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immenatizing the shrug
June 4, 2012 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Both novels are ridiculously long. Both were largely ignored by the literary and educational establishments, due to their unmistakable whiff of madness (This fear of insanity is, of course, why the literary and educational establishments always miss out on all the good stuff.) They have both, however, found a devoted readership, been hailed as life changing, and have remained in print since publication. Between them, they explain much of our current twenty-first century world, from the underground anarchism of Anonymous and the shift from hierarchies to networks, to the Tea Party and neo-conservative hijack of American politics and the massive shift in wealth distribution towards the super rich.
posted by philip-random (126 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Atlas Shrugged: No-one fucks any apples."

SPOILERS!
posted by Marky at 10:41 AM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Illuminatus! may be un-filmable, but apparently it was a hell of a play.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:42 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. I flashed on the Illuminatus trilogy just skimming the FPP quote. Weird.
posted by figurant at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


RAND THREAD GO!
posted by colie at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've read Illuminatus! twice. Both times I found that I could hardly put the book down. I experienced the book as a kind of fever dream that I vaguely remembered afterwards, but enjoyed the hell out of at the time. Atlas Shrugged left me feeling dirty and like I wanted to punch Ayn Rand in the face — after I'd written "JOHN" on the knuckles of one hand and "GALT" on the knuckles of the other.
posted by papercake at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2012 [30 favorites]


RAND THREAD GO!

Could we just pretend it's a RAW thread?

I've been thinking about doing a full re-read of Illuminatus! for the first time since highschool, but so far the memory of that whole fever dream thing has kept it on the shelf. I probably have better mental armor now, but man did that book take my adolescent head apart.
posted by brennen at 10:48 AM on June 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


You can measure the impact Illuminatus! had on me this way: I considered commenting "Hail Eris!" but decided against it, not wanting to draw her attention to me. (Oops.)
posted by feckless at 10:48 AM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


RAW was an interesting dude...

Ayn Rand was not an interesting dude...
posted by Windopaene at 10:49 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am genuinely unsure of how Ayn Rand would feel about apple-fucking.

She'd be all over Steve Jobs, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:49 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd like to see Illuminatus! compared with Telemachus Sneezed by Atlanta Hope.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:50 AM on June 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


The real difference is that one was a terrific work of comedy, and the other was written by Robert Anton Wilson.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 10:50 AM on June 4, 2012 [22 favorites]


I was a kid from a small (~4000 people) Oklahoma town, living on my own for the first time, off in my first semester at college. One day I found The Illuminatus! Triolgy at the book store and picked it up. Finished it a few days later.

I've never been the same again. 8-) What a mind-fuck.
posted by mrbill at 10:53 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but if you're discussing lengthy novels that potentially result in madness, neither of these hold a candle to Finnegan's Wake.

...which greatly inspired RAW, I must add.

Although, admittedly, reading FW will not inspire political action in anyway. At worst, former smokers will relapse.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:53 AM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Generous" isn't the first word people think of when considering Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism but I'm pretty sure Internet comedy writers might have to disagree. It's like the gift that keeps on giving.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:53 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Illuminatus! is easily in my top 5 novels of all time. In high school, I was one of those kids who took it and its related material very seriously (spiral-bound myself a copy of the Principia Discordia to carry around and every), but having reread it many times since then I now realize that it's a bit of a problematic book to base one's personal philosophy on. It's also incredibly weird and a bit unapproachable if you're not willing to accept absurdity on its own terms.

That being said, though, it helped me come to terms with things like my own queer identity, my sense that standard norms and mores were questionable at best, and my frustration with the amount of control I saw the media and other powers that be as having. Illuminatus! almost certainly played the same role for me as Atlas Shrugged has for many others. The book is a religious experience, a paradigm breaker, a mindfuck. All things being equal, I'm glad I found Robert Anton Wilson instead of Ayn Rand. I still think that most things in Illuminatus! are true (especially the false things), but I'm not quite as evangelical about the book as I once was. It got me through a lot, but there's a lot more to the world that the story being told in its pages.

Hail Eris!
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:54 AM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Illuminatus! was a hoot, but I don't think it was life-changing or anything. I got more out of Little Heros and Gas, Power, Electric (which featured Ayn Rand as a lantern used to kill a walking shark).
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:54 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I (was) consumed (by) the Illuminatus! book(s) in college. I remember spending quality time in the library reading the book and looking up encyclopedia articles referenced by RAW.

As a sign of time passing, that particular library was demolished last year. And as a sign of memory, when I heard about the building, the very first thing I thought of was reading Illuminatus! there.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:54 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I keep pushing a friend of mine to write an essay on Rand's naive and optimistic view of capitalism turning the whole book in a much more bizarre fairy tale then it is commonly read.
posted by The Whelk at 10:55 AM on June 4, 2012


in that, of course the Richest Man On Earth got there by producing the Right Things in the Right Way and would balk at any kind of criminal or corner-cutting activity.
posted by The Whelk at 10:56 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The closet PD'ers are going to come out of the woodwork now aren't they?

First mention of fnords, mittens, BIP, or Cat's Penises will result in a severe barstool assault.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2012


also Reading Illuminatus! while totally alone in a snow-bound D.C where you know no one and have nothing to do is easily the best way to read it.
posted by The Whelk at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most of what I know about Atlas Shrugged, I learned from the parody in Illuminatus!.

also, Bob the Angry Flower.

