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Prometheus Rising

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Imagine trying to make sense of an amalgam of Timothy Leary's eight neurological circuits, G.I. Gurdjieff's self-observation exercises, Alfred Korzybskis general semantics, Aleister Crowley's magical theorems, and the several disciplines of Yoga; not to mention Christian Science, relativity, quantum mechanics, and many other approaches to understanding the world around us! That is exactly what Robert Anton Wilson does in Prometheus Rising. In short, this is a book about how the human mind works and what you can do to make the most of yours.

284 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1983

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About the author

Israel Regardie

111 books232 followers
Israel Regardie (born Francis Israel Regudy) was considered by many to be the last living Adept of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. At an early age, Regardie worked as Aleister Crowley's personal secretary. In addition to his extensive writings, Regardie practiced as a chiropractor and as a neo-Reichian therapist. He taught psychiatry at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and contributed articles to many psychology magazines.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 406 reviews
December 12, 2020
This volume should've been called after one of its chapters: 'How to brainwaash friends and robotize people'. Could've been a lot more popular!
Q: The easiest way to get brainwashed is to be born. (c)

Freaky but cool. Lots of Gedankenexperimenten (thought experiments) that are a bit mind-bending and two bits useful. They could also be quite ground-breaking if one's just learning about them for the 1st time.

These excercises are a lot of fun and go a long towards demonstrating that however many people there are, there will be lots of viewpoints. Well, unless everybody seriously goes about doing excercises of this kind:
2. Get roaring drunk and pound the table, telling everybody in a loud voice just what dumb assholes they all are.
7. Spend all day Sunday looking at animal shows on TV (getting stoned on weed, if this is permissible to you). Then go into the office the next day and observe the primate pack hierarchy carefully, like a scientist. (c)
1. If you are a Liberal, subscribe to the National Review, the country's most intelligent (and witty) conservative magazine, for a year. Each month try to enter their reality-tunnel for a few hours while reading their articles.
2. If you are a Conservative, subscribe to the New York Review of Books for a year and try to get into their head-space for a few hours a month.
3. If you are a Rationalist, subscribe to Fate magazine for a year.
4. If you are an occultist, join the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and read their journal, The Skeptical Inquirer, for a year.
5. Buy a copy of the Scientific American and read any article in it. Ask the following questions: Why do they sound so sure? Does the data support dogmatism at this point, or is dogma a primate habit (defending head-space)? Will these theories still be believed in 2011? In 2593?
7. Buy some ZOOM or LIFT (two names for the same caffeine-high stimulant) at a Health Food Store. (This gives a close approximation of the effects of illegal cocaine.) When you are Zooming or Lifted and your mind is racing, find a victim and explain the universe to him or her, until they are able to escape you.
What you experience in this "speed rap" is what the head of the compulsive Rationalist is always like. This is the verbal circuit gone wild and totally oblivious to information coming in on any other circuit. It explains why most people cannot stand Rationalists. "Speed" drugs evidently trigger neuro-transmitters characteristic of the verbal centers of the left cortex. (c)
1. Recreate vividly in imagination your first orgasm. To what extent do you still use the same accessories (stimuli) to turn you on?
2. Try to change your sexual imprint. See if you can reach orgasm by some method that has been taboo or unthinkable to you before.
3. Imagine that you are Rev. Jerry Falwell. Explain to an imaginary homosexual why his sexual imprint is "sinful" and should be changed at once. Include instructions on how to change it.
4. Imagine that you are a Gay man or Lesbian. Explain to Rev. Falwell why you will not or can not change your sexual imprint to please him.
5. Read Margaret Mead's Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. Then write a five-page proof that the taboos in our tribe make more sense objectively than the taboos of the tribes she studied. Be serious about it!
6. Choose the viewpoint of the Samoans in Dr. Mead's book above. Write a five-page proof that their taboos make more sense than those of our society. Be serious about it.
7. Re-read the paragraphs about the giraffe and the gosling. What does this tell you about your sexual imprint? What is your jeep or your ping-pong ball?
3. Accept the longevity hypothesis. Imagine you are going to live at least 300 years. How much of that time do you want to spend loafing? How many different jobs would you like to work at? How many sports, arts or sciences you never had time for, would you then find the time to enjoy?
1. Start collecting evidence that your phone is bugged.
2. Everybody gets a letter occasionally that is slightly damaged. Assume that somebody is opening your mail and clumsily resealing it.
3. Look around for evidence that your co-workers or neighbors think you're a bit queer and are planning to have you committed to a mental hospital.
4. Try living a whole week with the program, "Everybody likes me and tries to help me achieve all of my goals.
7. Try living forever with the metaprogram, "Everything works out more perfectly than I plan it." (c)

When the doctor tells the naked draftee, "Bend over. Spread your cheeks," so-called normal reality has ended as totally as if the victim had been incorporated into a surrealist movie. If an employer becomes too obnoxious, one can always find a new job. You cannot walk out on the U.S. or S.L. Army that way, because acute first-circuit helplessness is being imprinted. (c)
When the Russian mathematician, Ouspensky, was first studying with Gurdjieff, he had great trouble understanding Gurdjieff s insistence that most people are machines and totally unaware of the objective world around them. Then, one day, after World War I had begun, Ouspensky saw a truck full of artificial legs. These artificial legs were being sent to the frontline hospitals, for soldiers whose legs had not even been blown off yet, but whose legs would be blown off. The prediction that these legs would be blown off was so certain that the artificial legs were already on their way to replace the natural legs. The prediction was based on the mathematical certainty that millions of young men would march to the front, to be maimed and murdered, as mindlessly as cattle marching into a slaughterhouse.
In a flash, Ouspensky understood the mechanical nature of ordinary human consciousness (c)
Profile Image for Sebastian.
20 reviews11 followers
September 16, 2010
This book had some interesting information regarding psychology. It is a VERY quick read, and it DOES have interesting ideas in it, so it is recommended as a nice "bonus card" in anyone's psychology collection.

