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Updated: 11 min 43 sec ago

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

1 hour 25 min ago

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! by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, among other works. Daisy half-jokingly says she was conceived backstage during the show run (where her mother, actress Prunella Gee, interpreted the role of Discordian Goddess Eris).

In 2013, Daisy received an inner call and decided to answer it, adapting Cosmic Trigger into a play, a manifestation of her inherited artistic and theatrical legacy — both in homage to the mind-expanding philosophy of Wilson and to her father's epic production of Illuminatus! Synchronistically attracting a crew of crazy comrades and producers, the whole production became a full-throttle magical adventure for all involved. Cosmic Trigger — The Play eventually debuted in Liverpool in 2014, creating the space for finding the others .

Robert Anton Wilson

RAW has been a true maverick of the mind, arguably one of the most intriguing and important esoteric thinkers to emerge from the American counterculture. Uncle Bob, " the Carl Sagan of religion, the Jerry Falwell of quantum physics, the Arnold Schwarzenegger of feminism, the Helen Keller of art and music, the Nelson Mandela of white supremacists, the James Joyce of swing set assembly manuals, the Lenny Bruce of funerals, the Salvador Dali of assembly line workers" (1)

RAW's works deeply affected and stretched many minds. There is deep, widespread sense of gratitude among those whose lives he touched with his books, talks and friendship. His mind-stirring books are paper-and-ink equivalents of psychoactive compound, providing rich, meaningful metaphors for the forest of symbols we navigate and experience. Armed with an unusually creative way of using language and a peculiar sense of humor, he explored domains as diverse as chaos magick, Jungian pyschology, cybernetics, Neuro Linguistic Programming, tantric sex, yoga, Zen Buddhism, Freemasonry... and many other esoteric or counterculture philosophies. The basic tenet of his agnosticism and multi-model thinking is that any perspective we have on the world is bound to a massive tapestry of beliefs about the world itself. These sets of world-describing (or world-creating) beliefs he called reality tunnels. Once we recognize we are living inside a particular reality tunnel, which limits everything we can perceive, we gain the freedom to shift to another. Reality is always plural and mutable belief being the death of intelligence.

Our culture is turning to steam

Published in 1977, Cosmic Trigger is 40 years old this year, though it seems as relevant as ever. "In fact,” Daisy Campbell says, “the world he predicted, it’s just here, we are living in it, everything is actually happening, right here, right now. And his antidote to the world madness is to recognize the limits and dangers of our single vision and limited reality tunnels, and the hypnotic trance we are collectively living.” (2)

Further on that, writer John Higgs (himself an inspiration behind the play) wrote:

"Wilson's books depict a bewildering world of conspiracies, half-truths, lies, fake news, incompetence and our inability to find anything resembling objective truth. Or to put it another way, it describes the world as it is now, ten years after his death. (3) In Cosmic Trigger, RAW talks about the psychological state where you have no way of making sense of what is happening, where all your maps have run out, and where you have no fixed point with which to orient yourself by. He called this place Chapel Perilous. This is where we are now as a culture." (4)

Sounds like an announcement of cultural collapse and apocalypse. According to magician and graphic novel writer superstar Alan Moore, whose voice leads the opening invocation of The Play :

"Most people find the word 'Apocalypse' to be a terrifying concept. Checked in the dictionary, it means only 'revelation,' although it obviously has also come to mean end of the world. As to what the end of the world means, I would say that probably depends on what we mean by world. I don't think this means the planet, or even the life forms upon the planet. I think the world is purely a construction of ideas, and not just the physical structures, but the mental structures, the ideologies that we've erected, THAT is what I would call the world. Our political structures, philosophical structures, ideological frameworks, economies. These are actually imaginary things, and yet that is the framework that we have built our entire world upon. (...) History is a heat, it is the heat of accumulated information and accumulated complexity. As our culture progresses, we find that we gather more and more information and that we slowly start to move almost from a fluid to a vaporous state, as we approach the ultimate complexity of a social boiling point. I believe that our culture is turning to steam." (5)

Waiting for the apocalypse, let's have a party!

In his later years, Wilson had become a beloved resident character in Santa Cruz, and in 2003 the mayor of town proclaimed July 23rd to be Robert Anton Wilson Day , encouraging " all the citizens to join in commending him for consistently extending the boundaries of modern thought and providing a model of courage and intelligence in an age sadly short on heroes" (6)

This coming July 23rd, Santa Cruz will host a RAW celebration — a day of talks to celebrate his legacy, with contributions from Daisy Campbell, Erik Davis and Richard Rasa of Hilaritas Press, and an evening party with legendary DJ Greg Wilson. To receive information and details, subscribe to the newsletter on the website - or just tune in to the signals leading to the party. That's where you'll find the others! Fnord.

