Here is a review of the excellent Maybe Logic Robert Anton Wilson documentary from the Eureka Times-Standard… ‘Maybe Logic – The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson’
Finally, the perfect film has been made about Robert Anton Wilson. Part mystic, part prophet, part quantum scientist and all optimist, Wilson has grown over the years from a cultish science-fiction writer into a revered, almost mythical, icon ala Timothy Leary. Throughout his fiction and non-fiction works alike, Wilson manages to weave in certain diverse topics, ones all yet ultimately headed in the same direction. From politics to neuroscience to occultism to Zen Buddhism, Wilson breaks down the most esoteric philosophies and models using wit, humbleness and pure charm.
The documentary, “Maybe Logic: The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson,” chronicles the philosophy and themes of Wilson, perhaps best known for his science-fiction/fantasy work “The Illuminatus!” trilogy, first published in the mid-’70s, and a nonfiction work, “Cosmic Trigger.”
“The key was finding the core of everything he talks about,” said director Lance Bauscher, a former Humboldt State University student. “That’s where the name ‘Maybe Logic’ came from. It’s really at the heart of all he’s talking about — this probabilistic perspective at the center of everything.”
Bauscher, who also wrote, edited, designed and co-producer the film, met Wilson about three years ago in Capitola, near Santa Cruz, where they both live. He said Wilson was eager to do the documentary when the idea came up.
“He’s a communicator, so he jumped right at it,” Bauscher said. “It’s not an objective film. He’s the subject, and we wanted to celebrate his ideas.” Bauscher ended up with about 100 hours of film.
“He can just talk and talk, and his knowledge and memory recall is extraordinary,” Bauscher said. “There are so many aspects to him, but we really just went into the philosophy of Bob. He’s just another guy — he’s just extremely bright, and so funny and so humble. He doesn’t waste words.”
“I started rebelling in my teens, and I’m rebelling more every year,” the 71-year-old Wilson says at the beginning of the film. Although in poor health, suffering from post-polio syndrome, Wilson seems more alive now than ever. With his shining eyes, snow white beard and simple, humorous aphorisms, its easy to take him for an image of Old Testament prophet from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel- that is, if prophets have Brooklyn accents.
Reverend Ivan Stang, of the Church of the Subgenius, perhaps best puts it when he introduces Wilson at an event as, “The Jerry Fallwell of quantum physics, the Carl Sagan of religion, the Arnold Schwarzenegger of feminism … and the Robert Anton Wilson of humanity.”
Spliced together with old footage of Wilson during interviews, speaking engagements and stand-up comedy throughout the last three decades, the film also includes interviews with Wilson’s colleagues, including author Tom Robbins and legendary ’60s figure Paul Krassner. Cleverly and tastefully assembling Wilson’s diffuse observations, the documentary does a remarkable job of touching on all of the motifs in Wilson’s work.
Some fans, however, may be disappointed the political conspiracy theories often mentioned in Wilson’s books, and which “The Illuminatus! Trilogy” is modeled after, aren’t given more screen time.
“The conspiracy theories aren’t what Bob is all about,” Bauscher said. “He just uses them as a teaching tool.”
Indeed, Wilson refutes conspiracy theories based on the logic that nothing is true, and everything is true.
“The strongest conspiracy is the conspiracy of the stupid,” he says in the film. The film begins with Wilson laying out the basic tenets of his beliefs, or rather, what he believes to be the case.
“Everybody abstracts a different reality tunnel. We don’t know what is or what isn’t,” he says. “All we know is what we tuned in or didn’t tune in.”
Beautifully intertwining the scientist Wilson with the humanitarian Wilson, the film moves in a seamless arc, managing to encompass all of Wilson’s teaching methods and philosophies.
“Every model we make tells us about how our minds work, just as much as it tells us about the universe.
These are just symbolic human games,” says Wilson, the quantum physicist, when reminding his audience that the “map is not the territory.”
As a Discordian Pope, Wilson, who is fond of quoting James Joyce and William Blake, also tells his audience, “Most people just take themselves too damn seriously, which is why they act like damn fools.”
Speaking about his illness, a major part of his life these days, and his reliance on medical marijuana for pain control, Wilson says, “The high is part of the cure, every disease in this world is improved if you feel happy and good … I don’t know why the government wants me to be in pain.”
Calling the political climate of current society “the last dying gasp of the dinosaur age,” Wilson lays out his ideas for a more humane world: The absence of pain and enough food and clean water for everyone. “We have the capability to that now,” he says. “And if that happened, why would anyone want to become a terrorist?”
Wilson also outlines interest in occultism, paganism and Eastern philosophies, while conjoining them with modern-day neuroscience and physics through the idea that mysticism is just another branch of science.
Despite being a Buddhist, Discordian, Subgenius and Witch, Wilson remains skeptical.
“B.S. stands for belief system,” he says. “Don’t accept anyone else’s, and don’t believe totally in your own.”
Wilson’s playfulness is captured in the sleek production of the film’s quality. The soundtrack, provided by avant-garde hip-hop label Ninja Tunes, is another added bonus. Co-creator of the label, Matt Black, was more than eager to help with the music.
“Bob’s influence is huge,” Bauscher said. “He’s far from mainstream, but people in modern music circles are really into him.” The film is not yet in major distribution, and has been showing in select cities in the Pacific Northwest. Soon it will be shown in England, the Santa Fe Film Festival and the San Francisco Film Festival.
“We hope to show it at a lot of film festivals,” Bauscher said. “Hopefully it will move outside of Bob fans into the film community. It’s really for fans today who love his stuff, but also for fans who are yet to be fans.”
Those familiar with Wilson’s life through his non-fiction books, will be glad to see major events in the author’s life extrapolated upon. Above all, however, the documentary capture’s Wilson’s seductively positive outlook.
“I believe a golden age is possible in the future,” Wilson says. “And why not try for it?”
Making its Northern California premiere on Monday and Tuesday, the film will be playing at Humboldt State University’s Van Duzer Theatre at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6. For more information about the documentary visit www.maybelogic.com