Wilhelm Reich with wife Ilse Ollendorf and son Peter
Welcome to week 8 of the Cosmic Trigger Reading Group, in which our Author gets hip, discovers grass, and meets his principal Chapel Perilous partner-to-be.
In Multiple realities we meet another of Robert Anton Wilson’s Many Selves—the Hedonic Materialist, who has given up “all that mystical stuff” and determined that “weirdness was something that, like poverty, only happened to other people”—of course (Spoiler Alert!) this is all written about the guy who hadn’t yet entered Chapel Perilous by the guy who eventually arrived safely on the other side, which is one of the things I love about this book—the manner in which Bob can offer us so many different views of himself in terms of reality tunnels, time-frames, etc., all in service to an illustration of one of this books great themes—the birth and education of The Metaprogrammer (which rides heavy in these 2 chapters).
Our first chapter opens with the “urbane, sophisticated, successful Playboy Editor” essentially rolling his eyes at a fellow writer’s tale of LSD influenced “telepathic messages from outer space.” This little passage manages to revisit the developing theme of extraterrestrial communication while also revealing the limits of the Materialist and Hedonic Gratification world views and perhaps even softly hinting at the notion that some things follow after other things (which we will dig into deeper with 8 Circuit theory).
So Bob is living it up in Chicago, just another communications industry dude living a marijuana-fueled life of “sex, rapture, and doing-your-own-thing.” Then one evening he discovers another side of this goddess, Maria Juana—the manner in which she can replicate most of the phenomena of self-hypnosis (Hip Gnosis?)—and soon our author discovers the ability to “tune one’s nervous system like a combination microscope-TV set.”
I suspect that one reason Bob had such luck tuning his nervous system with the aid of cannabis is that he had already spent some time going through “the tedious training involved in ordinary hypnosis.” One not-so-tedious way to get some training in this area of by working with Christopher Hyatt’s Undoing Yourself With Energized Meditation, which includes an awesome introduction by Bob, in which he stresses the importance of Doing It Every Day (whatever your chosen “IT” is).
Over the course of the next few paragraphs “the shaken Materialist” gets first-hand experience with Freud’s notions of projection and censorship, as well as a fuller understanding of what the Buddha meant by maya, achieving Korzybski’s “consciousness of abstracting.”.As The Neurologician, he dives into yoga as a method of “freeing the nervous system from conditioned perception,” and finds this work especially fruitful with the aid of his hedonic ally marijuana.
In his role as The Author Who Has Passed Though Chapel Perilous, Bob informs us that “this is why pot-heads develop a certain inevitable alienation from society. They begin to feel like one-eyed-men in the Kingdom of the Blind.” This particular quote reminds me of a famous rap by Terence McKenna, whom we will meet 169 pages hence..
Our next chapter, The Murder of Christ: a Re-run, revisits some of the territory from The heresy hunt begins, i.e. governmental clampdown on consciousness exploration via LSD and the continued harassment and persecution of the most visible promulgator of that notion, Dr. Timothy Leary. The chapter title references both Leary’s current get-up as a “second-rate messiah” and Wilhelm Reich’s The Murder of Christ, an historical analysis of “the emotional plague of mankind.”
Bob offers a concise summary both of Reich’s basic view that sexual repression is the root cause of racism, sexism, rape, violence, and warfare, and of the persecution he faced as a result of trying to do something about that.
“I fully expect to live beyond the hysteria and persecution…” says Tim, which I feel he pretty much did, “till everything I’ve claimed is confirmed and accepted…”, and not so much (although some of US might live that long!).
Wilson’s attitude in the next couple of pages, in which Leary and Reich are wrapped around one another like a double helix, reminds me of later works like TSOG and Guns and Dope Party. And then suddenly Bob strikes up a friendship by mail with Kerry Thornley and is introduced to Discordianism—“an exercise in guerrilla ontology—an attempt to make Nasrudin’s Donkey visible.” The quotations from a “Manual for Discordian Evangelists” are awesome, and Bob’s description of Operation Mindfuck offers many practical methods for discovering the metaprogrammer, and developing Neurological Relativism, such as “try to receive as many signals as possible from other humans, however wrong-headed their reality-map may seem,” (something easily accomplished in this internet-fueled campaign season).
And because Robert Anton Wilson is nothing if not a good student of Chekov, he concludes the chapter with the reminder that “Lady Eris…was just the Space Lady…in a different guise.”
That’s it for this week. Please gift us with your correspondences, correlations, and “coincidences”, your inside information and your outside the box realizations, or perhaps just the daily practices you have found to be most helpful at activating the metaprogrammer and making that damned donkey visible!
Next week we will dive into Jim Garrison and the Illuminati, Operation Mindfuck, and The Horrible Secrets of the Wicked Aleister Crowley. That’s pages 60-70 new, and 61-71 old. Until then, keep the lasagna flying!