Robert Anton Wilson, aka Bob, born Robert Edward Wilson

Robert Anton
Wilson, aka Bob, born Robert Edward Wilson

American Author, Novelist, Psychologist, Essayist, Editor, Playwright, Poet, Futurist, Civil Libertarian, Agnostic Mystic

Author Quotes

With quantum mechanics, you can prove that light is made out of particles experimentally. You can build up a whole mathematical theory of light traveling in little particles called photons, and you can do experiments, and the experiments will give you a pattern showing that light is traveling like particles. We've also got a whole mathematical theory built up showing that light travels as waves, and we've got experiments that will show you that light travels as waves. As one physicist in the 1920s said, "It looks as if the damn light is waiting to see how we're going to do the experiment and then deciding which way it's going to travel. Schroedinger said, "I wish I never got mixed up with this goddamned quantum jumping." The modified Copenhagen view is light is neither waves nor particles until we look, and then it adjusts itself depending on what we're looking at it with. An electron is not anywhere until we look, and when we look, the electron decides to be somewhere as long as we're looking. As soon as we stop looking, the electron is everywhere again.

You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you.

You know the difference between right and wrong,' he repeated finally. 'Man, why did you need Initiation?by the Golden Dawn, or by anybody else? You are a genius, a sage, a giant among men. You have solved the problem which philosophers have been debating since antiquity?the mystery about which no two nations or tribes have ever agreed, and no two men or women have ever agreed, and no intelligent person has ever agreed totally with himself from one day to the next. You know the difference between right and wrong. I am overawed. I swoon. I figuratively kiss your feet.

You know, I have found a new way to get high and stay spaced out for hours on end, and the government can't stop me... It's called senility.

You need the "is of identity" to describe conspiracy theories. Korzybski would say that proves that illusions, delusions, and "mental" illnesses require the "is" to perpetuate them. (He often said, "Isness is an illness.") Korzybski also popularized the idea that most sentences, especially the sentences that people quarrel over or even go to war over, do not rank as propositions in the logical sense, but belong to the category that Bertrand Russell called propositional functions. They do not have one meaning, as a proposition in logic should have; they have several meanings, like an algebraic function.

You should view the world as a conspiracy run by a very closely-knit group of nearly omnipotent people, and you should think of those people as yourself and your friends.

You simply cannot invent any conspiracy theory so ridiculous and obviously satirical that some people somewhere don't already believe it.

You're only infallible about your own nervous system. You know what's going on in your own nervous system. Whatever realities you're creating out of the infinite flux of being, you don't know anything about anybody else's reality unless they tell you about it. You gotta listen very sympathetically in order to understand them. So it's a limited infallibility.

When we meet somebody whose separate tunnel-reality is obviously far different from ours, we are a bit frightened and always disoriented. We tend to think they are mad, or that they are crooks trying to con us in some way, or that they are hoaxers playing a joke. Yet it is neurologically obvious that no two brains have the same genetically-programmed hard wiring, the same imprints, the same conditioning, the same learning experiences. We are all living in separate realities. That is why communication fails so often, and misunderstandings and resentments are so common. I say meow and you say Bow-wow, and each of us is convinced the other is a bit dumb.

When you're dealing with these forces or powers in a philosophic and scientific way, contemplating them from an armchair, that rationalistic approach is useful. It is quite profitable then to regard the gods and goddesses and demons as projections of the human mind or as unconscious aspects of ourselves. But every truth is a truth only for one place and one time, and that's a truth, as I said, for the armchair. When you're actually dealing with these figures, the only safe, pragmatic and operational approach is to treat them as having a being, a will, and a purpose entirely apart from the humans who evoke them. If the Sorcerer's Apprentice had understood that, he wouldn't have gotten into so much trouble.

Whenever people are certain they understand our peculiar situation here on this planet, it is because they have accepted a religious Faith or a secular Ideology (Ideologies are the modern form of Faiths) and just stopped thinking.

Whoever speaks a sentence to another human may pronounce a blessing or a curse without even intending this. Remember this the next time you get angry.

Why does the sexual appetite cause so much unspeakable joy and irrational misery, so much suicidal and homicidal madness, and so much absurd theological ranting? Because every sexual choice is going to play a role in determining the temperament and talents of the next generation, and of all future generations who will inherit the earth from us. To be simple about it for once, a single friendly fuck can fill a continent with morons or geniuses in only a few thousand years.

