Robert Anton Wilson dies
While I was on holiday at the New Year I reread the Illuminatus! trilogy. I had last read it about ten or twelve years ago and I approached it suspecting that it might be sadly dated. (I had glanced through an old book of Timoth Leary’s recently and boy was that dated. It was like reading a Victorian novel in the sense that it seemed to be from a completely different time and space.) To my surprise it felt like a new novel both in its style and its range of concerns.
It was also more coherent than I remember from previous readings, and I am now committed to exploring some of the material in the appendices – partly in an effort to find out which references are “real”, and partly because some of the items are worth following up from a research perspective, whether they are “real” or not.
Today I learned that RAW had finally died after a long illness brought on by his childhood polio. Briefly:
Robert Anton Wilson, writer: born New York 18 January 1932; married 1958 Arlen Riley (died 1999; one son, two daughters, and one daughter deceased); died Capitola, California 11 January 2007.
Meanwhile, a few days later
from The Guardian (18.01.2007):
John Higgs writes: When I visited Robert Anton Wilson in December 2004, he looked frail. From photographs I was expecting a stocky, round-faced man, but the Bob I met was thinner in the face, which gave his ever-smiling eyes more prominence. […]
In conversation, you realised how liberating his brand of agnosticism is. By not believing in anything he was free to examine everything. To Bob, everything was interesting. This openness was life-affirming because he did not shut himself off from the good and the humour in things. His pleasure in wild ideas may have sidelined him as a contemporary thinker, but his approach was an antidote to fundamentalism. For Bob, fixed belief was intellectual suicide, and the framing of an argument into only two competing sides was absurd.