Robert Anton Wilson

“Robert Anton Wilson (born Robert Edward Wilson; January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007) was an American author, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized as an Episkopos[dead link], Pope, and saint of Discordianism, Wilson helped publicize the group through his writings and interviews.

Wilson described his work as an “attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth”. His goal being “to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.

“Is”, “is.” “is”—the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don’t know what anything “is”; I only know how it seems to me at this moment.

— Robert Anton Wilson, The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, as spoken by Sigismundo Celine.
Born Robert Edward Wilson in Methodist Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York, he spent his first years in Flatbush, and moved with his family to lower middle class Gerritsen Beach around the age of four or five, where they stayed until relocating to the steadfastly middle-class neighborhood of Bay Ridge when Wilson was thirteen. He suffered from polio as a child, and found generally effective treatment with the Kenny Method (created by Elizabeth Kenny) which the American Medical Association repudiated at that time. Polio’s effects remained with Wilson throughout his life, usually manifesting as minor muscle spasms causing him to use a cane occasionally until 2000, when he experienced a major bout with post-polio syndrome that would continue until his death.

Wilson attended Catholic grammar school, likely the school associated with Gerritsen Beach’s Resurrection Church[citation needed], and attended Brooklyn Technical High School (a selective public institution) to remove himself from the Catholic influence; at “Brooklyn Tech,” Wilson was influenced by literary modernism (particularly Ezra Pound and James Joyce), the Western philosophical tradition, then-innovative historians such as Charles A. Beard, science fiction (including the works of Olaf Stapledon, Robert A. Heinlein and Theodore Sturgeon) and Alfred Korzybski’s interdisciplinary theory of general semantics. He would later recall that the family was “living so well… compared to the Depression” during this period “that I imagined we were lace-curtain Irish at last.”

Following his graduation in 1950, Wilson was employed in a succession of jobs (including ambulance driver, engineering aide, salesman and medical orderly) and absorbed various philosophers & cultural practices (including bebop, psychoanalysis, Bertrand Russell, Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Leon Trotsky and Ayn Rand, whom he later repudiated) while writing in his spare time. He also studied electrical engineering and mathematics at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute from 1952 to 1957 and English education at New York University from 1957 to 1958 without getting a degree from either institution.

After smoking marijuana for nearly a decade, he first experimented with mescaline in Yellow Springs, Ohio on December 28, 1961. Wilson began to work as a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter in the late 1950s. He adopted his maternal grandfather’s name, Anton, for his writings, telling himself that he would save the “Edward” for when he wrote the Great American Novel and later finding that “Robert Anton Wilson” had become an established identity.

He assumed co-editorship of the School for Living’s Brookville, Ohio-based Balanced Living magazine in 1962 and briefly returned to New York as associate editor of Ralph Ginzburg’s quarterly fact: before leaving for Playboy, where he served as an associate editor from 1965 to 1971. According to Wilson, Playboy “paid me a higher salary than any other magazine at which I had worked and never expected me to become a conformist or sell my soul in return. I enjoyed my years in the Bunny Empire. I only resigned when I reached 40 and felt I could not live with myself if I didn’t make an effort to write full-time at last.” Along with frequent collaborator Robert Shea, Wilson edited the magazine’s Playboy Forum advice column. During this period, he covered Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert’s Millbrook, New York-based Castalia Foundation at the instigation of Alan Watts in The Realist, cultivated important friendships with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, and lectured at the Free University of New York on ‘Anarchist and Synergetic Politics’ in 1965.

He received a B.A., M.A. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) in psychology from Paideia University, an unaccredited institution that has since closed. Wilson reworked his dissertation, and it found publication in 1983 as Prometheus Rising.

Wilson married freelance writer and poet Arlen Riley in 1958.[11] They had four children, including Christiana Wilson Pearson and Patricia Luna Wilson. Luna was beaten to death in an apparent robbery in the store where she worked in 1976 at the age of 15, and became the first person to have her brain preserved by the Bay Area Cryonics Society. Arlen Riley Wilson died in 1999 following a series of strokes.” (Wikipedia)

Charles Eisenstein

“Born in 1967 to parents of Jewish descent, Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. He has lived in Taiwan where he worked as a translator. He married, had children, and later returned to the United States and divorced. Eisenstein currently lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Eisenstein now frequently travels to speak and share his work at conferences and other events. Since 2010, he has spoken over three hundred times in over one hundred cities in US and elsewhere. His events are held voluntarily, organized by others who invite him to speak. He generally charges people expenses but no fee, leaving it up to them to give him something if they feel the urge. This appeals to his ideal of generosity and “living in the gift.”

Eisenstein has written six books since 2001.

The Ascent of Humanity

The Ascent of Humanity, published in 2007, draws together Eisenstein’s thoughts on many topics. The entire text is available online. It was read on the Unwelcome Guests radio show and the reading was later released as an audiobook.

Sacred Economics

Eisenstein’s 2011 book Sacred Economics revolves around the theme of how the current monetary system based on interest and usury, along with the abandonment of the gift economy, has led to alienation, competition and need for an economic system predicated on continuous growth. It has been either fully or partially translated into at least nine languages including Turkish.

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible was published in November 2013.[13] In it, Eisenstein says that many of the social, economic, political, and environmental problems covered in his earlier works can be traced back to an underlying worldview that he calls the “Story of Separation”—that humans are separate from each other and from the rest of the natural world. A new story that is emerging, the “Story of Interbeing,” is a “story of the world that we really care about.” This book describes this as a time of transition between these stories: “Internally, it [the transition] is nothing less than a transformation in the experience of being alive. Externally is it nothing less than a transformation of humanity’s role on planet Earth.” He deconstructs the old story while describing the new. For example, the best way to interrupt the story of separation is to give someone an experience of non-separation. Publishers’ Weekly described it as “a revolutionary and interactive book—in the sense that it inspires the reader to think out of the ordinary,” adding that Eisenstein “will be noted in antiquity as one of the seminal and pioneering storytellers of this new world.”

Articles

Eisenstein occasionally writes for the “Comment is Free” section of The Guardian on topics including genetic modification and the patenting of seeds and debt. He is a contributing editor at the website Reality Sandwich.

Reception

In 2013, journalist and author Rory Spowers described Eisenstein as a “refreshing new voice”, saying that he’s young, fresh, well-informed, humble but articulate, with a very spiritual perspective. He added that Eisenstein is too intelligent to be confrontational but that, through his works, especially The Ascent of Humanity and Sacred Economics, “he’s really moved the whole thing along in a number of ways.” ” (Wikipedia)