Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson R.I.P. (or not)

Novelist/philosopher Robert Anton Wilson died last week. I've been enjoying reading the obits all around the Internet - and he would have too. We know this because a few years ago he did have the pleasure of reading his own obits when word went around that he'd died.

This time it's for real. Or maybe not. Or maybe he's alive/dead/neither-alive-nor-dead in that box with Schrodinger's Cat.

If you haven't read Wilson, you have no idea what I'm talking about (and probably didn't get the joke in the first word(s) of this post either).

Well you can read about him here http://www.reason.com/news/show/117878.html and that'll link you to a lot of other stuff about him. But the fact is, if you haven't read Wilson I couldn't tell you anything about him and his writing that would make any sense.

So... if you'll trust me on this one, try the Illuminatus Trilogy written with Robert Shea. If you're younger than the Kennedy assassination generation, it may not be topical for you - but the lunacy is timeless. (Whew! A trilogy is a lot of trust in someone's literary judgement I know. But take it from me, the Atlas Shrugged parody alone is worth the slog.) If you make it through to the other side, there is the Schrodinger's Cat trilogy and the Historical Illuminatus.

Wilson wrote about conspiracies. (Like Micaelangelo painted buildings.) His attitude towards conspiracy theories was expressed in two maxims: 1) Never attribute to conspiracy that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. 2) Never be surprised by conspiracy, conspiracy is normal mamalian politics.

Clear? That was Wilson, most people do well to see two sides to any question. With Wilson, any important question was less like a sheet with two sides, and more like a dodecahedron. Or a tesseract.

In the last year of his life, Wilson sent out a haiku he'd written to his email list:

Well what do you know?
Another day has passed
and I'm still not not.


Well what do you know?
The last day past, at last
and now you're not.
Bye Bob

"The fear of death is the beginning of slavery."


Post a Comment

<< Home