Robert Anton Wilson Dead at 74
Robert Anton Wilson, who came to prominence in the mid-70s (with Robert Shea, who died in 1994) co-authoring the "Illuminatus" trilogy, is dead, according to an obit notice passed to me Saturday by tommyc.
Boingboing is lots of fun anyway, but this major s-f writer and civil libertarian shd get a Lot of press. This is first I've heard about it. Anyone who sees other obits is welcome to let me know-- and in fact, encouraged to do so. Haven't checked the obit yet, but he has been in poor health and in poverty for some time now. Fellow Playboy writer Bob Shea, who was co-author of the Illuminatus trilogy passed some years ago. At the LST-50 conference I got a ride from Santa Cruz to SF with a man who had known Wilson at Playboy before the writer had turned on with acid, and had learned about morning glory seeds from him, for which my informant had wonderful things to say.The obituary proper is HERE.
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Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2007 14:52:02 -0600 (CST)
Noted in today's NY Times the obit of Robert Anton Wilson,74. He got about 14 inches with reference to his SF trilogy, and his time at Playboy as an editor. Also referenced a website where he frequently posted in his last years, boingboing.net, which I haven't visited yet. No doubt more will be written on the west coast.
I remember buying the Illuminatus books as they came out at the little bookstore around the corner from our quadraplex red brick apartment in married housing. Philip Jose Farmer's VENUS ON THE HALF SHELL was up about the same time, as were CRAWDADDY and the NATIONAL LAMPOON, then the best two magazines in America. Ah, those were the days. Roger Zelazny's NINE PRINCES IN AMBER had just come out, and a wealth of exceptional paperbacks snookered me into thinking that writing was a profession with a future.
I always enjoyed Hagbard Celine on his yellow submarine, with his copy of TELEMACHUS SNEEZED, and that impossible melange of conspiracy theories, et al, that made the Illuminatus books the wild kaleidoscope funhouse ride that they were.
Years later, stuffy Umberto Eco wrote FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, which covered pretty much exactly the same territory without near as much fun.
Wilson become quite a prominent lecturer and Nuager, and his essays appeared just about everywhere, it seemed. I particularly recall a magazine piece, circa 1990, on the "Gorby blotter" LSD that was sweeping the underground techno scene in Europe. As the dosage had been lowered by a factor of ten, suddenly the hallucinogen LSD had become the stimulant and dance drug LSD. It was a weird piece of outlaw journalism, and it delighted higher cerebral functions, which was the hallmark of RAW's writings.Wilson explored the waterfront of popular culture in that unique manner, and he will be missed.
According to the TIMES, RAW's last blog post on January 6 said, in part and ALMOST in toto: "I don’t see how to take death seriously. I look forward without dogmatic optimism, but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying."
And here's the last lines that the NY TIMES decided to censor:
Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.What they're scared of, I don't know. It seems a pointless edit, but then, RAW having been a freelancer for most of his life was undoubtedly familiar with dumbass editorial morons editing his stuff just to be able to prove that they had the power to change it. Well, fuck the New York TIMES, anyway.
Instead, perhaps his last homepage posting is more significant. RAW had been hospitalized and well, here's a later post (by and unidentified party) explaining:
RAW Bedside Update
October 10, 2006
Like manna from heaven, donations poured in after word got out that Bob Wilson was increasingly burdened with steep health-care costs. Bob and his family are profoundly grateful and humbled by your support (see note below). This kindly swarm of donations has fully enabled Bob to receive the care he (and everyone!) deserves.Here's Wilson's last homepage post:
Here's a quick history of Robert Anton Wilson's scenario. Bob has post-polio syndrome which has severely damaged his legs and weakened his body. He had a hard fall in June of this year which landed him in the hospital. He has since not been able to walk and is thus confined to his bed (overlooking beautiful Monterey Bay fnord), requiring 24 hour care. Due to Bob's acute weakness in June and July, many of his family and friends felt that Bob could go at any time. He has since rallied slowly with up's and down's, and like most things, his condition seems in the maybe state. Bob has no pain, has a hearty appetite, is in steady good, sharp humor and is surrounded by family and friends. Praise Bob! All hail Eris!
Note from RAWCourage.
October 5, 2006
Dear Friends, my God, what can I say. I am dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and totally stunned by the charity and compassion that has poured in here the last three days.
To steal from Jack Benny, "I do not deserve this, but I also have severe leg problems and I don't deserve them either."
Because he was a kind man as well as a funny one, Benny was beloved. I find it hard to believe that I am equally beloved and especially that I deserve such love.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, know that my love is with you.
You have all reminded me that despite George W. Bush and all his cohorts, there is still a lot of beautiful kindness in the world.
Robert Anton Wilson