The Gathering of the Cosmic Fools
Fools and Others
23rd November 2015 was a particularly busy night, cosmically and psychogeographically-speaking – especially for a school night. We were a year on from the world premiere of Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger – a play by Daisy Eris Campbell, and the Find the Others ‘conferestival’ weekend event that spiralled around it.
In the Crossbones Graveyard, just south of the Thames, actor, author and Find the Others Conferestival workshop teacher, John Crow / Constable, was holding his monthly remembrance ceremony for his ‘Geese’ – the paupers and prostitutes buried behind Southwark cathedral. Cosmic Trigger producer / actor / poet / musician, Michelle Watson, is a long-time contributor to his Southwark Mysteries song and verse performance, but not on this night.
In Conway Hall, in Bloomsbury’s Red Lion Square, cultural (and counter-cultural) writer, and Cosmic Trigger ally, John Higgs, was talking to the Fortean Society about ‘The Strange Person Theory of History’, something he also discusses in his new book: Stranger Than We Can Imagine, Making Sense of the 21st Century.
A little way north, over by the Holloway Road in Highbury / Islington, another ‘strange person’, who can be said to have influenced the path of many a young contrarian, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his band, Psychic TV, were kicking off their European tour. At least three of our number: guerrilla graphics genius Scott McPherson / Amoeba, Mephistophelean music maverick and DJ, Daveid Phillips and digital Dionysian performance artist, Bang Crosby, were in attendance. And somewhere in Liverpool, rumour has it, Discordia Brittanica magazine were up to something, they divulged, cryptically, in a Facebook message, last week…
In Stoke Newington, just up the road from the Higgs / P-Orridge events, our motley crew of actors, sculptors, writers, musicians, photographers, poets, producers, picturesmiths, DJs, promoters, fire-dancers and curious friends were gathered in a twinkling arts venue, cunningly disguised as a Snooker Hall, called, rather bossly: The Others.
The ones who could make it to north London on a chilly Monday night (and some came from as far away as North Yorkshire) were brought together by an email from that there Daisy Eris Campbell, inviting us to ‘The Gathering of the Cosmic Fools’, on the Discordian ‘holyday’ (Harpo Marx’s birthday). Daisy’s invitation had promised “A celebration of our fool’s leap into the unknown last year… and a seeding of the adventure to come…”
Lots of people played some part in last year’s play and ‘conferestival’ adventure – from the kind souls who donated to the seed fund, on through to the balls-deep cast, crew and event organisers / speakers / contributors / sorter-outers who walked through that fire with us – many of whom worked their socks off to get this show on the road.
Lots of us forged new and inspiring friendships during that time, with like-minded, Bob-loving types we would never normally get to meet (not even on Twitter *cough*). Many of us have been getting together and hypothesising what the next steps will be. Now that we’ve Found Each Other – what next? And what about all the ‘other’ Others out there, as yet unFound? There is, it’s fair to say, still an appetite for Adventuring and ‘seeding’ / Mindfucking amongst the rainbow knicker tribe…
Fools Rush In…
The night began, sonically-speaking, with actor / psychosynthesis counsellor / musician / DJ Greg Donaldson’s new track: ‘Reversed’ (listen HERE), containing the Cosmic Trigger play scene from Illuminatus! (the play-within-the-play) where Miss Portinari / Kate Alderton, explains in her gypsy caravan the ’23’ in the tarot, while the crowd made merry with Claudia Boulton / Eris’s cosmic dressing-up box of fool’s motley, sparkle and silly hats.
Daisy kicked off the evening with a short intro that included the thought process behind the night. Long, twisty story short, there had been a few smaller ‘are-we-doing-this-or-what?’ get-togethers and initial, tentative attempts to make a plan to get the play to Santa Cruz in 2017, Bob’s home in his later years, and the town with a Robert Anton Wilson Day every July 23rd.
Daisy talked about her ambivalence at ‘just’ putting the play back on using the same route as the first time – crowdfunding takes a lot of energy from the actual project (and we’d done it once already and the perks are a spiralling, wig-of-bees nightmare to fulfil properly).
