This is quite lovely: over at Boing Boing, Mark Fraunfelder has announced this week will be a celebration of the life and work of Robert Anton Wilson. There’s already a number of posts, including this spot-on assessment of RAW’s influence by Gareth Branwyn, which I’m sure many Grailers will relate to:
There is so much to Illuminatus!, an almost fractal density, that you have to unhinge your mind (like a serpent would its jaw) to fit it all in… There are few works of art or pieces of media that have altered my nervous system to the extent that Illuminatus! has.
In 1976, I was this awkward, alienated Wiccan teen, a restless seeker. But I was also a science and space nerd. I could never reconcile these two and constantly switched between them, rejecting one for the other, at least for a time. But here was a world where these points of view were not mutually exclusive, a playfully plastic world where open curiosity, creativity, absurdity, and skepticism leavened all explorations, whether religious/mystical/artistic or scientific. It was Robert Anton Wilson who turned me onto the concept of “hilaritas” (what he described as being “profoundly good natured”). These books (and all of RAW’s oeuvre) are steeped in that spirit.
…I’ve gone through many intense changes since that 18 year old kid scammed free reading material, and my belief systems (or “BS” as RAW called them) have oscillated wildly, but most of my takeaways from Wilson have remained. His basic approach of being “open to anything, skeptical of everything” is how I’ve tried to live my life. This allowed me to finally embrace both parts of myself, the part that wanted to be open to magick and spirit and the part of me that needs extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.
…At one point in Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything, the interviewer asks Bob why he’s so into conspiracy theories. He’d spent the better part of his life studying them, writing about them, but he doesn’t seem to actually believe any of them. So, why the intense interest? Bob thinks about it for a moment and replies: “It keeps the mind supple.”
Thank you, Mr. Wilson, for pulling an uptight, overthinking teen out of his constrictive reality tunnels and for a lifetime of “keeping the mind supple.”
If you want to keep up with the RAW posts throughout the week, keep checking in at the dedicated page over at Boing Boing.