The Summer of 1979; Berkeley California. The back story of how I got here is far and away too convoluted to explain but here I am sitting on a couch in Robert Anton Wilson's living room, dumbfounded by the rapid-fire laughter and brain power of the intelligentsia bouncing off the walls around me. At 26, I was clearly the youngest person in the room, the baby of this illuminati of scientists, authors, mathematicians, magicians, and discordians. The person who stood out beyond all the other lights in the room was Bob’s wife, Arlen, a wizened red-haired, full-bodied woman with a bawdy sense of humor and an astonishing literary intellect. There was something about Arlen that was simultaneously severe and merciful, critically observant yet very kind. Arlen was also clearly Bob's muse.
Bob was in fine form that night reading excerpts from his as of yet unpublished book, The Trick Top Hat, from his Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy. I sat there astonished by the highly compact, information-rich writing style he had developed. It was as if every other word triggered a different chemical in my brain. Bob had this unique way with words that acted on my ear-brain loop just like drugs. I remember thinking to myself, "This is what writing is all about! Writing is all about magick." Certain books can change your life and Bob’s masterpiece, The Cosmic Trigger, changed mine. Though it was not the first book to blur the lines between "reality" and "fantasy", it was the first one to suggest that no such lines existed beyond my beliefs in those lines. It was the first book to challenge my beliefs about beliefs, period. Cosmic Trigger was also where I first discovered Timothy Leary’s Eight Circuit Brain, a stunning revelation that would eventually drive me to write two books of my own, Angel Tech (Original Falcon, 1986) and The Eight-Circuit Brain (Vertical Pool, 2009).
The Bob Wilson I came to know (circa 1979-86) was at the peak of his game. As far as I could tell, this game was initiating his readers -- in books and in person during his many worldwide lectures -- to the most operational Einsteinian language possible and he did this in the most entertaining ways his epic imagination could conjure. I remain bewildered by just how he was able to contextualize quantum physics through the interactions of his fictitious characters and labyrinthian plot designs in the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy and Masks of the Illuminati. Though Bob was clearly a master of this game, I never saw him treat actual living people as characters, or their interactions as games. He knew the difference and took the time to show others that he knew. Bob was very soulful that way. He seemed to simultaneously belong to two generations; the Caregivers of the World War Two era and the Hedonic Seekers of the Sixties. I suddenly saw Bob as a psychedelic mensch with a genius IQ, which for me was as hilarious as it rang true. Beyond all his extraterrestrial communiqués with the Sirius star system, his Pookaville of invisible rabbits, and his byzantine conspiracy theories, Bob consistently struck me as one of the most genuinely and clinically sane people I have ever met.