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words and wit of the alchemical bard
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An Interview By James Kent
Before and Beyond History
Gaia, Eros, and the Archaic Revival
Gaia, Psychedelics, and the Archaic Revival
Having Archaic and Eating it Too
Leprechauns, Elves, or Dead Souls?
Making and Unmaking History and Language
Morphogenic Fields and Psychedelic Experiences
Mushrooms, Sex and Society
Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines
Terence McKenna's Trip
The grammar of ecstasy — The world within the word.
(aka This Counts, Somehow it Matters & A Higher Dimensional Section of Reality)
A Better World (Toward The End Of History)
A Conversation with Terence McKenna and Ram Dass
A Necessary Chaos
A report on crop circles with Abraham and Sheldrake
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Day Month 1997 (sessions 1 and 2)
Original partial transcript from Scribd
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It’s a very interesting group of people.
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I can’t imagine uh, a domain of human endeavor that isn’t impacted by the imagination. I mean, teasing the imagination apart from the talking monkey is not an easy thing to do. Imagining ourselves without imagination is itself a paradox. Uh, and yet, you know, what is it? And, and why is it?
If you take the view that uh, biology does nothing in vain and evolutionary economics are incredibly spare then why have this faculty that allows one to command and manipulate realities which do not exist? I mean that’s, to my mind, the basic function of the imagination. Some people might argue and say ‘well the imagination is the coordination of mundane data’ in other words ‘if I work this hard, and earn this much money, can I afford that car?’ To my mind this is not putting great pressure on the human imagination. Uh, the human imagination as I, uh, suppose it is uh, almost an extension of the visual faculty. Uh, imagination is something that one beholds, something that takes- people speak of castles in the air, or something like that. Uh, one idea that is worth entertaining because it is entertaining, not necessarily because it’s the truth, but is the idea [audience cough] that the imagination is actually a kind of window onto realities not present.
In other words, it’s very clear from an evolutionary point of view that our, our body and our sensory preceptors are organized in such a way as to protect us. To, to warn of danger, to give you the muscles to respond to that danger when it comes. The imagination doesn’t seem to work quite like that. If the imagination runs riot in the dimension of the mundane, it’s paranoia. In other words, if you believe every cop on the corner is looking at you, every chance heard comment is about you, the imagination is, in that situation, pathological. It is taking the raw data of experience and giving it, uh, a maladaptive spin.
So then, uh, where is the imagination appropriate? And it seems that it is most appropriate in the domain of human, uh, creativity. That uh, in fact separating art from imagination is simply the, the exercise of separating, uh, cause from effect. Art, sculpture, poetry, painting, dance is like the footprint of where the imagination has been. And you know, the abstract expressionists, Pollock particularly always insisted that a paintaing, a Pollock is not what process is about, the process is about making a Pollock, being Pollock, the act of creation. What the rest of us have been left with is, uh, a husk, a tracing, uh, something left behind which says “Imagination was here, imagination acted in this place," and this is, uh, this is what it left.
A very interesting thing that is going on in physics at the moment is, and I don’t want to spend too much time on this because it is slightly off subject but it certainly is fascinating. The great bridge between art and science that was supposedly built in the 20th century hinged on this thing called the uncertainty principle. Uh, it was the idea that the as you know more and more about things about certain aspects of a system, an atomic system in this case, certain other parts of it lose focus and become less and less clear. For example, if you know velocity you don’t know position. As you hone in on exact position, velocity becomes smeared out. And probably more ink and more breast beating has been shed over this aspect of modern physics than any other. Now, for the great embarrassment of all the people who held workshops, and wrote books, and pontificated on this matter, it appears that this is what it always looked like: fuzzy and confused thinking.
And that, uh, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, or rather the Heisenberg formulation of the quantum theory, uh, is, uh, now not to be preferred. The preferred understanding now is the version of quantum theory formulated by David Bohm. The difference between these two theories mathematically is precisely zero. There is no difference, but they make different assumptions. The reason originally that the Heisenberg formulation was preferred was because it was felt that this uncertainty principle, which was a hard swallow, was not as hard a swallow as the piece of baggage which the Bohm theory carried embedded in it, and that piece of baggage was called “non-locality.”
The two theories produced identical mathematical descriptions of nature, but one had this uncertainty principle in it. The other had built into it “non-locality”. Non-locality is the idea that any two particles that had been associated with each other in the past retain, across space and time, a kind of, uh, connectivity such that if you are- if you change a physical aspect of one of these particles, the law of conservation of parity will cause the other particle to also undergo a change at the exact same moment even though they may by now be separated by millions of lightyears of space and time. This was thought to be so counterintuitive, so preposterous, that the Heisenberg uncertainty principle was, was chosen as the lesser of two evils.
But it turns out over the past ten years, experiments have been done in the laboratory, not thought experiments, actual apparatus experiments, which secure that non-locality actually is real. There is below the ordinary surface of space and time, ruled by relativistic physics there is this strange domain of instantaneous connectivity of all matter, of all phenomena. Uh, it raises the possibility then that the imagination is in fact a kind of, uh, organ of perception. Not an organ of creative, uh, uh, unfoldment, but actually an organ of perception. And what is perceived in the imagination is that which is not local and never can be.
So, uh, I-I myself am up in the air about this, or as you get to know me better I don’t feel the need to believe or disbelieve to proclaim this true or untrue, uh, but it is useful at this stage for understanding, uh, our mental life. Uh, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people and thinking about the origins of consciousness and in one sense asking the question “What is the imagination?” is a different way of asking the same question “What is the origin of consciousness?” Uh, and as some of you know to ex- distraction, I believe that psilocybin mushrooms played the role of kick-starting human evolution. I don’t want to repeat all that, here, it’s been stated many times. But, um, what I want to point out is that we can see in nature, I think, the uh, declension from the full-blown human imaginative capacity back into the organization of the animal mind. We can see these stages through which this must have unfolded.
The interesting animal to look at for all of this, for the moment, are the top carnivores. This is not PC in a vegan environment but thought just has to lead you wherever it leads you. It’s very clear to me that top carnivores coordinate data in the environment, uh very judiciously. Cows have very little to say about grass, but cats, hunting cats have a great deal to say about their diet, because a top carnivore to be successful must in a certain sense think like its prey. And so at the very point of the emergence of these coordinates strategies held in the mind there’s a paradox: the earliest consciousness is consciousness which apes- other consciousness. In other words the top carnivore which is the most successful is the carnivore that can think most like a weasel, or a groundhog, or a rabbit, because this ability to think like the prey gives you a leg up on the prey.
And if you’ve ever seen, not domestic cats, but small jungle hunting cats or jaguars or something like that, in the sudden presence of a chicken a hundred feet away or something they fall into a fit of imagining because they can almost taste it, they probably can taste it. And they fall into uh, a strategic mode that is clearly an intense state of imagining but it is triggered by, uh, the presence of the prey.
What is interesting about human beings is that we went one step beyond that, we s- we, for reasons which don’t need to concern us here, acquired the ability to strategically suppose not in the presence of the stimulus but in fact back in the back of the cave around the fire with our bellies full, telling tall tales. It’s interesting that the imagination is the land of “What if”. And “what if” is almost like a statement in a computer language, “if" is a Boolean operator if you know what I mean, “if” uh, brakes the flow of reality into two possibilities. If A, or B, or more. And, uh, this ability to contemplate worlds which are only
is the basis of imagination.
And I would submit to you since we all are sitting here in monkey bodies that its pretty clear that the stimulus for all this if-thinking comes in two forms, uh, uh, food and sex. In other words we think about what we are going to eat, we construct our behavior along an “if” tree. “If” I go to the water hole, “if” I take my sharpened arrows, “if” I lay in wait, “if” the Gods favor me, I will bring down dinner.
The sexual game is played the same way, “if” I approach the desirable female with the correct offerings, “if” her mood is correct, “if” my gifts are found pleasing then some wonderful thing will follow from all of this. So a- animals I don't think think like this. They may think, but they don’t think like this. It seems to be a unique human ability that, uh, probably has to do with, as I say- in our case there were many different factors. For example, we became the top carnivore on the planet, but who would have placed their bet on- on a monkey to be the top carnivore on the planet? When there were saber-toothed cats walking around that weighed 1,100 pounds. How were we able to insinuate ourselves into a more powerful position than these enormously powerful animals that we once shared the earth with, and that in fact we hunted into extinction. It's our destiny and our fate to have removed the so-called megafauna from this planet. It, it's now generally agreed by paleontologists that the disappearance of the megafauna and the appearance of human-beings are linked in time.
Well, we did this by imitating those carnivores, and imitation is an act of the imagination. We like in our story about ourselves to think of ourselves as bold hunters, but the, the evolutionary truth of the matter is probably that as the first wave of primate radiation into the grassland occurred, as the diet was in transition, we were scavengers of carrion, we were not noble hunters bringing down mighty animals. We followed along behind lions, lion kills. There is one school of evolutionary theory that believes that this is why our olfactory senses are so diminished because, quite frankly, we had our face in rotten meat for a million years, and if that doesn’t dull your appetite for keen smells, uh, nothing will.
Least you despair, I'll tell you that there’s a counter theory that says “no, no we lost our sense of smell when we stood upright because we lifted our face off the ground” In either case, there seems to be the idea that when you get away from the olfactory action the, the uh, energy to support the maintenance of that sense collapses. For whatever reason, uh we made our way to the brink of the imagination, in other words I don’t think we require a
to take ourselves to the position of being top carnivore on the planet.
We have a mean throwing arm, you may notice that no animal throws things the way we do. Uh, other primates hurl excrement down on agonized explorers, but fortunately not with great accuracy, and anyway that particularly material is rarely deadly anyways. But a human being, for example a big-league baseball pitcher can, at 125 miles an hour put a baseball across a 17-inch plate over and over again. One theory of the origin of consciousness wants to say that throwing something is an interesting action- activity because though it may appear to be the same activity as digging grubs, or scratching your ass, or something like that, in fact it requires coordination toward a future outcome that is highly mathematical. In other words, you may not think in numbers but you must somehow sense the concept of trajectory, coordination, of target and intent, and when you get all this up and running, uh, according to some people you have enough brain power left over to write the fifth symphony, invent quantum physics, uh, and paint uh The Last Supper if you like.
This seems preposterous, to me. I think that uh, how the imagination got such a hold on us was that we accepted into our diet catalysts that we were unaware of that pushed our mental state around, uh, specifically psychedelics of various sorts. And a reasonable working definition of psychedelics, what they do, whether your for it or agin it, whether you think it triggers paranoia or, or attoraxia [sp?], They are catalysts for the imagination. They catalyse thought. Thought becomes more baroque, it reaches deeper into reality for data. It sees forms of connectivity that previously escaped it. It makes assumption- leaps of assumption, not always correct, but sometimes correct. So what it does is by, uh, to some degree transferring chaos into the mental world, it creates a much richer dynamic. And um, and so thought processes become more complicated, and in a sense then, uh, language becomes the behavior which expresses the imagination. Uh, i- i- it can be expressed in a limited form, through dance, through gesture, and of course it can be expressed very well through painting if you’ve reached the stage where you have painting and are not chipping rock, or are not drawing in blood in the sand, and stuff like that, if have a really rich, uh, technology behind your artistic intent, uh, but that rich technology would have never arisen without the intercession of language.
And so, these two things which make us unique among nature's productions on this planet, imagination and language, seem to be almost like the exterior and interior manifestation of the same thing, the same phenomenon. And what it is, is it’s a facility with data, an ability to connect it in novel ways, uh, for one's own entertainment and amusement if nothing else. Storytelling is obviously this kind of activity, where modules: a ghost, a princess, a lost kingdom, a, uh, a disturbed father-son relationship, these modules are manipulated to entertain people. And you know it’s a cliché that there are only 5 stories. And I think Robert Grayes in the white Goddess argued that there’s only one story, and we keep telling variants of this story over and over again.
Well, uh the- what history then is, or what culture is, is, um, the- the phenomenon that attends the rise and spread of the imagination in the human species. But because the imagination works on this “what if” model, it always tends toward idealism. In other words, it is not simply a, a networked process, it's a networked process with a vector field. In other words, it’s going somewhere… It’s not just a random walk. It’s headed somewhere. We idealize. If you’re going to play the game “what if”, uh, most people who are psychologically healthy don’t sit around entertaining dire possibilities. What if I get a terrible disease? What if I’m run over by a truck? No, people say “what if I make a lot of money?” or “what if I meet someone who gives me a lot of money?” And it, you know, it begins to tend toward idealism, and we are obviously uh, ruled by ideals and ideas. Uh, we haven’t found a good one yet, but we certainly have sacrificed a lot of blood and time in the process of discovering a whole bunch of bad ideas, and we haven’t lost our faith in ideas even though human history is the record. Not one idea has survived from the distant past, uh, in its original form, uh, and some of the most persistent ideas I would argue are some of the most pernicious ideas. The idea of mans inherent uh, uh, flaw, that’s an old, old idea and how much suffering has existed because of it.
Uh, but culture then is the record of the human imagination. Well, that’s fine. That is of interest to anthropologists and somebody else, who knows. What gives the whole thing a lot of bite is that more and more the imagination is where we spend our time. Uh, you know, there’s a lot of talk these days about virtual reality, a- an immersive state of the art technology in which you put on goggles, and put on special clothing or enter special environments and then you are in artificial worlds created by computers and this is thought to be very woo-woo and far out. But in fact, if you’re paying attention, we’ve been living inside virtual realities for about ten thousand years. I mean what is a city but a complete denial of nature? Say “no, no, not trees, mud holes, waterfalls, and all of that. Straight lines, laid-out roads, class heriarchies reflected in local geography” meaning the rich people live here, surrounded by the not-so-rich people, who are served by the poor people who are so glad they’re no the outcast people. Uh, so uh, you know, urbanization is essentially the first of these impulses where society leaves nature and enters into its own private Idaho. Uh, and the, the growth of cities and the growth of the uh, uh, immediacy I guess you would say, of the urban experience has been a constant of human evolution since urbanization began.
Uh, now, the only difference that the new technologies offer is we are going to do this with light, not mortar, brick, steel, aluminum, and titanium, which are incredibly intractable materials. I mean, it's- it's amazing to me, I mean we started with the toughest stuff and uh, and of course it cost enormous amounts of human blood and treasure to work with such intractable materials. It’s always been amazing to me that the largest buildings human beings ever built are in a sense the first buildings human being ever built because the first pyramids of Egypt are enormous, even by modern scale, and yet they were among the earliest buildings, uh, ever built. In virtual reality, the difference between a hundred story building, and a 10 story building, is one zero, that’s all, in a line of code. You specify a hundred over ten and you get a hundred story building instead of a ten story building.
Uh, what this should tell us, is that in the domain of light, the intractability of matter is overcome. And so we are on the bring of time, we are- we have arrived, we are
the time where they human imagination now need meet no barrier to its intent. And so we are going to find out who we are. We are going to discover what it means to be human when there is no resistance to human will.
Now, uh, I, this is, I suppose, like a litmus test for paranoia. I- is this going to be a nightmare of, you know, 24-hour a day sadomasochistic pornography or is it going to be- will we literally build heaven on earth? Knowing what I know about the human animal, I suspect it will be both and, uh, because we’re not going to get everybody marching in the same direction on this. And one person's hell is another person's heaven. Uh, but, the imagination, which to this point has been a human faculty, and uh, the consolation of artists is about to turn into real-estate. You know, as real as any real-estate there is.
And uh, in a way I think the, the shamans who, for the past 50,000 years have been, uh, essentially they leapt over the material phase of imagination engineering and went to nanotechnology 25, 30 thousand years ago. By nanotechnology I mean reliance on machines to achieve your goal, machines that are under one nanometer in size, smaller than a billionth of an inch. They- we don’t think of drug molecules as machines, but in fact they are machines. They perform work in the synapse like machines. Shamanism didn’t use matter to build its realities, it, it was more sophisticated than that. It directly addressed the capacity of the human mind in the presence of unusual neurochemicals to produce unusual, uh, phenomenon and unusual, uh, sensoria of experience.
Now what’s happening is these two strains of development, the let's call it pharmacological, nano-technological low-tech, natural, shamanic path and the high-tech, material-manipulating, macro-physical technologies are encountering each other and meeting in the domain of the modern computer. And, uh, this is fascinating. The world is becoming more and more defined by the imagination. And those of us who are involved in, in creating this I think have the feeling that it has in it a kind of built-in dynamic toward finality. In other words, this is not a process than can go on for hundreds of thousands, or even hundreds of years. Because the human imagination is so endlessly self-transcending, whatever its most advanced creation of the moment is, it’s in the process of obviating and denying it, and seeking to go beyond it.
And you know I think it was Plato, I’m not sure he said it first, but said “If God does not exist, human beings will create God.” I think the truth is that they’re not even going to wait to find out, it's easier to cut to the technical solution and sort the whole thing out later. If the God we make and the God we find are in conflict with each other they’ll just have to duke it out. [audience laugher] Maybe they’ll Marduke it out. I’m not sure. Because you know there’s a wonderful phrase in Mistrings and Mysteries a wonderful book by Mircea Eliade where he’s talking about powered flight, of all things. The Wright brothers. He said “Whatever we make of this as an engineering feat, it speaks volumes about the humans psyche desire to transcend itself infinitely”
And so, you know, in a sense the powered flight is a psychological breakthrough. Because man flies. Well then spacecraft, we break beyond the embrace of gravity and these, these technological breakthrough are always presented terms of overcoming some set of boundary constraints imposed by nature. And in virtual reality, all boundary constraints are overcome by nature just as in the imagination, but the imagination, metabolically sustained, in other words you eat well then you smoke a lot of hash then you enter into an imaginative reality. But as metabolism ebbs and flows, as your food digests, as the drugs leave your system, uh, this reality, whatever it is, falls to pieces and it is washed away.
Uh, but the reality, the virtual realities created in code are more enduring, they are in fact as enduring as the code-maker. And so we’re beginning to talk in terms of dreams which don’t go away. Worlds of the imagination which one can work on for months, and then lead one's critics through and collect their critiques and make the connections and dot the I’s and cross the T’s according to the way one's critics and friends think it should be done. And so what this means is somehow the imagination always, among the most private of domains, is like everything else under the impact of the new technologies, being redefined so that there is no private and public distinction anymore. So we are on the brink of losing, in a sense, a part of our individuality. We are going to be able to show each other what we mean, we are going to be able to build hallucinations, and walk through them, and discuss them, and edit them, and re-edit them.
And I, you know, to this point we’ve been doing psychology sort of like a blind man polishing a Cadillac in total darkness. You know, if you keep excellent notes and don’t lose your place you form a kind of a notion of what a Cadillac must be. But what we’re about to do is turn on the fluorescent lighting and look at the thing. And I don’t know what this will bring. I think it will redefine us. We are a great mystery to ourselves and to each other, but not in principle. Only through limitations imposed by the physical body and limitations of technology. And so I think, you know, what our yearning for community, for collectivity, for telepathy, for universal human understanding is in a sense going to be self-fulfilled by simply opening up the imagination, not as a private dimension, but as a public and shared dimension.
And this will be, I think, incredibly enriching and surprising. We are going to find out, uh, what the human critter really is, and what we are really capable of. And I- I'm not afraid of this at all because I- I think, uh, well basically I am a Platonist, and Plato identified the good, and the true, and the beautiful as the same thing. But notice it’s very hard to know what is good, and its quite difficult, even more difficult to know what is true. But it is intuitively understood what is beautiful, so beauty is the easy way in. Beauty leads to the good and the true.
And we are on the brink, I think, of taking a stride towards beauty that is the greatest stride in that direction since the emergence of language in the human species. And the emergence of language in the human species was the first shoe dropping in this enterprise, and the building of virtual realities that can be shared and critiqued and understood is the dropping of the second shoe. A true civilization lives in its own imagination and lives through its imagination. And when, uh, when this is an accessible possibility to most people I think a great deal of our inhumanity will simply fall away from us, because it is not inherent. It is the product of misapprehension. Misapprehension of each others goals, and intent, and aesthetic.
So, uh, I think that’s all I have to say about that tonight. I get spun into it and I can’t stop, I don’t know whether I am talking to you or to me!
But uh, uh, this is some of what we’ll talk about this weekend, this may be the longest sch- uninterrupted schpiel you hear from me. As I said, these things are best driven when people inject their agenda into it. But these are the things I’m thinking about, history feels very risky to a lot of people. I think there- that it is risky, but I think that it is because the stakes are so high. We really have an opportunity to transcend ourselves, and to fulfill the human enterprise on this planet. And, uh, you know I- I'm just so aware of the limitations of the people of the past. Their agonies, their concerns. I mean, how many children died- were born stillborn, how many women died at childbirth. Nine times in the last five million years the glaciers have ground south from the poles, pushing everything in their path. Those people didn’t drop the ball. Uh, the amount of human suffering and agony that has gone in to carrying us to this moment of privilege and opportunity is incalculable and can only be redeemed if we bring this inherent human beauty uh, into the world as spiritual food for ourselves and for the human community.
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So that’s it for this evening, I see I ran over a little bit. We’ll talk about all of this tomorrow, or something else if that’s your agenda.
We talked a little bit about the imagination last night just to give a sort of a feeling for the vocabulary of the territory. If there’s anything coming out of that anybody wants to say or that, yeah:
(Question in regards to the emerging language and imagination in developing humans and how the concept of music fits into that paradigm, if he thinks it adds a specific human quality to the development of language)
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Well it’s very interesting, I I-I am working on a book now. A lot of it is about the subject of language. It’s a little hard to talk about it in English, because in English the word 'language' both means the general linguistic facility and it also is heard as meaning “speech”. And as I looked into language and studied it and studied what other people had said about it, I- I- there were some surprises. The, the first surprise is that the, the straight people in the field, the- what is taught in the academy is that language is no more than 35,000 years old. This is- was astonishing to me. Uh, I just for some reason, my own intellectual biases, assumed that the conservative academic position would be that spoken language is old, because it seems so basically a part of us. How can it have arrived 35,000 years ago? That makes it something as artificial as like a bicycle pump or a transistor radio.
Well, the problem here is that this word language is misheard in English, so in writing this new book I had to make a very clear distinction: language is old. Honeybees do it, dolphins do it. It’s even possible when you think of chemical communication that flowers and ants do it. Nature is knit together by communication which has rules, has syntax, and so is language. If you’ve ever stood in a, in a rainforest or any species-dense environment it's alive with signals, with sounds, with odors, uh, that are carrying messages. These things are not just produced for aesthetic effect uh, they are- have intended hearers and so forth and so on.
But- and language in human beings is old because we know that we evolved from pack hunting primates, socialized primates, that had, as we observe the behavior of primates alive in the world today, very complex repertoires of signals. Signals which mean “dive for cover, an eagle is cruising the area,” or “here is food, enough for a dozen of us”, and so forth, complex pack signaling. Uh what happened, and I- it was the greatest technological leap we’ve ever made, and in some ways the cleanest and most astonishing. It’s almost like a resonance- remember I mentioned last night how strange it was that the largest buildings people ever built were the first buildings they ever built. Well, the greatest technological revolution, so far, ever launched by human beings was in a sense the f- this early one, I won’t call it the first because there was tool making before that, there was fire before that, but somewhere in Africa, no less than 40,000 years ago. And this- this means a time when human beings who looked like you and I, maybe a little pigmentation differential, but basically people exactly like you and I had already radiated all over the planet. I mean, by 40,000 years ago nobody argues that people weren’t everywhere. Recent finds in Australia have pushed back the date of aboriginal penetration into Australia into 120,000 years. And that’s not woo-woo, that Wollongong University department of archeologies stuff.
Uh, 120,000 years, so people were all over the world. Well, did they communicate? They certainly did communicate. They communicated with dance, with gesture, and, leading back to your question with music. They communicated, uh, in all kinds of ways. But we now know from the study of the introduction of media that if, if a medium of sufficient power and bandwidth is introduced into a population, it will abandon all previous forms of media in favor of this. We saw this in America after World War II when a print literate society within a decade became a television society. Uh, we are seeing it now where in the face of 5 years the internet goes from being “say what?” to indispensable for huge numbers of people, and that’s in the space of 5 years.
Someone in Africa, probably loaded, experimenting with singing and chanting and sound, had the- was lifted out of their plane, in other words they actually had a breakthrough in the imagination, and they said “how would it be IF?” this amazing word, the power of 'if', how would it be if we decided that a certain sound is associated with a certain thing? And let's play a little game, every time I make this sound, you think of this thing, and lets a make a little list. Let's take 5 sounds and assign them to 5 common things, and now I’ll make the sound and you think the thing. Well, behind all this is the, the organizational architecture of the human organism, which on to a game such as that, will effortlessly lay what is called syntax. Uh, and Chomsky and others have shown that this- that what is called the tools of transformational grammar, or the deep structures of language are genetic. Uh, all languages, in order to be intelligible, have to obey these rules. A language which does not obey these rules is not a language, is not intelligible.
Uh, so through a breakthrough in imagination, a kind of stepping sideways from the, by then, old enterprise of entertaining each other with funny mouth noises, uh, language was produced, probably, I mean, literally at a definable moment in space and time. A person, you know, the mother or father of all media discovered utterance, and it- it was like an intellectual virus spreading through the population. And moving as quickly as human beings could carry it because it was a superior form of media. Before communication had been, I imagine, highly slanted toward emotional states and time-bounded states. You know, you go up to somebody, you take hold of them, you look at them and they understand, uh, we’re either going to go hunting, or we’re going to go have sex [audience chuckles] and it will be spelled out in just the next little while, that kind of thing.
And this kind of communication was the- a sufficiently vicious social glue to hold small hunting-gathering groups together. As society complexifies and spreads out through space and time, uh, it either loses its coherency or it evolves methods of communication to keep it in touch with itself. I am not a linguist. I read a lot of this linguistic literature without really understanding it, but I know that the people who give their lives to this believe that they can extrapolate the rules of spoken language of the Indo-European, uh modern European languages to reason backward toward a language that was spoken twelve to ten thousand years ago called “Indo-European” or “Proto-Indo European” And this was thought to be, you know, the great achievement of linguistics as of fifteen or twenty years ago. Now a new generation of people have pushed it further back. There is a language called Nostradic, which is a language that was spoken on the Anatolian Plateau and across Europe fifteen to twenty-five thousand years ago.
Now, people like Chevroskin at Stanford, and uh, this is-was all done by Russians by the way. The Russians hold the high ground in linguistics by the way, it was Russian, it was Russian insights that cracked the Mayan language too. But Chevroskin and his people are now talking about a language called Old World, and Old World is the first language ever spoken on this planet by higher primates. Beyond “Old World”, there is inarticulate silence. And “Old World” is a 35,000 year old language. Uh, how can we know such things? we have to push into the linguistic literature and you’re a better man than I am [unintelligable]. There are websites you can go to where people speak in Old World and you can hear what it sounded like. And, um, sounds like a bunch of really primitive people. [Terence laughs]
Q: Terence, how do we know that we really evolved this language [???]
TM: This is funny, this is a really interesting area, you know one of my sub-themes is novelty and that supposedly reality becomes more novel as we approach the present and this is certainly true of biology and many, many phenomenon. But there is an important exception, so I’m told. I’m not yet entirely convinced of this yet but convinced enough to pass it on. And that is, though this obviously contains a paradox, language is seen to be more complicated as you go back in time. S- a, uh, structurally and in number of words, so that for instance, um, Old English in considerably richer in certain areas than, uh, modern English. Now I say probably what’s happening is that technical vocabularies are keeping the boat roughly, uh, at equilibrium. But, you know, for- for every 'widget' word, a word describing some subset of our technology, if we’re losing words that indicate emotional nuances, or nuances of rapport and understanding, then the language is being, uh, impoverished.
Most scholars of English believe that, you know, Shakespeare caught the wave. Shakespeare is not only a phenomenon of- of immense human genius focused in one person but it's also a moment of incredible linguistic richness and opportunity that didn’t exist 200 [audience cough] years before and didn’t survive 200 years after.
Q: [???](Inaudible, question referencing to language)
Well those are I guess what you would call “Locally indexed vocabularies” but we have non-local vocabularies which are the important ones, the ones where we address our humanness. To suggest that one group of people have more words for sex or for affection than another people, that’s a tremendous knock on the 2nd group.
In a sense we are saying that they are less human.
Well, but as I lay in the tubs at Esalen a vast vocabulary of subtle gradients of interpersonal states of angst, longing, need, rejection, triumph, and defeat are passed in front of me, and frankly and I’d rather read my manual on my hard-disk sometimes. [audience & Terence laugh] But I’m a tough nut to, to crack. Um, but this does lead on to- to an aspect of all this that I wanted to talk about. Which is, language is, I’m sure you've heard, I'm sure you've heard it said- it’s a double-edged sword because it liberates as it saves. All clarity is achieved by a sacrifice of, um, true identity. You know, the world is actually a messy and difficult to articulate place, and if you can make it all seem very simple and smooth-running then you’re a con-artist of some sort. Yeah-
Q: As always, as soon as I speak, I already lie.
