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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Were Living in R.A.W's world
Live From Chapel Perilous
We're living in Robert Anton Wilson's world
Jesse Walker
In 1973 Thomas Pynchon published an enormous experimental novel called Gravity's Rainbow. In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published an enormous experimental trilogy called Illuminatus! Both were written at about the same time, and both offered panoramic...
Published on Jan. 6 2004 by A CLANG HERB DIE

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Trying a little too hard (make that a lot too hard)
3 STARS ONLY BECAUSE I LIKE THE SUBJECT MATTER. Otherwise, 2 stars.
This book tries too hard to be mindblowing and, unfortunately, the only way it aspires to this end is by confusion. There are several groups of characters in this trilogy who have different beliefs. Each group is presented a little bit at a time contrasted with the others, making it difficult to keep...
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by Sam


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Were Living in R.A.W's world, Jan. 6 2004
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
Live From Chapel Perilous
We're living in Robert Anton Wilson's world
Jesse Walker
In 1973 Thomas Pynchon published an enormous experimental novel called Gravity's Rainbow. In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published an enormous experimental trilogy called Illuminatus! Both were written at about the same time, and both offered panoramic perspectives on history, liberty, and paranoia.
Gravity's Rainbow won the National Book Award. Illuminatus! won no awards, save a science fiction prize issued a decade later. Gravity's Rainbow is often assigned in college classes. Illuminatus! might be required in some school somewhere, but such spots are surely few. Judging from anecdotal evidence, more people have started Gravity's Rainbow than Illuminatus! But far more people have finished Illuminatus! than Gravity's Rainbow.
Robert Anton Wilson is the unacknowledged elephant in our cultural living room: a direct and indirect influence on popular books, movies, TV shows, music, games, comics, and commentary. (His late co-author has left less of a mark: Many of Wilson's books have cult followings, while the only Shea effort to make a big splash was the trilogy he wrote with Wilson.) Allusions to Wilson's work appear in places both classy and trashy: There's a Wilsonian stamp on films as diverse as Magnolia, The Mothman Prophecies, and Sex and Lucia, and it's because of Wilson and Shea that the Illuminati, a secret society that once lurked only in right-wing conspiracy tracts, became the villains of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider. Now Wilson's the star of a lively documentary, Maybe Logic, that's being screened at film festivals and distributed on DVD.
Wilson is a primary source for the ironic style of conspiracism, a sensibility that treats alleged cabals not as intrigues to be exposed or lies to be debunked but as a bizarre mutant mythos to be mined for laughs, metaphors, and social insights. If you were an amused aficionado of conspiracy folklore in 1963, you were a lone hobbyist or specialist. By 1983, you could turn to a number of fanzines, comics, and weirdo institutions such as the Church of the SubGenius, a satiric cult founded by some Illuminatus! fans. By 1993, you were a target market for several half-joking mass-market conspiracy tomes; your sensibility was reflected regularly in magazines such as Mondo 2000 and The Nose; and two brand new pop juggernauts were about to enter your heart: The X-Files and the World Wide Web.
And by 2003, this was all standard background noise. These days, choosing your politics is a matter of choosing who you're more afraid of, the Washington cabal that's openly trying to erase your freedoms or the various foreign cabals that are openly trying to kill you. Like it or not, we're living in Robert Anton Wilson's world.
Illuminatus! did not invent this mental universe sui generis. But it was Illuminatus! that created the template, with its sprawling story that treated every interpretation of the world, paranoid or not, as equally plausible and equally ridiculous. And it was Wilson whose other novels and essays, from the historical fiction The Earth Will Shake to the autobiographical Cosmic Trigger, explored conspiracy theories not to expose "the truth" but to reveal the ways we construct strange stories out of the everyday truths we only hazily perceive.
This wasn't a purely abstract intellectual pursuit. In the early '70s, experimenting heavily with psychedelics and other forms of "deliberately induced brain change," Wilson underwent a series of unusual...experiences. "Around 1973 I became convinced for a while that I was receiving messages from outer space," he informs us in Maybe Logic. "But then a psychic reader told me that I was actually channeling an ancient Chinese philosopher. And another psychic reader told me I was channeling a medieval Irish bard. And at that time I started reading neurology and I decided it was just my right brain talking to my left brain. And then I went to Ireland and discovered it was actually a six-foot-tall white rabbit -- they call it the pooka."
A little later he comments, "I like the giant rabbit from County Kerry because there's no chance anyone will take that literally."
Including yourself? asks the interviewer.
Wilson agrees. Then he adds, "Well, not too literally." He glances over his shoulder. "Sorry about that, Harvey."
If there's a central message to Wilson's work, the film tells us, it's the agnostic notion that you can't be completely certain about anything -- and that even when you're pretty sure an idea is baseless, it might be fun to entertain it for an evening. Somewhere between absolute belief and absolute incredulity, he tells us, the universe contains a maybe. To which anyone who follows the news these days can reply: No doubt.
Associate Editor Jesse Walker is the author of Rebels on the Air (NYU Press).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a good book, June 12 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
This is a hard book to get started on. When I first started reading this book I got a hundred pages into it and set it down for 6 months. I did this two more times. After about 2 years, I was in between jobs and had enough time to devote myself to reading it. Reading this book is like looking at Finnegen's Wake for the first time. It is a good book that needs time, patience and a little understaning. Treat it like a new puppy and you will watch it grow up in front of your eyes. There are many drug and sexual references in it but they are to be taken light heartedly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing., Sept. 29 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
This book was the strangest thing I have ever read. Hands down. And I've read some weird stuff. That said, I slogged through the first 100 pages not understanding what was going on. After another 100, I was having fun - I still didnt know what was going on, but I was warming to it. By the end I was absolutely hooked. I dont know why, its not really well written, its not really deep or philosophical. Its a fun read, and will keep you wondering about stuff until you're sick of it. But then you'll pick it back up and keep reading because you want to know what ridiculousness happens next. Not for close minded folk. That said, this book will always have a place of honor on my bookshelf.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy the synchronicity!, Oct. 31 2003
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
The first time I ran into this book was when I was browsing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of my local book store, being interested in the whole notion of *Global Conspiracy* I immediately noticed the book, but opted to buy Chuck Palahniuk's "Survivor," but made a mental note to go back and buy Illuminatus!
I completely forgot about it, untill several weeks later when I got an E-mail from my ex girlfriend telling me to check out this book. The odd thing is, she now lives in Basel, Switzerland - for those of you who don't know, this is the birthplace of LSD.
I went out, bought the book, and began to read it, and fell in love with it.
The book is hard to get into, and I don't think anyone can be faulted with tossing it aside in frustration, but this is also the joy of the book. You are forced to adapt to the bizzare anachronistic piece of work, wheter it is jumping to different points of view, mid paragraph, run on sentances that never end, concepts and ideas that are *zany* to say the least, by the end of the book, you are no longer reading a book, but looking, through a window, into another universe all together. Welcome to a universe where magic, mysticism, conspiracy, and great drugs all blend together to create a psychadelic trip into everything and nothing all at the same time.
If you are the kind of person who takes everything seriously, this book might not be for you, and thats not a knock on anyone, its not a matter of being *open minded* or *conservative* or whatever meaningless buzz word you attach to people, but merely a matter of being able to look in the mirror and get a good belly laugh. Its hard to really criticize a book that refuses to take itself seriously, going beyond sarcasm, satire, and farce, Illuminatus frequently breaks the 4th wall, and reads like the longest inside joke since the bible.
Illuminatus is definitely the poster child for the *Anti Anti-Novel* and definitely is not for everyone. So sit back with a beer and a spliff, unplug your phone, and get ready for one of the most interesting trips you've ever had. Not to mention, for months afterwards, you'll still be having flashbacks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy smokes!!!, Jan. 15 2009
By 
S. Hothi - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
WOW this book completely destroyed my mind (in a non bad way). I had to work really hard to keep my focus for the first couple of hundred pages but by the start of the second book i was totally captivated.

