Thursday, January 11, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson, RIP

Robert Anton Wilson, RIP

It's a sad day for free-thinkers, spiritual slackers, intellectual pranksters, and coffee shop philosophers. Robert Anton Wilson has left us, and moved on to whatever comes after this, if indeed anything does. He was probably my one true hero. A smart mouthed wiseguy constantly reminding us of the joyful absurdity of our beliefs, our preconceptions, our institutions, and our selves. Like a Zen master, he reminded us that any idea, theory or belief, is merely a tool, a net used to catch fish. Once you have your fish, you have no need for the net.

Searching Google News, it seems that the mainstream media have yet to notice his passing. Maybe they are just gunshy, since they'd already gotten it wrong once.

According to reliable sources, I died on February 22, 1994 — George Washington’s birthday. I felt nothing special or shocking at the time, and believed that I still sat at my word processor working on a novel called Bride of Illuminatus. At lunch-time, however, when I checked my voice mail, I found that Tim Leary and a dozen other friends had already called to ask to speak to me, or — if they still believed in Reliable Sources — to offer support and condolences to my grieving family. I quickly gathered that news of my tragic end had appeared on the Internet in the form of an obituary from the Los Angeles Times: “Noted science-fiction author Robert Anton Wilson was found dead in his home yesterday, apparently the victim of a heart attack. Mr. Wilson, 63, was discovered by his wife, Arlen.
“Mr. Wilson was the author of numerous books… He was noted for his libertarian viewpoints, love of technology and off the wall humor. Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife and two children.” -
From Cosmic Trigger III: My Life after Death

The news of his passing is all over the internet, however, as hipster geeks mourn him, and shout his praises.

R.U. Sirius:

Robert Anton Wilson taught us all that “the universe contains a maybe.” So maybe there is an afterlife, and maybe Bob’s consciousness is hovering around all of us who were touched by his words and his presence all these years. And if that’s the case, I’m sure he’d like to see you do something strange and irreverent — and yet beautiful –- in his honor.

Reason Magazine Online:

He was my gateway to Welles and Chandler, to Leary and Fuller, to Pound and Reich, to conspiracy theory and libertarianism, and to all the ideas and experiences, intellectual, aesthetic, and actual, that rolled from those varied and fascinating entryways into art, ideas, and living. I hope I can do good by the principles he helped imbue in me. He excelled as both novelist and essayist; he was a noble steward of the ideas he espoused, a brilliant and passionate popularizer, and the characters and scenarios and approaches to fiction of his novels reward constant reading with constant pleasure and insight--he was a pop-Pynchon of sorts in his sprawling, comic-serious approach to Big Crazy Ideas, who got a thousandth of the respect and delivered a thousand times the joy and humanity.
I, and many others, will continue to read his work with both intellectual and aesthetic pleasure from now and on into the limitless human future he helped so many of us to see. If anyone deserved to reach techno-immortality, it was him. That's what's making me saddest right now. The best of him remains, and will always.
That all said, two words should suffice. as Pound said of Eliot on his passing (and I know this because I read Robert Anton Wilson): Read him.

From Bob's last blog post, Saturday, January 6, 2007, Do Not Go Gently into that Good Night:

Various medical authorities swarm in and out of here predicting I have between two days and two months to live. I think they are guessing. I remain cheerful and unimpressed. I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.
Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.

Bob, thanks for the laughs, the ideas, the love. You are already missed. It has been said that it is an ill wind that blows no minds. Well, Bob, you old windbag, by that standard, you were a mighty yet fair breeze. You were a zephyr which launched many of our ships, as well as lifting innumerable kites. FNORD.

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The RAW Site is playing "Danny Boy." Fitting.

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