Friday, November 26, 2010

Wilson: the Diagonal Relationship letters

In the late 1970s, science fiction fan Arthur Hlavaty began to publish a series of fanzines called Diagonal Relationship. The custom for science fiction fanzines was to send a copy to anyone who was willing to write a letter of comment.

Robert Anton Wilson wrote a series of letters of comment to Diagonal Relationship. Beginning today, I will serialize them, with one letter for each blog entry. When I have finished running them, I will then publish the letters as one block of copy and link to it in the Feature Articles and Interviews section.

Here is the first letter:

The Diagonal Relationship 9, 1979

Concerning "Again, Dangerous Fuck": Words have both denotations, which can be found in the dictionary, and connotations, which vary from one nervous system to the next.

Words like fuck, cunt, etc. became "obscene" when Puritanism took over the English-speaking world. They are gradually becoming de-obscenified in various segments of the population, but are still charged with heavily obscene connotations for other large segments. Thus, their use is fraught with psychological ambiguity--which makes them fascinating for writers of a certain cast of mind; namely, those who are convinced that ambiguity is the essence of the human situation.

Joyce broke through two centuries of Taboo to bring these words back into literature. in Ulysses, because they are present in the human psyche (even in Puritanical Ireland in 1904), and the psychological truth he was seeking could not be attained while tacitly submitting to the then-prevalent hypocrisy by pretending the words were not there. As used by Joyce, none of these words are obscene, anymore than a laboratory report is obscene. Joyce eliminated obscenity from his world view, as he eliminated anger, pity, sentimentality, and all other subjectivities; he simply observes, with Zenlike detachment, and reports what he sees.

D. H. Lawrence, on the other hand, attempted by brute force, or the poetic equivalent of brute force, to transform obscenity into tenderness and beauty; to cure Puritanism by artistic "persuasion." He invented a whole new way of writing about sex, which has been so universally imitated that we now assume it is the only way to write about it. In the course of the alchemical transformation of obscenity into loveliness, Lawrence rediscovered a childish innocence in so-called "dirty" words. Just as Mellors lapses into his lower-class dialect as his intimacy with Connie increases, so both lovers lapse into "obscene" language as their passions mount;

Lawrence obviously realized that the semantics of love is a reinfantilization in some ways.

When Mellors rhapsodizes about Connie's cunt in working-class argot, he is deliberately rejecting his educated self and returning to the first language he imprinted as a child, with all its sensory, numismatic, emotive connotations. In short, as Kenneth Burke noted in A Rhetoric of Motives, Lawrence's use of these words is a species of baby talk, which was necessary to get down to the primordial level below and before the point where obscenity and shame are learned.

William S. Burroughs, on the third hand, uses obscenity with full obscene connotations intended. He is exploring those areas of the psyche where obscenity (sex hatred) and murder (life hatred) are bred. When he gives the formula for Nova as "Before I give an inch, the whole fucking shit-house goes up in chunks." he is clinically precise. The place from which nuclear holocaust comes is the place where every bodily function is charged with rage and fear.

Thus, fuck has three markedly different connotations in three of the major stylists of our century--and as many other connotations as there are writers and readers.

Test question: How is Ezra Pound using fuck in the following lines from Canto 39, describing Circe's enchanted island?

Girls talked there of fucking,

beasts talked there of eating,

All heavy with sleep,

fucked girls and fat leopards.

Second test question: In Canto 46, Pound asks, "Hast 'ou found a nest softer than cunnus?" What happens if we replace the Elizabethan and Latin and modernize the line to "Have you found a nest softer than cunt?"

If we ever have a totally post-Puritanical and post-obscene society, calling a man "you prick" or a woman "you cunt" will be the highest form of praise, since it will imply that they are delightful, lovely, exciting, creative, and cute.

Diagonal Relationship letters, No. 2

(Second in a series of letters of comment by RAW reprinted from the pages of the fanzine Diagonal Relationship).

The Diagonal Relationship 10, 1979

Alas, I have noted that in my letter in DR 9 I use the word "numismatic" where I meant "numinous." I guess all that fucking dope has finally fucked up my head.