Wise men have regarded the earth as a tragedy, a farce, even an illusionist's trick; but all, if they are truly wise, and not merely intellectual rapists, recognize that it is certainly some kind of stage in which we all play roles, most of us being very poorly coached and totally unrehearsed before the curtain rises. Is it too much if I ask, tentatively, that we agree to look upon it as a circus, a touring carnival wandering about the sun for a record season of four billion years and producing new monsters and miracles, hoaxes and bloody mishaps, wonders and blunders, but never quite entertaining the customers well enough to prevent them from leaving, one by one, and returning to their homes for a long and bored winter's sleep under the dust?

Wishing to prove oneself right is the usual motive for scholarship.

We have never sought power. We have sought to disperse power, to set men and women free. That really means: to help them to discover that they are free. Everybody's free. The slave is free. The ultimate weapon isn't this plague out in Vegas, or any new super H-bomb. The ultimate weapon has always existed. Every man, every woman, and every child owns it. It's the ability to say No and take the consequences. 'Fear is failure.' 'The fear of death is the beginning of slavery.' Thou hast no right but to do thy will.' The goose can break the bottle at any second. Socrates took the hemlock to prove it. Jesus went to the cross to prove it. It's in all history, all myth, all poetry. It's right out in the open all the time.

When the rose and the cross are united the alchemical marriage is complete and the drama ends. Then we wake from history and enter eternity.

We live in an age of artificial scarcity, maintained by ignorance and fear. The government has been paying farmers not to grow food for fifty years--while millions starve. Labor unions, business and government conspire to hold back the Microprocessor Revolution--because none of them know how to deal with the massive unemployment it will cause. (Fuller's books could tell them.) The utilities advertise continually that "solar power is at least forty years in the future" when my friend Karl Hess, and hundreds of others, already live in largely solar-powered houses. These propaganda advertisements are just a delaying action, because the utilities still haven't figured out how to put a meter between us and the sun.

We live in our fantasies and endure our realities.

We look for the Secret - the Philosopher's Stone, the Elixir of the Wise, Supreme Enlightenment, 'God' or whatever... and all the time it is carrying us about... It is the human nervous system itself.

We think this is reality. In philosophy that's called naive realism: 'what I perceive is reality'. And philosophers have refuted naive realism every century for the last 2500 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 - the scientists have it with their instruments; that's how we can find out what's really real'. But relativity and 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's much easier to understand where other people are coming from, or 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.

Well I sometimes call myself a libertarian but that's only because most people don't know what anarchist means. Most people hear you're an anarchist and they think you're getting ready to throw a bomb at a building. They don't understand the concept of voluntary association, the whole concept of replacing force with voluntary cooperation or contractual arrangements and so on. So libertarian is a clearer word that doesn't arouse any immediate anxiety upon the listener. And then again, libertarians, if they were totally consistent with their principles would be anarchists. They take the position which they call minarchy, which is the smallest possible government... The reason I don't believe in the smallest possible government is because we started out with that and it only took us 200 years to arrive at the czarist occupation of government that we have now. I think any government is dangerous no matter how small you make it. Instead of governments we should have contractual associations that you can opt out of if you don't like the way the association is going. Religions fought for hundreds of years over which one should dominate Europe and then they finally gave up and made a truce, and they all agreed to tolerate each other ? at least in this part of the world... But I think government should be treated like religion, everyone should be able to pick the kind they like. Only it should be contractual not obligatory. I wouldn't mind paying tax money to a local association to maintain a police force, as long as we need one. But I hate like hell paying taxes to help the US government build more nuclear missiles to blow up more people I don't even know and don't think I'd hate them if I did know them. A lot of anarchists had a major role in influencing my political thinking, especially the individualist anarchists. Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner especially. But I've also been influenced by Leo Tolstoy's anarcho-pacifism. And I find a lot of Kropotkin compatible even though he was a communist anarchist. Nothing wrong with communist anarchism as long as it remains voluntary. Any one that wants to go make a commune, go ahead, do it. I got nothing against it. As long as there's room to the individualist to do his or her own thing.

This special green is the result of high copper concentration in the soil.

Well, I'm an ordained pope in the Church of the Subgenius, which means I'm absolutely infallible. So don't dare contradict anything I say. As for my relationship with Einstein, I deny all the rumors.

Timothy Leary spent five years in prison for unorthodox scientific ideas. Ezra Pound spent 13 years in a nuthouse for unorthodox political and economic ideas. Their books were not burned.

Author Picture
First Name
Robert Anton
Last Name
Wilson, aka Bob, born Robert Edward Wilson
Birth Date
Death Date

American Author, Novelist, Psychologist, Essayist, Editor, Playwright, Poet, Futurist, Civil Libertarian, Agnostic Mystic