|Index||5 reviews in total|
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:.
... I can say this unequivocally regarding Robert Anton Wilson. The
man's wit and glittering intelligence is utterly phenomenal. His humor
and light is infectious. This DVD is essential viewing because it is
the only place I know of where one can see and hear the man. Robert
Anton Wilson's books have changed my life. He has entertained, dazzled,
and enthralled me, helping me to become a more enlightened,
intelligent, and compassionate person in the process. It made me
incredibly sad to hear that RAW is having major financial difficulties
right now in the Twilight of his amazing life. This is a grave
injustice. It boggles my mind that this incredible man is not more
known. The fact that he has such a brilliant and relevant oeuvre of
work, yet is penniless actually makes me want to cry (and nothing ever
makes me feel that way).
If you are reading this review, you no doubt are familiar with RAW's amazing books. You need to purchase this DVD immediately. Not only will it help RAW financially, it will also help you. If you have not read any of RAW's books but happened to serendipitously stumble across this DVD, I highly recommend reading one of them first. 'Schrödinger's Cat' is possibly my favorite fiction book of all time. 'Prometheus Rising' is an amazing life-changing operator's manual for the infinitely lovely human brain. Either of these books or 'Cosmic Trigger' would be perfect entry points into the one-of-a-kind body of work put forth by RAW.
I realize I have not talked much about the DVD, and therefore this may not be the most affective review... however, whilst bumbling around Amazon, I happened upon this DVD (which I purchased 3 years ago), and felt instantly and very strongly compelled to give it my glowing endorsement. This is more of an endorsement for the amazing polymath Robert Anton Wilson, than anything else. That being said, if you are a fan of RAW, you MUST purchase this DVD immediately. It is touching, intelligent, fascinating, entertaining, and like nothing else- just like Robert Anton Wilson...
Although much of Wilson's work "is" only either glossed over quickly or
not mentioned at all, this film still contains a fitting overview of a
I am an avid fan of Mr. Wilson and advise anyone who has either had brief encounters with him or none at all should see this piece and then read some of his books. Well worth the time...
Open your mind and let the multitude of information nuggets that Wilson has collected over his life of study flood in, taking you through the magick of language to quantum pycology, round conspiracy and politics to astral plains, reality tunnels and the persistance of the idiot...
Love life...be optimistic and keep smiling...Why can't we write shorter reviews for IMDb?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At one time I invested a lot of time in these guys, Wilson, Fuller,
Watts, Leary, Dick... Spent time with them. Worked.
Wilson's ability was a simple capability to articulate a coherent story woven from whatever reality he was in at the time. Its fairly amusing if you take it like any movie fiction.
He says one thing worthwhile: we live in a world of models and are trapped in metaphor. Its not particularly original, and becomes rather sophomoric when he then proceeds to elaborate that insight with all sorts of borrowed bits of abstraction dogma.
And its that collage of stuff on which he built a following: a melange of conspiracies, miscellaneous new age cosmologies, observations on logic and quantum mechanics and personal hallucinations. Each one of these (excepting the dreams and visions of course) are based on rather profound misunderstandings, juvenile simplifications and deliberate adjustments to make a good story.
Here's an interesting story. Some hundred and fifty years ago an earnest woman studied in Tibet, then virtually unknown in the west. She learned certain things and brought them home, forming the Theosophical Society. The interesting thing is that she understandably got some things wrong, including one very significant concept resulting from a translation error.
Nearly every new age movement promulgates that mistake, and because Tibet's religious establishment depends on the attentions of the west, they have largely adjusted their public stance to incorporate that error, essentially reinventing their religion to suit expectations.
Wilson does this wholesale, grabbing things here and there from significant thinkers, getting them wrong in profound ways and then putting the pieces together as he thinks fit because "that's the way it must be." This is the same principle used by religious fundamentalists to reinvent traditions to fit their foibles. If he wasn't such a fringe personality, I'd be warning against him as I do more influential preachers.
As it is, his fictional cosmologies are more interesting than you find in films like "Constantine," "Matrix" and a host of Vampire conspiracy projects. Someone, someday may weave a project out of it of the quality of "Bladerunner." Until then, he's slightly amusing, a talented storyteller and irritatingly wrong when he cites details.
Quite apart from whether Wilson is worth your time, is this a good documentary? It isn't really a film at all in the sense that his imagination deserves. It is instead a collection of filmed talks he gave, with insipid space music imposed and occasionally some of those TeeVee-inspired special effects that have come to stand for ersatz mysticism. Appropriate.
If this stuff interests you, you really need to study the systems involved. There's something there beyond this cereal-box rendition, and you can't stick it on yourself with water.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
I'm not going to approach and critique the theories of RAW. I mean,
this is a site about movies and whether the movie delivers or is
well-made, and not a site debating philosophy.
Having said that, this video really blows. It's one talking-head shot of RAW after another. Some of it is archival video, so you can see how he has aged over the years, and that's pretty cool. But, otherwise, the viewing experience is relentlessly monotonous.
It's a strange comparison, but I kept thinking of the Sunday afternoon when I watched some of the Barbra Streisand star vehicle *Funny Lady* (another really bad movie). After a while, I was so OD'd on Barbra, I kept wishing there would be one scene that she wouldn't appear in: you know, a "meanwhile, other characters in the movie were up to something else..." moment. But it was all about Barbra. Well this video is RAW's *Funny Lady*.
So, if your idea of a good time is to look at multiple takes and angles of the face of RAW while he prattles on with his theories, assembled in a lame structure that doesn't add any interest or insight, then be my guest. For me, I couldn't take it after 20 minutes.
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