The recent discovery that one of the top fifty search terms to reach this website in the past two weeks is “illuminati spelled backward,” combined with the death earlier this year of Robert Anton Wilson, co-author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, reminded me today of a strange anecdote in my life.
Several years ago, I posted a message to eDebate, the college debate listserv. My message ran thus:
Could anyone running the Illuminati Kritik please e-mail me cites? I heard this K a few weekends ago, but am having trouble with the implications. Thanks.
Interesting. I used to use “Grey Mouser” as an e-mail handle….
Sorry. I digress. The things one forgets about themselves.
A kritik is an oddball form of debate argument. Wikipedia explains it here better than I ever could, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. A kritik is a negative argument against the affirmative’s plan of action that challenges the philosophical and mindset underpinnings of the affirmative plan. It says, basically, “The problem isn’t that the plan won’t work, but that in enacting the plan something philosophically or morally wrong and/or offensive becomes further entrenched in society.” Or something like that.
Coming back from a debate tournament I had a crazy idea. I’d ask for help in something that didn’t even exist and watch as people on the listserv either offered their help, asked for similar information, or even (and this was a long shot) said they’d heard of it, too. Thus the Illuminati Kritik was born.
(Okay, this is shades of something I talked about a few years later. If you know what I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well… it was a lot of fun. I can be a bit of a puckish prankster.)
So I wrote up the message, sent it from a Hotmail account, and waited for the fallout.
Truthfully, there wasn’t much. Just a chorus of, “Yeah, that sounds cool! I want it, too!” My puckish humor went nowhere…
Or so I thought.
I was working with a high school debate team at Mills Godwin High School. They needed some help, and they approached me. I guess they liked the way I thought. The one thing I will say about collegiate debate is this–I didn’t take it seriously. Life, I’ve often said, is too short to not have fun. One time I found a wonderful piece of evidence about how balloons resulted in decreased intelligence in males. I created a whole file of evidence on transhumanism, called it the Borg Counter-Plan, and slapped a picture of Seven of Nine in the silver catsuit on the front. Good times.
I decided I’d put together the Illuminati Kritik for these guys. The argument was pretty simple, I thought. The affirmative plan–this particular year, it had to be something that altered American foreign policy toward Russia–would result in the entrenchment of the Illuminati in positions of power throughout the world, especially Russia because, y’know, Russia is always on the brink of one thing or another. But where to get evidence for this?
Then it occurred to me. And I felt so dirty and so evil.
But this was a joke argument, right? So the legitimacy of the evidence didn’t bother me so much.
I went to the source. I went to The Illuminatus! Trilogy. The third book of the trilogy, Leviathan, ends with like seventy pages of completely legitimate sounding, but completely bullshit, pseudohistorical essays on the Illuminati, George Washington, the cultivation of marijuana, and dozens of other competely off-kilter topics. I would just cite those, pull relevant and useful quotes from the appendices, and give their source as page such-and-such of Leviathan (even though it was, strictly speaking, the single-volume I had because a book entitled Leviathan sounds so much more legit than a book entitled The Illuminatus! Trilogy, but all other publication details were correct in their entirety). Add to that some batshit crazy Trilateral Commission nonsense, and I was good to go. The Illuminati kritik.
The team ran the Illuminati kritik in a round. Our debrief afterward ran as follows:
“We ran ‘Illuminati.'”
“What do you mean, ‘We ran Illuminati’?”
“We ran ‘Illuminati.'”
“We shouldn’t have run ‘Illuminati’?”
“It’s okay. How’d you do?”
“It’s pretty strange. All this stuff about…”
“Did you run with it through rebuttals?”
“We brought it up in the 2NR.”
“As a reason to win?”
“The affirmative plan–to fully fund KEDO–would give the Illuminati more control over Korean energy supplies. And that’s bad because it consolidates power in the hands of a few.”
“Good argument. So did you win?”
“No. The judge said we were crazy. He said there’s no such thing as the Illuminati running the world.”
Well, of course. Because that’s what they want you to think…
I never let them run with the Illuminati kritik after that. Borg-transhumanism, that I was okay with. But Illuminati was total bullshit through and through. Of course, that’s probably why they felt so good about having run it in a round–they didn’t know it was bullshit. It had evidence, after all, which meant it couldn’t be completely wrong. But as the second Doctor said in “The Wheel in Space”: “Logic merely enables one to be wrong with authority.” He was right about that, the Doctor.
It’s funny. I put that time as a high school debate coach on the resume, though the hours were long and the pay laughable. It never gets asked about in interviews. It was fun, though. I sometimes wonder what happened to the kids. I think they learned a lot.
They certainly learned something about the Illuminati.