Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger, and the psychedelic interstellar future we need



There’s a stage adaptation of Cosmic Trigger in Liverpool, UK running this November 21st - 29th

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Elon Musk hasn’t promised to put humans on Mars in a decade. He’s promised that he could, if given the funding, and I believe him. But he will not be given the funding.

Likewise there’s a constant stream of plans for moon bases, Mars missions, solar power satellites and new shuttles from the Chinese and Russians. The western media publishes them as “This is what the Chinese/Russians are doing!!!” But again, it’s not the same as FUNDED plans. The EU has made plenty of manned spaceflight hardware for ISS, but they have no budget for a manned space program of their own.

Non-government space travel for the forseeable future consists of a few seconds in suborbital space for the rich, or an extra seat on a trip to ISS for the hyper-rich.


I was too goddamn poor to contribute to RAW’s medical fund at the end of his life (like, on the dole and couldn’t even realistically even send a bloody fiver to it), for which I shall be eternally regretful.


“space migration is the only palatable solution to the population and environmental crises.”

The problem is that the gravity well is a bitch and space is deeply, deeply hostile to Homo Sapiens style life. I’m all for working to get life off the planet. But perhaps it will be DNA starseeds and not human. No matter which way you cut it, the vast majority of mankind isn’t going anywhere and is going to have to work out how to survive on Spaceship Earth. So I reckon while space exploration is desirable it’s emphatically not a solution to our population and environmental crises. And worse than that, thinking that it is, is intellectually dishonest. You can’t just walk away from the mess we’re creating like it’s a student flat you’ve trashed.


I first read Illuminatus! in 1979, when I was 13 years old. I found the Cosmic Trigger a year later, along with Right Where You Are Sitting Now and Schroedinger’s Cat. RWYASN was much more eye-opening than Cosmic Trigger, because by then I’d heard Leary’s “You can only take the journey alone” speech, but RWYASN sat back and said, “No, you don’t have to do this alone. There are others out there on the same journey. Find them.”

The energy it takes to leave this planet is so overwhelmingly, economically devastating we’ll never be doing it in large numbers, and the human body is so excessively optimized to its biosphere and vice-versa that carrying even a small analogue of it out into space is also economically unfeasible. There are hard numbers we’re up against. If we leave this world, it won’t be in vessels made out of meat.

RAW taught me a lot, but he also told me to use the spreadsheets. Our future is much more Greg Egan vs Aldous Huxley than it is Tim Leary vs. George Orwell.


Oh dear - Lass die Lasagne fliegen!

Read the article again. A lot of the things RAW and Leary wrote were purely and optimistically speculative. The technology available to them in the 1960s to 1980s provided minimal signs that any of the things they wanted to see were actually possible. How different things look now.

You need to start prefacing statements like “The energy it takes to leave this planet is so overwhelmingly” with the phrase “With current technology…”. Something new and far more sustainable could be just around the corner.

And, as Bob pointed out, optimists live longer, so you might get to see them!

Yea, kind of reminds me of the post on BB the other day that says we should all live in cities. Good for folks who want to live in cities, but in general “changing everything about the way you live to deal with population and sustainability” isn’t even close to a plan A. Better to try to address the problems closer to their roots.

Pretty sure earth can hold more than 10 million humans. Maybe you meant 10 billion?


Alternatively, you could look at it as flying away from what we needed to develop like a butterfly leaves behind a cocoon or a seed leaves a tree. The combination of population growth and development across the world is unsustainable. Yes, we need alternatives here on earth, but building alternatives off planet, when possible, will also help.

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Off my lawn!
(it’s a pretty big lawn)


The Robot

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That assumes chemical propulsion. With space elevator at the bottom part and nuclear/ion engines at the top, the equation looks less unfavorable. The energy is the main problem, and even down here there’s a lot of it in thorium - available with technologies pretty much of today. Enough until fusion is tackled, and then some.

That’s the other option. I’m all in favor of pursuing both ways.

The meatsacks are stupid and this rock is stupid too. I wouldn’t mind getting away from both.

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I’m all for expanding our horizons, but there are some limits imposed by what I call “the laws of physics”. Therefore, I don’t think that most of what is discussed above will come to pass.

We evolved on Earth, so Earth is much more suited to hosting human life than any other place we can get to.

All this talk of nanotechnology and 3d printing represents a way forward in the human construction mode, which requires an awful lot of effort to make the simplest things. Look at biology - our bodies assemble themselves, grow with no effort on our part other than keeping them full of food, which can be any of a wide variety of other living things. The breakthrough in building stuff will be when we find a way to do it the same way we are built.

The problem of fundamentalism holding us back is one of getting the lizard brain out of power. Mandatory consumption of MDMA is one way, perhaps. Good luck getting that to work.

Self-assembly, biotech, synth-bio, evolutionary algorithms… All in the early stages so far but all looking hopeful. Smile, it’s being worked on.

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I thought that the accepted method was to slip it into free tomato juice samples…


You can labels things any which way you want but that doesn’t change the reality of them; as such, the map is not the territory. One of the biggest lessons I learned via RAW books.

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Note that a butterfly is not a caterpillar, and a seed is not a tree. Hence my comment about starseeding encapsulated DNA rather than space migration by humans.

At which point, remember the apocryphal story about how mushroom spores are so small they can float out of the atmosphere like Helium atoms, get caught by the solar wind and cross the galaxy in a few hundred million years taking they’re DNA life potential with them. Until one chances to get caught by the gravity well of a suitable planet and kickstarts the billion year life process again. Sadly, I’m told that story doesn’t quite work on several levels, but I still like it.

I’m with you mate.

It’s just woo woo dressed up as philosophy and science, it’s totally impossible. Can’t be done.
Don’t even try.
Stop thinking about it!

@ Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Do you even smoke bro?