Starting with 5 stars:
-1 for unwarranted claims
-1 for only half of the book being interesting [the first half]
-1 for not having all that much information from which to build a synthesis

More in-depth review:

1. It's view on psychology I found a bit limited and boxy, I also found the authors treatment of the higher circuits to be vague and poorly described/correlated.

2. The author has made some clear mistakes in his assumption of "infinite growth" of human/social consciousness; including things like "we will all be immortal" in our life time, which at the time may have been true, but just because progress is doubling every X years does not mean it will for ever: life also operates in cycles and bell curves...

3. The author can't possibly describe what he is trying to achieve by only focusing on brain-maps, more synthesis is required.

Profile Image for Brandon Wicke.
51 reviews5 followers
April 1, 2016
This book (along with, perhaps, House of Leaves) prompts me to re-think my criteria when coming up with a rating for books. Never have I read something that's caused me to so completely re-evaluate myself and the world around me.

Having read Anton-Wilson's 'The Illuminatus! Trilogy' I was still uncertain precisely what to expect: sci-fi? philosophy? psychology? crack-pot mysticism? The answer, of course, was all of it. The author gives us an image of the world and the human 'mind' wherein we have the power to re-imprint ourselves and attain existence that one could only term 'miraculous.' Lucidly comparing esoteric and philosophical ideologies from around the globe he gives the reader the epiphany that the truth might lie at the factor shared by all of them: the power of belief.

Billed as an "owner's manual for the human mind," I can honestly say that it lived up to the claim, and that I will be forever engaged in snatching up any copies I can find and thrusting them upon my begrudging friends.
Profile Image for Annalise.
6 reviews5 followers
January 10, 2013
Grab your tin foil hats, kids! The soapbox man wrote another book about drugs, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, sociology, human development, and some sort of quantum bullshit.

I really wanted to like this book. I tried. But the pseudo-academic preachiness alone is too much. Despite being in its, like, millionth printing and having gone through revisions, it really shows its age with crazy notions about abnormal psychology, brain chemistry, evolution, and enlightenment (to name a few sore thumbs). I feel like I should mention the illustrative "figures" peppered throughout, but I'm really at a loss for appropriate words combining unease with counter-productivity. The exercises are inane, and I would strongly advise any author against using heavy sarcasm in print (the only exception being in satire...is this satire? Sometimes I wonder).

Maybe the original thesis this book was drawn from seemed not so much the bound notes of a raving loony, making more unsubstantiated claims per page than most books make in their entirety. I'd much rather attempt that. It could be filled with the wisdom of the universe; but, call me pedantic, I just can't swallow anything that reads like Dianetics.
Profile Image for Jamie Whitt.
12 reviews34 followers
November 10, 2009
I haven't read anything else of RAW's besides Quantum Psychology- but I'm a huge fan already. I will say that I liked Quantum Psych better-- it just seemed more focussed and a more productive read. This was fun-- but I think I would not have enjoyed it as much if I had read this first instead. So if you're new to RAW, this may or may not be the best starter book, but regardless, his wit, "insight," and subtle, dry humor were great, of course, and I recommend it to everyone. The exercises at the end of the chapters aren't as likely to be completed as those in Qua.Psych., but they're just as thought provoking.

I got the book specifically for its explanation of" brain-washing" and how human "robots" are created-- and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Ch.10 was a lot of fun.

That guy's comment below mine sums it up: "Read it...and open your eyes."
Profile Image for Wilhelmina.
144 reviews16 followers
May 11, 2014
2.5 rating, really.
There are some genuinely interesting ideas and perspectives discussed. But there are even more outlandish, outdated, and outright silly claims. Some people I discussed the book with suggested that atleast some of that is intentional, to make the reader work out what's valuable and what's not. I hope so, because if not the book is quite disappointing.

I would ultimately recommend reading it, but with a spoonful of salt and a critical (though still open!) mind. It does prompt you to reconsider things, and the exercises can be useful. But if you accept everything in the book without a second thought, perhaps you didn't fully understand it.
Profile Image for Robyn.
282 reviews27 followers
August 8, 2012
Do I agree with everything written in this book? No, but that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile read. RAW, as always, has given me something to chew on.

This is a book with a lot of wild claims, and plenty of it is completely off the wall, but there's a lot here that rings really true, and hits home for me. Everyone with any interest in how the mind works and what the ultimate truth of reality is should absolutely give this a read; it's funny, thought provoking, wildly optimistic and a little scary in a few places.

That said, I still found some of it fairly limiting, and hope that the author sets aside these ideas about classifying humans into broad categories in his other works. I've seen too many mystical works marred by this trope. (See The Celestine Prophecy or The Satanic Witch or Nocturnal Witchcraft: Magick After Dark, to name a very few) It's over simplifying and insulting, and I have my doubts about it as a useful tool. I let it pass with RAW, though, since he doesn't make it the basis of the book, nor does he try to claim that anyone will fit neatly into the mold, only presents it as one of many matrices to view reality through.

Aside from all that, this is a book you need to read twice, maybe even many, many more times before you fully plumb it's depths. I'm still not 100% certain about how I feel about this, but I'm eager to try out the exercises, and play around with this book for quite some time. Based on that alone, this is worth four stars.
Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books261 followers
June 16, 2020
It's hard to rate this book. I didn't learn nearly as much from it as I expected from the raving recommendations friends had given me. At the same time, Wilson's enthusiasm is contagious (even if a bit rash: no, we still don't have the chemicals to alter our mental states at will), and I found myself quoting certain ideas while talking with other friends. So I'm rounding it up to "really liked it." :)

A few reading notes:

Profile Image for tim.
66 reviews61 followers
February 17, 2008
Robert Anton Wilson manages yet again to pull the rug from right under my reality-tunnel. Infused with contagious optimism for the future of us domesticated primates, his only fault might be in guessing too soon the dates of our future collective evolutionary benchmarks. But just because what he hoped would have happened by now hasn't, doesn't mean it won't.