TM: Yes, well one group of linguists suggest probably the big impulse of producing language originally was the wish to lie. They said “if only I could…deceive people more!” And I always, you know, along this line, the wonderful thing which Winston Churchill said at the height of World War II, he said “truth is so precious that she must always be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies” [audience chuckles] That’s an interesting point of view, the truth is not something that you trot out and show everybody, that you, you surround truth with lies so that only the discerning, you know. We- we simple, straightforward plain dealers don’t think like that, but believe me when you get with an Amazonian shaman or someone like that, he is not operating under a strong moral obligation to tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as quickly as he possibly can. No it’s all about, you know, leading you this way, and then dropping you and watching you wiggle. Then leading you another way and eventually because truth is guarded. This is- in our society the commodification of information has made it something that you want to deliver with maximum punch to its target audience as fast as possible and cash the check and get out. But tha- that is not [clears throat] traditionally how its done.
Q: [Commentary, inaudible]
That’s right, that’s right. It divides the seamlessness of reality into the articulated and the unarticulated. Trumbole Stichnine, who’s not exactly a household name, was one of those poets who died in the trenches of World War I, the golden generation, and uh he wrote a poem called “Meaning's Edge”. And he said in that poem “I do not understand you, ‘tis because I lean over your meaning's edge, and feel the dizziness of the things that you have not said”. And it’s that “the dizziness of things unsaid” that always surrounds, uh, uh, the enterprise of communication, especially spoken language.
Now to go back to this thing about the evolution of language and technology, and are we getting better or worse at it, communication. Um, I discern at least, if you look at the evolution of media, the way you would look at the evolution of a species or a group of genera in an organic situation, a, uh, a very pronounced preference for the visual. We- you know, from the simply, the idea of colorful and rich speech, which was all we had for a long time, gives way in the early 19th century to photography and it's still, and its black and white. But immediately the people who invent it can think of nothing but color and motion. And by 1900 they got that under control, and there’s stuff like stereophonic sound, and on and on. Clearly we view the language forming enterprise as a task not yet brought to completion.
One of the things that seems to always come up in these things is the fact that so-called primitive or aboriginal or pre-literate people using psychedelic plants that, uh, melt local cultural conditioning seem to access a place where language is much more a visual enterprise. Uh, Ayahuasca circles sing, but the singing is critiqued as though it were pictorial activity. In other words, the- after the shaman stop singing, you hear people say “I liked the part with the orange spots, I though the olive drab magenta section was self-indulgent” something like that (audience laughter) And you think, you know, this is the critique of a song? No, the song is the sound, is the carrier, the acoustical wave is no longer in the foreground of the experience of appreciating the performance. It has become the carrier of something visible.
And uh, you know, lot of people think that somewhere in the human future lies telepathy. And it's usually imagined as “You hear what I think” uh, a kind of extension of- of what we have. I think it’s more likely to develop along the lines of “You see what I mean” Uh, in other words we add dimensionality to language, uh, and we can then walk around it. I touched on some of this last night with the virtual reality. Because virtual reality, in the service of the ideals that I’m interested in would become a technology for showing each other the contents of our imagination with less ambiguity than we have ever had before. Yeah.
Well, I suppose every technology has created more opportunity for deception. Uh, you can’t have complex, illusionistic realities unless you work in pictorial space. Yes I don’t think these technologies will reform, uh, the human character, also I’m not sure- subterfuge is a major part of art, it certainly is a major part of- of legerdemain. Every sentence is essentially a conjuration, and, you know, the rabbit of meaning is pulled out of, uh the hat of constructive syntax. So, uh, you- you cannot have, uh, truth unless you allow for the possibility of error. You know, this is the point that illuminates why predestination is a waste of time.
Predestination is the idea that the universe is a kind of film and its running, and its all determined how it's going to come out, and there’s nothing anybody or anything can do to affect it. God created it and its unfolding. Well the- uh [clears throat] the thing that makes predestination theory worthless in my estimation is: notice that if that’s true, then you think what you think because you can’t think anything else and that puts the enterprise of seeking truth in a preposterous position. In order to seek truth one must have the option of screwing up, and uh, then it’s the dichotomy between the screwing up and finding truth that creates the sense of dynamic, uh, existential completion.
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A lot of people are eager to do that, you don’t want to rush that move. I think anybody who has thought about it, or taken a lot of LSD, so forth and so on, comes to the conclusion that the highest truth resides in silence. But it’s a bullet in the head for conversation. Having genuflected in that direction we then move back to the lower plane of rummaging in language.
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TM: Well this is now at the cutting edge. I mean, yes, yes, and yes. Sound is the 4th dimension. Uh, sound is a very effective way of transducing energy into the body. The body is virtually transparent to sound. Uh, the mushroom said to me once, apropos of absolutely nothing, it said uh “What you call, uh, man we call time”
And time and metabolism- metabolism is permitted by time and somehow time is caused by metabolism. And then sound is in there as an energy transducer. And, uh yes, I think a future technology of- of sound probably will cure disease and set people right. A-all this business that goes on in shamanism with blowing on the body and projecting sound into the body, obviously some of it is misunderstood and marginal and showmanship. But at the core, uh, sound is, I think, not yet been given its complete role in all of this.
The fact that you can see sound, uh, under certain conditions. You know there, there's a phenomenon called “sonoluminescence” that creates temperatures that are 20 times greater than the surface of the sun. This is done in a test tube simply by using acoustical waves and bubbling fluid to collapse and create extremely brief high-pressure states. Um, so sonoluminescence, there’s a website you can visit…isn’t there always? Yeah, Al.
I guess what I’m sort of saying is, once you have the concept of, of nano-technology you see that drugs and prosthesis, or computers or tools, are- are categorically migrating toward each other. You probably heard me say, uh, you know “the only difference between computers and drugs is that one is too large to swallow”. And- and our best people are working on that very problem. [audience chuckles] So yeah, I th- I think that from the middle of the 19th century on without really much drugs to help them along, I mean, a little ether, a little hashish, uh, poets and artists in Europe were obsessed with synesthesia.
Uh, there’s a wonderful New Yorker cartoon, maybe you saw it, that a bunch of guys in suits are sitting around what is obviously a corporate board room, and in the background there is a profit and loss chart and it’s clearly headed into Hell, and the chairman of the board is saying to a small smiling man sitting on the other side of the table “You’re right Higgins, a deliberate disordering of the senses worked for Ramboe, but would it work for us?” [Terence laughs] So his is a reference to a symbolist poet of the 19th century and, uh, and the belief that we need to erase the boundaries of the senses, and create a synesthesiac, a hallucinogenic, a psychedelic, if you will, reality.
I mean, the late 19th century, the pre-Raphaelized(?), the Eugen---[??] impulse, that was all like they could smell psychedelics in the air of the future. They couldn’t quite get high, but they were definitely bird-dogging in the right direction. So, yeah, the trick if we’re going to design our own states of mind is to make sure that we don’t dump the baby out with the bathwater. We want the net to be as haunted as possible, we don’t want to lose the atavistic connections back into the darker resources- recesses and resources of uh, of the unconscious.
That why Bill Gibson’s novel “ Neuromancer” is so prescient because here it is, this super-technological fantasy, but at the center of the net, the Gods of voodoo are reappearing. And, uh, I- I came to the realization thinking about the internet. uh, you know The Other is within us. If the other if it finally, if ever, comes into full manifestation it won’t come in mile-wide ships of titanium that position themselves over the secretariat building of the U.N. It won’t come like that. It will come out of human hands and human dreams. It will be fully other. I am not copping out here, it will be fully other, but it can only be built through us. This address is what I was beginning to get at last night when I talked about non-local information.The alien is real, but the alien is not 'here' in the stupid sense. The alien can only manifest itself through us, but this probably means that given a sufficiently resilient technology it can manifest completely through us. So, uh, in a sense the internet is a kind of landing pad, there has always been in our fantasies of extraterrestrial contact the notion of “the pad” which has to be built for them.
And people claim is the Nazca lines and all- you know. It’s an archetype, it’s the idea of the prepared space that awaits the arrival of the other. But now because of the nature of the internet, because you can’t see whose coding, uh, you can almost imagine that we’re calling the thing forth. And I think it will probably appear as a website. And uh, you know, when it’s sorted out, you’ll realize “My God
is really coming from Zeta Reticulae!” But through, through virtual, through uh, non-local Bohmian space. Yeah.
TM: It’s totally separate in the sense that it’s totally somewhere else in the universe and evolving complete along its own lines and not in any way under our control. Then you turn the coin over and the division between it and us is completely seamless because of the non-local nature of information. In other words, this is an incredibly powerful idea, if true. I mean it will make a revolution in psychology that few people have yet even sensed coming. What we’re talking about here is putting the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious- first, expanding it to the size of the cosmos, and then showing with physics exactly how the trick is done. So we are not separate from any place.
Obviously when you evolve inside an animal body localized in space and time, you get hellacious set of reflexes and muscles designed to deal with immediate threat in the environment. At the core of the oyster is this portal into universalism which we have denigrated to what we call the imagination. Uh, it is a pre- it is- there is a third eye, the third eye exists, but it doesn’t look out at this world. You’ve got two perfectly good eyes for doing that. The third eye looks out at the holographic matrix of informational totality. And then the problem for that form of perception is, um, filtering.
Q: Would you say in another [???]
TM: Well Atman means “soul” or “being”. Yes. It’s simply that yes, consciousness is distributed and holographic and nobody has their brand on it. What we have been calling 'human consciousness' is the only consciousness there is. Uh, it’s something that you tap into, not something that you evolve out of yourself. I mean, you require a local language to create a local model of this universal input. If your local language is insufficient then you abide in a, in a domain of intuition and I would- that’s what I would call animal consciousness. It’s a domain of intuition of being. Animals intuit being. But given a more advanced nervous system, a more advanced cultural toolkit, uh, the intuition changes into a- a direct perception and you begin to make poetry and experience loss and feel love. And, and you begin to feel the emotional outlines of the enterprise of being and how far one can go into that. Uh, I assume its infinite, or at least appears infinite from our limited position.
Q: So the local language is?
TM: The local language is a necessary compromise. It’s interesting, uh, the thing that makes psychedelics so central to a discussion like this is that they are the only thing which pulls the plug on the illusion, the illusion created by local language. That’s why people are both in love with it and terrified of it because it addresses a fundamental aspect of reality and it addresses it incontrovertibly. And people who feel culture as a safety zone that is keeping at bay the black oceans of God knows what are not interested in taking psychedelics. On the other hand, people who feel confined by the cultural dream and who want to cross the black oceans of who knows what to see what’s on the other side, they embrace that same experience as a God sent gift, but it’s the same phenomenon.
So it, it, it addresses, you know, one's own fundamental relationship to the unknown. Local languages, like local cultures and architectural styles, and everything else are designed to create, I think, uh, a, a- an infantile sense of security. One of the bees up my rear end these days is idea that culture is not, uh, our friend, that we have been very naïve about uh, about what culture is and how it is something designed for the convenience of the species. And, you know, it could turn you into a janitor, or a banker, or a celebrity, or anything else with no interest or concern for whether that’s good for you. Uh, it plays with individuals and, uh, you know, most people think, or at least I
most people think that when you get to be, 30 or 35 or 40 or something you have jumped all the hurdles. You got your college degree, you had some children, you made some money, you lost some money, maybe you had a marriage, maybe you had several, and anyway people sort of get the feeling “Well, I've- I’ve done it” Actually, the major adventure still lies ahead and the major adventure is to claim your authentic true being which is not culturally given to you. The culture will not explain to you how to be a real human being. It will tell you how to be banker, politician, Indian chief, masseuse, actress, whatever, but it will not give you true being.
And uh- maybe this is the voice somebody who just turned 50 talking, but uh, I thought it would get simpler. It doesn’t because this rejection of culture thing, uh, is the last and hardest step to take. And there are all kinds of impediments to taking it. The fact that in middle age if you’ve played the game right, you get a lot of money. That’s totally stultifying in most cases in terms of going forward to the next level, it’s almost as though culture is an enterprise self-organized to buy you off at the moment when you might be most dangerous to its values and goals.
Q: ...trying to reach harmony [???]
You know in revelations, the ancient of days is described as, there’s a sword which comes out of the mouth, it’s a very hard image to picture. But a sword, a turning sword which comes out the mouth. Uh, and of course the whole Western myth of creation, the world was made by an utterance in Principio ad verbum et verbum caro factum est. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was made flesh”
And some sense, I think, what is not stated there, is that then out of the flesh the word must be re-distilled. That’s the 2nd half of the historical process. In this book, which I may mention at some point, the statement is made “God created man in order to taste the bitter fruit of time.”
In the DMT flash, the entities that appear, their entire program is a program of language acquisition. And you know, this is a point that is brushed over in science fiction films because its actually such a conundrum. Those of you who saw, and you suffered as I did, uh, Mars Attacks. The little role for Rod Steiger as the German guy with the translation machine.
Well, if you think about alien contact, real alien contact, we can not assume that universal understanding is easily achieved. The very first aspect of true alien contact would probably be a language lesson of some sort because the aliens don’t want to communicate about our Gross National Product or our political system, if they do they’re not really aliens, they're just odd looking people from far away. Real aliens have something really alien to communicate, and it can only be communicated in an alien language.
So I think it’s very suggestive that these invisible entities that we contact when we dissolve the local language boundaries, and they are, they’re like mud walls built around our little hut of mental, you know, our collection of boats and stuff that we’ve pushed together. And we’ve dissolved the walls and there’s alien people, there’s alien minds out there waiting to trade with us. They have probably always been trading with individual geniuses through dream, through insight, through imagination.
I mean many of- if you’ve read Thomas Koon’s book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” you know that even in as constipated and self-conscious an enterprise as science, the real breakthroughs occur in situations of delirium, frenzy, drunkenness, inspiration, and then guys- usually its guys- spend the whole rest of their professional lives trying to make it sound reasonable and rational and how it preceded from earlier work done by other people and so forth and so on. This is just a kind of a fancy, a way of attaining respectability.
Q: (Question/commentary about sound relating it to yoga)
Well yeah, Hinduism and Hebrew, those are the two biggies, have really elaborate theories about the power and the place in the universal scheme things of certain tones, and I was sitting I was thinking “Sufi” and I was also thinking “Pythagorean”. I mean some people called this the Pythagorean impulse, that basically the universe is harmonious and exists as a series of octaves, and that if you know the mechanics of this you can converse with angels, you can ascend to higher levels. Uh, yes again, it’s an issue of language. Some languages fill your pockets with lead and some languages, you know, give you a helium balloon for plunging into these metaphysical areas.
Uh, one thing I wanted to talk about this morning and maybe this is the place to get into it, we’ve spoken of the imagination as a seemingly boundless realm, but it’s not ruleless. People who encounter it without rules often have very difficult experiences, the most difficult of which can be raving madness, I’d think. So if we’re going to embrace the imagination as the new benchmark of uh, of being, then we need to talk about what the rules are the obtain in the imagination. You know, the 14th-century Nomnalist William of Occam dealt with question like “Can God do anything? Yes, God can do anything. Then can God make a rock so heavy that God can’t pick it up?” and then if not, why not? And what does this mean? Well, this is an effort to tame the imagination, and Occam concluded from exercises like that that even God must follow the rules of logical necessity.
Otherwise becoming trapped in self-negating uh, paradox.
So I, in thinking about this I listed three areas where rules might be gleaned, that could be applied to the imagination. The first two are linked somehow, uh, mathematics. Mathematics is not what you think it is. It is basically a rational thinking about defined sets of entities. Since the imagination is nothing but defined sets of entities, the rules which govern them uh, are worth learning. In practical terms what this comes down to is logic, and one of the problems that haunts the current cultural impasse is the fact that there is a lot of hostility to science. It has spilled o- and science we should be very suspicious of. It’s a wonder-worker. It’s a magician dealing its wares in the marketplace. So we should be suspicious of science, but this scientistic paranoia has spilled over into a suspicion of reason. This is too much.
If you abandon reason you will have nothing to guide you but the emotional depth of the situation. This is what Heidegger called “the depth of the call” In the 20th century, the history of following the depth of the call has not been a happy one. We can not trust the call of the blood uncritiqued by reason. Reason is primary in this situation. Well, so then many people say “Mathematics is impossible, logic is a difficult one, isn’t there a third possibility, is there yet another way to get a handle on this?” and the answer is yes, but I’m not sure its easier.
It may seem at first easier, but that is uh, aesthetics. The imagination uh, must serve the ideal of the beautiful, I talked about this a little bit last night. Uh the, the uh, that which is tasteless is to be avoided at all costs, and ninety percent of the difficulty in your intellectual life would never have happened if you had just had better taste.
TM: Am I not right? You know? Uh, uh, I, I look at this 'Heaven's Gate' thing in amazement because of its tastelessness, that’s all. It is utterly unappealing for that reason. I don’t even have to reach for the club of logic. Uh, if it had been better scripted uh, I might need logic, but the aesthetics of the situation are just so overwhelmingly “ugh”. But-
Q: What's Heaven's Gate?
TM: the suicide cult that eliminated itself in San Diego.
TM: Oh I thought you were going to say French people [audience laughter]
(In regards to technology and class struggle)
Well, usually I mean, usually when people ask me what will happen in 2012, I say “Its like asking a man facing east at 2AM ‘what will the sunrise look like?’” In other words, its too early to ask.
Well, I think that, A, I don’t have an answer to the problem of the bully and the slave, unless, as the Marxists claim, that is inimical to disparity of wealth. Because I think disparity of wealth is a transient phenomenon, uh, based on a limited technology, but it is entirely possible that we can make everyone a king and we will still have bullies and uh, slaves. So if the Marxists are wrong, and the addressing of the economic disparity doesn’t change the human soul then uh, we will have to go deeper. And I don’t know how this is going to look, there’s a lot of tension in any community that discusses this kind of stuff over what- where the body lies in all of this.
Can we solve our problems and maintain our individual existences, or are we about to- are we in fact furiously building a level of hierarchical control above the level of the individual that, that will make things like states and corporations seem like pale soup indeed. Are we in fact trying to create a super organism? What is the relationship of an idea like that to classic fascism?
TM: What about the internet? Is it the coming of the superorganism? It is prosthesis on an incredible scale, it is going to define, to redefine what it is to be human. I, I think technologies are neither Gods nor demons, it’s what you do with it. The dilemma of human freedom is that we don’t know, we don't know where we rest in the universal hierarchy of good and evil. In other words, what would we do if we could do anything? Would our transcendent impulses drive us to a kind of angelhood, or as James Joyce says would we flop on the “sceney” side. And the answer is “some would do one, and some the other” Yes, but what if we erase that possibility of individual action and is there then only one destiny? And then what shall it be, and who shall decide? I would be fairly pessimistic if I saw this all going on on a level playing field. But it isn't all going on on a level playing field. Transcendence is favored, nature seems to be in the business of building systems which transcend themselves. We can see that as far back into time as we care to look and throughout all of nature. It seems like we actually have a hell of a tail wind helping us toward the transcendent other. Probably that is what will make the difference, we couldn’t have done it by ourselves, but we happen to be in a universe which is itself involved in the process of bootstrapping to higher levels.
TM: Traditionally, meaning since the invention of print, the artist has had this role where the eccentricity and the Bohemnian lifestyle of the artist was tolerated because the argument was that the artist is a kind of antennae for this mysterious thing called “the future” and the artist would sound the alarm and bring the news. In a sense we don’t hear this kind of talk anymore because this is the future. You know, have become the very thing our parents have warned us against. Uh, we d- we those cheerful dreams of endless progressivism that built up the 19th century and early 20th century have given way to a much more cynical and sophisticated understanding that our buildings may become taller, our automobiles shinier, but somehow the human animal is not moving forward uh, at the same rate as our technology.
Uh, so what we have to do then is to give people opportunities, and let the devil take the hindmost. At least create a world where those who aspire to transcendence are not blocked in the aspiration. And of course it's not, it’s not that some of us are these pure aspirants and the others, the haunters of the sleazy side of the internet. We each a play all these roles and move in between them according to taste and mood.
I mean one of the great falsities of print is the making illegitimate of schizophrenia. I mean we are all just swarms of personalities. The ideas that the healthy person has a unified identity is just a silly idea. It’s like believing that sexual preference comes in only two flavors or something. It’s one of those incredibly weird simplifications that once made everybody lines up and salutes no matter how much agony it causes at the individuals.
TM: You mean what I said a few minutes ago or last night? Well last night what I said was that I was a Platonist, and that Plato felt that the world was approached through three paths: the good, the true, and the beautiful. But that goodness is controversial, and truth difficult to discern, but that beauty has a kind of resonant self-evidence.
And so following beauty, it’s my faith, will lead to the good and the true. And some beauty is- I mean I’m a fan of extreme forms of beauty, Hieronimous Bosch, and Redon, and James Ensor, I mean the beautiful can be grotesque, I mean this then opens up a whole aesthetic can of worms that we don’t want to get into.
TM: Well, beautiful art is never bad.
TM: I think that the beauty of the grotesque is the unique modern contribution to the discussion of beauty. I mean it’s a higher form of perception, I mean its all very fine to find beauty in a wildflowers and women dancing in diaphanous dresses and harpsichord music. I mean it’s quite another to find beauty in ripped-up railway tickets, and found objects, and smashed machinery and, and that sort of thing. The modern sensibility has been un-sentimental and has in that sense advanced the cannon of beauty. Modernity I’m feeling much better about now that it’s over [audience laughter]. It’s such a huge enterprise to look back on. What faith, what simplicity, what naivaite those people possessed. I can hardly get over it.
The 20th century for all of its brutality and it's flirtation with the dark-side of the human soul, the counterpoint to that was its incredible optimist and idealism and simplicity. I mean, the simplicity of Fascism, the simplicity of Marxism, the simplicity of democratic political theory. These are ideologies that clearly never met a human being
(How do you reconcile the notion of…inaudible)
Well the idea of an attractor, you see…these huge thought structures that we live inside, that we’re not even aware of, and one of them is the idea that…causes precede their effect. We- this seems like a non-statement to most people, of course causes precede effects. But in fact, uh, processes- if causes always preceded effects than many, many processes would be unpredictable, but are in fact predictable and this has to do with this word we introduced last night briefly: The creode. The runnel. A given process. The destiny of the people or the evolution of a political system or the growth of a series of interconnected scientific ideas is not, in fact, free to develop in any direction it wants. It is going on in an epigenetic environment of, of intellectual confinement of some sort. In the same way that water runs downhill, a given idea developing in a given time and place will predictably develop in a certain direction.
Uh, one of the very large creodes that we can see at work in nature and society is what I call uh, the “conquest of dimensionality.” Uh, biology is a strategy for moving into and occupying ever more dimensions. Biology begins as a pointlike chemical replicating system attached to a primordial clay in the proverbial warm pond somewhere a the dawn of time. And as life develops it folds itself, it becomes a three-dimensional object. It replicates itself in time. By that means it claims the temporal dimension. After about 2 or 3 billion years of that it evolved itself to the point where with strong muscles it can move through space. With superb visual organs, it can coordinate its exterior environment. And finally, through the advent of language it can tell its story, it can move information around not present, and as soon as you begin to code that information into stone, or magnetic medium or whatever, in a sense time has stopped. yYu are moving outward now.
And uh, this very large creode seems to inform not only biology but the human enterprise as well. So when I talk about stuff like the evolution of photolithography and moving pictures out of photography and the evolution of surround sound and the global airline system and these kinds of things, these are dimension-conquering phenomenon designed to shrink the earth to a point. And of course the internet is the mother of all dimensional conquest. In a single 40-minute session on the internet I may talk to computers in Helsinki, Australia, Paris, Vanuatu, you name it. And I don’t even notice this happens. Yeah it doesn’t matter, its meaningless to think in those terms because in fact you might as well think of it all being inside your CPU sitting on your desk. It has the same effect.
What that is, is the sum-total of human knowledge being daily augmented, and the fury with which people put their thing on the internet, everything from how grandma’s recovering from her strok” to…I visited a language site the other night that had 122 syllabuses for 122 languages that were philological engines for searching these languages. I got there through the Vonich manuscript site. Yes that all still goes on. That community is at work.
So apparently we will not rest until all space and all time is brought down into, for all practical purposes, a single point. And this is an idea that has been around in various forms since at least the 16th century. I mean, it’s the alchemical idea of the philosophers stone: a universal panacea, a medicine which makes you wise, immortal, all-seeing, all knowing, all good.
Uh, interestingly conceived as an artifact of technology, conceived of something brought into being through the effort of a technological worker in concert and resonance with the intention of nature which is to do the same thing. The human world is simply a catalyst for nature's intentions, we are speeding up natures program of dimensional transcendence.
TM: It is, it is that and…in a sense it is the Jungian unconscious, but no longer unconscious. In a sense what we’re saying is, you know, we all- before the internet you were who you are, you knew what you knew, and you knew there was a great deal that you didn’t know. You had once known it but forgotten it, or never learned it but somebody somewhere knew it. Uh, and because we had this vast dark companion, the unconscious, bad things keep jumping out of it. Uh, it was remarkable to me throughout the cold-war period, a planet ruled by carnivorous monkeys filled with ideological hatreds under immense social and economical pressure and yet, nobody ever used atomic weapons except once.
The two Japanese instances. And in a sense they don’t count because they didn’t know what it was, they had to use it to see what it was, and once they saw what it was remarkable restraint set in. Uh, I would never have guessed that we would have been capable, I mean remember how deep the fear of the Soviet Union was, remember that for 35 years a thermo-nuclear strike was a possibility with a half an hour within of any undue movement on the other side. And yet somehow we got through that. There is in the human animal an effort to awaken.
You know it was um, it was- it was H.G Wells who said “History is a race between education and catastrophe”
It’s a white-knuckle enterprise. Catastrophe edges inches ahead, education moves ahead. Uh, and again, if it were a level playing field I would be betting on catastrophe, because I believe that nature favors the good, the true, and the beautiful. I’ve got all my money on education. I think we’ll make it, but I think we'll have to scare ourselves to death in order to keep focus. You know we're, we’re primates and we don’t really dig in and get rolling until we’re painted into a corner.
The courage of the imagination? Well, I guess the answer that is you somehow have to make it your friend. You have to make it your friend. There are ways to do that. Actually I made a little list. You played right into my hands. Uh, uh, the- the first and probably oldest friend, older even than psychedelics is dreams. Dreams are hugely important. Uh, I was in Australia in February and I did a lot of reading up before I went down. Uh, the aboriginals of Australia have been at the cultural enterprise for a long, long time along a different path than the rest of us. I’ve spent time with Amazon tribes and with people in central Asia, and yes they’re funky, and yes they’re different. But these Australian aboriginals are on to something quite other.
Uh, many people barely open their eyes…people sit silently, people don’t talk. This again relates to what we said about language. In Australia among these people you get this feeling among these people that they don’t talk because they’re not sure it’s here to stay. If an aboriginal wants to communicate something with you they would rather walk a half mile with you into the bush and point at it than to simply describe it back at camp.
So uh, the dream time and the Jungian unconscious, and the unconscious made conscious by the internet begins to sound like the same things. I previously didn’t have much interest in the Australian aboriginals because I was slightly irritated by reliance on psychedelics [audience laughter] It was like…what am I supposed to do with these people, they’re clearly very loaded and very far out, and how do they do that without drugs? It was paradigm agonizing to me.
Well it turns out that they are just better at keeping secrets than people in the Amazon, there’s a revolution breaking over ethnobotany. We have been saying for decades that South America was the most hallucinogen rich environment on the planet, and why was that and so forth and so on. In the next eighteen months some Australian ethnobotanists and trippers are going to publish data that shows that the Australian aboriginal worldview is entirely running on DMT. These acacias, this gumtree that stretches from Queensland all the way down to the south coast is replete with DMT. It’s simply that the aboriginal culture is even more secretive than other cultures, other aboriginal cultures in other parts of the world, and only very, very slowly is this information being let out. Dreams are one of the great friends of the imagination. There will be more, it’s not good for me to take the thunder. Many good people have hundreds and hundreds of pages yet to be published, and they’ve got the data and they’ve done the analysis.
I pretty much take the position that there may be people that can do it on the natch, but there’s no technique, its something you have to be born to, and there’s no culture that can do it. Throughout the human population there may be 1 person in 100 that has a futuristic set of synapses. Occasionally in a group like this, somebody will come up to me and say “Well I’ve never taken a psychedelic drug and I know exactly what you’re talking about, and I see visions” and so on. I used to think that these people were nutcases, I’ve now encountered enough of it that I modify my position to say: These are just incredibly fortunate people.
