While following the Grateful Dead in the summer of '95 I spent quite a bit of time in the backseat of a Honda Accord. Yes, they do have one sort of. It would be hours and sometimes days of travel time between shows and I brought with me one book: The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. It was the hardest read of my life and had the greatest impact on me of any other book I ever read before or since. It is not for the content of the book, but for the way the book makes you see the world after you finished. When the tour was over I could never back out of the rabbit hole again.
The Illuminatus! Trilogy is the mother of all historical conspiracy theories. The film National Treasure as well as both the book and movie The Da Vinci Code owe quite a bit to this masterpiece. It is a book that links the city of Atlantis to the Free Masons and the Founding Fathers and the end of the world. It bases most of its tale on a cleaver linking of vague historical inconsistencies and known secret organizations then links the two as a catalyst for most of America's history.
The story is hard to explain and even harder to read. It took 500 pages just to get all the main characters introduced and the situations set in motion. The book has about 50 main character, takes place in multiple eras, expands to at least two dimensions, and let's you know it is 90% truth with 10% bullshit mixed in: it is up to you to tell which is which. It even supplies an appendix in the back of historical documents so you can confirm certain things that had to be bullshit but are true. Things like George Washington smoked pot; that one turns out to be true.
Reading this book in the back of that Honda is where your host Lemming was born. The tin foil cap was placed upon my head and Kanrei sat up to say "hello" to the world. From that point on my mind was connecting dots that were never there for my own entertainment. Sometimes I would believe them, but most times it was just fun coming up with them. I think a few would even have made Mr. Wilson happy.
Being no expert on Robert Anton Wilson I am not going to pretend to be one to write a tribute to the man. Instead I am going to simply re-post his last update to his blog so you can see the type of guy he was.
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night
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.
Rest in Peace Mr. Wilson.