A Critical Look at Robert Anton Wilson

3. He Gives You an INSANELY Naïve Interpretation of Aleister Crowley.

This is big and I’ve already written about it fairly extensively so I’ll keep this short. The truth is, Bob never really did his homework on Crowley. It’s funny because I’d actually wondered for a while where exactly this white washed hippie Crowley thing germinated, then I realized he lists his references right in the back of Final Secret. From what I could tell browsing that, Bob’s entire perspective on AC came from reading Kenneth Grant and Israel Regardie. See the problem? No? OK, let me explain. It’d be sort of like reading books about L. Ron Hubbard written by high ranking members of the Church of Scientology and basing your entire opinion of the guy on those books. Of course they’re going to tell you he’s a super genius. That’s what they believe, and you know, they’re trying to sell books so they have a vested interest in spreading that idea. The problem is that when you take other people’s opinions on Crowley and, you know, objective facts into consideration, you start to get a vastly different picture. You get Going Clear, which might be skewed a bit in the other direction, but still.

If you’re to believe R.A.W., Crowley was just like the original hippie man. Bob’s longtime friend and Disinfo founder Richard Metzger (who I’m a huge fan of by the way) actually went on the History channel spouting this weird revisionist history as I recently found out. The problem is, it’s just that, fiction. Saying Crowley was like the original hippie is like saying Marilyn Manson kept the spirit of the hippies alive in the 90’s. It’s precisely that inaccurate. There’s a word for what Crowley was, and the word is goth. Goth’s and hippies are totally different things last time I checked, sort of polar opposites really. And no, Crowley was by no means the original goth, but he was in fact goth as fuck. I mean, he shaved one of his teeth to a point so he could bite women like a vampire. One filmmaker partied with him briefly and literally based a horror movie villain around the guy. Standard hippie fare right? Here’s the total head trip that is people like Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson being uber naive Crowley fanboys fairly well exemplified:

R.A.W quote

Here’s another great R.A.W. quote of the same variety:

“The only sensible goal, then, is to try to build a reality-tunnel for next week that is bigger, funnier, sexier, more optimistic and generally less boring than any previous reality-tunnel.”

And yet, Crowley was a dude who quite intentionally surrounded himself with the grotesque and the macabre. Loved to sleep with the cheapest most unattractive prostitutes imaginable, wanted to be in league with Satan, etc. In short, he wanted his reality tunnel to be an over the top horror show, and his external reality did in fact devolve into that. So like, the polar opposite of what R.A.W.’s recommending. And yeah, he did in fact experiment with hallucinogens, but you know, was also an alcoholic junkie who wrote books about how he could control his narcotics addiction with the power of his will (he couldn’t). Because of Wilson and Leary I had this crazy naïve version of AC embedded into my microverse for years, even going to the point of regurgitating the illusion publicly. Then I read up a bit more (Lachman’s book is highly recommended) and was like, oh wait, I sort of hate everything about Aleister Crowley. If I was to say what I dislike about him the most I’d say, well, I guess the hyper-misogyny, the terrible writing, the woman beating/torturing, the egomania, the racism, the being a dead beat dad thing, the torturing his students, the classism, the trust fund snobbery, the insistence on living a lifestyle he couldn’t afford even when he was broke, the fact that he never worked an honest day in his life, etc. Yep, pretty much all of those things, and I’m not even getting into his spiritual philosophy. I’d say do the opposite of pretty much whatever Crowley recommends. Absolutely don’t turn your back on karma like he did. Ultimately, AC was just one of those douchebags who wanted to be all “evil” and believed in the supreme power of being a total asshole over anything else. There are a lot of those people. It never turns out well in the long run.

So, according to R.A.W. in Cosmic Trigger, Crowley was a genius who passed the tradition of hash based sex tantra to the west. According to me, he’s a total hack magickian who ignored the basic fundamentals of magick and set back any serious inquiry into the occult sciences by roughly a hundred years with his “I am the great beast 666” media whore posturing. I’d take the fact that I seem to be the only one writing about weed based sex magick currently as fairly strong evidence supporting my position. Anyway, I could go on and on and add at least a 5 more categories to the list of things I couldn’t disagree with R.A.W. more about (keep in mind, I’m also an enormous fan), but I’ll leave you with this. As I mentioned in my last piece, Bob talked a lot about the subjective nature of perception and how illusions create these internal little microverses that we call reality, but actually have little to do with anything “real”. When looking back, while smashed out of their minds on acid, Leary and Wilson went around talking about the supreme power of radiating positive vibes (this is the final secret of the illuminati according to Bob after all) thinking they were walking in the footsteps of a guy who was in reality a goth super creep and about as over the top bad vibes city as humanly possible. That my friends, is a headfuck of epic proportions.

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Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken

CEO at DMI
Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.
Thad McKraken