Eric Wagner interviews Robert Anton Wilson about the Guns and Dope Party and Bob’s run for Governor of California in the 2003 special mid-term election — first published in Eric’s book An Insider’s Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, and digitally transmitted here with his enthusiastic permission. RAW’s published writings on the Guns and Dope Party are in his book, Email to the Universe.
Anna Livia Get Your Gun:
23 Questions for California’s Next Governor
by Robert Anton Wilson & Eric Wagner
1. In your novel Illuminatus! Hagbard Celine hands out cards that say “There is no governor anywhere.” What do you think he would think of your campaign?
— He approves of making every man and every woman a Tsar and says Crowley really meant that but had dyslexia. After all, “no governor anywhere” means every critter takes charge of their own life.
2. What is the sound of one chad hanging?
3. Timothy Leary ran for governor of California in 1970 C.E. Does your campaign resonate with his?
— I hope not; They put him in jail because They feared he might win. I feel sure They won’t feel that frightened of a nut like me. They won’t know wot hit Them until They count the ballots!
4. Your clear, common sense answers remind me of John Anderson’s campaign for President in 1980 C.E. I felt that his clear, honest answers made him unelectable. Do you think your campaign would fair better if you BS’d more?
— B.S., like sugar, goes down smoothly but eventually leads to gagging and acid reflux. We think the people of California have had a diabetic dose of B.S. and badly need a purgative. Our platform means VICTORY OVER BULLSHIT
5. As governor, you will have responsibility for the education of the population of California. What ideas do you have for helping that population prepare for the challenges of the coming century?
— The Guns and Dope Party believes that education begins with doubt and questioning. Ergo, without spending money on new and expensive textbooks, using only the current curriculum, we shall grade students by their ability, using search engines, to find the largest number of websites contradicting whatever “facts” or opinions appear in each week’s lessons. For instance, a student can confront the section on Columbus with such matters as assertions that the Americas got “discovered” by various bronze people from Asia, by black people from Africa, and/or by earlier Europeans [St. Brendan, Lief Erikson etc.]; or by challenging the popular image by dissenters identifying Columbus as a pirate, a Jew, two different men [one of whom never left Europe], a Gay, a Gay Jewish pirate, etc., etc. When the students reach appropriate age, we will apply the same zetetic approach to physics, rocket science, medicine etc. Students accustomed to the hunt for truth through labyrinths of uncertainty—cured of the delusion that truth exists in one source and you only have to memorize it—will unleash an Intelligence Explosion.
6. Great answer! I will use that assignment next month. You have suggested previously that voting often seems in retrospect a mistake. Why should critters vote for you, and why won’t they regret it in 23 years?
— Voting has only seemed a mistake to me when, in a state of temporary insanity, I voted for one of the major parties. I have never regretted my write-in votes for Wile E. Coyote, Count Dracula or Daffy Duck. People, ostriches and critters in general should vote for me only if they support my platform. Why vote for a platform you don’t support? The Libertarian Party, of course, represents similar positions to mine, but have you read any of their literature? They sound like medieval monks argoofy-ing over Nacheral Lore or law school students debating what they call “hypotheticals.” Reading that stuff feels like having your head stuffed with pillows and styrofoam. We say, Phooey on your nacheral lore and your hyperdermics and your other metaphysics; we just want to KEEP OUR GUNS AND OUR MEDICINE and get rid of any pointy-headed bureaucrats who try to take them away from us. Period. That says it all. Vote for me and Olga if you agree. Otherwise, vote for one of the other scoundrels—whoever represents the kind of fascism that best suits you.
7. Timothy Leary wrote:
We now understand that spaceship Earth is a delicate, complex web of energy processes that must be understood and harmonized if we are to survive. Politics has become too important to be left to politicians who cannot and will not comprehend the situation. Our rulers in the future must be people with scientific training and with brains wired to handle relativistic complexity. We would not let the controls of a 747 fall into the hands of a congressman.