Traditional funding routes (Arts Council Fun-dead grants and residencies in theatres) went against the advice of her dad, and Bill Drummond. They had both told her that after the Illuminatus play moved into a more traditional theatre structure, the element of risk / seat-of-the-pants aspect falls away from the production, everyday human pettiness kicks in and the spark / magic dies… We can’t have that.
…Where Artists Feel The Magick
So… During a period of sort-of homelessness, Daisy was moving flats and living in a basement with no Wifi (Qu’elle horreur! Pretty much, the 21st century equivalent of the shaman’s hut, non?). She found herself – as many of us have – burning through Alan Moore’s graphic novel of magic and story – Promethea, leant to her by John Higgs (of course).
Inspiration struck in that damp basement. Daisy’s initial idea was to “go deeper into the magical aspect of the whole thing”, by using the tarot deck as a creative device to guide us to the USA / hang a bunch of fundraising / awareness-raising events around.
The first card being The Fool, the step into the unknown, we start with the ‘Fool’s Leap’ / re-launch cast, crew and curious party, then a ‘Night of the Magii’ (after the three magus cards in the Thoth tarot deck), where Promethea would be staged as a 23-hour, live reading / screening.
Daisy wrote to Alan to ask for his permission – on actual paper – (Alan doesn’t do email), enclosing The Magus card from her personal tarot deck, but was soon kibboshed by a kindly phone-call. The Wizard of Northampton gave his blessing to the idea, but confirmed that the story is now owned by DC Comics – who don’t have the cosiest of relationships with the author. (*cough* Watchmen Babies *cough*).
So the Night of the Magii idea needs a tweak – but the idea of promoting a more conscious connection between art and magic seems a good ‘un to be making – and at this point, Nic Alderton (producer and media tech wizard) ran THIS CLIP of Alan from our perks DVD, talking about the importance of the connection between art, creativity and magic.
Next, Daisy reminded us with another clip, this time from the crowdfunding video, that she had promised to ‘somehow’ get the play to America. Cripes.
So, with this in mind, Daisy suggested, now we’ve pulled our Triggers and Found each Other, whatever we decide to do next, we are ipso facto, writing our own chapter / Discordian New Testament. The mycelium / mushroom-producing threads from all the various splendiferous connections that have resulted from putting on the best play on planet world in Liverpool and London are already beginning to form into creative projects, change lives, etc. There are marriages, career changes, works of art already coming into being as a direct result of coming into contact with the Cosmic Trigger play / event / people.
We are already writing our own chapter in Discordian History – because we say so. And in honour of that commitment, Nic flashed up the original and then a mocked-up Principia Discordia ‘New’ cover, created for us, as shown below.
Then: we watched a scene from the play – Bob’s First Trip, followed by Cosmic Trigger’s own Aleister Crowley / Bob Shea, Tom Baker and his accordion, singing some of the songs from the play – songs which at this point, some of us know, and lots of us sort of know we enough to mumble along to the verses and belt out the choruses – a bit like church. From the outside we probably looked the most like the green sprouts of a cult at this point – maybe it was a good job he left the Crowley triangle hat on Mitch Davies’ Doddy statue…
From Foolish Little Acorns…
Next up was Kate Alderton, Bob’s wife Arlen Wilson from the play, who this year has been working with the Foolish People magic, theatre and ritual group. Kate lead a ritual of ‘setting intention’, using Flinton Chalk’s 111hz Cairn T Soundtrack – a piece of music that is tuned to the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and is the average resonant frequency of Neolithic monuments archaeoacoustically tested by Cambridge University. It’s well calming.
Kate handed around a bowl of acorns and rosehips (‘love’ and ‘strength’) for us to ‘charge with our potential’ and take away and grow. It was warm and fuzzy and lovely – cradling, and then nurturing a baby tree, or rose bush, is a beautiful analogy for growing your own potential… There was also a ‘tree of intention’, where people could write their intentions on little tags, to share with everyone, if they wanted to (made of branches from Regents Park, plus some Claudia found, driving to and fro to Hackney in the hire van full of costumes and props – Claudia is my hero. Hail Eris!).
