When the doors opened a motley crew strolled or tumbled in: dopers, smokers and midnight tokers; people into music or magick or writing; pranksters, jokers and tricksters; rappers, jugglers, drummers and all sorts of other entities and critters.
The whole project might have worked differently these days (due to the acceleration of technology), with Skype and such, but the classes in 2004 operated through a series of forums.
Without face-to-face signals, communicating only in text, it seems easy for online study groups and forums to invite trolls and hecklers, and fall into negative thinking and other forms of stupidity.
Ten years on, the MLA remains in memory as the most intelligent, funny and interesting group of people I [aka Bogus] have mingled with online. It seems sad (but perhaps inevitable) that it faded somewhat, especially after Bob died, and people drifted away.
Bob's only guideline for his study forums still seems valid for online communications:
"In this area of cyberspace we only have one rule: If you can't achieve tolerance, at least attempt courtesy".
Many of us remain in touch, and some of us have since met up. We still collaborate on projects. At the time we created 14 editions of an online magazine, and one hard copy - we also created our own currency, just to make Bob smile.
As part of the planned festival for RAW, surrounding the launch of the Cosmic Trigger play in Liverpool in November, some of us decided we might run a sample nine-week course, a taster, just a glimpse of the variety of things we feel lucky enough to have studied together with RAW.
We plan to maybe revive the MLA website, and put together a collaborative course, of which more news sooner or later. Hopefully, some of the old alumni may re-appear, and we can introduce some new faces to the whole area of study we managed to work through in those precious 30 months with Robert Anton Wilson.
A glimpse at the history of the MLA.