Read The Eye in the Pyramid by Robert Shea Robert Anton Wilson Online


It was a deadly mistake. Joseph Malik, editor of a radical magazine, had snooped into rumors about an ancient secret society that was still alive and kicking. Now his offices have been bombed, he's missing, and the case has landed in the lap of a tough, cynical, streetwise New York detective. Saul Goodman knows he's stumbled onto something big - but even he can't guess howIt was a deadly mistake. Joseph Malik, editor of a radical magazine, had snooped into rumors about an ancient secret society that was still alive and kicking. Now his offices have been bombed, he's missing, and the case has landed in the lap of a tough, cynical, streetwise New York detective. Saul Goodman knows he's stumbled onto something big - but even he can't guess how far into the pinnacles of power this conspiracy of evil has penetrated.Filled with sex and violence - in and out of time and space - the three books of The Illuminatus! Trilogy are only partly works of the imagination. They tackle all the cover-ups of our time — from who really shot the Kennedys to why there's a pyramid on a one-dollar bill — and suggest a mind-blowing truth....

Title : The Eye in the Pyramid
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780722192191
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 311 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Eye in the Pyramid Reviews

  • Faith
    2019-06-06 13:22

    Take Douglas Adams, give him an unhealthy interest in conspiracy theory, then spike his water supply with acid, and you have an idea of the trippy deliciousness that is this book. I had expected a relatively serious Illuminati exposing mystery novel, and was happily surprised. Dan Brown fans should steer clear. Well clear.I would like to throw in that I downloaded it from, and while you hear background noise every now and then, overall the production is great, and the actors reading it are pretty dang awesome.

