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By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger online reading group guest bloggerWelcome to week 2 of the Cosmic Trigger Reading Group. Today we are looking at the Preface, originally written in 1986 when Bob switched over to New Falcon Publications as his publisher. After noting that Cosmic Trigger is his most “successful" book in human terms, as he had received more mail about CT than about any of his other books, and on lecture tours he got more questions regarding CT than all of his other books put together, Bob offers this raison d’être for writing a new preface:
“This new edition presents an opportunity to answer the most frequent questions and to correct the most persistent misunderstandings.”
Bob then proceeds to launch into an awesome 8 page rant about the seeming inability of sumbanall human beings to wrap their heads around the notion that Bob Does Not Believe Anything.
“It should be obvious to all intelligent readers (but curiously is not obvious to many) that my viewpoint in this book is one of agnosticism.” I’ve read that sentence a hundred times, and I still do not know if he means that a lot of readers don’t get it, or that very few readers get it. Perhaps it is that very slippery element in Bob’s writing that allows me to dip into the well over and over. Or perhaps it is just that it is so damn hard to get it!
At any rate, this preface is full of awesome one-liners and great hints on who to follow and how to get the most out of your reading. To wit:
"Belief is the death of intelligence”, which leads down a rabbit hole following The Copenhagen Interpretation, Model agnosticism, Niels Bohr, Alfred Korzybski, and Alan Watts.
“Cosmic Trigger deals with a process of deliberately induced brain change through which I put myself in the years 1962-1976." Compare this statement to the admission in CT II that he was doing WAY MORE ACID in this period than he let on to, even in this 1986 update.
"Reality is always plural and mutable” and Bob is going to try to patiently explain this “ONE MORE TIME, perhaps more clearly than before.” I laugh out loud at the attitude behind those upper case words, and then the admission hidden in lower case that maybe just maybe he hasn’t been quite didactic enough in the past.
“This book does not claim that 'you create your own reality,'” although if it did, Bob could have had a much more lucrative career (and most of us would have stopped reading him!)
And STILL with the Space Migration! Thirty years later we still haven’t conquered the most basic requirements to even think about something like that—see the March issue WIRED for a comprehensive look at the challenges to life in Space. And yet if there is one area that RAW nudges up against True Believer territory. . .
And Life Extension—“the breakthrough cannot be far away”. Well, maybe two!
Finally, he wraps the whole thing up in a bow with a last dig at “two groups of dogmatists”—the "Fundamentalist Christians and Fundamentalist Materialists”:
“When dogma enters the brain, all intellectual activity ceases.” Thereby once more stating the major thesis of Model Agnosticism—just in case we had missed it!
Please chime in with your insights, favorite bits, self-deprecating stories of former idiocy, etc.
Next Week we will dig into the Forewords by Timothy Leary, P. hD., and I will offer my own two cents on how to make a six month group reading of Cosmic Trigger a most awesome adventure in fundamentally changing your life (once again!). Until then, keep the lasagna flying!