Images from the play by Simon Annand. Poster by: Amoeba Designs


  1. Rev. Ivan Stang in Maybe Logic: The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson (2003)
  2. Personal conversation.
  3. For Robert Anton Wilson's Birthday – some words on Operation Mindfix
  4. The modern myth of Cosmic Trigger, show program.
  5. The Mindscape of Alan Moore (2005).
  6. Proclamation

Ruwix is a collection of online puzzle programs and tutorials. Discover the secret of your unsolved Rubix Cube.

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Artist Hellen Jo's badass skate deck

3 hours 12 min ago

Check out this rad skate deck illustrated by Hellen Jo. She lives in LA and makes bad-ass comic books and zines. LA Weekly stated that “Her zines show teenage girls in everyday scenes (like chilling at the skate park) but also in more violent settings.” The illustration on the deck is from one of Hellen's zines. “The scene comes from Frontier #2, a work filled with 32 full-color pages of troublemaking youths unleashed on the world.”

I met Hellen at the Giant Robot store in Los Angeles while she was signing the decks. I’m really into comic book art, and Hellen’s punky style of illustration stood out to me right away. You can buy one of Hellen’s decks at the Giant Robot store, in person or online.

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Google "respectfully disagrees" with €2.42 billion fine

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Google expected to be punished by the European Union for anticompetitive shenanigans, but it didn't expect a slap this hard: €2.42 billion, the largest fine on record. The company says it "respectfully disagrees" with both the ruling and the amount and may appeal.

The commission believes it has struck a blow for consumers and for little firms at a time when online advertising - particularly on mobile phones - is dominated by Google and Facebook.

Google believes the regulator has a weak case and has failed to provide evidence that either consumers or rivals have been harmed.

In essence, it sees this as a political move rather than one based on competition law. You can be pretty confident that the Trump administration will share that view.

There's mounting anxiety in European capitals about something called Gafa - Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon - the four American giants that play such a huge role in all of our lives. That means we can expect further action to try to limit their powers, with the potential for growing political tension between Brussels and Washington.

Google abused its dominance of search to promote its own shopping services, the European Commission wrote, systematically shutting out competitors, distorting the market and hurting local shoppers.

Since the beginning of each abuse, Google's comparison shopping service has increased its traffic 45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany, 19-fold in France, 29-fold in the Netherlands, 17-fold in Spain and 14-fold in Italy.

Following the demotions applied by Google, traffic to rival comparison shopping services on the other hand dropped significantly. For example, the Commission found specific evidence of sudden drops of traffic to certain rival websites of 85% in the United Kingdom, up to 92% in Germany and 80% in France

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Sean Hannity doesn't gargle piss

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Sean Hannity, the conservative firebrand and one of Fox News' last remaining ratings-grabbers, does not gargle piss, reports Clayton Purdom. The cable news pundit had publicly responded to a tweet saying "Sean you should drink more!!!" with "I need one" only for his interlocutor to change his name to "hannity gargles piss", thereby creating the unfortunate impression Hannity had cheerfully agreed he hankered for a nice pint of warm urine. Hannity, made aware of the clever switcheroo, decided to delete his tweet, thereby making clear that he does not suffer from a thirst that can be slaked only with a long draft of his own bitter pilsner.

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Thailand's thin-skinned king demands Youtube take down Chaplin's "The Great Dictator"

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Charlie Chaplin's 1940 movie The Great Dictator features one of the greatest anti-authoritarian speeches of all time, so it's no surprise that Thailand's censorship-crazed king is abusing his country's grotesque lese majeste laws to order Youtube to remove clips of Chaplin's masterpiece. (more…)

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Desperate Toronto hotelier pays millions to take Trump name off its business

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The owners of Toronto's "Trump Hotel" just spent a reported $6M to get out of its deal with Trump and cleanse their property of his hated name; they will probably rebrand it as a "St Regis" hotel instead. (more…)

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China orders mobile app stores to remove VPN apps

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Starting July 1, the official Android and Apple App stores will no longer allow Chinese users to download the VPN apps that Chinese people rely upon in order to get around the Great Firewall of China, which censors information in China and surveils Chinese peoples' use of the net. (more…)

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GOP abandons vote on health care repeal after CBO predicts 22 million would lose insurance

5 hours 3 min ago

The Trump administration is failing to pull off its latest efforts to 'repeal and replace Obamacare' with a draconian plan that would leave 22 million or more without health coverage.

After a growing number of Republican senators voiced opposition to the GOP plan, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today said he'd delay the vote on legislation until after lawmakers return from the July 4th recess.

“We will not be on the bill this week, but we will still be working to get at least 50 people in a comfortable place,” McConnell today said.

It's a big setback for Trump. It's fantastic news for every American who may need health care now, or in the future, or may have a child or parent who does. The fight isn't over, but these monsters aren't winning just yet.