(wouldn't you make love to a golden apple?)
posted by jb at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gas, Power, Electric

I was *so* glad that this finally recently became available as a Kindle ebook, as my paperback was lost years ago. Unfortunately it looks like it was produced from a scanned copy of the book, but it's better than nothing.
posted by mrbill at 10:58 AM on June 4, 2012


I actually enjoyed Atlas Shrugged as I was reading it. Yes, the characters are paper-thin; the dialogue is awful; the philosophy is bogus at best and repellent at worst; and it's way too long. But I found it to be a readable page-turner (sorry, I hate those terms but they somehow fit here) while on a long trip many years ago. It was only when I finished the book that its awfulness started to sink in and I felt like my brain needed a shower.
posted by brain_drain at 10:58 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like the Illuminatus! trilogy. I read it in three marathon-length sessions over a long weekend, living on cigarettes, Mountain Dew and Snickers bars. Lots of good memories there.

It took me that long just to slog through John Galt's final speech, and I felt as though I'd been listening to a Barney tape on repeat at the end.
posted by Mooski at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every time I read something over on AskMe about what mind-expanding books to give a precocious 14-year-old, I write "The collected works of Robert Anton Wilson." And then I close the tab without hitting submit, because while it will indeed make for a more colorful high school experience, I'm not totally sure I can wish that on any parent or child.

I'm not totally sure, but I think that is the highest praise I can heap on a book.
posted by Mayor West at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2012 [22 favorites]


"largely ignored by the [...] educational establishments"

No, derision is not ignoring.

"Characters who lack a sense of self-interest and purpose find sex devoid of meaning."

Umm, those were the bad guys. Rand's good guys certainly do not lack self-interest and their attitudes towards sex are over-fraught with meaning.

"Author never makes things difficult for her readers."

Even Randroids skim or skip over Galt's speech.

"Completely unfilmable"

Questionable anecdotal evidence.

"Portrays the proletariat in ways utterly removed from how the proletariat actual act."

Arguable. #Occupy is pretty much taken from Atlas Shrugged verbatim.

I doubt the writer even read Atlas Shrugged. His points indicate he only knows the book through what others have written.

Atlas Shrugged is a badly written book in many ways, quite obvious ways. Someday, someone who has actually read it may choose to parody.
posted by Ardiril at 11:02 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was pretty high when I read Illuminatus!. So I think the weirdness cancelled out. It didn't seem all that different from anything else I was reading at the time. Like junk food labels and The Bible.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:03 AM on June 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


And that title should be "Sewer, Gas and Electric" (by Matt Ruff), not "Gas, Power, Electric". FYI.
posted by mrbill at 11:03 AM on June 4, 2012


"books to give a precocious 14-year-old"

Oh, yeah, I would much rather kids read Illuminatus! than Lord of the Rings.
posted by Ardiril at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every time I read something over on AskMe about what mind-expanding books to give a precocious 14-year-old, I write "The collected works of Robert Anton Wilson." And then I close the tab without hitting submit, because while it will indeed make for a more colorful high school experience, I'm not totally sure I can wish that on any parent or child.

I found Catch-22 all by myself when I was fourteen, then had to wait a decade before I stumbled onto its natural follow-up, Illuminatus. You really could have saved me a lot of John Irving and such,you know.
posted by philip-random at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


There are other books in this category like Dianetics and The Turner Diaries come to mind.
posted by stbalbach at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Atlas Shrugged is a badly written book in many ways, quite obvious ways. Someday, someone who has actually read it may choose to parody.

I tried.
posted by philip-random at 11:06 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nevermind the 14-year-olds; what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?
posted by mrbill at 11:06 AM on June 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


I read Illuminatus! as a precocious 14 year old and it was a wonderful experience (a few issues aside) that introduced me to a whole world of fascinating stuff I'd never heard of before. I've never been able to reread it, though. I get maybe 20 pages in, then my eyes glaze over and I realize I'm just not interested. It did its thing, but it's past its expiration date now.
posted by byanyothername at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Therapy.

*rimshot*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


Nevermind the 14-year-olds; what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?

Read it again; there's more to it every time. I say that as someone who has probably read it once a year since 1991.
posted by Mooski at 11:09 AM on June 4, 2012


Before I saw the book titles, I thought the FPP quote was referring to Infinite Jest.
posted by slogger at 11:10 AM on June 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Between them, they explain much of our current twenty-first century world

To the parents of the 21st century world, Ayn Rand and RAW.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:10 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can measure the impact Illuminatus! had on me this way: I considered commenting "Hail Eris!" but decided against it, not wanting to draw her attention to me. (Oops.)

All Hail Discordia!

Of course.

And not to worry, I think She's clearly got her attention on all of us these days.
posted by emmet at 11:14 AM on June 4, 2012


Illuminatus!'s worldview is just a lot more fun to live in than Rand's.

So that's the path for me.
posted by Windopaene at 11:15 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's my opportunity to tell my "Illuminatus!" story, at last!

Ok, so I'm 12 years old at the time this story occurs, and a voracious reader with an inclination towards science fiction. I'd already been through Tolkien and Lovecraft and Leguin's Earthsea books, so I was sort of already on my way towards a preference for big multi-volume stories. And I was in between books on the day that I walked into the late lamented "Ketterson & Combs" bookstore in Omaha's "Old Market" neighborhood. And that was where I found "The Eye in the Pyramid", the first volume of "Illuminatus!"

I thought it was pretty good: funny and bizarre, and it had a lot of sex in it, which was in marked contrast to the books that I mentioned above. The political sensibilities of the narrative were rooted in exactly the kind of radicalism that would appeal to a bored 12 year old. So, I enjoyed it. And the two volumes that followed.

What I didn't do was believe a word of it. I just assumed, on general principles that the whole thing had been made up from scratch by Wilson and Shea, nothing to do with real history or the real world. I didn't realize that by and large they'd constructed the novel by cobbling together a large number of already-extant paranoid fantasies that had been haunting the western world for a couple of centuries at least. And that those conspiracy theories had been written down.

I don't know that the novels would've been "life-changing" except for two events that occurred during the year following my encounter with the books. The first was a visit to a friend's house to spend the night. This friend of mine was a member of a huge Irish Catholic family, with 9 kids, and a physician father, and the house they were living in had once been the mansion for the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Omaha. And along with the house they'd acquired the Bishop's library.