Cat Vincent: Connecting the Fool, Synchronicity and Magic
To elaborate on some of the magical and symbolic elements we are dealing with here, Daisy asked ‘Fortean’ journalist (I love that it says that on his business card), author, magician and our Cosmic Pastor, Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent, to talk about synchronicity, the significance of The Fool card in the tarot, the importance of danger / risk in the creative process, 23 and apophenia – the human tendency to find patterns amongst random data / signals.
The full talk is reproduced HERE. Cosmic Trigger Warning!: contains some Mindfuck synchronicities.
Dom Search: Nothing Really Matters
The map might not be the territory, but it can’t hurt to have a rough idea where we’re going – in this case, deeper into the magical and symbolic meanings contained in the ‘zero-to-one’ / fool’s leap. One of last year’s key producers and Warp warrior / survivor, our ‘numbers guru’, Dom Search, gave us a whistle-stop tour up and down the Sephirot / Kabballah’s Tree of Life, in a talk called Nothing Really Matters. Dom talked us through the system as a map of personal development, tracing the steps and numbered pathways through the tree and challenges humans / humanity will face to get to ‘illumination’ / ‘the Godhead’.
Transcript of the talk can be found HERE.
First Steps into the Void
Daisy then spoke to us about the ‘next steps’ after the Fool’s leap. How are we going to get the show to America? I decided to tape it on my phone. I decided to tape it in portrait, because I’m – to paraphrase Scottie, our graphic genius – “a balloooon” So there’s a plan to commit to ‘something’ happening ‘as they pull, we will reach’ – as Daisy says here. And the original idea to follow the tarot cards, in terms of how we plan our events going forward to get us to America… well… based on the scene from Illuminatus (recreated during Cosmic Trigger’s third act), where Madam Portinari reverses the tarot…
JUST WATCH THIS TERRIBLE PHONE FOOTAGE, OK? ERIS is SPEAKING! Maybe.
After the cosmic chaos of Daisy and Claudia / Eris asking us all to commit to some sort of creative awareness-raising malarkey, it was PLAYTIME. Seani Love (renamed Seani ‘Fool’ for the night), our Tantric expert and recent winner of ‘Sex Worker of the Year, 2015 at the Sexual Freedom Awards’, got us all to do a round of silly “oo” “ah” “oooo” noises, whilst copying him thrusting his hips backwards and forwards.
This was extra ridiculous, as he was wearing his Sex Worker of the Year golden penis trophy as a gleaming, bouncing, strap-on. The ‘ritual’ degenerated into everyone channelling their spirit animal and oinking and screeching about the room. Pure tomfoolery of the highest order. Dunno if there’s pictures. Kinda hope not. I think everyone was too busy romping about, having a laugh.
Tentacle Love –
23 Festival of Convergence
The next bit of the evening was all about what Daisy has been calling the mycelium threads or ‘the tentacles’, a wriggly way of describing the Others who have come together / are engaged in creating something that wasn’t there before, inspired by the Cosmic Trigger play and weekend. The guys from the 23 Festival of Convergence came down from Sheffield, Hebden Bridge and Otley to talk about the two-day talks, poetry, music, magic and shenanigans event they will be throwing somewhere suitably green and pleasant and northern, on July 23rd 2016.
Tim Holmes, Anwen Fryer Burrows, Jamie Dodds, plus Liam Newton and Helen Alexander (because Law of Fives), talked us through their plans, beginning with an Air / Fire / Earth / Water magical analogy from Anwen on how it all came about, moving on to their discordian / creative-socialist approach to putting on the event with a ‘notwork’ of collaborators and a crowdfunded seed membership campaign – which raised over £3,000, but more importantly – Found The Others… Be in no doubt, we’ll be there, sunglasses and wellies at the ready, come July. The 23 Festival is in that reversed tarot deck somewhere…
A Fool Can Dream…
Another ‘tentacle’ in the mix, is Kate Genevieve. She’s an artist who was part of the Warp Experience, back in the day. Her project – The Oneiric Archive – brought her to the Find the Others weekend last year in Liverpool, where she collected 23 dreams from cast, crew and audience, some of which she read out at The Others in Stoke Newington.