Case in point, just today the BBC posted a news article http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7... about the probability that by 2029 tiny robots will be implanted into human brains to boost intelligence and health. It sounds like science fiction, but would most people living only a hundred years ago (let alone a thousand) have guessed the technologies (and current consensus reality-tunnel) we live with/in today?

These "nanobots" are only one invention that could fulfill RAW's anticipation of life extension and the exponential increase of intelligence. Many may scoff or even cringe at the prospect of humans merging with technology, but it's been happening already for quite some time. Turning back now is hardly an option for a planet on the brink of collective collapse. More intelligence is the only way to ensure advancement to the next circuit.

Those who have read Robert Anton Wilson know what I'm talking about. For those who haven't, I heartily recommend starting with Prometheus Rising and discovering that the future need not be tied to any of the myriad doomsday scenarios we've created. In short, I choose to follow RAW's advice in creating a reality-tunnel that is "bigger, funnier, sexier, more optimistic and generally less boring than any previous reality-tunnel."
Profile Image for Anton.
5 reviews1 follower
April 27, 2012
I regard this book as a masterpiece; R A Wilson manages to provoke the reader into mindblowing realizations about how we percieve our surroundings and how this effects our actions, by constantly skillfully playing with your thinking and fooling you into thought traps to prove his points. Some parts could at a first glance seem like pure hippie bullshit by a not-so-alert reader - especially the ones about superhuman or divine perceptions - but this isn't bullshit. It is his genious way of getting his points through to the _reading_ audience. Also the parts about brain washing was very interesting, and ofcourse amusing to read. I found myself reading through this book with a constant silly smile on my face as Wilson is using humour to a great extent to keep your guard down for his little tricks.

I strongly recommend this book if you feel you want to read something different. I wouldn't say it's life changing, enlightening or any of the like, it's more like an amusing and actually useful journey through the minds meta-programs which I found fascinating.
Profile Image for James Curcio.
Author 14 books67 followers
August 13, 2013
Though dated in several ways, this book nevertheless should be an absolute must-read for all people as they pass through their early 20s. It was a central book in a class taught at my college, and I could see its influence in the people in that class then, and afterwards. It is quite simply the beginning of a long process: becoming ones self, on ones own terms. It is not final, nor do I think Bob intended it to be any other way.

It was also one of the things that convinced me that I needed to have Join My Cult! published with New Falcon, though that's likely neither here nor there for you, aside from the fact that it is likely to help you start to discover your own way, no matter how difficult that path may be.
April 10, 2018
There is so much faulty logic and premises it's hard to know where to even begin.

The beginning of the book was tough to get through... the idea of "Thinker vs Prover" is legitimate as a statement that humans rationalize their opinion based on faulty emotional reasoning and cultural values are fair. However, he tied this in with the most occult definitions of the Law of Attraction by insisting that reality was manifested by the mind so desire can change objective reality. This is further enforced later in the book with the metaprogramming and quantum circuit theories.

The middle portions, the reasonable well defined and agreeable base four circuits, are just reiterations of Freud's (and some of Jung's) psychosexual development. The later extrapolations of the circuits say that all learned development in these areas is meaningless, given that it MUST BE BASED in subjective personal experience.

The exercises attempt to get you to accept this by imagining yourself convinced of alternative worldviews (as a Nazi, as a Feminist). It simply says that because there are others thoroughly convinced of their worldview and that they use subjective experience or reasoning to arrive at this worldview, your worldview as well must be flawed if based on subjective empirical experience.

The biggest problem I have is that this reasoning is used to explain that any moral inhibition only serves as a control mechanism without any explanation as to why. In short, he argues that since some cultures say that incest is bad and other it is necessary, ALL sexual taboos serve no purpose other than to control you. I would be more than willing to accept an argument against sexual taboos, but this logic is faulty and paranoid.

All examples listed of programming, particularly in the first two circuits are negative. He even goes so far as to say that 85% of the population have symptoms that can be credited towards negative first circuit programmings, such as heart palpitations and sweaty palms. Nowhere does he accept the obvious criticism that this may be due to a number of post-infancy factors.

He then insists that any type of territorialism is meaning as well. His ideology is depicted well in a cartoon included in the book of two piles of shit separated by a border. At this point, it seems like he is making the radical centrist argument - he ridicules anyone who holds strong convictions on a particular topic, yet has no strong convictions on a particular topic of his own. He doesn't agree with anyone, but somehow knows he is still morally superior.

For a great portion of the book, he insists that development of the body and glans depends entirely upon imprinting. That is - emotional experience completely dictates your physical development. This is an insane statement.

All his conclusions are conjecture and to him, other's conclusions are based on subjective experience. -aside from the individuals he ripped off to make the only semi-agreeable portions of his book.
Profile Image for Erik.
322 reviews17 followers
October 22, 2017
Brain expanding meme.jpg the book.

This book is about thinking. Thinking about thinking. Thinking about your thinking. Thinking that maybe the book is or is not true.

This book is a crash course in outdated psychology models, but serves as an excellent jumping off point. It pushes the reader to not be satisifed. It pushes to reader to accept their own limited cognitive view and want something more.

In that Prometheus Rising greatly suceeds. I cant fault it for incomplete or outdated information. The book repeatedly warns you that you shouldnt necessarily trust waht you're reading. Dont be so eager to draw conclusions.

The thinker thinks , the prover proves.

Prometheus Rising focuses on the different elements of the brain, different types of thinking and compares them through the lens of an ubmer of psytchological theories. A number of htem laughably out of date. But this doesnt really matter. The broad strokes of the content and the challenging perspective serve as a cleanser for the reader.

