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words and wit of the alchemical bard
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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
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The Syntax of Psychedelic Time
The Syntax of Psychedelic Time
The poster says 'The Syntax of Psychedelic Time: Fractals, Endpoints, End-times, Zero points', something like that. What all this indicates is a set of ideas that I want to share with you that are a slightly different tack than my normal lectures. My normal lectures deal with the psychedelic experience as a generalized and, uh, historical phenomenon, but this effort at communication is slightly more personal in that it's an effort to impart
idea that came out of an involvement with psychedelic, uh, substances:
. It is idiosyncratic; it is a psychedelic idea, certainly, but it's only one of, uh, an infinite possible set of such ideas. And the reason I spend time on it to communicate it to a group of people like this is because I think it can serve as an example of psychedelic ideas, uh, generally--how they're formed, how they operate, and what's so great about them. And, (perhaps with an element of ego) I think that this idea
has an elegance that makes it worth pursuing. But before I talk about that, I want to, uh, talk about fractals for a moment, as they are understood in orthodox mathematics, because the idea 'fractals' will serve as a basis for much of what I'm going to talk about. Fractals are technically defined as, uh, curves with a dimension greater than 1 and less than 2, or surfaces with a dimension greater than 2 and less than 3, none of which need concern us. What's important to know about fractals is that they have the peculiar property of, uh, presenting the same appearance at all scales. Uh, an examples of a fractal in nature or a fractal-like phenomenon would be a mountain range which, when you get up to it and examine small pieces of rock that are sloughing off the face of the cliff, and hold one up against the light, you discover that the edge of the small fragment of rock and the edge of the mountain range are in fact the same thing. And at first this doesn't appear startling because you say 'well, the mountain is made of this stuff, this small boulder is made of this stuff, and it simply...fractures the same way.' But actually, a number of issues are being touched on, uh, in this phenomenon. First of all, when you begin analyzing nature, you discover that, uh, many, many forms of phenomena are fractal. Uh, coastlines, islands, uh...the way processes condense, the way solids condense out of liquids in cheese-making, for example, or something like that. There are many kinds of processes where, uh, a single process is reflected and refracted at many levels of magnitude so that, uh, the whole and its parts and many levels within the whole composed of its parts all have the same, uh, structure. Some fractals have been known for quite some time, since the late 19th century, but they were considered pathological curves because they had the property of, uh, infinite lengths in very short distances because they adumbrate themselves so intricately that their, uh, length can be said to be infinite. In the same way, you can understand that very readily if you can ask yourself "how long is the coast of California?" Well, it depends on h-what we mean by this, if you... because the.. smaller the unit of measurement that you use, the more detail that will arise. And, at some level, the unit of measurement is so small that it's smaller than the molecular interstices of that which composes California. And at that point the length of the coastline becomes infinite.
Ok, so you get the drift of what fractals are and how they've been treated by, uh, mathematicians, particularly one mathematician. You can't discuss fractals without giving all the credit there is to Benoit Mandelbrot because if you don't give him all the credit there is, he'll ask you why not. So, he has invented this branch of mathematics. He has perfected it, and he's given us, uh, marvelous books where you can see these curves, and I thought about making this a slideshow because the fractals are tremendously beautiful objects aesthetically, but I decided against that because I want to, uh.... hold to ideas. This is a think-along lecture, by the way, and you're free to think along at any point that you feel so moved to do so. [audience laughs and a couple of small claps]
Ok, so that's what fractals are for orthodox mathematics. The psychedelic part... and what I did with this was I began to think about time. I've always had this idea that our physics has failed us because it is not true to experience, and every advance in physics has been gained at the expense of moving the terms of physics further and further away from anything that could be called concrete experience, so that what we finally have is an integrated set of complicated equations that we are told correctly map at the microphysical or the cosmological level the objects of nature that we're interested in, but it does not come tangential to our experience. I'm sure you've heard me say this before. So I meditated on time, with the idea of fractals in the background, and I noticed certain things which are obvious except they have implications when the idea of fractals is linked to them. And they're trivial things, really. They're things like, uh, 'every day is rather like every other day, and every week is rather like every other week, and every year, and to some degree every century, and to some degree every millennium. But, I noticed that as you raise the ante on these temporal scales, change
