Robert Anton Wilson 1932-2007

Robert Anton Wilson

Robert Anton Wilson enjoyed his first death so much; he decided to try it again. As Wilson himself wrote in his 1995 book, Cosmic Trigger III: My Life After Death:
According to reliable sources, I died on February 22, 1994 — George Washington's birthday. I felt nothing special or shocking at the time, and believed that I still sat at my word processor working on a novel called Bride of Illuminatus. At lunch-time, however, when I checked my voice mail, I found that Tim Leary and a dozen other friends had already called to ask to speak to me, or — if they still believed in Reliable Sources — to offer support and condolences to my grieving family. I quickly gathered that news of my tragic end had appeared on the Internet in the form of an obituary from the Los Angeles Times: "Noted science-fiction author Robert Anton Wilson was found dead in his home yesterday, apparently the victim of a heart attack. Mr. Wilson, 63, was discovered by his wife, Arlen.

"Mr. Wilson was the author of numerous books... He was noted for his libertarian viewpoints, love of technology and off the wall humor. Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife and two children."

This time around, it appears that Mr. Wilson has actually left corporeality, appropriately on 1/11 (at 4:50 am — you hardcore number freaks can get to work on the meaning of that one... I do see a five in there!).

For this cosmic cub scout, Bob Wilson was the motherload. Books like The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Cosmic Trigger, and Coincidance killed most of what little dogmatism I had left in me, and opened me up to a world of possibilities as large as space travel and as small as quantum physics. He also had a razor sharp wit that he skillfully aimed at those who abuse power and wealth. And he was a delightful story teller, whose love of language was evidenced not only by his own novels, but by his ability to quote virtually everything James Joyce and Ezra Pound ever wrote — backwards, while explaining what evolutionary level of primate behavior the author was elucidating.

I had the great pleasure to know Robert Anton Wilson and our intersections were sometimes strange — his Mondo 2000 check hadn't arrived; or I weirded him out by kneeling down before him like he was the pope and kissing his ring (I thought it was funny.) I also have great memories of sitting with him while he expounded expansively on everything from the rights of the Irish to the genius of Orson Welles. Over the past several years, as his polio returned, and as death started to hover nearby, Wilson sent out funny email messages of the "not dead yet" variety to those of us on his mailing list. There was never a trace of self-pity in any of his messages.

As the result of medical expenses and problems with the IRS, Wilson found himself in a financial squeeze towards the end of his life. Word went out and the internet community responded by sending him $68,000 within the first couple of days (and undoubtedly some more after that). This allowed RAW to die with the comfort, grace and dignity that he deserved. Special props go to Douglas Rushkoff and the folks at Boing Boing (and to all the individuals who contributed) for making that happen.

Robert Anton Wilson taught us all that "the universe contains a maybe." So maybe there is an afterlife, and maybe Bob's consciousness is hovering around all of us who were touched by his words and his presence all these years. And if that's the case, I'm sure he'd like to see you do something strange and irreverent — and yet beautiful — in his honor.

See Also:
A Selection of Obscure Robert Anton Wilson Essays
Robert Anton Wilson Tribute Show
Robert Anton Wilson Website
Is The Net Good For Writers?
Neil Gaiman Has Lost His Clothes

66 thoughts to “Robert Anton Wilson 1932-2007”



    RIP RAW.

  2. Hello, its great to see how many people were influenced by the GREAT RAW, it gives me hope that there are more intelligent people on the planet than i thought. His ideas are spread over the whole world (i live in Germany and nobody influenced my thinking more than BOB) and will live forever.

    Lass die Lasagne weiter fliegen!!!!!
    Your admirer, fan and son in mind

  3. Bob, was a true explorer and great raconteur. I just flashed on some rare but special nights. In the southbay latenight conclaves in a “known” 24 hour coffee shop. Several “gifted” psychics and masters would gather and conclave through the night on all things of import from sex to sealing wax and psychadelics and beyond. Bob, put the coffee on and open that bag o shrooms when we meet again!

