Arts 23 Skiddoo
posted by January 12 at 13:41 PMon
I’ve got a hellacious cold right now, so forgive me if this has been posted here earlier today, but: Robert Anton Wilson is dead. I read the Illuminatus! Trilogy, which he cowrote with Robert Shea, when I was nineteen, and it’s honestly one of those books that puts you in a “before I read this” and “after I read this” state. Granted, it’s probably a book that’s launched a million fruitcakes, but the lessons that a young reader can pull from Illuminatus!—that you should always ask “why” and look for the hidden connections between people, places and things—are things that every journalist and every critic (hell, every citizen) should learn as early as possible. And, as far as crazy-making young adult books go, it could always be a lot worse.
Without Wilson’s writing, a lot of people would still be reading bad sci-fi and fantasy, but the road from Illuminatus! is the road to Pynchon, and back to Sterne and Gaddis and forward to Gass and Vollman. It’s the Gateway Big Book, and that is why someone who is not currently an overachieving mucous factory should drink many toasts to Robert Anton Wilson tonight.