Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who are RAW's famous admirers?

At the Robert Anton Wilson Fans group on Facebook, Nadia Luijten asked, 

"I'm hoping you guys can help me compile a list of famous/high-profile fans or friends of RAW that are still alive. I'll get the ball rolling:

Bill Nighy
Alex Grey
Bill Drummond
Alan Moore
Mixmaster Morris"

Others added Grant Morrison, Tom Robbins, JMR Higgs, Paul Krassner, Douglas Rushkoff, R.U. Sirius, John Gribbin, Jesse Walker, Rudy Rucker, Nick Herbert. Luijten then suggested Bill Maher and Tool. I arrived late and suggested L. Neil Smith, Mark Frauenfelder, Lewis Shiner and Arthur Hlavaty.

Another poster nominated Umberto Eco, and Dan Clore (the group's moderator) asked for a citation, which was kind of my reaction, too.

Whom did we miss?


michael said...

I'd be stunned if anyone came up with a citation for Umberto Eco as an admirer of RAW.

Margot Adler
filmmaker Chris Landreth
Marc Maron
Matt Ruff
Rob Brezsny
Ivan Stang
Colin Wilson (from a letter RAW wrote in Ireland to his old San Francisco friend Kurt Smith on 29 November, 1984, RAW's writing about interviewing Colin W. in Cornwall two weeks earlier, presumably for New Age magazine: "Colin is charming, intelligent, generous, a fan of my works, conceited, arrogant, humorous; all in all, I like him. He gave me a pile of his books, which I have been reading.")

gacord said...

I'm pretty sure Penn Jillette is an ordained SubGenius minister. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a RAW admirer, but I have nothing more than a hunch on that.

Jesse said...

Good God, man, I'm not famous.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...


Well, according to Dan Clore, you're right up there with R.U. Sirius, John Gribbin and Rudy Rucker. Or they're right up there with you!

gacord said...

woohoo, here we are, rubbin elbows with famous folk.

John M. said...

also, Richard Metzger, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Erik Davis, Antero Alli, Gareth Branwyn, Tiffany Lee Brown, Loren Coleman and I would love to add Philip K. Dick, but alas, he's not here to be there. There are probably several more that escape me at the moment.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

R.U. Sirius also denies that he's "famous"

BrentQ said...

I would add Joe Rogan. I think he's mentioned RAW on a couple podcasts.

BrentQ said...

Also, George Carlin apparently said he's learned more from RAW than any other source.

gacord said...

Let's not forget about Jabba the Hutt!

Bobby Campbell said...

From following RAW mentions on twitter:

Comedian Andy Milonakis seems to absolutely LOVE Robert Anton Wilson. He has huge tattoo of a RAW quote on his arms, and very frequently blasts RAW quotes to his half a million followers (Which then sets off a cascade of RTs and something of a RAW buzzzz).

311 bass player P-Nut (I've seen him mention wanting to produce a RAW movie), British comedian Robin Ince, Kelly Carlin (George's Daughter), and Graham Hancock.

Also, Warren Ellis mentions him occasionally and utilizes some of his tropes, but doesn't necessarily seem like a fan.

And Damon Lindelof credits RAW w/ all the 23s on the TV show LOST, but attributes it to his dad being a RAW fan, rather than himself.

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

Can't confirm, but I'm guessing Patton Oswalt.

John M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John M. said...

and with varying degrees of fame, David Brin, Chris Carter, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Art Bell, Lon Milo Duquette, Mark Pesce, Peter Carroll, Richard Bandler, Bill Drummond, Jimmy Cauty, Steve Jackson, Fred Alan Wolfe and Boards of Canada (all of these can be readily proven)

and quite possibly Steve Buscemi who appeared in the film Borders.

also in Vineland, Thomas Pynchon, ch9 p.191 "Kick out the jambs"
tenuous link, but possible

possibly Neal Stephenson

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@John M.

I've wondered about Stephenson, too:

John M. said...