become apparent, but at the daily level, every day is very much like every other day, but every day also is obviously different. And it's in the differences that we have the feeling of advance into a future, and, uh, and a feeling of, uh, completion. So, I took all these ideas and, uh, in the Amazon when we were investigating, uh, the beta-Carboline drugs, which were used in combination with DMT... I, uh,... under the influence of these drugs, fell into a long, extended meditation about all these themes. In fact, it actually went on for years. In fact, it's still going on in some sense. It was a true boost, and I looked at the I Ching, which I was familiar with but had never particularly been obsessed with, and I noticed something very interesting about it, which is: the King Wen sequence, which is the oldest sequence of the hexagrams, uh, a sequence which precedes any written commentary. When mathed for its first order of difference (and its first order of difference is nothing more than, as you pass from one hexagram to another, how many hexagrams change--[corrects himself]-- lines change. So for instance as you go from hexagram 1 to 2, all lines change, so 6 is the value of that, 6 lines change. When you go from 2 to 3, there is another value, and I graphed the I Ching this way for its first order of difference. Now, in a random distribution, you would expect a fairly even distribution of breaks of orders 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, but, I found immediately that there were, uh, no 5s whatsoever, no breaks of order 5, and that there had been an obvious effort to, uh, optimize breaks of value 2 and 4, so.. that in itself, I mean, obviously it's ordered some way, so this wouldn't be too startling to discover a property like that. And I should pause for a moment and point out for people who have interest in the I Ching, that the I Ching is actually formed of 32 pairs. If you've ever looked at it, it's formed of pairs such that the second term in each pair is the inverse of the first term, except there are 8 cases, naturally, where inverting a hexagram has no effect on it. The obvious case is where you invert the first one. It's all solid lines, so inverting it has no effect. In that...in those 8 cases, the rule is 'all lines change'. And you see following the first hexagram, which is all solid lines, is the second hexagram, which is all broken lines. So, in studying the sequence of the I Ching, your problem is not really wh--'how are these 64 hexagrams arranged'? The question is 'how are these 32 pairs of hexagrams arranged.' So, I graphed the first order of difference as I mentioned, and, uh, and then I noticed a peculiar visual symmetry in my graph, which was: it looked basically like a random squiggle except that the beginning and the end of the wave were stereo-isometric reflections of each other. Now, what that means is that if you were to rotate in the plane an image of this wave without lifting it off the paper, you could bring the two graphs together and they would dovetail together perfectly at the beginning and at the end but nowhere in between. And this seemed to me a very powerful argument for, uh, order; that I had in fact discovered a previous kind of order that was implicit in this thing. Now, to some audiences I have to make a complicated apology about
and voices in the head and all that. I'll just skip that and say 'and so I continued working with this thing under the instruction of the voices in my head'. And...and, the first thing that I noticed when the wave was fitted together in this particular way, was that the hexagrams paired up so that they always summed to 64. In other words, 63 would pair with 1, 62 would pair with 2, 61 with 3, 60 with 4, and so on. So, it was as though a kind of magic square was being generated, where the I Ching was additive to itself in all directions on a grid. And so I took this forward-and-backward-running 64-term...glyph or graph and I said 'aha, it is the complete I Ching running forward and backward against itself'. Since it is the complete I Ching, all 64 hexagram, all 384 lines, I will follow the principle of constructing modular hierarchies. I will collapse it to the simplest term in a system...of levels, and I will treat this rather complicated looking thing as though
a line, one of only 384, and then I, uh, then from there, over a period of years and many pencil sharpenings, we went to computers and produced very complicated versions of this graph and, uh..... then found a way to mathematically quantify it so that it could be, instead of a network of lines running forward and backward against each other, it became, uh, a single line running in one direction into the future.