— Leary, The Politics of Self-Determination, pg. 96
What do you think of this quote, and how does it apply to your campaign?
— Once again Dr. Leary expresses an attitude so close to mine that I feel as if we came out of the same egg. I would only add that in the T.S.A.—the Tsarist States of America—the situation seems particularly anachronistic. Their politicians almost all come from law schools, which seem to me as archaic and pre-scientific as theological seminaries. In fact, I regard law as a branch of theology played with deuces, eights and one-eyed jacks wild.
In general, the pragmatist looks at the present and asks what might work, and the radical looks at the future and asks what might work even better, but the lawyer and theologian looks at the past to see what some abstract logician conjectured in the dark ages. This explains why I think California should secede from the T.S.A. Lawyer-Politicians should not monkey with the plumbing in an ordinary toilet, much less fly airplanes or decide what scientific research to allow or forbid.
8. Would you attempt to eliminate all taxes as governor?
— No, I’d follow Lysander Spooner’s voluntary tax plan combined with the lightspeed of Internet. Every citizen would receive a semi-annual Republic budget, telling what the Republic of California wanted to do for them or to them, and each would send in their share of the fee for whatever projects seemed sensible and useful to them. Nobody would pay a penny for anything that seemed pointless, useless, invasive, tyrannical or even annoying to them. If nobody paid for a project, it would get dumped for lack of funding. As Spooner wrote earlier:
Constitutions are utterly worthless to restrain the tyranny of governments, unless it be understood that the people will by force compel the government to remain within constitutional limits. Practically speaking, no government knows any limits to its power except the endurance of the people. Voluntary taxation expresses the endurance of the people directly and immediately, “before the horse gets out of the stable.”
9. Whom, if anyone, do you think the Republic should incarcerate?
— Let’s step back one pace: why incarcerate at all? The only sane function of incarceration seems to me segregation—to use walls and guards to protect us from the dangerously violent. [A] Incarceration, in cages, dungeons etc. or whatever compromise between the rational function of segregation and the irrational revenge-sadism reflexes; or [B] implantation of tracking/waming devices or [C] exile—these seem the best methods known at present, but none works perfectly. I think we should free all the nonviolent noncriminals and use a little of the 70% of our penal budget thus saved—maybe 7%—to fund scientific research on better methods of defanging the predators. Another 60% should go to a trust to compensate the victims. The remaining 3% can go for healthy and tasty food for the misfortunate ostriches who have to associate with the suidea until the latter get replaced by higher critters.
10. Emotional plague and muscular armoring seems to me like a major health issue in California. How would address this problem as governor?
— The Guns and Dope Party intends equal liberty for all. The free market and the free marketplace of ideas and systems, including Orgonomic physicians, homeopaths, nutritionists, herbalists, voodoo and hoodoo and vedic medicine, etc. all competing in a free marketplace. If any allopaths can survive in such a free system, good luck to them!
11. When you become governor, Hollywood will likely jump on the bandwagon and make movies based on your books. What actors and actresses do you see playing some of the characters from your immortal works?
— Al Pacino as Hagbard Celine, Michelle Pfeiffer as Eris, Robert Duvall as Aleister Crowley, Johnny Depp as Sigismundo Celine, Winona Rider as Maria, Nick Cage as James Joyce, Jon Cipher as Wilhelm Reich.
12. Do you plan to move to Sacramento when elected?
— Hell, no. I’ve visited there and the climate seems worse than the Avocado Jungle of Death, where the cannibal women live, south of Bakersfield. Everything I need to do, I can do from my home via Internet.
13. Some call the 21st century C.E. the “Asian Century.” You have said that interaction between east and west might prove the major theme of this century. California has a large population of Asian ancestry. What would you do as governor to foster multicultural understanding?
— Our restaurants have already become multi-cultural, so I’d work for a law compelling people to learn something about each culture before getting a seat to eat the food of that culture. Persian history & culture for Persian food, French for French food, Chinese for Chinese, etc. Those who fail the entrance exam not only don’t get seated but get assigned two weeks hard labor in the clean-up crew for the ostriches.
