Schrödinger

Schrödinger

[shroh-ding-er, shrey-; Ger. shrœ-ding-uhr]
Schrödinger, Erwin, 1887-1961, Austrian theoretical physicist. He was educated at Vienna, taught at Breslau and Zürich, and was professor at the Univ. of Berlin (1927-33), fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford (1933-36), and professor at the Univ. of Graz (1936-38), the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1940-57), and the Univ. of Vienna (1957-61). Schrödinger is known for his mathematical development of wave mechanics (1926), a form of quantum mechanics (see quantum theory), and his formulation of the wave equation that bears his name. The Schrödinger equation is the most widely used mathematical tool of the modern quantum theory. For this work he shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with P. A. M. Dirac.

See studies by C. W. Kilmister, ed. (1987) and W. J. Moore (1989).

The Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy is a trilogy of novels by Robert Anton Wilson. The trilogy (1980-81) consists of The Universe Next Door, The Trick Top Hat, and The Homing Pigeons, each taking place in a series of separate and slightly distinct universes. Wilson is also co-author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, and Schrödinger's Cat is a sequel of sorts to the earlier trilogy, re-using several of the same characters and carrying on many of the themes of the earlier work.

The one-volume edition currently in print is significantly shorter than the original three-volume edition.

The name Schrödinger's Cat comes from a famous thought experiment in quantum mechanics. This book series is not to be confused with In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, a popular science book about quantum theory.

Taking place in Unistat, which is the novel's parallel to the United States, the novels have intertwining plots involving a wide array of characters, including:

  • Epicene Wildeblood, a.k.a. Mary Margaret Wildeblood, a transsexual who throws great parties
  • Frank Dashwood, president of Orgasm Research
  • Markoff Chaney, a midget prankster
  • Hugh Crane, a.k.a. Cagliostro the Great, a mystic and magician
  • Furbish Lousewart V, author and President of Unistat
  • Marvin Gardens, author and cocaine addict
  • Eve Hubbard, scientist and alternate President of Unistat

Series summary

In The Universe Next Door, the President of Unistat is Furbish Lousewart V; in that universe, a terrorist organization known as Purity of Essence, named after General Ripper's obsession in the film Dr. Strangelove, threatens to detonate nuclear devices in major cities all over Unistat. Also mirroring Dr. Strangelove, Unistat has an automated device that will send nuclear missiles to Russia in the event of such an attack. Russia has a similar device to bomb China, and so on.

In The Trick Top Hat, President Hubbard, a woman, promotes a scientific approach to the improvement of life, offering rewards to anyone who can design a robot to do their job or develop methods to prolong life. Eventually Unistat becomes a Utopia. She makes the whole law system into three different laws: victimless crimes, which have no punishment; monetary crimes or some such thing, which involve debt and payment; and serious crimes, such as murder, which result in being sent to Hell, a place like jail but not quite. It's encased in laser shielding and is like a primitive world all its own. It is, in fact, the State of Mississippi. The original Pocket Books edition of "The Trick Top Hat" contains many passages, some sexually explicit, that are not included in later editions, including the Dell softcover. Much of this material first appeared in Wilson's earlier novel, The Sex Magicians, published as porn by Sheffield House in 1973.

The third has President Kennedy, and is titled The Homing Pigeons. It has very little to do with the President, though at the end keeps switching universes, some of which contain President Kennedy, others which contain President Lousewort, and still others in which Hubbard is the president. Like "The Trick Top Hat," "The Homing Pigeons" also has material in the Pocket Books edition that is not in later editions. Unlike "The Trick Top Hat," however, the material that was cut out did not contain particularly sexually explicit content.

The main plots throughout these books are many. One follows Markoff Chaney, a midget, and his pranks played on the world that continuously screws him over. Most of his pranks are played on Dr. Dashwood, of Orgasm Research. However, the most important plot line follows the path of one Hugh Crane which may or may not be this Universe's Hagbard Celine; a character that is an obvious representation of Wilson himself.

Another follows an "Ithyphallic Eidolon", removed from a male-to-female transsexual named Epicene (or Mary Margaret) Wildebloode. She puts it on display on her mantelpiece, and it gets stolen. It passes through the vicinity of almost every character in the series at least once.

There are dozens of conspiracy theories, strange loops, satire and paranoia included within those pages. In addition, there are numerous references to other works and occasional outright appropriation of characters from them (including cameos by Captain Ahab and Lemuel Gulliver, among others). In addition, a great many of the character names are either puns (Bertha van Ation, Juan Tootrego) or references to historical personages (Blake Williams refers to the poet William Blake, Francis Dashwood's name refers to Sir Francis Dashwood).

Tanstagi

Tanstagi, an acronym standing for There Ain't No Such Thing As Government Interference, is the motto of the Invisible Hand Society, an originally fictional organization invented in the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy. The acronym was deliberately intended as a reference to Robert A. Heinlein's TANSTAAFL principle.

The Tanstagi principle is meant to imply that the invisible hand of the free market applies to government as well. In other words, contrary to traditional ideas of laissez-faire capitalism, government interference in the free market is impossible, since governments are inextricably a part of the market as a whole. Thus, true laissez-faire conditions are impossible, since the government will always affect the market. An example of this is the defense industry: since the government is the single biggest customer of this industry, it logically follows that this sector of the free market is inextricably tied up with government interference.

While it was first introduced in a novel, people claiming to be members or know of chapters of the Invisible Hand Society have occasionally appeared in editorial pages and on the Internet.

Language and invented slang

The Schrödinger's Cat trilogy is a fictional story, with much interpersonal dialogue between characters. This dialogue frequently makes use of slang words invented by the author. These words are all used in the expression of natural human actions which are typically taboo to speak about in modern western culture. These words are not invented words, but make use of the names of politically notable persons. Examples include "Potter Stewarting", an expression used as a substitute for a common obscenity that refers to the act of copulation, and "Burgering", referring to the act of voiding one's bowels (most likely referring to Chief Justice of the United States from 1969-1986, Warren E. Burger).

Publication details

  • Wilson, Robert (1988). Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy. New York: Dell Publishing.

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