Oh, well, even Homer nodded; jeder macht ein kleine dummheit; and the function of our mistakes is to remind us that humility is endless.

Do you realize that almost everybody is a member of a minority now? The Civil Rights Commission, which investigates complaints of discrimination, said in a recent news story that 86% of the population can have their complaints investigated since they belong to one minority or another.

Actually, since women are 51% of the population, and Gays are estimated between 12% and 37% (depending on whose figures you believe), and Blacks are around 11%, 11m surprised that only 86% of the population qualify as minorities. There are also Jews, Chicanos, Buddhists, atheists, Orientals, eighty dozen unpopular religious sects, Arabs, etc., etc. On second thought, I'm sure the 14% who don't presently qualify as minorities would qualify if the bureaucrats looked into the matter more closely.

Concerning your debate with Tony Parker about robots: I suggest that it is amusing and profitable to regard all of us as robots. Some of our programs are hard-wired via genetics. Others are softer and more flexible, since they are due to imprinting or conditioning. Conditioning, of course, is softer than imprinting.

Obviously, if this metaphor is accepted, we are presently in the process of derobotizing ourselves, becoming self-programmers or even metaprogrammers in Lilly's sense. We began to learn deconditioning with Pavlov and have learned more from Skinner, Wolpe, and Co. We learned, or some of us learned, reimprinting from the psychedelic revolution. Current work on genetics opens the possibility of rewriting the genetic Code and really becoming free masons, cocreators of our destiny.

If this is plausible, then any use of such sciences for other purposes, i.e., for more efficient conditioning, for more rigid imprinting, for the production of genetic drones, etc., is part of the general trend to increase our robothood.

Moral: Today is the first day of the rest of history. Are we becoming more efficient self-programmers or are we drifting along in oar old programs or passively allowing the many skilled Head Mechanics around to program us into their trips?

Which brings me to Buck Coulson's question in DR 9: What do we do with all the dumb people? As a libertarian, I find the only acceptable answer is: give them a chance to get smart. Fortunately, the chance to get smart is becoming more pragmatic and operational. The current OMNI has an article about intelligence-raising drugs already known; the majority of psychopharmacological researchers, in the latest McGraw-Hill poll of expected breakthroughs, believe the intelligence-raising drug industry will be in full flower by the 1990s.

In passing, quietly as it were, I might mention that this subject, and my previous remarks on self-programming, and the general H.E.A.D. Revolution (Hedonic Engineering And Development--using the brain for fun and profit) are the main themes of my next book, The Illuminati Papers, to be published by And/Or Press in December. End of advertisement

What about those who won't nohow noway never do nothing to increase their intelligence?

Perhaps they will be seduced by the general trend toward brightness that I foresee in the next two decades. After all, intelligence is the most powerful of all known aphrodisiacs...

Diagonal Relationship letters of comment, No. 3

(Third in a series of letters reprinted from the pages of the fanzine Diagonal Relationship).

The Diagonal Relationship 13, 1980

Permit me to horn in on the inside/outside debate between Ron Lambert and Adam Weishaupt.

I. An atheist is one who is quite sure there is no Higher Intelligence; if there isany doubt on the matter, you are not an atheist but an agnostic. God, by definition, is the only being who can be quite sure there is no higher intelligence than Hirself. Therefore, God is the only real atheist.

Others must be theists or agnostics.

II. Berkeley says the universe is inside the mind of God. Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is within us. If and only if both Berkeley and Jesus are right, I am inside God and God is inside me.

Berkeley and Jesus must both be right since:

III. In the highest mystical states, in all religions, the mystic experiences oneness with God. But we have already seen that God is an atheist. Therefore, the mystic alone can escape theism and agnosticism and become, like God, an atheist. This is possible by turning inside out.

