Robert Anton Wilson, R.I.P.


From Robert’s final blog post, dated 1/6/07:

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.


Now that’s going out in style, isn’t it?

From Al Barger’s obit:

He managed to turn all kinds of paranoia and conspiracy theories into great fun, kind of a Dr. Strangelove strategy of transubstantiating darkness into light. He was very conscious of wanting to carefully put the most optimistic interpretation of events that he could reasonably justify. You’d likely come away from a RAW book suspecting that there really is significant truth to a lot of even the cheesier conspiracy theories.

But Wilson was especially important as a “guerilla ontologist,” as he sometimes described himself, or as he listed himself last month in his official Blogger profile, “Occupation: Mind Fucker.” He was really good at illuminating the ways in which our primitive mammalian biology tends to limit and actively subvert our best higher, more rational intentions. Thus, he’s been very useful to me in sorting the wheat from the chaff in the pronouncements of alpha males both physical and spiritual – politicians and priests alike. His guerilla ontology of being baroquely skeptical of even — especially — his own epistemological ability is for one thing the most precise counterargument to the surety of Ayn Rand’s “objectivism.” It’s also a pretty sure prescription for basic humility.


Anyhow, Brother Bob has slipped this mortal coil. One might guess that Tim Leary greeted him with a dose, and they’re trippin’ like fat rats and bouncing off the stars.

His personal consciousness might not be here to continue enjoying it, but in his mortal time Robert Anton Wilson put his own distinct twist into the DNA of our collective intellect that will far outlive his weak fleshly body. He may be dead and gone, but he’ll probably always be one of the top voices I hear in my head.

I don’t have much more to add, except to say that, like many, I enjoyed Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger books, his Illuminatus Trilogy and the Schrodinger’s Cat Trilogy. What strikes me about his writing is that he’s thinking on a genius level, and this makes everything seem so absurd to him that he can’t stop laughing. He’s not laughing at us, however; he’s laughing at himself, watching himself skip along his path as if it was nothing but a cartoon. It’s this irreverence that appeals to so many of us, the way he reminds us not to take life so damned seriously, but to pay loving attention to the details.

He showed us how he did it, and encouraged us to find our own method.

I’m truly sorry that he’s left us, and my heart goes out to his family and friends.

On the other hand, I’m happy that he was able to die exactly as he lived, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, smiling all the way.

[Cross-posted at my other place….]


5 thoughts on “Robert Anton Wilson, R.I.P.

  1. seekingfor says:

    Thanks for posting this.

    I was not familiar with his blog or work. After checking it out it seems very interesting. . .another avenue to explore.

    I really admire the way he faced death.

  2. Hawk Sr. says:

    I commented briefly on Spontaneous Arising, so won’t repeat it here. Just a simple thanks for having exposed me over the months to this beautiful contribution to humanity.

  3. Daniel says:

    wow, reading that makes me want to go and find some of his writing. Sadly…there are no good book stores here, so I will wait until I can go hit up Borders or some place like that.

  4. adreampuppet says:

    We’ve got awesome bookstores, Daniel, both in Boulder and in Denver. So, please move here immediately… 😉

  5. Daniel says:

    indeed. That is my plan, but sadly, no one else will catch on *sob* i would move there just for the bookstores if i could. Not to mention the fact that my favorite uncle resides there…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s