I know this will provoke knee-jerk rejections by some Libertarians but remember it only binds those who pay voluntary taxes to enact & enforce such a compact. I’d gladly pay my share of the bill, because at my age life becomes a race between the desire to learn more and the tick=tick=tock mentioned by Cole Porter. Even lazy as I seem, I think the desire for another Thai meal would force me to squeeze lessons on Thai poetry and history into my schedule. [Thanks to Ez and Fenollosa, I’ve aced Chinese and Japanese and under my tax reform (voluntarism) can feast tax-free on their cuisine.]
14. Terrence McKenna saw wild stuff happening between now and December 21, 2012 C.E. How do you think Californians can best prepare themselves to live long and prosper in the crazy days ahead?
— They should all buy [b,u,y, BUY, not rent] the video or DVD of Southern Star, a comedy starring Orson Welles as a Gay bandito and Olga, an ostrich, as a diamond thief. At certain points, if you’ve taken your pain medicine for the day, Olga speaks directly to the audience—to YOU—and her words always contain both pragmatic and mystic wisdom. For instance, once I asked her how to contribute most to the coming unity of all critterkind, instilling respect for “all life however small” as it says in the Upanishads, and she suggested appointing ostriches as 1/3 of the legislature. Of course, some left-wing aardvarks have complained about this [they call it “bipedal chauvinism”] but I trust Olga. Most humans haven’t gotten to the level of realizing the personhood of other races yet, you know. Bipedalism represents a great leap forward toward universal critterkind, and you have to take these things one step at a time. The six-legged majority still inspire fear and loathing in backward societies.
If Olga doesn’t talk to you, you need more pain medicine, and frankly I don’t understand how you’ve survived three years of George W. Bush without it. Maybe you should try the Bible or the Koran or Chinese fortune cookies.
15. In your wonderful book Everything Is Under Control you talk about the Collier brothers’ theory about the likelihood of computer fraud in elections. What would you do as governor to prevent fraudulent elections?
— I don’t understand how my own computer does some of its bizarre tricks, and you expect me to answer this? I’d turn it over to my tech department. Besides, I have a 99% suspicion, amounting almost to a 100% certitude, that nonfraudulent elections, like unicorns and Tin Woodsmen and Mad Hatters, exist in the divine world of imagination and not in the human world of power politics. Madison said we need eternal vigilance to protect any liberties we think we have, and I agree heartily. Expect crooked elections and set up more and more traps to catch the scoundrels who rig them; the traps, again, I leave to the techies.
16. If you had a coat of arms, what would you like it to include?
— The three ostriches in Tsarist regalia, rampant with motto: et in Arcadia struthiocamelus.
17. Timothy Leary called the generation following the Baby Boomers, born after 1965 C.E., the “Whiz Kids.” What name would you give the generation entering high school today, born after, say 1985 C.E.? What do you see as their morphogenetic role in the cosmic scheme?
— They should function as bullshit fighters. They all need the built-in cast-iron shockproof bullshit detectors suggested by Mr. Hemingway. In my youth, after a political speech, we would chant “Grab your shovels and run for the hills/It’s oozing over the window sills.” Now the political speeches have a higher BS quotient than ever, and many of them disguise themselves as newscasts, and it looks like it has reached the third floor. Grab your shovels, kids.
18. You’ve talked with me before about the importance of understanding The Cantos of Ezra Pound. What advice would you give young people approaching The Cantos for the first time?
— The first time, read as fast as you can, without worrying about obscurities and details. Then, when you have some sense, however dim, of the structure of the whole, what Ez affirms and celebrates, what he denounces, where he changes his mind and reverses himself, etc., read it slowly, sippingly, the way great poetry deserves, as often as it draws you back. It remains the most revolutionary and innovative poem of the last century, so don’t even try to swallow it in one gulp.