IV. In a Möbius strip or Klein bottle, inside is outside and outside is inside. The same flip-flop occurs in music, art, and mathematics, as demonstrated by Hofstadter in the greatest book of our decade, Gödel, Escher, Bach. Therefore, if and only if God is like unto a Möbius strip, a Klein bottle, Gödel's proof, Escher's paintings, and Bach's fugues, Berkeley and Jesus can both be right, and God is inside and outside simultaneously

V. In Euclidean geometry, inside and outside do not flip-flop. Therefore, God is either inside or outside--and the Lambert-Weishaupt debate can be decided on one side or the other--if and only if God is limited by Euclidean geometry. But a limited God is not God. Therefore…

VI. Pantheism is really atheism under a fancier name, as all critics of pantheism agree. But the highest forms of theism, such as Vedanta, are all pantheistic on the very logical grounds that God must include everything, or else God is limited, and a limited God is no God at all. Since the highest form of theism is pantheism, and pantheism is indistinguishable from atheism, the highest form of theism is atheism.

VII. I can know the mind of only one Creator really well: myself. InSchrödinger's Cat, I put myself in the book as a character, but I also remain outside the book as its Creator. Therefore, the only Creator I know well is inside and outside his work at the same time.

VI I I. When God actually, or allegedly, wrote a book, He put Himself inside it as a character. If one Creator is like unto another Creator, God evidently wanted us to understand that He is inside and outside at once.

IX. When God actually or allegedly wrote a book He made Himself the villainin it, as all intelligent readers have noted. (This is why the Gnostics and William Blake, among others, have denied that God wrote the book and claimed Satan wrote it to discredit God.) But if God did write it, the portrait of Himself as a sadistic monster must be either an attempt to frighten us or a very subtle joke. Since God would not want to frighten us, it must be a joke. Since God is both an atheist (knows no Higher Intelligence) and a mystic (is at one with Hirself), the joke must be such that only those who are both atheists and mystics can understand it.

X. Since only the mystic is one with God--an atheist--all others, as demonstrated above, must be agnostics or theists. But the theist claims to know what he has not experienced; if he had experienced it, he would be, like God, an atheist. Therefore, for those who are not mystics, the only honest, modest, and logical alternative is to be agnostics.

XI. According to literal Christianity, Jesus was God and the son of Mary; the Holy Ghost was God and the husband or at least the impregnator of Mary. Therefore, God is His own father. But God is also the father of all humanity, including Mary, so God is the father of His mother, and thus His own grandfather. If God is both inside and outside, and an atheist, and His ownfather and grandfather, any attempt to reason about God must lead to paradoxes and contradictions.

It will be observed by the thoughtful that these arguments are quite logical, and totally mad. I do not claim that they are true, but merely that they are at least as lucid as the other writings about God produced by the human mind to date.

Diagonal Relationship letters, No. 4

(Fourth in a series of Robert Anton Wilson letters reprinted from the fanzine Diagonal Relationship).

The Diagonal Relationship 14, 1980

Adrienne Fein is quite right about the term "temple prostitute": It is a projection of Christian prejudice backward on pre-Christian theology.

Certainly, sexual yoga or sex magick or hierogamy is powerful magick, and that is what the so-called temple "prostitutes" were doing. It takes a considerable amount of shamanic training to work up an equally passionate and devout religious mood by any other method.

The trouble with Christians is that they are constitutionally incapable of understanding anybody else's point of view. I mean literally I have never heard or read a Christian describe a non-Christian belief system accurately. (The one exception to this rule is the Jesuits, but there is some doubt--shared by the Pope lately--that they are really Christians.)

I was amused by your account of the parapsychology class where everybody thought skepticism meant a dogmatic refusal to believe. This confusion has been created by a band of vehement and intolerant fanatics (the Fundamentalist wing of the Materialist Church) who have coopted the word "skepticism" to describe their own bigotry.

I haven't been able to take the so-called "skeptics" seriously since the burning of Wilhelm Reich's books in 1956. The ringleader of the "skeptics," Martin Gardner, was one of the instigators of the persecution of Dr. Reich, and I was young and naive in those days. I kept expecting Gardner to say, when it became obvious that the government was going to throw Reich in jail and burn his books too, "Hey that isn't what I meant. I meant Reich's theories should be criticized, not obliterated." But Gardner never objected to the mutilations of the Constitution in the Reich case, and I finally decided that having Reich in jail and his books in a bonfire was exactly what Gardner wanted. I strongly suspect that what he wants today is all the parapsychologists in jail and their books burned, too.

