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« Robert Anton Wilson reduced to an essence | Main | Testing, testing... »

Robert Anton Wilson is dead

When I finally finished writing Jude, after seven years of work, one of the first people I wanted to send it to was Robert Anton Wilson, because he had helped create the mind that wrote it. When I was a teenager, the three novels he co-authored with Robert Shea (The Illuminatus Trilogy) had changed my idea of what the novel was capable of. Later, his non-fiction books, especially Cosmic Trigger: Book 1, and Prometheus Rising, had changed my idea of what I was capable of.

I was about to send him a typescript of Jude when my friend and agent, Charlie Campbell, discovered that Wilson was terminally ill. I decided not to send it. A man busy dying does not need five hundred loose leaves of someone else's book sliding off his knees and across the room.

But I wish now I'd sent him a short note instead. I wish I’d said hello. And thank you. And goodbye.

He died on January 11th 2007.

It doesn't make sense to mourn him: his life was long, and filled with achievement on every level. His books changed lives (often for the better). He had a tremendous marriage, to Arlen (who died, I think, in 1999.) He seemed to get on great with his three surviving children. (The fourth, his wonderful daughter Luna, was murdered in the 1970s). He had a heck of a lot of friends. He was loved.

I’ll write more, on another day, about Robert Anton Wilson, and his work. There’s much, much more to be said. For today, all I want to say is something like…

Hello Robert. Thank you. Goodbye.

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Reader Comments (3)

Nice post, Julian. Somehow I suspect that Robert Anton Wilson would have supported your non-mourning stance and would have advised joyous mayhem instead. The Illuminatus! trilogy had a huge effect on me when I stumbled serendipitously upon it, and when I got around to his non-fiction and ample audiovisual material I was unstoppably hooked.

Looking back I don't think anybody had more influence on how I thought about the world. He turned so much of the bullshit upside down, leaving broader perspectives and even broader smiles in his wake. His work was also full of interesting leads to follow, not least the undersung Korzybski, whose complex ideas he distilled so well.

This may seem like a comment out of the blue, but not many people in the Irish blogging world write about Robert Anton Wilson! (At least, as far as I've noticed.) So when I belatedly came across your post I felt honour-bound to respond. I'll write my own tribute to him some day. In the meantime, Hail Eris!
July 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStan
Stan, I'll just second all you said. He doesn't get enough appreciation. I know he's influenced a lot of the most interesting people out there (you can have Robert Anton Wilson conversations with some surprising people.)

If you do write something on him, tell me and I'll mention it / link to it.

Hail Eris!
July 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
Thanks Julian. RAW's strangely shifting reputation will sooner or later motivate me to get my own 2 cents in, and when I do I'll let you know.
July 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStan

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