Robert Anton Wilson, RIP


The libertarian novelist, journalist, humorist, and philosopher Robert Anton Wilson died at about 4:50 this morning, Pacific Coast time. As far as I'm aware, the last thing he wrote was this, posted on his blog last Saturday:

Various medical authorities swarm in and out of here predicting I have between two days and two months to live. I think they are guessing. I remain cheerful and unimpressed. I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.

Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.

One of the best things Wilson ever wrote was an essay for The Realist called "13 Choruses for the Divine Marquis." Here's how it ended:

I dreamed I called D.A.F. de Sade on the phone and asked him, "Jesus told me that he and you agree on at least one thing and it explains freedom. What is that one thing?"

"Quite simple," he replied, "don't be afraid of the Cross. The fear of death is the beginning of slavery."

And the line went dead with a triumphant click like a barred door falling open.

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  1. Hmmm. This smells like a conspiracy. Probably involving Marvel Comics using the name Illuminati for its secret cabal of super geniuses.

  2. ...I read the Illuminatus and Schrodinger's Cat trilogies while I was a teen (and now boy, do I feel OLD)and I've never read anything quite like them since.

    Watch out for that flying lasagna, sir. And godspeed.

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

    I still can't get to that.

  4. rip bob.

    i'm glad so many were able to donate so much money to help cover his costs before he passed.

  5. and good call on 13 choruses, btw.

  6. There is not much I can say beyond that of one of the world's greatest thinkers has left us. Thank you for all you taught me.

  7. Highnumber: People give up their liberties willingly in order to gain security. What do they gain security against? Physical harm, usually. What is the extreme of physical harm? Death. What is the end result of giving up more and more liberties? Slavery.

  8. jb
    Would that mean that a freedom from ideas (like, say, physicial death) ensures that one will never be enslaved by them?

    Is ignorance, then, bliss?

  9. Freedom from ideas does not necessarily mean ignorance of those ideas...

  10. jb,

    Intellectually, I understand the concept of dying before you die. When you have accepted your death, you are truly free. Understanding that does not mean that I have internalized it. In other words, I still can't get to that.

  11. Would that mean that a freedom from ideas (like, say, physicial death) ensures that one will never be enslaved by them?

    Is ignorance, then, bliss?

    Not at all. You must be aware of your death. You must embrace it, not ignore it.

  12. Bless him, he was my greatest hero, and we shared a birthday to boot. I just had the wind knocled out of me, even knowing it was coming.

    Say hi to Uncle Al for me, Bob, and thanks for the sanity in a crazy world...

  13. I wish I knew the appropriate attribution for the observation that "the meaning of life is that we die." Sort of a backasswards "carpe diem." R.I.P. R.A.W.

  14. Aha! It was Franz Kafka.

  15. Another sad day.

    I did not find the level of enlightenment in RAW's work that some did but I was always extremely amused by the stories.

  16. Holy Sh*t, it's not just a sick rumor. R.A. Wilson was a genius with powerful ideas to share that could change the world.

  17. May the force of all light in the univerese be with him...he was greater than every president world wide i know in my lifetime...he was a real pope of a free mind...he was a teacher, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a good friend and more in a way of thinking for me.
    Psychic greetings to all friends who have tears like river inside,...we all go nearly the same path...for me i take him with me for the rest of my life...with love and a guiding light for his person and soul
    Gary Nuernberg Germany 12.01.07

  18. Saint Wilson was a major inspiration to any freethinker and revolutionary. His writings, especially Cosmic Trigger Trilogy reak of Enlightenment and Spiritual Genius. RAW lives in the hearts and visions of his readers. Good luck remembering in the next live.
    Om Mescalito Om

  19. THAT is not born, neither does it die.
    It sprang from nothing, nothing sprang from it.
    Unborn, eternal, everlasting, ancient,
    THAT is not killed though the body is killed.
    If the slayer thinks he slays,
    If the slain thinks he is slain,
    Both are deluded.
    THAT slays not nor is slain.
    Greater than great, smaller than small,
    In the heart of all creatures THAT resides,
    seen only by one who is free from desire
    and from grief.
    --Katha Upanishad

  20. Digg has a story about this in the upcoming pipeline. It would be nice if you could help this make the front page.


    Hail Eris!

  21. A sad passing of a great spirit - and a charmingly irreverent man.

    May I suggest we have a 23 minute silence?

  22. Aw bugger

    Hail Eris Bob!

  23. Heeding RAW's suggestion, years later as I finally start to read 'Finnegans Wake' myself, RAW has one himself as I get through The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly on 1/11/2007. Thanks for all the wonderful works Bob; our's sing unto you RAW & Tim Finnegan's Wake!

  24. "We are all greater artists than we realize." RAW

    That quote has changed my life for years. Thanks Bob and bridge that quantum space/spirit/time gap and give us a couple more laughs.

    Or just come back as Jesus and shut 'em all up.

  25. As a wargamer (a genuine SPI grognard), I first encountered D&D in the '70s when it was nothing more than TSR's medieval miniatures combat rules - Chainmail - with some embellishments, and it was being played by graduate students and postgrad fellows of my acquaintance.

  26. I hope Paul knows that by doing this he has allowed a petty feud, fueled by Lew Rockwell and his gangsters, to snuff out any hope we had for real change this year. I hope all of you who still support that old racist know that you're just giving your energy and money to Lew Rockwell and his goons.

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  28. That quote has changed my life for years. Thanks Bob and bridge that quantum space/spirit/time gap and give us a couple more laughs.
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