A review of Cosmic Trigger, a play based on Robert Anton Wilson's autobiography

What do you after you Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out? Well, you go and Find The Others.

Last May 2017, I flew to London for the staging of Cosmic Trigger — The Play , a sheer delight for any Robert Anton Wilson fan, a masterpiece of high weirdness befitting the book it derives from. The experience proved to be more mind-shattering and category-defying than I could have ever imagined. A 23-night run hosted at The Cockpit Theatre, the play is an ambitious theatrical event: an intense four-hour long immersive happening, an experimental and multi-layered metafiction, intellectually challenging and spiritually intoxicating, a disorienting dance of Discordian confusion and uncanny mindfuck. An extraordinary cast of actors created a colourfully wild, merry parade of countercultural icons—along with Robert Anton Wilson and his wife Arlen, Robert Shea, Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, William Burroughs, Albert Hoffman, John Lilly, Jacques Vallee, Aleister Crowley—in brief, great fun!

Not only that, Cosmic Trigger — The Play has the inherent magical qualities of a collective ritual or mass initiation: it is "a narrative so utterly complex and so thoroughly self-referential that it becomes to all intents and purposes alive." As magicians know, " by doing certain things certain results will follow."

Hail Daisy Campbell!

The mastermind behind such a unique endeavour and artistic achievement is director Daisy Campbell, who pulled some cosmic and genealogical strings to bring her vision to life. Daisy is the daughter of the late famed British director Ken Campbell, who achieved notoriety in the 1970s for his nine-hour adaptation of the epic science-fiction trilogy Illuminatus! Read the rest

Robert Anton Wilson: January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007

Author, futurist, and agnostic mystic Robert Anton Wilson died 10 years ago today. Carla and I interviewed him for the first issue of bOING bOING in 1987. In fact, one of the main reasons we started Boing Boing was to have an excuse to interview him.

Here's what I wrote on the 5th anniversary of Bob's death:

“I regard belief as a form of brain damage.” ― Robert Anton Wilson

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of Robert Anton Wilson's death. Bob was a writer of fiction and non-fiction, most notably the Illuminatus! trilogy (co-written with Robert Shea) and the non-fiction memoir Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati. In all, he wrote 35 books, countless articles and essays, and a couple of plays and screenplays.

Bob was an intensely curious, intellectually playful, and profoundly insightful person and his writing and talks influenced my world view more than any other writer. He wrote about conspiracy theories, government nuttiness, the future, Freemasonry, quantum physics, magick, occult and paranormal phenomena, human behavior, mental models, psychedelic drugs, cult psychology, and the nature of reality. He had a knack for giving straightforward explanations of hard-to-grok concepts without stripping them of their power or complexity. Before I read RAW's books, the world was confusing and mysterious. After I read his books, the world became much more confusing and mysterious -- but in a good way! Bob converted me from atheism to agnosticism (which, in his words, means "never regarding any model or map of the universe with total 100% belief or total 100% denial"). Read the rest

Long lost Robert Anton Wilson book, Starseed Signals, to be published

RAWIllumination.net announced yesterday that a manuscript by Robert Anton Wilson has been found and will be published by RVP Publishers in the first half of 2017. The manuscript appears to be substantial, weighing in at 340 pages.

RAW and Discordianism scholar Adam Gorightly rediscovered the book and wrote a forward for it. And although the book was never published, it formed the basis for later work, Gorightly writes in his forward: "Starseed Signals laid the foundation for RAW’s landmark work Cosmic Trigger, The Final Secret of the Illuminati, so don’t be surprised if some of the passages in this book seem familiar, to be later lifted and inserted into the Cosmic Trigger narrative."

I assume this book chronicles, at least in part, the period in the early 70s when Wilson and Timothy Leary were convinced that they were in communication with beings from the dog star, Sirius. In the end, RAW wrote off much of the episode to drugs, delusion, and wishful thinking -- and found it all a fascinating experiment in extra-human communications.

[Image via Robert Anton Wilson: The Map Is Not The Territory: The Future Is Not The Past] Read the rest

Help re-illustrate Robert Anton Wilson's "Prometheus Rising" book

Hilaritas Press, the publishing company started by Illuminatus! co-author (and Boing Boing Patron Saint) Robert Anton Wilson's daughter Christina and Bob's friend Rasa, have been doing a wonderful job re-releasing much of Wilson's back catalog under the new imprint. But they've hit a snag. New Falcon Publications, RAW's previous publisher, claims to own the Israel Regardie intro and the comic illustrations in Bob's popular title Prometheus Rising and they're apparently not interested in negotiating with Hilaritas on a license to use them. So, Christina and Rasa are turning to RAW's fanbase and the online art community in search of worthy new illustrations to replace the existing ones. Rasa writes:

I have mixed feelings about this whole endeavor. I’ve always loved the cartoons in Prometheus Rising, and I really hate to see them go, but the previous publisher’s poor printing in subsequent editions of Prometheus Rising left a lot of the images in a very poor state – something we lamented in putting together our new edition. However, Bob was an optimist, and in that same spirit, both Christina and I are looking forward to this opportunity to update this amazingly relevant book for the delight of both new and old readers.

They only have until November 15th to replace the art (37 pieces!) and the introduction. A tall order. I would love to see a pie in the face of this flapdoodled foolishness and see RAW's optimism properly served with a new introduction by someone equally as iconic as Israel Regardie and a new set of incredible cartoons. Read the rest

Video: the occultism of Robert Anton Wilson

Fortean journalist Cat Vincent have a presentation at London's Treadwell's esoteric bookshop about the strange mysticism of bOING bOING patron saint Robert Anton Wilson, author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Prometheus Rising, and Cosmic Trigger, a book that changed my life in weird and wonderful ways.

Illuminatus! vs Atlas Shrugged

John Higgs, author of the terrific Timothy Leary biography I Have America Surrounded, wrote a side-by-side comparison of The Illuminatus Trilogy and Atlas Shrugged. Here are the first few items:

Illuminatus! vs Atlas Shrugged Read the rest