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R.I.P. Robert Anton Wilson (1932 – 2007)

January 11, 2007

It’s a sad thing to outlive a parent, a child, or a hero.

One of my major heros, Robert Anton Wilson, passed away early this morning. I’ll doubtless think of more to say about it as it continues to slowly sink in, but I’m going to be hard pressed to say it better than Brian Doherty did on the Reason blog:

“Some personal things I didn’t say in my book: The ideas, modes, thinkers, that he exposed me to explain my intellectual and professional life more than does any other single influence–and from the comments on various blogs today, I think that is true of hundreds of his readers, maybe thousands.

He was my gateway to Welles and Chandler, to Leary and Fuller, to Pound and Reich, to conspiracy theory and libertarianism, and to all the ideas and experiences, intellectual, aesthetic, and actual, that rolled from those varied and fascinating entryways into art, ideas, and living. I hope I can do good by the principles he helped imbue in me. He excelled as both novelist and essayist; he was a noble steward of the ideas he espoused, a brilliant and passionate popularizer, and the characters and scenarios and approaches to fiction of his novels reward constant reading with constant pleasure and insight–he was a pop-Pynchon of sorts in his sprawling, comic-serious approach to Big Crazy Ideas, who got a thousandth of the respect and delivered a thousand times the joy and humanity.

I, and many others, will continue to read his work with both intellectual and aesthetic pleasure from now and on into the limitless human future he helped so many of us to see. If anyone deserved to reach techno-immortality, it was him. That’s what’s making me saddest right now. The best of him remains, and will always.

That all said, two words should suffice. as Pound said of Eliot on his passing (and I know this because I read Robert Anton Wilson): Read him.”

Damn straight.

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