Tag Archives: robert anton wilson

Against Ideology

P U R E  I D E O L O G Y  is the name of the game and everyone wants in on it, and if you’re a Žižekian, you’re ahead of the curve. If you’re an internally consistent Žižekian, congratulations! According to some interpretations of Žižek — indeed, he espouses this in various places –, while we may think that we live in a post-ideological era, ideology is still constantly around us. We critique dominate hegemonies in the hopes of creating counter-narratives, but all that ends up happening is that we replicate the dominate ideologies of the past; capitalism is persistent. The following quotation from Žižek is especially salient:

Ideology is not simply imposed on ourselves, ideologies are spontaneous relationships to our social world, how we perceive it’s meaning, and so on and so on. We, in a way, enjoy our ideology.1)Slavoj Žižek, “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology – What is Ideology?” Excerpt from The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology2012: 5:00-5:20

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Robert Anton Wilson, Finitude, and Realism

The late Robert Anton Wilson has been a person of interest to me for a while now, and although his thoughts are very sporadic and aphoristic (being spread amongst his numerous novels and speeches), his contributions to Discordian thought have been vital. More specifically, however, a quotation by him in The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles has held my attention for a long time. In Nature’s Godwriting as Sigismundo Celine, Wilson says the following:

“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.1)Robert Anton Wilson, Nature’s God: The History of the Early Illuminati (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles Vol. 3), (Las Vegas: New Falcon, 2007).

Clearly channeling the general semantic theory of Alfred Korzybski and its later incarnations as E-Prime (topics that will no doubt be written about in the future),2)Indeed, in later posts on general semantics and E-Prime, which ‘is’ we’re talking about must be sorted out as the ‘is of identity’ — for example, “Max is a dog” — is, arguably, ontologically different than the ‘is of predication’ — for example, “Max is diabetic.” the quotation has a certain ring of idealism to it. Indeed, while I think Wilson’s comment is insightful, I’ve been hesitant to fully accept his disdain for the word ‘is’ insofar as such an acceptance seems, at first glance, to relegate one to a strictly phenomenal (and arguably, consequently idealist) understanding of the world. While I’m unsure whether or not I’m willing to jump aboard the ‘anti-is’ train, I do think there is a way to reconcile Wilson’s view with ontological realism by utilizing both a brief discussion of what Quentin Meillassoux calls “finitude” and Graham Harman’s ontology of objects.

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1. Robert Anton Wilson, Nature’s God: The History of the Early Illuminati (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles Vol. 3), (Las Vegas: New Falcon, 2007).
2. Indeed, in later posts on general semantics and E-Prime, which ‘is’ we’re talking about must be sorted out as the ‘is of identity’ — for example, “Max is a dog” — is, arguably, ontologically different than the ‘is of predication’ — for example, “Max is diabetic.”