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Lions Roar : July 2008
73 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2008 AMERICAN NOVELIST TOM ROBBINS has a well-deserved cult following, not just of gray-haired hippies but also fresh-faced students, back-packers in Banana Republics, and others. Take Jitterbug Perfume, the first book by Robbins that I was lucky enough to stumble across at the local library—how can one not be smitten by it? It’s a book that be- gins with beets—“the most intense of vegetables”—and then dives into heady perfume, a good poke at a few of the world’s major religions, and a host of zany characters, including a 1,000-year-old janitor. Clearly Robbins owes some inspiration to psychedelics, but this word-slinger, as he calls himself, also owes something to Eastern philosophy. His heros are the Zen rebels, Sufi saints, and wild yogis of the “crazy wisdom” tradition, as he interprets it. Like them, Tom Robbins cuts through self-serious, conventional mind with humor, insight, and a little bit of weirdness. I interviewed him by fax. —ANDREA MILLER How would you define crazy wisdom? TOM ROBBINS: The quick and easy answer is that crazy wisdom is the deliberate opposite of conventional wisdom. Like most quick and easy answers, however, that one isn’t really satisfying. For want of a precise definition, we might consider that crazy wisdom is a philosophi- cal worldview that recommends swimming against the tide, cheerfully seizing the short TOM ROBBINS on the Zen rebels, Sufi saints, and wild yogis who fight conventional mind with humor, outrageousness, and paradox. Where are they now? Wisdom of the Rebels JULY 72-77.indd 73 JULY 72-77.indd 73 4/25/08 11:44:00 AM 4/25/08 11:44:00 AM