Michael's Reviews > Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati

Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson
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's review
Dec 23, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: conspiracy-theory, magic, physics
Recommended to Michael by: The Magickal Child
Recommended for: Discordians, Thelemites, Chaos Magicians
Read 2 times. Last read January 1, 1989.

This is another of those books that would've gotten a five-star rating when I first read it, in late High School or early college, but today doesn't hold up as well. While there's a lot of interesting possibilities suggested, by way of deliberate speculation on synchronicity and technological advances, there's also a LOT of really wacky unfounded psuedo-science and wishful thinking. Writing in 1977, Wilson made a number of predictions about the future here, and not one of them even remotely came true. I don't think this review will really benefit from enumerating and contradicting them; suffice to say that the author was under the influence of some rather dubious scientific renegades at the time.

Where I think the book has value, actually, is in an area most people probably miss - its narrative structure and the way it builds towards a profound personal revelation of tragedy on the part of the author. It has been suggested to me that this book was kind of a way for RAW to work through his grief at the time, and, in that sense, I find that it pulls me along with him. I remember crying myself the first time I read the sentence "It is absurd for a 45-year-old man to sit at a typewriter weeping over the words 'foot doot'." Now I'm closer to that age myself, and I still find that sentence a powerful piece of poetry. This prefaces what he calls the "final secret" of the Illuminati - which is essentially a code for the power of positive thinking. It's nice to know that he was able to work through his feelings this way, but I actually think the power of the book comes more from his willingness to lay bare his own pain so openly than from his attempt to write a meaning on to that pain.

The other interesting aspect of all this is what it may tell those who wish to consider themselves Magicians in this day and age about the dangers of Magic. Magic, when done seriously and not as sort of a Sunday-evening amusement, means re-shaping your experience of the world through deliberately altering your Subjective Universe. In other words, it means playing with your mind for fun and profit. This can be a dangerous game to play, and there is probably nothing more important than attention to the two elements Leary first suggested for the use of LSD for psychological therapy: Set and Setting. Without proper understanding of these elements, it is all too possible to end up believing in the wildest ideas and predictions, losing sight of the Objective Universe along the way.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Started Reading
January 1, 1989 – Finished Reading
December 23, 2011 – Shelved
December 23, 2011 – Shelved as: conspiracy-theory
December 23, 2011 – Shelved as: magic
December 23, 2011 – Shelved as: physics

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