Sunday, January 14, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson, author of 'Illuminatus' trilogy, dead at 74

Yahoo! news

CAPITOLA, Calif. (AP) - Robert Anton Wilson, co-author of the cult classic "The Illuminatus! Trilogy," a science-fiction series about a secret global society, has died.

He was 74.
Wilson died peacefully of natural causes at his home Thursday in Capitola in Santa Cruz County, his daughter Christina Pearson said Saturday.
Post-polio syndrome had severely weakened Wilson's legs, leading to a fall seven months ago that left him bedridden until his death, Pearson said.
Wilson wrote 35 books on subjects such as extrasensory perception, mental telepathy, metaphysics, paranormal experiences, conspiracy theory, sex, drugs and what he called quantum psychology.
He wrote the "Illuminatus" trilogy with his friend Robert Shea in the late 1960s, when they were both editors at Playboy.
The books "The Eye in the Pyramid," "The Golden Apple" and "Leviathan" were all published in 1975. They never hit the best-seller lists but have never gone out of print. Shea died in 1994.
"There are lots of drug references in the book," said Mark Frauenfelder, a co-editor of, a pop culture website that started as a print magazine in the 1980s and for which Wilson wrote many articles.
"In part because it dealt with conspiracies in a science-fiction way, the trilogy achieved a cult following among science-fiction readers, hippies, the psychedelic crowd," Frauenfelder said.
Inspired by a thick file of letters the authors received from conspiracy buffs, the trilogy traces the conflict between the Illuminati and the Discordians.
The Illuminati are elite authoritarians who pull the puppet strings of the world's political establishment, while seeking to become super-beings by sucking the souls from the masses. The Discordians resist through convoluted tactics that include a network of double agents.
After completing the trilogy, Wilson began writing non-fiction books.
Perhaps his most famous is "Cosmic Trigger" (Pocket Books, 1977), a bizarre autobiography in which, among many other tales, he describes episodes when he believed he had communicated with extraterrestrials while admitting he was experimenting with peyote and mescaline.
Wilson contended people should never rule out any possibility, including that lasagna might fly.
On Jan. 6, in his last post on his personal blog, he wrote: "I don't see how to take death seriously. I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread."
"I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., 1932, Wilson attended Brooklyn Polytechnical College and New York University. He worked as an engineering aide, a salesman and a copywriter and was an associate editor at Playboy from 1965 to 1971.

Robert Anton Wilson's website can be found here.

In addition to being a tremendous satirist, R. A. W.'s influence fell beyond the hippies and the tinfoil hat crowd. The mainstream acceptance of conspiracy theories, from the X-Files and beyond can be traced to the popularity of his writing.

I always enjoyed his work. Rest In Peace.

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