Tag Archives: lenny bruce

The Book of the Breast

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Book of the Breast (also published as Ishtar Rising: Or, Why the Goddess Went to Hell and What to Expect Now That She’s Returning) by Robert Anton Wilson:

Robert Anton Wilson's The Book of the Breast (Ishtar Rising)


The Book of the Breast is a sort of quintessential Robert Anton Wilson manifesto. It plainly shows his background in the Freudian mind-control Madison Avenue culture of the 1950s and 60s, along with his libertarian futurist aspirations. On these bases he offers a wide-ranging theory of society and religion. Wilson’s canon of heroes are on display: Aleister Crowley, Lenny Bruce, Timothy Leary, and Buckminster Fuller, among others. There are a modest number of black-and-white photo illustrations of women and their breasts as featured in different cultures.

The intellectual framework is a little overdetermined, tending to straightjacket all human behaviors and perspectives into oral and anal categories. While Wilson admits the shortcomings of oral mentalities, he doesn’t seem to allow for any possible benefit of the anal. A genital cathexis must be inferred or brought from other sources by the reader. Also, the book includes a number of factual errors. In particular, the history is weak. (Cathars as sex cultists? I don’t think so.) But it is chatty, entertaining, and basically sane. The final chapter is especially good, combining a plea for erotic liberty with remarks on technique, rousing misquotes from Liber Legis, and sadly over-optimistic forecasts of cultural emancipation. [via]



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