Illuminatus! vs Atlas Shrugged

Illuminatus! vs Atlas Shrugged

originally posted May 31, 2012

As has been widely noted, the twenty-first century is strange, worrying and makes very little sense. Help is at hand, however, because the late twentieth century produced two huge novels which shed light on our current predicament. These two books are polar opposites, yet oddly similar – opposed twins, in other words, like Cain and Abel.

Both novels are ridiculously long. Both were largely ignored by the literary and educational establishments, due to their unmistakable whiff of madness (This fear of insanity is, of course, why the literary and educational establishments always miss out on all the good stuff.) They have both, however, found a devoted readership, been hailed as life changing, and have remained in print since publication. Between them, they explain much of our current twenty-first century world, from the underground anarchism of Anonymous and the shift from hierarchies to networks, to the Tea Party and neo-conservative hijack of American politics and the massive shift in wealth distribution towards the super rich.

These two books are, of course Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy (Co-written with Robert Shea, who I’m rudely leaving out of the picture in order to portray a false RAW/Rand dichotomy).

But – which is which? Fear not, the following guide will explain all: Read more

Brian Barritt vs The Grim Reaper

Brian Barritt vs The Grim Reaper

originally posted January 30, 2011

Brian Barritt died this morning at around 6am. He was 76.

When I first met Brian, nearly 15 years ago, he showed me the following passage from Tim Leary’s Confessions of a Hope Fiend. This was written in 1971:

“Brian is ancient but not old […] He has put as many drugs as possible into his body for thirty-six years and is obscenely healthy, diabolically wealthy, and looks about twenty. He intends to maintain this state for an indefinite period. He is not going to die; they will have to kill him.”

“He is not going to die; they will have to kill him…” That’s quite a way to describe someone. The ‘ancient but not old’ description seemed as apt when I met him in the 90s as it must have in 1971. It still seemed pretty accurate in 2011. In this context the ‘they will have to kill him comment’ felt something more than flippant. There was a Rasputin air about Brian. You couldn’t rule anything out. It is hard to accept that someone like that has gone. Of course, knowing Brian, it’s entirely possible that he died a few months ago, but he just kept going in order to freak out the doctors.

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