Maybe Logic: The Lives And Ideas Of Robert Anton Wilson
Opens Sat Nov 1
Clinton Street Theater
Robert Anton Wilson, author of the Illuminatus trilogy and Cosmic Trigger, has permanent cult hero status. Maybe Logic: The Lives And Ideas Of Robert Anton Wilson is dedicated to this remarkable, slightly unhinged man and his philosophies. His books are dense with conspiracy, drug hallucinations, magic, and sex ritual. Unfortunately, this documentary is not.
Much of the film is shot in the colorless living room of Wilson's Santa Cruz home, with him sitting on the couch, talking animatedly about philosophy. He suggests we drop the word "is" from our language, using "maybe" instead, and recognize that our frames of reference are simply human-invented constructs. He also puts forth that no one under the age of 40 should drop acid. Much of what he has to say about language and perception is interesting, and it would be a privilege to sit with him on that couch and have a dialogue. But as a film technique, it's difficult to absorb, as he's essentially talking at you a mile a minute.
The stronger aspects of the film portray Wilson the man, more so than Wilson the philosopher. He suffers from post-Polio syndrome, an ailment that keeps him in a wheelchair and a great deal of pain. This has led him to become an outspoken advocate for the defense of medical marijuana. The film follows him to a protest at his local clinic, where he is honored as a celebrity advocate. His impassioned speeches, outraged that the government should decide for him that he must remain in pain, are thought provoking, as are his effusions on the glorious side effects of the marijuana high. But it's a little difficult to visit Wilson's world. Much of his life seems sad and lonely, and the documentation of his day-to-day reality is juxtaposed with his public appearances, delivering speeches to his fans with apparent attention-hungry glee. The film's primary weakness is that it's unlikely to tempt a Wilson virgin into his work, which is brilliant. Conversely, it's difficult to imagine why anyone who doesn't love his books would want to see it.