And you can’t tell how much of it is personality, how much of it is chemically real. Again, how much of what I’m saying to you right now is being processed differently in ever head in the room? Some people are seeing pictures, some people are hearing words, some people are logically building on what I say, and for some people it’s just music. So it’s very different, and it’s something very hard to share because it’s so subjective.
Throughout the world there are what we would call “primitive” or “aboriginal” cultures and some are drug users and some are not. It isn’t a matter of ecology, it’s a matter of something else. In eastern Ecuador you have tribes that are totally drugged, and across the river people who never touch anything. Living basically what appears to the unschooled observer, two cultural systems that are not that different from each other.
Generally speaking, the psychedelic cultures seem more…let me put it this way. The psychedelic cultures seem less dogmatic. Shamanism comes in two flavors, at least two. There is what I call a traditional shamanism is very rigid, and ritual-driven, and usually non-psychedelic. The other kind of shamanism, there are rituals but they are basically for the consumer, not the producer.
What shamans in these psychedelic cultures are simply alienated intellectuals. I’ve been in situations in the Amazon where you fly in to some remote place and the people come and the women come and they want to touch the airplane. And they want to look at your camera and touch your clothes, and all of it. While this is going on, meanwhile standing off is the shaman and he doesn’t give a shit about the airplane or your camera or any of that. He is interested in you as a person. What he is, is he’s alienated from the values of his culture. The keeper of the values is the one person who knows that the values are bullshit.
That’s what they’re doing in that function, it’s like somebody has to know. And its like everybody is cow-towing and going through their business, but the shaman at the top realizes “my god we stare out into an abyss, we do not know” They’re like scientists, they are scientists essentially.
Well this is an interesting question, there’s a hard and soft answer. It depends on whether you think the need to commodify is so basic to human beings that it can’t be removed. If that’s true, then the internet still holds out a certain amount of hope. A hard-core anti-capitalist position wants to eliminate capitalism because it sees it as an irreclaimable evil. It’s possible that the only thing wrong with capitalism is that it manufactures, distributes, and commodifies physical objects.
If there was a capitalism that only commodified information and light that might be more tolerable. In the future, not that long in the future, if you want to live at Versailles, it will cost you 149 dollars to buy the software package and set it up so you can live in it. Well if Versailles costs only 149 dollars, then what is it worth? And the answer is: only what the market will pay.
I think, for a long time this process of raising standards of living has been under way, and it is certainly true that today in the world hundreds of millions of people live better than emperors and kings 2 centuries ago.
I think the important thing…before we totally dismiss capitalism we should see if it can operate in a virtual, informational environment less destructively. If it can’t, then something else will have to come along. But certainly capitalism based on the extraction of resources and their fabrication based on cheap-labor populations into objects to be sold in a central economy…that’s finished, that’s a dinosaur, that’s self limiting because there is not an ultimately exploitable resource base.
The end of that kind of capitalism is easily discerned.
(Question, same commentor)
Well that’s an interesting question, is there a kind of natural selection of means in the marketplace? There probably is. For example, imagine…governments deal with information completely differently than corporations. If a government obtains the proprietary technology, it’s impulse is to classify it, move it out of site, and exploit it for political advantage.
If a corporation achieves a proprietary technology, it drops a huge amount of money on promoting it, rushes products based on it to market and tries to spread it everywhere as fast as it can. This certainly has caused the evolution of certain kinds of technology, but the two systems, the capitalist corporate systems, and the governmental systems value and put emphasis on different kinds of technologies. For example, nation states use war as an instrument of national policy.
Corporations almost never do that, corporations don’t like war. It busts up environments, it makes products difficult to move around, and where you had healthy, happy customers, you have hollow-eyed refugees standing around with their hands out.
But those were national interests, no corporation could have launched a war like that, it wasn’t Exxon who had a knife poised at their throat, it was the economies of France, Germany, and the United States. Also that war was generations ago, a completely different set of political rules were in place.
That was probably the last of those sorts of wars, I would bet. What capitalism does with wars is it exports it to already burnt out market areas like Rwanda, Bosnia, Albania, they don’t care what people do to each other in those places because there’s no market there anyway.
Let me go on with my list here, I think I got through dreams and drugs, which were the biggies. This is “Friends of the imagination” in case you’ve lost your place here.
Fiction, and the enterprise of fiction. Not necessarily science fiction, although its interesting if you look at the golden age of science-fiction, the magazines that created that had names like “Amazing”, “Astounding” and “If”, these are the very words and themes that we’ve been pursuing around.
But fiction is…until we get virtual reality up and running, in the hands of a master, the best way we have of showing each other the contents of our own heads. Any of you who have made your way through “The remembrance of things past”, Prust’s enormous novel about (something) life in Paris, there are thoughts uttered there that are so fragile delicate, that you when you read it, you think you were the only person who ever thought this and you never bothered to mention it to anybody because it seems so ineffable, and yet Prust has gotten it down on the page.
So it shows you what human beings are, and of course our world…Pardon?
I’m trying to think of an example. There’s an example when they’re going to a beach town and he’s riding with a great society woman, and he’s watching the trees go by the carriage, and he notices that the nearer trees move faster than the trees further away. Over this spatial metaphor is mapped a temporal metaphor about people changing in time. God knows what it is in French, but even in English its this equisitely complicated thought, and you wouldn’t think anybody could do justice to the feeling, but there it is in its completion. The other great friend of the imagination is travel. Travel is another way, a more gentle way, to break down cultural conditioning.
What we call “culture shock” is when you go to Afghanistan or Albania and you realize how your expectations of how a table should be set, what a toilet looks like, how a bus ticket works and how a telephone is supposed to operate were so narrowly defined that now you’re confronted with a telephone and a toilet and you don’t know which end is which.
It’s not for nothing that the vocabulary of psychedelic experience has borrowed from the vocabulary of travel.We take a trip, we have a journey, we go to an alien landscape.
Then finally, the great friend of the imagination is the future because its in the future that we place our hope, our fears, our suppositions. The future is a land of things imagined, things that have not yet undergone the formality of actually occurring.
As a friend of the imagination? Well did I not mention last night that the two great motivators were food fantasies and sex fantasies, and yes…the sexual imagination is at a very early, I almost said primitive but I don’t mean that.
I mean early level, because if I’m understanding you correctly, it revolves around the “if” operator. “If” I approach the desirable female with the proper blandishments, “if”, and then of course just sexual fantasy, then we will do this, then we will do that, and so on.
It certainly is a vehicle for altered states, whether I would call them imagination or not, I suppose I would, but now that I am thinking about your question, I think there are pitfalls in the imagination. Probably the sexual pitfall is…sentimentality. (commentary and laughter) Tastelesness is in there too. Sentimentality is a virulent form of tastelessness. Sentimentality is very hard to root out, you may think you’re a hard cookie. But I’ll bet there are areas of sentimental delusion that are so broad and deep in every one of us, and some people carry that to the grave, they’re the lucky ones.
The rest of us have divorces, bankruptcies, muggings, what have you, and slowly our sentimentality is pounded out of us. It’s a good thing to lose sentimentality because it’s a false aesthetic, and I think we recognize it.
It is also an easily manipulated, it is truly a false aesthetic in the hands of modern media because it is a great ploy for buying. If you can induce sentimentality in people they will buy the object of that induction.
(Question/commentary about hearing Terence’s definition of sentimentality)
It’s a false valuing of…I almost said experience…experience/expectations. It’s a false valuing of things.
(Question: is it tied in any way to…)
Yes, well your word idealism is good here because it brings me to something I always eventually get to, which is in line with this thought “culture is not your friend” Idiology is not your friend, and ideology…some people think what we’re trying to do here is sort out good ideologies from bad. Should I be a Marxist? Should I be a deconstructionist? And the answer is no, none of the above. All ideologies are viral infections of some sort.
Mimetic infections that erode your functionability and your comfort with yourself. Ideologies set up polarities that are based on discontent. And ideologies are always, always, always based on false premises. Whatever the, name an ideology and I’ll tell you the false premise that it’s based on.
So part of this process of cultural maturity that I’ve been talking about is to get beyond ideology without embracing cynicism. It’s not a “fuck you!” thing, it’s a deeply saddening awareness that we are not yet angel enough that we should take ourselves that seriously.
Yes I would say that ideology is that feeling of attachment we have to our ideologies. So for instance someone said “You know, Marxism, maybe we didn’t have the right answer…but we certainly had a sense of a mission, and a wonderful…you know we knew who we were!” That’s crazy talk. I mean if it was wrong, it was wrong. That’s like old Nazi’s sitting around talking about “the great old days”, what was so great about the great old days? You want community? Join a bowling league for crying out loud.
Now that’s a lesser evil, that’s nostalgia, another impulse for marketing frenzy.
(Another question, different person)
Model and sentimentality. Yeah, did you want to say something?
(Commentary, something about the position and qualities of a romantic)
Well he used the word “romantic” (laughter)
But romanticism I think is a legitimate impulse, and well situated within historical context and so forth and so on. Sentimentality can break out anywhere, anytime, and is, you know…can find anything for it’s object.
Sentimentality is a lazy form of thinking, I think. People don’t want to think the hard thoughts, and yet I find the hard thoughts very…paradoxically liberating.
For instance here is a hard thought, I don’t want anybody to burst into tears on me so gerd your loins: I’ve spent a lifetime taking drugs, knocking around the world, having affairs, being married, being unmarried, this that and the other. If somebody asked me, so what do you know? What have you learned? I would have to say what I’ve learned is: That nothing lasts.
There’s a hard thought, is that a cause for joy or despair? Well if you’re thinking about everything you love and how it’s going to turn into mush because you’re shoveled into the grave it’s a hard thought, but on the other hand if you think about all the jerks who’ve oppressed you it’s a good consolation to know that they too will go down into that good night…
Nothing lasts. That is not a cause for joy or despair, it’s a cause for…expanding ones feeling in the moment. If nothing lasts, then there’s a conclusion, not a feeling, to be drawn from that observation. The conclusion to be drawn from it is then, the felt presence of the immediate moment must be what life is for.
Somebody who could take that perception and use it that way could immediately transcend all kinds of neurotic behavior: longing, regret, doubts, fears. You just say no, the felt presence of immediate experience. Yeah, sentimentalism.
First of all let me comment on the Buddhist thing. I’m not that friendly to that formulation because it’s still is postponing gratification. It’s saying death is the bouquet of life, you should live towards death. I would say the bouquet of life is this moment. To the more important point of longevity, I certainly am not interested in living forever, whatever that might mean because I suspect if you live forever you miss the point.
I think you miss the bouquet. On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with…no that’s too much to say… The only problem I have with living past…whatever, 3 score and 10, is you get into political issues. Are people buying time at the expense of somebody else?
One of the weirdest things about this culture is we’ve invented a sin for which there is no name, it’s so beyond peoples abilities to conceive. This sin that we’ve invented is…we steal the future from our children. We do it with our medical health care plans where we know that all this fine surgery and stuff that you’re getting is at the expense of the next generation of people. We overuse resources leaving nothing for future generations.
I don’t know how all that would be sorted out. I am attracted by the idea of living as long as I want to live. I wonder how long that would be… Of course if you make people comfortable, probably they would like to live a lot longer. What reason is there for a person to check out of a comfortable situation?
In a sense what nature does is it makes the body a less and less comfortable place to be until finally you just say “alright already!” Take me! Beam me up Scotty!
But then you know the other possibility is what if there were forms of existence that were de-materialized. How would we feel about going into circuitry for a few round of eternity, and what are the moral implications of that? I don’t know, I’ve had this argument with Robert Anton Wilson, he’s a big enthusiast for life-extension. It depends on what you think death is, and I’ve managed to talk myself into the idea that death is probably not simply dissolution and chaos. Not because I have received any guidance from on high, but just as I observe nature, she has a wonderful parsimoniousness about her behavior.
Clearly this form, which is basically an unraveled DNA molecule that is now making a lot of claims on resources in the environment to keep this body going, is…nature people a lot of effort into this. I think that the best model for what life is, based not on religious thinking but on biological thinking is:
Life is what you get when a higher-dimensional object protrudes into ordinary space. In other words if we take this cup and cut it in two, it doesn’t change, it just becomes a cup in two pieces. It doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t rot, it doesn’t lose its essence. If we take any living being from a bacterium to a brontosaur, and cut it in two, the entire system falls apart very quickly and the thing is a mess and we see that the thing we had is no longer there.
So I think what biology is, is the intrusion into 3-dimensional space and time of hyper-dimensional objects. The other clue to that, that seems an argument for it, is that we do have this thing called a mind, but we can’t find it anywhere. It doesn’t seem to be anywhere.
Even when you get down to electrodes in the brain, and saying words to people and watching oscilliscopes you still can’t seem to quite nail it down. I think probably these objects retract back into hyperspace, higher-space, and this is what the soul is. There is something to the psyche of a morphogenetic field. We clothe ourselves in matter, but we are not matter.
To actually complete a human cycle of existence, you have to go into death. It’s where you came from in some sense. We put a lot of attention into death, we don’t look very much at birth, we think we understand it. I mean we all know very much about the sperm and the egg and all that, but before that…what is going on?
Whence commeth these forms? We seem to have the matter down pretty good, but really what a being is, is the intrusion into space-time of a form, and the form is unique and then it retreats.
I think it would be one of the great jokes of human history if here at the end of the 20th century, at the end of the millennium, with all this techno-hypola surging around us, if we were to actually gain insight into the after-death state and one of the reasons I’m so keen for DMT is that when I have given it to people who were ported experts in the after-death state, Tibetan lamas, and shamans. They come back and they say “Yup, that’s the territory all right”
In my highest states, I have had the insight which I will convey to you without saying its true, that this is the most limited form of existence that you will ever know.
You can’t be deader than this (laughter)
This is the bottom line.
So the good news is its only up from here. But of course you have to bet the farm on this cheerful rap. There’s no whining if you’re wrong. This is an all-or-nothing bet, so naturally it brings your heart into your throat. But that’s the kind of enterprise life is. All risk and the race to the swift.
You mean there’s a 5th, and a 6th, and a 7th? I’ve heard that’s it… Well I don’t know, and I will wonder what I think when I approach the great divide. It’s easy in the pink of health to speculate and play the philosophe’ and all that nonsense. The last dance you dance, you dance alone. And nobody will be watching, but I have seen people die, and it is an inspiration. I hope to have that equanimity of mind.
The other thing about death that needs to be said is, that we all imagine that we will have a leisurely philosophical death, that’s what we all want you know. Months to get used to the idea, to say goodbye, to gather friends, to make our bequiefments, to speak our final wisdom, but death for most people comes messily and unexpectedly
So I don’t think you should live in an anticipation of the drama of your deathbed scene. Better to repair to the moment, being a realist, primarily. What I find always waiting when I return from these flights of philosophical fantasy and imagination, is my body, my history, my space, and my time.
These things are all good, it’s a great space, a great time, a great body, a great being to be. So the real message of the psychedelic experience and the anti-historical thrust of the critique we’ve been carrying out here is to take the moment, the felt presence of immediate experience. It’s all you know, it’s all you will ever know.
Everything else comes with unconfirmed rumor, innuendo, unrealized possibility, fading memory, conjecture, lie, hope. But in the moment of being we have the completion of being, it is always complete. Every moment. And to the degree that we force ourselves to look beyond it, or can not find ourselves within it, we betray it.
Then we have more work to do.
Well that’s enough I think, for the morning. Yeah.
That’s exactly what we are saying, yes. We will get together this evening.
(Pauses and breaks for the continuance of the next section)
The discussion was not concluded this morning, it seems like it was just uninterrupted at the lunch hour, there was a number of things in play at the time.
Do you want to pick up any of that?
I think the issue had to do with accessibility, and in relationship to life and the internet. There’s a certain impulse toward connectivity, accessibility. But once you achieve that you discover that there’s so much there in life, or on the internet, I mean we’re talking about two things at once.
But the issues becomes about how to filter the experience, how to set up your own labyrinth so that what reaches you is what you intend to reach you, and what is deflected is irrelevant.
Yes and in the absence of filters you are just drowned. Searching the internet is just a strange kind of entertainment because no thought is ever carried to completion, it seems to be an infinite series of foot-notes, and cross-referencing.
You can spend an hour or two doing this and through the experience you have this feeling at the end, somehow your inquiry into the taxonomy of the orphadasis….
End of part 4
Well you have to somehow exercise that invisible muscle that tolerates strangeness. My brother had the notion of what he called “extra-environmentalism”
He said “The reason we are fascinated by the aliens is because we want to become the aliens”
And the aliens, this is the thing I keep coming back to about the need to “graduate” from culture. I’m really into this. It’s not about recovering your Irish, Jewish, Slavic roots. We’re beyond that.
It’s about discovering and acting from your uniqueness, and not defining yourself as a member of class or category.
That’s a print-created mental error. Things like racism, sexism, all these forms of averaging and leveling are sloppy forms of thought.
Have you ever noticed that race, for example, is a quality that adheres only to large groups of people. To speak of a race you have to have a bunch of people, it’s not a quality that adheres to an individual, any more than an individual water molecule is wet. Wetness is something that only emerges when you have millions of water molecules.
I think this is a print-created phenomenon. This over-use of simple categories is a kind of genuflection to the simplification of the world that takes place through print. For instance we analyze social problems through the use of the category “class”.
We say “well the ruling class is screwing the lower class” or “the working class isn’t getting it’s fair deal”
This kind of gross over-simplification to problems makes the solutions to problems almost intractable because the objects that you’re model seeks to manipulate, classes, is an illusion in the first place.
We see in the 20th century, I think, the bankruptcy of this kind of thinking about human problems.
A friend of mine says of mushrooms, that every time he takes them the goal is to stand more…to stand more.
What is meant by that is “hey, it ain’t easy to go the limit”. The thing is constantly able to challenge your categorical maps, no matter how advanced your categorical maps are.
It can always raise the stakes painfully higher. The goal is to stand more, and the more you stand, the more your own place of intellectual origins, your own cultural venn, recedes into quaintenance.
This is what you were getting at with going beyond culture. Culture is a simplification and a lie. It’s the currency by which fools navigate.
Smart people get beyond it. You can choose when to do that, I don’t think, for myself it happened until my middle 40’s, then suddenly because experience and maturation somehow found each other and carried me forward I began to think like this.
Before, I was in a sense a true believer. For all the psychedelic experiences and political activism, and so forth and so on, I hadn’t yet understood that culture was a vehicle that could only be ridden so far, and then beyond that lies the great…and to be defined…unknown of ones own individuality.
Many people never get beyond the imposed neotany of imposed conventionalism. I said that’s its insidious that in middle life circumstances tend to deliver us money, either our parents die or our professional activities finally pay off.
That money is usually the final nail in the coffin for ever evolving beyond cultural convention.
Why should we? At least we’ve achieved the fruits of our labors, the good life, the comfortable dream, but it’s the dream of anesthesia. You know, that feeling you feel is the gurney that rolling you towards the tissue disposal oven.
Yeah it does, you’re right that “cool” then if you aren’t cool, you go to incredible lengths to achieve by your sates means, by buying 3,500 dollar sunglasses and getting tattooed, but it can’t really be faked.
The whole engine of marketing is designed to make you think that it can be faked. I don’t know if I am cool or not, but I am incredibly resistant to any effort to make me think I’m un-cool. (laughter)
In other words, because the answer always lies in co modification. I’m not using the right body cologne, I’m not wearing the right Italian designer clothes. I don’t slump with a half-smear on my face.
All of these things which are marketed as the accruements of cool.
So you get a clueless culture “aping cool” and of course real cool can’t be co modified. That’s what makes it so cool, and so maddeningly distant from the un-cool.
As long as we’re on this kind of tack, this morning I talked about the imagination and it’s friends, and you recall the list and I won’t refresh it.
But I thought it would also be useful to talk about the enemies of the imagination.
We’ve talked about culture as the enemy of imagination. I think we’ve done enough of that.
The other thing that I think that is the enemy of the imagination, and this may seem paradoxical, and it may raise hackles, and it may bring controversy, but it has to be said.
There’s always been a strain of this in my thinking, in what I’m about to say. But my son pointed out to me that I needed to hammer this particular key harder.
My son is sort of my surrogate in the culture, he goes out to the highways and byways and listens to the murmurings of the people and tells me what’s going on.
This brings us to the subject of relativism.
I never quite heard it put this way until he put it to me this way. What is relativism?
Relativism is the idea that your ideas are as good as anybody else’s ideas, and all ideas are equal in worth because nobody can tell what’s going on anyway.
It’s the “live and let live” laid-back approach to doing intellectual heavy lifting. I’m a nealist, you’re a nazi, you’re a Christian, you’re something else. Hey no big deal, let’s just hoist a beer and party on!
Well, I have to defer.
It’s a problem, especially in California where this thing has gone from being a pathology to the defining mode of normalcy.
It allows stuff like “Heavens Gate”, it allows Jones Town. Nobody ever said to those people “You’re full of shit! Don’t think like this, this will lead to catastrophe”
Instead people said “Hey, cool!” “See you in the sky!”
And people say “Now this sounds like you’re advocating acrimonious and emotionally painful judgment making that will leave some of us disenfranchised in our belief of the space-people or the presence of great Atlantis” or something else that’s very cherished.
Yes. Yes, we have loosened our girding sufficiently folks. We are now open minded enough, we don’t want to become so open-minded that the wind can whistle between your ears.
There are logical razors and rules of evidence that can be brought to bear on any situation.
For instance, our culture is awash in claims of all sorts.
Religious claims, the thousand various religious offerings on the market, then it moves over into medical claims, dietary claims, claims of superior sources of knowledge.
I can read the dead-sea scrolls, you can’t. She’s talking to the space people, you can’t. This guy is accessing past lives, you can’t. There are all these whisperings and intimations of special connection and uniqueness.
If you are passive in the face of this, I think you’re intellectual arteries will fill up with mental cholesterol and eventually you’ll have the equivalence of a coronary thrombosis of the intellectual level.
It’s very important to hone intuition and logical razors so that reasonable questions can be asked. It may break the mirrored surface of “We’re all in it together” the illusion of community maintained by nobody ever criticizing anybody else.
This nobody ever criticizing anybody else brings the intellectual enterprise and the refinement of human knowledge to a screeching halt.
The way in which the intellectual enterprise moves forward is by being critiqued, analyzed, subjected to tests.
You’ve all heard me knock science, and I have many bad things to say about science, it has to answer for some of its sins. But the great thing about science and the thing which makes it unique in the history of human intellectual endeavors is it is a human intellectual enterprise in which you get lots of credit for proving that you’re wrong.
Scientists really respect each other for proving that they are wrong, if you have a theory that you’ve defended for 15 years and then you publish a paper saying “I’ve been over it again, I’ve looked at the data again and you know what fellow colleges? I botched it, I was wrong”
They promote you for this, they say this is the essence of intellectual honesty. We know you do good work because we see how you trashed your early accomplishments.
Religion doesn’t work like this. In a religious domain you never admit you’re wrong, you further elaborate the story to save whatever preposterous notion has been exposed and you never deny, you never recant, you never go back.
So what you get is error, based on error, based on illusion, based on delusion, based on lie, based on half-truth, based on supposition, based on somebody thought it would be nice if…
And there’s no wonder there’s not a great deal of spiritual juice in that. So I think there are many things to be said about science, that it has relied on probably to too great an extent, so forth and so on.
These are technical issues, but in our personal lives it’s a wonderful thing to take as a model. Always seek A. The simplest explanation. This is called the principle of parcimony, otherwise known as Occam’s Razor. Sounds very fancy, what it means is always prefer the simplest explanation. Always try the simplest explanation first, if it fails, complicate it as little as you have to to go to the next level.
But we live in a culture where the simplest explanation is never accepted. Somebody sees a light in the sky, immediately it’s a UFO invasion.
The possibility that it was a meteorite, a piece of aircraft in trouble is not entertained, and so consequently people’s intellectual lives become incredibly baroque, but unanchored in the world of observation and reasonable discourse.
God knows the world is so tricky that without rules and razors you are as lambs lead to the slaughter. I’m speaking of the world as we have always found it, add-on to that the world based on techniques of mass psychology, advertising, political propaganda, image manipulation, there are many forces that seek to victimize us.
The only way through this is rational analysis of what is being presented.
It amazes me that this is considered a radical position. This is what used to be called “a good liberal education”, and then somewhere after the 60’s when the government decided that universal public education only created mobs milling in the streets calling for human rights, education ceased to serve the goal of producing an informed citizenry.
Instead we took an authoritarian model, the purpose of education is to produce unquestioning consumers with an alcoholic obsession for work, and so it is.
But as people who may have had one foot in this system at one point, and another foot in it at another, I think it behooves us to be alarmed and to attempt to recapture our soul, essentially. From the nets of propaganda, market management, commodity obsession, money fetishism, these various, extremely infective means that are spread everywhere.
A birthright to be left alone, this is why it was interested you know the debate that went on in the first Clinton administration, there is no right to privacy in the constitution, it’s something we all talk about and assume but in fact you can’t find a strong legal basis for this.
It needs to be articulated, we need a dimension that is free from the potential incursions of those who would manipulate us. The constitution enshrines the right of a person to be secure in ones home and possessions, but that’s not a strong enough statement to nail down the right of privacy.
This may be the single greatest right which everyone is being denied, many of other people are oppressed in other ways, but we are all denied the right of privacy.
Interestingly years ago when I got divorced, at some point in these proceedings you have to file some kind of a court document, I guess it’s an intent or a declaration to divorce or something.
Within 5 days my mailbox was crowded with invitations to join singles groups. It was very clear to me that people were going over these court records and getting the names of guys between the ages of 30 to 50 who were filing for divorce and hitting them before they got home from the court house with invitations…it’s insidious that we are accessible to this kind of invitations and seen as victims.
I mean here’s a tremendously private personal tragedy, but for a whole segment of society it’s not a private personal tragedy it’s a marketing-opportunity. You have pain? We have answers!
Somebody over here….no? no? any comment on all of this?
(Since 1965 when young people started using drugs, we lost more privacy in the name of drug-investigation, for example it’s very simple to get a group of judges something with search warrants, I know all about this, I’ve been a victim of it…….?)
Well…yes, for example, before drugs were an issue, if we take a subset of the population like white college students, this was without contest one of the most law abiding subsets of the population. White college students are more law abiding than white-stock brokers, or almost any other segment of the population that you can name.
But if you turn cannabis into a schedule one drug, a felony, suddenly, all these people that never felt inspired to descent, never felt the heavy hand of the government are automatically members of a criminal class.
What this does is both radicalize the people so persecuted and in a feedback loop of paranoia, drive the government into a frenzy of trying to penetrate understand and control this minority group.
The idea that states of mind are matters for legal manipulation, its amazing that that discussion is even taking place in the democracy founded by Thomas Jefferson.
How does it happen that American conservatism, that used to stand for a free-market economy and a laissez-fairre attitude toward life becomes instead the purveyor of the most Draconian and invasive approach to social management ever conceived of.
What I’m talking about is the piss-test. The idea that any civilization would tolerate that level of invasion into the lives of its citizens and that those who would advocate it would dare to call themselves conservatives, in the whole Marxist episode, nobody was asked to piss in a cup in the Soviet Union or Mao’s China to establish their loyalty to the government or the corporation. And yet that went down here with barely a murmur.
This is a society based on paranoia, I can remember in the 50’s when we were being dinned with the evils of Communism they would tell you, finally they would reach for the most outlandish bummer you can imagine. They would tell you “You know in Russia, children were encouraged to report on their parents if they would criticize the government”
Well my God now, in America if children report on their parents and the parents are dragged away to prison, the mainstream straight people stand up and applaud. This is a wonderful example of the nuclear family functioning at it’s maximum best.
There are numerous examples of this. I don’t know what to say about this, I despair of right-wing, left-wing political solutions. I think everybody is corrupted by the agenda of capitalism that it’s amazing that we have any rights at all left.
I mean thank god for Jefferson, and thank god for the Constitution, I mean every time I go to England it just gives me the absolute willies. These people have no Constitution.
If you get into some kind of complicated wrangle in England, the old boys club, guys in powdered wigs and locked rooms decide what happens to you and your fate.
And England is not exactly Kazhikastan, we think of it as a source of democratic ideals.
But it’s just that in the absence of a constitution, what the establishment says the law is, is what the establishment says the law is.
Well first of all let me say that I’m a member in good standing of the ACLU, and they saved my ass in Los Angeles. I don’t really see the contradiction, we can not abandon culture completely. One could. What I mean is it’s perfectly clear to me, because of psychedelics, I started eating mushrooms and didn’t stop. I would in a day or two have to move up to the ridge and I would begin to browse on the local flora, and in a week or so, discard my clothes, and in a year or two my eyebrows would grow down along my face. I would be like the monk on cold mountain.