Ok, so now, what's so great about this?......... In its own terms, it is a self-consistent idea about time that tries to be true to experience. It's saying that, uh..... time is made of elements. It is not simply an event-space, something required for things to have duration. You see, before Einstein, space was thought of as a... the place where you put things. The necessary adumbration of a thing having
was that it be in space. Einstein came along and said, no, time can be thought of as a surface, as a continuum, as something which in and of itself can affect the outcome of the propagation of a beam of light or an electromagnetic field or something like that. What this idea suggests is something similar about time: that time is made of elements, and that what we intuit about time is more true to the facts of the matter than what physicists are telling us about time. What we intuit about time, and what astrology and all forms of prophecy and intuition and
and all these things are are the idea that we can
about time by deploying our feelings into it, and, uh.... what this theory does is take what has generally been a very, uh, feeling-toned, intuitional kind of idea and, uh, mathematecize it and give it rigor, and say that with a very simple computer we can predict novelty. We can understand, first of all, that what is happening in the world of becoming, the world that we all experience as beings, is that novelty is entering into being and it is changing the modalities of the real world toward greater and greater levels.. of integration, and no matter on what timescale you view the universe, you see this happening. In other words, the universe, uh, in its early moments, is all chaos. There are...er, er...Temperatures are too high to allow even inter-atomic bonding, so there's only a plasma of stripped, uh, er, uh... particles, charged particles, and then as the universe cools, atomic bonds become possible and atomic systems come into being, which, which, uh, indicate a....m-more refined level of organization, and then later, much later, molecular systems and st--and on another level, stellar dust and star systems and organization of large aggregates of matter. Then life, and it represents another one of these quantum leaps in complexity, which is old stuff. But something else besides a leap in complexity is happening with each of these ingressions into novelty. What is happening is a speeding up of the speed at which these ingressions are happening, so that the early, uh, the first half of the history of the universe, you can say virtually nothing happened. Everything happened in the last half of the universe, uh, of the life of the universe. And, about, uh, a billion or two or three billion years ago, about 20% of what we assume to be the total life of the universe ago, life appeared, and then the mammalian line, the early mammalian line appeared 60 or 70 million years ago at the close of the dinosaurs, then we get culture, 25, 30, 50 thousand years ago. And very shortly after that, mathematics, and very shortly after that, uh, electronic circuitry, and there is this compression of events which, from the point of view of the historian, is the major thing that he sees when he looks at the history of the universe, but science has never mentioned this peculiar compression of events and densifying of complexity. Science takes the position that if that's happening, it's unimportant, and it probably isn't happening at all, and science goes to great lengths, though it admits evolution, to make sure that it arises out of non-teleological processes, and to make sure that it's always confined within the realm of biology so that a real..., uh, an orthodox evolutionist is very uncomfortable if you start speaking of stellar evolution or cultural evolution. I've heard these guys say 'if there are no genes involved, you do not use the word evolution'. See, they don't want to see it as a formative process touching the organic, the inorganic, the social, the psychological.
Uh...So, uh, I took very seriously this deepening ingression into novelty, and I said it is a physical quality of the continuum that we're existing in. It is not a, um, a loose and unconstrained tendency, but it is a predictable tendency like charge, speed, momentum, that kind of thing. And I noticed something very interesting about the number 384, which, if you'll recall, is the number of lines in the complete set of the I Ching. The number 384 is 13 lunar cycles. There are 29.29, I believe, days in the lunar cycle, 13 of which gives you 383.89 days or something like that. So in other words, it's to within a fraction of the day, 384 days, so, I.... it suggested to me a calendar. And, then I noticed that in, uh, hexagram 49, which is revolution, it specifically says, "the magician is a calendar maker." And then I, uh, used resonances of this 384-day solar year, uh, resonances of 64. So, for instance, I would take the 384-day year and multiply it times 64. This gives you a period of time which is 67 years, 104.25 days.
, uh, 6 minor sunspot cycles and 2 major sunspot cycles. Plus it also...in The Invisible Landcape, the other astro..logical... astronomical, pardon me, correlations are made clear. Uh, when you rise to the next level; when you take the 67-year cycle times 64, you get 4,306 years. This is, uh, very close to, uh, uh...let's see, half of the zodiacal age. In other words, the precession of the earth on its nutational axis requires about 25,000 years, and that is what is spoken of when they talked of the Piscean age, the Aquarian age. They're talking about how, through the slow procession of the equinox, it is moving from sign to sign, and it takes about 2000 years for a sign to be transited, so two signs can be transited in exactly the cycle of time indicated.