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-06-13 20:33

    A sprawling, many-faceted, satirical series, Illuminatus! is difficult to rate and more difficult to review. There are so many aspects which one could address, so many points of divergence, ideas, philosophies, and influences, but at it's heart, it's a rollicking adventure story that, despite it's many political and social themes, rarely takes itself too seriously.I can certainly say I liked it, but it's hard to say how much. Some parts were better than others, but there are many parts to be considered. Unlike other reviewers, I did not find the numerous asides and allusions to be distracting. If one piqued my interest, I looked it up and more often than not, learned something entirely new. Some didn't intrigue me as much, and I was happy to let them lie.I treated the book like I treat life, following those threads which seemed, to me, to be the most fruitful, and refusing to become bogged down in the fact that I can't know everything. If a reader tried to track down every reference, they'd be going to wikipedia three and four times per page and likely lose the thread of the story entirely. The sheer volume of research behind the book is an achievement in itself, sure to keep the attention of detail-obsessed trivial pursuit players of the internet generation.Others have also complained about the structure of the book, switching as it does in place, time, and character with no forewarning. Certainly these switches can cause a moment's uncertainty, but they hardly make following the plot impossible. The authors could have put more line breaks in, it would be a minor change. So minor, in fact, that I find it difficult to take seriously any claim that the lack of such breaks somehow ruined the story.It was a deliberate effect by the authors, meant to impart information realistically and force the reader to take a more active role. In life, we are constantly inundated by information and it is up to us to decide what is important and where to make strict delineations. Likewise, in this book, the authors want us to take responsibility for our own parsing of data, refusing to spoon-feed it to us like so much propaganda.The authors, themselves went through huge amounts of data to combine all of these conspiracy theories into a grand ur-conspiracy, too large and detailed to be believed and too ridiculous to be doubted. I've never had much interest in such theories, so it was nice to have them all in one place where I could enjoy them as part of a fun spy story.I also admit a lack of interest in the beat poets, psychadelic culture, and World War II, so I'm glad to have gotten those all out of the way in the same fell swoop. This book is, at its heart, a chronicle of a certain point in American history, a certain mindset, a baroquely detailed conglomeration of the writings and ideas of the raucous sixties.The book is at its least effective when it is taking itself seriously, particularly in the appendices. When it seems to believe in it's own conspiracies or Burroughs' bizarre understanding of history, it becomes a victim of its own joke.It is at its best when it takes nothing seriously, least of all itself. The authors were involved in the flowering of the Discordian Movement, which has been described as a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion. The movement plays a large role in the text and is analyzed from all sides, but basically boils down to religion as imagined by Mad Magazine.The revolutionary thing about Mad was not that it undermined authority, but that it simultaneously undermined itself. It's humor was the insight that you could trust no one and nothing to be the source of wisdom, but that you were perfectly justified in mistrusting everything.Rather like the remarkable sixties series 'The Prisoner', the final message is that you must decide for yourself what is important, what is real, and what is misdirection. Also like 'The Prisoner', Illuminatus owes much to the spy books of the sixties, from their freewheeling sexuality to their ultra-modern secret bases and high-stakes secret missions. There is even an overt parody of the Bond franchise running through the books.Unfortunately, it also seems to fall into the Boys' Club atmosphere of spy stories. Though it switches between narrators, all of them are men, and the focused sexuality of the book most often points toward women. There are moments where bisexuality, homosexuality, and feminist sexual power dynamics are explored, but these tend to be intellectual exercises while the hot, sweaty moments are by and large men acting upon women. I can enjoy porn, but I wish it were as balanced as the rhetoric to which the authors pay adherence.Many male authors have shied away from writing female characters from the inside, despite having no compunction about getting inside them in other ways. I cannot reiterate enough the late Dan O'Bannon's insistence that the secret to writing women was writing men and then leaving out the penis. He scripted 'Alien' without gender markers, all characters being referred to by last name, and Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of Ellen Ripley has proven one of the most realistic and unaffected of any woman in film. It was a disappointment to see Shea and Wilson so fettered by gender while simultaneously spouting the latest feminist sound bites.In many ways, Illuminatus provides a bridge between the paranoid, conspiracy sci fi of Dick and the highly referential, multilayered stories of Cyberpunk. Conceptually, it represents a transition from Dick's characters, always unable to escape destruction at the hand of their vast, uncaring society, and Cyberpunk characters who are able to adapt to their distant, heartless society and thrive where they can. The language of Illuminatus is flashier and cooler than Dick's, but has not yet reached the form-as-function linguistic data overload of Gibson or Stephenson.And as you might expect, the writing here is good: crisp, witty, evocative and mobile. Far from the accusations of being a text 'written on an acid trip', it is lucid and deliberate, even if it does take itself lightly. There certainly are those aspects which are inspired by psychadelic culture, including the free-wheeling structure. The authors invite comparison between moments, events, and characters which, in most other books, would be separated by the strict delineation of the page break.But then, the surest sign of genius is the ability to synthesize new data from the confluence of apparently disparate parts, as Da Vinci did one day while studying the eddies in a stream for a painting, finding himself suddenly struck by the notion that the heart would pump blood more efficiently by forming such swirling eddies in its chamber instead of working as a simple pump. In the the past decade, internal body scanners have proven the accuracy of his small corner sketch. By inviting you to make such comparisons and synthesize your own conclusions, the book respects the potential intelligence of its reader.But it is not all such conceptual exercises, and the lesson Cyberpunk authors learned was that a fast-paced, flashy shell can sugar even bitter pills. What delighted me was the realization that at its heart, this is a story of Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. Outside of Lovecraft and Howard, very few of the stories set in that universe are even passable, but this one comports itself ably, taking to heart the notion that an overabundance of data can break the human mind. Which dovetails nicely with the cautionary lesson of conspiracy theory: it seems vast, inexplicable beings of unimaginable power can also be human, and have cults just as Unaussprechlichen.Overall, the series is interesting, unique, informative, humorous, and entertaining. There are moments where it bogs down, but overall, it is well structured and well written. There aren't many books where you get a fun spy story, a harrowing Cthulhu story, and a rundown of the zeitgeist of a part of American history all in one, but there's certainly this one.Unless you're a teenager looking for a counterculture to believe in, its conspiracy mish-mash probably won't be a life-changing revelation, but it might be food for thought. Conspiracy fiction is big business these days with 'The Name of The Rose', 'Foucault's Pendulum' and 'The Da Vinci Code', while the originator of the genre gets comparatively little mention.But this book is not designed to be easy to digest. You are not meant to internalize its message thoughtlessly. It's funny, contradictory, and self-aware, and it's hard for people who take themselves seriously to get caught up in a book that, for the most part, doesn't. I could say this book deserves to be more than a cult classic, but at its heart, this book is a cult classic, and its cultural influence will continue to seep in with or without grander acclaim.

