Robert Anton Wilson was very ill for a long time and died on 1/11/2007 at 4:50 am. If you don't know who Robert Anton Wilson was, you should find out. Philosopher, novelist, essayist, humorist, futurist, and prolific anarchist prankster, he was one of the last of the original 60's counterculture intellectuals. Of his many books, The Illuminatus trilogy is probably his most famous, and you really should read it if you haven't. Seriously, back when I was less broke I had plans to order a box of them to hand them out. I'm not the only person that sees value in reading Wilson. In "Maybe Logic, the lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson" Tom Robbins (who you should also read) expressed his belief that if just a small percentage of people in this country would read Wilson, it would spark a social revolution of a magnitude unseen before. Robbins also gave Wilson the credit for inspiring his unique literary style and philosophy.
RAW is arguably the most important and underrated influence on underground culture in the last 30 years. Among the individuals and movements that owe their philosophical and cultural perspective to Wilson are the Church of the Subgenius, RU Sirius, Philip K Dick, and of course, Tom Robbins. Although Wilson didn't invent the modern anti-religion Discordianism, he did a lot to spread it outside of Berkely where it originated in the late 50's and grew during the 60's.
Wilson is a primary source for the ironic style of conspiracism, a sensibility that treats alleged cabals not as intrigues to be exposed or lies to be debunked but as a bizarre mutant mythos to be mined for laughs, metaphors, and social insights. If you were an amused aficionado of conspiracy folklore in 1963, you were a lone hobbyist or specialist. By 1983, you could turn to a number of fanzines, comics, and weirdo institutions such as the Church of the SubGenius, a satiric cult founded by some Illuminatus! fans. By 1993, you were a target market for several half-joking mass-market conspiracy tomes; your sensibility was reflected regularly in magazines such as Mondo 2000 and The Nose; and two brand new pop juggernauts were about to enter your heart: The X-Files and the World Wide Web.Here are what some really smart people have to say about him (originally posted on maybelogic.org):
-Jesse Walker, Reason Magazine
- "Robert Anton Wilson is a dazzling barker hawking tickets to the most thrilling tilt-a-whirls and daring loop-o-planes on the midway of higher consciousness." - Tom Robbins, author
- "When it comes to intelligent dissent, Wilson is the motherload. More importantly, he's funnier than a barrel of monkeys reciting the pledge of allegiance on the capital steps." - R.U. Sirius, author, editor of Mondo 2000
- "Wilson is a Quantum Leap" - Israel Regardie
- "I have concluded, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, that Robert Anton Wilson is one of the most profound and important scientific philosophers of the century...scholarly, witty, scientific, hip and hopeful." - Timothy Leary, Ph.D., author, philosopher, scientist
- "Wilson does for quantum mechanics what Durrell's Alexandria Quartet did for relativity, but Wilson is funnier." - John Gribbin, physicist
- "The Man's either a genius or Jesus." - SOUNDS (London)
- "Wilson managed to reverse every mental polarity in me, as if I had been pulled through infinity." - Philip K. Dick, author of Blade Runner
- "Robert Anton Wilson walks the tightrope between coincidence and conspiracy with visionary grace." - Paul Krassner, writer, publisher of The Realist
- "We've needed this for a long time..." - Henry Miller, author of Tropic of Cancer
- "A SUPER-GENIUS...He has written everything I was afraid to write." - Dr. John Lily, the "Tim Leary" of ketamine.
I could go on and on about the importance of this man, and literally fill volumes. Do your mind a favor and check him out.