If only there was a real life Hagbard Celine...

this book comes highly recommended, in fact this is my #1 most recommended book of all time.

Read it. Get confused by it. Love it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites, Feb. 29 2004
By 
Matt (Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
As soon as I read the last word in this book, I turned right back to the first page and started again. It was that good. It was actually better the second time. Some things are quite confusing the first time. Just be sure you can think VERY clearly before you start reading.....
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous, dated, and wonderful, June 8 2004
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
There's no excuse for this book. It's a half-baked collection of every absurd consiracy theory ever conceived, tied together with an implausible plot, anarchist politics, and laughable sex scenes. And strangely enough, it's all quite good.
I've read this book probably five or six times to date. I can't say I really get anything new out of it, but I do have a hell of a time.
You can take this book two ways. One is to take it seriously - a college friend did this, claiming that it was his Bible. That way lies raving paranoia, social ostracism and an eventual rendezvous with the Church of the Subgenius (most of whose ideas make an initial appearence here, albeit without the entertaining illustrations.)
The second way is to take it as an entertaining and absurd story - a pop-culture spin on Foucault's Pendulum that contains some weird and ridiculous ideas that, 500 pages in, start to make a suspicious amount of sense.
Either way, you'll find your head spinning for a few days after finishing, and you'll find yourself obsessively checking for occurrences of the law of fives. You might even convince yourself you see a fnord or two. (These references make, no doubt, little sense to someone who has not read the book. Apologies.)
And then you may or may not recover. If you're like me, your world view will have been pleasantly set slightly askew, and you'll have had a fun ride.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Jan. 3 2010
By 
T. Chevrier (Montreal) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
The book was in the condition described, and the delivery was prompt. thank you this great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a test, July 10 2004
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This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
This book is scientifically engineered to rewire your brain. It is a fictional walkthrough of Leary's Eight Circuits of consciousness and a living testament to the statement, "If you see the Buddha on the road. Kill him."
If you don't enjoy having someone challenge you mentally, go back to Grisham, and Clancey, this is not the book for you.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Trying a little too hard (make that a lot too hard), Feb. 4 2004
This review is from: The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan (Paperback)
3 STARS ONLY BECAUSE I LIKE THE SUBJECT MATTER. Otherwise, 2 stars.
This book tries too hard to be mindblowing and, unfortunately, the only way it aspires to this end is by confusion. There are several groups of characters in this trilogy who have different beliefs. Each group is presented a little bit at a time contrasted with the others, making it difficult to keep track of which group believes what.
The narrative jumps back and forth in time, dreams, 1st person, 3rd person, fantasies, hallucinations, tricks of pereception, etc. I see the reason for this. It's really pretty obvious, especially when you're talking about RAWilson. What's real, what's belief and what's the importance of either? Yes, yes, great point. But, please. 700 pages or so of this nonsense is a bit much. Dude, my mind is blown. Not from this, though.
The book would have made a MUCH better read if the ideas and the plot were developed clearly. In fact, it probably would have been more mindblowing when reality shifts occur. When the whole book is a mess, it reads very much like a William Burroughs' cut-up book like The Ticket That Exploded (you might read 3 entire pages with a wandering mind and not even bother to go back and reread it to be sure of what you read because it's most likely not very important).
Loaded with disjointed conversations which also serve to completely bore the heck out of the reader. Down-to-earth fictional conversations of important historical figures occur frequently -- for what? To show their fictional 60s-era humanity? Boring.
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