Illuminatus! as prophetic work…

I have admired Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Shea’s Illuminatus! trilogy since I first read it more than 20 years ago. It has always struck me as a profound work – but not an especially prophetic one…

Here is an article that suggests links between the trilogy and the events that started around September 11.

I reproduce parts of it below but would direct you to the whole article for more…

The novel […] is Illuminatus! by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, published as a trilogy in 1975. […] The novel itself famously defies summary, but it revolves around an Illuminati plot to exterminate the human race, foiled in the nick of time by a motley alliance of anarchists. Along the way there’s lots of sex, drugs, occultism, libertarian philosophy, and conspiracy theory; the confused protagonists are constantly being fed contradictory information, and inventing new theories of their predicament. Like Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, the book’s structure was evidently modelled on the cabalistic Tree of Life, and may embody some of the “Golden Dawn” esoteric philosophy; but the book’s publishers cut a lot of the text out (it was meant to be five volumes long), and probably disrupted the symbolism. Finally, I should point out that Illuminatus! also featured the made-up religion of Discordianism, which gained a lot of “adherents” in the 1990s via the Internet. A comparable thing happened to the Church of All Worlds from Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land; and of course we now have people listing their religion as “Jedi” on the census, and learning to speak Klingon; and the political philosophy of Objectivism also started life in a novel. But I digress.

So how do “Chaney”, anthrax, and the Pentagon feature in the novel? According to the quotation which begins the novel, “The history of the world is the history of the warfare between secret societies.” The Illuminati are the conspiracy that runs the world and secretly plans genocide; the Discordians are the counterconspiracy. There is an immortal discorporeal entity, the “Eater of Souls”, trapped magically within the Pentagon; the Illuminati feed it a steady diet of murdered lives, and hope to achieve a similar immortality by engineering an apocalypse. They have several plans in motion towards that end, one of which is the creation of a virulent biological weapon, “Anthrax Leprosy Pi”, at a secret desert facility near Las Vegas. The anthrax gets loose and infects a few people, including Markoff Chaney, a one-man subversion squad who is tracked down and recruited by the Discordians. The US government declares martial law in order to contain the spread of the plague; this crackdown prompts enormous civil disturbance, and leads some young terrorists to blow a hole in one side of the Pentagon. The Eater of Souls escapes, and takes its revenge upon its Illuminati captors. The spread of the anthrax is halted, as are the other schemes, and the world is saved for now.

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