By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger reading group guest bloggerWelcome to week four of the RawIllumination group reading of Cosmic Trigger. This week we are diving in to the text proper starting at page 1, Prologue: Thinking About the Unthinkable.
Right there in the section title Bob tips off the alert reader that this is “a cryptic and ambiguous book,” and of course he reiterates that in plain English a few pages later as he winds up the first of many descriptions of Chapel Perilous, which seems to be one of the major themes of the prologue, which functions as a bit of a guide to how best to approach the rest of the book.
The alert reader might also notice that there is a lot in this prologue that Bob later inserted into his introduction to Neal Wilgus’s The Illuminoids (the text of which can be found here, not least being the opening line—"As the late, great HP Lovecraft might begin this narrative . . .”
Be that as it may, I want to bring your attention to a few of the post-markers that Wilson offers us here. Perhaps you can find others?
Starting in the middle of page four and stretching all the way through the top of page five Bob introduces us to Chapel Perilous in one of my favorite bits of writing by any writer, bar none:
Chapel Perilous, like the mysterious entity called “I," cannot be located in the space time continuum; it is weightless, odorless, tasteless and undetectable by ordinary instruments. Indeed, like the ego, it is even possible to deny that it is there . . .
Awesome writing indeed. Of course Bob goes into much more detail regarding Chapel Perilous, just so we might recognize it if necessary. I especially enjoy some of the more colorful descriptions:
An Insect Horror Machine, a Hall of illusions, Invisible to radar, a Fun House at a rather seedy Amusement Park.
The multi-model approach also gets a strong mention. Bob attributes this approach to Niels Bohr and goes so far as to claim that "any single-theory approach is premature and causes a truncation of our intelligence"—p13.
And of course what introduction by Robert Anton Wilson would be complete without a healthy dose of name dropping; amongst our cast of characters we will find Aleister Crowley, Marshall McLuhan, and Alfred Korzybski.
There is far too much in this tightly packed 14 pages to touch upon it all, so I will leave that to you. What is your favorite bit in the prologue?
Next week we will embark upon Part One: The Sirius Connection, from the Introductory Fables to the Simonton Pancakes. I’ll take mine with extra wheat germ!