If you will pardon me, I think you misuse the word "nature" just as badly as the pop ecologists or ecologoids do. That is, both you and they seem to mean by "nature" something which does not include humanity. I think it is semantically and scientifically more accurate to use the word for something that does include humanity, as a domesticated primate species as much a part of the biosphere as the wild primates.

In the latter usage, not only are our bodies part of nature in general, but so are our brains, as tools or adaptation for our bodies. The purpose of the dog brain is to make survival of doggihood possible; the purpose of the human brain is to make survival of Homo Sap possible. I believe Freud pointed this out before me.

The idiocy of the ecologoids is that they believe, or talk as if they believe, that nature stops at around the human neck, everything above there being "unnatural." On the contrary, I cannot conceive of my thoughts being any less natural than my bowel movements, my endocrine system, or my blood circulation.

In this connection, it is obvious that the dog brain does not abstract enough information to create a perfect model of the total universe; it abstracts enough for the dog's survival, pack-status, and reproduction scripts. I assume the same is true of the human brain. Those who are looking for the Total Truth are probably looking for more than a domesticated primate brain can achieve. I do, however, think it is amusing, entertaining, and survivally useful to look formore of the truth than we currently own.

No, the Craft is not a front for Discordianism. But, since more and more witches are Discordians, and more and more Discordians are getting initiated into Wicca, the two are increasingly hard to disentangle. Which is just the way I want it....

The Diagonal Relationship letters, No. 5

(Fifth in a series of letters from Robert Anton Wilson, reprinted on the Internet for the first time since their original appearance more than 30 years ago.)

The Diagonal Relationship 14, 1980

On the "nature" problem: Bucky Fuller suggests that "Universe" should mean everything that exists including me and "environment" should mean everything that exists excluding me. This is totally arbitrary, like all definitions, but at least is (or seems to me) clear and bereft of muddy metaphysics.

Of course, this distinction is only useful in some areas of discourse. In other areas, it becomes necessary to note that environment and me are constantly interacting, exchanging energy, etc., and that we cannot, ultimately, be disentangled. (That is, we can only be relatively disentangled for special purposes in special areas of discourse.)

This does not clarify the "nature" problem but possibly confuses it further. I'm sorry. I'm doing the best I can. Give me a few more years and maybe I'll figure it all out.

In any case, I cannot feel, imagine or conceive myself as outside of "nature." I seem, to myself, as natural as any hamster, rosebush, cockroach, bear, rock, pelican, or star anywhere. I may be peculiar, but that does not make me unnatural. Pelicans are peculiar, too. Lobsters are very peculiar.

I think my blasphemous inability to develop a sense of guilt has to do with this inability to develop a feeling of being outside nature. When a moralist (Christian, Marxist, Libertarian or whoever) tells me I should not be what I am, I am not offended; I just think they are silly-as if they were telling a lobster not to be a lobster.

Einstein got into relativity by imagining vividly what it would feel like to be a photon. I got into whatever is wrong with me by imagining vividly what it is like to be a cow. I was living on a farm and doing acid at the time and maybe the six-legged majority on this planet somehow got more real (or as the mystics say, more Real) than the domesticated primates with whom I am supposed to identify. I don't know if I'm a star imagining progressive games in which I pretend to be a cow, a lobster, domesticated primate, etc. or if I'm a domesticated primate imagining I have been a star, a lobster, a dinosaur, etc.

Ecology and ethology make perfect sense to me. So does sociobiology, that bane of the Left. But nobody makes any sense when they start telling me that I'm unnatural or that any part of domesticated primate life is unnatural. I don't know why birds sing or why Beethoven wrote Sonata 23, but, while both astonish me, neither seems un-, anti-, super- or infra-natural to me.

I have read Theodore Roszak, who argues at length that everything or most things that I like are unnatural. I concluded that Roszak does not like the same things as me, but I could find no merit in his claim that what he likes is natural and what I like is unnatural. I think that he and I are equally natural, but different, as the purple-assed baboon and the preying mantis are equally natural, but different.

