Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson: When you get there, tell us how the weather is

A friend of mine had the following quote up as her away message tonight:

"'Smash, smash the old laws' habitual beauty becomes narcotic eventually; it can be rediscovered, but only dialectically, by contrast, by the creation of new, brutally shocking beauty, beauty that seems barbarism at first. And the creation of such new beauty is the first step for anyone who would a god, and not a slave of dead gods. It is in the war between great seeking and great boredom that new beauty is born."

It's a sharp little aphorism by the inestimable Robert Anton Wilson. What made my friend's use of the quote even more interesting is that she used it without realizing that RAW had just died two days prior, expiring of natural causes in his Santa Cruz County home.

I took a couple short walks tonight, and the conditions around my apartment were a little eerie... I'd even say "desolate." There was a killer wind blowing down fourth avenue, and it was making the kinds of creakings and hollow arias you're likely to hear on a farm in the middle of winter... a strange sound indeed to a sheltered city-dweller. It was also the most deserted I've ever seen Bay Ridge (Brooklyn being, incidentally, the home of the young R. A. W.). There were no footsteps and few cars, so the wind had free reign before the faceless New York masses.

Wilson's last recorded writings, accessible in his newly-created blog, include the reflection,

"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. "

So Nature seems to be taking Wilson's death harder than Wilson himself. It's not just the fringe weirdos, the cognitive libertarians, and the street-corner mystics who are mourning the loss of a prophet tonight... it's also Eris, speaking in the voice of a chill wind in this city, and who is taking a moment of liberty to fuck with our hyper-rationalized lives. Normally, I'd chalk the chill wind up to coincidence.

But tonight, we're talking about Robert Anton Wilson. There are no coincidences.


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