Authors: Robert A. Wilson
“THE MAN’S EITHER A GENIUS OR JESUS.”
ROBERT ANTON WILSON
SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT TRILOGY
“The most reasonable, intelligent, sophisticated and subtle analysis of the world’s madness ever seen in print.”
“The most scientific of all science novels.”
“The man’s glittering intelligence won’t let you rest. First he shocks, then enlightens the readers. One is never the same after reading him. With each new book I welcome his wisdom, laced with his special brand of crazy humor.”
“Speaks for that tiny but indispensable minority who are changing our world by changing the way we think about it.”
—Robert Shea, co-author of
The Illuminatus! Trilogy
Also available from Dell
THE ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY
(with Robert Shea)
MASKS OF THE ILLUMINATI
REALITY IS WHAT YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH
to the real Miss Portinari
There is a Glossary at the back of this book which explains many of the concepts of quantum mechanics employed in the text. The reader may find this helpful, and it may be consulted at any point when elucidation seems needed.
The story herein is set in a variety of parallel universes in which most of the politicians are thieves and most of the theologians are maniacs. These universes have nothing in common with our own world, of course.
Not until the male become female and the female becomes male shall ye enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Gospel of Thomas
For the Cherub Cat is a term in the Angel Tiger
History is a nightmare from which none of us can awaken.
The majority of Terrans were six-legged. They had territorial squabbles and politics and wars and a caste system. They also had sufficient intelligence to survive on that barren boondocks planet for several billions of years.
We are not concerned here with the majority of Terrans. We are concerned with a tiny minority—the domesticated primates who built cities and wrote symphonies and invented things like tic-tac-toe and integral calculus. At the time of our story, these primates regarded themselves as
Terrans. The six-legged majority and other life-forms on that planet hardly entered into their thinking at all, most of the time.
The domesticated primates of Terra referred to the six-legged majority by an insulting name. They called them
There was one species on Terra that lived in very close symbiosis with the domesticated primates. This was a variety of domesticated canines called
The dogs had learned to achieve a rough simulation of
and other domesticated primate characteristics.
The domesticated primates had learned how to achieve
and other canine characteristics.
The primates claimed that they loved the dogs as much as the dogs loved them. Still, the primates kept the best food for themselves. The dogs noticed this, you can be sure, but they loved the primates so much that they forgave them.
One dog became famous. Actually he and she was a group of dogs, but they became renowned collectively as Pavlov’s Dog.
The thing about Pavlov’s Dog is that he or she or they responded mechanically to mechanically administered stimuli. Pavlov’s Dog caused some of the domesticated primates, especially the scientists, to think that all dog behavior was equally mechanical. This made them wonder about other mammals, including themselves.
Most primates ignored this philosophical challenge. They went about their business assuming that they were not mechanical.
The fact that plutonium was missing originally leaked to the press in the mid-1970s. At first there was a minor wave of panic among those given to worrying about such matters, and there was even some churlish grumbling about a government so incompetent that it couldn’t keep track of its own weapons of megadeath.
But then a year passed, and another, and soon five years had passed, and then nearly a decade; and the missing plutonium was still missing but nothing really drastic had happened.
Terran primates, being a simpleminded, sleepful race, simply stopped worrying about the subject. The triggering mechanism of the most destructive weapon ever devised on that backward planet was in unknown hands, true; but that was really not much more unsettling to contemplate
than the fact that many of the known hands which had enjoyed access to plutonium belonged to persons who were not in all respects reasonable men. (See
Reagan, Ronald Wilson, career of.)
The primate philosophy of that epoch was summed up by one of their popular heroes, Mr. Satchel Paige, in the aphorism, “Don’t look back—something might be gaining on you.” It was a comfortable philosophy for sleep-loving people.
The use of atomic weapons was widely blamed on a primate named Albert Einstein. Even Einstein himself had agreed with this opinion. He was a pacifist and had suffered abominable pangs of conscience over what had been done with his scientific discoveries.
“I should have been a plumber,” Einstein said just before he died.
Actually the discovery of atomic energy was the result of the work of every scientist, craftsman, engineer, technician, philosopher, and gadgeteer who had ever lived on Terra. The use of atomic energy as a
was the result of all the political decisions ever made, from the time the vertebrates first started competing for territory.