  • Chumbert Squurls
    2019-06-03 14:32

    There are two responses to the Illuminatus! trilogy. You either really love it or totally abhor it. The people who love it say it changed their whole way of thinking. They say that this series opened the door to a philosophical journey. The people who hate this book say that it's just a bunch of of nostalgic hippie hooey. I think it's somewhere between these two polar opposites. There is no plot. The characters are thinner than the pulp paper the book is printed on. There are misogynistic depictions of sex. The story switches perspective about every two pages without relevance. These details certainly seem like aspects of some drug-induced late sixties drivel, but don't be mislead, there are some really interesting conspiracy ideas hiding in the boorish, self indulgent text. The complex interconnectedness of the multiple secret societies and head-scratching numerology are interesting concepts, but the tiring silliness and unconventional format keep this from being a fun read. For those who have hated the first 20 pages and think it's going to get better around page 70- STOP WHILE YOU'RE AHEAD, read Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 or Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. There are great conspiracy novels. This is not one of them.

  • Ken Parkinson
    2019-06-04 15:27

    My advice to authors everywhere: "do not drop acid while writing a book."

  • Erik
    2019-06-01 17:28

    There 23 kinds of people who read this book, those who get it and those who don't. I fall into the former category. I get it. its the sumtotal outlier experience of the 60s. All the whacked out political theories and conspiracy theories are on display here - as well as numerology, religion, crypto-archaeology - everything all mixed up into one psychedelic blender for enjoyment of those that get it.I learned much about such varied things as 23 Skidoo, anarchism, the mafia, and discord - all topics i would have not been directly reading otherwise. But the way all this pseudoscience, rumor, tall tales, adventures, etc are all whirled together, it makes you thirsty to follow each of those threads. The book keeps you spinning on its winding plot.Funny. Sardonic. Whimsical. Satirical. Political. Sexical. This is the acid-trip version of Dune you never knew you wanted to read. The line is continually blurred between real facts and fiction, so much to the point you arent quite sure what you are reading is true or false at any given time. Brilliant. Reading this book can give you paranoia.There is is just so much sheer creativity here - you can tell its a work of love. Speaking of which, theres quite a bit of graphic sex. i usually hate it because its not why i read, but it really fits theme of the book - constant visceral display.This book has a lot of faults - just from the fact that 500 pages was cut from the trilogy tells you that this book lacks some editing. Certain conversations and plots are split throughout the entire book. The authors jump from character, perspective, from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph. It can be quite overwhelming at times.That being said , there is simply nothing else like this. Jesus on a pogo stick.

  • Evan
    2019-06-11 19:33

    As the book says itself, it's "a dreadfully long monster of a book... The authors are utterly incompetent - no sense of style or structure at all. It starts out as a detective story, switches to science-fiction, then goes off into the supernatural... And the time sequence is all out of order in a very pretentious imitation of Faulkner and Joyce. Worst yet, it has the most raunchy sex scenes..." This is an assessment I'd have to agree with. The book is simply poorly wrought. It's almost entirely exposition and reeks of "zany for zaniness's sake" - which, as a goofy conspiracy satire I understand is the point, but apart from the fun Discordianism factoids it was never satisfying nor even funny (its most unforgivable sin). More than that, the scattershot narrative makes it a chore to read and there are plenty of typos throughout ("Dealy Plaza", "wierd"). I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.

  • Bran
    2019-05-28 14:24

    Tripppppppppy! Most all of the reviews I have read touch on the fact that it is a crap conspiracy novel and complain about the change in perspective without warning. The reason why I picked up this book was mainly due to Discordianism, of which I am a big fan. It has lots of juicy sexy scenes and lines from the Principia Discordia littered throughout. This makes for a great read, to me. The rapid change in perspectives is one that I've never seen before and has piqued my interest in this book. It ensures the reader is actually paying attention. Once you get used to time traveling and seeing through all of the characters' eyes this book becomes less of a pain in the ass and more of a mind trip. I love love love this book so much and cannot wait to finish the second part of the Illuminatus! Trilogy.

  • Trevor Durham
    2019-06-24 13:33

    The best comedy, conspiracy, paranoia romp ever written. My years of non-fiction reading, political studies, and off-the-beaten path literature have led me to this tale and all of my studies have paid off. Understanding this epitome of post-modernism is a challenge, possibly impossible for those without dipping their toes into the (alluded to) Pynchon lore, Faulkner realism, Russian histories, and age-old tragedies. Robert Shea has blown me out of the water with his twists and turns through unreliability of history, satire of conspiracy, the true way of paranoia. In a sprawling novel with enough insult to every conspiracy to be trustworthy, but the narration of a dolphin to take it away, you're left with little clarity. Between the lines, Shea is dissecting every corrupt thought and throw-away rumor you could imagine with the cold logic and wit to make this honestly the best book I've read in years.