I could do that, you could do that. Once you find psychedelics, there’s nothing that stands between you and a complete check-out from your cultural heritage.
The only cost to you is the complete abandonment of everything you’ve ever known and loved, and if you can give that up, these monkish people, these fuzzy people, these people who hang out with dragons in the clouds, you could become one of them.
Most spiritual seekers drive whatever spiritual vehicle they’ve rented with their foot on the gas peddle.
Once you get to psychedelics, you begin asking “Where is the break?”
Because you have now the power to transform yourself, if the search was for power you’ve found it.
But you see searching for answers is the position of an auwngeneu, it’s the journey of the fool. What I assume all of you people have to grapple with in different degrees is the fact that by chance, or design, or good fortune, you have found the answer. Seeking is over-with in this room.
But what you have to do now is a much more demanding and grown-up thing. You have to face the answer. You have to take the measure of yourself against the answer.
You said you wanted to ascend into the dragon realms, you said you wanted these spiritual realities to become vivid for you. Now there’s nothing between you and it except the decision to make it happen. And where do you come down on that?
So when I push things like extra-environmentalism, and critique of culture, I mean it in a very wussed-out way. If I really meant it I wouldn’t be here saying it, I’d just let you all figure it out yourself and let you go off and be a legend and you could follow me into it, if you wanted.
I love things about the culture, I define this loving of things about the culture as a kind of weakness. I’m not proud of the fact that the highest I can get is to teach as Esalen, I’m not at all proud of the fact that that seems to be where I top out. Had I greater courage, I would go further, but…I don’t…(laughter) So I’m hoping that you people, my graduate students as it were, will sacrifice yourself on the pyre of going further.
And report back. (laughter)
The thing is a paradox, and you either live with the paradox, I think, and that contains a certain amount of hypocrisy, and hypocrisy was a word we used earlier. Or you become so individuated that from the point of view of everybody else you’re mad.
And I’ve been that too.
It’s very hard to do it and remain in society, I don’t think I could have done it, my episodes of madness occurred, thank god, 700 miles up a jungle river in baboon assholia, but had it happened in Manhatten, or something like that, it would have quickly set up ripples that would have inexorably and complicated and made my life much more difficult.
Duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. It’s an interesting quote, it meant something to him something completely different than what it must mean to us.
I’ll tell you a boring little secret about how I go to be who I am. I grew up in a town in Western Colorado where if you read Time magazine, you were suspect of being some kind of left-wing intellectual. I mean this was Podunk. As I grew up there I became aware of all these extremely strongly expressed cultural values, most of them were hostile to something. Either Jews were bad, or black people were bad, or people who didn’t work were bad, or people who made messy paintings were bad. All of these things were bad.
One day it occurred to me, I will take the position that all these things are good! These things are good! Abstract expressions, Jews, black people, science, good! Good! Good! Good! Good!
And everybody said “there’s something wrong with this kid!” and I didn’t understand my own position and think, you know, “it is messy, it may be horseshit” but we must never admit that, we must defend the genius of Pollack until death.
And by taking that position, slowly I actually did understand some of these things and make them my own. I discovered that that was the path to wisdom, a total rejection of the culture I came up with.
I don’t know how that would work if you were born of Jewish parents of New York who were members of the Communist party and always took you to wonderful art exhibitions and took you to Carnegie hall. If you rejected all that, you’d become a jerk like the people around me in that small Colorado town.
This is not a fail-safe prescription. But in my case, by an embracing of everything artificial and antithetical and opposed by, and smeared at, by the people around me, I made my way to…you know, real depth, real worth, real culture. Not that I assimilated these things, but at least I came to live in the light of them.
It’s a great puzzle, all of you who have children, and I have two, know that we are alienated intellectuals. Broadly speaking, this is what we are, and so we bitch about the government and we critique the monetary system and so forth and so on.
Then you see your children on the bring of reason and then you say “Gees, my alienation has brought me alienation, but I can’t let the kids be Marks, to be pons of the propaganda and market machine” people scratching their heads trying to figure out whether they’re republicans or democrats. I can’t put that on my children.
Then you say “Ok then, they must join in the alienation, they must be taken out of the culture as we were taken out of the culture” and this is a momentous decision because this act of separation of the culture is unambiguously alienating, yet it seems to be the only way to find the self. Otherwise you never contact the self, you contact a co modified cartoon of the self, that finds meaning in outboard motors, and basketball, and all this other crap that’s peddled as reality.
Our relationship to our culture is a very uncomfortable one, and of course psychedelics exacerbate this. And of course you know if you have children, it’s one thing to talk alienation, but once they get to the place where they are asking to take LSD or to take psilocybin…you know Kafka said a wonderful thing, I think it’s in the penile colony he said “You choose to be free, but it’s the last choice you’ll ever make”
And you know, that’s sort of the dilemma in which we find ourselves.
Wouldn’t it fulfill all of our personal mythologies if I could now detail a long history of persecution nobly born by me. But the truth is they don’t give a shit, they are so confident of their control that I think if I appear on their screen at all they just said “This is some egg-head, some spouting character that talks to a bunch of rich people in small rooms, and we don’t care”
I have a feeling there’s something which I call the 5 percent rule. Which is, as long as any school of descent remains below 5 percent of the population, no money is budgeted to destroy it. They have learned about noise in the social circuitry and they just say “Yeah these people, they gripe”
And we are held up as an example of what a free society this is.
They say “You think we have a controlled society? You think we care what people say? Go down to Essalen and hear what Terence Mckenna is saying. We tolerate this. What clearer proof that you need that we are magnanimous, generous, open-hearted and liberal. We tolerate this kind of thing”
I think of course that they do not understand the nature of the game, but it’s a good thing because if the game is played on their terms, we lose. What they don’t understand is the power of means, and the fact that psychedelics are a touch-stone of creativity, and creativity can always provide break-outs from any situation no matter how confined.
And also, they have a horrifying fascination with us, because they as the managers of society, probably know more about it’s internal contradictions and its failings and its shortcomings than we do.
The information we have available is the declassified, downloaded, cleaned-up stuff. Recently I was in London and at the hotel the conference was down at the ICA, which is down near Buckingham Palace so the hotel was on Vincent’s Square. So it was about a 20 minute walk from Vincent’s square to the ICA and it was right through Whitehall, it was where all the intelligence agencies, and the ministries of defense and all this. We stayed late at the ICA, and walking back at 2 in the morning, the lights in the Whitehall are burning at 2 in the morning. The lights at the ministry of defense and the ministry of economic planning are on at 2 in the morning, why? Because people are sweating blood in those buildings, they are working around the clock to keep the entire system…
Look at these rainforest clearing statistics, look at these oil slicks! This is costing us money gentlemen. And what about this?
And the answer is that you can manage some of the future some of the time, and you can manage all of the future some of the time, but you can’t manage all of the future all of the time. It keeps breaking loose in the most unexpected fashion.
The internet is a perfect example. Here was a privileged instrument of the intelligence community and the scientific elite that served it. Ultra-high security, totally out of the reach of the common man.
Meanwhile, over at Ratheon they’re trying to…this was year ago, they were trying to develop a chip to guide a heat-seeking missile for the Navy, and they had certain design specifications that had to be made.
The projects ground on for a couple of years and they couldn’t make this chip meet the specifications, finally the project was cancelled. The chip is thrown in the trash. Then some engineer digs it out and he says “You know what we could do with this? We can’t hit a plane in flight with a missile with this thing, but you know what we can do with it? We can make a little desktop computer with this!” and these guys said “Why in the hell would we want to do that? We have enormous computers, we have computers the size of a city block, why would we want to do that?”
And they say “No, no, not for us, we have the God-like technology, it’s a commercial thing! We can sell it to the Marks, and they can word-process with it or something” and so it came to be.
And they didn’t understand with this thing, it’s a pretty harmless thing, a computer sitting on a desktop with word running on it, but you sell 20 million of them, before you realize “My god they can all be connected together”
And then people just plug them in, and an entirely new beast springs into being. A technology so powerful that the head of the CIA 10 years ago didn’t have that kind of access to information, that kind of information to real-time imaging, that kind of access to econometric data and that sort of thing.
So it escaped, while they were watching various…while they were keeping us from nuclear weapons, they seemed to do that rather well. No terrorist has ever set off a thermonuclear device so far as we know, so they were watching from the ramparts for that because it was something they could understand.
This thing came rushing in from the back-door and now the cat is out of the bag.
I’m sure that that’s true. You know the fact that the IRS is running on 20 year old computers. The government is just being left behind, and the world corporate state doesn’t care, it finds governments a huge and boring nuisance.
You know in the same way that after the 30 years war, basically there was an enormous social shift in Europe. Before the 30 years war, Europe was ruled by Popes and Kings.
After the 30 years war it was ruled by Parliaments and people, I mean that’s a generalization, but true.
Now, the nation state is being put out to Pasteur. It’s being told as the Church was being told in the 17th century “You care for the poor, you take care of the highways, you bury the dead and you educate the children. But all the stuff which makes money, we, the new streamlined form of social organization, we’ll take care of the money making enterprise and your job is to keep the road cleared and the dead out of sight”
So this is happening. When I understood this, it was like a bolt of lightning. When Jesse Helms stood up on the floor of the US Senate and called for the assassination of the American president I realized “This has become a circus. These people are yahoos”
When was the last time the governor of the world bank threatened the life of an American president? When was the last time that someone who sits on the board of directors of the IMF felt the need to physically threaten the life of a president? No, it doesn’t happen.
Real power doesn’t act that way, only pseudo-power, yahoo-power, thug-power acts that way.
So government has become largely irrelevant. I don’t know whether this is good or bad, it certainly is complex.
War was an instrument of national policy for governments, war is not an instrument of policy for corporations, they hate war.
But governments keep cultures in a deep freeze, we spend a lot of time lamenting the destruction of aboriginal cultures, this rainforest tribe, that central Mexican language group, but while we’re lamenting the loss of these exotic cultures, notice that your culture is being erased.
If you were raised in a close-knit Jewish family, if you were raised in a small town in the Midwest, those cultures are gone for most people.
We have all been given mall-culture, and co-modification of values. It isn’t only happening to the Witoto and the Wichole, it’s happening everywhere.
This uniformitarianism is entirely for the convenience of market economies.
If you can get everyone drinking the same brand of vodka it’s much easier to sell and market vodka than if you have to appeal to ethnicity and local tastes and so forth and so on.
Everyone and everything is being leveled, dumbed down, and subjected to a hideous homogenization process.
No, this leads to the question about paranoia and conspiracy theory. I am very puzzled by the popularity of conspiracy theory. It seems to me it just must indicate a paranoid tendency in the population because what I see is the more you aspire to control, the more frustrated and maddened you must be by the situation.
So, an example would be the communist party of the USSR. Infinite power to penetrate the lives of people, to manipulate media images. You have total control of the newspapers, total control of TV, total control, total control, and then the top guy dumps the whole thing…
I think that no one is in charge, and that this is a very good thing, because it allows the internal dynamic of the situation to express itself.
Everybody who wants to control the situation is fighting a losing battle, and if you bank with chaos your stock just keeps growing exponentially. Chaos is spreading, it’s the place to put your bets.
All efforts to ideologically or economically or any other way to channel the global process seems to meet with incredible frustration. Nobody is in charge, the so-called great successful conspiracies of history are so successful that they don’t even think of themselves as conspiracies. If you’ve been running a given piece of turf for 5 or 6 hundred years, you don’t run around in conspiratorial mode, you stride boldly across the landscape, you own it. You think, you suppose…
Oh you mean “if only Hitler were alive in Argentina calling the shots, it would all make so much more sense then!” That would explain things!
In the absence of an overarching demon like that, it’s a little hard to explain things. I don’t know, I don’t feel this need for intellectual closure. I don’t see why things should make sense, they never have. And they are always in process of formation.
And as soon as any given bench-mark or goal is achieved, it becomes abandoned and redefined in favor of something else. I think conspiracy theory is a very disempowering thing.
Because what it says is “You can’t control the world” or “It’s more difficult to control the world than you think it is”, not so. I’ve had a very different experience. My experience with the corridors of power, if you want to put it that way, is that there are an immense number of clueless people.
It’s almost like Mckenna’s law. It’s
As you advance in social hierarchy, the percentage of smart people does not increase. So lets now move to a cabinet meeting of the Clinton administration. There are as many stupid people, truly moronic people sitting in that room as there are sitting in this room.
It doesn’t seem to make any difference. Because people don’t seem to find their seats according to intellectual or social merit.
Every human situation is bedeviled by morons.
No matter how high you rise, you’re surrounded by fools and you’re lucky if you’re not one of them. I mean that’s the basic thing to try and guard against.
The other thing is that at the top, it’s remarkably empty. You think, if you’ve never been there, that toward the top of the control pyramid there must be many people standing in line eager to take the helm, eager to make big decisions and establish their reputations and do whatever they do. Instead you find this fear as you go up the hierarchy. “My god, if I make this decision and it goes wrong I will lose my chairmanship, or I will lose my something or other”
So as you approach these enormously powerful levers for manipulating society, everybody’s holding their hands behind their backs, they don’t want their fingerprints on the lever because they know there would be war crimes trials if you stumble and get it wrong. I mean you thought you may have been on a golden crusade, suddenly you’re looking at 12 guys in powdered wigs who think you’re a jerk and they’re going to hang you for the stunt you pulled. So it’s like that.
I used to think it was not true that all spiritual work began with ones self, I felt like that was a way of disempowering people and say “You know if you wait till you’re an avatar, you’ll never join the people rioting people in the street”
And I used to say “If you see people rioting, you have a moral obligation to join. You don’t even have to know what it’s about” The people rioting is a sufficient imperative to political action to be there. Well, I’m not 25 anymore. That provided a lot of fun, but I now think you do not make unflawed contribution unless you have first
Gotten your ducks somewhat in order. I’m not saying you have to be able to walk on water, but you have to have at least considered your own life and your values and that sort of thing.
It’s pretty simple, the ethical life. It’s just demanding, many of you have heard me say this, this is my…this is “father Mckenna” talking to you.
The moral life does not consist of wheatgrass diet or affirmation, or any of that.
The moral life is, unless your at Esalen, you should clothes the naked, you should feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, bury the dead, and there are a couple others, obvious things to be done.
It’s not about how many prostrations you do or what lineage you’ve associated yourself with, or how much cholesterol is in your diet. Somehow we have confused the ethical and moral dimension with the dimension of physical practices.
Probably because we have been too infected by the means of tired Asian religions that long ago gave up moral philosophy in favor of rotational activity because the social problems of Asia are overwhelming.
That’s a response to an overwhelming human tragedy, the quietism of Asian religion, I think.
Well and it’s flawed is what you’re saying. And yes I agree, that the person helped by that person is still advanced, but the whole system is not served by misguided do-good-erism, or the large nobles-ablige is an insulting attitude to take.
Because the real nature of the human condition is that we’re all in it together, this is one of the reasons why I am so hostile to all forms of spiritual hierarchy. I have never seen a truly superior person, I don’t believe. And if I have, they were so humble and self-effacing they never would have claimed that superiority as their own.
If somebody tells you they’re a superior person, my God they’re automatically to be taken off the active list. That alone screws the pooch right there.
And, it’s tremendously disempowering. The mushroom said me once, and I’ve said it to many of you many times, it said “For one human being to seek enlightenment from another is like a grain of sand seeking enlightenment from another. Don’t you get it? It’s the same flesh, it’s the same flesh, nobody knows anything you don’t know, and even if they do, it’s not your knowledge so what good is it doing you?”
The idea that it’s OK for you not to understand mathematics, or not to play the violin, because somebody else does it very well, is a complete cop-out. You will be held responsible for what you know and what you can do.
And using the excuse that you lived in the same world as Jacha Heiffitz is not going to get you off the hook of not knowing how to play the violin. I say this as someone who does not play the violin.
It’s fun to take responsibility. It’s fun to test the waters. The hardest thing to put across to ones self and other people is that the universe is a more friendly place than we have been told.
Paranoia, culture is institutionalized paranoia. It’s very hard to de-condition oneself from this, no matter how de-conditioned you make think you are, there is more and more work to be done.
I think the essence of Daoism, and why it’s roots in nature are so powerful, is because what Daoism is saying is “If you will quiet your mind, and if you will pay attention, you will discover that you are supported and cared for by the dynamic of the universe”
This should be obvious by virtue of the fact that you’re even alive.
I mean how unlikely is your existence? I put it to you…pretty unlikely! And yet, here you are.
Well do you just think it was the greatest series of well-rolled dice in history, that’s silly.
That’s ridiculous, probably would never have delivered us to this room this afternoon. Probably sculpted by loving intent has delivered us to this room this afternoon.
Once you can sense that living intent and make it an object familiarity you probably, that is the antidote to cultural paranoia and to the acceptance of your identity through imposed definitions by other people.
And psychedelics figure in here because they dissolve more dramatically and more effectively than anything else the cultural and linguistic and habitual assumptions that are masking that presence of Dao. It really is true, as the bible says you must become as a little child.
That means you must become pre-culture. You must recover who you were before the engines of culture went to work on you, and abused you and made you afraid and dumbed you down and distorted your values and so forth and so on.
See I think what’s happened is that at the top of the culture it’s profoundly intellectually bankrupt. There is no plan except to keep peddling stuff until the forests are gone and the planet is polluted.
This is not malevolent. It’s not malevolent, it’s simply they are clueless, they have run out of steam, so the answer is to try and keep the game going as long as possible.
With daytime TV, with casino gambling, with lotteries, with endless distractions, with pop-culture fads, with cults of celebrity, with spectacular trials and gory mass murders and endless circuses
While the people at the top are saying you know “Sooner or later the shit is going to hit the fan” “Sooner or later the dam is going to burst”
And they say “Well lets make sure its later, and not sooner cause I’ve got 2 kids at the sorboun, I’m paying off a Mercedes, and I need to get this taken care of before it all falls apart”
So in the absence of any cultural plan imposed at the top, this strange dynamic is happening.
This has happened before in cultural history where some huge enterprise like Christianity or Patriarchy, or something like that, after running its games for millennia, it just runs out of steam. And often there’s nothing to rush in and fill the vacuum, nothing that is consciously engineered to do that.
So in those situations, an actual creative bifurcation can take place because what is about to happen is not in the hands of human managers, it lies deeper in the dynamics of the whole system. And we all feel I think this sense of excitement, and the approach of the unimaginably new, and we don’t know whether it’s the aliens coming to pull our chestnuts out of the fire, or virtual reality, or a new drug, or a new style of sexual behaving, or star-flight. We don’t know what it is, but we can feel that it will transcend the categories of our managers, and they and we will have to make sense of whatever this new reality is.
It terrifies some people, it liberates others, it’s the same reality.
Steven Vincent Benet said something about at the end of John Brown’s body, he says “when the prophets of strange religions ball out their bizarre despair, do not join them on the mountain, say only then it is here. It is here.” Because it is here, I mean that was 1927 when he wrote then and he spoke then of technology as our humble servant, already half a God. That was in 1927.
You can imagine then what that technology is today.
(Question, do you propose in history that there is no longer a manager class?)
A manager class, I’d rather talk about a point in history where there’s no more commodities. Yes I don’t think there will be a manager class. A manager class, you manage towards ideology. If you can transcend ideology, the way to manage society I think would be self-evident. The problem is trying to force it into the service of some kind of ideological vision, and then of course it becomes intractable because no ideological vision we’ve ever had has been true to our humanness.
The Christian version of what human beings are, the Nazi version, Marxist version, the Secular market-oriented version, these all somehow insult various parts of our humanness.
So when an attempt is made to push us into these things it doesn’t work and you get instead war, anxiety, and Q-forces swamp the social system.
I think the managing of society would be fairly simple in the absence of ideology. But we’re addicted to ideology because somewhere along the line we’ve gotten the idea that you can’t understand the world without an ideology when in fact ideologies are incredible impediments.
I suppose as long as we are disparate entities, there will be hierarchies of control, that seems obvious. But it seems as though we are palying with the idea that we may not be disparate entities, or that we may only be provisionally disparate entities. We are a peculiar creature, we human beings as a mass phenomenon we are somewhat like a slime mold. We have a life cycle where part of our life cycle we appear to be completely separate individuals.
But apparently if you view our development of the past few centuries, we’re entering into some aggregation phase triggered by pheromones spread through technology and we are beginning to create some kind of a super-organism.
And the fear of some people is that once we are inside this super-organism, we will be forced into a permanent status as a sub-level of the hierarchy. In other words you will have to give up your individuality and you will become like some kind of liver cell or brain cell or something in this organism.
I don’t think is the case, I think we have the unique ability to combine these two modes of existence. This is why we have the notion of society, and the private reality of the individual.
Probably, in the domain of society there will always be forms of, I don’t want to say control, but management of the distribution of commodity. But the idea, I think, is to empower this other dimension.
To spend as much time as possible in the individual free-swimming free-agent mode.
In other words not to see membership in society as a goal, and a value to be conserved, but to see it as a necessary evil.
We need social organization, but in minimal doses. And when we go on a bender of addiction to social normative behaviors, then you get a psychic epidemic like national socialism where people voluntarily abandon their individuality to act in concert with some kind of mass impulse.
This is extremely evolutionary retrograde. It’s not what we want to do, I guess what I’m pleading for is an enlightened form of alienation. Not simply an emotionally driven alienation, but a strategically driven alienation.
See, alienation can be used not to create neurosis, but to attain freedom.
Creative alienation, alienation that embraces itself as a source of inspiration.
Nobody ever said it was going to be comfortable to be a human being and to ride one of these bi-pedal bodies from the cradle to the grave. It’s an uncomfortable, but I maintain, manageable situation.
But you have to have the lights on, you have to have your emotional responses in order, your intellectual responses in order, you have to have garnered some sense of how we got to this situation, and you have to have some sense of the tools available to transform it.
Well, it’s certainly true that the human classroom is the most untransformed portion of human society over the last 200 years. I mean we still pass on our cultural values to our children in the way it was done two or three hundred years ago. This may be changing, again I don’t mean to make the internet the panacea of all problems.
But it seems to here is a problem that the internet can address and you don’t have to be a technocrat to see how it has enormous power. Because education is a process on one level of putting correct information in front of people, and in the present form of education the great choke-point is the limitations of human teachers. Who, as finely and nobly motivated as they are, inevitably they pass on their own limitations to their students. In the presence of the internet this is somewhat mitigated. There’s a great leveling going on in the education process.
The quality of information available to all of us, if we learn how to make our way to it is orders of magnitude more dependable than it was a generation ago. I mean we have basically traded in cultural illusions for hard fact.
(Would you discuss the break up of soviet union with the growth of international corporation and the fact that our central government seems to be breaking up, including the (??) something about breaking up the soviet union)
Mcluhan talked about this, he talked about something called electronic feudalism and what he said was that the rise of electronic media would bring a retribalization of culture and that the nation state would completely disappear. I think this is happening, it won’t disappear completely, but in the metaphor I made a few minutes ago it will take on the role of the church which is largely irrelevant. Corporations now call the shots.
Print you see has what are called hidden-biases. It allows and in fact makes inevitable certain kinds of ideas that once you get outside the domain of print conditioning these ideas appear if not absurd, then at least simply provisional. What I’m thinking of are ideas such as ideas that all men, apologies to women, that all men are created equal. This is a faith of print-created society.
There’s absolutely no evidence that this is true, and in fact there’s considerable evidence to the contrary.
The argument against not believing it is that if we don’t believe this, we can’t have social justice. So we must embrace and obviously preposterous idea in order to achieve social justice. Why is this preposterous idea so attractive? Well it’s because print is linear and uniform.
Every lower case E looks like every other lower case E. Therefore if the world of print is made out of these interchangeable and equally weighted entities, so must be the society that practices print culture. So we get the idea of one man, one vote.
Another example, a different example is assembly of objects out of interchangeable parts. Before print, if someone made an object, it was a unique object. The idea of an object, lets say a water-wheel or something like that, where if it broke down you got in touch with the company and they sent “the part” and you then took out the bad part, and put in the good part, and the pump merrily proceeds, interchangeable parts.
So we begin to see that the conventions of the printers shop become the conventions of an entire society, and how it does its politics and how it assembles its commodities are all dictated by the invisible assumptions of a form of media that nobody really looked at its potential effects before it was put in place.
McLuhan saw that this kind of rational, linear, compartmentalized, uniformitarian culture would be completely broken up by electronics and so it has come to pass.
The great forms of print-media are what are called “one too many”
A publisher publishes a book, and many people read it.
These “one too many” or “top-down” forms of media are perfect for controlling large numbers of people.
You have the idea of the “Ministry of Truth” where ‘truth’ is something dispensed by governments and received with grateful up-turned faces by bewildered citizenry that would otherwise have apparently no access to truth. This is madness talking.
The new electronic media are what is called “any to any”. If I want to speak to you or if I want to send email to you that can be done. If you and I want to send email to 500 people that can be done.
Any to any communication is anti-heriarchical, there’s no assumption of expertise or power or anything else as you ascend the pyramid of information transfer and dispersal.
So it’s almost like the Wizard of Oz effect, suddenly people say “You’re not all powerful! You’re not the Wizard, you’re a fat man in a stained overcoat pulling levers behind the scenes” and then the whole illusion drops away, the illusion of leaders, or privileged ideologies, of special forms of understanding, this is resisted by some people, usually control freaks
Because they say “well in the absence of illusion you would have chaos”. Yes, indeed. Indeed, the mother of all progress. The source of all innovation and creativity, the wind that blows the ship of paradigm shift, chaos.
And the idea somehow that the human mind should somehow interpose itself between society and this expression of chaos is just an illusion of control freaks and how…
(Cut off very unfortunately between audio file segments)
The whole ideology is a simplification of reality where the mass seething messy baroqueness of being is put through some kind of rasher of reality and it comes out grossly simplified. And because it sgrossly simplified it becomes like a kind of algebra of idiocy where now you can set up these little equations and they solve themselves and you get a feeling of satisfaction from that, but in fact the whole thing betrays the human enterprise. And to give you a graphic example of what I’m talking about I’m thinking about, I’m thinking of a scene from
called “Carrelis Mandarren” by Louis Idabunieres where a guy whose a communist in Greek partisans during the war beats a villager to death who has given shelter and food to some non-Communist partisans fighting in the mountains and the protagonist of this particular part of the novel says this guy as he’s beating this old man to death and he says “Why are you killing this old man? He is harmless.”
And the guy without even missing a stroke, and turns to him and says “It is a matter of historical necessity”
This is the voice of absolute fanaticism speaking and this is the voice of pure ideology. In other words, unconscionable acts. The Holocaust, up to that level of unconsciounable acts become intellectually defensible in the presence of a complete corruption of language.
And so ideology always paves the way towards atrocity.
Well ideals and ideology are not quite the same thing. Ideals are simple and don’t knit themselves into vast intellectual structures. In other words an ideal of mind is to do as little harm as possible, I may not meet this ideal but it is an ideal of mind to try anddo as good a job as I can.
But in the name of that ideal, It doesn’t lead on…there isn’t a “therefore”. “Therefore” what? Therefore I should become a Mormon? Therefore I should no longer eat meat? Therefore I should no longer have sex?
No, there isn’t that kind of implication. But ideology always implies implications. “If man is, as Marxists say, and economic creature, then the following must following and the following must follow from that”
So I think ideals are something that are close to our emotions, they’re things that spring from the heart. Their boundaries are not well-defined and the implications are not clear.
If I say “my ideal is to do good for man-kind” the next stop is not at all clear, but if I profess an ideology, the next step is always deceptively clear.
So I think ideologies flatten complexity. You know people don’t like paradox, I’m not sure why this is…
I think it’s a quality of print culture, people want closure. They want every program or every intellectual argument, or every examination of a phenomenon to end with a conclusion.
QED, therefore this is what it is, but you don’t have to be a rocket-scientist to notice that this betrays the complexity of the world, the world is never one thing, or even several things.
The world always have dimensions which exceed the descriptive machinery that you’re applying to it.
And I don’t know who it was, George Bernand Shaw, or Neitzche, or some other 19th century bad boy, but it has been said that the essence of intellectual maturity is to be able to simultaneously hold two contradictory thoughts in your mind at the same time.
Now you are actually approaching the beginning of intellectual maturity.
But if you’re always saying “Well if it’s this, then it can’t be that, and if it’s this then it can’t be that” then you have been hoisted on the petard of dualism. And it’s more than a joke to say that dualism is the root of all evil.
Of course it is, it’s the root of all good. What really we are given is a seamless continuum of phenomenon, that we are asked not to understand…that’s preposterous, why should talking monkeys understand reality? (laughter)
But to feel. We can feel. We have an extremely complex body and nervous system and perceptual apparatus which ushers us into feeling. So you have not mastered a situation when you understand it, when you understand the situation you’re probably on the road to catastrophe.
the situation you are probably moving then into a good position to act in that situation. Often we, in fact usually we do not understand our feelings.
