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Maybe Logic: The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson (2003)

Video  -  Documentary | Biography  -  23 July 2003 (USA)
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Guerrilla ontologist. Psychedelic magician. Outer head of the Illuminati. Quantum psychologist. Sit-down comic/philosopher. Discordian Pope. Whatever the label and rank, Robert Anton Wilson... See full summary »



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Title: Maybe Logic: The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson (Video 2003)

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Credited cast:
Robert Anton Wilson ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Valerie Corral ...
Paul Krassner ...
Tom Robbins ...
Douglas Rushkoff ...
R.U. Sirius ...
Douglass Smith ...
Himself (as Ivan Stang)


Guerrilla ontologist. Psychedelic magician. Outer head of the Illuminati. Quantum psychologist. Sit-down comic/philosopher. Discordian Pope. Whatever the label and rank, Robert Anton Wilson is undeniably one of the foundations of 21th Century Western counterculture. Maybe Logic - The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson is a cinematic alchemy that conjures it all together in a hilarious and mind-bending journey guaranteed to increase your brain size 2 - 3 inches! From the water coolers and staff meetings of Playboy and the earth-shattering transmission of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, to fire-breathing senior citizen and Taoist sage, Robert Anton Wilson is a man who has passed through the trials of chapel perilous and found himself on wondrous ground where nothing is for certain, even the treasured companionship of a six-foot-tall white rabbit. Featuring RAW video spanning 25 years and the best of over 100 hours of footage thoroughly tweaked, transmuted and regenerated, Maybe Logic ... Written by Anonymous

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23 July 2003 (USA)  »

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Fascinating, important, imperfect
8 August 2004 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Long live the Fnord.

This film is long overdue, with the era of the Dying Gurus already a decade past us (when we stood by the deaths of Timothy Leary, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg amongst others).

But mind you, Bob Wilson's not dead!

Some say he'll never die - in that regard his position resembles that of his friend Leary's, who became elevated through his actions and words more than his written works as one of the talking heads of the He(a)donic generation, and retroactively of generations to come.

I draw in Leary comparisons, for not only did Wilson co-author "Neuropolitique" with Leary, there is moreover a deep history of correspondence and friendship between the two, and their courses arguably parallel an important part of the social history of the United States of the time on a deep level: With the "Illuminatus!" trilogy (co-authored with R.Shea) and the subsequent solo-efforts (Prometheus Rising, Cosmic Trigger 1-3, Schrödinger's Cat trilogy etc.) Bob amended himself to (and to himself) a social fabric of affiliations, influences, friendships, legacies, stories and social policies that touches on the literary (Joyce, Pound, Ginsberg etc.) as well as philosophical (Watts, McLuhan etc.) traditions of 20th century thought.

To the discredit of this film (and as astute reviewers elsewhere have pointed out), the wholesale turmoil of the 60's and early 70's (the time of Wilson's youthful prime perhaps) is inadequately brought forth

  • and surprisingly even Leary or, say, the Beats get here barely a

mention. You'd think Wilson's reality tunnel arose out of a vacuum - or, worse yet, out of the 80's and the 90's!

The conscious decision by the film team to focus more on fragmentary clips and flashbacks (!) of Wilsonian thoughts (which I dare not call his "philosophy") than on his biographical data is somewhat understandable, since it's his thinking that matters, but the problems of decontextualization tend to obscure the grander view.

A part of the problems of the film are a concomitant of the target subject's Old Age. Luckily the film doesn't move as slowly as the ailing medical marijuana patient Bob. Blessed be him, though, for still managing to publicly give the President the finger from his wheelchair!

The mellow feel and the subtle flow of the film saves a lot, by tying the fragmentary representation into a somewhat logical (well, maybe-logical!) procession, unhindered by breaks, though the Jumps from one issue to another seem somewhat random. But even if there is no great underlying theme unfolding, the collection of videos and interviews does have a sense of "missionary zeal" in giving Bob a fair hearing, and this I'm glad to say it does.

An honorable mention goes the soundtrack team for picking Boards of Canada's "Everything You Do Is A Balloon" for a near-perfect match of background music and foreground emotions. The rest of the score is equally mellow, and never inappropriate.

Interviewees include Paul Krassner and Tom Robbins. Unfortunately George Carlin didn't make it to the film, because he is probably the most vibrant and well-known (not to mention pretty f'king funny!) of the living advocates of Wilson's thought. But, nothing's perfect, not even Bob. Not even Bob... Maybe.

Altogether, seeing someone as old as Bob still so funny and witty as he is here is touching. This film is nicely propaedeutic to all novices in his thought, and neatly nostalgic to all his long-term readers. More of James Joyce would've been appropriate, but fudge it: just go read Finnegan's Wake and then you see precisely what "Maybe Logic" means in theory and in practice!

Well, my conclusion stands simply as an invitation to GO SEE this documentary, which, with all its faults, manages not to screw it up too bad (unlike the makers of "The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick" for example - in which film Bob Wilson incidentally makes an appearance as well): At 80 minutes the capturing of the mind as wide as Wilson's seems an impossible task, and considering the challenges facing a biographical documentary, this is not only a non-failure - this is pretty much a success. A goal. A victory. A dance. A joy. A:.A:.

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