Time to pull the Cosmic Trigger?

The Kazimier, Liverpool
23rd February 2014

Reviewed by Thomas Calderbank

NB: Readers! Take the Nerve Synchronicity Challenge! As you read the following article, take a note of any coincidences or synchronicities that are relevant to you and your life. Special prize for the reader with the best one.

"'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds"
Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia

Truly, Malaclypse the Younger would have been proud of the cosmic crew here today. This was an utterly absorbing afternoon, featuring theatre, music, synchronicity, an interview with The Greatest Living Englishman, and at least a thousand amazing ideas. It also held the promise of a real, honest-to-goodness HAPPENING in the city, scheduled for this coming November 23rd (circle that date in your diary, right now. I'm here to tell you why…) Yes, this was the frankly fabulous Miss Daisy Eris Campbell bringing her lovely friends to the city to ask the question: "Time to pull the Cosmic Trigger?" Based on the full and enthusiastic house at the mighty Kazimier, the answer is an unequivocal "YES, PLEASE! (And can our dog come…?)"

For the uninitiated, a brief history lesson. In 1976, theatrical visionary and all-round good guy Ken Campbell was invited by Liverpool legend Peter O'Halligan to stage a production in his newly acquired building in Mathew St. This building, the current home of Flanagan's Apple, was then the Liverpool School for Language, Music, Dream and Pun. (NB: For a fuller, and more lovely, personal telling of this important and neglected part of our collective cultural history, see Angie Sammons' Liverpool Confidential piece here: liverpoolconfidential.co.uk).

Never one for doing anything by halves, Ken decides to form something utterly new: The Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool, in order to stage a head-wrecking, doorstopper of a book The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. In Ken's hands, this satirical tour d'horizon through several conspiracy theories - shot through with magic, sex and drugs - became a rock epic of five plays - also shot through with magic, sex and drugs - the running time of which was eight hours. He would go on to top that with Neil Oram's record-breaking The Warp, but that's another crazy story for another crazy time...

…and so it goes….

Fast forward 35 years, and we're still talking about Campbell doing Robert Anton Wilson in Liverpool; only this time, it's Ken's daughter Daisy, and it's Wilson's 'sequel' to Illuminatus!, that will be performed this coming November. And let me tell you, true believers, the Discordian golden apple doesn't fall very far from the genius tree. As her dad said: "If you want to do something extraordinary, go to Liverpool." So here she is. And we're delighted she's here.

Daisy opens the show by setting the scene, with a little bit of personal history that shows that her life is thoroughly embroiled in the mythos of Mathew Street and the city as a whole. She is disarmingly honest in telling us about her journey here tonight, particularly about her own time in Chapel Perilous, in a mental institution, with a pair of rainbow knickers on her head. She was a pronoid - as opposed to a paranoid - thinking everyone was out to help her.

Not knowing if she was Eris or Daisy, she "became a pirate for all signs and meanings". She quoted Ken on the choices an artist must face, any of which can either expose wrongs and bring about change, or support the status quo. He concluded, of course, that it's the CAPER that counts. They invoke Eris, because she's the deity who can handle the chaos.

She seems genuinely surprised and delighted by the many generous offers of support for the production since she announced it. Not least of which is securing the services of comics/performance/magic legend (the aforementioned Greatest Living Englishman), Mr Alan Moore, as the voice of the supercomputer FUCKUP (a role originally played by Sir John Gielgud).

Now, I've adored the Mighty Moore since I was about 12, so this was the icing on the Cosmic Cake for me. I was already ridiculously excited about this caper, but his involvement made the work transcendent…. His videotaped interviews, shown today, come with images of fire - Alan comes with the Voice of the Fire. And there he is, all hair and intellect and humanity. He discussed Wilson, Magick, reality and the real Illuminati. Absolutely incredible, possibly the truest and most profound words these ears have heard so far this year. He has mapped the vectors of the Illuminati, and sees Wilson's work as a fascinatingly enlightening joke, presenting an instructive way of looking at the world. The truly frightening thing is not that there are many conspiracies in the world, but that precisely NONE of them are in control. "There is no human hand on the rudder", and we are the playthings of permutations of blind, mathematical formulae. Blimey! Who'd have thunk it?!

Oliver Senton, the actor playing Wilson, read from Cosmic Trigger, revealing its central theme: that of an initiation or Vision Quest, in which the author attempts an heroic "self-metaprogramming of the human biocomputer." Then(!) an extraordinary moment happens when a voice from the darkness heckles Daisy: her Dad. Suddenly, to much delight and amazement, the great Ken Campbell is in the room. He marches to the stage, berating his daughter for not learning her lines (she's reading from her iPad). He banters with the guy videoing the event, ranting against Arts Council funding and the fact that his "Greatest Show on Planet World" was denied their dosh - "a conspiracy of mediocrity." He leaves as suddenly as he arrived, leaving the crowd laughing and cheering.

