Acclaimed novelist Robert Anton Wilson died this past Thursday at his home in Monterey, California, from complications of Post-Polio syndrome. He passed away early in the morning, surrounded by friends and family.
Wilson’s books redefined the American conspiracy theory, and recreated contemporary mysticism. Beginning in the 1970’s with his cult classic, The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Wilson constructed a world where reality bends to our fantastic dreams and our dark fears. Along the way he created new conspiracies, most notably The Bavarian Illuminati, who most people have heard of, but no one knows anything about.
Wilson admits to concocting the organization with Robert Shea, co-author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy. The novels also introduced the world to it’s latest new religion, Discordianism, which Wilson created with his friends Kerry Thornley and Greg Hill. The religion, which worships Eris, the Goddess of chaos and is based on weirdness and personal philosophy, has been fervently adopted by many of Wilson’s fans and shows no sign of going away. It has spawned hundreds of lunatic fringe writers and artists, most of whom publish in obscurity on the Internet.
His novels, such a The Schrodinger’s Cat Trilogy and The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, expand human potential and hammer at preconceptions of truth and reality. In his books, characters are driven mad, secret histories are revealed, everything comes into question, and enlightenment always comes in the end. From Masonic secrets to aliens posing as gods, to Einstein and James Joyce contemplating the Loch Ness Monster, no mythos or paranoia was too strange.
In his later life he began to write more purely philosophically, with works like Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything, or Old Bob Reveals his Ignorance, the double title of which addresses the mild uncertainty that underpinned Wilson’s view of the universe. He described himself as a guerrilla ontologist, with the intent to attack language and knowledge, and was the American director of CSICON, The Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal, which is currently offering offers one million Irish pounds (around $700,000 American) to anyone who, as Wilson wrote, can produce “a normal sunset, an average Beethoven sonata, an ordinary Playmate of the Month, or any thing or event in space-time that qualifies as normal, average or ordinary.”
Wilson was one of the most daring and influential cult writers of our age, paving the way for authors like Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code. Old Bob left this life with the same curiosity and humor that he lived by. In his last blog on January sixth, he left this message; “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. “