It was a beautiful room, the most stereotypical private library you could imagine, with a sunken center lounge area and vaulted ceiling, built in shelves lining each wall to a height of 15 feet. It had a huge fireplace, and an actual ladder on a brass rail that would roll around the perimeter of the room to grant access to the highest shelves.

So during that visit, I decided to see what the most obscure title that I could find on the shelves was. And up on top shelf, right at the corner of the darkest side of the room, was a book that had had its binding taped up, so you couldn't see the title. I pulled it down off the shelf, open to the title page, and discovered that it was a text from 1898 titled Proofs of a Conspiracy.

I just about had a nervous breakdown. It appeared to verify everything in "Illuminatus!". And as a student in Catholic elementary school, I could hardly fathom the Bishop having owned such a book unless there was actually something to it. On that day I entered into a state of spiritual paranoia that did a lot to shape the events of my adolescence, and led me to punk rock.

The second event came when I was riding my bike through a neighborhood that I didn't spend much time in, and passed a Masonic lodge. The Freemasons figure prominently in "Illuminatus!", and in "Proofs of a Conspiracy" for that matter, but I knew next to nothing about them. I had a lot of worries that they were secretly running the world, but I didn't know if lodges functioned like retail spaces, with regular business hours and such, or what. I was burning with curiousity though, so I got off my bike and approached the front door, which was at the top of a flight of steps leading up from the sidewalk, and which was flanked by a couple of shrubs.

My heart was in my throat the whole way up, and I was acutely aware that if anyone opened the door after I knocked, I wouldn't be able to account for why I knocked. I should've paused to think that through, but I kept walking up to the door, and tried the knob. It was locked, of course. All the windows were patterned glass that you couldn't see through. It just wasn't possible to know if anyone was inside. So I knocked.

And scared the hell out of the huge-ass cat that was dozing under one of the shrubs. The cat that I hadn't noticed, and that hadn't (until that moment) noticed me. It jumped about five feet into the air, hissing like a maniac, and I got what remains, until this day, the worst scare of my life. I damn near fell down the stairs, and I actually DID run down them, jumped back on my bike, and was two miles away before I allowed myself to slow down.

I'm going to be 45 this year, and at some level I still believe in the version of the world that's depicted in "Illuminatus!" It's the reason I became a punk, the reason I got into Alan Moore and Grant Morrison and mythology and ceremonial magic.

Oh...I read "Atlas Shrugged" too. It was pretty underwhelming by comparison.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:16 AM on June 4, 2012 [79 favorites]


I forewent touching my first boob in favor of finishing Illuminatus!.

So yeah, it does have a lot to answer for.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:17 AM on June 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


All Hail Discordia!

(You need to keep the two and three metric going guys.)

First mention of , mittens, BIP, or Cat's Penises will result in a severe barstool assault.

This sentence makes me anxious and I don't know why.

Read Illuminantus! at sixteen, which is the best age to read it; read Cosmic Trigger after RAW died, to say my farewells to a writer who had influenced me hugely even if I never quite believed in his theories.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:19 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


45 comments in and no yet? Getting worried I can't see them anymore.
posted by muckster at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2012 [24 favorites]


See fnord what?
posted by papercake at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Freemasons figure prominently in "Illuminatus!", and in "Proofs of a Conspiracy" for that matter

That reminds me, I need to buy a copy of the trilogy to donate to the library at my Lodge. We have a couple of RAW's books but not Illuminatus! yet. I love hanging out there and reading conspiracy-related stuff.

We joke, "How can we take over the world, when we can't decide what to serve for dinner?" - but maybe that's what I *want* you to think...
posted by mrbill at 11:23 AM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


What ipsefendus said: Maybe not with the religious overtones, but I read Illuminatus! about the same time I read Umberto Eco and a few others who drew on the same mythology, and having all of those same sources agree on that bizarreness was mind blowing.
posted by straw at 11:23 AM on June 4, 2012


I forewent touching my first boob in favor of finishing Illuminatus!.

I am trying and failing to figure out how this scenario works. Were you too busy reading to notice the girl inviting you to grab on? Was there some sort of Faustian bargain?
posted by emjaybee at 11:24 AM on June 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm a busy man. Write me a Illuminatus and Atlas Shrugged mashup, cover the same ground, same plot points and same principles. It should not be longer than the two books combined. Deadline is this friday, get to it.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:25 AM on June 4, 2012


It's also possible that "literary and educational establishments," passed on Ayn Rand not because it's too edgy, but because it's just not very good.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:29 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I read Atlas Shrugged too. It was pretty underwhelming by comparison."

I read Atlas Shrugged in 6th grade, and Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible two years later. I wish those had been switched.

You know what's funny? How much the Tea Partiers love Rand, an atheist, yet LaVey's branded Satanism is as close to an Objectivist Bible as ever written.

(Philosophy departments were all over Rand for decades after The Fountainhead.)
posted by Ardiril at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


I read the RAW books right at the end of high school, on a tour of west coast colleges with my mom. I have this vivid memory of finishing the book, going to Tower Records in LA and buying the Wonderstuff's Welcome to the Cheap Seats EP, and thinking that 1) everything was pretty cool in the world; and 2) that I had some sort of epiphany, and finally had my head on straight.

I've been meaning to re-read the whole set--maybe later this summer. I think I'd be just over twice the age I was when I read it the first time.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:35 AM on June 4, 2012


I'm a busy man. Write me a Illuminatus and Atlas Shrugged mashup, cover the same ground, same plot points and same principles. It should not be longer than the two books combined. Deadline is this friday, get to it.

Illuminatus! actually already has that bit covered (see the reference above to Telemachus Sneezed).
posted by daniel_charms at 11:36 AM on June 4, 2012


I am trying and failing to figure out how this scenario works.

