Robert Anton Wilson is the grand pooh-bah of late-20th-century conspiracy theory, but regular Wilson fans may find Everything Is Under Control
inchoate in comparison to such masterworks as the Illuminatus! trilogy
. The format may be encyclopedic, but the information isn't; to note one glaring omission, the only entries on Ronald Reagan refer readers to three other entries in which Reagan is briefly mentioned--none of which has anything to do with Iran-Contra. (Actually, there is a listing for Iran-Contra, but again, it merely points to some
of the pieces of the puzzle.)
The book's primary value, then, apart from the snippets of conspiracy "proof" it does provide, is in Wilson's playful yet insightful articulation of the psychology and linguistics of conspiratorial thinking. "Because we can say 'the Jews' or 'the New World Order' or 'the Patriarchy,'" he writes, "we can believe, or almost believe, that these grammatical abstractions have the same kind of reality as basketballs, barking dogs, and baked beans." There are also some fun private jokes, including a lot of data on the Discordians. It's not the best Wilson book--that, perhaps, is Masks of the Illuminati--but it's an adequate introduction to his imaginative philosophy. --Ron Hogan
From Library Journal
To call Wilson (b. 1932) merely a prolific sf writer is both to underrate his output?at least 2000 articles and 20 books by 1996?and to limit what he does in generic terms. Most famous for two trilogies that are indeed identified mostly as science fiction?Illuminatus! (1984) and Schroedinger's Cat (1988)?Wilson revels in alternate consciousness, 1960s-flavored mysticism, the Internet, and making connections among phenomena that often appear to be disconnected. All those concerns make this book both fascinating and useful but perplexing. Wilson has always had great fun mining contemporary conspiracy cultures (his best-known works are based on millennium-old notions that all of human history is shaped by secret societies), but the problem with this encyclopedia of plots and plot-discoverers is his thorough authorial embrace of irony and humor. Just when a reader is convinced that Wilson's aim is to deflate a particular canard, he seems to affirm another's legitimacy. In the final analysis, this exhaustive work provides both fun and information; each entry closes with a source citation, often and appropriately a website. While not exactly balanced, this work is a good addition to libraries with strong science fiction or popular culture collections. Academic libraries with browsing or "lighter entertainment" sections should also consider.?Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., Upper Darby, PA
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