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Monday, May 23, 2016

Cosmic Trigger online reading group, Week 7

Scene from the movie "The Big Lebowski" 

By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger online reading group guest blogger 

Welcome 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. 


Eric Wagner said...

I like the idea of Tim as Bob's Virgil. LIke Virgil, Tim didn't accompany Bob the end of his journey. Also, at the end Bob yearned to join his Beatrice (Arlen) in Paradise.

I think Vallee plays a bigger role in this book than in any of Bob's other books.

I met Bill Burroughs on October 23, 1983.

In 1989 I had lunch with Bob in LA. He told me the Cotton Club murder investigation had messed up a movie deal of his. It surprised him when I told him the film "The Cotton Club" dealt with Dutch Schultz. Coincidentally, I had flown out to LA to see the new Batman film with my cousin. Driving back to my cousin's apartment after having lunch with Bob, we heard on the radio that someone had the 1960's Batmobile on display at a certain intersection in LA, exactly the intersection where we found ourselves. We took an immediate left and saw the Batmobile.

chas said...

Here is a quick list of ongoing themes I culled from this week'd reading:

Against attributing objective reality—39
23 Enigma—41
The Net—42
Non-local models in physics—42
Many Selves
—The Numerologist

Dustin said...

I read CT for the first time at the age of 23. My wife's birthday is March 23, which is her favorite number. Every year on her birthday she tells everyone she's turning 23. We're from Ohio and are Cavs fans so she has a lot of Lebron James shirts with the number 23. Her favorite shoes are Jordan's, 23. All this and she has never heard of the 23 enigma, W.S. Burroughs, RAW, G.P. Orridge, or anyone else associate with the number.....Oh yeah, our home address is 232.

I was going to state that I never had a shared hallucination, but how would I know? Maybe it just wasn't peculiar enough to question afterwords. Living in a shared hallucination makes me think of the movie The Matrix.

Leary may have been a scapegoat, but I think that sometimes he encouraged the notoriety, and even had some fun with it similar to Aliester Crowley. I'm a little premature with this comment as we will explore their similarities in due time.

Anonymous said...

In my retirement, I do reviews and editing work for The New York Review of Science Fiction, a journal/zine now published by my cohusband, Kevin Maroney. My latest review, to appear sometime soon, discusses Judith Merril’s collected nonfiction, and I praise the breadth of her approach by noticing that one review compared and contrasted William S. Burroughs and Fred Hoyle, mentioned here as having similar cosmological views.

The current issue also includes my review of My Father the Pornographer (the only one I have seen that admits to having read and enjoyed some of Andy Offutt’s smut), sharing the front page with CT character Saul-Paul Sirag, who is presenting the theory that Kirk Allen, the scientist who got lost in his own alternate world in Robert Lindner’s study “The Jet-Propelled Couch,” was not, as has been suggested, Paul Linebarger/Cordwainer Smith or someone really named John Carter. His candidate is a physicist named Kiko Harrison.

Oz Fritz said...

In "The Queen of Space" RAW uses a UFO contact experience(s) to direct the reader to the subject of the title. It's worth reading the correspondences for key 3 in "777." For instance, the mineral that corresponds is silver. The third paragraph into this chapter says quite a lot in a brilliantly qabalistic fashion; note that this paragraph ends with "silvery costumes" in italics. Key 3 also = the root of Water. Obviously, (to me) when he brings up the miracle: "She caused the sun to plunge directly towards Earth ..." (p. 41) he's punning on magick. Also the last sentence in this chapter might express an interesting pun: "how much consensus reality is similarly created?"

"The 23 Enigma" is one of the signature themes of CT and of RAW's work in general. One that's had quite an influence on popular underground culture. As I see it now, a key sentence in this chapter is the last one: "23 was my spiral staircase, my intuitive signal." I'll comment further when time permits.