One of the things she talked about was examining dreams to find ‘new stories’, and without ascribing them too much ‘meaning’ / weight – but just to observe what was happening in that part of the minds of those involved in the Cosmic Trigger experience. She also had the dreams illustrated by Will Scobie, and asked the dreamer to describe how they felt upon waking. Poor Kate was a bit rushed as we were – foolishly – over-running madly by this point and needed to make up time – but we did get to hear a few.
You can check out her Cosmic Trigger dream archive online HERE.
Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Fool’s Bargain
OK. Nearly there. Was quite a busy night, wasn’t it? Daisy’s Closing Bit. I taped it again – landscape this time. This is where it all gets *cough* ‘serious’. This is where we put our moxy where our mouth is. Starting with our mouthpiece. At the risk of sounding like a click farm – watch my crappy, foolish amateur-hour video to see What Daisy Did Next. What – I suspect – quite a few of us will be doing next…
Matt Baker Jones, our trusty DJ for the night, finished his last set, while Vibe Machine (who also played at Find the Others last year) set up. T’was a righteous, funky set that got everyone with any energy left dancing, and they also played a Thoth song written just for us. And thus, the fools leapt one last time…
As a group of Cosmic Trigger pullers, we’re a bit of a way off enlightenment as to ‘What The Fuck Was THAT All About?, but we may have witnessed the first baby steps up the next bit of the Holy Mountain / Tree of Life / garden path / our own bumholes: commit to DOING SOMETHING. For yourself. For the Cosmic Trigger Project. For the Planet. For Art. For the geese in the crossbones graveyard. For the craic. For a pleasingly round seed, sitting warm and snug in your pocket.
By all means, take your time, slipping around in the lovely quicksand of the imagination, but then – DO what thou willst – get creative in your own way, however tentative. Write it in the Book of Cosmic Will on January 23rd. Complete it by July 23rd. Dooooooo iiiiiiiiiiit…
That’s What my Reality Tunnel Thinks Just Happened
See you on January 23rd, when we engage with ‘The World’, tie up loose ends, figure out an actual plan and get this show back on the road, and by which time, hopefully, I will have thought of something suitably dangerous to write in that damn Cosmic Book of Will.
Do you remember that exercise that Bob talks about reading in a book by Aleister Crowley, the one Crowley says he heard about from a Buddhist monk in Ceylon / Sri Lanka? You know, the one where you keep asking the question ‘Why am I sitting here?’ until you achieve a simulation of enlightenment? Daisy riffs on it in the Cosmic Trigger play with the ‘Who Are You?’ bit between Arlen / Kate and Bob / Oliver. Alistair Fruish did the exercise as part of his talk at Find the Others in Liverpool last year. Well…
I am sitting here writing this summary of an evening of Cosmic Folderol because filmmaker Mark Bennett knew I was a big RAW fan, and joined me to the Ken Campbell Changed My Life Facebook Group. Because he did that I heard about and went along last year to the Cosmic Trigger Play Crowdfunding launch, which was so Bobtastic, I volunteered immediately to help in any way possible, ending up doing the PR, taking over the curating of the art gallery, along with Grant De Pleiss, and like many of you reading this, generally helping out wherever I felt I could be of use.
Reading Cosmic Trigger was life changing for me, insomuch as it confirmed and challenged my reality tunnel in a clear, mind-blowing – and funny – way. It inspired me to think more carefully about how I processed signals and communicated with the world. But what really and truly blew my head off, was finding The Others who were also inspired by the works of Wilson, Watts, Leary, Moore, Higgs etc.
I came back from the Liverpool experience Changed. I came back inspired by Other People who were part of this merry band of 21st century seekers, sages, cage-shakers and pranksters. We’re quite the Campbellian soup, between us, aren’t we? Are you excited to see what will happen when we put our heads together and come up with the next leg of the caper? I know I am, if you are.
How did you get here? And where do you want to go next?
Love not fear,
Michelle ‘Meesh’ Olley
Pope Monkeybumps the Younger (Ex Comm)