And I have read you, Arthur, arguing that nature is "mundane shit" but that did not change my perceptions. I merely registered that Arthur Hlavaty has different perceptions than me--which is not astonishing to me, since it is an axiom of my neurology that everybody has different perceptions. I continue to perceive all of nature, including myself, as beautiful, mysterious, grand, and radiant with intricate intelligence.

James Joyce said he had never met a boring person; he was a Humanist. I have never had a boring perception, because I am a Universalist.

In answer to Sam Konkin, I am an agnostic about every thing, not just about "God," and for totally pragmatic and selfish reasons. I have observed that when certitude enters a human mind, mental activity then quickly ceases. Wishing to continue mental activity, I therefore avoid certitude. This is not a philosophical position (I am not a philosopher) but an empirical rule for growth, change, and mental alertness.

I'm as agnostic about Sam Konkin as I am about "God," or more so, since I have had a great many experiences with "God," or with what is alleged to be "God," and only a few experiences with Sam Konkin or what is alleged to be Sam Konkin.

I am also dubious about Sam's proposition that if you can't prove something, you should assume it has been disproven, or pretend that it has been disproven, or label yourself as one who has disproven it. (This may not be exactly what Sam meant but it is as much as I can understand of his argument against agnosticism. I am sometimes slow.) I think at once of the alleged 10th planet beyond Pluto. Nobody has found it yet, but astronomers do not for that reason assume it is not there; they go on looking. Similarly, the proposed quarks in quantum theory have not been found yet, but physicists do not assume quarks are not there; they go on looking.

To "go on looking" seems worthwhile to me, because It is good exercize for the intelligence, and also because if one goes on looking, one generally finds something, although not always exactly what one was looking for.

I suspect that "God" is a term invented by humans in certain cultures to describe experiences of contact, or seeming contact, or mind-fusion, or seeming mind fusion, with an intelligence or intelligences that are, or seem to be, inhuman or trans-human or super-human. I suspect that similar experiences in other cultures led to the invention of terms like "the Buddha-nature," "the True Self," "the World Soul," "the Atman," "the Tao," and once, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, "the Force." I also suspect that Alan Watts was a very smart man in simply calling it It. And I suspect that contact, or seeming contact, with It provoked philosophers and scientists to such terms as "Mind" (as distinct from individual mind (Plato), "orgone" (Reich), "implicate order" (Bohr), "the psychoic Level" and "synchronicity" (Jung), the "neurogenetic" and "neuro-atomic" circuits (Leary), "Life Force" (Bergson, Shaw) "synergy" (Fuller). These are suspicions, not certitudes.

The Diagonal Relationship letters, No. 6

(Latest in a series of blog postings reprinting letters Wilson wrote to a fanzine, the Diagonal Relationship, about 30 years ago).

The Diagonal Relationship 16, 1980

Seeing myself as part of nature, rather than as an alien who landed here by mistake, does not incline me to determinism. In fact, it inclines me to the opposite...if not to free will in the classical theological sense, at least to a notion of give-and-take or feedback or flexibility in the system.

"In nature there is immediate adjustment but no Compulsion," said Chuang Chou, who also considered himself part of nature.

l am part of nature in that my mother and father produced me by purely natural processes, with no supernatural aid. r.\y DNA comes half from her, half from him, and is one node in a molecular message going back, via him, to Irish and Norwegian strains, and via her, to Hungarian, Austrian, and Polish-Jewish strands, and, further back, to various primates, other mammals, reptiles, fish etc.

Natural selection played a role every step of the way in this process. Which male mated with which, female involved some kind of stochastic process of "choice"--see Gregory Bateson's Mind and Nature.

Since I am whimsical, playful, imaginative etc., I assume that these traits can be traced back pretty far in this genetic roulette.

All of which is to reject traditional or constipated determinism. I also reject classical notions of free Will, of course, since there are some elements of determination in the process.

"In addition to a yes and a no, the universe contains a maybe," as David Finkelstein says. That's my view.

bThe Diagonal Relationship letters, No. 7

(Seventh in a series of letters reprinted from the Diagonal Relationship).

The Diagonal Relationship 17, 1981

I was delighted to read of your oceanic experience at the Samhain festival.

