Scene from the movie "The Big Lebowski"
By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger online reading group guest bloggerWelcome to week 7 of the group reading of Cosmic Trigger. This week we are looking at a trio of chapters which exemplify the meta-theme I am calling The Beauty and The Bullshit (aka Aliens, Angels, and Archetypes vs Authoritarianism)—The Queen of Space (39 new), The 23 Enigma (41 new), and The heresy hunt begins (46 new). The trio begins and ends with “Dr. Leary,”,who serves as, among other things, a sort of Virgil for Bob’s funhouse tour through the territory of Chapel Perilous. Free map included! Bob even opens with a bit of Latin—“post hoc, ergo propter hoc?”, which can be translated as “after this, therefore because of this?” Of course, this phrase is commonly used as an example of false logic, and so our crafty fox author adds the question mark to show that he is not making any claims, and yet…maybe?
In The Queen of Space Bob and family have a drearily typical contact experience in which everyone plus quite a few neighbors see “what looked like” a silvery saucer-shaped craft on the hill above their house, although Bob thinks it looks more like a Bucky Fuller geodesic dome, and quite a few think they see “humanoids in silvery costumes.” Bob decides it was probably only a helicopter. Later that day his son Graham encounters a female “extraterrestrial” in the woods outside their house, at the foot of the hill (as distinguished from the top of the hill? Or is there something else to this little detail?), who advises him to study physics.
This little adventure gives Wilson room enough to bring in Prof. Jacques Vallee, Contact Scholar, who notes the similarities between Alien Contact stories and visitations by the Blessed Virgin Mary—noting that they “seem to be the same phenomenon”. This leads to a riff on similar archetypes throughout history, including the Egyptian sky goddess Nuit, who is connected to Sirius (foreshadowing anyone?), Peyote Woman, a female version of Mescalito, the Bubble Witch of The Wizard of Oz, and every goddess ever, everywhere, if you are buying what Robert Graves is selling, which includes a healthy dose of Amanita muscaria!
Wilson finishes this chapter with an account of the BVM at Fatima, in which she caused the sun to plunge toward the Earth in front of 100,000 witnesses. This leads to one of those Big (or Wig) Questions that is central to Cosmic Trigger—“If you accept that 100,000 persons can telepathically share the same hallucination…how much of consensus-reality is similarly created?
With The 23 Enigma Bob introduces one of the most prevalent and persistent non-human players in his entire oeuvre, a key originally handed to him not by the Virgil-esque Dr. Leary but by the man The Author is “rather proud” of calling “the greatest prose stylist since James Joyce,” all the way back in 1956, William S. Burroughs. Lot’s of 23 stuff in here, of course, all wrapped up with Synchronicity, The Net, Quantum Inseparability, Non-Local Models in modern physics, and the spiral staircase of Dr. James Watson, the DNA guy. This modest little number goes on to become Bob’s “intuitive signal,” which brings to mind that enigmatic bit way back on page 4 regarding the safe and effective navigation of Chapel Perilous—“if you approach without the wand of intuition, you can stand at the door for decades never realizing you have arrived.”
While these first two chapters have dwelt primarily with The Beauty, with The heresy hunt begins Bob delves into The Bullshit—specifically the actions by “The Government” to clamp down on the free exploration and self-control of consciousness and behavior change, the imposition of ever more layers of Authoritarian Control and Deceit, as well as the naming of a Villain to blame for the social ills brought about by those very policies. That villain, of course, is Dr. Timothy Leary, and page 48 (new) is largely devoted to some of the infuriating (to me) tactics of Senator Edward Kennedy when questioning Leary in 1966. Strangely enough Senator Robert Kennedy had a different take on LSD:
“I think we have given too much emphasis and so much attention to the fact that it can be dangerous and that it can hurt an individual who uses it… that perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that it can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly.”
A few anecdotes and observations related to each of theses chapters:
On page 40 Bob mentions the “coincidental” meeting with a friend in Berkeley who had had an “extraterrestrial” encounter in Northern New Jersey, 30 miles from Bob and Family, in the same time frame—late summer 1964. One of my “joint sightings” follows, and I’m wondering how many other stories of similarly verified experiences we can post in comments.
In 1989 returning from a trip to New Orleans which involved copious amounts of Sex, Drugs, and Magick, my car companions and I pulled off the highway and parked on a dark hillside to empty our tanks, whereupon we observed a pretty awesome spiraling light show in what we had previously thought was an interesting star formation. This went on for a few minutes before the “stars” scattered and the sky returned to normal. We were quite excited by this turn of events, and even though I was in the company of three other people who seemingly “saw” the same thing, that very state of excitement made the whole thing a bit suspicious in my mind—was this just a bit of willful group hallucination? An hour later we made a rendezvous with some friends who were taking the same route in a different car and they told us about some crazy star action they had seen from their car while driving—same general area, same time frame. Bingo!
Page 43 finds Arlen complaining that Bob is using selective viewing to come up with so many significant 23s. “Of course,” he admits. “But she was annoyed by being implicated in the 23 mystery even before she met me. Our oldest two daughters (by her previous marriage) were born on February 23 and August 23 respectively.” [The schedule for these postings was set way in advance, and was not set up so that the "23 Enigma" chapter would be discussed on May 23 -- The Management.]
Other people might be similarly implicated. I was born on January 23, 1958 (1+9+5+8=23 ) and my son was born on May 18 (5+18=23). Any other karmically implicated folks out there?
Okay—that’s it for this week. I will post themes in comments. Reading for next week starts on page 49 (new)—Multiple realities and The Murder of Christ: a Re-run.