I've spent so much time laying this out because I've noticed that in other lectures that I've given of this theory, what has come through to people is the notion that I have a prediction about the end of the world, that I predict an end time. And then there's always lots of questions about "what is your eschatology, what kind of an end of the world do you foresee?" But, what I really, uh, am interested in is not the end of the world, but everything which precedes it [some audience laughter], and, uh, that's what this wave is looking at. And, uh.... by comparing the wave, with the computer, to various historical periods,
the quality that the wave is describing as novelty, which is this form of connectedness, uh, we have been able to get very good fit between certain historical periods and, uh, and the wave. And, naturally, since the wave is a mathematical fixed entity, once you have a good fit to a historical period, if it's a very good fit, the wave will fit, then, all of history, so that you can... say you've been using Periclean Greece as your benchmark date with a certain idea about how the wave
in that period, so then you find the configuration that fits, you say "ok, that perfectly fulfills my intuition about how the wave should look for Periclean Greece, however I have an equally strong intuition about how it should look for the French Revolution, so now let's, uh, scroll forward and see how it looks against the French Revolution. And, as the intuition of the fit builds, you define the number of, uh, applicable cases where the wave seems to be working, and we have done this and settled on a date which I discussed a little bit last time, which is November 12, 2012, and someone brought up that the Mayan calendar also predicts the end of the world, whatever that means. It simply means that your calendar spins off, uh, its axis and you have to reset your clock. Maybe. It may mean something else. [audience titters] Whitehead, who I'm a great follower of, had the idea of what he called 'epochs', and he pointed out that a constant, for instance, the speed of light, we'll say, which is a favorite constant, the speed of light has only been measured for about 80 years, and yet all of our physics hinges absolutely on the supposition that this is unchanging over the life of the universe, 20 billion years. And, so what sample of 20 billion years have we looked at? Uh, we have sampled 80 years in one spot in the universe, and yet from that our physics is extrapolated. Whitehead had the idea of what he called epochs, which were, like, bubbles in the universe of possible time, and within these bubbles, certain laws were operating, and they would operate consistently throughout the bubble, but when you passed beyond the bubble, you found a different set of physical laws operating. And very recently, this idea, I noticed, has been brought back with this inflationary nothing cosmology that's catching on, where the universe may have a false vacuum bottom, and may be suspended in a much deeper stronger denser vacuum. But, what
theory is suggesting is that there are not only epochs of very long duration, such as the epochs which were in force when temperature and pressure in the universe were such that, uh, molecular organization couldn't, uh, sustain itself, we'll say. There may be very short epochs, where laws manifest that, uh, are normally hidden. For instance, the puzzle of human history is something like this. Uh, uh...a million, two million years ago, there were only monkeys on this planet, and a very advanced bipedal chimpanzee perhaps. Now, suddenly, there are, uh, atom-smashers and videogames, Barry Manilow, [audience laughs] all these things, and this has happened with startling rapidity [more laughs], and it well may be it is because
is manifesting-- the constraints on mind as a force in nature have been lifted over the last 10 to 15 thousand years, and mind is claiming these new levels of freedom. And what I see happening, and this is why these lectures always seem to gravitate toward the future, is
we are living
in a very pivotal time. The time that we inherit from science is a time to humble you, to dwarf you. It tells you that the sun will not fluctuate for another billion years, that, uh, species come and go, and that, in other words, on the temporal scale, that you don't matter, and that
doesn't matter. But when you look at the release of energy, the asymptotic speeding-up of processes, we tend to be, uh, xenophobically oriented toward the human. So what we say is that, uh, human history is taking place. But, if you were an extraterrestrial lying off in your flying saucer and looking down at earth, you would not see species. This is a Linnaean, European concept that aids in the cataloging of natural products. What you would see if you saw biology is you would see a gene swarm on the planet earth, using species as the reduction valve as it flows through time, but only, uh, only generally. There are many other ways that genes are transf-f-f-transferred, through episomes and vegetative propagation and this kind of thing, which doesn't need to worry us. But, uh,
and information, which is what has been happening from the very beginning; the atomic system codes and releases more information than the plasma, the molecules have a similar relationship to the atomic systems, and so on right up until the cultural systems. And now we have reached the point where the culture is cohering, and, uh, we are becoming too big for the planet, all the natural resources are running out. All the political institutions which normally controlled the monkey tribe are breaking down, so that every man can
everything, which is not....which makes, uh, previous forms of social organization virtually impossible. All of these things, uh, are happening, and it is because there
closure into the shorter epochs. We can
after almost a thousand years, if not more, of moving man off the stage and saying, 'no, man is not the image of God, man is not the beloved of the creator, we are on a small planet around a small star off on the edge of the universe, and our fate, if we have one, rests in our own hands, if in anyone's'. This may not be true in the sense that, if we change our values and say that nature conserves complexity and
for complexity, if that's true, then the human neocortex and human society are the most precious and advanced, uh, objects and organizational dynamics, uh, in the universe.