Each chapter has exercises which i found to be an awesome addition and incredibly useful. Challenge your self, your mental image, your way of thinking, your reality tunnel. This is incredibly powerful.

RAW sprinkles the book with enough cartoons, humor to keep it realtively smooth sailing. I saw it as compelling from start to finish.

Prometheus Rising sure gave me a lot think about - that was the point.

12 reviews4 followers
January 26, 2009
This book is an eye-opening analysis of Dr. Timothy Leary's eight circuits of the brain. Wilson skillfully combines theories from Freud, Jung, ancient Sanskrit texts and other philosophers and scientists from all niches, and explains them in an easy to understand and often humorous manner while summarizing their differences to each other and their striking analogues to Dr. Leary's overarching physiological and psychological paradigm. He relates historical anecdotes of mental epiphanies and enlightenment (Buddha, Jesus, Einstein, Mozart, etc.) and explains how these are all examples of the individual's transition to a higher brain circuit, which can be realized through societal conditioning, hypnosis, intense forms of yoga, hallucinogens, and brainwashing. The chapter where he explains how to brainwash someone - giving examples from cults, armies and even professional brainwashers - was especially informative and interesting.

Prometheus Rising is a documentary of the masterpiece of human evolution, and a striking look into the structure of our own minds. Anyone who has always suspected that their brains are capable of so much more than perceiving our extremely myopic "reality tunnels", and either wishes to just learn more about it or actually work towards the higher circuits of the brain through metaprogramming should read this book.
Profile Image for dp.
191 reviews36 followers
December 28, 2018
This is the most important book I’ve ever read. A truly paradigm shifting work that should be required reading, despite a few flaws & shortcomings due to aging.
Profile Image for Brandon T..
29 reviews5 followers
July 31, 2008
Robert Anton Wilson adopts LSD guru Timothy Leary's poorly researched "8 circuit" model of the brain in an attempt to prove that a paradigm shift in human consciousness is on the horizon.

Being that the book was published in the 1980's, it is obvious that some of Wilson's zanier predictions - such as the achievement of human immortality by the year 2005 - may have been slightly off. This should hardly come as a surprise for any veteran skeptic, though. Prometheus Rising is possibly less sensitive to the credibility of ideas than his model's progenitor.

Wilson aptly covers his intellectual bankruptcy with a flood of statistics, quotes, and other honest-looking bits of info. Although there are a handful of ideas with potential scattered throughout, the reader must spend more time extracting these from the gobbledygook than he or she will spend actually reading the text.

It's hardly worth the effort. And for all it's claims of revolution of the mind, Prometheus Rising has become dated only 20 years after its release.

Skip this one.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Isen.
226 reviews4 followers
September 17, 2017
Prometheus Rising presents an eight circuit model of human consciousness (although only the first four are used to actually model human behaviour), and attempts to synthesise it with various disciplines such as Yoga, psychology a la Freud-Jung, Western occultism, and so on.

The style is reminiscent of the sort of "deep" discussions I had with my stoner friends when I was fifteen. Flitting from idea to idea, never pausing anywhere long enough to have someone call out one's shit, backing up arguments with pithy quotes and appeals to books no one has read, dubious anecdotes and examples, an overreliance on symmetry and geometry (if you can inscribe something in a dodecahedron, it must mean something, right?), constant appeals to take some drugs. Alas, such arguments are a lot less convincing as an adult.

The book starts off interesting enough, but increasingly becomes more frustrating. The author's style is to make bold assertions with little or no justification, or to support them with statements that sound like bullshit but requires a lot of effort on the part of the reader to prove them so. An example is the passage:

"Cromwell once addressed the Irish rebels, saying, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you might be wrong.” History does not record that Cromwell ever addressed the same remark to himself."

A confident tone, a historical quote, a clever jab. This is very convincing writing. The reader is almost forced to swallow it and whatever argument it was supporting. However I had read quite heavily into the time period some ten years ago, and it didn't sit well with me. I could vaguely remember that Cromwell was deeply insecure about his role in history, but of course I didn't have any quotes ready to back it up. I searched around on the internet a bit, couldn't find what I was after, but I did notice that the quote in question was not addressed to the Irish rebels, but to the Church of Scotland. This may seem like petty nitpicking, and it is, but it does demonstrate how little effort it takes the author to talk out of his ass, and how much it would take the reader to verify the facts for themselves. This is dishonest writing.

Further in this train, are the author's constant predictions about the future -- most of humanity leaving Earth by 2028, life extension pills by 1997, the elimination of starvation "in our lifetimes" (note how safe the last claim is to make -- it's literally impossible to disprove the author until he's dead). Of course, predicting the future is a tricky business, and I'm not blaming the author for being a poor Cassandra. The point is the tone of complete confidence with which he laid down this and all his other claims. This either means that he was sincerely convinced that these things would definitely happen, and hence was an idiot (which I do not believe); or, most likely, he kept his reservations to himself and wrote with more conviction than he felt because other idiots seem to respond well to "confidence". It's distasteful.

The author is obviously well read, and talks shit about a very wide slew of disciplines, which makes the book an intimidating one to criticise. After all, I'm an idiot who hasn't read Jung, or Freud, or Korzybski, or whoever the fuck else, so what right do I have to argue against a man who speaks so fluently about all of these? Unfortunately the author occasionally stumbles on topics I do know a thing or two about, such as mathematical logic, wherein it turns out his comments are, at best, meaningless, and quite possibly completely off the mark. This, of course, casts doubt on all the other grand statements he makes, especially when it comes to things like Quantum Mechanics, on which one eighth of his model depends.

