Written and first published (on my radio show) shortly after Bob’s death in 2007.
Robert Anton Wilson is dead, again, and I'm not feeling so good myself. Wilson -- or let's call him 'Bob', as he would have preferred -- was first reported dead on February 22nd, 1994. But the reports of his death turned out to be greatly exaggerated: fittingly, Bob had fallen prey to one of the first great Internet hoaxes. However, his second death, on January 11th, 2007, was all too real. Bob died at home, at 4:50 a.m., from complications due to post-polio syndrome.
Bob was, among other things, one of the last great '60s figures. He was a friend and collaborator of Timothy Leary, William Burroughs, and Buckminster Fuller, had a bit part in the JFK assassination, was a founding pope of Discordianism and the Church of the Sub Genius, coauthored the The Illuminatus! trilogy and, in his autobiography Cosmic Trigger, anticipated the sex, drugs and magick movements that started in the '60s and continue to this day. That he was also an editor at Playboy magazine for several years is a characteristic, but minor, footnote to his colorful life.
Bob was first, last and always a writer and his books, for the most part, remain in print. He wrote prolifically for his cult following and is probably best known for the the Illuminatus! trilogy, the book that made the Illuminati a feature of mass consciousness. But those of us who are, you know, in the cult are probably most affected by the first volume of his autobiography, Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati.
In Cosmic Trigger, Bob describes several decades of his experiments in what he called, "self-induced rapid brain change" -- that is, experiments with drugs, Sufism, ritual magick, yoga, meditation, tantra, quantum physics and anything else he could find that undermined that peculiar phantom known as, "the self". The results were intense: Bob experienced psychic flashes, the manifestation of a 6-foot-tall white rabbit and the peyote spirit, Illuminati contacts, guidance from the planet Sirius and all the other features of a well-lived psychedelic life. But he also raised a family, was happily married, made a good living writing, and stayed out of jail, mostly -- in other words, he was at least as sane as you and me. Actually, what am I saying... Bob was considerably saner than me.
Cosmic Trigger arrived in my life with perfect timing; I was negotiating my exit from a fundamentalist Christian cult, and his teachings helped me to do so with flair, not with the moping, clingy reluctance that I often observed in my fellow religious refugees. That I repeated many of the experiments described by Bob must go without saying, or at least without detail, but I will say that I am richer for them.
So thank you Bob, for gracing the world with your wit and wisdom these many years, for so fearlessly living a free life in a rigid society, and for setting an example of humor in the face of oppression that inspired many, and certainly changed my life for the better. Captain Clark welcomes you aboard.
In 1984, after a bad acid trip at a Grateful Dead concert, I became one of Jehovah's Witnesses. 18 years later I left, after experiences that felt like a Dark Night of the Soul and a mini-enlightenment. I began exploring belief, religion, and related matters in a radio show and now my blog, Belief Systems & Other BS. I also draw on my experiences working as a land surveyor in 20 states.
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