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Verizon bought Yahoo, so Flickr and Tumblr users with AT&T email addresses are being cut off

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Verizon's using its purchase of Yahoo for more than undermining the fight for net neutrality: it's also using its new acquisitions to make anti-competitive moves against its telcoms rivals, deploying the users of Flickr and Tumblr as hostages. (more…)

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Make: hand-embroidered patches based on photos of your beloved cat

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Becky Stern writes, "My elderly cat passed away earlier this month, so I spent some mourning time stitching up these embroidered cat patches based on photos of my kitty Beatrice. I made a tutorial walking through the process from Photoshop to embroidery hoop."

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The Balkan blobject robot at the 2073 Venice Biennale

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Bruce Sterling's short story "The Beachcomber of Novi Kotor" is a monologue by a rogue Montenegran artist-roboticist, delivered at the 85th Venice Biennale, in a world where climate change has made venices out of all the world's low-lying cities, where Montenegro has been plunged into economic collapse by the precipitous departure of the neo-Czarist Russian oligarchs whose tourist trade it depended on. (more…)

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Kid gets his hands on a leafblower and instantly transforms into a supervillian

5 hours 31 min ago

As soon as this kid wields a leafblower, he acquires a diabolical laugh, along with the realization that he holds the fate of humankind in his hands.

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Watch: Half-dressed gentleman at Rugby game takes it all off and streaks

5 hours 35 min ago

This is great. A gentleman is watching a Rugby game – All Blacks vs Lions – in New Zealand with only a shirt on. His pants are nowhere to be seen. The couple videotaping him are having a delightful time – the woman can be heard laughing hysterically. The camera pans to the game for a few seconds, and when it pans back to the half-dressed man he finally seizes the moment and makes his way towards the players. He then takes it all off and streaks across the field. Makes me nostalgic for the 1970s.

For a longer, better, more detailed video that is uncensored (in other words, if you want to see his unblurred bum), check it out at The West Australian.

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A new ransomware strain is seemingly using a leaked NSA cyberweapon to race around the planet

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Petya is a well-known ransomware app that has attained a new, deadly virulence, with thousands of new infection attempts hitting Kaspersky Lab's honeypots; security firm Avira attributes this new hardiness to the incorporation of EternalBlue -- the same NSA cyberweapon that the Wannacry ransomware used, which was published by The Shadow Brokers hacker group -- into a new Petya strain. (more…)

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Best tea maker: Teavana Perfectea

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Carla has a tried a lot of different tea makers, and the Teavana Perfectea Maker ($20, Amazon) is her favorite. It doesn’t burn her hands, drains neatly into a mug, is easy to clean, and makes up to 16 oz.

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America's leading Net Neutrality campaigner is suing NYC to fix its broken internet

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More than a quarter of New York City lives without broadband, thanks to the sweetheart deals the city has cut with Verizon and the other big telcos, which chargessome of the highest rates in America for some of the country's worst service. (more…)

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Six research-backed tips to have a great vacation

5 hours 57 min ago

Research has shown the the best length for vacation is between 3 to 6 days: "People on mid-length holidays of between three to six days tended to report more positive mood than those on shorter or longer trips." This is one of six sensible tips to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible Barking Up the Wrong Tree from Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

  1. Anticipate: It brings more happiness than the trip itself because that awful thing called “reality” can’t get in the way… and leave your luggage in Abu Dhabi.
  2. Avoid the 2 big mistakes: Think about your personality and who you’ll be going with. And keep the trip between 3 to 6 days. (Especially if you need to change your contact lenses and they’re currently drying out in Abu Dhabi.)
  3. Schedule lots of fun stuff: Frequency beats intensity when it comes to happiness. So plan lots of cool activities and take tons of great photos. (And then find solace in just how many other people are using the “#stillnoluggage” hashtag on Instagram.)
  4. Savor: Unless it’s to call Air Berlin customer service for the 47th time, put the smartphone down and enjoy yourself.
  5. Use the “peak-end” rule: Your brain is going to remember the peak and the end, so plan them. Don’t let the emotional high point be finally finding some deodorant.
  6. Ease back into work: (No explanation for this one. I’m taking it easy.)

"Schedule lots of fun stuff" is something Carla and I did on our recent (6 day) trip to Tokyo. It was so much more enjoyable than previous trips where we didn't have much planned and the days just blurred into each other. That said, it's important to have some unstructured time, too, just to wander around.

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Bully cop tickets black man for made-up law of not having ID while walking

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I can feel my cortisol spiking as I watch this angry, aggressive Jacksonville, FL cop harassing a black man for jaywalking. He tickets him for that, and then when he finds out the man isn't carrying ID, tickets him for a bogus law – walking without ID.


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100 Americans attempt a British accent

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I'm listening to the audiobook version of Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die. It's narrated by a Brit, and I was thinking his American accent was pretty bad when he was reading lines from American characters in the book. But I shouldn't be too hard on him, after I watching this video of Americans trying and failing to speak with a British accent.

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1924 Ringling Brothers photo: "Congress of Freaks"

6 hours 27 min ago

This is one of the best group photos ever. See a bigger version here.

[via Peter from Texas]

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