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!
p.49 in the aptly titled 'Multiple realities' chapter - "... this writer, whom we shall call Joesph K. ..." - this references "The Trial" by Franz Kakfka. The protagonist in that book is Josef K. "The Trial" accords well with Leary's and Reich's story told in the next chapter: "One of his best-known works, it tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader"
Sorry for the typo: Joseph K.
Great write-up as always, Chas, though I confess to not getting the Chekov reference. The "Undoing Yourself" mention seems appropriate for this week as he uses some Reichian techniques, I believe; great exercises! The photo of Makinde Adeagbo at the top of the page today has a strong resemblance to a friend who emailed today for the first time in years.
I find additional meanings in the title "The Murder of Christ: a Re-run." The previous chapter title "Multiple realities" precogs it. It's unusual to hyphenate rerun. Re = an alternate spelling for Ra, found in "The Egyptian Book of the Dead." Although, in our cultural brainwashing program Christ almost always automatically associates with Mr. and Mrs. Christ's son, Jesus, I suspect RAW intends the Crowley/occult use of the word as well - something like a post or function related to Tiphareth. In "Postcards to Probationers" (Equinox I:2 p. 196) Crowley essentially claims that his methods can produce this. Buddha, mentioned in the first paragraph, = a Christ, in this way. Then RAW seems to make distance from the Christian interpretation with "an Oriental Bill Graham" which recalls a famous passage from Nietszche arguing against Christianity calling it "an Oriental religion" in the process.
"The Murder of Christ: a Re-run" obviously connects with Reich via his book; the re-run refers to Leary and his subsequent persecution, in my opinion. Leary clearly rates as a "Christ" using the "Postcards for Probationers" criteria - I strongly recommend reading that short essay or, at least the first two paragraphs, if it can be found.
... well look what the dog dragged in, that should help!
Some gematria appears in the title that links to the "Book of Lies" further clarifying or obfuscating the occult interpretation. It's interesting that RAW starts the chapter with Leary's sham guru bit then introduces the Operation Mindfuck concept towards the end. It seems RAW acts very generously and kindly toward this dubious phase of Leary's career.
I don't get your reference to Chekhov. It would help if you would put page number references at the beginning of each week's post. I find it interesting that Bob seemed to retain an interest in Discordianism to the end of his life.
Thanks for pointing out the eight circuit reference, specifically circuit five. It illustrates th short-sightedness of one of my favorite circuits.
I've become quite adept at tuning my nervous system....Just ask my wife. She says I edit out anything she is saying when watching tv. I actually caught myself doing it today. Maria Juana was present, but there was no yoga.
RAW uses the word "libertarian" several times in the "Murder of Christ" chapter, and I was struck by his complaint that the ACLU and contemporary liberals would not recognize the political persecution of Timothy Leary for what it was. I can't help but think that RAW's self-identification as a "libertarian" at the time of the book's writing (he has called himself other things at different times) is connected to his strong support to civil liberties. I had thought the lack of support for civil liberties by (some elements of) the left was a modern development, but apparently Wilson noticed a similar instance back in the day.
I would connect this with the sentence toward the end of the chapter, "This illustrates that one way to double your practical intelligence (awareness of detail) is to try to receive as many signals as possible from other humans, however wrong-headed their reality-map may seem, however dumb or boring they might sound at first." This is an argument for freedom of speech, and against censorship. I also see a connection with the Makinde post that Oz references.
The Murder of Christ:
Although, I agree with the validity of Reich's theory of Muscular Armor, I am skeptical that so many symptoms can be attributed to only one root cause. I think there are several contributing causes.
In ruminating about the reoccurring script of the murder of Christ on a mass (un)conscious level, I wonder about the Christ's we murder in our personal lives on an individual level. Those that we meet whose views trigger our own adverse reaction. I think the "learning mindset" referred to in a previous post is a way to prevent yourself from taking out too many Christs.
Quick note to Oz, Eric, and anyone else mystified by the Chekov reference, which ties in the the Makinde Adeagbo post--I foolishly "took for granite" that everyone would pick up on Anton Chekovs dictum regarding memorable elements in the narrative:
"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."
The point was that the Space Lady comes back (and pre-figures) Lady Eris; the wave is that everything memorable in CT comes back again, transfigured, transformed, or simply dragging something in from the dark.
Eric--point regarding page numbers at heading received and agreed with.
Tom--your musings on free speech and censorship reveal how much the political resides in the personal--our own firewalls can ultimately result in official policy!
One other Chekov element is the implied gun in the title!
Really good post! I've been swamped (pleasantly) with Hilaritas Press work, and I wish I had more time to spend with this reading group, but I've got a moment now . . .
I think Bob remained interested in Discordianism throughout his life for a variety of reasons. Nostalgia probably played a part, but I think also because chaos, especially the seeming chaos of multiple perspectives, was central to his overall speculations. I say "speculations" instead of "philosophy " because I once asked Bob if he considered himself a philosopher. He replied, "No, I'm more of Speculator." But he was a very humorous and playful speculator. The Nasrudinesque playfulness of Discordianism seemed to fit in well with his personality. When you love the Pooka, you can't help but sometimes act like a Pooka.
Maybe the Multiple Realities chapter is a good place to ask a question that's been tickling me since I was about half-way through editing this latest edition of Cosmic Trigger. One of my favorite features of Cosmic Trigger is the multiple perspectives Bob gives through his multiple characters/selves, The Materialist, The Shaman, The Hedonic Materialist, etc. I would love to see a list of all these Cosmic Trigger characters. Does anyone by chance have this, or could we build one?
Interesting that you write this, Chas:
"The point was that the Space Lady comes back (and pre-figures) Lady Eris; the wave is that everything memorable in CT comes back again, transfigured, transformed, or simply dragging something in from the dark."
as it aligns with my notion that RAW plays around with the concept of Eternal Recurrence in CT. He uses the word "recurrence" in the illustration of Reich a couple of pages back from this section (don't currently have the book for page #s). "The Murder of Christ: a Re-run" also suggests this concept. I don't think RAW subscribed to the popular interpretation of Eternal Recurrence - that everything forever repeats exactly the same way, more like as you put it, Chas. This opinion is based on RAW's response to answers in the Tales of the Tribe course when he posed the question of Eternal Recurrence in relation to Finnegans Wake.
Rasa, building a list of the various identities RAW states in CT seems a good idea. Off the top of my head, I remember The Skeptic, The Numerologist and The Playboy Editor.
The Hedonic Materialist
The Playboy Editor
I agree that Bob was not working a Nietzschean form of Eternal Return--and as I was out on the road today I heard this old nugget:
An’ here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice
The Hedonic Materialist
The Playboy Editor
I'm not sure this is the best way to get the definitive list of "Selves" Bob chose in Cosmic Trigger. In the back of my head I hear a voice saying, "You're the new publisher. You should be the definitive source for things like this." Then I think, right, the list should also include the page number where that Self first appears (in the new Hilaritas Press edition). Then The Publisher thinks, "No get back to work on releasing Quantum Psychology asap."
Rasa--I'm putting that list together for you--patience!
Thanks Chas! No hurry! I was thinking of adding the list to the book's Hilaritas Press page:
Hilaritas Press Cosmic Trigger 1 page
Yikes. Two comments from me labeled "removed by the author". That looks suspicious.
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