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Paul Krassner

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Literary Loss

Posted: 01/12/07 08:11 PM ET

Mainstream media have yet to acknowledge the death of Robert Anton Wilson, prolific futurist author and countercultural icon who passed away early yesterday (January 11). He had been suffering from post-polio syndrome. Caregivers read all of his late wife Arlen's poetry to him at his bedside and e-mailed me that "he was quite cheered up by the time we left. He definitely needed to die. His body was turning on him in ways that would not allow him to rest."

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On June 19, 2006, Wilson sent this haiku (with one syllable missing) to his electronic cabal:

Well what do you know?
Another day has passed
and I'm still not not.

We originally became friends in 1959, when his first published article graced the cover of my magazine, The Realist. It was titled "The Semantics of God," and he presented this suggestion: "The Believer had better face himself and ask squarely: Do I literally believe 'God' has a penis? If the answer is no, then it seems only logical to drop the ridiculous practice of referring to 'God' as 'he.'" Wilson then began writing a regular column, "Negative Thinking."

In 1964, I ran another front-cover story by him, "Timothy Leary and His Psychological H-Bomb," which began: "The future may decide that the two greatest thinkers of the 20th Century were Albert Einstein, who showed how to create atomic fission in the physical world, and Timothy Leary, who showed how to create atomic fission in the psychological world. The latter discovery may be more important than the former; there are some reasons for thinking that it was made necessary by the former....Leary may have shown how our habits of thought can be changed...."

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Wilson took that process as his own marching orders, altering the consciousness of countless grateful readers of his 34 books--from Sex, Drugs & Magick to the Schrodinger's Cat trilogy to Everything Is Under Control: An Encyclopedia of Conspiracy Theories--all written with the aid of that good old creative fuel, marijuana. He once told me about his process: "It's rather obsessive-compulsive, I think. I write the first draft straight, then rewrite stoned, then rewrite straight again, then rewrite stoned again, and so on, until I'm absolutely delighted with every sentence, or irate editors start reminding me about deadlines--whichever comes first...."