Don't ask me. I clearly had no idea how that scenerio worked either.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:36 AM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


(Also, I would recommend Portnoy's Complaint and tell teens to just skip Catcher in the Rye. They'll never look at liver the same again.)
posted by Ardiril at 11:38 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Damn you, RAW! I literally finished Illuminatus! this morning. I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether this is coincidence, complicity, or synchronicity.
posted by cmoj at 11:41 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


read Cosmic Trigger after RAW died, to say my farewells to a writer who had influenced me hugely even if I never quite believed in his theories.

Know Mr. Wilson's tendency toward skepticism, I doubt he fully believed his theories either. He is the guy that said, "Convictions make us convicts," or words to that effect.

Also Robert Shea -- the guy who co-wrote Illuminatus.
posted by philip-random at 11:41 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't it be grand if someone combined the politics of Ayn Rand with fantasy-fiction? Oh wait....never mind.
posted by Fizz at 11:42 AM on June 4, 2012


I ID'd both books from the FPP and came in all ready to fight that neither is "ridiculously" long. Battlefield Earth? War and Peace? Sure. Those two. Not long.

I got more out of Little Heros and Gas, Power, Electric

Did you mean Sewer, Gas, & Electric? Yes, the character of Ayn Rand in that book is one of my favorites ever. I think the fact that it's called a "trilogy" is definitely a nod to RAW.

I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether this is coincidence, complicity, or synchronicity.

NOTA: serendipity (also see: pronoia)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:42 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


*Obligatory Pynchon comment*: Pynchon's novels many times deliberately paraody Rand starting with his first V.. IMHO Against the Day represents a direct ideological attack against Atlas Shrugged.

Regardless, thank you for the post. I look forward to my first RAW experience...
posted by Roger_Mexico at 11:43 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


NOTA: serendipity (also see: pronoia)

Interesting coincidences begin to crop up whenever "Illuminatus!" is a topic of conversation...I just this morning got word that my Amazon order for "Pronoia" has been shipped. It's a book by the guy who writes the "Free Will Astrology" column.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:46 AM on June 4, 2012


Characters who lack a sense of empathy and connection find sex devoid of meaning.

I think this is a profound misreading. Not least because it's more or less explicitly refuted in the book.

NOTA: serendipity (also see: pronoia),

It's a reference to the book. Well, the appendix. RAW would have pointed out that none of those scenarios can be fully true.
posted by cmoj at 11:46 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]




I remember enjoying Illuminatus! but the bit where they all realized they were characters in a story left me unfulfilled. It seemed like a cop-out.

I have never read Ayn Rand, but from what I've heard I am not missing much.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:54 AM on June 4, 2012


Against the Day represents a direct ideological attack against Atlas Shrugged.

Oh, ATD ... that book is a good 100 pages or so shorter than Atlas Shrugged, but will take you 3-4x as long to finish. Jesus, I've read it twice and I'm still not sure what it's all about. I loved those Chums, but so much chaos ...
posted by mrgrimm at 11:54 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Illuminatus! Trilogy
posted by mrgrimm at 11:58 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Wildly" noted?
posted by Gator at 12:06 PM on June 4, 2012


(Philosophy departments were all over Rand for decades after The Fountainhead.)

[citation needed]
posted by brennen at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2012


Sounds right to me.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2012




Philosophy departments were all over Rand for decades after The Fountainhead.

Maybe they objected because her argumentation was pathetic.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 12:26 PM on June 4, 2012


I thought it wear going to be "Confederacy of Dunces."
posted by cjorgensen at 12:37 PM on June 4, 2012


wear = was
posted by cjorgensen at 12:37 PM on June 4, 2012


My favorite part of the comparison:
(Atlas Shrugged) Written by a sane man who believed he was insane.

(Illuminatus!) Written by an insane woman who believed she was sane.


As I remember, Illumiantus has something of a libertarian underlying philosophy which I found exciting at the time (perhaps in the same way a Randroid finds Objectivism exciting.)
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:48 PM on June 4, 2012


I never read Atlas Shrugged. However, I read both The Illuminatus Trilogy and The Fountainhead at age 15. That's probably the best time to read them. You get a little older and the world becomes harder to laugh off or shoehorn into a rigid ideology.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:48 PM on June 4, 2012


Nevermind the 14-year-olds; what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?

I went from there to Stanislaw Lem and Eco's Foucault's Pendulum.
posted by sneebler at 12:53 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?

raw's schroedinger's cat trilogy, of course - i'd suggest you find the original books rather than the one volume edition
posted by pyramid termite at 12:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


*Obligatory Pynchon comment*

Pynchon is like RAW for grownups.

(although I wish I knew about this book when I read this book)
posted by Afroblanco at 1:04 PM on June 4, 2012


Yesterday, futzing around on Wikipedia, I found myself checking out the page for Cao Dai, a syncretic religion founded in Thailand in 1926. Notice anything familiar?
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:04 PM on June 4, 2012


I'm very pleased to see that there are no Google results for Atlas Shruggoed.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:09 PM on June 4, 2012


Every time I read something over on AskMe about what mind-expanding books to give a precocious 14-year-old, I write "The collected works of Robert Anton Wilson."

Why would that be bad for the parents? That's exactly when I discovered his books, and at least for me they were mind-blowing, but if I'd read them a few years later they probably wouldn't have been that interesting. But that's what's being 14 is all about! Shocking your outlook regularly is an important part of becoming a well rounded person later in life.

(Of course kids these days with their internets probably have a lot more access to those shocks.)
posted by aspo at 1:15 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was kind of (okay, well, more than kind of) a weird kid and read The Exorcist when I was 7 or 8, so there goes the whole "Let's make sure the literature our kids read is edifying" notion out the window. But it did expand my mind.
posted by blucevalo at 1:17 PM on June 4, 2012


what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?

raw's schroedinger's cat trilogy, of course


Yeah, adult me would rate Schroedinger's Cat higher than Illuminatus, simply because it remains my most entertaining "in" to the impossibly weird world of Quantum-Whatever.

