Monday, March 12, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson In Memoriam

Robert Anton Wilson passed away on the 11th of January 2007, at the age of 74. For some inexplicable rupture in space-time continuum, the tidings of his death reached pHinnWeb only now. An inspiration to psychonauts everywhere, Wilson (a.k.a. RAW) is best known for his 1975 The Illuminatus Trilogy, co-authored with Robert Shea (1933-1994), an anarchistic James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon-inspired mish-mash/parody/satire of occultism, post-hippie esotericism, psychedelic culture, numerology, and most of all, conspiracy theories. The same path was followed (though not exactly sharing RAW's cosmic slapstick anarchy) by Umberto Eco in his 1989 Foucault's Pendulum (and in a far, far more ham-fisted way by Dan Brown in that bestseller turd DaVinci Code).

What is the meaning of number 23? Why a dollar bill has in it an eye in the pyramid? Who were Adam Weisshaupt and the Bavarian Illuminati? What are "fnords"? These are only some of the questions The Illuminatus raises, and manages to (un)answer in a glorious way. One of the musical luminaries influenced by the book were The KLF who took the name of their side project Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu here, and countless other artists and scenesters in electronic music underground and rave culture have been influenced by the works of Robert Anton Wilson.

In a 2003 interview with High Times magazine, RAW described himself as a "Model Agnostic" which he says "consists of never regarding any model or map of the universe with total 100% belief or total 100% denial. Following [Alfred] Korzybski, I put things in probabilities, not absolutes... My only originality lies in applying this zetetic attitude outside the hardest of the hard sciences, physics, to softer sciences and then to non-sciences like politics, ideology, jury verdicts and, of course, conspiracy theory." More simply, he claims "not to believe anything," since "belief is the death of intelligence." He has described his approach as "Maybe Logic." [Wikipedia]

RAW's published output, general influence on underground culture and legacy are all too vast to be dissected here in any even nearly satisfying way, so I just recommend you follow the links below.

  • Robert Anton Wilson Homepage
  • Robert Anton Wilson @ Wikipedia
  • Robert Anton Wilson @ Blogspot
  • RAW Memorial @ MySpace
  • The 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson