The world needs more Robert Anton Wilson. At a time when so many people take themselves and their views far too seriously, RAW’s “agnostic mysticism” provides a different way forward, one in which we all understand the ‘reality tunnels’ we live within – and as a consequence, help us to take everything *we* say with a grain of salt.
So I was excited to see the newly-created crowd-funding drive to support a stage play (and accompanying festival) based around RAW’s Cosmic Trigger, which will be directed by Daisy Campbell (daughter of British theatre maven Ken Campbell, who in 1976 staged a now-legendary play based on another RAW classic, Illuminatus!):
[I]t’s time to tackle another one of Wilson’s works: Cosmic Trigger, the philosophical tract which has influenced figures as diverse as X-Files creator Chris Carter, SF author and futurist David Brin, film-makers and South Park Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and author Tom Robbins. Philip K Dick said Wilson had “reversed every mental polarity in me, as if I had been pulled through infinity”. Jesse Walker called Wilson “the elephant in our cultural living room”.
Daisy’s adaptation recounts the period of Bob’s life around the inspiration for, writing of and theatrical culmination of Illuminatus!, a period where he also met iconic countercultural figures like Timothy Leary, Alan Watts and William Burroughs, all of whom feature in the play. The narrative slips in and out of Illuminatus! itself and the production employs song, music, projections and stagecraft to evoke the real-life hallucinogenic trip through conspiracy, paranoia and enlightenment that transformed Bob from a simple Playboy editor into the influential countercultural figure he is today.
Robert Anton Wilson sought to induce in his readers agnosticism; not just about God, but about everything; and all his work blurs the lines between truth and fiction. This will be reflected in a staging style that often breaks down theatrical conventions, with actors amidst the audience, tiny stage-sets that can pop up anywhere and cutting-edge projection trickery, allowing the very walls of the theatre to drop away at one climatic moment. Alan Moore (Watchmen, V For Vendetta) will voice The World’s Most Intelligent Computer, and Jamie Reid (Sex Pistols album artist) will lend his occult artworks to the production.
The three hour play will be the centerpiece to a three day festival of Bob, celebrating the author, his work, his influence and his legacy. A range of influential contemporary speakers will attend and give addresses, people like Robin Ince, John Higgs and members of the Maybe Logic Academy. This will be a forum to listen to contemporary countercultural figures, network with like-minded individuals and pick up rare books and goods in the marketplace. So you’re not just funding a play, you’re funding a circus that we want to bring to your town.
Bob’s ideas are profound, optimistic and funny. His legacy will one day be remembered alongside such literary philosophers as Aldous Huxley and James Joyce – if those of us whose lives he’s enriched pull together now and make this event a reality.
Here’s Daisy Campbell talking about the project:
To get a feel for the fun and madness that is sure to accompany a production of RAW’s work – not least via a woman whose middle name is Eris! – have a read of Cat Vincent’s Daily Grail review of the Pulling the Cosmic Trigger event held earlier this year in Liverpool, and also check out the story I wrote last year documenting some of the insane synchronicities and links that emerged out of Ken Campbell’s 1976 production of Illuminatus!.
And if in any doubt about the importance of Robert Anton Wilson’s work, listen to Alan Moore, who definitely knows the score when it comes to RAW (note that one of the pledge rewards for the crowd-funding drive is a DVD of the complete interview with Alan which the excerpt below is taken from):
Come on Grailers, let’s get behind a worthy cause – head on over to IndieGoGo and drop some coins in the can (mmm, gotta get me one of those awesome t-shirts!), and help pull the Cosmic Trigger!