By Charles Faris, Cosmic Trigger online reading group guest blogger
Welcome to week 6 of the group reading of Cosmic Trigger. This week we are looking at a pivotal duo of chapters, The Kennedy Assassination and the Net—29 (31 old) and A visit to Millbrook—31 (33 old), in which Wilson both completes his set-up and time loops us to the conclusion of the book, in the process setting us up for the particular and peculiar slice of life and history that Cosmic Trigger chronicles.
The chronology of this week’s reading is pretty simple; we are introduced to Kerry Thornley and Lee Harvey Oswald, Jano Watts introduces Bob to the notion of The Net, John F. Kennedy is assassinated, Bob and his family move back to the city, and The Writer interviews Timothy Leary.
Thematically Bob continues to build on the themes he has already introduced, as well as introducing a few new ones, including one huge theme that will lurk in the background for the entire book—the notion that the “national psyche veered dizzily toward Chapel Perilous.” (30-31) Remember that according to Bob everyone who enters Chapel Perilous comes out agnostic or stone paranoid—then compare the USA of May 16, 2016 to the USA of November 21, 1963. Today, agnosticism runs rampant—sexual agnosticism, gender agnosticism, racial agnosticism—at the same time that paranoia runs deep with an increasingly vocal portion of the population trumpeting their own steadily increasing fears and paranoias in these same realms.
A couple of my favorite bits include the rant on page 31 regarding “opinions” and proofs, and the entirety of the chapter on Leary, which is constructed with such density that it would take an entire book just to unpack it. Hint—Cosmic Trigger is that book!
The Leary chapter also ends with the line that loops us all the way to the conclusion of Cosmic Trigger—“I had no intuition at all that Dr. Leary would actually spend four of those years fighting to stay out of jail and the other six struggling to get out of jail.”
That’s it for this week—I’ll post the themes in comments, please post your own insights, hints, and suggestions there as well. Next week we will be reading The Queen of Space, The 23 Enigma, and The heresy hunt begins, pages 39-49 (41-51 old).