MAYBE LOGIC: THE LIVES AND IDEAS OF ROBERT ANTON WILSON -- ILLUSTRATED INTERVIEW
We think this is reality. But in philosophy, that's called naive realism: "What I perceive is reality." And philosophers have refuted naive realism every century for the last 2,500 years, starting with Buddha and Plato, and yet most people still act on the basis of naive realism.
Now the argument is, "Well, maybe my perceptions are inaccurate, but somewhere there is accuracy, scientists have it with their instruments. That's how we can find out what's really real." But relativity, quantum mechanics, have demonstrated clearly that what you find out with instruments is true relative only to the instrument you're using, and where that instrument is located in space-time. So there is no vantage point from which real reality can be seen.
We're all looking from the point of view of our own reality tunnels. And when we begin to realize that we're all looking from the point of view of our own reality tunnels, we find that it is much easier to understand where other people are coming from.
All the ones who don't have the same reality tunnel as us do not seem ignorant, or deliberately perverse, or lying, or hypnotized by some mad ideology, they just have a different reality tunnel. And every reality tunnel might tell us something interesting about our world if we're willing to listen.
The idea every perception is a gamble, seems to me so obviously true that I continually am astonished that I could forget it so many times during the course of 24 hours. But to the extent that I remember it, I just can't stay angry at anybody, so it's a thing worth keeping in mind.
My last birthday seems like a dinosaur. I seem more like a dinosaur myself.
Guest: "Well, you know, we're all rapidly turning into dinosaurs."
Sometimes I feel as old as the Mojave desert. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I think I look like a dead mule. That's only when I first get up in the morning.
My leg hurt this morning for about an hour after I got up, that's about all. As you may have guessed, I have post-polio sequelae which is symptoms of polio sometimes 20 years later, sometimes 40 years later. In my case, it took 60 years before they caught up with me. One of them is a lot of leg problems, which is why I'm in a wheelchair. Another one is that I feel 20 degrees colder than the average person whatever the temperature is.
I had polio at the age of four. I was cured by the Sister Kennedy method at a time when the American Medical Association was announcing her as a quack and a charlatan and a witchdoctor.
It was about 6 years after I was cured by the Sister Kennedy method, that the AMA finally admitted that the method worked. Now nobody needs it anymore because nobody gets polio anymore. They got the vaccine for it. But I knew all my life that I had post-polio syndrome, but it was always mild. I had what they call myoclonism which is spasms in the feet, which can be a damn nuisance when you're trying to sleep at night -- the feet start jerking and waking you up.
And then I had pains in the legs when I had to stand in long lines. I got to hate airports.
I can walk; I can take steps. As a matter of fact, I can walk more than a few steps. But I'm not going to try it because if I fall down, everybody will be embarrassed and feel sorry for me. So you can see I can walk a few steps, which I couldn't do two years ago when the thing was at its worst.
Post-polio syndrome really flared up, it will be two years ago next month. And boy, there was a week there where I could hardly move. Everything hurt. Going to the bathroom was like going to the South Pole. Oh, God, I couldn't move anything without terrible pain.
Maybe some of the dead muscles are coming back to life. The cell bodies are putting forth axons and dendrites. That's what's supposed to be happening, anyway.
Somehow, dealing with the post-polio has given me self-esteem, as they say nowadays. Hell, I'm dealing with it very well. I feel pretty good about myself. And I still have time to think about other people, which is very important. The worst thing about illness is that it makes you self-centered. I don't think that's happened, really.
I think you can get a lot out of an illness.
Processing, interactions. Tuning interactive processes. Processing interacting is all I ever tune in. I cannot tune in anything but interactive processing.
"The biggest thing I got from Bob is that all of our reality constructs are models. All of them are approximations, metaphors, or allegories for what's going on. And that we live in a world where we are all negotiating on behalf of our stories."
All thought is metaphor. The map is not the territory. Every verbal map we make is metaphor, but existence is not words, it is not mathematical equations, the universe is much bigger and more complicated than any verbal map we can make of it. The map is not the territory. The words that describe the map are not the territory, are even further from the territory, so the map is a generalization that doesn't fit any particular territory. What I perceive is not out there, it's just what I perceive.
The scientist says, "The sun is a molten rock in the sky. Do you not see that?" Blake says, "I cannot see that. I see a choir of angels singing 'glory, glory, glory to God.'" And that's Blake's reality. Both realities are equally right. If you want to do a chemical analysis of the sun, there's the scientific reality. It's not a rock anymore, it's a nuclear furnace. You use the latest scientific reality. But subjectively, I understand how Blake saw the sun as a bunch of angels singing, 'Glory, glory, glory to God,' I've seen trees doing that. That's a very valuable reality tunnel to be in. One doesn't contradict the other.
"You know, we each create a story, a narrative, a picture, an allegory, a model, for what's going on here, and then we fight, sometimes to the death, to make others, if not believe in that model, we fight to be able to keep believing in it ourselves. So we try to erase contradictory evidence to that model."
I agree with Buddha: there is no meaning in life. Meaning is in sentences.
Meaning is in symbols that symbolize life. Life itself does not have a meaning, because that's what meaning refers to. Meaning refers to life. To look for meaning in life is like looking for trees on a map. You can find squiggles that represent trees, but you won't find the trees there, the squiggles only represent the trees. Or the rivers. You can't wash in a river on a map, you gotta find a real river not in Map World. Is that clear? I'm trying to make a difference between the words and metaphors and the existential experiences.
"But it also becomes where I end up parting ways philosophically with him, too. I get the feeling that Bob is not just a-spiritual, but anti-spiritual. You know, he doesn't believe in God, or spirit, or a special super reality connecting us all, because it's not there, because it's not evident, because it's not apparent. And I feel, in a way, that Bob's world view, having passed through the chapel perilous of wonder, that his view now is, 'Well, there is nothing. This is it, period. As far as I'm concerned, the idea that there is nothing, is just another What If. You know, it's the skeptic in Cosmic Trigger. It's the skeptic's world view. But it's just a world view, and I don't think it's any intrinsically safer."
"I have heard it said in a critical way that Robert Anton Wilson doesn't believe in anything. And if that is true, then I applaud him for that because that is the hallmark of a truly free man. As long as you subscribe to a dogma, any dogma, no matter how benign, you will never be free. And if Bob doesn't believe in anything, that is not to say he doesn't care about things. I think he cares about things passionately. It's just that he hasn't allowed the central focus of his intellect and his emotions to be usurped by some ideology. But maybe refusing to believe in belief is an ideology. But if so, it's a very flexible one."
Nonsimultaneously apprehended interactive processing. I see no nouns, I only see verbs. Neither do I seem to be a very black Bucky Fuller. The whole universe, scenario universe, seems to be a verb. Interacting processing.
"He does not seem to be stricken with polio. It seems to be that that's a happenstance, something that's occurring with the body. But it hasn't dampened his really remarkable spirit. His body's failing. Post-polio is a dramatic and brutal opponent at times. But I believe that he's always looking for a new discovery, and in that, whether it's trying to take fewer steps because his polio won't allow him to walk, you know how he greets that is with that same wonder. It's an experiment."