That’s a strange thing to ask of ones feelings.
If we understand our feelings its simply a footnote on our intellectual housekeeping, it is neither necessary nor sufficient.
What is necessary, and what is sufficient is feeling into the moment. I think this is where we got to at some point earlier in this, but the felt presence of immediate experience is the defining phenomenon of being.
If you can’t reach it, you are in trouble. You need some kind of help, psychedelics, therapy, loving kindness, something.
And if you can reach it, you have contacted the authentic domain of being. I almost said of humanness, but it goes deeper than that, but the animal world is living in that space.
I think because of the good offices of quantum physics and some other things we are beginning to realize that things like chaos, like paradox, these are not names for intellectual black holes, these are names for the sources of life’s richness and it’s advance, it’s creative advances lies in these things.
Reducing, as we have done over the past 200 years, the universe to a machine, some kind of a machine, then robs it of meaning. Then we stand back and look at our lives and our societies and say “How come they have no meaning?” It’s because we labored like demons to make sure they didn’t have meaning, now we have no one to blame but ourselves for the gross simplification of reality and the betrayal of experience that we achieved in that process.
You know years ago in Canada there was a political party called “The social credit party” and they had a very complex scheme that nobody could understand, and they ran on the platform under the motto “You don’t have to understand social credit in order to vote for it”
So this is sort of what you’re talking about.
(A bit more commentary)
Why not, yes (laughter) feelings are primary. The primary datum of experience is feeling and then out of that comes a logical reframing of experience. Then still lower on the rung and I maintain low enough on the rung that one shouldn’t go that low is an ideological recasting of experience.
It’s a delicate thing, I am not offering a simple answer here. It requires constant fine tuning and intelligence. Every day I think we need, what is it that the Marxists used to do? Self-criticism, we need to be alert to ideology, it’s constantly seducing us.
Yeah, dialexic. But the idea of criticism, self-criticism, the idea that you and your colleges and comrades constantly search your behavior for betrayal of the ideology.
I think we need to constantly search ourselves not for the betrayal of ideology, but for the embracing of it, and say “oh dear I’m starting to believe something, ‘slap, slap’, ah that feels better”
Because these ideologies are incredibly draining and distracting. They, they…get in the way between us and true feeling.
On the other hand if you don’t apply logical razors to experience then feeling is open to all kinds of interpretations that become somehow themselves spring-boards to ideology.
I think it’s really important to try to keep things as simple as possible, because they will still be hellatiously complex if you are true to experience.
The simplest explanation of what is going on here is still maddeningly baroque. So throwing on flying saucers and papel-plotting and plans of Great Atlantis only further exascerbate the problem. If you just deal with the given, with the fact of your history and your destiny, things are quite complex enough.
Of course again what the psychedelics do are provide a reference point in organism.
It’s like a reset button.
It says “Beyond ideology, beyond cultural programming, beyond language, beyond hope, beyond fear, beyond expectation, there is the raw datum of experience. Here, have a dose. Didn’t work? Here, have a bigger dose”
And if we keep returning to the raw datum of experience, then these other things, they will re-crystalize around us, but not with the imprisoning intensity that they have for straight people. We know that behind all this constipated social stability lies the chaos of the psychedelic experience.
It’s very important to keep it in mind in very un-psychedelic situations.
But people who have never broken through the cultural dream take it to be reality.
And commit crimes based on delusions about what is and isn’t reality.
Well, not to speak of whales and dolphins specifically, but nature as a dynamic field of activity beyond the reach of politicians, image makers, so forth and so on, nature is the constant psychedelic companion of the human experience.
I think we know this, that’s why we crowd into cities and build walls and keep nature at bay.
If you go into nature alone and don’t eat much and don’t speak much, within 72 hours the hills speak and the winds confer with you. You are conveyed into an animate, caring, living, natural dynamic.
But it’s threatening to the ego, this is the first time in 2 hours I’ve used this word. The ego is a maladaptive tumor-like growth in the personality that has been inculcated into you by the toxicity of culture.
It is literally the response to toxic culture, the more toxic the culture the more the ego is revered as a natural value within that culture.
Responding to dolphins and whales and ant hills and termite swarms and these kinds of things is an opening to the natural dynamic that’s all around us.
Many people never observe nature except when psychedelics force it upon them.
This is a very…I think if you feel afraid of psychedelics but you want the juice you may sense there, take up wilderness camping and do it assiduously, and though it’s a slower process, and you may not have specifically colored hallucinations, the conclusions that you will emerge with are essentially the same that the psychedelic voyager emerges from.
Nature is deep, ordered, dynamical, and caring for the project of being. So should we be.
The order that we seek is the natural order of our bodies and our minds and interface with the world. Not the unnatural order of ideology, co modification, propaganda, and a misuse of communication.
No I think it’s very difficult because the process of education, without anybody quite knowing where the crime was committed, has turned from a handing-on of cultural values to a handing on of this neurotic behavior around co modification.
People are clueless, and they’re being used and abused. Seemingly intelligent people behave in incredibly stupid ways, the phenomenon of the respectability of aimless shopping.
Shopping in unconscionable, it’s stupid. It’s tasteless. It’s murderous toward the earth.
And yet people who teach at Essalen will suddenly drop their guru persona and whip out the charge plate and head for Robinsons.
What kind of thinking is going on here? They are clearly not alienated enough, alienation may be for them just a stance, but where they’re really comfortable is down at Barneys racking up the charge card.
Somehow the message has to be put across that there are no exceptions to the obligation to de co modify experience. Anybody who feels alienated from this orgy of consumerism is going to have to look elsewhere for their values.
I feel blessed because I guess I’m just so alienated that it doesn’t touch me. Recently for some reason I had to lay-out my income for an attorney and say how much I spent every month on things like entertainment so forth and so on. So he called me on the phone, you declared 15 dollars a month for entertainment. Based on your income, do you know how much would be a standard deduction for entertainment? And I said how much? He said 700 dollars a month, that’s inconceivable to me. How much of an idiot would I be?
I said “I put down the 15 dollars because I knew you wanted something” but in fact I don’t think I spend 15 dollars a month on entertainment, I mean what is entertainment anyways?
So…you know…I suppose it just sounds like preaching a kind of monkishness, but what is the charm of all this crap? Can anybody explain to me?
I heard a story about the Dalai Lama, I mean let this riquoche around in your mind. The Dalai Lama came to Los Angeles and so the committee to receive him and make his visit comfortable wanted to do something with him in L.A that would be uniquely L.A, but that would be amusing for Dalai. So they decided to take him to Rodeo drive, and basically they just turned him loose with his translator and just said “We’ll meet you back here in an hour and a half and check it out, this is a unique place in American culture”
So then, after it was over and they were all having their double espresso with a campare’ or whatever they were having, the Dalai Lama said “I want to thank you so much for making this experience available to me, I feel I understand Americans so much better now. I saw so many things I wanted.”
This is the Dalai Lama talking, he saw so many things he wanted, well if the Dalai Lama is not immune, my God what chance have you and I? If the Dalai Lama can’t hold this stuff back, you know, you might as well buy that Armey scarf, just give up, give them 200 dollars for the damn thing and enjoy it.
As an old anarchist I can tell you efforts to organize anarchists are so fraut with contradiction that I wish you luck and I’ll make a small donation but I don’t think it can be done that way.
Yes, you will definitely give me 15 dollars worth of entertainment per month.
Well I hate to tell you this but I would never do what you are doing, this may be the ultimate teaching. “Do not ever again spend money to see me”
My god how much income is going down the drain as the ultimate oral empowerment given (laughter)
Ok, as long as you take it as entertainment.
I have one more little story, I didn’t tell you the story about the two rabbi’s did I?
Good, this is my ending story for the afternoon. I don’t present it as a summation, but it amuses me. For those of you who don’t like Jewish jokes, you will notice as this joke is told that it is easily translated into a Zen mode, a Sufi mode, I just like the Jewish flavor.
There were two Rabbi’s, extremely high Rabbi’s, Talmudists, great men of accomplishment and they were at temple, and one of them prayed and he said “Lord” he stood up and spoke aloud and he said “Lord, I am nothing” and he sat down, and the other guy got up and he said “Lord, I am nothing” and there was a guy there sweeping the floor, a custodian person, and he thought “Well people are praying, I could get a prayer in here”
So he stood up and said “Lord, I am nothing” and the first Rabbi looked at the second Rabbi and said “So look who think he’s nothing”
That’s it, that’s a story about the imagination.
(Next group meeting time)
The time wave is a variable wave against time and can be scaled around very large amounts of time, even amounts of time larger than the life of the universe. Thousands, millions of times larger than that. You might ask, “What’s the point of scaling a temporal description over periods of time so vast that there is no reason to assume they ever existed?”
Well the answer is that at these transition points, these dramatic shift points, the software automatically as in the course of running the algorithm keeps track of days to end, days until you get down here to a hypothetical end point, even if this is not billions of years, but trillions of years. It will keep track of this day count number and what we discovered to our bewildered amazement is these day counts were almost always prime numbers or the product of two primes.
(What are we measuring again?)
Well I’ll answer your question but it isn’t relevant to what I’m talking about. What I’m measuring, what this is measuring is the ebb and flow of novelty and habit, and you’ve actually lead me back to the main track so we’ll get serious and get out of pointer. That’s always a sign that we’re really serious.
I don’t want to give my ordinary time-wave lecture because I’ve given it enough that the meme is actually established in the culture and there are dozens of tapes of it and written versions and fights of it on the internet, so why should I explain it to you all over again.
I will just assume that in the course of talking about specific issues that relate to it, you will pick up the rules of the game and then if you’re just too excruciated by your confusion you can ask a question and I’ll try and answer it. The basic assumption is that there is a quality to reality that science has overlooked.
Some people in the East have called it “Dao”, I want to divorce myself from the freight of that tradition and I want to call it “novelty”.
Novelty is the quality in nature that seeks complexity, that’s what it is. And it’s counter-veiling force is called “habit” so what I’m proposing to you is that we live in a universe ruled by two fundamental forces that are larger than physics and electromagnetism and all of those good things.
These two forces are habit and novelty.
In every situation whether it lasts a millisecond or billion years, the struggle between these two tendencies of the universe can be disncerned. Now, it’s pretty self-explanatoyry what these terms mean but I’ll run through it.
Habit means repetition of previously established pattern, continuation of a equilibrium situation. A tendency for a system to degrade entropically under the egious of the 2nd Law of Thermodyanmics. A conservative tendency, a preservationist tendency, habit right? For crying out loud.
The other thing is novelty, the opposite of habit. What is novelty? It is the new, the untried levels of complexification previously unachieved, unusual connectivity, creativity, surprise, novelty.
These two things are in locked in struggle over vast scales of time, notice I did not say eternally locked in struggle. They are not eternally locked in struggle because the good news is novelty is winning.
Novelty is winning, if you get big enough chunks of time, though there may be viscitudes, ups and downs, ultimately the situation ends up more novel than it started out.
Elia Pregosian, who got the Nobel prize for work in non-equilibrium thermodynamics called this “The principle of order through perturbation”
A counterintuitive phenomenon in physical chemistry. Because for a very long time one of the strongest faiths held in physics was that the universe is undergoing thermodynamic degradation. In other words everything is tending to fall apart.
Pregosian showed that this is not true, he showed that in physical systems, simple physical systems there can be spontaneous mutation to higher states of order.
So what’s really going on in the universe is a struggle between these two tendencies, biology represents the emergence of a very novel set of chemical strategies for the preservation and maintenance of novelty.
The emergence of higher-animals and culture and language and technology, these things are also novel strategies building on previous achievements in the novelty department building toward our dear selves.
And one of the interesting things about this kind of thinking, is it gives a new importance to the human world, science will tell you that we’re lucky to be here and we’re simply the awe-struck witnesses to some kind of incomprehensible thing that has nothing to do with us anyway. Novelty theory would say “no, no, human complexity represents at this point the apex of accomplishment in the domain of novelty, and hence, somehow, the cutting edge of universal evolution, at this moment in space and time has come to rest in ourselves”
So...what else do I want to say about this. So let’s look at this screen for a minute and I’ll sort of explain the rules of the game. This is a span of time portrayed along the horizontal axis as you’re used to seeing, in this case it’s 7 billion years simply because we set it to be so.
This represents the ebb and flow of novelty, here’s one moment in the next 2 hours to pay attention, this is the moment.
When the wave moves up, habit is increasing, not decreasing, it’s counterintuitive if you’re into the stock market. In the stock market we always want it to go up unless we’re selling short but none of you here would do that I’m sure.
So in this case the excitement is where the wave moves down, if this is 7 billion years, notice that what I said is true of this screen, we end up in a far more novel position than we started.
We started out here, habit won, was winning the battle for at least 700 million years along here, then it lost its foothold and novelty surged forward almost uninterruptedly although this is quite a hiccup, this probably lasted 200 million years this hiccup.
If you want to get a notion of the scale of what we’re looking at then life emerged from the primordial oceans at the top of this pimple.
All this is what’s called the archeozoic and the prebiotic phase of the earths existence.
Good question, it derails my plan for economy but since you had the intelligence to ask it you should probably be told.
The basic data, and I don’t want anyone to laugh, the basic data comes out of the I-Ching. If somebody had told me…this is the most powerful attack on this idea, and it begins like this.
“So uhm…you want to make a revision in physics based on a Chinese occult divinatory system, are we getting this correct?”
Well in spite of the sneering, let me see if I can make it make a little more sense to you. I’m not going to review what the I-Ching is, in an environment as exotic as this that would insult our intelligence.
The interesting thing about the I-Ching, even it’s skeptics agree, is that it seems to work. Very puzzling, other forms of sortilege seem much less certain.
Here’s what I think is happening.
First of all, lets look at the Western notion of time as we derive it from Newton.
The Western notion of time is that time is what is known as pure duration.
All time is in Western physics is the place where you put process so that it doesn’t all happen at once.
Time has no quality, it’s pure duration, think of it as a perfectly smooth surface. The only modification to this doctrine in the past 500 years is Einstein came along 100 years ago and said “In the presence of massive gravitational fields, this perfect smoothness is slightly distorted over large scales” So we go from perfectly smooth pure duration, to slightly curved space-time.
But the main idea which is contiguous through all of these intellectual evolutions is the idea that the local fine structure of time can be portrayed as a zero-dimensional space.
If that’s too technical for you it means that locally it is OK to think of time as perfectly smooth. I say it isn’t, why should it be?
This has to do with a form, remember we talked about sentimentality and how it can distort thinking. This adherence to the idea that time is perfectly smooth is a sentimental notion left over from our infatuation with perfect geometrical shapes when Greek science kicked off about 2,500 years ago.
It took Kepler and Copernicus to demonstrate that the orbits were not perfect circles because God loves perfect circles…
One by one, the perfect objects of Greek mathematical and geometric theorizing have been laid aside. The planets do not move in perfect circles, nothing else has been found to have mathematical perfection except that…
This idea of pure duration has been hung on to. And there’s a reason for this, and I apologize for the digression but it’s very hard to snip the loose ends on a thing like this. The reason this idea of pure duration has been hung on to is because science, modern science, does it’s business through a series of hat-tricks called probability theory.
And probability theory is the idea that you can learn something useful about a phenomenon, lets say for instance you want to know how much voltage is running through a wire.
Strange thing about this value that you come up with is this: it is not necessary that it correspond to any one of the thousand measurements that you took.
It’s entirely possible that you get a value that is not congruent with any one of your measurements, but we say with confidence “well it’s the average! It’s the average.”
Lurking behind this notion, “average’ is the unexamined assumption that time is completely uniform.
That it does not matter when the measurement is made. Now why do we assume that? Is there any reason to assume that?
Well not, looking at nature, no there is no reason to assume that. Looking at science, hell yes there is a reason to assume that, you can’t do science unless you assume that. Because science depends on what is called “The experimental method.”
An experiment, you arrange a funny little unusual situation which is designed to cause some phenomenon normally lost in the noise of being to be thrown into high relief.
Basic to the idea of experiment is what is called the restoration of initial condition. In other words we’re going to roll a ball-bearing down a ruler and measure its velocity.
And we do this, and we say “restore initial conditions” that means pick up the ball-bearing and move it back to the top of the ramp. Now notice that time has passed since the first time the ball bearing rolled down the ramp. If time is not uniform then you can not restore initial condition.
If you can not restore initial conditions you can not make sense of probabilistic data. We have assumed and conserved this sentimental notion of Greek science because it makes it possible to do modern science. If we were intellectually honest about what’s going on, then what w really should say is that “probability and modern science is the study of those natural phenomenon so coarse grain that an assumption of the restoration of initial conditions does not destroy the integrity of the phenomenon”
In other words it’s a lens that can be focused only to a certain depth, and beyond that, it begins to give false data. Of course ball-bearing always roll down ramps the same way, of course two liquids always mix together in the same way, but who cares about these things?
What we’re interested in are love affairs, dynastic transitions, corporate takeovers, political revolutions, family feuds, and the interesting thing about these things is that they never happen the same way twice.
Have there ever been two identical births, divorces, love affairs, corporate takeovers? Of course not, we would not expect such a thing, we understand that the complexity of those phenomenon ensures their uniqueness.
So this theory has probably not stormed the intellectual battlements of Western civilization for one reason is that it poses so fundamental a challenge, science can not swallow the time-wave. You have to choose one or the other, the time-wave is not a cult, it is not occult. But it is not science as we have done it for the past 500 years, because it assumes that one of our primary intuitions is actually true.
The intuition that every moment is unique, it treats that as the central starting point for an entirely new metaphysic of being. So the “smooth duration”, the “simple answer”, the “parsimonious good-try” has to be put aside.
Now why the I-Ching? Because in the same way that Western culture evolved a maniacal obsession with matter that ends with atomic fusion, sequencing of the DNA, room temperature superconductors, Buckminster-Fullerines and all sorts of all that.
In the same way that Western intellectual methods were relentlessly pushed towards an understanding of matter, in the east a different obsession held sway for culture factors not needing to be discussed here, people were interested not in matter, but in time, the other great mystery given to us in this dimension. Time.
If you’re interested in time, you don’t conquer time by building vast instrumentalities and seeking a primary particle and all that.
The way you understand and investigate time is by moving inward to metabolism. The human body is knot in time, it is non-thermo-dynamic state of equilibrium maintained by the miracle of metabolism.
Metabolism is a slow, controlled chemical burning of organic material, so subtle a form of burning that the energy is trapped in various membrane and cytochrome cascades and put the work of organism.
If you imagine then, at some time thousands of years in the past, people possessing techniques which today we would call “yogic”
But what they really are, are what they would now call “stilling of the heart” techniques.
Techniques for suppressing gross bodily functions. In other words, noticeable breathing, noticeable heartbeat, noticeable pulse. It turns out that the technique for stillingall of this can be done, and is persistently claimed that it can be done, as noise leaves the physiological circuits…and circuis…the mind falls inward, into a world of interiorized phenomenon for which we have no language but the language of idiots because this is not our cultural obsession.
So we say “Well it’s dream, it’s hallucination, it’s who knows, lets see what’s going on with the 11 o clock news”
But in other cultures, complex vocabularies were produced to study these states, vocabularies as complex as our scientific vocabularies.
In the same way that in the 19th century, Mendeliav and those people came to discern that all matter is produced out of the combination of a limited number of elements, there were arguments about how many, but it’s generally assumed under 110, and that’s generous.
Out of 110 basic elements the entire world of material, similarly in the inspection of time, it was realized that time too comes in flavors, if you will.
Not 50,000, not 300,000,000, not 4, not 8…but 64. And this probably has something to do with the cube root of 4, and certain things having to do with the dimensionality of time and space, I mean why this number is a reason for speculation.
It’s a number built into biology, there are 64 codons coding for the 8 amino acids. This is no coincidence, it’s something about the basic grammar of being itself arises around these numbers.
They not only saw that time is made of these elements, but they saw that they occurred in certain fixed patterns of recurrence at different levels, at different speeds.
That from the point of view of this I-Ching philosophy, a given moment of being, at some locus in space and time is a kind of interference pattern created by moving levels of, let us call them “influences” and these influences interpenetrate each other on many levels.
All of this can in fact be quantified and mathematicized, and portrayed in the universal language of mathematics.
I’m sorry this answer ran so long. But I want to make it seem reasonable to you that there are categories in time as well as in matter, if you can discern these categories, you can gain as powerful an intellectual understanding of time as we have of matter.
Let me get back to how this thing is read, and I want to move forward here.
When the wave moves up, habit is increasing, when the wave moves down, novelty is increasing.
For instance, a place like this is called a “novelty trough”, a situation like this is called a “plunge into novelty”
A situation like this is called an “ascent into habit” and time on all scales is made out of ascents into habit, plunges into novelty, novelty troughs, and further ascents into habit.
You can feel these things in your own life you know. When the luck is running with you, nothing can stop you, when the wave is against you, God help you.
This happens to empires, this happens to political careers. It happens to species. It happens to entire orders of biological life 100,000,000 years of endless radiation of all kinds of niches across the planet. Then suddenly a planetary cooling and a mass extinction and the novel forms disappear.
But over long periods of time, as I said, habit is vanquished and novelty is concentrated. And that’s part of the story, half of the story.
The other half of the story is that this process of movement into deeper novelty is speeding up, always has been speeding up, goes faster and faster and faster.
So if this is 7 billion years, you can see back here, things were deadly slow.
Here, life appears, once life appears the pace quickens, once life leaves the ocean, at this scale, the thing is practically a direct descent into novelty.
Though when we blow this up, as we can do, we will see that this looks here like a smooth, straight shot into the lap of God turns out to be the old-rugged path that we’ve followed for a long, long time.
Normally in my lectures I go through a series of screens telescoping towards the present.
I don’t want to do that this evening, I want to run it very close to the present and I’ll explain why when we get there.
Here’s the little movie, we’re going to start seeing a series of screens, each screen will show us half as much time in twice as much detail, and we will be moving towards this end-point over here.
Here’s 7 billion years on the screen, the next screen will contain 3 ½ billion, so forth and so on.
As it flows in, you’ll get the idea I think. This is the fractal landscape of time, arrayed across this are planetary impacts, glaciations, this is 700 million years here.
It’s fading off, life leaves the sea, this is probably the last 400 million years, a kind of oscillation around a mean, as animal orders conquered the land.
This is 100 million years. 50 million years.
If you’re paying attention, you see that it’s fractal, patterns that appear on one scale are appearing in another scale.
13 million years, the same pattern as the last 600 million years.
Here’s 6 million years, oscillations, glaciations, extinctions, temperature fluctuations. Here’s the last 3 million years, this is the domain of human evolution.
The last 1,700,000 years, almost the domain of homo-sapiens. The last 850,000 years, the last 400,000 years, this is all things human beings have witnessed. The last 200,000 years.
Now a reason question is, where is this all being generated from? In other words it’s endpoint is all staying steady.
There’s the last 53,405 years.
It’s being generated from a date less than 20 years in the future. It’s as though the winter solstice of 2012 was some kind of dwell point out of which the temporal continuum is being generated.
Every theory has a hard-swallow.
The hard-swallow in ordinary science is the big-bang. Notice that it’s the limit test for credulity. If you can believe that the entire universe sprang from nothing in a single instant for no reason, what would you resist as a hypothesis?
It’s the limit case for improbability as far as I can tell. Nevertheless, science says “give us one free miracle and we can then go from there and never ask the favor again”
So apparently you get 1 free miracle in your system building.
I prefer to locate my miracle at the end.
You may say “Is that just arbitrary? Why December 21st, 2012?”
Well, obviously if the theory has any utility, if this idea of habit and novelty has any instructive value at all, we should find novel events clustered in these troughs and we should find periods of constipated recidivism on these upsweeps. So now we have two data fields with which to play.
We have the formal and the mathematically defined and utterly inflexible wave, and we have the vicissitudes of natural and human history.
On the natural history level, asteroids impacts, glaciations, extinctions, fluctuations in incidental incoming solar energy. Cooling of the oceans, volcanic eruptions, this sort of thing.
In the human world, wars, revolutions, technological innovations, migrations of people, introductions of new technologies, and so the idea then is to take the mathematically defined wave and the admittedly messy data of natural and human history and seek a best fit between them.
And when you impartially get them lined up so that it seems that most major episodes of novelty that historians, or people who care about these things, agree on, and most low point in the wave, line up with each other…
Then you simply go to the end of the wave and pick and end point and it picks out a date. I did this and I will show you my correlations.
An astonishing thing about the date I arrived at by this method is…
That it’s the same date that the Mayan civilization pointed for the end of it’s calendar, in all eternity.
You may choose not to believe that I didn’t know this when I made this prediction, but I didn’t know it.
I didn’t, and yet I chose not the month, not the same year, the same day, month, and year.
Well nobody knows, but I ask myself this question “What do I have in common with the Maya, that we both should reach the same conclusion?”
I have only one thing in common with the Maya: psychedelic mushrooms.
So then it raises the possibility “Does this thing have like a bar-code in it?”
No matter who you are, no matter where you are eventually you get to the bottom line and you turn over the carton and it says “Discard before December 21st, 2012 A.D.”
That apparently is the witching hour. I don’t present this to you as “You should believe me”
I wasn’t told this by a God.
It was not revealed to me by a former incarnation, I can show you why I reached this conclusion, I will do so now.
Let’s zoom in just a bit more, we’re at 50,000 years.
Lets get a hold on it here, 26,000 years.
The last 6,675 years. I’ll move past this fairly quickly, at this scale this is the big picture, then I’ll show you the big picture and we’ll go for the details.
As a big picture, I think this is pretty accurate as to how most educated historians would view what has gone on, on this planet for the last 6,000 years.
It’s telling us that 4,500 BC a descent into novelty is under way and it didn’t start very far back here.
Quite a steep descent into novelty.
In fact what we find here is Sumer, Err, Babylon, Egypt, and so a series of civilizations each leaping beyond the accomplishments of the other until we reach the pyramid building phase of Egypt, the old-kingdom.
Then right down here there’s a sort of novelty trough.
Egyptian civilization rages across here and in-fact it does fulfill the intuition of theosophists and other people that Egypt achieved something that was not surprassed in novelty until early Roman times.
In other words, clear all this happens, but you don’t get all this level of novelty until you get over here at about 220 B.C. I maintain, technologically, so forth and so on, that’s just about right.
This upswing back into habit, the historical record is characterized by brutal civilizations, the Hities, the Metani, imperial Assyria, you know motorcycle gangs with chariots is what we’re talking about here.
If we were to blow this up, we would see that there’s some interesting plunges into novelty.
Alphabets, expansion of Phonecian trade routes, so forth and so on, but the turning point is up here, as far as Western history is concerned, what happens up here is Homer sings his song.
I maintain, symbolically and literally, that’s what started it all.
That’s what set the last phase in motion.
I had a professor, maybe I’m echoing his prejudice, a philosophy professor in college and he said “You want to know where it all went wrong? I’ll tell you where it all went wrong. When the Greek’s stopped being fishermen and pulled their boats up on the shore and started to talk philosophy…it all went wrong”
Well I don’t know if it went wrong, it certainly went in a different direction. Homer sings his song and it begins and almost unbroken cascade into modernity, and now I want to show you the rest of this.
3,337 years from Plato to NATO, as Rupert would like to say. This is the last 1,670 years roughly. This is where we have to bring us home to mama because this is where the stakes rise. It’s one thing to talk about meteor strikes 220 million years ago, or the bust up of Gondowanda land or a middle Permian fluctuation in incidental solar radiation, I mean that’s all very fine.
But who knows whether your playing with a full deck or not when you shuffle this stuff past them. But your superb liberal education has given you an immense knowledge of Western history, and I’m sure I can’t fool you.
Yeah but if you go in to any point on this wave, it’s an infinitely regressive fractal. In other words there is no place in time where it’s all in favor of novelty, or all in favor of habit. You can discern trends, for instance this is a downward trend, obviously. But sufficiently magnified and lived through, there still were assertions of habit because the thing is a fractal, it has an infinitely repeating structural rogasity.
No, no you don’t use probability theory to deal with this at all because it obviates the idea that you have a stable background against which to make your averages, it kicks that from under you.
Well you’re somewhat anticipating what I’m going to get in to. What I want to do is run through this fairly large-scale situation in the last 1,600 years and then look at 1996 in detail because for a very long time, like since 1975, I was aware that there was a deep plunge into novelty into 1996. And now the question must be answered: Did it happen or didn’t it happen?
Let me go through this and then we’ll look at that and if I still haven’t satisfied you then ask the question again.
This is the last 1,600 years and I hope you can all see it because this is one of my most powerful arguments. I maintain that among reasonable historians, the great episodes of novelty of the last 1,600 years are portrayed with freakish accuracy on this thing.