In general the quality of the book declines sharply after the author finishes with the four lower circuits, with which he actually attempts to explain human behaviour, and moves on to the four higher circuits, at which point he is basically rambling about the drug trips he had, and about how drug use will lead us into a golden age without war, starvation, or whatever. What is it about junkies that makes them so intolerably self-righteous? You like LSD, great. Go pop some pills, have a great time, maybe write a song if you have the talent in you. You don't see me going on about how tea will bring about universal love and understanding every time I brew a cup.

Also, he spells "exercise" with a "z". This becomes progressively more annoying as the book goes on.
Profile Image for Onyx.
104 reviews12 followers
September 26, 2016
At the time I was reading this, several things happened in the news that, to me, were synchronized enough to shift perspectives (vantage points, viewpoints, worldviews, positions, etc. otherwise referred to as "reality tunnels" by the author,) in the country, if not globally. And they all seemed to happen back-to-back in rather rapid succession. If nothing else, many of these were good to begin much-needed conversations on a number important topics.
See if you can remember them: American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, Bruce Jenner became Caitlan Jenner, Rachel Doezal was snitched on by her parents for not being Black, Dylann Storm Roof murdered nine Blacks during a prayer meeting at a church in Charlston, South Carolina, the Supreme Court declared the marriage of same-sex couples to be legal, the Confederate Flag was ceremonially removed from the flag pole in front of the State Capital in South Carolina and put away, and Pope Francis published an encyclical that included the official papal position on environmentalism. There were probably more (like the law legalizing pot in in the State of Oregon took effect on July 1st, 2015,) but these were the big headlines that hit the news...many, if not all, that may have shook up a lot of people's "reality tunnels" referred to in Robert Anton Wilson's book. It has been an active couple of weeks while I was reading this book...I'm still trying to figure out how so many synchronicities could suddenly show up and pack themselves in while I'm reading a book on "reality tunnels" and possibilities to change them. It was so weird. This book even mentioned synchronicities at a few points in one chapter....
With that mention out of the way, I want to fast-forward and say this was another one of the author's books that kind of lost me in the end. Even if it sounded logical enough that what he was proposing could happen sometime in the future, it was so wild that I couldn't follow him anymore. I won't say he's wrong or ultimately nuts, but I will say that the further I got into the last few chapters, the more unfathomable it got. I'll just say he might be on to something, but it stretched my ability to imagine what he was talking about to the point of it dissolving. Too bad. I would have liked to envision it all the way through to the end. Better yet, I would like to witness it coming to pass before I myself die.
Once again, like the previous book I just got through reading before this, Quantum Psychology, I really didn't like it when he brought Eastern Religion or Eastern Philosophy into the picture. I really don't care for much that is Eastern. But with the little that I know about New Age mystical practices, I imagined how the 8-circuit theory he talks about could be superimposed over the chakra system. It could be switched on and moved through, one after the other, like this:

1. The Oral Bio-Survival Circuit - The Third Chakra
2. The Anal-Territorial Circuit - The First Chakra
3. The Semantic Time-Binding Circuit - The Fifth Chakra
4. The Social-Sexual Circuit - The Second Chakra
5. The Holistic Neurosomatic Circuit - The Fourth Chakra
6. The Collective Neurosomatic Circuit - The Sixth Chakra
7. The Meta-Programming Circuit - The Seventh Chakra
8. The Non-Local Quantum Circuit - The Eighth Chakra

Oops...there is no Eighth Chakra.
But anyway, this is how I would imagine the order of each chakra coming into play as a person got older or whatever, if both the author and his colleague Timothy Leary (the one who actually created the 8-circuit theory) were right.
The guy sounds like he's speaking from some kind of personal experience (yoga training? dropping acid? occult practices? whatever else?) as well as from the training as a Ph.D he received from Paideia, once a State-Approved alternative university in California (the highest rating given to alternative universities there.) It's innovative thinking, to say the least.
Profile Image for Juuso.
9 reviews1 follower
March 5, 2016
Kirjan punainen lanka on Learyn 8-circuit model of consciousness ja tän mallin tulkinta ja esittely. Kuitenkin kirjan ydin oli mun nähdäkseni todellisuustunnelien ajatuksessa ja lukijoiden herättelemisessä sen havaitsemiseen, että kuinka meistä jokainen elää tiettyjen aksioomien ja uskomusten varaan rakennettussa todellisuudessa. Kuitenkaan nää todellisuustunnelit ei oo hakattu kiveen, vaan meidän on mahdollista muuttaa uskomuksiamme ja sitä miten todellisuuden näemme, hyvinkin radikaalilla tavalla.

Päräyttävä kirja, "ajatuksia herättävä". Paljon todella järkeviä ja perusteluja ajatuksia, mutta myös korkeelentosta ja villiä spekulaatiota ja lonkalta heitettyhjä ennusteita. Älyttömän isot plussat siitä miten näin lyhyeen kirjaan mahdutettu niin paljon ja monia hyviä ajatuksia. Myös rakenne oli todella hyvä ja muodosti ehyen kokonaisuuden. Todella menevään ja hauskaan tyyliin kirjoitettu : ).

Lisäksi omalla kohdalla pärisi voimakas intertekstuaalisuus, etenkin kun on alkanut tulla jossain määrin tutuksi jenkkien 60-luvun counterculturen ajattelu, johon RAW aika vahvasti linkittyy. Leary, Buckminster Fuller, Gregory Bateson, John C. Lilly, Spencer G. Brown ym. ym. mainittu. Valtavan hyvin integroitu tavaraa eri lähteistä.

Kirja ansaitsisi ehdottomasti uudelleenluvun. Luin niin nopeasti, että esimerkiksi lukujen loppuun sijoitettuja harjoituksia ei tullut pahemmin tehtyä. Lisäksi niin tiivistä tavaraa, että aukeaa varmasti lukukerta lukukerralta paremmin.

