Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Attn: Friends of Robert Anton Wilson

Yesterday, I came across the sobering news that Robert Anton Wilson (RAW for short) is in poor physical condition and desperately needs financial assistance. Some may know him as the co-author of the cult classic Illuminatus Trilogy, and others have enjoyed his mind-bendingly profound and funny works of non-fiction. Traces of his work can be found all over pop culture for those who know where to look.

Anyhow, RAW's plight was blogged about on Monday and his friends have put out a general call for donations to make his final days just a little more pleasant. I know firsthand how bad healthcare costs can be in the US, and RAW's works have affected me more than a little, so I've already sent in my $50, and I'm certainly not the only one who felt the need to do so. The outpouring of goodwill from RAW's fans has been an amazing thing to witness.

If you don't know RAW's works firsthand, perhaps you know lainspotting because of my anime site, thought experiments lain. There are probably a lot of things in my life that would be very different if I hadn't read the collected works of Robert Anton Wilson, but I know for sure that TEL would not have happened without him. Much of my analysis of serial experiments lain is based on principles and ideas I was exposed to through RAW. I mention him on the website more than once, and I feel good knowing that maybe a few anime fans learned about him through my work.

I had the pleasure of hearing RAW speak in person in 1999, less than a month after his wife of over 40 years passed away. He looked very tired, but he still showed up for the speaking engagement in a small bookstore in Riverside, California. He was everything I expected and more, and I only wish I had taken the opportunity to speak to him. Today, I consider it an honor to help out a man who has helped so many others through his writing, and who has always presented himself humbly despite his unique and great gifts.