Tuesday, September 21, 2010

John Clute's RAW obituary

Until Monday, as I was researching another blog posting, I did not realize that John Clute, the prominent English critic of science fiction, had written an obituary for Robert Anton Wilson.

The obit, which you can read here, combines what I've noticed in other Clute efforts: Penetrating insight, with a certain carelessness about facts. The obituary states that Robert Shea died in 1983, a serious error that wipes out Shea's post-Illuminatus! literary career, and something that could be easily fact-checked in the age of the Internet. (Shea died in 1994, at age 61.)

But let's concentrate, rather, on Clute's appreciation for Wilson's writings, including this lucid explanation of fnords: "The term "fnord", which he coined, is all about this. A fnord is a subliminal message that causes anxiety in those who encounter it embedded in stories or other material our masters want us to avoid or deny. The best way to allay this anxiety is not to think about these matters. In joke treatises and tales, into which slyly he infiltrates perfectly serious concerns, Wilson argued for decades that it was necessary for all of us to "see the fnords" that entangle our lives, and to cut free of them."


supergee said...

Your link is broken (extra 'http")

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Thanks, I think it's fixed now.