Archive for March, 2010


Robert Anton Wilson dabbled all his life in magical phenomena. But he also regarded such things with a bemused, skeptical eye.

In Down to Earth he describes performing, while under the influence of LSD, a Crowleyoid ritual designed to activate the magician’s “true will.” After chanting the ritual’s invocation, he was confronted by a ring of dog-faced demons—”black and sinister, and they slavered or frothed a bit at the mouth[.]”

Recalling a bit of wisdom from shamanism—”If you feed Them, they will become Allies instead of Foes”—Wilson concentrated on party food: his altar suddenly filled with shrimp cocktail with hot red sauce, one of Wilson’s favorite snacks. He began distributing the shrimp to the demons, who promptly transformed into the nuns who had hounded him in grammar school, now “shrunk into rather comic dwarfs. In school they had been bigger than me, but now I was bigger than them. They had lost all ability to terrify me.”

Wilson broke the circle, grounded the energy, and the nuns faded away.

Then I sprawled on the bed and laughed like a blithering idiot for a half hour. That was one of the many, many times I felt totally convinced that all the “entities” involved in Magic are parts of our minds.


A Man In Full

Retired interlocutor Dick Cavett has taken to contributing from time to time reminiscences to the New York Times‘ “Opinionator” blog. I find them worth the read. Especially his recent “Awesome, And Then Some,” recounting his encounter with Marion Morrison, better known as John Wayne, on the set of the actor’s final film, The Shootist.

Cavett was searching for an additional “name” to join Mae West, Mickey Rooney, and Gene Kelly for his Dick Cavett’s Backlot USA TV special. Cavett’s producer dispatched him to the Universal lot, and there, on “Western street,” Cavett, to his complete astonishment, discovered that Wayne was a long-time fan, and lucid appreciator of . . . Noel Coward.

Their conversation is a satisfying reminder that it is folly to slot people, and is reprinted beyond the “furthur.”


When I Worked

March 2010