Lähdemerkintöjä oisin kaivannut useampaan kohtaan. Lisäksi etenkin vikat luvut oli ronskisti liian lyhyitä ja jättivät mallin viimeisten tasojen esittelyn vähän huteriksi. Hyvä kirja, jokseenkin voi olla vaikeasti sulatettava ja herättää allergisia reaktioita tiukkapiposimmissa lukijoissa.
Profile Image for Bruce.
261 reviews38 followers
June 27, 2016
I consider RAW to be one of my three greatest teachers, the two other being my chi gung instructor Bernard Langan and my current spiritual teacher Jill Purce.

This book may put you off if you are still firmly grounded in the rationist materialist paradigm. Try Quantum Psychology instead.

But if you are already living with a worldview outside the scientific reductionist materialist paradigm, then Quantum Psychology might seem a bit tame. Prometheus rising presents similar material but goes farther in exploring the potentials latent in the human consciousness, AND HOW TO GET THERE.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. And DO THE EXERCIZES! They will take you into a world where things you never thought possible will happen.
Profile Image for Char Lee  Sea.
98 reviews8 followers
February 18, 2019
I "read" this in my early 20's. I lacked the life experience to actually grasp the concepts that RAW discusses. So I'm basically, actually reading it for the first time now. I was more familiar with RAW's views on mysticism. I am surprised by the depth of psychology in the book, making the mystic side even more substantial.
1 review1 follower
June 7, 2013
i have re-read this book three times, at least. it is by witty insightful and can be life changing.
Profile Image for Michael Cunningham.
29 reviews24 followers
October 31, 2013
Prometheus Rising (1983) by Robert Anton Wilson is a mind-blowing neuropsychological manual on how to reprogram your own brain. The book combines Timothy Leary’s Eight Circuit model of consciousness, psychological imprinting and conditioning theory, Gurdjief’s self-observation exercises, Quantum Mechanics, Yoga, Cybernetics, Freudian psychoanalysis, sociobiology, psychedelics, Alfred Korzybski’s general semantics and much more to construct a strange but enlightening lens for viewing the world and our place in it. Prometheus Rising began as Wilson’s Ph.D. dissertation called “The Evolution of Neuro-Sociological Circuits: A Contribution to the Sociobiology of Consciousness” in 1978-79 for University Paideia, but in 1982 Wilson rewrote the manuscript for commercial publication by removing footnotes, adding chapters and exercises, sketching out diagrams and illustrations, and injecting plenty of humour. Oh, and he threw in a chapter on how to brainwash yourself and others titled 'How to Wash Brains and Robotize People'.

Each chapter in Prometheus Rising sets up and explains in detail one of the Eight Circuits of the brain that governs our consciousness and moulds the ego or sense of self that we identify with. Drawing from Piaget’s Stages of Development, Wilson suggests that at different points in our life we are subject to a period of ‘imprint vulnerability’, which is when our brains are susceptible to rapid hard-wired learning that shapes all subsequent learning or conditioning. At these moments a certain thought system or behaviour is imprinted in one of the eight circuits. For example, Konrad Loranz found that the newborn gosling (baby goose) is vulnerable to imprinting a protective mother entity immediately after hatching. During this vulnerable period, anything roughly matching the genetic archetype will be imprinted. These experiments resulted in Lorenz having geese following him around thinking he was their mother, and he also reported a gosling that imprinted a ping-pong ball and followed it about attempting to nest with it and vocalizing to it as it would toward a real Mother Goose. Evidently, the fact that the ping pong ball has a round white body, like a Mother Goose, was enough to trigger the genetic imprinting process.

Wilson insists that the model is not to be taken too seriously and is merely a map that can help guide us, and often reminds us that ‘the map is not the territory’, or ‘the menu is not the meal’. The eight circuits, as outlined by Wilson are as follows:

1 – The Oral Bio-Survival Circuit – This is imprinted by the mother or the first mothering object and conditioned by subsequent nourishment or threat. It is primarily concerned with sucking, feeding, cuddling, and body security. It retreats mechanically from the noxious or predatory – or from anything associated (by imprinting or conditioning) with the noxious or predatory.

2 – The Anal Emotional-Territorial Circuit – This is imprinted in the ‘Toddling’ stage when the infant rises up, walks about and begins to struggle for power within the family structure. This mostly mammalian circuit processes territorial rules, emotional games, or cons, pecking order and rituals for domination or submission.

3 – The Time-Binding Semantic Circuit – This is imprinted and conditioned by human artifacts and symbol systems. It ‘handles’ and ‘packages’ the environment, classifying everything according to the local reality tunnel. Invention, calculation, prediction and transmitting signals across generations are its functions.

4 – The ‘Moral’ Socio-Sexual Circuit – This is imprinted by the first orgasm-mating experiences at puberty and is conditioned by tribal taboos. It processes sexual pleasure, local definitions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, reproduction, adult-parental personality (sex role) and nurture of the young.

The development of these circuits as the brain evolved through evolution, and as each domesticated primate (human) brain recapitulates evolution in growing from infancy to adulthood, makes possible gene-pool survival, mammalian sociobiology (pecking order, or politics) and transmission of culture. The second group of four brain circuits is much newer, and each circuit exists at present only in minorities. Where the antique circuits recapitulate evolution-to-the-present, these futuristic circuits precapitulate our future evolution.

5 – The Holistic Neurosomatic Circuit – This is imprinted by ecstatic experience, via biological or chemical yogas. It processes neurosomatic (‘mind-body’) feedback loops, somatic-sensory bliss, feeling ‘high’, ‘faith-healing,’ etc. Christian Science, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and holistic medicine consist of tricks or gimmicks to get this circuit into action at least temporarily; Tantra yoga is cocnerned with shifting consciousness entirely into this circuit.