I was kind of (okay, well, more than kind of) a weird kid and read The Exorcist when I was 7 or 8, so there goes the whole "Let's make sure the literature our kids read is edifying" notion out the window. But it did expand my mind.

For me, it was Little Big Man when I was eleven. I'd seen the movie and had my mind well-expanded. Then I noticed the book lying around at a friend's (his dad had been reading it, I guess). I picked it up ... and the pages just started turning. Thus did my universe not just expand -- it erupted! Holy shit, adult books weren't just readable, they were magnitudes better than stuff like The Hardy Boys. Sex, gore, crazy mad EVERYTHING.
posted by philip-random at 1:28 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


mrbill > Nevermind the 14-year-olds; what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?

Liber Null. That is, assuming you actually read the appendices in Illuminatus!.

Prometheus Rising. If you didn't read said appendices.

The Invisibles. A lot of my acquaintances had their heads pried open by this comic in much the same way Illuminatus! did for me.
posted by egypturnash at 1:29 PM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Illuminatus! almost certainly played the same role for me as Atlas Shrugged has for many others. The book is a religious experience ...

I've heard a lot of people say this and it's why the two works have always struck me as half-siblings. As novels, neither seem satisfied with a simple suspension of disbelief, demanding from the reader instead, belief: one a belief that life can be deduced from solipsistic propositions, the other, a belief in nothing but believing. I never much cared for either of them really, there was a whiff of the snake-oil salesman off both of them that soured me, though at least RAW had a sense of absurdity that Rand entirely lacked. But maybe I came to him too late—I was in my early 20s before I read Illuminatus!— or maybe because I was already thoroughly immersed in Phil Dick, Wilson and Shea's books seemed like a knock-off, less humane, version of the former's career.

(I do think Discordianism is interesting as a kind of American Dada.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:37 PM on June 4, 2012


I remember enjoying Illuminatus! but the bit where they all realized they were characters in a story left me unfulfilled

The whole point of the book is that there is no one right answer. If you don't like that one, pick another one.
posted by empath at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


As novels, neither seem satisfied with a simple suspension of disbelief, demanding from the reader instead, belief: one a belief that life can be deduced from solipsistic propositions, the other, a belief in nothing but believing.


I read Illuminatus! as being a book about skepticism, not belief.
posted by empath at 1:42 PM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


RAW writes about his encounter with Objectivism in Cosmic Trigger:

After a brief fling as a Trotskyite (he quit because he liked the “wrong” artists and Jung), RAW became interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy. “Like most Randroids, I went around for a few years mindlessly parroting all the Rand dogma and imagining I was an ‘individualist’.” Many years later RAW met Rand. When he confessed to her his doubts about certain Rand dogmas he was “Cast Out Into the Realm of Darkness forever to wail and gnash my teeth in the Realm of Thud.” Rand made the Trotskyites and Catholic Priests he’d known “look like models of tolerance in comparison.” (CT2, pp.119-120)


A couple of years back I emailed Marc Maron (I had been listening to his WTF podcast a lot at work) to thank him for all the entertaining audio and suggest he check out Wilson's books if head hadn't already. He responded: "Love RAW. Illuminatus! changed my life." Some time later I read his book The Jerusalem Syndrome and a big chunk of the book covers how he was mind-fucked by reading Illuminatus!
posted by mediated self at 2:04 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


>>a belief in nothing but believing
>I read Illuminatus! as being a book about skepticism, not belief.

Belief-->Skepticism-->Belief About Belief-->New Belief-->Skepticism

It's cyclical.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:07 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read Illuminatus! quite late - eighteen or so - and sorta grooved on it, but it didn't leave that much of an impact. Then, six years later, I finally got hold of acid.

Six years? Pah. The two events were quite clearly entangled.
posted by Devonian at 2:32 PM on June 4, 2012


oh wikipedia, how I love your unintentionally perfect imperfections:
Recognized as an episkopos, pope, and saint of Discordianism, Wilson helped publicize the group through his writings, interviews, and strolls.[clarification needed]
posted by shmegegge at 2:40 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was a huge RAW fan for most of my teenage years, it becomes increasingly apparent after 5-6 books that you can boil down virtually everything he has ever written into some combination of the following:

-Conspiracies are soooooo coool!
-Hey did you hear about the life and work of (James Joyce/Ezra Pound/Timothy Leary/Aleister Crowley/Wilhelm Reich/Alfred Korzybski)? He's a badass dude!
-Catholicism, feminism, and governments suuuuuuck.
-Did I ever tell you about that thing I did in the 60's that one time?

There's this incredibly adolescent simplicity and lack of rigor in everything he writes (probably why he appeals so much to adolescents!). There's no original research or ideas, virtually everything he came up with parroted a pre-existing source, usually from one of the aforementioned authors.

This is all forgivable, save for the one thing that I found so fundamentally disillusioning about his work: the fact that he doesn't seem to obey his own prime directive of skepticism. In his later works especially you'll find him parroting any kind of horseshit that conforms to his worldview without doing any kind of fact-checking or verification. Does it insult Catholicism or governments? It's true! Does it say (James Joyce/Ezra Pound/Timothy Leary/Aleister Crowley/Wilhelm Reich/Alfred Korzybski) was not a particularly nice person? Lies, damned lies!

Too lazy to give specific pages/footnotes in his works, but this comment is a great example of what I'm talking about. He parrots garbage over and over and over again not really giving a shit about it's factuality. That's part of his appeal for people who read Illuminatus/Cosmic Trigger, but after a dozen books it gets really, really old.

tl;dr Read Illuminatus! and Cosmic Trigger (1, though 2's not bad, 3 is a trainwreck) when you're 14, enjoy it, and don't look back.

