Zitat von http://www.rawilsonfans.com/articles/brainbooks.htm
by Robert Anton Wilson
I have another list that I revise every couple of
months. This is not my "Ten Favorite Books" so much
as a list of the ten books I wish everyone would
read: the ten books I most feel the lack of in people
who otherwise seem intelligent. These books would fill
anyone's cranium with useful information.
In order of priority, the list would begin with:
1. Ulysses by James Joyce. Nobody has really entered
the 20th century if they haven't digested Ulysses. And
if they haven't entered the 20th century, they're going
to fall pretty far behind pretty soon, as we enter the
There's a guy I correspond with occasionally who spends
all his time fighting with Fundamentalists over Darwin.
He's living in the 19th century; nothing in the 20th
century has affected him yet. He's carrying on the brave
battles of Thomas Henry Huxley a hundred years later. I
know some people who are back in the 18th century - Burkian
conservatives, trying to apply Burke's principles to
modern times. I sometimes do that myself - try to apply
some of Burke's principles. But not all of them! I don't
think he's written in stone either.
At any rate, everyone should read Ulysses to get into the
20th century. And everybody should struggle as much as they
2. The Cantos, by Ezra Pound. And that means getting to the
last page. You may give up on some pages, and say, "I'll never
figure this stuff out!" But keep going until you get to the
last page. Pound offers something no other writer except Dante
has ever attempted - and Dante does it in a medieval way
that doesn't mean much to modern people. Pound offers a
hierarchy of values. We've heard so many voices from the
East telling us "All is One," and we've got so many puritanical
duelists of all sorts telling us, "No; there's good and bad."
And they all define those terms in their own way: the Christian
"good and evil" duality; the ecologist's "nature good; man bad"
duality; the feminist's "woman good; man bad" duality, and so
on. Against this monism and dualism Pound offers a hierarchy of
values, in which he gives you a panoramic picture of human
history, very much like Griffith's Intolerance, only in it,
Pound shows levels of awareness, levels of civilization, levels
of ethics and levels of lack of all these things. And you
realize that you have a hierarchy of values too, but you've
never perfectly articulated it. Every writer gives you a
hierarchy of values. But by making this the central theme,
Pound makes you face the question, "Will I accept this as the
best hierarchy of values?" I can't, because the guy had a screw
loose. Great poet, but a little bit funny in the head at times,
trying to synthesize Jefferson, Confucius, Picasso and
Mussolini. So what you've got to do is struggle with Pound, and
create your own hierarchy of values to convince yourself that
you grok more than he did. And he combined genius and looniness.
It's an invigorating book to get you out of dualism, which is
the Western trap, and monism, which is the Eastern trap,
to attain realism: a hierarchy of values.
Another book I wish everybody would read:
3. Science and Sanity by Alfred Korzybski. This one gives you
the tools to enable you to avoid most of the stupidity prevalent
on this planet at present. It won't cure all forms of stupidity,
and you really have to work at it; it doesn't do magic. But if
you use its principles, you'll gradually cure yourself of a lot
of prevalent forms of stupidity. If you work at it hard enough,
you may cure yourself of most. I don't know; I'm still working
4. Ovid. I wish everybody would read Ovid. The great myths of
our particular culture - the Greek and Roman myths - can't be
found in any one book, except Bullfinch or Ovid, and Ovid has a
much better style than Bullfinch. So read Ovid and get the whole
panorama of classical myth. Classical myth has so much meaning
that it permeates every bit of modern psychology. The myths of
other cultures have much to offer, but we still need our myths.
So we might as well face up to them. It's our culture; let's
not lose it. And let's find out something that happened before
5. The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer - just because it's so damn
6. Justine, by deSade -- because everyone needs to be shaken up.
Justine asks you some pretty fundamental questions. And you may
not find them easy to answer.
7. Instead of a Book by a Man Too Busy to Write One, by Benjamin
Tucker, which contains the best arguments for minimizing force
and maximizing options; the best argument for extreme Libertarianism
that anyone has put together. He deals with concrete issues in
economics, and makes a damn good case for a maximum of liberty and
a minimum of coercion as a formula for a happy and prosperous
8. Progress and Poverty, by Henry George. Not that I agree with it.
But everyone's heard of Karl Marx and Adam Smith. If you read
Tucker and George, you get the idea that there are more than two
choices. You don't have to choose between them. There are other
options, not in between, but at right angles to those choices; a
hierarchy of possibilities. George poses a challenge to both
Marxism and orthodox capitalism.
9. The Open Society and its Enemies, by Karl Popper, which introduces
you to a lot of aspects of modern scientific thought, but in a
different way than Korzykski, and applies them to tearing apart
most of the arguments for determinism and totalitarianism. I think
determinism and totalitarianism have done so damn much harm that
everybody needs a good inoculation against them. Popper seems the
best inoculation. He fled both the Communists and the Nazis, and had
good emotional reasons for detesting totalitarianism. He was a
physicist, so he expressed himself in terms of a very deep and
trenchant philosophical analysis of what's wrong with theories
that claim, "We know what's best (?) and we know how to achieve
it - and we know who has to be killed to make it happen."
10. Shakespeare. I think everybody should read Shakespeare, not
only because he was such [a] great poet, but because he's under so
much attack these days. You might as well check him out for yourself,
and it will give you an idea of how just dumb the politically correct
people who attack him seem in comparison to him.
Other recommended authors:
Jonathan Swift. All of Gulliver's Travels. There are some anthologies
which contain not only this, but a selection of his other writings,
too. Swift does a great job of tearing apart conventional ideas about
almost everything. He's very, very liberating; almost psychedelic in
Nietzsche. There are a couple of good one-volume editions which
contain both Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ. The two
should be taken together. They represent Nietzsche at the height of
his...whatever it was. More than any other writer in the history of
philosophy, Nietzsche set out to refute everyone who came before him,
without exception and without mercy, and he had the intellect to do
a damn good job. He tears down so many accepted ideas that you're
left floating in a kind of nihilistic void. Many people find this
terrifying. I find it exhilarating, and I manage to recover from it
every time I subject myself to re-reading something by Nietzsche.
There are a lot of other good books by Nietzsche, but I'd especially
recommend those two.
Olaf Stapledon. There's a one-volume edition that contains both First
and Last Men and Last Men in London.
Then, when somebody has read that much, I think intelligent conversation
can begin. Otherwise, we're pretty much on the level of grunting.