6 – The Collective Neurogenetic Circuit – This is imprinted by advanced yogas (bio-chemical – electrical stresses). It processes DNA-RNA-brain feedback systems and is ‘collective’ in that it contains and has access to the whole evolutionary ‘script’, past and future. Experience of this circuit is numinous, ‘mystical,’ mind-shattering; here dwell the archetypes of Jung’s Collective Unconscious – Gods, Godesses, Demons, Hairy Dwarfs and other personifications of the DNA programs (instincts) that govern us.

7 – The Meta-programming Circuit – This is imprinted by very advanced yogas. It consists, in modern terms, of cybernetic consciousness, reprogramming and reimprinting all other circuits, even reprogramming itself, making possible conscious choice between alternative universes or reality tunnels.

8 – The Non-Local Quantum Circuit – This is imprinted by Shock, by ‘near-death’ or ‘clinical death’ experience, by OOBEs (out-of-body-experiences), by trans-time perceptions (‘precognition’), by trans-space visions (ESP), etc. It tunes the brain into the non-local quantum communication system suggested by physicists such as Bohm, Walker, Sarfatti, Bell, etc.

Prometheus Rising is a groundbreaking work that will make you rethink and reinterpret your belief systems and quite possibly transform your entire thought process from the ground up. If you dogmatically hold onto one map of reality then you might find the book confronting as it demands a flexible perspective. If this sounds like the book for you you can read it for free in pdf form here http://www.rawilsonfans.com/downloads...
Profile Image for Daniel Donatelli.
Author 12 books10 followers
May 3, 2019
The title and cover of this book, along with some extraordinary erotic moments, are the only good memories I have of a short-lived romantic relationship I was once in with a countercultural hipster/hippie who had a first name with way too many letters in it. I linger by bookshelves like perverts linger by pools, and this book looked the most interesting of those in her private collection. But I didn't dive into reading it because she ultimately cheated on me, and it was soured by the association.

But a man with a sensitive literary palette often hungers for a new stew, so I circled back finally, and I'm glad I did.

This book isn't particularly well written. In fact, I'm rather confused why a man of this obvious level of genius didn't allow his publisher to run his manuscript past a proofreader. I read the 1997 edition published by Hilaritas Press, and I'm assuming they were faithful to the one with the groovy cover above, in which case I just feel like the rough presentation did no favors to smoothen the communication and intelligibility of these potentially profoundly important insights into the workings of the human mind.

Mr. Wilson seems to have preferred a presentation that looked more like a college course taught by a professor with coffee stains on his pale yellow tie.

But oh well, though they sit in muck, the thoughts themselves in this book are jewels, or they're at least very pretty imitations of jewels. Meaning I would need to read this book and do the exercises ("exercizes") at least two or three times before I could attest to having a specifically useful understanding of the concepts presented herein and whether their edges could etch glass or collapse like dust. So this review is based on a one-time pass and should not be taken more seriously than that.

What I can say about my one-time pass through this book is that I found it fascinating from beginning to end, and from what I could follow, I thought the ideas had a tremendous resonance in reality.

This book is all I could have asked for it to be: It made me look at myself and other people and this existence in a slightly different way, and it was full of concepts on which a mental grind is an absolute pleasure.

I won't get into the specifics of what was argued because I don't need to. I'll underline some favorite thoughts below. If you like them, you'll enjoy the ride like I did.

And indeed I close this review with some of my favorite lines I culled from this multilayered look into the past, present, and future of the human mind.


The human mind behaves as if it were divided into two parts, the Thinker and the Prover.

What the Thinker thinks, the Prover will prove.

"Fairness? Decency? How can you expect fairness and decency on a planet of sleeping people?" --G.I. Gurdjieff

As civilization has advanced, the pack-bond (the tribe, the extended family) has been broken. This is the root of the widely diagnosed "anomie" or "alienation" or "existential anguish" about which so many social critics have written so eloquently. What has happened is that the conditioning of the bio-survival bond to the gene pool has been replaced by a conditioning of bio-survival drives to hook onto the peculiar tickets which we call "money."

Bio-survival anxiety will only permanently disappear when worldwide wealth has reached a level, and a distribution, where, without totalitarianism, everyone has enough TICKETS.

In a symbolizing, calculating, abstracting species, all times are "times of change."

By frightening people with Hell and then offering them Salvation, the most ignorant or crooked individual can "sell" a whole system of thought that cannot bear two minutes of rational analysis.

The counterculture of the 1960s, like many other idealistic movements, failed because it did so much PREACHING from a morally one-up position when nobody had been imprinted to accept it as one-up.

Wealth, in Ruskin's sense, consists of all those artifacts (concretized ideas) which enhance human life, or life generally. Illth consists of those artifacts which destroy, demean or degrade life. A factory that pollutes the air or water is illth in this sense; so is a bomb, a sword, a pistol, a tank of nerve-gas.

Since the Age of Reason in the 18th Century, the exponential increase in wealth (life-enhancing ideas manifesting) has led to more and more Utopian yearnings. At the same time, the equal and opposite increase in illth has led to more and more dystopian and apocalyptical fears.

The release of our full human potential -- to let the light of Prometheus shine everywhere -- is the distinctly WESTERN mystic tradition and does not appear in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, or any Eastern religion.

"As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys." --William Blake

Very simply, a totally aware, alert, AWAKENED (unbrainwashed) person would not fit very well into any of the standard roles society offers.

We are all giants, raised by pygmies, who have learned to walk with a perpetual mental crouch.

The Chinese Maoist, the Iranian Moslem, the New York Feminist, the Marin County hedonist, etc. each has a similar arbitrary, equally complex reality-tunnel. Each tunnel is also EQUALLY ABSURD when seen from outside.

It requires delicate neurological know-how to keep one's sense of humor in the secret police matrix.

Try living with the metaprogram, "Everything works out more perfectly than I plan it."

The average man or woman of 1997 will be as obsolete in 2007 as the medieval serf is now.