    Love & Light,

  4. We, few in number but large in spirit(s), woke the great man well and good in London. Hope many others did the same where they were and his spirit got no rest this night. Goodbye Bob, you’ll always be with us.

  5. I had the great honor of meeting both the Bobs while developing the ILLUMINATUS! comic adapatation. While frustrated that the project was never completed in their life times, I am glad that I had the oppurtunity to meet with both these men.
    The last time I saw Bob in person was at the Winterstar symposium. I had presented both Bobs with certificates proclaiming them as honorary fifth degree knights of the Falcon of Malta, and we were sitting at the bar watching thr first World Trade Center bombing together…

  6. Bob went home, but left us his ball, in fact, all balls and anything, that looks like a ball, or maybe not…
    He was one of the funniest and wisest humans I ever met and I have more reasons to miss him than I can put on a page.

    Goodbye, Bob, Farewell, Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehn, maybe…!


    Bob’s last message from the 6th of Jan.:

    Hi there,

    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.


    Three Haikus he sent in the past:

    Haiku june 26, 06 12 noon


    Like Chinese painting
    The tree and the fog: Nothing
    else outside at all
    Feeling better every day
    May live another month–or much longer

    2 Haikus for the list…

    Well what do you know?
    Another day had passed
    and I’m still not not.

    Uncertain Curtain?
    I Won’t swallow that Poe. No
    curtain’s uncertain.

    bob sends his love…

    …and some further messages from lately:

    I enjoy election day — without taking it literally.
    Whether the bandits in Washington predominately call themselves democrats or republicans never changes anything important, and those citizens rushing about to participate in this feast of fools seem pixilated.
    I also enjoy Easter without believing in magick eggs, Xmas without believing in elves or Santa, and Halloween without believing men from Mars just landed in New Jersey.

    Living among the higher primates has its amusing side.

  7. I just discovered news of Mr. Wilson’s death a day after watching a video of a hilarious lecture that he did in Santa Cruz around 1993. Bob Wilson was my first Guru. The universe can be an immensely perplexing , obscure and terrifying place for young seekers of the truth. I discovered Bob Wilson in my early 20’s when my mind was like a highly impressionable pressure cooker. Wilson’s rantings were like a soft warm trustworthy voice that diffused the chill of the mysteries. It was Bob Wilson’s writings that pushed me to academic heights , it was Bob Wilson who inspired me to think for myself and it was Bob Wilson who gave me the courage to face any circumstance from the mundane to the mystical with a confident smirk. I, like so many of his readers, am saddened that I never had a chance to meet “The Bobitar.” I know he is out there making merry with his Beautiful wife Arlen and the Good Dr. Leary in tow. God Bless you Mr. Wilson ! And Thanks.

  8. Bob’s about as dead as Joyce. Even though I never got the chance to speak to him it don’t matter. Even if they burnt every one of his books, he’s in my headspace now…and forevermore. Isn’t it great people like that exsist?

  9. Just posted this on the ‘back side’ of the Wikipedia articles on ILLUMINATUS! and Robert Anton Wilson. Some silly thing about me doing the comic creates a conflict of interest if I put the info on the main page myself, I guess —

    Art from the comic used in Wilson’s Meme-Orial (SIC) now available on Web

    Hi — my myspace profile page — — now has a slide show of selections of the art from the comic that were displayed around the world during RAW’s Meme-Orial. It started when Wilson’s daughter asked for pictures of him and related to his work for a slde show for her sending off his ashes in a very small boat into the Pacific. I answered, “You want pictures, I’ve got PICTURES!”

    After that, I made the art available for others to display at their events. Noteably (there’s that darn word…), the Radio Eris people in Philly printed some out on poster boards that now inhabit their practice room.

    More documentation can be found at:

    24 July 2007 (UTC)

    Retrieved from “”

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