*Although I do have a soft spot for Masks of the Illuminati, which features Albert Einstein and James Joyce as drinking buddies in a Dublin pub attempting to foil the wily schemes of Aleister Crowley.
posted by Ndwright at 2:42 PM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


I read the Illuminatus! trilogy at 16, and though I skipped Atlas Shrugged, I did read Fountainhead when I was 20.

For me, Wilson and Rand had almost polar opposite effects on me. After Wilson, the universe was a strange and wondrous place filled with infinite possibilities. After Rand, the universe was a solid, static, black-and-white world comprised of Supermen and Slackers. I'll take Wilson's world any day.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:43 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


WHAT IS JOHN GUILT?

I love Illuminatus! Once on Metafilter I listed all the bands that play the Walpurgisnacht festival.
posted by grobstein at 2:44 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


reading the fpp my guess was snow crash and neuromancer
posted by p3on at 2:56 PM on June 4, 2012




In his later works especially you'll find him parroting any kind of horseshit that conforms to his worldview without doing any kind of fact-checking or verification.

This is what ruined RAW for me. If you can't get your basic facts right, why should I believe your more outlandish claims?
posted by malocchio at 3:08 PM on June 4, 2012


Too lazy to give specific pages/footnotes in his works, but this comment is a great example of what I'm talking about

Holy crap you guys, did you not catch all the stuff in his books telling you that he was completely full of shit and not to believe a word of it?

In Illuminatus!, they actually reference stuff they wrote under pseudonyms in magazines as if they were legitimate sources. If you came out of it thinking that he was completely full of shit, then he accomplished what he was trying to do. The whole point of the exercise was that you can't believe everything you read and to think for yourself.
posted by empath at 3:15 PM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


And reading it as if he were setting himself up as a guru the way tha Ayn Rand did is a comical misreading, too. I mean, really, just read the Principia. It's as close to the opposite of that as its possible to be.
posted by empath at 3:16 PM on June 4, 2012


This is what ruined RAW for me. If you can't get your basic facts right, why should I believe your more outlandish claims?

Too lazy to give specific pages/footnotes in his works, but this comment is a great example of what I'm talking about

Holy crap you guys, did you not catch all the stuff in his books telling you that he was completely full of shit and not to believe a word of it?


I'm with empath. I only read Illuminatus!, but if it turns out Wilson didn't understand Bell's inequality, or the mechanics of single-celled organisms, or the Lord of the Rings, it doesn't seem terribly important to me.

Maybe if I had read further, and felt that I was being given some bullshit new-age gospel, I would feel deceived and misused. But apparently even that was part of the high-level game.
posted by grobstein at 3:23 PM on June 4, 2012


*Obligatory Pynchon comment*

also, jeez, talk about eponysterical ...

posted by mrgrimm at 3:24 PM on June 4, 2012


Pynchon is like RAW for grownups.

I didn't get to RAW until I was grown up (more or less) and his stuff certainly worked for me -- not so much as a head-expander as a verifier (ie: there are people out there who like the weird stuff as much as I do, and they find it enormously funny). Whereas Pynchon -- with the exception of the Crying Of Lot 49, I just found his stuff WAY too much work.

Guess I never grew up.
posted by philip-random at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2012


Pynchon is like RAW for grownups.
I remember RAW making a comment somewhere in one of his books (one of the Cosmic Triggers?) that some people thought "Thomas Pynchon" was his pseudonym, or vice versa. While I was reading Against the Day (my first Pynchon) I really started to wonder. Their tone is eerily similar.
The Invisibles. A lot of my acquaintances had their heads pried open by this comic in much the same way Illuminatus! did for me.
I actually like this lots better. They're basically the same thing, but I think The Invisibles fits together much better, treats its characters more humanely, has a much more positive worldview to offer and actually does have a point, where Illuminatus! is really just gleeful chaos. I also read this as a teenager, and I've always wondered how much of it depends on being a teenager in the late 90s or early 00s. If I had teenage kids--or if any of my friends' kids were old enough--I'd throw it all on them at once to find out.

I can't really think of anything like "Illuminatus! for grownups" that anyone won't have heard of before. It's a shame; I think every generation needs its own colorful, manic, life affirming positive chaos epic*.

*Adventure Time?
posted by byanyothername at 3:32 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


To elaborate on my previous comments...

I read the Illuminatus! Trilogy at 15, and I found it to be LIFECHANGING! probably because I was a 15-year-old, cynical, disaffected, social outcast who despised the intolerably-straightlaced midwestern suburb that he lived in. It was also (surprise!) around the time I was getting into LSD and meeting my first real friends, and the whole thing just about hit the spot for me. The whole "philosophy masquerading as an elaborate joke or elaborate joke masquerading as a philosophy" idea seemed really cool, and in my fuzzy-headed adolescent brain I didn't really care if RAW was really fucking with me or if he actually believed in what he was saying. It was a ray of light into my indescribably miserable teenage years, and so the Illuminatus! Trilogy became sort of a bible for me and my friends.

I really, really really don't think I could sit through it again. "philosophy masquerading as an elaborate joke or elaborate joke masquerading as a philosophy" just seems like a cop-out and ridiculous waste of time to me now. If it's LIFECHANGING! and it's also horseshit, well then lucky you, you just got your life changed by horseshit. Congratulations. You really have to pick one way or another. If you're going to be a joke, be a joke. But you can't be a joke sometimes, and then be serious other times, and then when somebody calls bullshit on you, say "hahaha, it was all a joke! Didn't you see where I warned yout?" The whole thing just reminds me of how misguided I was as a teen, how eager I was to throw the baby out with the bathwater and accept whatever random horseshit someone threw at me just because it was funny, alternative, underground, countercultural, cool, or whatever.

As for Rand....

