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Monday, October 3, 2022

Eric Wagner's letter to RAW


Sopdet, the Egyptian goddess of Sirius. (Creative Commons 3.0 photo by Colin). 

[When we finished up the Prometheus Rising reading group, Eric Wagner, author of An Inside's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, asked if he could write a final post for the group. Here is is. -- The Management.]

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

In his Afterword to the Hilaritas edition of Prometheus Rising, Richard Rasa relates how Bob Wilson told him in 1994, “Don’t channel me.” I sit here in 2022, fifteen years after Bob’s death. I have not had a sense of connection with Bob’s spirit since his passing, and I have not tried to “channel” him, but I have tried to understand his books and maps of reality. 

Dear Bob,

I hope all goes well. I almost wrote, “Dear Dr. Wilson.” From 1982 to 1988 I thought of you as Dr. Wilson. We began corresponding in 1986, and I first met you in 1987. In 1988 you spent a week in in the Phoenix, Arizona, area where you gave a talk and a seminar. I got to know you better that week, and I began to think of you as “Bob”.

You told Rasa, “Don’t channel me.” I have mixed feeling about the survival of the individual after death. I have had some vague sense of connection to you since your death fifteen years ago but nothing overwhelming. I do want to thank you for your books and your friendship. One review of my first book said I wanted to “be” you. That has some truth to it. You seemed to have a deeper understanding of life than anyone else I had encountered, and your writings and your outlook made a lot of sense to me. Reading Nabokov’s Pale Fire proved educational and a little painful to me when contemplating the character of Kinbote. Wikipedia says Kinbote’s “writing reveals a comic melange of narcissism and megalomania”.My obsession with your thought and writing led me to become a bit zealous in my pursuit of understanding E-Prime, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Aleister Crowley, Beethoven, etc., etc. I fear I strove too much to become your disciple which I know you never wanted. I feel grateful for all I learned in the process, but I feel a little lost. For decades I thought, “Bob said X; that seems like a good working model.” I didn’t always agree with you, but I thought you provided a good working model.

I tried to follow the lines of research which you found most fruitful. You had your Sirius experiences at the age of 41. I hoped that I might have a profound transformational experience around that age as well after my years of work on the exercises in Prometheus Rising and other lines of research you had outlined. I haven’t really had that transformational experience yet.

I turned 48 in 2010, two years after you died. I decided I wanted to read Proust’s long seven volume novel before I turned fifty. I did, and that turned into a bit of an obsession as well. I read it two more times and started it again. I continue to love James Joyce’s writing, but I find that I prefer Proust these days. I have devoted a ton of time to studying Joyce over the past 39 years. I had Finnegans Wake study groups for 36 of those years. I still do weekly readings for an online Finnegans Wake study groups, and during the Pandemic I finished reading ten books by and about Joyce. I will continue to participate in Robert Anton Wilson study groups for the rest of my life I suspect.

Anyway, I hope all goes well on your continuing journey, and thank you for everything.

Your friend,

Eric Wagner

P.S. Two mornings this week I looked up at Sirius as I took out the trash. I remember looking up at Sirius the morning after you died. Next year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of your Sirius experience. I wonder what the future holds for us all.


Oz Fritz said...

This post gives a strong sense of love and respect for RAW.

One can infer from Wilson's instruction to Rasa not to channel him that he took the possibility of channeling someone else seriously enough to issue that request.

E.J. Gold once extolled the value of getting a little lost. He is an avid online video gamer of certain games, Team Fortress and Diablo II, in particular. In the early days it was The Legend of Zelda by Nintendo. He values this gaming for bardo training. In the 90's, He named his gaming clan, the Legion of the Lost which he abbreviated LoL, before that acronym got known as "laugh out loud."

My take on the value of getting a little lost; one gets confronted with much more uncertainty. Having to confront uncertainty more often may reflexively accelerate skill development and personal evolution to solve that problem. I also connect uncertainty with what Deleuze calls the aleatory point, or paradoxical element, the nonsense of the surface that helps to produce sense.

Spookah said...

Good point on calling out the fanboy aspect one should try and be aware of when delving into RAW's writings. He touches on so many subjects, and goes into so many directions, that it seems as if a lifetime would be barely enough to properly study everything that he fancied. And that makes it easier to forget that there's an ocean of material NOT being referenced to in Bob's work that's out there, also waiting for us to discover it. Not being stuck in one particular rabbit hole, and always being on the lookout for new ones seems important to me.
I guess the biggest service we could do to RAW's memory would be to follow him only to a point, before making sombunall of his ideas truly our own by putting our personal bend to it. A book such as Prometheus Rising perhaps only lays out for the reader the first steps on the path.

Once again, thank you very much Eric Wagner for this reading group, as well as everyone who participated. I most definitely feel enriched by the experience.

Eric Wagner said...

Thank you. This Wednesday marks two years since this group began.