July 23, the day that Sirius rises behind the Sun is the official Robert Anton Wilson memorial day.
(Who made it "official"? why me of course)
I don't actually know if anyone else has come up with this idea, but I can't imagine that there is a better time to remember, and celebrate the life and work of R. A. W.
I first ran across Robert Anton Wilson through his book (written with Robert Shea) Illuminatus back in 1975. I had com across a copy of the first volume browsing the stacks at Bookshop Santa Cruz and was immediately taken by the premise. I went through the three volumes of the book at record speed, then read them again because I was sure I had missed a lot (I had).
It struck me that what I had been reading was the first truly "post Sixties" contemporary mythology.
The mid Seventies was a dull time, the free speech, anti-war, civil rights, and women's movements were being crushed under the weight of self indulgence, cocaine and disco. It seemed that the youthful hopes of freedom the epitomized the late sixties were all but dead.
Bob Wilson was one of the people who spoke out quite eloquently for the ideals of critical thinking and intelligent questioning of consensus reality tunnels during the dark ages of the seventies and eighties.
His some thirty five published books, both fiction and nonfiction provided nourishment for minds starved of objective thought and dulled through exposure to right wing memes during the era of Reagan and Bush the first.
I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Wilson several times over the years and each time I came away with a new look at the world. I like to think I was the better for the experience.
So here's to Robert Anton Wilson,! May his work live on and his memory stay fresh in the minds of those of us who he touched. It will be a long time I fear, until we see his like again.
I could go on talking about him, but it's better, I think, to let him speak for himself.
R A W's books at Amazon.
On January 6, he wrote on his blog that according to several medical authorities, he would likely only have between two days and two months left to live, closing his message with;
"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."
He passed on peacefully five days later, on January 11 at 4:50 a.m. Pacific time. His remains went through cremation on January 18, and his family held memorial services on February 18, 2007. Sombunall of his ashes (probably not every ash entered or left their container) became scattered at the same spot as his wife's - off the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California.
“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”
“Intelligence is the capacity to receive, decode and transmit information efficiently. Stupidity is blockage of this process at any point. Bigotry, ideologies etc. block the ability to receive; robotic reality-tunnels block the ability to decode or integrate new signals; censorship blocks transmission.”
"A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of monopoly in the means of production."
"Cynics regarded everybody as equally corrupt... Idealists regarded everybody as equally corrupt, except themselves. "
"The Western World has been brainwashed by Aristotle for the last 2,500 years. The unconscious, not quite articulate, belief of most Occidentals is that there is one map which adequately represents reality. By sheer good luck, every Occidental thinks he or she has the map that fits. Guerrilla ontology, to me, involves shaking up that certainty. I use what in modern physics is called the "multi-model" approach, which is the idea that there is more than one model to cover a given set of facts. As I've said, novel writing involves learning to think like other people. My novels are written so as to force the reader to see things through different reality grids rather than through a single grid. It's important to abolish the unconscious dogmatism that makes people think their way of looking at reality is the only sane way of viewing the world. My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about everything. If one can only see things according to one's own belief system, one is destined to become virtually deaf, dumb, and blind. It's only possible to see people when one is able to see the world as others see it. That's what guerrilla ontology is — breaking down this one-model view and giving people a multi-model perspective."
"Every war results from the struggle for markets and spheres of influence, and every war is sold to the public by professional liars and totally sincere religious maniacs, as a Holy Crusade to save God and Goodness from Satan and Evil."
"Obviously, the faster we process information, the more rich and complex our models or glosses — our reality-tunnels — will become. Resistance to new information, however, has a strong neurological foundation in all animals, as indicated by studies of imprinting and conditioning. Most animals, including most domesticated primates (humans) show a truly staggering ability to "ignore" certain kinds of information — that which does not "fit" their imprinted/conditioned reality-tunnel. We generally call this "conservatism" or "stupidity", but it appears in all parts of the political spectrum, and in learned societies as well as in the Ku Klux Klan."
"Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover will prove. And if the Thinker thinks passionately enough, the Prover will prove the thought so conclusively that you will never talk a person out of such a belief, even if it is something as remarkable as the notion that there is a gaseous vertebrate of astronomical heft ("GOD") who will spend all eternity torturing people who do not believe in his religion."
“The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer. This may be the single most important key to the political behavior of Western Civilization.”
"There is no governor anywhere; you are all absolutely free. There is no restraint that cannot be escaped. We are all absolutely free. If everybody could go into dhyana at will, nobody could be controlled — by fear of prison, by fear of whips or electroshock, by fear of death, even. All existing society is based on keeping those fears alive, to control the masses. Ten people who know would be more dangerous than a million armed anarchists."
"The worst that can happen under monarchy is rule by a single imbecile, but democracy often means the rule by an assembly of three or four hundred imbeciles."
"Everybody who has ever worked for a corporation knows that corporations conspire all the time. Politicians conspire all the time, pot-dealers conspire not to get caught by the narcs, the world is full of conspiracies. Conspiracy is natural primate behavior."
"The Constitution admittedly has a few defects and blemishes, but it still seems a hell of a lot better than the system we have now."