Friday, January 12, 2007

The Day Robert Anton Wilson Told Me To Fight The Power

Way back in late 1991 I think it was, I attended the Phenomicon Alternative Sci-Fi Convention in Atlanta. I had a part time job at Oxford Books in Buckhead at the time and a coworker there was helping the convention organizers with volunteers. As I had plenty of security/law enforcement experience I was given a pass in exchange for doing some minor security work. This work consisted of chaperoning a dance and standing around looking mean, sober, and responsible. I was relatively new to the sober and responsible aspects of the job but it turns out I didn’t have to do any bouncing as everyone was exceedingly well behaved. Paranoia does that to people and some of these folks believed that they had been abducted by aliens and/or were being spied upon by our government. For you youngsters, being spied upon by our government wasn’t a given back then.

I had the pleasure of meeting and mingling with several of the speakers and featured guests. Immediately after being introduced, a very senior member of a “satirical postmodern religion” hit me up for some weed before being gently informed by an organizer of a book signing that I was in fact a state parole officer and that his request should be handled in a more discrete manner. He seemed relieved that I didn’t attempt to arrest him and he giggled madly at his faux pas.

Anyway, I met Robert Anton Wilson who was one of the most popular speakers at the event and I asked him to sign a relatively obscure work called “Natural Law or Don’t Put a Rubber on Your Willy”. He signed it with a line from a popular song of the day – which is now an anthem for some and a mantra for others:

Fight The Power

On January 11th of this year he passed away. He had been in ill health lately and remarked in his blog a week before he died: "Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd."

He had another recent blog post about death which contained this anecdote:

Wavy Gravy once asked a Zen Roshi, "What happens after death?"
The Roshi replied, "I don't know."
Wavy protested, "But you're a Zen Master!"
"Yes," the Roshi admitted, "but I'm not a dead Zen Master."

Here’s to Robert Anton Wilson - writer, philosopher, and dead Zen master.
R.I.P. R.A.W.


ArlaDream said...

I am that other Oxford employee that drew poor BSOTD into the den of the PhenomiCon. I do indeed remember that time well. And, see, the government WAS watching. A man like Robert Anton Wilson is rare and we shall miss him. Thanks for the memories!

11:38 PM  

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