The first "satori" is a turning point; the second is much easier. After a while, it becomes fairly regular and even deeper....One discovers gradations in the oceanic, more and more comes through....(See Maslow on what he calls "the Peak Experience.")

Encouragement: it tends to happen after 35, as documented by Bucke in Cosmic Consciousness. If this is the fifth neurological circuit, as Leary sez, it may be genetically programmed. Bio-survival circuit turns on at birth, emotional-territorial circuit at about 8 months (walking), semantic circuit between one and two years, sociosexual circuit at puberty, between 11 and 13. Neurosomatic (oceanic) may be more and more likely to open up (if one is not rigidly armored against it) the more years one lives after about 35 or 40....Maybe it is becoming more common because people are living longer than they used to.

Further encouragement: in many cases, after neurosomatic circuit begins to work, conditions like asthma "miraculously" disappear. (That's why Mary Baker Eddy invented Christian Science after her fifth circuit opened....)

I don't share Michael Shoemaker's disdain for those who think they have found something new, or for those who think they are important. Everybody I admire in history (a) thought they found something new and (b) thought they were important. E.g. Beethoven, Shakespeare, Joyce, Michelangelo, Galileo, Leonardo, Jefferson, Newton, Blake, Frank Lloyd Wright, etc. etc. etc. As Wright said, give me honest arrogance rather than hypocritical humility any day. And as Mark Twain said, it is dangerous to associate with the depressed, because they will make you depressed, whereas those who expect to accomplish great things will make you think you can do great things yourself.

All my friends believe they are geniuses or damned close to it; that's why they're fun to have around. You can find all the humility you ever care to see at a mental health clinic, but that scene is very dreary indeed.

I also disagree with Shoemaker's Ecclesiastes-like insistence that "there is nothing new under the sun." Evolution being a stochastic process, there is newness appearing every second; one has only to open one's eyes and LOOK for it. Besides, as Picasso or somebody else of that school said once, Art always shows heredity but never shows identity. Many are children or grandchildren of Pirandello, as Shoemaker would have it, but all are new voices nonetheless.

I hope that Shoemaker soon comes to feel that he is so damned COSMICALLY important that he will enjoy rather than deprecate the possibility that others are important, too.

(A) Anybody who speaks English probably has, somewhere, a signal that I can learn from; (B) The more important they think they are, the more likely they are to utter that signal.

In this connection, I also dissent from Mary Frey's expressed wish that people stop discussing religion in your pages. I had no desire to write anything about religion for you when 1 saw that letter, but after seeing it I nonetheless felt constrained, repressed, mildly annoyed, and somewhat (in the jargon of the day) "dehumanized." I think the desire to communicate is very strong in third-circuited (symbol-using) critters and all repressions of it are unhealthy. It is, in general, much better for humanity if those who wish to avoid certain signals (political, religious, pornographic or whatever) simply AVOID them, i.e., avert their eyes, go elsewhere, etc., rather than trying to shut up those who wish to communicate. That is, I think it is more in keeping with our humanity for people to walk away from communication than to stifle the communicator. (This is a generalization but not an absolute. In some cases, seeing real distress, I am willing to stifle myself until an unhappy person leaves the scene. Courtesy and tact are real factors even if one can't include them in a legal definition of civil liberties....)

Since I believe that ONLY immediate sense impressions are given to us by the universe (and even they are edited by our previous imprints and ideas), all maps and models and theories are projections of the mind that creates them. Thus, the Atheist creates an Atheist universe, the Theist creates a Theist universe...and both are too modest to take credit for such marvelous artistic-philosophical organizing and information making skill! (They don't even take credit, generally, for making roses red....) Perhaps they both need more sense of self-importance.

The Diagonal Relationship letters, No. 8

(Another of a series of letters Robert Anton Wilson wrote to the fanzine the Diagonal Relationship. Roy Tackett, mentioned here, was a famous science fiction fan; I used to get fanzines from him years ago. His Wikipedia biography says Tackett "was a rifleman with the United States Marine Corps during Wolrd War II who was credited with the introduction of science fiction to Japan following the war when he was stationed in that nation as part of the American occupation.")