Some conservative classmate (I had a lot of them, it was, after all, Missouri) saw that I was miserable, downtrodden, socially outcast, unpopular, hated, even though I was by all accounts a bright kid. So he thought what I was missing was a little bit o' Rand. So he gave me Anthem. And I liked it! Short, sweet. Didn't seem to have too much conservative dogma. It mostly seemed like the glory of the individual vs. the oppressive masses of society, and hell, of course I could relate to that! What disaffected teen couldn't? I liked it in the same way I liked 1984, Brave New World, and Harrison Bergeron. So, he figured I was ready for the next step : The Fountainhead.

And I liked it at first ... but as it wore on, I started to get the creeping feeling that she was absolutely, 100% grade A nuts. This feeling was confirmed when I came upon the sex scene where she flat-out states, "All women really want to be raped." I'm like, ho-lee shit, what the fuck?! Did she really just say that?! After that, I couldn't really take the rest of the book at face value. Ultimately, there was a lot that I liked about her philosophy at the time -- after all, what 15-year-old boy doesn't want to break free from society and really SHOW IT HOW THINGS SHOULD BE DONE? -- but at the same time, yes, I had to acknowledge that she was pretty much off her rocker, and this stopped me from embracing her philosophy to any large part.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy won the day.

And even though I don't think I could ever read The Illumnatus! Trilogy again, it did have a lasting effect on my reading habits. The next stop on that branch of the literary express was Naked Lunch, which I loved even though I admitted that I didn't fully understand it. And to this day, I have a love of plotless books and alternative storytelling : Thomas Pynchon, Roberto Bolaño, David Foster Wallace, Haruki Murakami, Don Barthleme, William S. Burroughs, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino, and that sort of thing. I don't think I would have come to know or love any of those authors had it not been for RAW and the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:38 PM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm happy to give Illiminatus! a pass, but Cosmic Trigger was supposed to be non-fiction. If you want to read it as fiction, go right ahead (you'll be better off) but that isn't how it was billed.
posted by malocchio at 3:41 PM on June 4, 2012


"Generous" isn't the first word people think of when considering Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism but I'm pretty sure Internet comedy writers might have to disagree. It's like the gift that keeps on giving.

haha yeah man

it's given plutocrats and people with power a way to justify whatever they decide to inflict upon us, aspirants to same a way to justify the abuses of the previous (also their own), and society as a whole a sluice whereby the disaffected are diverted via their resentment and ignorance into pseudo-self-affirming, self-destructive and unproductive pursuits where they pose a minimum of danger to the Overall Program

it's almost like they don't even care that we're laughing at them, or like internet comedy writers don't matter in any real sense, can you imagine. lots of delicious, hilarious lulz.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:09 PM on June 4, 2012


I quite enjoyed the story in The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, but I guess he never finished it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:55 PM on June 4, 2012


Also, I would recommend Portnoy's Complaint and tell teens to just skip Catcher in the Rye. They'll never look at liver the same again.

What did teens do to you that you hate them so?
posted by feckless at 5:06 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nevermind the 14-year-olds; what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?

Read it again; there's more to it every time. I say that as someone who has probably read it once a year since 1991.


I would vote aginst this. I looked at Illuminatus! a few years back, and, while I only skimmed it, I was struck by how much pointless craps there is in it; it badly needed a heavy handed editing. Additionally, I don't think it has aged well -- it's very much a product of its time and, while it had a profound effect on me in my early 20s, I think its time is past. Masks of the Illuminati is still a good read, though, covers much the same ground, and has the benefit of being about a third of the length. And Wilson's later works are much less heteronormative and male-focused.

Skip Illuminatus! and go right to The Invisibles. It will also probably seem dated in 30 years, but that's life.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:11 PM on June 4, 2012


Nevermind the 14-year-olds; what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?

Kenneth Grant is pretty awesome, but can be hard to decipher if you aren't already neck-deep in 20th century occultism. The Magical Revival is a good entry point.
posted by malocchio at 5:21 PM on June 4, 2012


Holy crap you guys, did you not catch all the stuff in his books telling you that he was completely full of shit and not to believe a word of it?

But he clearly takes this shit seriously, cf. Prometheus rising. The "I'm full of shit" line is on the level with Jon Stewart's "I'm just a comedian".
posted by Ndwright at 5:52 PM on June 4, 2012


Jon Stewart is just a comedian, yes? I'm not sure how much more direct an author can be about not wanting to be a guru, nor to be taken on faith.
posted by Ipsifendus at 5:56 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're going to be a joke, be a joke.

It says right on the cover that it's a shaggy dog story. I don't get how you can get any more clear than that. If you went into it expecting The Answer and came out of it with the idea that there is no answer, then mission accomplished.

It's funny, but it's serious about the overarching theme. You can be both funny and serious.

I didn't like cosmic trigger as much, because there was a bit too much new age woo woo for me, but Illuminatus! itself doesn't really suffer from that. It does suffer, I think, from the fact that most of the john Birchers have moved on to knew crazy conspiracies, so it seems a bit abstract and circle jerky now. Update all the JFK conspiracies to 9-11 conspiracies, and the book would cut closer to the bone now.
posted by empath at 6:05 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly the real answer for modern 14 year olds would be the more creative or insane areas of reddit or taking Vigilent Citizen as Comedey or poking around the SA forums if they're a bit older to remember the stuff they're riffing on.
posted by The Whelk at 6:11 PM on June 4, 2012


Illuminatus! was my laundromat book for a while, but I kept wanting to annotate it and make a wiki out of it, and I wasn't sure if gathering all the references would help form a better understanding of it or really the exact opposite of that.