  • Nelson
    2019-06-06 17:50

    This has to be one of the most difficult and strangest books I have read in my life. The Eye in the Pyramid is a detective story where our detectives don't even know what they are looking for. The book is filled with references to almost every conspiracy theory in existence and all of them work as plot points. Names and references to places, individuals and events are thrown out the window at every page. It will make you look outside information for sure.The confusion doesn't end there either. The story is told in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person and there's never a warning of when that changes are going to happen, it might happen in the middle of a paragraph you don't know!!!The book is still entertaining but I don't think it flows well as novel or a narrative in general. It works better as an ongoing stream of consciousness discussion on this topics.All Hail Discordia.

  • Mandy
    2019-05-26 18:33

    Wow. Maybe sometime I'll get around to more of a review but, for now, I'll just say that before I read the next parts of this trilogy I have the undeniable urge to read this first all over again and map out every character, place, and literary or philosophical reference. Sigh.

  • Tadas Talaikis
    2019-05-27 13:50

    I read it about 15 years ago, but remember nothing about exactly this one (trilogy) and want to compare RAW (exactly other books) to my current state of mind.Let's analyze it.Problems of conspiracy theorists:* furtive fallacy, a belief that significant facts of history are necessarily sinister;* conspiracism, a world view that centrally places conspiracy theories in the unfolding of history, rather than social and economic forces;* fusion paranoia, a promiscuous absorption of fears from any source whatsoever.Example of such delusions. If I am pro human body transformation ("transhumanism"), which is often taken as an "argument" that I am the member of some secret society, when actually much simpler explanation can hold true - I am pro, because it can make life better. Like latest idiotic conspiracist's scare on CRISPR DNA modification technology. Those fears most often arise from lack of understanding of the area.But also they can sometimes guess something unimaginable right. But that also can be just a coincidence due to mutual idiotism. Mutual idiotism - when other party ("The Order") don't know what they should know and as a consequence it appears like "evil doing".This book reminds me Ulysses, now wonder RAW is big fan of James Joyce. "In the beginning there was a word, and it was written by a baboon." (this one) ~ "His Eminence Michael cardinal Logue, archbishop of Armagh, primate of all Ireland (...)" (Ulysses)Not the first time I'll say it, but here's what this book about. (view spoiler)[It's a big joke, constructed in such a way that some people would fall victims to it and search for hidden nonexistent meanings :-DLike Jean Baudrillard said in Simulacra and Simulation: "it is dangerous to unmask images, since they dissimulate the fact that there is nothing behind them.You should really try yourself to free from programmed and biased brain software to understand the joke :-D "Normal" common people have tendency to replace information they don't have with random B.S. in order to compensate the conflict between their beliefs and the reality ("cognitive dissonance"). (hide spoiler)]After those years when I first rad RAW, now I see those books had greatly made me.Other mentions, of course, include Alfred Korzybski and Timothy Leary. Where I had been without discovering RAW and trying everything out in the path of thought freedom?Book was exceptionally hilarious and sexy (if you read other RAW and do some research, you should know theory behind it, testosterone = brain).Heil Discordia,23["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Aiden Heavilin
    2019-06-04 13:41