I can't be sure, but it might have been that very post that planted that seed in my head, at the very least it resonates with thoughts I've had on Stephenson's voice and style. There are RAW-esque strokes in there.

michael said...

Brent Q wrote:
>Also, George Carlin apparently said he's learned more from RAW than any other source.<

Although Prof Carlin is DEAD (he didn't like "he's passed on" or "he's no long with us," etc, as we all know), he told interviewer David Jay Brown, "I have learned more from Robert Anton Wilson that I have from any other source." See _Conversations On The Edge of Apocalypse_, p.179.

How did I miss Erik Davis (he thinks the way RAW fleshed out "reality tunnels" is most memorable), Genesis P-O, and Metzger, as John M. pointed out? Answer: I was stoned when I posted up top there...

John M: I've thought about that passage in Vineland and a few other Pynch passages. ERic Wagner may have a lot to say on this, if he chimes in. We may never know, but Pynch and RAW SEEM to have had a mutual admiration. Problem is: one side ain't exactly talkin'.

Sorry, R.U. Sirius and Jesse Walker: once you've produced stellar cultural productions and we sit and read and take it in and it changes us, you're famous to us. Obviously, it's all relative: the semantics of "famous." How many times have we read an interview with someone everyone knows, and they seem all goo-goo about the time they met someone they admire, someone "really" famous?

Okay, okay: R.U? You're "notorious." Can you accept that?

Has Chris Carter of X-Files fame been cited as explicitly being infl by RAW?

The prolific academic Philip Jenkins wrote in his book on the 1970s that Illuminatus! was a terrific source for capturing the cultural tone of the late 1960s/early 70s. But Francis Wheen even moreso than Jenkins, along the same lines. See the index to his book _Strange Days Indeed_. Arthur Goldwag, who's been writing books on conspiracy theories and secret societies, quotes from CT1 in his book _The New Hate_, and calls RAW "the erudite co-author of the Illuminatus Trilogy!." Mark Fenster, another academic with a learned book on conspiracy theories, appreciates RAW's "play" with CTs. See his book on the topic...

Crowleyan James Wasserman has an anecdote about getting RAW to come back to his house and party with him and his friends after RAW gave a talk in NY in 1986 about Giordano Bruno. Wasserman seems obviously an admirer...but not so much Wasserman's girlfriend. (See _In The Center of the Fire_, p.216)

A Brit Net-friend wrote to me that a Brit comedian named Frankie Boyle wrote a book called _My Shit Life So Far_, and he's obviously influenced by RAW. I have not read that book.

In addition to Jesse Walker, Reason mag's Brian Doherty has a lot to say about RAW as a Libertarian thinker in his book _Radicals For Capitalism_.

-Peter Russell
-magician Jeff McBride ("Robert Anton Wilson is a real trickster guru. You're never quite sure you know what's real." - in interview with David Jay Brown
-David Jay Brown
-noted California medical pot activist Valerie Corral
-pagan/polyamorist Green Egg-dude Oberon Zell-Ravenheart obviously liked RAW and was infl. by him, as he mentions somewhere in Green Egg Omelette. Also, RAW contributed the most erudite letters to Green Egg in the 1970s, hands down.

Neal Stephenson has written why he's such a bad correspondent, so good luck to any of us trying to get an answer on his RAW-infl or admiration. There was a long interview from Salon or Slate reprinted in his book of collected essays/non-fiction. He's asked about SF and switching to historical fiction and has a lot to say, but no mention of RAW there...

I'd like to hear from Patton Oswald about RAW.

The white whale here for me is Pynch.

Unknown said...

I think RAW and Pynchon were referring to this

John M. said...

@ Levi Edwards

It's possible that Pynchon was only referring to the MC5, but with RAW it was primarily about the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, aka The JAMMS, but he was, of course, riffing on the tune, as well. Or perhaps RAW was a time traveler and drew his inspiration from The KLF.

The hanging question is whether or not Pynchon was referring to the Jams or The JAMMS, or just the jambs, or some or all of the above.

John M. said...


re: Chris Carter

it's in there, it's brief but obvious

John M. said...

