Robert Anton Wilson
at the Brain Machine Symposium
In 1989 Phil Farber and Djenába invited Robert Anton Wilson to the Brain Machine Symposium at the Thelemic Arts Center in Saugerties, New York. RAW fans were recently treated to a great essay from Phil that appeared in the new Hilaritas Press edition of RAW’s Sex, Drugs & Magick. Phil recently sent us the original video, and we set about cleaning up the sound as well as we could. As the video intro notes, it’s not the best quality video, but the quality of the information makes this well worth a watch.
As RAW’s presentation began, he started off by telling a couple of jokes, and then explained that those jokes were used as his,”Come-On.” Joshua Fontany was so impressed by this rap that he sent us a transcription of the beginning of the presentation. Even though it’s fun to watch in the video, we thought it helpful to print out for leisurely absorption. Enjoy!
RAW describes the Basic Units of Sociology:
• The Come-On – The part of the presentation where you persuade the audience that you’re a nice guy and that you’re going to make them laugh and give them a good time. The Come On gets everybody’s attention and get’s them feeling ‘mellow’.
• This is followed by… – The Put-On – which persuades them that the Reality Tunnel that you’re creating by your words corresponds to some aspect of reality in some way, so they might as well look through your Reality Tunnel as any other Reality Tunnel. If the Put On is escalated to a sufficient degree people start looking through your Reality Tunnel wherever they go, and then you’ve got ‘disciples’, which is the lowest form of animal life. I try to avoid acquiring disciplines. I generally give people three or four Reality Tunnels at a time, and let them choose for themselves.
• The Squawk – the other unit of Neuro-Sociology, is an existential shout or outcry indicating that the Come On and the Put On isn’t working anymore. The Squawk is generally something like “The Put On is very convincing but you keep walking on my feet.” or “I like the Put On very much, but I notice that the money keeps disappearing from my wallet every time I come near you.”
The Squawk is the signal that, “I don’t believe in the Put On anymore.” The function of the Put On is to be repeated often enough that it drowns out the Squawks. The function of the Squawks are to make enough noise that eventually the people involved in the Put On become aware that there are parts of reality which this Reality Tunnel doesn’t cover, and that they have to revise the Reality Tunnel.
Like, during the Vietnam war, all the official statements that came out of Washington were part of the Put On, and all the peace protests were part of the Squawks.
Now, the sum total of the Come-On, the Put-On, and the Squawks makes up the matrix of Neuro-Sociology, which creates the Pers-On, that is, the basic unit of Psychology. That’s usually mispronounced “Person”…. (lol)
The Pers-On is a product of Put-Ons, Come-Ons, and Squawks interacting together in a neuro-sociological field. In other words, the ‘Self’ is a Social Game for which one persona at a time takes the blame.
“It just occurred to me that my body
was having an out-of-mind experience.”
– Symposium participant
Robert Anton Wilson at the Brain Machine Symposium
Videotaped May 20, 1989 at Thelemic Arts Center, Saugerties, New York
Produced by Djenába and Philip H. Farber
Editing and Music by Philip H. Farber
Special Thanks to Nicholas Ross and Stephen Barry
Copyright 1989 – 2006 Robert Anton Wilson and Hawk Ridge Productions
Special thanks to Bastian Staeuber Jermutus for sound enhancements – fixing up the original audio from the 1989 video