RAW Week: The Cosmic Trigger Effect, by Antero Alli


The Summer of 1979; Berkeley California. The back story of how I got here is far and away too convoluted to explain but here I am sitting on a couch in Robert Anton Wilson's living room, dumbfounded by the rapid-fire laughter and brain power of the intelligentsia bouncing off the walls around me. At 26, I was clearly the youngest person in the room, the baby of this illuminati of scientists, authors, mathematicians, magicians, and discordians. The person who stood out beyond all the other lights in the room was Bob’s wife, Arlen, a wizened red-haired, full-bodied woman with a bawdy sense of humor and an astonishing literary intellect. There was something about Arlen that was simultaneously severe and merciful, critically observant yet very kind. Arlen was also clearly Bob's muse.

Bob was in fine form that night reading excerpts from his as of yet unpublished book, The Trick Top Hat, from his Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy. I sat there astonished by the highly compact, information-rich writing style he had developed. It was as if every other word triggered a different chemical in my brain. Bob had this unique way with words that acted on my ear-brain loop just like drugs. I remember thinking to myself, "This is what writing is all about! Writing is all about magick." Certain books can change your life and Bob’s masterpiece, The Cosmic Trigger, changed mine. Though it was not the first book to blur the lines between "reality" and "fantasy", it was the first one to suggest that no such lines existed beyond my beliefs in those lines. It was the first book to challenge my beliefs about beliefs, period. Cosmic Trigger was also where I first discovered Timothy Leary’s Eight Circuit Brain, a stunning revelation that would eventually drive me to write two books of my own, Angel Tech (Original Falcon, 1986) and The Eight-Circuit Brain (Vertical Pool, 2009).

The Bob Wilson I came to know (circa 1979-86) was at the peak of his game. As far as I could tell, this game was initiating his readers -- in books and in person during his many worldwide lectures -- to the most operational Einsteinian language possible and he did this in the most entertaining ways his epic imagination could conjure. I remain bewildered by just how he was able to contextualize quantum physics through the interactions of his fictitious characters and labyrinthian plot designs in the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy and Masks of the Illuminati. Though Bob was clearly a master of this game, I never saw him treat actual living people as characters, or their interactions as games. He knew the difference and took the time to show others that he knew. Bob was very soulful that way. He seemed to simultaneously belong to two generations; the Caregivers of the World War Two era and the Hedonic Seekers of the Sixties. I suddenly saw Bob as a psychedelic mensch with a genius IQ, which for me was as hilarious as it rang true. Beyond all his extraterrestrial communiqués with the Sirius star system, his Pookaville of invisible rabbits, and his byzantine conspiracy theories, Bob consistently struck me as one of the most genuinely and clinically sane people I have ever met.



    1.  Exactly, a little warning, and a courtesy cover for those of us fortunate to have a job, but unfortunate to have it in an environment that makes certain things unacceptable.

      1. Agreed!   Could this post be edited with coryf’s suggestions, please?  I got lucky with a snow day today, but I would like to be able to check back tomorrow during breaks and I can’t do that with this picture in full view.


    2. If you’re browing at work perhaps you should just toggle off images instead of hoping every site caters to your workplaces policies?

      1. It works better if you disable all stylesheets, and use a monochrome monitor, too. The internet is just words!

  1. Also of note is that “Cosmic Trigger”  was the first place I read about Timewave Zero (called “McKenna Theory” in the index) and the McKenna brothers.

  2. Sort of off topic here, but ever wonder why it’s OK to just randomly place a naked woman on the cover of a book, but NOT a naked man? My theory is that floppy dicks look hilarious, and the patriarchy doesn’t want everyone laughing at their junk.

    1. Weighty tomes have been written about this question, but here are a few reasons:

      1) First off, you can’t say, as a rule, “Patriarchies don’t like dick.” The Renaissance puts the lie to that.

      2) Men have external genitalia. You don’t generally see labia on book covers, either. It’s easier to show a naked woman from the front without showing genitals than it is a man. There are plenty of book covers showing ripped men in loincloths, and I’ve seen male butts on books of similar vintage to this one. Here’s one: http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/huntersredmoon.jpg And here’s a random (SFW) nearly-naked dude from the 60s: http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/the_alien_gss.jpg

      3) “The male body is ugly; the female body is beautiful” is the dominant meme in America today. Not only do straight men think it’s “gay” to see naked men, a lot of straight women have no desire to see depictions of male nudity. People write angry letters when they think they see a penis on something. (I’m personally of the opinion that people being comfortable with the male body is good for everybody, and I’m glad to see signs that this meme is shifting.)

      4) Related to #3, Cosmic Trigger came out at a time when people still thought SF had a mostly-male audience. Straight males, especially pre-internet straight males, buy things with naked women on them.

      5) Every time someone in SF says to a publisher “We need more cock,” they misunderstand and release a new Elric collection. (Same goes for dick.)

      1. Good post. But I don’t know where the recent idea comes from that most SF readers aren’t men.  Not counting the paranormal/vampire/magic/fantasy stuff that often gets lumped in with SF, I’d guess the proportion of female SF readers is similar to the proportion of female Wikipedia editors. OTOH the proportion of women SF editors (and book editors in general) is very high,  they are the real customers for any professional author, and they must be catered to by any writer who wants to sell a book. Anyway, it’s beside the point because “Cosmic Trigger” isn’t SF – it isn’t fiction. Its audience likely has demographics (and readers!) as wildly unpredictable as its contents.

        Also, RAW’s “Ishtar Rising /The Book of the Breast” has much in the same vein as your post, critically analyzing the weird hangups people have about female bodies and nudity, contrasted with the rich history of goddesses and their symbology.

    2. Because naked, busty women are easier to draw well.  Seriously!  Try drawing a realistically proportioned but small-breasted woman, or a man, and see if it isn’t harder than drawing a totally conventional pinup doll.

  3. And I confess freely not to have met among so many men whom I have known and worked with, a man in whom there was a mind more fired with great and magnificent things. Nor does one grieve with the friends of another of his death, except for his having been born to die young unhonored within his own home, without having been able to benefit anyone with that mind of his, for one would know that no one could speak of him, except (to say) that a good friend had died. It does not remain for us, however, or for anyone else who, like us, knew him, to be able because of this to keep the faith (since deeds do not seem to) to his laudable qualities. It is true however, that fortune was not so unfriendly to him that it did not leave some brief memory of the dexterity of his genius, as was demonstrated by some of his writings and compositions of amorous verses, in which (as he was not in love) he (employed as an) exercise in order not to use his time uselessly in his juvenile years, in order that fortune might lead him to higher thoughts. Here, it can be clearly comprehended, that if his objective was exercise, how very happily he described his ideas, and how much he was honored in his poetry. Fortune, however, having deprived us of the use of so great a friend, it appears to me it is not possible to find any other better remedy than for us to seek to benefit from his memory, and recover from it any matter that was either keenly observed or wisely discussed.

    (plagiarized from Nicky Machiavelli)

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