A few alpha males can always see their own advantage more clearly than the majority can see their collective interest.
Profile Image for strategian.
112 reviews17 followers
December 15, 2021
This is a hard book to review because it's not really structured in the way you would expect a book to be. It's not coherent or segregated in its arguments so I don't really know where to critique, because diatribes comparing Freudian and Jungian psychiatric models lead into sudden jumps to anecdotal digests of popular physics and snippy comments about perceived opponents to the very broad church congregation of transhumanists, libertarians, new age thinkers et al. It then concludes with a wildly enthusiastic and succinct attempt at political radicalism which while ostensibly being 'above' politics can be effectively termed psychedelic quietism.

To start with the good, it's not a hard read at all. It's sometimes funny, but even when the humour doesn't land it's not overly dry. To end with the good, there is a respectable if rudimentary introduction to the basics of semantic theory and some effective models for understanding human consciousness.

Beyond that, I can only discuss the contents of the text which plays fast and loose with its treatment of history and science. It's got a frustrating built in defense of aloofness though where it predicates its critiques and assessments of humanity and the world with the insistence that all perceptions of reality are distinct models and that these can be penetrated or expanded to incorporate a more complete picture of reality. What I am saying is if I object to any of the briefly disclosed and shallowly treated basis for the "reality tunnel" of the author I am entering into grounds for dismissal based on pedantry or close mindedness. He is insistent that history is a kind of collective imaginative product. Certainly, there is a case to be made for this and it is something I've considered. However this raises the question that, if all of our understandings are arbitrary creations, how can we use those to base our supposed transcendence? Isn't that like building a ladder out of imaginary friends?

The book absolutely stinks of cannabis. That's not a condemnation and I'm more sympathetic to the concepts the author discusses than may be apparent given my lack of enthusiasm. But as a work read with a sobre mind it's just an overly enthusiastic anthropofanatic mess that will certainly appeal to those with a predilection for the delights it offers in the form of passive, pseudo scientific optimism and a sense of superiority rooted in the fact we are reading books about how everyone is an automaton animated by habit and a sense of unmerited superiority.

I do wonder if a reader this book is, apparently, designed to 'wake up', a young malcontent, will not find it repugnant now though. I can see the basis for its popular penetration (the aforementioned stylistic digestibility and its broad scope of reference) for its audience in the past. But can a modern 'sleeper' really get through that patheticly misguided evangelisation for the supposed liberation offered by corporate technological explosion without feeling sick? Silicon Valley will put us on the path to freedom: they let you set your own hours if you're a computer programmer and some of the aristocrats who own these multinationals have taken LSD. For sure...

And this is my more ideological observation of the writer's misfires. Did you hear about the age extension pills that would be widely and freely available pills in 2005? How about the extensive immediate genetic modifications we could undergo in 2010? Me neither. Is this man still clinging to his little immortalist utopian liferaft or has he woken up and smelled the coffee of corporate strangleholds and his impending demise?

"My mind ain't so open that anything can crawl right in"
Profile Image for Dean.
294 reviews47 followers
October 2, 2018
I was expecting more from this book, which is often touted as one of RAW's classic mega-works, and is recommended reading for many contemporary WMT/occult/fringe schools. On closer reading though, I found the material to be too theoretical and dense in parts. There are practical 'experiments' at the end of each chapter, however, I feel that RAW never gets to the core of issues of existence and what really plagues the human race. Rather he focuses on weird ideas presented by Timothy Leary (now showing their age), and one gets the impression that the whole focus becomes more of a self-development, self-help type course and instruction, rather than getting to the guts of the causes of suffering (which is done so much better by say traditional Buddhism, for instance). I've read a few other RAW books (Cosmic Trigger trilogy etc), and they definitely are entertaining, creative and witty. However, they seem to remain on that level, and don't really delivery the goods in terms of REAL psycho-spiritual transformation and change. Still, worth a read for those with plenty of time and thinking energy up their sleeve.
Profile Image for Jakub Reginia.
34 reviews
October 8, 2012
Mam sporawy problem - jak tu zacząć recenzje tej książki? Robert Anton Wilson porusza w niej tyle tematów i zagadnień, że tak naprawde ciężko wyjaśnić to w kilku akapitach - czemu myślymi, w jaki sposób myślymy, co jest prawdą, a co nie? Czy istnieje Bóg, a może bóg; bogowie? Może nie ma boga? A może jest. A może to całe pisanie jest bez sensu? Może autor próbuję nam powiedzieć, że wszystko jest wytworem naszej wyobraźni? Albo jesteśmy produktem naszego kręgu kulturowego i wszystko czego się nauczyciliśmy w tej kulturzy służy temu, by spowolnić proces metamorfozy człowieka? A może nie? Być może kłamie lub jest prześmiewcą i pyszałkiem? Być może.

Dla mnie była to książka o bardzo pozytywnym przesłaniu - może trochę chaotyczna, również ociekająca cynizmem, niemniej jednak nadal bardzo pozytywna.

Mam nadzieję, że w końcu znajdę tą monetę na ulicy/ sprawie, że siłą swojego umysłu się zmaterializuje. Będe szukał dalej, dopóki dycham jeszcze na Tym świecie.

Kwiat nad potokiem.
Profile Image for Ben.
199 reviews1 follower
July 23, 2012
I got a kick out of Robert Anton Wilson's wit. Some of his observations are quite astute and eye-opening. It is almost a philosophy of psychology, that is quick to embrace and dismiss science. Sometimes I couldn't tell if he was trying to convert me into a Hindu yoga guy, a Crowlean, a Christian Scientist,a practitioner of Cabala, an atheist, a capitalist, or a Marxist, but most likely it was none of the above. He is quick to embrace and dismiss everything, often at the same time. Not sure how many of his ideas I take stock in, but it was nice to be outside my own reality tunnel. Even if only for a couple of days.
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