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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Hakim Bey has died

Peter Lamborn Wilson (photo from

Peter Lamborn Wilson, who wrote under the pen name of Hakim Bey, has died, according to this report and also reports that I have seen on Twitter the last couple of days. As the Wikipedia bio notes, he was "primarily known for his concept of Temporary Autonomous Zones, short-lived spaces which elude formal structures of control."

Robert Anton Wilson reviewed his book TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism for his Trajectories newsletter, and the review is reprinted in RAW's Chaos and Beyond: The Best of Trajectories. 

RAW was particularly impressed with the long essay "The Temporary Autonomous Zone," which makes up the last third of the book, writing, "I regard this long essay, frankly, as the most important contribution to anarchist and/or libertarian thinking since the heyday of Emma Goldman and Benjamin R. Tucker." 

On Twitter, Prop Anon wrote, "Just learned that Peter Lamborn Wilson died a couple of days ago. I was really into his work until I saw all his essays supporting pedophilia. I interviewed him (which I have yet to release) and went off the record to ask him about his NAMBLA support. He didn't wanna talk about it."


Hugh said...

Bummer. Loved him. Such heady, information-rich work. I'm able to keep an open mind about the pedo stuff. He also penned a nice RAW obit -

Oz Fritz said...

I first saw Lamborn Wilson when he introduced Anton Wilson at a talk in the 80s at NY’s Open Center. Years later, I had a delightful dinner with him, Bill Laswell and Janet Rienstra when he was the official philosopher for Laswell’s Axiom record label. We did a spoken word record with him. I’m sure someone will do or has done a decent obituary. Though mostly known in these circles for his Hakim Bey and T. A. Z. writings, Wilson had a lot more going on. He was a Sufi scholar at the University of Tehran at one point and also wrote a standard reference book on Angelology that at least one group used for invocational purposes. I’m just scratching the surface, he had a fairly prolific literary output though probably most if not all will prove hard to find. For instance, he appeared one of the few to attempt an historical, scholarly account of Hassan I Sabbah whom we know from the writings of Burroughs and the other Wilson. We got along well at the dinner and he said we would no doubt see each other again. Regretfully, we never did. I feel sure he travels well into his next adventure wherever that may be.

Anonymous said...

"I'm able to keep an open mind about..."

Just imagine trying to take THAT high road!

Rarebit Fiend said...

I just finished Michael Muhammad Knight's extremely compelling "William S. Burroughs vs. the Quran" which functions in part as a memoir of his time as Peter Lambourn Wilson's aide de camp. It is a fascinating portrait of a man who is (was) out-of-time in that he was a Luddite devoted to a secret-that-was-no-longer-a-secret and Wilson's Islamic scholarship and connections to pro-Shah politics in Iran. Knight broke with Wilson because of his NAMBLA advocacy and his inability to talk about it. I really recommend the book.

Oz Fritz said...

@Rarebit Fiend, thanks for the book recommendation, I'll probably get it when I can afford to. I searched the web for anything to verify Knight's allegations related in your comment and found nada. I did find one person, Robert Helms, seemingly obsessed with Wilson's NAMBLA advocacy. He writes a longish, righteously castigating essay about it then offers his "paedophile bibliography" on Wilson, "a work in progress" via email to anyone who wants it. Helms, clearly biased against Lamborn Wilson, points out that Wilson/Bey never made a secret of his NAMBLA advocacy, his "inability to talk about it" rings false as a general statement. Perhaps Knight could more accurately state, "his unwillingness to talk to me about it?" Not even Helms, in his zeal to crucify Wilson's character, makes the claim that he "devoted" himself to paedestry. I find no indication anywhere on the web of such devotion though plenty of evidence Wilson devoted himself to mysticism, anarchism and Islamic scholarship among other things.

The Helms essay appears here:

Someone in the comments there apparently researched Wilson's paedophilia and found that he doesn't appear on any such watch lists, and never got convicted or accused of any sexual deviancy. He appears to get accused of having controversial opinions, i.e. advocating for lowering the age of consent. I don't agree with that opinion, but can tolerate people having opinions I don't agree with that don't hurt anyone.

Researching NAMBLA, apparently it ceased to exist in 2016. Allen Ginsberg gets listed as a member, unclear if Wilson/Bey ever joined.

Lamborn Wilson was a friend of a close friend of mine, Bill Laswell. Bill has relayed a few anecdotes about him over the years. Lamborn Wilson was a friend of two people I greatly admire, William Burroughs and Robert Anton Wilson. I recall the two Wilsons doing a joint hosting of a radio show on WBAI in NY. When I had dinner with him, the conversation turned to Sufism when Janet asked him a good place to start to study it. Lamborn Wilson, like most Sufis I've encountered, seemed coy and somewhat evasive at first. I offered up two of Idries Shah's books as a starting point. Wilson began severely criticizing Shah. I informed him Shah had died 6 months earlier. Wilson replied that he didn't know that, didn't wish to speak ill of the dead and quickly wrapped up his criticism. He finally answered the question saying the best place to start with Sufism was with the original poets. May he journey in Peace.