Most Terran primates did not understand the multiplex nature of causality. They tended to think everything had a
cause. This simple philosophic error was so widespread on that planet that the primates were all in the habit of giving themselves, and other primates, more credit than was deserved when things went well. This made them all inordinately conceited.
They also gave themselves, and one another, more blame than was deserved when things went badly. This gave them all jumbo-sized guilt complexes.
It is usually that way on primitive planets, before quantum causality is understood.
Quantum causality was not understood on Terra until physicists solved the Schrödinger’s Cat riddle.
Schrödinger’s Cat never became as famous among the primate masses as Pavlov’s Dog, but that was because the cat was harder to understand than the dog.
Pavlov’s Dog could be understood in simple mechanical metaphors. To understand Schrödinger’s Cat you needed to first understand the equations of quantum probability waves. Only a few primates were smart enough to read the equations, and even they couldn’t understand them.
That was because the equations seemed to say that the cat was dead and alive at the same time.
Every character in this book looks like Pavlov’s Dog from a certain angle. If you look at him or her a different way, however, you’ll see Schrödinger’s Cat.
As early as 1976, a group of Chicago paranoids known as the Nihilist Anarchist Horde (NAH) printed up a single-page broadside on how to manufacture an atomic weapon. They sent this, in envelopes with no return address, to all the most hostile and embittered individuals and groups in the United States. NAH regarded this mailing as both a joke and a warning, and refused to face the fact that it was also an incitement.
NAH had already put out bumper stickers saying things like:
HONK IF YOU
EAT THE RICH
And they even had a rubber stamp which they used to decorate subway advertisements with the Nihilistic message: ARM THE UNEMPLOYED: RIOT IN THE LOOP ON NEW YEAR’S EVE.
But they really outdid themselves with the build-your-own atomic weapon sheet, which was titled “Hobbysheet #4” and looked like this:
HOBBYSHEET #4 in a series of 30. Collect ’em all!
A SIMPLE ATOMIC BOMB FOR
THE HOME CRAFTSMAN
There is nothing complex about an Atomic (or Fission) Bomb. If enough fission material (Uranium 235 or Plutonium 237) is brought together to form a critical mass, it will explode. The trick is to put the pieces together fast enough to get a decent blast before the bomb blows itself apart. This can be done quite simply by means of ordinary explosive as shown below.
It was later estimated that the Nihilist Anarchist Horde, most of whom were living on Welfare, were able to mail out only 200,000 of these over the four-year period (1976-80) before they grew bored with the project.
Nonetheless, many of the equally paranoid and hostile persons who received this mailing had access to Xerox machines and were as desperate as the members of NAH itself. It was later determined that by 1981 there were over 10,000,000 copies of “Hobbysheet #4” in circulation. Eventually one of them reached the POE group, who were ready for an idea like that.
The planet as a whole continued to drowse.
That is precisely what common sense is for, to be jarred into uncommon sense.
Mathematics: Queen of the Sciences
The original title of the greater part of what we have collected in this book under the title
The Universe Next Door.
The book of that name was begun as a sequel to
, but after several editors in a row suffered psychotic breakdowns while reading it, publishers defensively ordered that any ms. with that title, from Robert Anton Wilson, should be returned unopened.
“People generally do not want a new form of prose fiction to replace the hackneyed ‘novel,’” Wilson wrote in a letter to his friend Malaclypse the Younger. “There never has been a serious attempt since
Schrödinger’s Cat Fair Copy
#2, according to Wilson scholars, incorporates later and still more bizarre material, the text of which was allegedly dictated to Wilson by a canine intelligence—“vast, cool, and unsympathetic”—from the system of the Dog Star, Sirius.
Cat Fair Copy
#3 appeared much later, in 2031, under mysterious circumstances. Some claimed, at the time, that it had been received by a trance medium to whom Wilson had “broadcast” it after his melodramatic departure from this world in 1993. Skeptics have always insisted that the alleged medium actually found it in an old tampon box in her attic. A legend about the manuscript being recovered from the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco, after the earthquake of 2005, and passed around among adepts of certain occult groups, is probably mythical.
Various alternative texts, generally considered forgeries, have circulated at intervals and many Wilson scholars debate heatedly whether this final ms. is, in fact, totally or even in major part Wilson’s work. That two authors at least are here represented, often at cross-purposes with each other, is the emerging academic consensus at this time.