Not exactly, no, I’m saying that the accretion is novelty is occurring faster and faster. Accumulation, the accumulation is occurring faster and faster.
Time is not smooth, yes, that’s right, that’s a way of thinking of it, that’ it’s speeding up and slowing down rather than rising and falling.
That’s just changing the vector…
You mean spatially or in time? They’re not occurring at random, they’re occurring under the igeious of this wave, this wave is replacing randomness. Randomness is a tricky concept central to probability theory.
Are they occurring randomly? No, they’re ruled by this, they don’t occur randomly, they occur where this thing says they may occur. That’s the hypothesis.
It repeats itself not in the sense of it happens again, it repeats itself in the sense that if you were to zoom in on any point you could extract from that point the whole wave. This is a wave made of tinier and tinier versions of itself, that’s what self-similarity is in a fractal.
That’s right, in a sense this is a very conservative form of prophecy. It does not say what will happen, it says where to look for unusual events and where you’re wasting your time.
Probability theory, the first thing you learn when you study probability theory they teach you that chance has no memory, and that example they always give is “If you flip a coin and it comes up heads 49 times in a row, what are the odds that it will come up heads in the 50th flip?”
50/50. Chance has no memory, in other words according to probability theory, the universe does not remember those earlier throws. So the probability remains 50/50, now lets go to a professional gambler and we flip a coin 49 times in a row and it’s coming up heads and we’re about to flip the 50th time. How many professional gamblers in the room are betting it will come up tails? None.
The gambler has discerned that there’s a run-on, but a run is not a scientifically validated concept. You see if probability theory were actually true, the coin would land on it’s edge every single time.
Coins never land on their edge, that is the rarest of all outcomes. You can toss coins in bars even with sticky surfaces, and you will do it a long, long time before you get a coin to land on its edge. When you say this to a probability guy, they say “You don’t understand, it’s the ideal case but movement of air, the spin of the coin, these things favor one or the other”
Then you say “Well it isn’t 50/50, you’re telling me one or the other is favored” and they say “well, why don’t you go get a life or something, stop bothering us with this”
Ok lets look at this then, this is the last 1,600 years, it’s not shy about making predictions, it fills the screen with precise predictions and I’m rushing this but you do understand, don’t you that the software is capable of zooming in on one of these troughs and defining them to the moment.
In other words, this is not a theory where we say “Well between 1440 and 1444 something interesting might happen” no we say “The maximum potential appearance of novelty is slightly after 2 pm on the 16th of February, 1441. End of discussion”
It’s almost an embarrassment of predictive power because we’re so used to smeared predictions that when someone comes out with a statement like that we say “Well that can’t possibility be scientific, it was so precise” Strange.
Ok, here is the fall of Rome in 475, the fall of Rome was not a dramatic event that happened overnight where headlines were published “The Fall of Rome”
It fell apart over quite a period of time, but generally 475 AD the abduction of Augustus Romulus of Alarex of Visigoth is considered to be the moment when it got the boot, so Rome fell.
Over here, in this little tick which you may not be able to see, Mohammed is born, but the Hagera is here, and the death of Mohammed is here, this deep trough here is the establishment of Islam.
Some people have criticized this theory saying it’s not politically correct because it’s euro-centric. My answer to this is “the world you’re living in is euro-centric”, you know, the Maya may have been splendid people, but their contribution to present state of world civilization is precisely zilch as far as I can see. Molay sauce, that’s it.
So you know without being too harsh its apparently, who counts is who’s left standing.
You may not like European civilization, you may think Plato was full of shit, but you can’t argue that every man woman and child on earth is affected by what happened in Greece in the 5th century B.C.
It correctly portrays the triumph of Eurocentrism over all other values throughout the world, that actually happened and if this wave described history, it has to be true to that.
But, I mention this at this opportune moment. Because Islam is, not strictly speaking, thought of as part of European civilization. And this wave gives tremendous weight to the accomplishments of Islam, and I maintain “So must we” because modern science was not invented in Europe, it was invented in Bagdhad and Cordoba when Europeans were scratching their asses and sitting around in bad wool drinking moldy beer.
So, it may have a Eurocentric twist to it, but it also is very friendly to the cultural accomplishments of Islam.
Just to make the point again, this enormous plunge into novelty here, in the middle 900’s precisely parallels the rise of the Umayid (?), the invention of algebra, the elaboration of modern science, observational clinical medicine and all these things that were going on.
This next plunge is a purely European, well half of it is a European story, this is the Crusade. It is specifically the 2nd Crusade, and of course when we talk about European history that ended the hammer-lock on the European Catholic church, that was the first great loosening blow, and suddenly spices, and drugs, and exotic human beings and technologies and commodities, it was extremely dramatic for Europe.
It was like contact with an alien civilization.
We all know that is the Crusades.
The next plunge into novelty, and I’m going to advance the screen one shingle to get you more detail.
Now we’ve left, the Crusades are just on screen, but this is an interesting one. It’s a dramatic plunge into novelty but an incredibly dramatic return to previous patterns of habit and behavior.
It emphasizes that whatever this novelty was, it wasn’t a culture transforming technology, it wasn’t a new religion, it was not a new language, it was not a scientific breakthrough, what could it have been?
Well the bottom of this trough, if you zoom in on it is 1356, as you know, but are kindly not shouting out, in 1356, in an 18-month period, one third of the population of Europe died, and nobody knows how many people died outside of Europe.
What we’re talking about is the Bubonic plague, the black-death. It is certainly novel to have one-third of everybody you know drop dead.
But, what happens in a situation like that? Well there’s a lot of grief, and trauma, and then you bury the dead and the living move up these managerial positions, these unfilled positions, people take them on and they re-build society. Usually in a very conservative simulacrum of society as it existed before the catastrophe.
That’s exactly what we see here, an enormous plunge into novelty and a very dramatic return to habitual patterns. So from here to here, it’s roughly 1252 to 1400. 150 year period characterized by this novel collapse and a quick rebuild. But now over here we see, almost as though for your edification they were placed side-by-side, a different kind of descent into novelty, a descent into novelty extremely steep, starting at a higher point than this and plunging deeper than this, and then whatever the novelty unleashed here it was not so easy to recover from.
One of the great seminal moments of evolution of human life on this planet was the coming of the first internet. As if that weren’t enough, 1440, only 15 years later in 1455 the Ottoman Turks seized Constantinople, and Europe is effectively cut off from the East. It’s impossible to imagine the impact of this on the economy and psychology of Europe, I mean they were check-mated by Islam and nobody knew what was going to happen.
What did happen was some enterprising and moderately wealthy Italian capitalists decided to pool their money, take a chance on new ship building technologies and attempt to sail around Africa to reach the East, and they did it.
And the money that they made from this investment in R&D were greater fortunes than the world had ever seen, they were the first secular fortunes. These guys weren’t movers they were business men. They made vast amounts of money, and seeing how they made it, they saw no reason to change their investment strategies and they poured money into new technologies of architecture, of city building, of creation of arches, patronage of the arts, patronage of the sciences, patronage of letters and litteratuers.
And this is the Italian Renaissance, precisely here, from 1455 on everything you’ve ever heard of the Italian Renaissance here, and it reaches its culmination down here at the very bottom, at the exact bottom of the novelty trough at this scale you get 1492, the discovery of the new world. I mean try to wrap the mind around the concept that it’s only 500 years ago that we discovered the lost half of this
I mean we shouldn’t imagine that we’ve got it all under control, we only discovered our own rear-end 500 years ago, so how much can we be sure we know about reality?
The discovery of the new world is not something Europe has ever recovered from, it was literally like having extraterrestrials land in your backyard.
If you read Albert Durr’s diary as he records his impressions of an exhibition of objects that he saw in Madrid that were brought back by Cortez and exhibited in the court of Louis the Fat…I mean Phillip the Fair. One of those people hehe.
As an intelligent educated European he was in shock, he had never seen such things, they were beyond imagining, they were psychedelic. And the fact that beyond that lay exotic animals, strange language, unimaginable deposits of gold, exotic human beings, all of that…and so, this is what’s called, not by me but by art-historians “The age of the marvels”
Stretching from the discovery of America in 1492 to this sudden ascent into habit over here in 1619. And as you know, 1619 is the beginning of the 30-years war.
Certainly if there was ever a recidivus move to habitual chuckle-headedness, the 30-years war was it. For 30 years, it was sort of like Europe became Rwanda, and everybody went out and murdered their neighbors. Protestants murdered Catholics. Jews, forget it.
Everybody went into turmoil, nobody understood why they were doing it or what the politics meant, and it was just a bloodbath that finally ran itself out.
But before all that, you had the conquest of the new world and I maintain that this ugly bump, the bottom of this novelty trough, is where wonder gave way to co modification.
In the end people were just stunned, they couldn’t believe it. And then when the wonder wore off, they began doing the calculations.
They say “My god, there is money to be made, we just put all these Indians to work, get their crops growing, get all their gold and we are going to make a mint” and they did.
The whole base of Spanish power, the whole reason for it’s meteoric rise and essentially instability was that it was all based on new-world gold.
Here’s the 30 years war, this steep ascent into habit is punctuated by this dramatic descent into novelty which I call “Newton’s notch”.
It’s nice to believe that a single human being could make so creative a step that the entire age would bear the imprint of their intellectual breakthrough. If ever there was such a giant, Newton was it.
From where he started and where he ended, he basically moved the world.
After the Renaissance, the next great plunge into novelty is what’s called the European enlightenment, and it begins up here with a bunch of high-flown French philosophers, Allivason, Voltaire, that crowd, and it ends in the very practical and chaotic experiments of the American-French revolution.
The first half of the 19th-century is here, that speed bump is basically the Franco-Prussian war, Civil war in the United States, and the descent into novelty from there is pretty straight-forward.
Now what I like to do is leave all this, I think by now you’ve gotten the idea and I want to look in some detail at this 1996 situation.
That’s the last 417 years, the last 208 years, the last 104 years, the last 52 years. I want to talk about this one for a minute because there is an aspect of this theory that I find very appealing that I haven’t touched on yet which is, if you’ve been paying attention you know that screen repeat themselves.
Remember I showed you a screen where I said “at the top of a certain mountain Homer sang his song?”
This is the same shape, but we’re now not looking at thousands of years, we’re only looking at 52 years, well what’s the deal?
Because this thing is a fractal, it has built into it automatic resonances.
It gives you a very rich data-field to work with.
If this is a span of time from 1944 to 1996, it on another level is a span of time from roughly late-Egyptian time to the Umayid Telephates with Homer singing his song up here.
On the short-scale, the 52-year scale, this is 1967, these two things are in, according to this theory, in a situation of resonance or geometrical relationship to each other.
Is there anything about the world of Homer that is like the world of 1967?
And I maintain yes, a tendency to easy lifestyles, loose shoes, and sophomoric philosophies characterize both (theories?).
You see it’s a way of explaining such transient phenomenon as fads and fashion. Why are we suddenly putting lion claws on the legs of our bathtubs?
Well because we’re passing through a period of resonance when that was done in the past, in other words the Orthodox theories of history and time would tell you that the most important moment shaping this moment, is the moment which just preceded this moment.
It was, as it were, the conduit for the wave of causal necessity to arrive at this moment.
I am saying something different, I am saying that every moment in time is an interference pattern made by other moments in time that are related to each other, not through linear seriality, but through this much more complex schema of relations.
If you suddenly walk into a room and there’s a heavy hit of black granite, inverted corners, and silver shadowing, it’s a Euginshtiel resonance.
I live in a kind of waking hallucination, I have a little aphorism which covers this. It’s Rome falls 9 times an hour. It falls more than that and less than that, but lets say it falls 9 time an hour.
Well then you’re job is to notice every time it falls, in other words what we think of as our random musings and our personal mental furniture is in fact our subconscious awareness of these systems of temporal resonance operating around us.
So, as I look out at a crowd like this, if I let myself go I notice that Kant is sleeping in the corner, and that Madam Lafarge seems to have just come in from the baths and taken her seat.
Cleopatra is headed for the john and so forth and so on. How real is this? Who knows.
It’s a matter of discerning.
What I would say is, first of all lets get a little more honest here. There’s a lot of argument about where Homer actually sang his song, we can only really pinpoint it to within about 150 years, it’s up here somewhere.
I could zero in on this, but 1967 is here. 1968 is just over the top. The first moon-flight is there, now suddenly we have the Homeric resonance, what is Homer but a story of noble men on a long and far voyage and eventually the homeward return and eventually the heroics of that echo over the centuries.
Probably the only heroic episode of the 20th century that’s unsullied by hypola and manipulation and so forth is the flight to the moon.
I don’t care about the politics or any of the rest of that, I mean what it took to do that, we’re not doing it. We don’t have the gumption, the technology, or the national focus to do that.
In a sense, I take the moon flight to be in a sense the capstone of modernism.
I consider post-modern time to begin after that, what was the 70’s but the whining re-crys of the 60’s?
Then everything else has followed from that.
Well it’s a turning point, it initiates a cascade, it represents an achievement and a turning point.
Had it launched a trip to Mars, a colony on Gannymede, and expedition to Triton, then it should have been at the bottom of the novelty trough, but it was what it was and it was unique and politically unsupportable.
It represented the limits of the assertion of a civilization, not the beginning of a process. Who would have thought that time, who would have dreamed that 35 years in the future people would look back on the age of space.
The age of space is a historical era, like the age of exploration or something.
Yeah, it tells of a noble time long ago when brave men and women explored an unfamiliar world it had nothing to do with us.
I thought of this not as a line, but as a topological manifold. That’s how I think of it and I think of events as like a fluid and this fluid flows over this landscape.
The closest it can come to making a prediction, I was slightly conservative when I dealt this first, it doesn’t make predictions it tells you where to look for the event.
Then I introduce the idea of resonance, the resonance can be a clue, but you are easily deceived, or I am easily deceived.
If I can show you this 96’ thing, I think this will get clearer, let me try for it.
It does follow a spiral on large scales, there’s the last 13 years. There’s the last 6 years, you see this 96’ thing, there’s the last 3 years.
I want to change the end date. There’s 96’, now it’s this really dramatic plunge into novelty. There had been nothing quite this dramatic, in a period roughly from the end of last February to the end of May it transited this enormous distance. This is a novelty plunge, this is a novelty trough.
Descent into novelty means rapid change in the novelty value, nevertheless it’s obvious I think that these levels of novelty are higher than these levels.
Though this is going on in an atmosphere of more rapid change. If we were to look at the historical resonance of this, it’s that period, the previously mentioned period of the Umayid Telephades. So when I was trying to figure out what this would be, what would happen, I said well what happened in the Umayid Telephades, if we are looking in the right place.
I also looked at China and there were some interesting things happening there, but for the moment I’m looking at the Umayid Telephades. It was basically as I said the birth of modern science. In other words there was a coming together of analytical and intellectual techniques, and a realization of how to understand nature.
In other words, a breakthrough in the understanding of nature. So I said “There should be some kind of enormous scientific breakthrough in this period”
Well going down here we got the comet, Hayukataki, it means 1,000 mushrooms. I took some hope from that, but comets don’t really count, I mean they might have counter in the long past.
I mean they do if they have fleets of extraterrestrial vehicles trailing behind them.
But none have appeared to have this so far. So I was looking and different things happened, the Bose-Einstein condensate, these really far-out things in science if you follow science.
So I was getting over here and I was getting pretty desperate, there was only 20 days left and my email was full of sneering voices saying “So wise guy, where’s the miracle you promised us?!”
And at that moment…the Martian meteorite full of fossils arrived on the scene.
I think it’s not unreasonable to accept it as proof that this is working, it may not have changed the lives of ordinary people, but it certainly changed the position of human beings in the intellectual universe.
And so, there it was, an immense scientific breakthrough related to astronomical matters which is what the Arabs were getting together in this situation.
It changed our entire notion of who we might be in the cosmos and so forth and so on, and I was pretty happy with that.
The original scientific announcement was on August 8. So then, time passed as it always does.
And then we lived past it as one always does, and there’s an ascent into habit and so forth and so on.
822. 808, right there, can you not see it? It’s right there.
I’ll leave this thing running tonight and you can play with it as you like, there are plenty of people who will show you how to run this thing.
But it’s a perfect prediction, so I had come that close, I felt pretty good about it. I said that somewhere towards the end of summer 1996 there would be an enormously important scientific discovery that would change forever our notion of our place in the universe.
Ok so fine, good. Then we live beyond it to where we are now, which is over here, and then these people come forward, completely unbidden, a Godsend, a double-miracle, and announce that they cloned the ewe.
The cloning occurred within 4 days of the announcement of the meteor, so I had a double whammy, and the late-punch was telegraphed 7 months later.
They’re not making anything of it, but that was the moment when the zygote was divided and the thing began to grow. No mammal had ever had it happen to them on this planet.
Well that’s not quite true, it had been done with mice in the last 15 years. But a higher mammal, it was a biological phenomenon absolutely new in the history of this planet.
The planet had existed for 7 billion years without that happening, and then it happened within a week of the human race discovering that Mars harbored ancient life.
So I don’t call this a knock-out punch of my critics, that would be preposterous, because my critics are the entire edifice of established science 500 years old and praticed by millions of people around the planet.
But not bad for so fragile and change taking a theory, I’m sure it struck terror in some hearts and fear and loathing in others.
I was set up to fail, and didn’t I maintain. The fact that we can continue to have this discussion, you may think I failed, I don’t think I failed but it should have unambiguously clear that I failed.
But the fact that we were able to keep the game in play is very interesting.
Sounds like it worked for you, I hope the check is in the mail (laughter)
Well I will do consulting for a very nominal fee.
Well I’m glad your story is a happy one, I myself am more provisional, I will advocate this, but I am more aware that the many in my audience, how unlikely this is.
I am basically a devils advocate because I am fascinated with the fact that I thought this up, and this is not my style. It’s hard for you to believe that because I’ve been now talking about it since 1971, so it has become
in a sense. But it isn’t me, this is not how I think, this is not how I ever thought. I had to be lead by the hand, I am sloppier than this, I am not precise.
This was told to me.
It’s eerie. It’s turned my life to science fiction, because I don’t know what this is all about.
I don’t know why…I’m here talking about this. I don’t know why you’re here listening to it, and I’m puzzled that outside this room the world is moving towards, not this theory, but these kinds of conclusions. Is it the millennia? Well this isn’t about the millennium. This says “Forget the millennium, it’s a complete waste of time”, it’s a speed-bump on the way to the real event.
I’ve tried to think of rational explanations for why, why this theory. I’ve had to go pretty far afield. Here’s a rational explanation: Suppose the millennium is so psychically charged that there’s a danger of mass hysteria of some sort, mass suicides or something like that. Perhaps the collective unconscious senses this and my mission is to smear the expectation.
In other words, what this does is it says “Don’t get excited about the millennium” and then once the millennium is past, it will say “And don’t worry about Mckenna either” in other words it’s a way of cheating you past the millennium, if there weren’t people running around saying 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, there would be so much energy concentrated on the millennium that there might be various forms of mass hysteria.
I don’t know, but it’s a more reasonable explanation than that the secret of universal temporal architectonics has been handed over to an Irishman by a mushroom for the edification of mankind. That is too much.
I’m amazed that…because you see it’s so precise and I don’t know if you can tell from what I’ve said this evening, but it’s very clear to me, that it’s not about being right some of the time.
If it fails once, it fails completely. There’s no wiggle-room. That’s why it’s so interesting to try to trap it.
This is not something where if we get 7 out of 10 we’re going to keep preaching.
This thing must be right 10,000 times out of 10,000 tries. And as I offer it to you and to other people because I think smarter people than me ought to be able to destroy it.
Remember when I talked about how when science gets points for proving you’re wrong. If I could prove this was bunk I would get a lot of points.
If anybody could prove it was wrong, absolutely wrong, but it’s amazingly slippery. So slippery in fact that it’s almost like a living thing. Just when you think you’ve pushed it into a corner that it can’t escape from, you get a Martian meteorite full of fossils right in your lap.
I believe it’s 28, April, 1996, or 28 February…I’ll get it for you. It is…that’s the turning point, 2/19, February 1996. So last February, suddenly the bottom dropped out and that went on until… I was in Mexico, though I don’t offer this as the turning point I think recall there was a fairly intense earthquake in the L.A basin, the 19th of February 1996. Yes that was the San Fernando quake, I believe it was.
Anyways, retract that, lets not get mired. I don’t know what the turning point was.
Oh well tell me the date. The murder of Itsab Rabin(?) this raises the question of what’s novel and what’s not.
I’ll tell you a story about the middle East, it’s not a Rabin story, but this is almost like a Martian meteorite story.
Way back in the 70’s I was watching the resonances, and this is a resonance with the Umayid Telaphate, I said that, so back of course some time around 1973 or 74 or 75, I can’t remember, but anyways we were approaching the crucifixion resonance, and I thought “Now this will be interesting” because first of all, the crucifixion is fairly defined in time, it happened around Passover of 27, it’s a very nice clean marker.
So I thought “Now what could happen in the middle East that would satisfy the crucifixion resonance?”
And I couldn’t imagine it, and I said “Ok, so we’ll wait to see”
Then the date came, and I thought “Oh wow, this is it, it’s crucifixion day, lets check the news”
It said “Anwar Sedat has been murdered in Cairo”, and it was like a revelation to me. It happened on the day of the crucifixion resonance.
How do I interpret that? A peace maker, a person of philosophical depth, a humanist, a humanitarian was sacrificed on the altar of the stupidity of mid-east politics.
In one case the Roman occupation of Judea, in the other case the whole quagmire of middle-Easter politics. But eerie how one couldn’t imagine a fulfillment of the resonance, but the wave could imagine a fulfillment of the resonance and has this uncanny way of expressing itself.
But I stress this is not occult. You could run the time-wave better than I do if you study history and paid enough attention. There’s no mumbo-jumbo here, it’s a reasonable hypothesis.
There have been many wave-theories of history. Oswalt Spangler had the four ages of the world. Arnold Toinbee had a series of successive stages, Gyan Batista Vito in the 16th century in his “La Ciencia Nuolva” proposed a scheme of universal history.
In our own century we’ve had the chondritiatave wave, which was a wave of mechanical theory of predicting economic cycles. Why shouldn’t human history be under the control of cycles?
All other biological phenomenon on this planet.
Well it’s a fractal wave like an electromagnetic field, an electromagnetic field is the same equation slightly tweaked used to describe it.
It’s a genuine fractal wave-system. An interesting thing about that just aside, I had this down cold by 1975, and fractals didn’t even become sheik until the mid-80s.
So this was all done…in fact there has been an eerie parallelism in the development of science and new-age focuses I guess, that seem to keep this alive.
It’s astonishing to me that a notion conceived by me as a 23 year old in the Amazon, I’m still in the business after all this time and I’ve talked to a lot of smart people. People don’t know where to put this…
If it’s a delusion, it’s a remarkably stand-alone delusion, it doesn’t require me.
The fascinating thing about it, one thing is, through all these predictions that we’ve been talking about, all these successes that I’m claiming for it, hinge on a single and impossible to come to terms with assumption: That this planet will attain infinite novelty less than 20 years in the future.
If this theory is true but the end date is wrong, then all of these historical correlations fall out of phase. So in a sense, it’s a prophecy that all that really matters is the final date.
I, being sane, believe nothing will happen. And yet, if nothing happens, what a curious trip this has been. What then was the raison detra of this whole exercise? Why did it offer itself? And why is it inherently self-limiting?
If it’s an effort to deceive, an effort to deceive would ever be so foolish as to crawl out on the limb of such a clear-statement of prophecy.
It is disconfirmed by events in 2012, then we will be in the peculiar situation of having had a time-wave which worked every moment in history until it failed totally.
Again, I can’t imagine what that point of communication would be.
One idea that’s occurred to me, based on thinking about strategies of extraterrestrial contact is…maybe this thing that we are calling the time-wave is a piece of universal data, as universally known as lets say the atomic weight of hydrogen. Maybe there’s somebody out there who figures, if they’re intelligent they will recognize what this is, because all forms of intelligent life knows it.
And if in fact we’re in a slightly indeterminate zone, we’re almost intelligent enough to understand it, and almost so stupid that it goes right by us, so we’re struggling to say, you know, is this a message? Is this meme? or is it a self generated hallucination?
I don’t know, I offer it as part of this weekend on imagination because this is my best trick in the imagination.
My little theory of evolution is no more than a conversational rap, a “how would it be if…”
This is considerably different because it rests on a mathematical foundation, and don’t forget it does come genuinely from the I-Ching.
So we have this peculiar, three-pronged situation.
We have a pattern in the King Wen sequence, taken by an Irishman, and contorted into a mathematical wave which gives a prediction for the apotheosis of the world, which matches the assumptions of a vanished Mezo-American civilization.
One possibility that has occurred to me, and I’ve thought about this obviously for decades because I think everything you can think about this has passed into view at least once:
One possibility that would wrap things up very nicely is that if the great day came and I dropped dead. Then there would be this curious thing that for the rest of time, if anybody bothered to remember it, people would say “Do you ever hear the story of ‘The Terence Mckenna thing?’ how there was this guy in the late 20th century that produces this mathematical theory about the end of the world and preached it on street corners and market place for over 55 years and got a whole bunch of people excited and when the day came he dropped dead?”
If would be no weirder than some of the other stuff, you know the instances of spontaneous combustion and so forth and so on.
Yes, it doesn’t escape me that this date, December 21st, 2012 occurs exactly 1 month after my 65th birthday, and I can’t tell whether this is the most dramatic retirement announcement, you know a guy who made a career out of announcing his retirement and was able to run that con for 55 years, I don’t know…
Where does it end? Well, this question, when I calculate my own personal wave, first of all I do entertain the idea that we may each have our own time-wave, sort of following the model of astrology. But I’m aware, and I’m sure those of you who are professional astrologers are also aware that the natal horoscope is essentially a commercial-con.
In other words, astrology, the royal art of astrology was invented to guide the destiny of peoples and kings, pharaohs, and courts. But in the late Roman period, the worlds first yuppies came into being, or one of the worlds first instances of yuppies, and they thought “Well the emperor has his horoscope cast, am I less than the emperor?” I too should have my horoscope cast, and enterprising Hellenistic astronomers were only too please to oblige.
Otto Noigebaur published a wonderful book about the natal horoscopes of the rich Athenian and Roman citizens. To some degree I think it is a slight distortion of astrology for astrological purposes. Nevertheless, in terms of the time-wave a reasonable question would be
“If this is true, then how can I have a bad day when you’re having a good day?”
In other words, if novelty ebbs and flows according to this schedule, shouldn’t we all be having good days and bad days together? And obviously we don’t. So what then must be happening is that we are on different places in the wave-system.
Then if that’s true then in a sense, this huge wave could be thought of as the summation of all the little waves which comprise it. It’s perfectly obvious, lets say this were a huge scale of time, several thousand years. Then this might be a period of time as long as an entire lifetime, but not everybody alive in the world at that time would experience their life as an uninterrupted plunge into novelty.
No, a large percentage of people might. There is this phenomenon of the Zeitgeist, and to the degree that we participate in our time, our life is in concert with the larger wave. This wave has durations of cycles in it, and one of the cycles, the cycle we’re living in now stretches from 1945 to 2012. It actually stretches from the Hiroshima bomb-blast to the winter solstice of 2012.
I was born 18 months after that event. If I have a person time-wave it will end 18 months after the end of this wave. How can that be when this wave seems to dictate the end of all lesser waves?
Another mystery to be unraveled by traversing the territory.
I don’t know what the time-wave is portraying. In other words, novelty, how is it transmitted, is it detectable, can we build a meter other than this time-wave?
Can we build a parallel technology which would confirm the existence of this thing, what can you do with novelty? The electromagnetic field, it turns out you can transmit information. Light-city smelt metal if you know how to do the trick.
What you could do with this, I’m not sure. You see if the last cycle from 1945 to 2012 is real, then in a sense all larger cycles are compacted into it. In a sense, from 1945 to 2012, we’re re-living the entire history of the world.
If that’s true, then we have reached roughly 1000 A.D.
That means that between now and 2012, we must traverse a…I don’t even have the words for it. A domain of cultural domain equivalent to the domain we traversed between 1000 A.D and the present, slightly more than 1000 years of resonances have to be compacted into the next 16 years.
Consequently there’s this feeling of things moving faster, and faster. In a universe which was actually built on this kind of architecture, imagine this, a universe that actually had this kind of closure, where each time-cycle was 1/64th the size of the one that preceded it.
Before a universe of that structure reached the domain of planks constant, 6.55 x 10^-25
It would undergo HALF of its unfolding into existence in the last hour and 35 minutes before the crunch.
In other words, if this is the kind of universe that we’re living in, half of the unfoldment into novelty will occur in the last day of the existence, that’s how huge these rates of acceleration are.