I loved Sewer, Gas, and Electric, along with most of Matt Ruff's other work.

cmoj: I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether this is coincidence, complicity, or synchronicity.
mrgrimm: NOTA: serendipity (also see: pronoia)

*waves*

posted by Pronoiac at 6:21 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read Illuminatus! something like 25 years ago. I think it's time to dive in again.
(I've read some of RAW's essays more recently.)
posted by rmd1023 at 5:20 AM on June 5, 2012


In his later works especially you'll find him parroting any kind of horseshit that conforms to his worldview without doing any kind of fact-checking or verification.

This is what ruined RAW for me. If you can't get your basic facts right, why should I believe your more outlandish claims?


Can't you be intellectually challenged by something regardless of whether you believe in it?

I loved Sewer, Gas, and Electric, along with most of Matt Ruff's other work.

Bad Monkeys soured me, although thinking back on it I can appreciate it a little. I don't have a whole lot of interest in The Mirage. Has anyone read it? I think with the sorta lame setup, it would have to be nigh Man in the High Castle good to be worth it.

While I was reading Against the Day (my first Pynchon)

Aie. That would probably be my last pick for first Pynchon. For "My First Pynchon," I still recommend Mason & Dixon (especially for Americans). It's the most accessible, even more so than Lot 49 or Vice. GR, V, and ATD are all pretty tough, I think, and Vineland is hit or miss (you may love it or never read TP again).

Like most, I started with Lot 49 (read it in high school and college - led basically the same seminar class in both), then read V in high school and struggled, then read Vineland right after it came out and kinda loved/hated it, then tried GR 7-8 times (almost always stopping at the giant adenoid sequence or barely making it to the point where Slothrop goes down the toilet, literally), finally finished but didn't totally get it, read M&D with low expectations (I don't enjoy much historical fiction) and loved it, read ATD when it came out and loved it, but felt a bit like I did after GR, broke my hip and elbow, re-read Lot 49, V, GR, Vineland (liked it much more the 2nd time), and ATD (still not sure I get it but I do love those Chums), read Inherent Vice when it came out twice back to back (it was too short and pretty darn good), then tried to get my wife into TP by reading Mason & Dixon together ... but we have still not left London. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 8:25 AM on June 5, 2012


I can't really think of anything like "Illuminatus! for grownups" that anyone won't have heard of before. It's a shame; I think every generation needs its own colorful, manic, life affirming positive chaos epic*

Well, that's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy--nobody knows the books nobody knows about. ;)

Wisdom's Maw by Todd Brendan Fahey is a book that isn't very well known. It's not Illuminatus, but it's fun in the same way.

The other book that falls into this category for me ("hells yeah fun and kinda makes you think") is Stone Junction by Jim Dodge.

The other thing I am thinking is that you are inspiring me to write finish my own manic, life-affirming epic of chaos, but it will not end so happily ... at least for the humans.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:39 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


what would you recommend *today* for someone who read and liked Illuminatus! twenty years ago?

Someone asked this on AskMe. (Spoilers: Grant Morrison and Alan Moore.)
posted by Zed at 12:42 PM on June 5, 2012


Can't you be intellectually challenged by something regardless of whether you believe in it?

Absolutely! Which is why I've spent countless hours pouring over all sorts of the craziest metaphysical shit that is out there. I think it's one thing to say "I achieved communion with the Augoeides after spending six months performing the sacred magic of Abramelin the Mage" - to me, this is a fascinating statement and the kind of thing that I could hope to replicate myself, with great effort. But if you're going to assert (for instance) that Jack Parsons helped to co-found Caltech, then I'm going to assume that you have no respect for verifiable facts, and I'm going to start to think that your alleged invocation may have been a bit of a put-on.

Sadly, RAW reminds me of Carlos Castaneda...an interesting writer with fascinating insights, but it all falls apart at the seams when you start to look with a critical eye. If you are going to run around proclaiming Great Truths, you need to get the little truths right as well.

Maybe I take all this crap a little too seriously.
posted by malocchio at 2:35 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm, I liked Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys (if nothing else, it's short), Set This House in Order, and Fool on the Hill. I stalled halfway through The Mirage. All the similarities and differences to our world overwhelmed me, so it just got confusing.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:40 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


But if you're going to assert (for instance) that Jack Parsons helped to co-found Caltech, then I'm going to assume that you have no respect for verifiable facts, and I'm going to start to think that your alleged invocation may have been a bit of a put-on.

So the stuff about earth being colonized by aliens from Sirius you were on board with, but the caltech thing put you off?
posted by empath at 2:43 PM on June 5, 2012


Well, I'm just like that.

The Sirius stuff is pretty obvious nonsense, but it's hard to disprove. Caltech, on the other hand, is a short walk from here, and the local library is full of verifiable facts about Parsons/JPL/etc.

I'm willing to entertain some pretty fantastical notions about the way things may be, but if you're just going to make up shit about things I can easily disprove, I'm going to take that as a bit of an affront to my intelligence.
posted by malocchio at 6:10 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


First I have to really, really disagree with what "The Whelk" just said, that is bad and dangerously unsound advice (sorry, The Whelk)

Secondly, "Bad Monkeys" was an astoundingly toxic book, not even merely stylistically inept but literally toxic. It was gross.

As for what I'd recommend, PKD, Sam Delaney, J.G. Ballard. Also maybe Aldous Huxley.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:15 AM on June 6, 2012


Ruff's Set This House in Order is one of my favorite books. Fool on the Hill and Sewer, Gas, and Electric were fun reads; I didn't find Bad Monkeys toxic but neither did I find it good. The Mirage I wasn't planning on reading. The premise just makes me think, yeah, I got it, and I don't need to be hit over the head with it at novel length. But maybe it has tons of virtues beyond its attention-bait setting.

The Sirius stuff is pretty obvious nonsense, but it's hard to disprove.

RAW more or less retracted that in his later writing. Kind of in-passing while talking about not getting carried away by your own bullshit, he implied that that's what he now thought he'd done with the Sirius stuff.
posted by Zed at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2012


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