    At one point in this genuinely brilliant book, there is a list of authors who died under mysterious circumstances after revealing some part of a grand secret... Lovecraft's mysterious demise after revealing Cthulhu and the Old Ones, etc. Earlier in the book, Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49" is brought up, with the Tristero Postal System hinted at as one possible faction of the Illuminati. Later on, it is confirmed several secret societies utilize the postal system.There we have it: The reason that Pynchon keeps his head down, refuses to give interviews or even show his face! He remains in the shadows, revealing the secret plans of the elite bit by bit, leaking out books that, though they might seem to be alive with whimsical talking light-bulbs and sentient balls of lightning, actually contain a bit of the secret that THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW... Paranoia is critical within Pynchon's work - That's because he wants to to be paranoid! That's because he wants to understand just a hint of how bad things really are. And his reclusive nature is a sign, a warning, that he is to be taken seriously, that if, should he show his head, the great machine of conspiracy and greed might have him... bumped off.--------------------------This is an exciting, harrowing, and interesting book that could have gained five stars had the authors not drowned certain sections in rather immature juvenalia that seemed to aspire to raise the book to an "adult" level, but instead ended up making it sound written by a hormonal teenager. Nevertheless, the book presents an actually realistic view of how a secret society like the Illuminati might work, but then, immediately upon introducing that view, shatters it and proves it wrong. Part of the fun of the book is deciding which of the several drug-fueled narratives is actually presenting the "real" truth about the Illuminati; each one gives a different account of its true power, purpose, and origins.Some of the book felt rather uncanny, given that it was written so long ago. For example, one of the characters expresses his viewpoint that the Illuminati is wrapped up within the Catholic Church, so that should their crimes be found out, they would make it look like the Catholic's fault. Given all the scandals wracking the Catholic establishment, some plucky conspiracy theorist might argue that they are really taking the fall for the secret organization that has infiltrated them... but I think that would be far too hasty: "The Eye in the Pyramid" constantly sells you a version of reality, then shatters it. It doesn't want you to 'make up your mind'. The moral is "Think for yourself, schmuck!"

  • Tobin Elliott
    2019-06-25 13:35

    Well, that's a big Did Not Finish.Shit, I only got a few pages in and lost all interest. Obviously I need to at least read the first page or two before I purchase.Sweet jumpin' Jesus, this is bad.

  • Dyermaker
    2019-05-25 17:27

    4.258/5“Es un libro monstruosamente largo” dice Wildeblood, malhumorado “y ciertamente no tendré tiempo para leerlo, pero lo estoy hojeando. Los autores son totalmente incompetentes - carecen completamente de sentido de estilo o estructura -. Comienza como una historia detectivesca, salta a la ciencia-ficción, luego cambia a lo sobrenatural y está repleto información muy detallada sobre temas horriblemente aburridos. Y la secuencia temporal está toda desordenada, en una imitación pretenciosa a Faulkner y Joyce. Peor aún, tiene escenas sexuales de lo más obscenas puestas allí solo para vender, estoy seguro, y los escritores - de quienes nunca había oído hablar - tuvieron el supremo mal gusto de introducir figuras políticas verdaderas en ese revoltijo para simular que han descubierto una conspiración auténtica. Puedes estar seguro de que no perderé el tiempo leyendo semejante porquería, pero tendré lista una crítica perfectamente devastadora para mañana a la mañana”.Vaya sorna la que manejan Anton Wilson & Shea. The eye in the pyramid es un pastiche pulp terriblemente entretenido (y confuso, todo bien regado de lsd) que mezcla civilizaciones perdidas, paranoia desatada, historia secreta del mundo, Lovecraft, Dick, Verne y todo lo que caiga. Lo que no está nada mal para la primera parte de una trilogía, desde luego. Robert Anton Wilson, creo que este es el comienzo de una hermosa amistad. Ah, y los fans del Péndulo de Foucault ya están tardando en leerla.

  • Harry Rutherford
    2019-06-10 13:22

    I got the Illuminatus Trilogy on my kindle ages ago, after reading a biography [bandography?] of The KLF (The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds). I finally got round to trying it, by which time I couldn’t remember what to expect from it.At first I thought it was more enjoyable — funnier — than I expected, as well as more formally interesting: it switches between people, places and times from paragraph to paragraph. But after a while, all that switching just got confusing, and the action got a bit repetitive. And it’s dated: it is a mass of 60s and 70s American political and cultural references, which don’t necessarily mean much to me; and the portrayal of women is pretty dreadful.So it became a bit of a chore by the end, and I certainly didn’t feel inclined to read the other two volumes. But I can see why it has a cult following: it’s inventive and knowing; and entertaining in small doses.

  • Roman
    2019-06-04 13:25

    It's slow, it's disjointed, it's basically a couple of authors letting down their hair by making a shitty book to appeal to people like themselves. If you only care for good prose, you're going to have some problems. To me, it felt like an inside joke by a bunch of people interested and amused by something that doesn't interest/amuse me - conspiracy theories. Personally, I feel like conspiracy theories aren't worth my time. Ergo, this book isn't worth my time. But if you like wit, snark and amusing yourself at the expense of some particularly well-worn idiocies of the human mind, you'll probably like this book.