So when people ask the question “What will happen in 2012?” They’re asking you to see around the corner 9 times. It can’t be done.
Language fails, apparently, as far as I can tell what will happen as novelty asymptotically increases in the final months, hours, minutes, milliseconds is boundaries will dissolve. All boundaries, they’re already dissolving, we see the nation state dissolving, but wait till the atomic field dissolves…
Everything is apparently crunching together in some kind of meltdown, it’s the equivalent of a black hole, but it’s not a gravitational collapse.
It’s a novelty-collapse. We are collapsing into a black hole of novelty, I’ve tried to imagine “How could this happen? What could happen without God’s direct intervention, and fleets of extraterrestrial starships appearing over every city on the planet?”
In other words, is there anything that we could self-generate that would fulfill this kind of a scenario? It turns out that I found at least one answer which is “time-travel”
If in fact what happens in 2012 is that we begin the conquest of this previously unscratched dimension called time, then it is perfectly reasonable that a linear depiction of the ebb and flow of novelty would stop at a certain point because once time becomes non-linear, you can’t portray it on a Cartesian graph anymore.
You need a higher-dimensional matrix, it starts coming at you out of the screen, the novelty over-flows the dimensional container you’ve built for it.
Interestingly when I had this idea 15 years ago there was no idea in greater contempt in the scientific journals. I mean “time-travel” ha-ha-ha, the grandfather paradox this and that and everything.
Now it’s a perfectly respectable thing to discuss, there are schemes for time-travel on the books that would work. It would require some God-like technologies, in other words you would have to be able to spin a cylinder the size of Jupiter 9/10th the speed of light, but if you can spin such a cylinder at such a speed and travel along it’s horizontal axis, you will in-fact be moved backwards through time.
Everybody agrees on this, they just say you can’t do it. Well hell, where have we heard that before?
can’t do it, but if you think of it you can do it, and if there’s a crude, brute force way to do it, then there’s a subtle, tricky, easy way to do it that comes along a little later. I mean the vacuum tube was not the end of that line of development, and what we’re talking about here is a vacuum tube version of a time machine.
A time machine may not be what we think it is, the future is not like the past except that it hasn’t happened.
If you were to suddenly find yourself in the future, it’s a vector storm of unrealized possibilities.
You’ve never seen an unrealized possibility, all you’ve ever seen are realized possibilities and you don’t know what an unrealized possibility would look like. There are a lot more of them than there are realized possibilities and they fill the space called “the future”
If you suddenly found yourself in the future you wouldn’t even recognize it as that, you’d just think you’ve gone mad, I think.
So, I don’t know, I should wrap this up. The basic notion is, this is what I learned from psychedelics, this is my show-and-tell.
It’s an indulgence of my ego to do this because most of what I tell you, you could learn somewhere else. I just have read the books and can regurgitate this stuff and point you towards the plants, lead you through the philosophical issues, talk about the medical stuff. It’s not particularly flashy, it’s just a mental short-cut for you.
This is original, and nobody has every tried to wrest it from my grasp, that’s how original it is. Nobody wants the hideous responsibility of defending this particular piece of intellectual baggage.
Why I like it is I believe that the idea which is the most fun, is probably closest to the truth.
I find this idea to be absolutely delightful. It also has a kind of weird completedness about it. Although nobody else has ever made any contribution to this theory but me, in other words I thought it up, top to bottom, start to finish. It doesn’t feel to me like a human being could do that, it feels to me that this is the product of an entire civilization.
It must have taken hundreds of years, many workers spread out in space and time.
I can tell it, and I was told it, that’s how I know it, but no single individual and certainly not myself could have dreamed this up from scratch.
You mean before I had the whole thing? From 1971 to 1975. It was interesting, and this I can not ever share with anybody else, you’ll just have to believe me, but the way it was revealed was very odd because it never let me see where I was going.
I couldn’t figure out what I was doing. It said “Go buy graph paper, go get your I-Ching, look at the King Wen sequence. Graph the first order of difference.”
I would try and guess, what are we doing? Are we trying to discover an ancient Chinese calendar? Are we…why are we doing it? It said “No, no, don’t worry about that, next step”
It always hid from me where I was headed, it still hides from me where I’m headed.
The software has been written, the controversy rages on the internet, I even now have critics…that’s good.
That shows that it is moving out of the realm of private Idaho into the realm of debatable cultural artifact.
I think that if it’s true or if it has a part of the truth, we will know before 2012.
In other words, a lot of people observed…not a lot but a few hundred maniacs observed this prediction about 1996 and then watched the ensuing debate, my critics, my defense, their response, so forth and so on. So it’s being watched.
And the meme spreads, and apparently we’ll be helped by things like where we are in relation to the calendar.
Simply because we’re approaching a millennial term, the producers of nit-wit TV shows want to talk to me, they say “I understand you have a way of predicting the future given to you by UFO’s I heard, we want to put you on the air!”
Well you know…I’m not sure about the wisdom of all this, but I figure let the meme fight for it’s life in the jungle competing models of reality.
When I pull back from the specificity and the fact that I invented it, that’s my biggest problem, if I hadn’t invented this, if I had just heard that somebody invented it, this is what it was, I think I would find it very interesting.
But since I know the inventor very well, I’m very prone to doubt the thing. This is not a guy you would want to put a lot of pressure on (laughter)
I don’t know. I’m puzzled, and I offer it as an unsolved puzzle, I preached here earlier that you mustn’t seek closure. So I don’t with this. If it’s a communication, it’s a very curious communication.
If it’s non-communication, it’s even more curious.
If it’s a delusion, why is it so mathematically formal?
If I’m pathological, why aren’t there a tendent sequela? Why just this very defined thing?
The whole thing smacks of the impossible, it’s even pushed me towards the idea maybe that this is not actually a reality. We’re trapped, or I’m trapped, I don’t know if you’re trapped, but we’re in some kind of piece of fiction.
It’s like a Phillip K Dick deal, we’re in some kind of simulacrum and the clue to the fact that we’re in a simulacrum is this impossible idea.
So the point of the idea is not to believe it, but to use it as a wedge to fight our way out of this labyrinth and fight our way back to whatever reality we were in before we fell into this situation. Something like that.
Anyways I have the feeling like I’m blathering and spinning my wheels.
Is there any final question that brings this all to a…
Yeah that is an interesting question, like people say “Well now is this some kind of permission for irresponsibility. Are you saying that the world is going to transform itself no matter what happens?”
I’m enough of an old political activist to sense the anguish behind that question because I don’t want to say “Yes, don’t worry about the Palestinians, don’t worry about the Bangladeshies, it’s a done deal, it’s all fine, you can take your eye off the ball and your foot off the pedal”
That seems crazy to me to give advice like that, and yet this thing seems to be saying “It is a done deal, it’s going to be fine, it’s going to arrive on schedule, under budget, you don’t have to reach it, you don’t have to worry about it”
So then apparently where it lies is that, it is a done deal, but how the deal is done is not a done deal.
That there will be a deal is sealed, that is written into the laws of physics if this is correct. No escape from the transcendence, but how we present ourselves to it is our contribution.
It does not say what will happen, it simply says where the novelty will cluster and apparently it is still open to…what happens is still a matter of human decision and the unfolding of causal necessity.
So in a sense, it’s saying there is a safety net under you, but you still should make an effort not to fall.
I hear what you’re saying, yes a strange thing about the Mayan calendar is it begins in 3135 B.C and it ends in 2012, the Mayan civilization began, as far as anybody can tell, around 300 B.C and was a done deal by 790 A.D.
So here was a culture that lived by a calendar that seemed to have no relationship to it’s own cultural origins or ends. That’s odd.
That’s not how people do a calendar.
The other weird thing about the Mayan calendar is it begins on a slow Thursday in August.
In other words, it doesn’t begin on a solstice, it doesn’t begin at an equinox. It doesn’t begin with a special astrological configuration in the sky.
It begins on nothing-burger-day in 3135 B.C.
Well but it runs forward to a winter solstice and ends precisely on a winter solstice. Who ever heard of a calendar that was formed from calculating backwards from a point thousands of years in the future? What kind of squirrelly culture would do that?
And the answer is: we don’t know.
But yes this is a great puzzle that the Mayans seem weirdly disconnected from their own calendar.
The reason the Maya are so fascinating is because they had astronomy, they had politics, poetry, architecture, and they don’t owe anything to Greece, or Egypt, or Sumeria, or Babylon, or Urr, or Caldea. They thought it up themselves, they did it themselves, they met problem after problem after problem and solves them in astonishingly unique ways.
You know it’s just a matter of cultural accident when Cortez sailed into the bay of Campache, the difference between medieval Spanish civilization and the civilization of the Aztecs in terms of technology level and understanding, they were practically on a par.
I mean the Spanish had no antibiotics, no advanced weaponry, no advanced communication, they had better ships, but had the voyage not been done that way, 150 years the Aztecs might have landed on the coast of Spain and claimed it for a Montezuma’s successor, that’s how nearly in parallel they were.
But of course the bifurcation was tremendous, one civilization wiped out and the other through the looting of the former, finances its way into modern science, and 500 years later we have atom bombs, and antibiotics, and DNA sequencing.
That’s it for this evening, thank you for your attention and you indulgence, I’m very grateful to you. I’ll leave this here, if any of you want to play with it I’m sure there are people who can instruct you if you get caught in a bind. Thank you.
(Next session meeting, the next morning)
I guess you know there was a time change last night because you’re here, but there may be some people who are sleeping blissfully on, so that’s fine too.
I want to say just a couple of housekeeping details that I’ve overlooked, and overlooked, and now I should mention. I’ll tell you a URL if you’re interested in visiting the website, because there’s a lot of exhibits stuff there and even many buttons to more interesting places. The URL is the usual
I’ve got 13 airflights scheduled in this tour and I’ve packed a very small bag so I didn’t have to submit it to baggage so I didn’t bring my usual raft of propaganda.
My partner, Jill Wagner runs a plant business in Hawaii, and if you’re looking for salvia divinorum, or acacia simplex, or potrea viridus, or any of these exotic psychoactive plants, her company is called Hoti.
It’s a great thing for a plant or animal to make friends with human beings because it’s probably a free ride to the stars if you stick with it long enough.
No peyote is a scheduled substance, just a word about the legal system. Some plants and some substances are scheduled, the only two scheduled plants are peyote and cannabis.
This a travesty of the legal system, but these sacred plants should be lumped in the money engines of world criminal syndicalism like cocaine and heroin.
But who said it was a sane or just world?
All the plants that Jill sells are legal, one plant I do want to mention to you or just a piece of factual information that I’m keen to convey to people is this area of psychedelic botany there has been an amazing breakthrough in the past couple of years and this is: the discovery an entirely new psychedelic in an entirely new chemical family, in an entirely new genus of plants and this is salvia divinorum.
Salvia divinorum is legal, legal to posses, to buy, to advocate, to sell, to synthesize, to do therapy with, and to do anything else you want to do with it.
Be forewarned that the pure substance which is being called Alpha Salvanorine, is active under 1 miligram. If you’re a chemist or a pharmacologist, this is astonishing, besides LSD we don’t know of any psychoactive substance to powerful, and of course LSD is made in the laboratory.
Alpha salvanorine you can wash out of this Mexican plant with a simple, pot alcoholic extraction.
800 micrograms is a more than you can handle dose. 800 micrograms looks like a very small grain of salt.
So I’m concerned that people stick with the plant at this stage because some idiot is going to honk up 10 times, 20 times, 50 times too much and then present the community with an embarrassing corpse and a bunch of hysterical people saying a new drug scourge has been released to plague suffering humanity.
It’s an excellent opportunity for us to prove we’re as smart as we’ve always said we were.
If we behave with integrity and impeccability around this substance, I think the legal system at this point is very exhausted with scheduling drugs, and busting up families and dragging people away to prison.
We just assume not schedule this stuff and make a huge bru-ha-ha about it. So what I’m urging people to do it obtain the plant, and grow the plant, I approach it by chewing.
The leaves. My son and his friends do it in bongs and they swear that no one has ever escaped who submitted themselves to their regiment.
Some people have tried it here at Essalen and it’s common for people to say “Well here was all this hype about this fantastic thing and I tried it and nothing happened”
Smoking it in a bong.
Apparently there’s a pretty dramatic threshold, in other words, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing…plenty. (laughter)
The way I do it is I interject Western rationalism into the process. An unheard of level of technical sophistication, I weigh out 35 grams of leaf, I remove the mid-vain with my fingernail to lower the volume of the pile of material. I roll it into a quid, I put it in my cheek, I lay down in silent darkness where I can see a digital clock. At minute 16 I spit it out into a Kleenex, I stay where I am, and around minute 18 to 22 it breaks loose.
It’s strong enough doing it that way, that the question arises around minute 25:
How strong is this stuff?
Then after about 20 minutes of extremely bizarre, inorganic, quasi-mechanical, highly colored hallucinations, it just leaves you.
I stay in bed and sleep, and when I get up the next morning I feel fine. It’s a fascinating plant, almost everything about this plant is peculiar.
Just to run over it quickly, the plant salvia divinorum is known only from the Sierra Mazateca of central Mexico.
Though only people known to use it are Seltzal and Satzil speaking Indian groups.
When you ask these Indians “What do you call this plant?” they say we call it “Hojas de la pastora”
Leaves of the Shepperdess.
They use the language of the conquerors to name this plant. They have no name for it in their own language.
To an anthropologist that invariably means that they must have encountered this planet very recently, this is not an old part of their cultural tool kit.
The mysterious thing is that it’s not known from anywhere else, so if it’s not known from anywhere else and they just contacted it, where did it come from?
People are scratching their heads about this and some pretty exotic theories are being booted around.
One group wants to say “It must come from the basque country of Spain, some basque, sailor, former shaman must have carried this with him to the New World and given it to these Indians”
Well the problem is it can’t be found in Spain. It can’t be found anywhere. It’s a very easily grown plant, it’s related to coliases, which you probably all know an ornamental plant. You can grow it on a windowsill, you can grow lots of it in your back yard in Santa Cruz, that kind of climate.
It’s a kind of unclaimed place in the psychedelic space, the people who use it in Mexico, it’s not their preferred or first hallucinogen. They prefer mushrooms but they take this when the mushrooms are unavailable.
So it’s a kind of unclaimed, extraorindary powerful, short-acting, it can be smoked as well as chewed.
I invite your inspection of it.
If you’re a professional pharmacologist, you could hang your reputation on this thing. Nobody knows the pharmocognacy, the pharmacodynamics, the nature of the receptor sites.
It’s just brand new space, and it shows that late in the psychedelic game there are still enormous surprises. One last point and I’ll stop, the chemical family to which this belongs are the diturpines, a chemical family unknown to contain psychoactive drugs of any sort.
This is not an alkaloid, not an opiate, not an amphetamine.
It’s a completely different animal, so I just pass that on out of interest on keeping you up to speed.
No we don’t do anything with mushrooms, what can be mailed through the mail with relation to mushrooms are spores because spores contain no psilocybin, they contain of course the genetic message for production of unlimited amounts of psilocybin, but no psilocybin.
So until gene-sequences for drugs are made illegal, it’s freely saleable and mailable. With one exception, the state of California. A few years ago some crypto-fascist teddy boy, a guy named Ken Maddy wanted to be governor of California and he was locked in a Republican primary fight with a bigger jerk than he was and so he said to his staff “I need some drug legislation with my name on it, what can you come up with?” and they said “I don’t know, everything is illegal already. And then they found the spore thing and rammed through the California assembly making a bill making the sale of spores in California illegal.
So you citizens in California have a unique distinction of living in the only state in the union to have made psilocybin spores illegal.
That’s that, ok that’s enough of that kind of practical stuff, I mention it because we’re turning final as old bush-pilots say.
That’s when you’re committed to landing, you’re low and the runway is right ahead of you. So this is your last crack at me, at least on this weekend.
Yeah a light, not hot temperature drying, and it’s very stable. This is an interesting thing, you know when I got into psychedelics I was about 14 or 15 years old, even then in the literature, salvia divinorum was carried as a “suspect hallucinogen”, but the way people worked back then was they had a chemical test called the “Dragondorf test” where you squeeze some plant juice into a bottle and if its an alkaloid it will turn purple. Salvia divinorum/Alpha salvanorine is not an alkaloid, so it escaped this test, the other thing was people said “There may be something psychoactive there, but it’s so unstable that within hours of picking the plant it completely degrades and disappears”
It turns out none of this is true, alpha salvanorine is extremely stable, you can dry the plant, you can smoke the plant, that’s the ultimate test of the stability of a drug. If it can go through the pyrolyzation process it’s extremely stable. It’s almost, I mean this is a little woo-woo, but it’s almost as though we didn’t recognize this thing until we needed it and now suddenly it’s here.
The way drugs are made illegal, normally, is you simply show that they are structurally related to an already illegal compound. This is called the Cogener’s Law.
…Reason to schedule it. In order to do that human research will have to be done, somebody will have to give it to human beings under clinical conditions. Well maybe in time all this will happen, but knowing how the government works it will be 3 to 5 years before they ever get off the dime.
In the mean time, this is a wonderful opportunity if you have been holding back out of fear of the legal system, here’s a completely fire free zone you can operate in, do research in, therapy in, so forth and so on. It is a very interesting loop-hole.
First of all let me say I don’t know, but here’s what I think. The model I’ve always carried in my head is of a target, like a bulls eye.
At the center of the bulls-eye is the DMT high dose experience.
Even though I’ve spent my whole career raving about how strange it is, I always hit low.
It is beyond description, language fails, your language, my language, everybody’s language. As you move out from that, maybe the next circle out is a high dose ayahuasca, followed by high dose psilocybin, or maybe those two are reversed.
Then further out, LSD, and then further out, things like 2-CB, and yet further out things like ecstasy and what’s leaving the picture are, first of all, intense 3-dimensional hallucinations, and then intense 2-dimensional hallucinations, and the more exotic transformations of the mental state. I have a feeling that we’re always aiming for this center of the mandala.
Somebody else might have a different model of consciousness, Rolland Fischer had a torroidal model and various states of arousal, but to my mind if you raise the dose of any psychedelic it becomes more and more like DMT.
You have to take over 500 micrograms of LSD for it to be like DMT, but few people these days do that much acid because it brings a lot of physical stuff with it.
Ayahuasca, at moderate doses is the classical hallucinogen of Amazonian shamanism that you’ve all read about.
But double that dose and it becomes indistinguishable from DMT, same with psilocybin.
If a 5 gram trip is like a classic psilocybin trip, then an 8 gram trip is like a DMT trip.
Now some people are saying of alpha salvanorin that it’s much stronger than DMT, it’s much more frightening and bizarre.
Just to save my sanity I choose not to believe that, because I’ve been saying for years that if there’s something stronger than that then I don’t want to know about it.
Because that definitely pushed me as far as I wanted to go.
My son I think has more experience with all of this than anybody else I know and I said to him “Where would you put it?” and he said “It’s
as strong as DMT”
It’s sort of like that, but over this set of values and comparisons I just made you have to overlay the fact that like your blue eyes, your height, your body weight, your intelligence and everything else about you that makes you unique, your inherited…allotment of drug synapses is unique.
This is why some people are sensitive to drugs, some people insensitive, some people extremely sensitive and one of the things about exploring consciousness with substances is
You have to sort of learn what works for you.
You may have gotten the idea from hanging out with the wrong people that the way you explore drugs is by doing as many as possible and in as many combinations as possible.
I couldn’t do that, I have never done that and I can’t do that. My body just can’t take it, if I want a more intense drug experience, I take more of one drug.
Part of exploring this area is to learn what works for you. For example, the most dramatic and easy to understand example I can come up with is cannabis, most people, after a preliminary brush with cannabis which may last years tend to decide that it somehow interferes or that they have memory problems or feelings of social paranoia and abandon it.
Some small percentage of people experience no short term memory loss and can’t live without it. I speak from first hand knowledge of this condition.
Learning what works for you is very important and then pushing that, push that to it’s limit.
What fascinated me, I’ll just unload my personal opinion on you, are the tryptamine hallucinogens.
I always found LSD too what I call “abrasively psychoanalytical”
I don’t want to endlessly reflect on my childhood upbringing and whether I’m a good or a bad person, I’ll do a little bit of that but I think I got that under control. I’m not interested in my self in quite the way that some people are interested in themselves.
What I’m interested in, and what’s always been the holy grail for me, are visual hallucinations.
And people have said “You’re a nut on this subject”
But the reason I’m so into visual hallucinations is because when I’m seeing something that I could not previously have even imagined then I am completely convinced that I am in the presence of an other.
Because I couldn’t think that up, and yet I’m looking at it.
Low doses of psychedelics or moderate doses of psychedelics transform the quality of thought, you think faster, think deeper, think odder, think broader.
But you need more for that to burst through into hallucination. That always has fascinated me, I guess it’s just in my personality. I was thinking some months ago about the books that have really influenced me in my life, and you know we try to make a respectable list that makes us seem profound.
You know, Moby Dick, Finnegans Wake, Whitehead, yeah ok that’s the public list.
What are the
books? Well “Bartholomew Cubbins” and the 500 Hats, that was a biggie, a really important book for me was a little book that Aldous Huxley wrote almost as a throw away, I’m sure he barely gave it a thought. It’s a book called “The Art of Seeing”
Basically the message of this book can be given in one sentence: Pay attention to what your eyes are telling you.
The eyes are it, and it’s the visual thing that is so thrilling, so sexy, so infinitely deep.
In that book Huxley tells you how to look at a painting. Basically, clear your mind, open your eyes, stand still, that’s very important when viewing paintings, stand still and let it come in.
Then he gave advice, and this is advice which I’ve seen acted out in both of my children, incredibly simple advice in the world of child-rearing and incredibly important.
And the advice was: Draw from nature, literally with a pencil. Draw things. Because drawing things forces you to look at them, and don’t draw from pictures.
If you want to draw a bowl of fruit, get a bowl of fruit.
And then what you look at is you say “Oh I see, when an object is red, it’s shadows are not black, it’s shadows are deep-pink, and when an object has this curvature, it spreads light around itself like this”
And as you look, this is a very impersonal process. You’re not thinking about your childhood traumas or any of that stuff, you’re really getting into the world and this is how the world can communicate back to you.
The world is something to look at, and that attitude in the presence of psychedelics will throw open a cornucopia of riches.
Did you want to say something?
Cannabis is in a different category, cannabis with air, with light, with being awake, with being asleep. There was a period in my life when I used to awaken at 3 AM in order to smoke because I couldn’t go from 11:30 to 6 without it.
Granted I was in Asia and the rules were different. I don’t know what life is like without cannabis, I hear there is such a thing.
No what I mean is I know people who say “Well we had a really far out time Saturday night, we did 120 ml ketamine and followed it with ecstasy a half our later and then we broke out the nitrous and somebody had a little 5-MeO with them” and I say “How was it?”
And they say “far out!” and I don’t doubt it for a minute.
I don’t want to go any place that I can’t find my way back to, because I might want to show somebody and it’s sort of like the multi-body problem in mathematics. You can calculate every body in a system if there are only two bodies, but you only have to add a third before it becomes beyond calculation.
Drug synergies are an absolutely unexplored area. You can not go to the medical literature and find any papers on what happens when you combine LSD with 2-CB.
There isn’t such a paper on the planet. If you’re going to do that, just know that nobody has ever been there before, and I don’t mean intellectually I mean physiologically.
I don’t know very much about the death of this writer who calls himself D.M. Turner.
He did die, and his book, his best known book is a book that I felt was completely irresponsible because it advocated these multiple synergistic drug doses, stuff like I just said, 2-CB plus ketamine plus nitrous plus e plus this plus that.
That’s not how I would do it. I would say single pure substances and if you’re satisfied with the experience then as Dr. Leary used to say “When in doubt, double the dose”
But he didn’t say “When in doubt, empty the medicine cabinet”
Just double the dose, thank you.
Tim was a pretty reckless and wild act kind of guy, and if he took that position, I don’t think we have to be ashamed to line-up behind that.
Ketamine. It has a lot of enthusiasts, the most effective way to do it is by injection.
Automatically this raises flags of alarms for me, I just somewhere picked up the idea that banging things is a bad idea.
But let’s move past that, because it can be snorted. Ketamine is what is called a “disassociative anesthetic” it was for veterinary anesthesia like if you had a race-horse you needed to wrap its tendon or work on it in some way, this is the drug of choice.
I can not deny that the experiences I had and I only had 5, were very, very interesting.
I always did it in the presence of a physician and I always did quite, as I understand it, quite high doses. I did around 140 ml.
One of the things about ketamine is it’s active over a huge range. Some people that roll it into their lifestyle tend to do small doses, like 40, 50, 60.
When used as an anesthetic in pediatric surgery and stuff like that, 600 ml IV push. That would be like being hit by a freight train moving at 10 times the speed of sound, you would never know what hit you.
For me, I’m just speaking subjectively, it was a sort of empty space. It was a light-filled space, and the metaphor that came to me was “it’s like a new skyscraper and they don’t have any tenants”
So there are these endless hallways that are lit by fluorescent lights and water coolers every 300 feet, but there’s nobody there. I talked to Rupert about this because one of the things we’ve kicked around over the years is the idea that drugs are like morphogenetic fields.
So for instance when you take psilocybin, it takes you, and in a sense you are participating in every psilocybin trip anybody ever had.
And because it was taken for thousands of years by Mezo-American shamans, it’s been decorated by them in a sense. It has their mark on it.
So the morphogenetic field is extremely stable nothing you can do in there, you may be able to carve your initials on a picnic table or something, but you’re not going to be able to make major changes in that landscape.
Suppose you’re a drug chemist and suppose you read one of Sasha’s papers where he tosses out the thought that one of the O-methylation in the 4 position of the tri-methoxy isomer of the this or that might be hallucinogenic and you make it.
Nobody has ever taken this drug, it’s a synthetic drug and you take it and now you’re going to take it.
In a sense, if you come down saying ‘This was an incredibly beautiful visionary experience’ the next person is very likely to have a beautiful visionary experience.
If you come down saying ‘it was nightmarish and I felt bugs crawling under my skin’ and all this, what’s happening is the morphogenetic field is crystallizing around this drug.
The feeling I had with ketamine was ‘it’s really pretty undefined territory’
The one thing I learned from ketamine, and I actually have to give it credit for this is I got so loaded on that stuff that I lost the concept “loaded” and that’s never happened to me before.
I couldn’t understand what was happening because I couldn’t remember what being high is.
So here I am and I sort of come into awareness and I say “What is this?” and the answer is…”who knows” and the next question is
“Who’s asking?” and the answer is “Who knows”
And I just keep looking at it for a while, and suddenly out of left field this “Aha” experience…”I must be stoned!” and then it’s like everything crystallizes,
“That’s it! I’m a human being, I took a drug, I’m lying on the floor, this is a trip”
And then you say “Oh this is a trip, gotcha, now I know what’s happening we’re having a trip, ok lets have the trip”
But until I got that sorted it, it was like the biggest “Huh?”
So I would not…I don’t prefer it because part of my ethic I guess you would say, is that you should be able to communicate your experience. It’s almost like an obligation, its like if you go fishing on our lake, you should give some of the fish to the village. If you go fishing and catch a lot of fish and eat them out in the boat and come back with nothing but bones for the village, then this is kind of bad behavior.
I stay clear of ketamine, I have a bias, it used to be stronger against synthetic substances.
But again, in fairness I have to say these drugs, people have different kinds of experiences.
I’ve said to people on ketamine “You don’t really hallucinate in the way that I want to hallucinate” and people say “No I had fantastic, it was beyond DMT”
So again the individual thing.
Then what’s the final thing?
Then just physical things about ketamine. I don’t like a drug so strong that the house could burn down around you and you would never bat an eye.
And that could certainly happen on ketamine, you had not a clue. They could remove your head and you would not bat an eye.
The other I noticed about ketamine is it really sticks to your ribs, in other words the experience lasts an hour but the next day you’re driving on the freeway and comes a wave where you say “Oh my god, what is this?”
And I think it sequesters in the fatty tissue or something and that makes it a little dicey. I hope I didn’t rain on anybody’s parade here.
The people that are into it are passionately into it, I accused one guy one time of being a mono-pharmafile (laughter)
I said “My god, you won’t take a drink, you won’t have a hit, but this stuff…5 times a day”
Well I’m as interested as you are, I don’t have any special information. I did talk earlier this weekend about this model of the hyperdimensional object intruding into 3-dimensional space-time and through the miracle of metabolism wrapping matter around itself for a few years.
Then when the hyperdimensional form retracts out of this lower-dimensional matrix, the matter that is organized simply falls apart. I like that model, my DMT trips, as I think I mentioned this too, I’ve given it to some Tibetan guys and they said “You can’t go further than that and return”
What he actually said was “It’s the lesser lights” The lesser lights appear at the beginning of the bardo.