The Diagonal Relationship 18, 1981

In answer to Roy Tackett's question, "How many of these professed believers in the ancient gods have even the slightest knowledge of the ancient gods?" I would say: Having met with hundreds of neopagans in all parts of the country, I have been astonished at the abundant erudition they generally possess and their extensive and sometimes scholarly or pedantic knowledge of minute details about the old religions. If Mr. Tackett's question was rhetorical and he assumed the answer would be that most neopagans know little about their historical origins, then either he has met a different sampling than I have, or he has met few or none and formed his opinions without data. In any case, Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moonis the most complete sociological study of neopaganism thus far, and it confirms my own impression of the generally high level of erudition among neopagans.

I assume that Tackett's sentence, "A superstition is a superstition is a superstition is a superstition is a superstition," is some kind of incantation. Certainly, he could not intend it as argument, since it is only a tautology. Perhaps there is a missing first term and we are to understand it as meaning "paganism is a superstition" etc. In that case, it is not a tautology, but a mere assertion, and still does not qualify as an argument. It is not clear to me whether Mr. Tackett will not argue his position or does not know how to argue it. Or perhaps his letter was a clever piece of satire, intended to illustrate the axiom that ignorance is the origin of intolerance.

As a lover of the past as well as the present and the future, I was delighted with David Palter's letter, in which he frankly stipulated that he did not try the Thoth exercise before passing judgment on it. I think all archaic ideas should be revived periodically, so that we may look at them anew and reevaluate them; and it is refreshing to have the classical antiexperimentalist dogma reasserted in our time. I had thought that position vanished around the time the Inquisition refused to look through Galileo's telescope before condemning what he saw through it. I hope Mr. Palter will continue to enlighten us about experiments he hasn't tried and Mr. Tackett to inform us about groups he scarcely knows

The Diagonal Relationship letters, No. 9

(Last in a series of letters reprinted from the fanzine the Diagonal Relationship. A short letter from Robert Shea also is included.)

The Diagonal Relationship 20, 1982

My apologies to Mr. David Palter. His original letter attacking the Thoth exercise sounded dogmatic and intolerant to me, and I thought it was funny for someone to sound so certain about an experiment which he admitted he had never tried. Due to this misunderstanding, I wrote a short rebuttal which be quite correctly describes as "baroque sarcasm"; be also says that he was not dogmatic about the experiment, but only tentative. Well, everybody has a right to form tentative opinions (pro and con) about experiments they haven' t tried, so there is no real argument between Pa1ter and me. I merely misunderstood his style of expression.

Since this subject has aroused debate by others as well as Palter, I would like to add something. The Thoth exercise is in four parts. These are (1) the traditional assumption of god-forms, out of gnosticism and Tibetan Buddhism; (2) experiments in self-hypnosis with tape recorder; (:3) experiments in self-hypnosis adding marijuana to tape recorder; (4) reading books by Timothy Leary, John Lilly, Aleister Crowley, G. 1. Gurdjieff, Israel Regardie, and Mary Baker Eddy. These books will provide six contrasting "maps" (or models, or paradigms) to interpret the results obtained in steps 1, 2, and 3. Seeing that each of these "maps" fits the results to some degree leads to the last, synthesizing step of forming one's own conclusions about what such exercises offer and show many neurological programs they can be extended to reprogram. These books also suggest many other, more advanced exercises to accomplish more radical reprogramming and reimprinting.

Anybody who shares Palter's dread of such matters should emphatically emulate him in avoiding such experiments. "Fear is failure and the forerunner of failure"; or in Freudian terms, those who fear have reason to fear. There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamed of in Mr. Palter's philosophy, and one should not gaze into them if one is not prepared to have them gaze back at one.

And one from Shea (1980)

We have a lot to be thankful for. Many of us were too young to experience the Scopes trial, the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, the days when books like Ulysses had to be smuggled into the country, the McCarthy era and the judicial murder of the Rosenbergs. Now, as a consequence of election day 1980 we have a chance to live through a replay of those great days. Let us gird our loins, because if the New Christian Right has its way it will soon be illegal to have loins at all.