  • Dustin
    2019-06-10 16:45

    This is one of the weirder things I've read. The structure of the novel is follows half a dozen narratives, shifting from one to the other without warning, that all seem to actually be one (or two) narratives. It back up this up with the paranoid stream of consciousness rambling you'd expect from a time-cube conspiracy blog. This first book just sort of stops instead of ending, and if I wasn't reading it as part of the omnibus I'd be a lot more annoyed.

  • Keith Peck
    2019-05-30 21:39

    It's got everything! Atlantis! Nuclear Weapons! Fernando Po! Singing Dolphins! Computer programming! Satanism! Rosicrucianism! Rastafarianism! Robert A. Heinlein! William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginserb!The Silmarillion! Read this book and you'll understand how IT ALL FITS TOGETHER! They might call me paranoid, but sanity is merely a state of mind.

  • Paul
    2019-06-20 20:45

    The classic uber-conspiracy. If all the conspiracies you had ever heard of were true, then this is what you would have.Dan Brown this isn't. This is not a conventional novel. This is discordian.All Hail Eris!

  • Mrs. Bunny
    2019-05-29 13:44


  • Landon
    2019-06-17 19:46

    Two stars is either an unfairly poor assessment of this book, or entirely too generous. I have no idea which it is - in the spirit of the novel, allow me to puckishly suggest that both are the case.The Eye in the Pyramid is the first of a trilogy of novels usually found, these days, published in a single omnibus volume under the title "The Illuminatus! Trilogy" and credited to both Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. Each book is relatively short - about three hundred pages - and each one is either an incredibly dense read (if you're trying, vainly, to make some sense of what you're reading) or an incredibly swift one (if you're in an altered state and/or willing to just roll with it). The ostensible plot of the books is easy enough to state, and even one that might sound rather stock: a handful of mismatched average-Joe types get sucked into a strange, secret organization and its race to prevent the end of the world, which is to be orchestrated by an even stranger, even more secret organization. But that, of course, does no justice whatsoever to the book's actual contents. The trilogy is, in fact, one or more of the following: an ineptly told tale of high adventure; an extended riff on conspiracy theory and pop culture; a practical meditation on metatextualism; or a headtrip intended to be consumed only while tripping balls. To say the narrative is non-linear is to stretch the capacity of the word; better to call it "non-Euclidian." By the end of the first book, the reader has been invited to follow a dozen different points of view, the action has jumped backwards and forwards in time across centuries, and the Illuminati - the bogeymen of the series - have been assigned a double-handful of histories and motivations, with somewhere between all and none of them being true. This is not straightforward fiction, in other words.When I was seventeen, I thought this book was the most brilliant thing I'd ever read. When I was in my mid-twenties, I read it again over a long weekend in order to use it as source material for a game I was prepping to run. And now, at forty-two, I find the book is more tiresome than revelatory, though I am still able to find some amusement in how awed I was by it when I was a wide-eyed kid. The breathless surrealism comes off as a tad juvenile, a bit forced, and frankly too cute. The "wisdom" of the "Illuminated" characters prompts eye-rolls rather than enthusiastic nods - it bears more resemblance to what might come out of an earnest three a.m. dorm-room bull-sessions among sophomore philosophy students... who weren't particularly good at philosophy. There's not a thing in it that will seem profound or insightful to anyone over the age of twenty-five who isn't also a crashing bore.I keep telling myself I don't want to be too hard on the book, but I'm not sure that's true. There are some clever moments, yes, but they are scattered amongst a lot of pretty tiresome literary posturing, more self-congratulatory "hip" pop-culture references than are strictly necessary, and some truly groan-inducing puns and joke names. The fundamental problem is that none of it feels authentic - it really seems like the author (authors? Robert Anton Wilson also gets a credit on the omnibus edition I have, but Goodreads insists Robert Shea is the only author of the first book) wants to be Umberto Eco, Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, and/or Joseph Heller, but just... isn't. If you've never read those authors, this book will surely be mind-blowing; if you have read them, this will come off as amateurish apery. I don't have a sense of any real insight or world-view underlying Shea's surrealist style, which is what sets him apart from his betters: whereas Eco and Pynchon, for instance, write stories that seem to demand their peculiar idioms, Shea is, at bottom, just writing a hackneyed save-the-world story, dressed up with in a style that he clearly thought was "cool." This is made all the more obvious if one tries to think about the "philosophy" of the book for more than a minute - it's ultimately very thin gruel, the kind of stuff that seems very profound to young folks and people who are high, but which really contributes nothing of substance. It's also doesn't even come off as genuine; for instance, the "heroic" characters prattle a bit about tearing down the patriarchy and so forth, but there is literally not a woman in the book who isn't turned into a sex object. Obscuratanism can be (marginally) excused if it is essential the philosophical purpose of a work, such as in Zen koans - Pynchon quite literally could not accomplish what he sets out to do in any other way. But the effort required from the reader is at least justified by the depths that are available to be plumbed in his work, and the same goes for the others I listed above. Eco, Vonnegut, Heller - they may be more or less demanding and/or unsettling in their style, but the ultimately reward the reader with something more than just a narrative. There's no sense of any such depths to Shea's work - you could get the same stuff by gathering up some middle-class nineteen year olds who have read Nietzsche for the first time, getting them high, and letting them ramble. That's not a sufficient prize for the effort expended.There's a place for this book. If you're a conspiracy-theory fan, you simply have to read it - it may be the only book on the theme that comes close to simulating for the reader the disorganized, irrational manner of thought of the typical conspiracy theorist. If you're a fan of surrealist fiction, you may want to read it, but it's certainly not a major or important work. And if you're a fan of counterculture works of the late sixties and early seventies, you'll probably appreciate it. But a well-read individual of any depth will find the style derivative and the "profundity" on display disappointing. It's a curious cultural artifact, and I'm glad I read it, but I'm honestly not 100% sure I'm glad to be re-reading it.

