The New Inquisition: An Interview by Robert Anton Wilson, Ph.D.
Edited by Antero Alli
Robert Anton Wilson -novelist, poet, playwright, stand-up comic, futurist, psychologist and author of numerous books – travels the world applying his iconoclastic wit and humor to such topics as space migration, life extension, UFOs, new religions, quantum mechanics, James Joyce, conspiracy theory, synchronicity and ceremonial magic. Even though originally from New York, he has a distinctly Bavarian persona and could very well be mistaken for a European character actor who’s just finished playing a futuristic Falstaff adjusting to our present era.
Antero Alli: Could you describe the social function of rebellion?
Robert Anton Wilson: As Oscar Wilde said, “Disobedience was man’s original virtue.” If nobody ever rebelled, we’d still be living in caves. Rebellion is absolutely necessary to progress. I’ve been a heretic all my life.
AA: What do you mean by the New Inquisition?
RAW: The New Inquisition is a polemical label I picked for the Fundamentalist Materialists who dominate the scientific establishment. I think they’re as nefarious as the fundamentalist Christians who dominate the religious establishment these days. To me, Fundamentalism of all sorts is conducive to stupidity and interferes with the proper functioning of intelligence, creativity, joy and having a good time.
AA: Who are the people that are going to read or should read your new book, The New Inquisition?
RAW: Anyone interested in the new age will find it interesting reading. I think I’ve been able to explain quantum mechanics better in this book than any of my previous ones. The material reveals parallels between the latest discoveries in physics and the more traditional ones found in Buddhism and Taoism. It will also be of interest to all young scientists whose minds have not hardened yet and who may want to know what kind of things have been going down in the scientific community over the past twenty years just so they’ll know what they’re dealing with. It’s also a very funny book – if I do say so myself.
AA: Quantum mechanics is something of a second language for you. How does it help you communicate and live a better life?
RAW: Quantum physics does help a lot in understanding daily life. The major discovery in this field is that the reality we perceive with our instruments is created by our instruments, partly. It is not an objective reality. it is created by our minds by what instruments to use, what measurements to take and what experiments to design. That happens in daily life in the area of our decision-making — which is our instrument applied to what to observe, to enter into, what to avoid and so on. Quantum mechanics just emphasizes by the magnification of scientific instruments what is happening all the time, anyway. Modern psychologies, especially those branching out into neurology theory and perception theory, make very clear that the situation of a brain receiving signals has the same relativity and indeterminancy as is expressed in the Quantum Mechanics’ phrase, “brain plus instrument receiving signals.” Whether there’s an instrument there or not, the brain is the main creator of what gets organized — not the only creator but the main one.
AA: You often refer to two psychological models, Primate and Post-primate psychology. What do you mean?
RAW: The order of primates is the order to which the human race belongs. Primate psychology includes ferocious territoriality. Primates all demand their own territory and mark it with excretions: domesticated primates mark it with ink excretions also known as land titles that are filed in government offices. It’s a primate tendency to regard one’s reality tunnel as a fact outside of one’s reality tunnel as a fact outside of one’s nervous system rather than something we have produced, leading to typical, primate dogmatism. Post-primate psychology begins at the point where the brain starts studying the brain — intelligence studying intelligence. Then, you realize you’re creating your own reality tunnels and can create even better reality tunnels.
AA: Every primate pack apparently has their alpha-male leader and their scapegoat(s). As we approach the turn of the decade, who do you see as the “new” scapegoats?
RAW: It seems to be a trait of the domesticated primates to turn their alpha-males into scapegoats. That’s got a long anthropological background. Fraser’s Golden Bough researches rituals whereby the kings were sacrificed. It seems we’ve been going through reruns off that ever since the United States graduated from a republic to an empire, around 1900. Ever since this conversion, we’ve been sacrificing our presidents at a terrific rate: dying in office from heart attacks, mysterious diseases, resignation and the multiple assassination attempts…and completions.
AA: What makes the Fundamentalist mind tick?
RAW: Fundamentalism is a stage of innocence or arrogance where you don’t realize the creative role your own brain plays in the reality tunnels you perceive. Sophistication consists in understanding your role as a co-creator of your reality. Fundamentalism is the belief that there’s a reality tunnel outside of you that you didn’t create but you know all about it. Also, that everybody else must be in that reality or they’re “crazy” and should be locked up and punished.
AM: Like when we “assume” we make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”…[laughter]…it’s all about false assumptions, isn’t it? How would you describe, in more detail, the characteristics of this thinking style which even seems prevalent amongst the supposedly progressive New Age?
RAW: It seems to be a perennial human aberration that pops up in all ages and cultures. The best way to deal with it is empathically and realize it as an expression of deep modesty which should be admired. Nietzsche said that we’re all greater artists than we realize. On that premise, I’m a great artist in that I create the most elaborate, baroque and fascinating reality tunnels to walk through all the time. Fundamentalists are doing equally impressive jobs creating fantastic reality tunnels but they’re so modest they don’t take credit for them. They say, “This IS reality.” So, it’s really a distortion of humility that leads to fundamentalism.