RAW occasionally mentions hanging with Hollywood types when he lived in LA, but he never dropped any names, as far as I can remember. I've often wondered if it was someone like Rudy Wurlitzer and that whole scene. Seems a possible fit.

Anyone know anything about the Hollywood years?

Jesse said...

RAW occasionally mentions hanging with Hollywood types when he lived in LA, but he never dropped any names, as far as I can remember.

My guess would be it was some of the same people who hung around with Leary—Mark Mothersbaugh, Tim Robbins, etc. And maybe some of Paul Krassner's friends, such as Orson Bean (who would have shared Wilson's interests in libertarianism and Wilhelm Reich).

michael said...

John M: thanks for the Carter link.

Re: Kick out the Jams: the MC5's John Sinclair, militantly anti-racist white radical was a victim of horrible pot persecution, and seemed to symbolize the fear Nixon had for white radicals making common cause with black radicals. This seems something close to both RAW and Pynchon. RAW mentions being a judge in Amsterdam at the Cannabis Cup with John Sinclair, and they all looked old.

As for the Pynchon possible connection: someone please email me with his phone number: I'm not afraid to call him up and ask him.

fuzzbuddy said...

My money is on Terry Gilliam. I gave him a copy of Illuminatus! at a signing, but he remained dead pan. The correlation between some of the actors he has worked with in his films and those involved in Ken Campbell's Illuminatus! play hint at this to me too. I'm also guessing Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

fuzzbuddy said...

Cory Doctorow, as well as Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er from Die Antwoord (hunch).

tony smyth said...

John Lilly

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...


Any citation available for Cory Doctorow?

fuzzbuddy said...

Well put on "RAW week"
From reading some of his books, and knowing he was close friends with Aaron Schwartz (who I think I read enjoyed Wilson). The Boing Boing shop sells a FNORD t-shirt etc...

Drew said...

Most suprising one I have heard is franky Boyle.

Drew said...

Wachowski siblings' the matrix has too many similar things with illuminatus not to have heard of him or of the book (ahem, spiderships ahem).

Eric Wagner said...

Glenn Beck?

Reading Mason and Dixon I had a strong sense Pynchon had read Bob's Historical Illuminatus! books. Bob agreed with me. Bleeding Edge ends with a shout out to Dr. Tim. I strongly suspect the Pynch know about Bob; I suspect he's read him; I hope he likes him.

fuzzbuddy said...

Matt Stone and Trey Parker?

Oz Fritz said...

From various references in the first 4 seasons of the TV show West Wing I guess that Aaron Sorokin has familiarity with RAWs writings.

In Against the Day Pynchon mentions a precognitive tendency to know who's calling on the telephone. RAW discusses this same tendency in the earlier released Cosmic Trigger I.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Fuzzbuddy But "RAW Week" at Boing Boing was done by Mark Frauenfelder, not Cory Doctorow. Frauenfelder is a longtime admirer of RAW, but I've seen no evidence that Cory Doctorow is interested in RAW.

fyreflye said...

From Wikipedia:
"The American newspaper The Boston Globe claimed that "one can trace a lineage from Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminati trilogy [sic] to Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum".[11] The Illuminatus! Trilogy was written thirteen years before Foucault's Pendulum. George Johnson wrote on the similarity of the two books, that "both works were written tongue in cheek, with a high sense of irony."[12]"

Six degrees of separation but no closer.

fuzzbuddy said...

@Tom. ah ok. I didn't realise.

Unknown said...

My boyfriend read Neil Gaiman's Miracle Man a few weeks ago, and in addition to a lot of fun with Andy Warhol and The Prisoner references, it was littered with 23's. Don't know if this is a nod to Burroughs or RAW (or both), but given the context of comics at the time, I'll assume it's at least intentional. Should be contained in there.

Unknown said...

@ michael: I was reading something about Ayn Rand a while back that led me to look into the Public Works Trilogy and I came across this
Where Matt Ruff claims not to have read Illuminatus!

fuzzbuddy said...

The band TOOL.