Robert Anton Wilson died in the early hours of this morning. This in and of itself comes as little surprise to those familiar with the man’s declining health over the past several years. Despite the foreknowledge of his impending departure from this reality tunnel (knowledge strengthened by his own communique of less than a week ago), it comes as no less a blow to me. Amidst the great and scattered stacks of my lifelong love of books and reading, there are very few authors and even fewer books that stand out as having made a profound impact on me and the way I think and approach the world. Most everything RAW ever set to print sits shelved on that particular pedestal.
After several abortive attempts to go into exactly how profound that impact has been, I give up. Put simply, there is very little about the operation of my psychology and my outlook on the world that hasn’t been modified, directly or indirectly, by exposure to his work and his philosophical ideas. It’s a tragedy and a travesty that his work isn’t more widely studied, both in the realms of literature and contemporary thought, though neither academic field has a snowball’s chance of approaching his work seriously given the current state of the world of academia. His literature is too fraught with frivolity to be taken as Serious Literature(tm) (nevermind all the sex and drugs and rock and roll), and his philosophy is scattered in dropped aphorisms and essays across a hundred magazines, interviews, and web pages — hardly the dusty tomes of consolidated brain-wracking that are most familiar to philosophy scholars. Perhaps in a few decades, when the relevant bits of thinking have been pulled from all their various sources and collected so as to present a more cohesive set of ideas in one handy place, some renegade tenured philosophy prof will throw that particular curveball at a group of unsuspecting students. Here’s hoping said faculty member puts the vids online somwhere so those of us familiar with RAW can chortle while the precious undergrads’ brains melt before our very eyes.
Le RAW est mort! Vive le RAW!