fiction writer" was not to be taken seriously by Serious People, the guardians of True Philosophy. A writer who wrote so candidly about sex, drugs, Timothy Leary and Aleister Crowley and Wilhelm Reich and Ezra Pound and Alfred Korzybski (all banished to the Region of Thud by the curators of Official Culture) could not be taken seriously. A writer who speculates about the phenomenology of UFO contactees, who mixed genres (too irresponsible and promiscuous?), who openly declares himself an "anarchist" and who chronicles a 14-odd-year odyssey of self-experimentation to probe the vast reaches of his own consciousness...this was something not fit for mainstream Philosophy. And then there is the ludic play with deep researches into conspiracy theory, a subject so demonized by the True Knowers of Unistat, there's no way this Wilson should be allowed anywhere near the Conversation about true Philosophy. Best to ignore his work until he finds himself living in the marginalist's milieux, where he properly resides...
So I argue: RAW was at least 40 years ahead of Aikin and Talisse. But RAW's readers found him anyway, and they think his unified field hypotheses about media and language extremely interesting, philosophically. RAW's ideas about the acceleration of culture, propelled by technological innovation, and its sociological fallout: paranoia, alternate religions, a Nietzschean multiperspectivalism, and the analysis of Conspiracy Theories as a way to test one's own epistemological plasticities? His readers enjoy these philosophical ideas too. Indeed.
While we may model the worlds we inhabit as "texts" we know these are only models, and that language does not map directly onto any sort of "reality" in a one-to-one correspondence, as RAW wrote about starting in the 1960s, largely influenced by discarded thinkers.
I would like to suggest to Aikin and Talisse that their world has finally caught up with Robert Anton Wilson's but after many years of talking to academics, I'm afraid the response would be, "Who?"
I asked Prof. George Lakoff of Berkeley if he knew of RAW's work, and he said, "I once had a student who was really into him." That's the only admission I've personally ever heard from a True Serious Thinker that RAW even existed.
RAW can never serve as a "spokesperson" that Aikin and Talisse advocate for, because he was not from academe. However, I strongly suggest that their sought-after spokespersons take into account the playfulness and sense of humor Wilson brought to philosophical topics, especially the officially outre topics of conspiracy, altered states, and pop kulchur. And because humor is difficult, the Aikin and Talisse plea may not gain traction. If so, 'tis a pity. (I'd like to once again suggest George Carlin as a sociolinguist for any who'd be interested...)
Coming back around, Tom Jackson wrote a concise and cogent piece on the occasion of the death of Holy Blood, Holy Grail co-author Michael Baigent, and defended a court's findings in favor of Dan Brown, who the authors of HB,HG sued. If you like the OG and you haven't read RAW's The Widow's Son, consider adding it to your Summer Reading list. It might be instructive to compare its literary qualities to Brown's Da Vinci Code, and even more revelatory when you realize which one the public clamored over and which one is the "obscure" novel.