December 23, 2020
RAW! Erik Davis on Robert Anton Wilson (with Eddie Nix)
We are delighted to speak with Erik Davis and Eddie Nix about the work of Robert Anton Wilson, an influential and fascinating underground esoteric intellectual of the California freak-scene from the sixties onward. Unclassifiable anarchist, ritual magician, psychonaut, philosopher, writer, proponent of ‘imaginary religions’, and explorer of the fringes of consensus-reality, Robert Anton Wilson made a deep but often underappreciated impact on a number of esoteric currents, notably chaos-magic, certain strands of Crowlean work, the psychedelic subculture, American freak-libertarianism, and so on.
We discuss Wilson’s biography and work, with a number of interesting discursus into
- the history of Discordianism
- the mind-fuck as an illuminationist methodology of social praxis
- the revival of the O.T.O. and other Golden-Dawn-inspired magical work in early-seventies California
- the rhetorics of the esoteric
- the ‘Chapel Perilous’ (a state of mind from which there are only two exits: agnosticism or stone-cold paranoia)
- nineteen-sixties hipster-existentialism
- the contemporary alt-right’s adoption of strategies from the freak-culture of earlier days
- ontological anarchism, and more.
Erik Davis is a researcher of many an interesting facet of the weird, modern and ancient. He has published far and wide on subjects ranging from rock journalism pieces to full-length fnord monographs on psychedelic countercultures, technological transformations of culture and consciousness, and various aspects of modern western esotericism (among other subjects), most recently Davis 2019 (see below). His website techgnosis has its finger on the somewhat erratic pulse of a special kind of esoteric thought – you know it when you taste it – and features the long-standing Expanding Mind Podcast.
Eddie Nix is a theatre impressario and runs what is widely reputed to be the best bookshop in North America.
Works Cited in this Episode:
- Carole M. Cusack. Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith. Routledge, London, 2016.
- Erik Davis. High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. Strange Attractor Press and MIT Press, London and Cambridge, MA, 2019.
- Israel Regardie. The Eye in the Triangle: An Interpretation of Aleister Crowley. Llewellyn, St. Paul, MN, 1970.
A Robert Anton Wilson Bibliography can be found online giving the basic books. His many articles and more esoteric publications have not yet been authoritatively catalogued.
Aleister Crowley, Ceremonial Magic, Conspiracy, Discordianism, fnord, Neo-Paganism, New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn, Ordo Templi Orientis, Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, Rosirucian Manifestoes, Terence McKenna