19. Would you please discuss the phrase “hilaritas et amor?”
— I use that as signature in my email. It comes from the paradiso section of the Cantos of Ezra Pound. “Hilaritas,” despite its etymological link to the English “hilarity,” does not mean merely a sense of humor, although it includes that; it more basically means cheerfulness, or “good nature.” Pound lifted it from a neopagan 15th Century philosopher, Gemito Plethon. To Pound we have no knowledge of any post-mortem paradiso, but we can imagine—and maybe even create—a paradiso terrestre, an earthly paradise, which incorporates all we can learn from the best people and best epochs of history. That centers on hilaritas and amor, I assume fans of Dean Martin and Grand Opera will easily translate the second term as “love.” The three agonies of Pound’s terrestrial Hell, incidentally, he lists as pride, wrath and possessiveness. And his purgatory Cantos seem dominated by Ching Ming, two ideograms from Kung fu Tsu signifying unrelenting struggle to clarify the language—“the lyf so short, the art so long to lerne.”
20. What sort of monetary system would you like your new country to have?
— We would repudiate the monopoly of the Federal Reserve banks and refuse to accept any more of their counterfeit money. We would replace them with free enterprise banking—including anarchist “People’s Banks” which would charge no interest at all—and any other rival alternatives that proved acceptable to customers. We assume that, however many kinds of coin and currency came into circulation, the people in each county or township would learn which they could trust and which they should shun “as the devil flees holy water.” This follows naturally from our axiomatic position that people know how to handle guns and dope intelligently without a Tsarist tyranny deciding for them. For further details on free market banking, see lysanderspooner.org.
21. Whose pictures would you like on the money? Just ostriches?
— Well, I love Irish currency, which has Maev, the queen of the fairies, on the one-pound note, and such luminaries as Swift, Scotus Erigena and Yeats on higher denominations.
Following that system of values, I would want my own bank notes to have Marilyn Monroe on the $1, followed by Ezra Pound, Bucky Fuller and Emperor Norton.
22. Why should people read my book?
— It will add three inches to their brain in just one week.
23. How do you think the U.S. government would respond to an attempt by California to secede from the U.S.A.?
— I assume they’ll put me to death by lethal injection, in the spirit of compassionate conservatism, although they’d probably really like to hang me. With my age and health, and all the necessary legal appeals in death penalty cases, that won’t shorten my life expectancy much, and meanwhile I’ll get free room and food and even free medical care—hell, I might outlive my life expectancy on the outside, just on the free meds alone. Other GADP organizers will probably get off with short jail terms, but still I admire their courage. If you haven’t reached my age, those Tsarist bastards can really scare you.
Editors that we are, we wanted to check the Latin in the phrase Bob suggested for his Coat of Arms in this interview. I sent an inquiry off to the RAW Trust’s on-call Latin expert, my old friend Stephen Cooper, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College. Given Bob’s penchant for neologisms and other forms of literary guerrilla ontology, I asked Stephen about Bob’s phrase “Et in Arcadia Struthio camelus.” Here’s his reply . . .
Oh Bob wasn’t messing around, that’s real Latin. No space between struthio and camelus, it’s one word: struthiocamelus = ostrich.
struthion and camelus are Greek words that like many other scientific terms were borrowed by Latin. The former is “sparrow” and the latter is of course “camel”, and so the Greek named the ostrich στρουθοκάμηλος (strouthokamêlos), ‘sparrow-camel’.
Latin mottos generally aren’t capitalized, except for proper nouns like Arcadia.
Probably the standard translation should be:
“And there is an ostrich in Arcadia” or just “There is an ostrich in Arcadia” — dropping the et in translation is do-able, since Latin likes to begin sentences with et (whereas English doesn’t like sentences beginning with “and”).
But if the sentence were in a conversational context about the delights of Arcadia, it could conceivably be rendered thus:
“Also in Arcadia is an ostrich.”
That’s clearly the comical option.