Then it's the turn of John Higgs to take to the stage, author of the recently published and - in my opinion - seminal book The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the band who burned a million pounds. It's maybe odd to think that this lovely, softly spoken and self-effacing bloke is the same guy who's just thrown a mind-blowing ontological grenade into the collected consciousness of the world, particularly here in the Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helen's, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority. His talk is entitled I blame Liverpool and he begins by explaining that it's not strictly a book about the KLF, but rather a gateway drug. I'd like to personally confirm that he's right: since reading this last September, I've read The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Cosmic Trigger, and The Illuminati Papers and become a genuine and authorized Pope, basically. I blame John Higgs.

It's easy to forget how big The KLF actually were. In 1991, they were the biggest selling singles band in the world, and described by the Times as 'the 2nd best band in history, after The Beatles'. But it's what they did after the music that interests John. And especially what they did for the sake of their souls in that derelict boathouse on Jura on August 23rd 1994…. Incidentally, one of the thoughts that struck me as I read his book, was that perhaps John has provided what Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty were looking for within 23 years of the deed, "an accurate and appropriate response to their burning of a million quid." Or part of it, anyway. I still think they're waiting for someone else to do it too… maybe we could do a Kickstarter campaign? Just an idea…. He credits Alan Moore's philosophy with the idea for the book, especially after reading From Hell.

Then it was time for we lucky, lucky people to have some more Moore, on The Real Illuminati. He told us of his entry into magick with his good friend Steve Moore and went on to describe an early session where they were both discussing the kind of magick they wanted to do. There's a technique whereby you take 2 images of what you want, cut them up and splice them together, and see what happens. Time went weird for Alan, and he ended up explaining his mistaken belief of what the plan was 3 times. Suddenly, him and Steve are in the White Room. With them are famous magicians: Blake, Dee, Crowley, Austin Spare, Edward Kelly, animal headed figures (Egyptian Gods?) and RAW. In the Eternalist view of time, we're all already dead. The exchange of blood between art and magic.


Daisy came back to quote Dr Timothy Leary. When he was asked by someone what you were to do once you've turned on, tuned in and dropped out, he replied: "FIND THE OTHERS". With that, she introduced "the most complicated scene" from her adaptation of Cosmic Trigger - Bob's First Trip. For those present, it was a tantalizing preview of the full play to come. Hooded figures illuminated by torches, and strategically sited on the mezzanine level in the Kazimier begin singing the spooky song Inquire Within.

The scene began with Bob and his wife Arlen. He's just met Tim Leary and scored himself some liquid LSD. He gets himself suitably comfortable and begins the trip. Albert Hoffman goes around him on a tricycle, the sofa turns into a giant typewriter and the words projected on a screen begin dancing. He disappears into the typewriter. The eye in the pyramid is projected onto a triangular screen and a face projected eerily at the back. Bob cuddles his youngest daughter, Luna. Deeply intuitive, Luna can see her father's pains. She was a being of pure light - by all accounts - and knowing that in the real world she was brutally murdered, gives this scene a real poignancy. The words "Foot Doot" (as 'fruit juice') are almost unbearably sad.

Tall Paul as Simon Moon was great, almost a Gilbert Sheldon drawing made real. The missing Fab Furry Freak Brother, laying a real head-trip on Bob. The 23 Enigma, the thermo-plastic nature of reality, and the total transformation of the mind all that resembles it. It certainly felt like it to this audience. The hooded figures sing their choral refrain, and all too soon its over.

Well done to all the cast for pulling it out of the bag, on a wing and a prayer to Eris. I get the sense that one of Daisy's kids will be putting on their own Greatest Show on Planet World here around the year 2034. My grandkids can't wait!

Wherever it's staged on November 23rd, this play will be anarchic, funny, illuminating and quite possibly life-changing. Whatever you do, don't miss it. Also, if you can, do please donate any cash in a multiple of 23 to their cause. Pledge via Paypal: cosmictriggerplay@gmail.com if you can't wait until the crowd fund officially launches on April 23rd. Visit www.cosmictriggerplay.com for updates and to sign up to mailing list.

Following an aftershow drink in the lovely Kazimier Gardens, a contingent of us went down to the Jung bust on Mathew Street for a Discordian ceremony. I was made up my Tom Baker Dr Who scarf I'd put up on January 23rd was still there, keeping Carl's neck warm. Fortean writer Cat gave a dedication to Scouse magician John Constantine. Then it was time. Daisy got up on John Higg's back, gave a shout for our success, and put the knickers on the head of Mr Carl Jung - as was prophesised. Special mention to the Jamie Carragher fan who accidently delighted everyone by bringing his large '23' to the party. Of course! This is the home of Scouse synchronicity, after all.

Hail Discordia!

All hail Daisy Eris Campbell!

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