The thing about DMT and we didn’t talk about it much this weekend, is that it’s an inhabited space.
Huge percentage of the people that take it encounter entities of some sort in there. Not entities like “Wombats and foxes”
But entities with intelligence of some sort, with language of some sort.
Well remember I talked about the principle of parsimony, of preferring the simplest explanation first.
Well when you have a drug which conveys you into an inhabited space, even the simplest explanation is going to be pretty baroque.
Some people including myself wanted to leap to the conclusion that “Well these must be the aliens, we’ve finally found their hive, it isn’t under the Atlantic trench, it isn’t inside mount Everest. They’re hiding inside this organic molecule”
But I think in service of the principle of parsimony, preferring the simplest explanation, these things must be human souls.
It’s easier for me to believe in the human soul than it is to believe in a colony of extraterrestrials camped inside an alkaloid.
But it’s not that easy for me to believe in human souls. But still, the feelings you have from these things is one of immense affection for humanity.
That wouldn’t come from a diplomatic mission from Zenebel ganubi, this intense love.
I dare to hope, having deconditioned myself from my Catholic childhood, and having gone through existentialism and all that.
Now I dare to hope that maybe there is some kind of existence beyond the grave.
One of the funny feelings, there are a number of I guess you would call it “thematic layers” in the DMT experience, but one of the thematic layers is “as weird as this place is that you burst into, if somebody very strange worked very to produce a place where they thought would be reassuring to a human being”
And the analogy, it’s stronger than an analogy, the feeling that comes through is like “this is a maternity ward”
It’s as though you’re being born and these marvelous self-transforming Faberge crystalline 4-d toys that they’re handing out in this space may be to them nothing more than the equivalent of those extruded plastic geometric shapes that we hang on a string over a bassinet.
If you ask a child psychologist “Why do we do this?” they say “It coordinates the child ability to see spatial…so forth and so on”
It’s very like that, you have been born into an alien world, and the only thing you can do is gape, basically gape in utter amazement. Everyone is surrounding you and they’re saying “Welcome, it’s ok, be happy”
Then if it is like a maternity ward then one can know as much about whatever universe that is as one could deduce about this universe from looking at the four walls of a maternity ward in a small hospital in say Selena.
In other words, if you were to actually die rather than smoke DMT then, if we follow this model, then you would be in that place but there would be no going back to this world after 5 minutes and instead there would be the next 5 minutes in that place, followed by the next 5 minutes.
I can tell within hours you would be beyond the reach of anything you have ever called humanness or have thought of.
In other words this isn’t a world where one comes back and whispers in the ears of people and bangs doors in the middle of the night.
It appears like, once out of the body, this incredibly infolded and compacted field called “the soul” begins to unfold into it’s death rite. And quickly one would become incomprehensible into this world, and all that is retained is the affection for us in our limited situation.
Of course thinking along these lines, I’ve looked at the literature of near-death experience.
What those people are describing is something far more mundane than a DMT trip. Either they are dumbing down the DMT and surpressing the oddness of it or they are having a quite different experience.
Because what’s being said in the near-death thing, generally, is a tunnel, and then loving relatives reassuring and familiar peoples.
The DMT thing is a tunnel, but it isn’t loving relatives waiting at the end, it’s a welcoming committee of professional midwives.
And they help you through. So I would suggest with a great heat, that if we want to study the near death and after-death experience is that you come far closer to dying, whatever that means, on DMT than you do in drownings and things like that.
Yes he said it was the lesser light, he said you can’t go further than that. This was not one of these Llama’s with a can of Budweiser welded to his good right hand, this was the real mccoy.
Well any situation can be looked at from a point of view that reveals the whole fractal. In other words what its saying is experience is holographic on one level, but linearly sequential on another level.
In a way this is a continuation of the discussion of death. Because if we leave off the historical modeling and turn towards the modeling of an individual life with the time wave, then again there is a message of hope.
It says the most novel and amazing thing is the last thing that will ever happen to you.
I would like to believe that, I would like to believe that we gather our experience, we become wiser, we meet people, life becomes more novel, we have children, they have children, we have success, we have failure.
If you’re living right, you’re life should get more and more baroque, beautiful, complicated, mysterious, and then you die…and then it really gets interesting.
That’s what this all seems to want us to believe, lets put it that way. Then people say, “If the world is fractal, is it not true that the evolution of an individual could be extrapolated to be the evolution of the whole system?”
And that leads to the mildly unsettling possibility that what this great transition we’re moving towards is, is not T1 for everybody. But D1 for everybody, in other words: death.
Death is the thing that really stirs us. We don’t know what it is, we don’t know whether we’re supposed to flee from it or race toward it.
People say then “is it possible…” to just take the date 2012 as a marker, “Is it possible that everyone would die?”
I’ve looked a lot at asteroid impactors because the people who study these things know that this is not an act of God or a miracle, that this happens. It has happened and it will happen, and it happens on different scales, from things like meteor craters in Arizona 50,000 years ago. Everything within 800 miles of that impact died instantly. 50,000 years ago.
But 65 million years ago an object impacted the size of Manhatten in the gulf of Campache and nothing on this planet larger than a chicken walked away from that.
Now if you talk about ecological disaster there’s never been one like that in the history of the planet. Thousands, tens of thousands of species died, entire orders of animals were wiped out, the continents were re-arranged.
But guess what, the flowering plants of which we are so dear-fond, and ourselves of which we are even more fond would never have had a chance to insinuate themselves into the evolutionary life of the planet had there not been that clearing out of the reptilian climax.
So then you look at this and say “Well was this the greatest mass-extinction in history? Or was this the greatest evolutionary leap forward for biology in the history of the planet?”
And the answer is: it was both.
Out of enormous death comes and enormous surge in the domain of organic novelty.
I prefer to think that it is not a planetary catastrophe or a mass dying. I’ll tell you why and this is a place, now we’re working from the notebooks, in other words this is not prepared for public consumption, this is something I meditate on in baths.
I can’t help but notice that as novelty increases in time according to this model, that the spatial domain of its focus narrows.
So for instance, in the early phase of the time-wave, the stars are condensing and the galaxies are forming.
We could say that the entire universe is moving toward novelty, but once carbon chemistry appears the cycles of fusion in stars and production of heavy elements and things like this are stabilized. The domain of novelty becomes biology, and a billion and a half years biology evolves and adumbrates its forms and moves from the prokaryotes to the eukaryotes to the multi-cellular, the conquest of the land begins.
But then, with the emergence of language using and tool using higher primates, in a sense, novelty leaves the domain of organic life. And organic life becomes meta-stable and evolution and mutation happens, but where the action has moved to is in to the epigenetic domain entirely defined on this planet by human activity.
So the human beings are the carriers of novelty, and that has gone on until about, oh pick a number but basically 3,000 to 2,500 years ago.
And then the novelty seems to concentrate itself into southern Europe. The Greeks take some kind of step that no other people have ever taken.
Even today if you go around the world and visit tribal people and ask to see their art, they show you, if you ask to see depictions of human beings they show you symbolic depictions of human beings, that’s what an African mask is, that’s what a Sepic river carving is. These are symbols of human beings.
The Greek mind crossed an invisible boundary and somebody said “Lets take a block of marble or some clay, and lets not symbolize a human being, lets make a perfect topological simulacrum of a human being. A face that looks like a face, flesh that looks like flesh.”
It was as though the Greek consciousness rose to the surface and left the unconscious behind, and the eyes were open, and no longer saw through symbolic filters, and instead “Nature, in and of itself, this is the foundation for science and art as we know it”
So the novelty then was largely in the hands, largely, I’m rushing here the exceptions are obvious, were in the hands of what we call the Greco-Roman mind. And so it has been for thousands of years.
Well then, pick a number, 100 years or so ago, it further contracted the novelty, it further contracted itself into the high-tech industrial democracy.
And now it has further retracted, one of the problems we’re having in our society, there’s a bifurcation going on in society. Part of us are going with the new novel technologies that knit us together that make us dimensionless, telepathic creatures through the internet.
And some people are digging in their heels and saying “No, no, no, beyond newspapers I can’t go”
So those people are being left behind, they are practicing old style culture in an equilibrium state.
So now it is isn’t even all of the high-tech populations of the industrial democracies.
As we get closer to 2012, if this process proceeds, then the source of novelty will constrict even further. I guess it may eventually come down to one or two people, or a group of people and maybe those people will make a machine, and then the machine will be the source of the novelty and all of us will be put out to the Pasteur of equilibrium, and maintain the rest of the world as it was…
But the novelty would have focused some kind of incredibly intense point.
So looking at it from that model, it’s hard to see how it could be an asteroid impact or something like that because that would affect all biology, all geology, it would completely violate this long-standing tendency of the novelty to concentrate itself.
Well now the Buddhists have an interesting perspective that may have something to do with this.
There are many schools of Buddhism and I don’t want to get into that, but there are schools which hold the following doctrine: That if a single person could attain enlightenment, then all sentient beings in the cosmos would attain enlightenment instantly.
In other words, that only one person, or one being has to break through the boundary for the entire state system to collapse and re-arrange itself.
So I suspect, and I was on the edge of this last night, here’s a model by which this could happen that keeps things as sane as you can keep them for this kind of discussion.
Remember I talked about…(what works?)
It’s December 21st, 2012. And through the world-wide VRML hook-up of the internet, everybody with an IQ above 10 has gathered in the great collective space to witness the first attempt to send the human being through time.
At the world-studies institute at La Chorrera in the Amazon the president of so-and-so makes a speech, the lady time traveler makes a speech, he straps on her helmet, she steps into the machine. The fanfare for the common man is played, a button is pushed, and off she goes into the future.
What has always been put against the time travel scheme is what has been called the grandfather paradox. This is easy to understand, it goes like this: If time travel were possible I could travel back in time and kill my grandfather.
If I did that I wouldn’t exist so I couldn’t do it, therefore there’s a closed loop of paradox, therefore time travel is impossible.
I put this to the mushroom, and it said “well, time travel is possible, but you can only travel as far back in time as the moment of the invention of the first time machine”
You can’t travel further back in time than that because there were no time machines before that. So it’s a kind of barrier.
So then I thought….here was my model of what would happen when the lady temponaut sails off into the future.
Lets forget about here and ask the question “What happens next in our world?”
My first guess was, what happens next is thousands and thousands of time machines arrive from all points in the future.
They have come back in time to witness the first time machine take off, it was as though you had a piper-cub that you could fly off to Kittyhawk North Carolina, that windy morning in late December when the brothers Wright rolled her out of her bicycle shop and fired her up.
Then I said, but wait a minute, we haven’t dealt with the grandfather paradox. One of these time machines from the distant future on its way to the first time flight could stop off and kill the grandfather of the driver of that first time machine, and we haven’t gotten anywhere at all.
So then, I produced a slightly more complicated model but it works so here’s what it is.
It’s that because the future is not what we think it is, here’s a metaphor which makes it more clear.
In this world that we’re living in right now we have people such as Bill Gates and his research and development teams.
And we have people such as the upriver people in the Amazon that I spent time with, bare-assed people living at a very minimal cultural level.
Gates and his people and this Amazon tribe occupy the same planet and the same moment in history. But who is influencing who? Very few people in the world are taking up the Amazonian lifestyle or point of view. Millions and millions of people are going Gates direction and more and more will.
So what I concluded from that is advanced states of culture tend to squeeze out or mitigate less advanced states of culture.
Now lets return to the time-flight. What happens when the lady at temponaut goes into the future. Is not the time-machine arrived from all over the future, what happens is the entire rest of the history of the universe happens instantly.
In other words, a future, evolutionary developments, conquests of the galaxy, vast technologies that allow star-flight and worm-hole traps and all that. The fruits of all that are delivered instantly to our doorstep in 2012. I call it the God-Whistle model.
In other words, we end the whole thing. We collapse the state vector and everything goes into a state of novelty. What happens then I think is the universe becomes entirely made of light.
This is a sort of the cherry on the cake. You know there is something in physics called the principle of parody.
This is that particles can appear out of nothingness, as long as they appear in pairs, such that after a certain period of time the two pairs, the members of the pair encounter and annihilate each other. When this happens, physicists say “parody is conserved”
It’s known in quantum physics that there is a phenomenon called vacuum fluctuation, vacuum fluctuation is a situation where in absolutely empty space, suddenly out of the quantum subspace particles jump into existence. They follow trajectories, they encounter each other, they annihilate each other, parody is conserved and so it’s ok.
So then you talk to these quantum physicists, and you say “Well how large can one of these vacuum fluctuations be?”
They say “they last milliseconds or nanoseconds” and then you say “Is there a theoretical upper limit on the size of the vacuum fluctuation dictated by theory?” and they say, no, no no, it’s simply that the longer the fluctuation lasts, the rarer it is.
So in other words, the longer a fluctuation lasts, the less likely you are to encounter one. Then you say “Is it possible that this entire universe is such a vacuum fluctuation?”
And then you say “Well yes but that would be very rare to have such a long one!” Hell you only need one!
Calculating the probability of a unicative event is a fool’s game.
It’s either 100% sure or 0 sure.
So here is a model and I took this from the Swedish physicists Hanz Altven who hasn’t gotten enough credit who was really a free-thinker.
Imagine that the universe is this kind of vacuum fluctuation, a 17-billion year long vacuum fluctuation.
What it means then is at the big bang, not one universe was born, but two. They sailed off into the superspaces and have no connectivity with each other, or they have Bell’s non-local connectivity or something.
Anyways, they are distinctly separate. They are unbeknown to each other on a collision course with each other. Parody must be conserved eventually.
A model like this holds open the possibility of the instantaneous transformation of the entire cosmos because the collision of these two universes would not occur in 3-dimensional space, it would occur in a higher dimensional space.
So this cosmological model holds out the possibility that all matter in the universe could be instantaneously cancelled in this encounter with the anti-matter twin that was born at the beginning of the cosmos.
Ok if you’re still following we’re almost to (pater?) Every particle known to physics posses an anti-particle which is locked into this parity conserving thing I’ve laid out for you with one exception, one astonishing and amazing exception: the photon has no anti-particle. There is no anti-photon.
This universe that is on a collision course with itself in hyper-space, at the moment of the conservation of parity, all matter vanishes and what is left is a universe made entirely of light.
We have no model, or I have no model, for a universe made of light. There would be no gravity because gravity is a property of matter.
Such a universe could be modeled and then the question is “what would happen to forms? You’re body, my body, this planet?”
The answer is: no one can know. But it is very interesting that the esoteric tradition of nearly every tradition talk about light a great deal. Talk about ascent to the light, cultivation of the light.
After death vehicle as a thing made of light. I just put this out here because it occurred to me, my imagination in an effort to make the assumptions novelty theory congruent with the known laws of physics I discovered, this sounds like wild-hair stuff, but no violation of the known laws of physics is involved in this scenario.
Perhaps what enlightenment is, is what happens to a universe when it drops it’s matter and anti-matter out of it’s structure and it becomes entirely made of light.
That would certainly fulfill the novelty theory, anyways that’s enough of that malarkey.
It was autopsy for a mathematical hallucination. I am proud to say that I named that paper, I mean Watkins said “I want to publish this objection to your thing” and what should he call it. I was in a fairly bitter and shaken mood so I said “How about autopsy for a mathematical hallucination”
Do you want to know the state of all that?
I was shaken by Watkins objection, but I’m in the strange position of having a theory that when the going gets really tough I can’t understand my critics. Einstein had this problem too, when he published a general theory of relativity I think Herman Bonday launched a frontal attack on him. Heisenberg said to Einstein “What are you going to do about Bonday?”
He said I don’t know what to do, I can’t understand the man. That’s my position with Watkins he’s definitely got a bee in his bonnet.
I intuitively feel he has missed something important.
Really I’ve had discussions with a guy out of the Santa Fe institute who’s credentials are at least as good as Watkins and he said “You should rest easy”, what happened to Watkins is he thought he was attacking my idea, what he was actually attacking was the implementation of my idea and the software. His critique is true but it misses me and strikes the software implementation.
Once you dump the software code and go back to the original method of constructing the wave, according to this fellow in New Mexico because we’ll publish all this on the web in the next few months.
Watkins is wrong.
I intuitively felt very strongly that Watkins was wrong, he had a very powerful intellectual engine that he was running my way, but he never really understood what I was saying. So it was a perfect example of a communication failure.
Well that’s where to attack.
He said “You made a move where there is no rationale for this move. I say “There is a rationale and I can demonstrate it. Right underneath ‘Autopsy for a mathematical hallucination is a button called ‘Watkins objection answer’”
That’s my best shot and it’s fully illustrated and I felt after I wrote it that I shot him out of the water. He emailed me back and said “You totally missed the point, you didn’t even crease my haircut”
We’re not talking about the same thing, and at first that was very frustrating to me. I think he’s right, we’re not talking about the same thing, and I think that certainly blunts the force of his effort to sink the ship”
I’m grateful to Watkins because he did do something which other workers on the timewave were never able to do.
You see the way Peter Meyer worked was I gave him a table of 384 numbers out of which he produced the time-wave. But a huge amount of work is necessary to produce those 384 numbers.
Meyer never checked my procedures. Watkins looked at my procedures and he wrote equations such that now we don’t start with a table of 384 numbers. Now we start with the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching and we go all the way to the timewave.
So he made the entire thing mathematically explicit. What he didn’t understand was the way in which the thing is structurally configured.
This fellow at the Santa Fe institute is going to do that. What we’ll come out with is a completely formalized wave.
From a mathematicians point of view there will be no unanswered questions “Why did you do this? Or is this an ad-hocus assumption?” so forth
So as an intellectual assumption it will be clarified and this is how science works.
You’re friends will always tell you you’re a fine fellow, but it’s what your enemies say that pushes you to redefine, re-create, clarify, and if necessary discard and start over.
There’s no disgrace in that at all, that’s, that’s intellectual honesty.
You see the way the novelty theory is structured is you have this wave and it is iterated on different scales, and if you have a given level lets call it A.
Above A is a larger level that is A times 64. Below is a smaller level that is 1/64th of A
And anywhere you are in the hierarchy this is true, levels above 64 times larger, levels below 1/64th times smaller
Modern astrophysicists are arguing about it right now, but the universe is under 20 billion years old. Everybody agrees on that, and the question is, is it 9, 12, 13, 14? But it’s under 20.
The time-wave has a cycle, the largest cycle I have found necessary except for the prime number research is a 72 billion year cycle.
So lets call that the top cycle, the A-level, a 72 billion year cycle, plenty of time for the universe to evolve to its present state.
Below that level is a cycle 1/64th that size. What would that be? Roughly 1.2 billion years.
At the initiation of that cycle, I don’t know some dramatic thing happens in biology. Below it is another cycle. If the B level is 1.2 billion years, then the next level is 1/64th of that, I think it’s roughly 275 million years.
The next cycle, divide it by 64, whatever it is, 750,000 years. Eventually you get to a cycle that’s 4,306 years in duration, that’s essentially the cycle of late history.
I mean certainly there was history before 4,000 years but the continuous march of global civilization over the last 4,000 years.
The next cycle down is only 67 years long, and I mentioned it last night.
From 1945 to 2012, each cycle begins with a bang, literally. Below the 67 year cycle there is a 384 day cycle, and that will run from late 2011, somewhere in November 2011 to the end of 2012.
And I call that the “Year of the Jackpot”
It’s a 13 month year but the entire history of the universe will be reprised in that 384 day period.
Well then comes a 6 day cycle. By this time, I will have either gently bowed out or the entire world will be aware of what is happening because the novelty will be so intense. Imagine a 6 day cycle when the entire previous 67 year, 4,306 year, na-na-na-na-na-na to the top level are all being compressed and replayed in 6 days. Well then Comes the hour and 35 minute cycle. Then comes the minute and a half cycle. Then comes the 1.3 second cycle.
Now at that point, 1.3 seconds, if we assume that the cycle’s can not be iterated beyond the level of Planck’s constant, which is 6.55 x 10^-23 seconds, the way for you to think of that is as a “giffy”. It’s the grain of the universe, we don’t feel the need to discuss lengths of time shorter than that, because there aren’t lengths of time shorter than that.
Time comes in those packets of that size.
Well if you’re at 1.3 second cycle, you still have 13 cycles to go through before you reach the realm of Planck’s constant, and you have come through 13 cycles.
So the universe is only half-done 1.3 seconds before it’s end.
That’s why asking what will happen in 2012 is preposterous, the mind fails. Half of the universes evolutionary unfolding will occur in the last few milliseconds of it’s existence because of the asymptotic of the acceleration of the expression of novelty.
So it’s this thing that begin very gently, very stately you know. The march of the atom, the condensation of the stars and the galaxy, the emergence of biology, the emergence of higher animals and the origins of mankind and just into a
photo finish where all this stuff is just bundled together, connected, transformed, lifted into higher dimensions.
You see this is not a process that we can not take responsibility for, or discuss our guilt or innocence. This is The Cosmos itself tearing loose from it’s previous constraints and moving ever faster towards ever greater freedom with ever more appetite and momentum until it achieves it’s goal which is infinite novelty throughout all space and time. Holographic connectedness, Godmindedness, whatever your vocabulary is. Yeah
Oh yeah this is a completely legitimate move, it’s mind boggling to think of this in human scales of time, that half of the universe is becoming a curd in a few milliseconds, but dig the fact that is the position of orthodox physics as we sit here.
It’s simply that they say it happened at the beginning, I say it will happen in the end.
What they are saying in physics now is that the big bang occurred and then a few nano-seconds after the big bang there was this thing called the “inflationary expansion phase”
It lasted a few nanoseconds, and in those few nanoseconds the universe became 10’s or orders of magnitudes larger than it was, so it’s a legitimate move in physics however counter-intuitive it may seem on the human scale.
The problem with the many-worlds theory is that it violates the principle of parsimony, in other words that is not the simplest explanation.
Do you all know what this is? It’s the idea that whenever a process in the universe encounters a bifurcation point, that it goes both ways. In other words, the multiplication of possibilities in a situation like that is staggering and I just don’t feel the need for it.
If I understood Weilers mathematics better, I might, but that theory has been around since the middle 70’s and he has a very respected position at Princeton, but he doesn’t seem to be able to sway his colleges.
Which doesn’t mean he’s wrong, but it’s a bit baroque for my tastes.
Well once beyond the zero point, but definition novelty must mean the simultaneous realization of bifurcations of all sorts. In other words what ultimate novelty must mean is anything we say it means.
There are no limitations when novelty soars to infinite.
The universe is a series of impediments to the expression of novelty, and when it has overcome all those impediments there is a flawless, higher dimensional matrix throughout all being I guess that’s how you put it.
No that’s another can of strings, and that’s a different thing and more exotic. There’s a lot of this stuff going around.
I am by no means the strangest cat on the block. Sky Allen Goof, have any of you looked at his website? This is a guy being paid a salary by MIT for God’s sake and his thing is all about making universes, and he says “We can make universes and put them on the shelf”
“I made this one in February, botched that one in March” and talks about how the ultimate proof of the direction in which modern physics is moving is to make a universe.
After all, if they begin from an area smaller than the diameter of the hydrogen atom, a major laboratory could just stamp them out like hotcakes.
But of course the question is “What are they good for?” What do you do with a universe once you’ve made one?
But as an exercise in the imagination I take a look at what this guy is into.
We process sound and light separately simply because the way our senses have evolved is to accentuate those things in different ways. One of the things that happens on Ayahuasca is that many people can see sound. You see sound, this may be an ability closer to the surface than we realize.
One of the puzzling things in the Mayan codices is flowery speech, which is nobles are portrayed with stuff coming out of their mouths and hanging around their heads. We’re familiar with this from the cartoon-thought-balloon which we do not speak and form clouds of words hanging in little round bubbles around our heads.
This does seem that this is an area where McLuhan had a lot to say, the forms of media that a society accepts, whether it’s a manuscript culture, a TV culture, a print culture, or something else affect sensory input processing in ways that people rarely suspect.
So for a temple in a manuscript culture when people talk to each other McLuhan thought they saw pictures in their heads. When we talk to each other I think most of us hear a stream of speech.
It’s possible to imagine a culture where when people talk each other, they actually seem streams of print.
Under the influence of psychedelics I’ve seen all these things.
I’ve had hallucinations of pages where as I looked at it, every 5th letter turned into an alien letter and then every 4th and then every 3rd and I watched the text transform itself from English into Zenebel-Ganubian, and then back into English and so forth and so on.
The ways in which we process information are myriad, and then every culture, it’s sort of like drugs. Every culture out of the vast smorgasbord of drugs chooses one or two to culturally investigate in the same way
Out of these many neurological pathways of processing information a culture will accentuate and de-emphasize others and once these other ways are de-emphasized, it’s only a matter of a generation before they’re denied at all, or defined as pathology.
I don’t think you have to hypothesize forms of light, I think ordinary light is magical enough to carry the groceries on it’s own.
This is a model I made where I said “The universe might turn into light without the presence of matter”
In following that through in my mind I ask myself the question “What would the world be like if I were light?” If I were light. You mentioned light that travels faster than light.
What would it be like to be a photon?
The answer is: there is no time for a photon. A photon can cross the universe in zero-time. Subjectively, from the point of view of the photon it takes zero time to cross the universe because it moves at the speed of light, it doesn’t move at 99% the speed of light, in that case it would take a fair chunk of forever to cross the universe.
But if you can actually move at the true speed of light, there is no time.
So if we were suddenly to be made of light we would look around us and the universe would be aging at an enormous speed all around us and there would be no distance because to wish to be somewhere would cause one to be there.
So I think light is not bound by any of the limitations which bind matter, there are some hard questions when you talk about turning into light, in other words how is light complicated enough to support a nervous system? How could a nervous system be made of light only?
That’s very hard to imagine because it’s very hard to imagine, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
I think the intuitions of mystics are very good, it’s when they turn their intuitions into methods that it becomes dubious.
In some sense, I think light holds the answer because light exists…it’s almost like it’s a higher-dimensional particle. The fact that it is not in-time in the way that all other physical and material organization is, it’s a clue of hyper-dimensionality.
This is a kind of black-hole.
It’s not an ordinary black hole you would see it coming. It’s a black hole of novelty. There may be more than one kind of black hole in the universe, the ordinary black hole of physics is a gravitational-well.
What I’m suggesting is that there’s a novelty well, a gravitational well, physicists are pretty confident in saying that if you’re sucked into a gravitational well no structure can survive. Only spin, charge, and angular momentum are conserved when a particle is sucked into a black hole. Suppose there was the reverse of a black hole, that’s sort of what I’m suggesting.
Not a hole where when you’re sucked in that you lose all structure, but a hole that when you’re sucked in you become everything. That’s equally reasonable, you know quantum physicists have said that the particles thrown out of a black hole tend to be disorganized but in principle they could be grand pianos or ice-cream cones.
It wouldn’t violate the laws of physics, it’s just highly improbably given enough time these things would come to be. It’s like the Edington printing press.
You know the black hole was hypothesized out of Einstein’s work, but people thought it was a kind of an artifact, a joke, that there couldn’t actually be such a thing.
Now we understand that probably every galaxy has a black hole. The reason black holes are somewhat unsettling is because science, the thing science hates more are what are called singularities.
Singularities are places where science doesn’t work.
You just have to throw up your hands and say “Well it’s a singularity”
And until black-holes were taken seriously, physics only tolerated one singularity, it was the beginning of the universe.
It said you know, before time 0, that’s a singularity, don’t ask us any questions about it. Science could somehow accept the that there’s this one little place where it couldn’t shine it’s flashlight, but once you get the idea that there is a black hole, probably black-holes at the center of every galaxy, there are billions of galaxies.
If there are billions of black holes, that’s a lot of singularities, what kind of science are you doing if you tolerate billions of singularities? You’re not doing science at all.
You’re just playing at science and steering around these things, and then when Stephen Hawking got off on this tier about mini-black holes and said…
Well yes when I first started…it must be the end of a large cycle, but having being exposed to Hinduism I knew that there are cycles, and cycles, and cycles. But in fact the way that this thing declines into novelty, in the way that I’ve showed you on the screen is what physicist, or what dynamicists call a “damped oscillation” and a damped-oscillation eventually actually just dies away, it finishes.
We are approaching a damped oscillation of our own in order to make the room-crew happy and clear the deck for the next group of seminarian.
Let me just try to sum this up, not certainly to sum up the ideas, but the ideas are not really that important. They may be true, they may be untrue, they may reside in a domain where those rules don’t apply.
The feeling that I hope you take away from all this is that…
Note: I paid for the full transcript from scribd, since it's a seven hour lecture there is a lot of text and their formatting is different to the above section one and part of 2 that other transcribed. Not sure if we should make the formatting like the majority of the scribd text, or like the formatting in the original.
Original Transcription by: [Jo Trott ? \ Jonathanlal ?\continued by Eva Petakovic.]
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