Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson, Discussion and Review

2019-11-04 • reviews books

I think RAW's philosophy is something like:

There are an infinite number of signals in the world. We create our reality by paying attention to a subset of these. By picking what signals you pay attention to, by picking your "reality tunnel", you can create the world you want.

Which is an interesting way of looking at the world.

I liked the book a lot. The writing style is eccentric-- the author really embodies what he talks about. He refers to himself by whatever reality tunnel he currently identifies with.

This quote sums up the tone of the book:

"The Neurologician [referring to himself] now took up yoga, quite unmystically and with hardly a grain of piety. I understood that yogic training—whatever else it might comprise—is a method of freeing the nervous system from conditioned perception. Combining pot and yoga, I quickly demonstrated to myself by direct experience that the nervous system can be freed from virtually every perception and reflex that makes up our ordinary spectrum of possibility."

Cosmic Trigger is a goldmine of esoteric knowledge. In an age where most new non-fiction books are lazy re-hashes or meta-analysis of previously popular non-fiction books, widely accessible research, and assorted blog posts, it was refreshing to read a book filled with rare knowledge I would've never otherwise been exposed to.

At the time of reading, it didn't convince me that UFOs and magick were real beyond doubt, but I'm no longer dismissive of any of those claims. Like, I'm open to the idea, and that's a huge shift in worldview.

This book also gave me a serious respect for Timothy Leary, who is generally seen as insane, but who I've come consider to as brilliant. A role model, almost.

Even if you don't read Cosmic Trigger, I highly recommend reading about Timothy Leary. His attitude towards his cruel and unjust imprisonment (he always had a huge smile on his face, even after weeks in solitary confinement) and his prison escape story are amazing.

Weird reality challenging examples and other potential rabbitholes

DIY excercises

  • paying special attention to patterns in numbers will make more coincidences with them (you construct your own reality by what signals you pay attention to)

People with ethos that are into the occult (as mentioned in the book), lending it some credibility

  • Ed Mitchell
  • Nikola Tesla (RAW calls him The Secular Shaman), discovered the alternating current through a series of visions in which he talked to magical entities. He suffered a series of illnesses that gave him extrordinary powers of visualization. This journey and transformation mirrors that of many yogis, such as Gopi Krishna. Tesla also had a relationship with Swami Vivekananda, discussing concepts like prana and ether.
  • Many famous caltech scientists were into the occult / Aleister Crowley back in the day

Other rabbit holes

Orgone, the western perspective on a universal life force

RAW discusses Willhelm Reich, a psychotherapist who believed in a life force closely tied to sexual energy. He called this life force Orgone. This theory was ridiculed, as you can see in the wikipedia page, but I noticed it sounds the same as Kunalini energy in yoga / tantra, which is much more accepted.

He also invented Vegetotherapy, which seemed ahead of it's time in the Western framework. People still believed the body and mind were completely separate. It kind of sounds like a rudimentary version of an Osho Dynamic Meditation, which is interesting.

I'm not sure if this is a scam or not, but there are actually websites that sell "Orgone Generators". I guess this is the Western equivalent of sadhana.

What's wilder is that the FDA actually burned 30 years of Willhelm's research. Not sure why, but that's weird in any case right? I've never heard of book burnings being done in America, sounds dystopian as fuck.

A scientific argument for magick and miracles

I know nothing about physics, but it seems that mystics like to use the EPR paradox (from quantum physics) to support that literally anything is possible. Was an interesting read, but I don't know enough for it to affect my beliefs.