Oz Fritz said...

p.42 "... crash of an Eastern Airlines plane on the New York - Miami route. The pilot was another Captain Clark and the flight was listed as Flight 23."

Barry Miles in his biography "Call Me Burroughs," says that he couldn't find any record of this flight or its crash. This makes it even more mysterious - did Burroughs make it up, hallucinate a false memory (why those particulars?). Did Coincidence Control use its paranormal powers to fabricate the radio broadcast, or to wipe all record of the crash so Miles couldn't find it? It seems the whole 23 Enigma got started based on something that very possibly didn't literally take place!

I associate the mysterious recurrence of 23s with the death/rebirth archetypal thus making it a bardo reminder. Almost all of the 23s mentioned in this chapter have to do with death or with someone's birthday. The Hexagram 'Breaking Apart' also corresponds to the death/rebirth archetypal. In 777s list of the meaning of primes, 23 = nascent life. I personally took 23s to mean the "birth" of the spiritual entity behind the curtain. I wrote a blog about the 23 Enigma in 2011:

Oz Fritz said...

My synchromesh this week has to do with the name Dutch Schultz. I'm working with my friend and client Ruud Houewling who flew over from Amsterdam. He's Dutch. My first avatar for RAW's online Crowley class was Sergeant Schultz from the old TV show Hogan's Heroes. Our mix project began May 23rd. Ruud also began to get afflicted with synchronicities. He noticed that an old furnace in one of the reverb chambers was made by a company called "RUUD," those letters were engraved on the front of it. Earlier, in the pre-production stage of the project, I wrote to Ruud comparing his song, "Say Yes To Everything" to the ending of Joyce's Ulysses. At that point, Ruud was on a writing retreat in Dublin and earlier in the day had spent some contemplative moments in front of a James Joyce statue despite being unfamiliar with Joyce's books.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Oz, I have separately noticed that Captain Clark and his flight are difficult to find (I have not read the Barry Miles book you mention). I mentioned this in a blog post (at the end):

Oz Fritz said...

This was in the news today:

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with other kinds of bacteria that can't be beaten with most antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a result of those infections, according to the CDC.

Dustin said...

Oz- I read that story as well regarding a Superbug that cannot be treated. Scary stuff.

I reread The 23 enigma the other night while watching the Cavs vs Raps. The announcer stated that Kevin Love had 23 points in 23 minutes. James and Irving had 23 points each at the end of the game. Five 23 occurrences! Hail Eris!

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Dustin, where in Ohio are you from? I live in a Cleveland suburb and Oz has mentioned that he lived in Cleveland when he was young.

Oz Fritz said...

I find the last paragraph of The 23 Enigma extremely interesting. RAW compares his obsession with the 23 synchs with Watson's unlocking the DNA code. To me, it suggests that RAW found the 23 recurrences to be the "intuitive signal" that unlocks the code to the building blocks of higher life. "... double helix (two spirals interwoven)" though referring to the DNA code, also sounds like the relationship between the four lower circuits and the four higher circuits in Leary's model, or, speaking more generally, the animal and the spiritual. RAW also makes the point that the DNA insight is a proof, not an opinion. Following the comparison, it seems to me that RAW may feel he has some kind of proof of his obsession.

I have to wonder why RAW identified himself as the Numerologist in the first part of "The heresy hunt begins" then quickly switches to the Playboy Editor? It could imply that he has different identities in different environments? He's also inconsistent with the use of capital letters in the chapter titles.

Dustin said...

Tom- I was born and raised in Mansfield, OH. My wife and I moved down to Savannah, GA in 2009 for work. We visit home once a year.

Oz- I wondered why The Numerologist was used at that point, also. I thought about listing all of the labels RAW uses in place of "I." It may be a way to remember the multiple personalities we all have instead of allowing language to hypnotize us into beleiving there is only one ego that remains constant at all times. It seems to be a description of the different roles he plays. According to the 8 circuit model we have 24 selves, I wondered if there are 24 labels used?

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