AA: According to your tunnels, what are some of the more exciting scientific theories currently being suppressed by fundamentalism?
RAW: Timothy Leary’s work on re-imprinting the nervous system, I think is the most important psychological experiment done in our time. Leary’s main discovery was that psychedelic drugs create “imprint vulnerability” for impressing a new reality tunnel. That, in itself, has been suppressed by keeping Timothy in prison for five years to discourage him from uttering such heresies. Ritual, of the right sort, can deliver the kind of shock to dislodge this same kind of vulnerability. Any kind of sensory-deprivation also tends to bring it about: isolation tanks or being out in the wilderness long enough.
The work of Rupert Sheldrake hasn’t been suppressed that badly yet but there’s been a tremendous attempt to smear and demean Dr. Sheldrake and his theories. There’s an entrenched fundamentalist wing of the scientific community that keeps claiming that all this so-called parapsychological research is meaningless and fraught with coincidences that peculiarly only happen in parapsychological laboratories.
There seems to be a fundamentalist backlash all over the planet these days, to just the scientific community. I think it’s from going through so much rapid change that some people are getting dizzy and are trying to stop the world or make it revolve backwards, so they can adjust and catch up. It’s like seeing the 1980s through a 1950s conceptual filter with most of the scientific community because that’s when they received their last major imprint. By-in-large for most domesticated primates, the last imprint was taken during puberty during the first mating experience. For the most part, we don’t change after that unless we learn how to re-create imprint vulnerability to deliberately change ourselves.
AM: What do you think is in store for us in the 90s?
RAW: I think the 90s are going to bring the kind of radical change we experienced back in the 60s. Every major sociological trend on the planet is reaching a point of super-saturation wherein it’s bound to mutate. For instance, the population crunch and how television has made us more aware of the suffering in the Third World. Things like Live-Aid were inevitable once people realized how many human beings are starving on this planet. The international currency system is going to have to change as there will be more unemployment than ever – and it’s not just Ronald Reagan. The world’s nations can no longer keep borrowing from the privately-owned international banks…some country’s going to default and trigger a domino effect. I suspect the United Nations will issue some kind of planetary currency. As Bucky Fuller once said, “The human race always does the most intelligent thing after it’s exhausted all the stupid ones first.” I think we’ve exhausted all the stupid economics and we’re going to have to do something intelligent with money in the 90s.
AA: Do you think the current New Age movement is a trend or are we actually giving birth to the future with it?
RAW: It’s not an either/or. Parts of the New Age are trendy and faddish and will be replaced by other fads. Other parts of the new age are integral to an evolutionary process transforming the planet. It won’t shop until it has transformed the planet entirely, either. There’s the movement away from national and state identification and a motion towards international cooperation on some level. The trend of modern technology is to abolish poverty and starvation. When we see that we can actually do something about these things, we do it. This same technology will tend to make all of us a bit richer, too. Our lives will tend to become more comfortable. Technologies such as solar and wind power and space colonization will expedite progress immeasurably. Besides NASA, there are quite a few entrepreneurs starting their own space programs and industries Bypass which is an attempt to create a totally peace-oriented space program and then, lure the USA and USSR into joining. It’s based in Norway with a lot of interest generating amongst the Swedes and Danes. The Russians have had a fully colony for over a year now. It’s amazing how many people don’t know that.
AA: According to Sheldrake’s morphogenetic field theory, the Russians are actually advancing the genetic evolution of the species then, right?
RAW: That’s right. Look what Sputnick did for the American Space Program! I think Star Wars will turn out different than what Reagan intends. It’ll never be used entirely for military purpose. That’s typical as government often go into new, important areas backwards to justify wars and such – the kinds of things government understand. Once governments see a military advantage to space exploration, they start investing in it. Historically, military functions of reigning monarchs were sent out to first conquer new territory before migrating colonization occurred. Space is the new turf. ◊
ROBERT ANTON WILSON, Ph.D. is the author of “THE NEW INQUISITION: Irrational Rationalism in the Citadel of Science”: it explores the current suppression of unorthodox and dissident theory amidst the scientific community by fundamentalist factors also found in the religious establishments. His books include “Cosmic Trigger”, “Illuminatus Trilogy.” “Shrodinger’s Cat.” “Prometheus Rising.” “Right Where You Are Sitting Now.” “The Illuminati Papers.” “Sex & Drugs.” and many more.
ANTERO ALLI is author of “ANGEL TECH: A Modern Shaman’s Guide to Reality Selection” and “ALL RITES REVERSED: Ritual Technology for Self-Initiation.” both introduced by Mr. Wilson. Antero is currently writing his first Novel.
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