Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal [CSICON]

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Pope Bob, one of Disinfo’s Patron saints. Six years done and gone but no way forgotten. Spectacles, testicles, brandy, cigars — you’re all popes! via The Robert Anton Wilson Website

Wilson describes himself as a “guerilla ontologist,” signifying his intent to ATTACK language and knowledge the way terrorists ATTACK their targets: to jump out from the shadows for an unprovoked ATTACK, then slink back and hide behind a hearty belly-laugh. – Robert Sheaffer, The Skeptical Inquirer, Summer 1990

Dublin, 1986.
I had given a talk to the Irish Science-Fiction Society and the question period began.

“Do you believe in UFOs?” somebody asked.

“Yes, of course,” I answered.

The questioner, who looked quite young, then burst into a long speech, “proving” at least to his own satisfaction that all UFOs “really are” sun-dogs or heat inversions. When he finally ran down I simply replied,

“Well, we both agree that UFOs exist. Our only difference is that you think you know what they are and I’m still puzzled.”

An elderly gentleman with blonde-white hair and a florid complexion cried out in great enthusiasm, “By God, sir, you’re right. I myself am still puzzled about everything!”

And thus I met Timothy F.X. Finnegan, Dean of the Royal Sir Myles na gCopaleen Astro-Anomalistic Society, Dalkey, sometime lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin, and founder of the Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal.

In fact, Prof. Finnegan signed me up as a member of CSICON that very night, in the Plough and Stars pub over our ninth or tenth pint of Ireland’s most glorious product, linn dubh, known as Guiness to the ungodly.

Now I hear that Prof. Finnegan has died, or at least they took the liberty of burying him, and I feel that the world has lost a great man.

The Commitee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal (CSICON) , however, lives on and deserves more attention than it has received hitherto. Prof. Finnegan always asserted that the idea for CSICON derived from a remark passed by an old Dalkey character named Sean Murphy, in the Goat and Compasses pub shortly before closing time on 23 July 1973.

Actually, it started with two old codgers named O’Brian and Nolan discussing the weather. “Terrible rain and wind for this time of year,” O’Brian ventured.

“Ah, faith,” Nolan replied, “I do not believe it is this time of year at all, at all.”

At this, Murphy spoke up. “Ah, Jaysus,” he said, “I’ve never seen a boogerin normal day.” He paused to set down his pint, then added thoughtfully, “And I never met a fookin average man neither”

(About Sean Murphy nothing else appears in the record except a remark gleaned by Prof. LaPuta from one Nora Dolan, a housewife of the vicinity: “Sure, that Murphy lad never did any hard work except for getting up off the floor and navigating himself back onto the bar-stool, after he fell off, and he only did that twice a night.”)

But Murphy’s simple words lit a fire in the subtle and intricate brain of Timothy F.X. Finnegan, who had just finished his own fourteenth pint (de Selby says his fifteenth pint). The next day the aging Finnegan wrote the first two-page outline of the new science he called patapsychology, a term coined in salute to Alfred Jarry’s invention of pataphysics.

Finnegan’s paper began with the electrifying sentence, “The average Canadian has one testicle, just like Adolph Hitler — or, more precisely, the average Canadian has 0.96 testicles, an even sadder plight than Hitler’s, if the average Anything actually existed.” He then went on to demonstrate that the normal or average human lives in substandard housing in Asia, has 1.04 vaginas, cannot read or write, suffers from malnutrition and never heard of Silken Thomas Fitzgerald or Brian Boru. “The normal,” he concluded “consists of a null set which nobody and nothing really fits.”

Thus began the science of Patapsychology, Prof. Finnegan’s most enduring, and endearing, contribution to the world — aside from the computer-enhanced photos of the Face on Mars with which he endeavored to prove that the Face depicted Moishe Horwitz, his lifelong mentor and idol. This, of course, remains highly controversial, especially among disciples of Richard Hoagland, who believe the Face looks more like the Sphinx, those who insist it looks like Elvis to them, and the dullards who only see it as a bunch of rocks.

CONTINUE READING

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  • Amacai Zerand

    Thank you, Brother. That was just what I needed to re-read at this moment in time.

  • lifobryan

    Thank you for posting this!! Reading RAW is like soaking my brain in alka-seltzer (so tingly & a fine cure for neural-constitpation!) Hail Eris & Pope Bob! No wife, no horse, no mustache, nonetheless!

    “Existence is larger than any model that is not itself the exact size of existence …”
    – RAW, ‘Nature’s God’

  • echar

    Nobody should confuse Patapsychology with parapsychology, although this precise misunderstanding evidently inspired the long and venomous diatribes against Finnegan by Prof. Sheissenhosen of Heidelberg.

    pure genius right there!

    Patapsychology begins from Murphy’s Law, as Finnegan called the First Axiom, adopted from Sean Murphy. This says,and I quote,”The normal does not exist. The average does not exist. We know only a very large but probably finite phalanx of discrete space-time events encountered and endured.” In less technical language, the Board of the College of Patapsychology offers one million Irish punds [around $700,000 American] to any “normalist” who can exhibit “a normal sunset, an average Beethoven sonata, an ordinary Playmate of the Month, or any thing or event in space-time that qualifies as normal, average or ordinary.”

    How about a normal bottle of homeopathic pills?

  • echar
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