HISTORY OF PRONOIAMy book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings is the only tome that has ever been written about the subject of pronoia. But other authors have worked a bit with the concept.
In his novella Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, J.D. Salinger wrote about pronoia without using the term. "Oh, God," one of his characters says, "if Iím anything by a clinical name, Iím a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.Ē
The actual term "pronoia" was coined in 1976 by Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, who defined it as "the suspicion that the universe is a conspiracy on your behalf."
Another early contributor to the concept was psychologist Fraser Clark, founder of the Zippies. In the 1990s he referred to pronoia as "the sneaking hunch that others are conspiring behind your back to help you." Once you have contracted this benevolent virus, he said, the symptoms include "sudden attacks of optimism and outbreaks of goodwill."
Neither Terence McKenna or Robert Anton Wilson ever invoked the word "pronoia" as far as I know, but they both added nuance to the concept. McKenna said, "I believe reality is a marvelous joke staged for my edification and amusement, and everybody is working very hard to make me happy."
Wilson offered advice about the proper way to rehearse a devotion to pronoia: "You should view the world as a conspiracy run by a very closely-knit group of nearly omnipotent people, and you should think of those people as yourself and your friends."
Without using the term "pronoia," Paulo Cuelho added to its meaning: "Know what you want and all the universe conspires to help you achieve it."
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