  • Bhakta Jim
    2019-06-22 14:38

    I tried to read this when it first came out. I was in college then, and I didn't really get it. I just gave it another chance recently and was much more impressed.This book is not to be taken seriously, any more than you would take the conspiracy nuts on the Internet seriously. We didn't have the Internet when this first came out, so I made the mistake of taking the story at face value when I first read it and as a result I missed the whole point of the thing.The story is hilarious. It makes fun not only of conspiracy theories but of Ayn Rand, Ian Fleming, intelligent porpoises, the John Birch society, and who knows what else.I don't know if the authors can sustain something like this for three novels, but then I didn't think Stephen Colbert could keep "The Colbert Report" fresh and funny for as long as he did either. I am reading the second book now.

  • Billy Flounder
    2019-06-21 15:42

    And what a strange trip it was into the Eye. Great satire on conspiracy theories--though some of it does make you wonder. If you haven't read it and are thinking of reading it, know that these two guys who wrote it were stoned out of their minds for the most part. One of the most interesting ideas of the book, attributed to William S Burroughs, is the 23 enigma and how the number keeps appearing. I was in Rome at the time when I first read about it in one of the trilogy books. One day I was listening to a guide who showed us the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed. She then said he was stabbed 23 times. I nearly choked on my gelato. Read this book, but be warned their stream of consciousness style of writing is more like Grade V rapids. Hang on and enjoy the ride.

  • Anthony Faber
    2019-06-10 15:44

    Hallucinatory conspiracy thriller, lots of sex and drugs, not much rock & roll. I find it very funny. Knowledge of the standard conspiracy theories is helpful, but not essential. You'll just miss some of the jokes.

  • Grigory
    2019-06-16 15:23

    This is what postmodern literature is supposed to look like. Dynamic, comic-book-like and no nerdy high-brow jokes for the ones who are in the know. Better than Foucault's pendulum I think although the material is generally the same.

  • Rendier
    2019-05-26 19:29

    seems the author was illuminated (on acid) when he wrote this...

  • Dirk Van Leeuwen
    2019-06-08 13:24

    Enjoyable, but weirdly sexist.

  • Matthew Sarookanian
    2019-06-13 18:38

    Get ready for one hell of a trip. Take this book in stride as it takes awhile to get a grasp on Shea's style of writing. But once you do, you'll be hooked.

  • Charles Cohen
    2019-06-25 14:43

    I tried. I really did. But yeah, I had to bail.

  • Si
    2019-06-06 16:30

    Exactly what it says and fascinating read into imagination and the nature of love and existence and chance ......