Friday, January 12, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson. 1932-2007

via Ain't It Cool News and Douglas Rushkoff:
Robert Anton Wilson has officially left his body and transended to whatever great unknown awaits us.
I've been struggling with my writing of late. Nothing's been making me happy the last couple of weeks. But I will find my way through this, because of all the writers who've influenced me in the slightest, Robert Anton Wilson was the one who made writing seem, well, important.
I first became aquainted with his work at college (as most people apparently do). My friend Terry loaned me his copy of The Illuminatus Trilogy and I ate it up. Most books, even that size, take me less than a few hours to read. The text was so dense, so rich with detail and citation and goddamn mindblowing stuff -- that it took me over a week to get all the way through it. I'd probably read and reread most of it three or four times in that week, but I needed to.
I immediately rushed out and purchased everything of his I could find. The Shroedinger's Cat Trilogy. Masks of the Illuminati. The Illuminati Papers. Neuropolitics. Prometheus Rising. Cosmic Trigger. I even found a copy of his Playboy Book of Forbidden Words in the closed stacks of my college library.
I wasn't just hooked. I was obsessed. I tracked down and stole a copy of Akron Daraul's A History of Secret Societies since it featured prominently in Wilson's research. I studied the various Masonic conspiracies. The Gnostics. Crowley. Even the Church of the Subgenius.
Because of Robert Anton Wilson, I believe I'm more in touch with both myself and my world. I don't see conspiracies everywhere -- to the contrary, I know that most conspiracy theories are bunkum simply because no one can keep secrets that big for that long. However, I read newspapers with a more critical eye. I notice the minutia and details. Even the occasional fnord that gets past the editorial staff.
Wilson might have been dense and deep and all that horseshit, but he was also one of the funniest motherfuckers this world has ever seen. Many, many comedians owe him a debt -- I doubt Bill Hicks would have gone on the Flying Saucer Tour without a nudge or two from one of Wilson's books, for instance. The humor was one of the things that lasted with me, long after I'd read any of his books. I'd remember a particulary witty and applicable passage at the right time and chuckle to myself. The guy cracked me up like no author I've read who wasn't named Woody Allen.
I've not mentioned his nonfiction yet. Most people consider the sciences separate entities. They see a line of distinction between psychology and physics. Chemistry and sociology. Biology and politics. Wilson found the keys to meld them all together. His Quantum Psychology really did energize my brain to the possibilites that exist when we realize that everything we're trying to discover is all related. Any man that manages to interrelate the writings of Albert Einstein and Timothy Leary is an intellect to be respected. Wilson did that and so much more.

To tell you how influential Wilson was to my thought processes and creative drive, the newsletter Neurotrash from which this blog evolved was originally titled Operation Mindfuck 2 as a nod to Wilson.

There shall never be another. Goodbye, Mr Wilson. Roam free and learn those secrets you've been yearning to.

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