Now, I want to talk briefly about, uh, something which happened in the past which happened, possibly, hypothetically, and how it relates to this running into the short epochs where all time and culture and information seem to flow together in a kind psychedelic, uh, eternity, uh, and information stasis, a kind of standing-wave hologram that is, uh, the now. I mean, I believe the poster says, "Plato says, time is the moving image of eternity," because we, we talked about that last time. Julian Jaynes, who was a psychologist at Princeton, talked about, uh, what he called 'the origin of consciousness in the bicameral mind', and he said that [clears throat] in pre-Homeric times...excuse me [takes drink]...what we experience as ego-consciousness was experienced differently by people, uh, in those early societies. What we experience as
, something which we completely dominate and somehow enfold in our bodies--this is the cultural metaphor that the self is inside the body--they experienced as outside the body and exterior from the ego and, uh, somehow independent of their own will, so that what we experience as the self and the ego, they experienced as a kind of disembodied god, or guiding voice, or inner spirit, or guardian angel. The important concept in all of this being that they experienced it as separate from themselves. Uh, and then Jaynes goes on to suggest that it was
, who were people who passed from one society to another for the purpose of exchanging goods, who were the first cynics, because they realized that everybody's gods in different places were saying different things, and they realized therefore that there was something funny about these gods: that they were, in fact, somehow rooted in, uh, in human...psychology, rather than in theogony, in some sense. And, they became the world's first egotists, or the world's first individuated people, because they correctly identified a psychic function as arising from themselves and they integrated it. And, then, he goes on--I don't want to spend to much time with this--but then he goes on to say that it was the spread of trade, the rise of money, all these things, which broke down these dialogues between cultural wholes and their gods, and that, when it broke down, that was what shattered that, uh, world of city-civilizations that is the
ancient world, in other words, the world of Babylon, Ur, Sumer, Chaldea, the states which precede the Hellenic world, were shattered by the breakdown of this dialogue between the people and the god...and kingship. He talks a lot about how the kings assimilate, were associate with, this voice in the head, so everyone thought the king was speaking to them when they were told to...go pump water, uh...herd the cows, sheer the sheep...whatever they were told to do.
Ok...I mention this, because, I thinks that something similar is happening in the present, and that, unwittingly Jaynes may have provided a, uh, metaphor for understanding this. We talked a bit last time about the flying saucer and how it was, uh, a projection of a future state of mankind, a mobile psychic entity, linked to the idea of the exteriorization of the soul and the interiora....interiorization of the body in electronic circuitry. I think that, uh, what we all experience as...our culture...fashion, rock and roll, politics, music, media....all of these things which we experience as the clothing that we must put on in order to be able to talk to each other. This is a kind of god, or a kind of autonomous psychic function that has slipped out of our control, or which has arisen outside of our control as a legacy of this earlier, uh, uh, process of integration in the Hellenistic period, so that...ph-phenomena like the Nuclear Freeze Movement, or, uh, the t-the rise of the term 'networking', or, uh, all of these integrative, holistic, feeling-toned, you could almost say 'liberal', or you could almost say that liberalism in its classic 19th century guise is the first faint, uh, uh, uh-uh, sounding of this theme; this rising global humanism is in fact the rising into consciousness of a tribal god, similar to the kind of tribal god that functioned in..in these pre-Hellenic societies. And, however, in the present cultural context, cultural evolution is happening
fast that it is not going to take a millennium to pass through, you know, the first faint enunciation of the theme, the full-fledged exploration of the theme of, uh, cultural wholeness as exteriorized, uh, uh....God, or God-like mind to the integration of it. And, the psychedelic, I believe, are the keyyy to moving from wearing culture like clothes to recognizing that culture is this intensifying reflection of an aspect of the
integrating it into the self
. And, that's what all the hullaballoo is about, I think. And, I think that, uh, this is happening. And, uh, if, if the date 2012 means anything, it means, uh, simply that, uh, we can take that as...we can make a statistical model of what's happening and say that, uh, on, uh November 15th, 2012, a sufficient number of people will have integrated this state of global electronic self-hood that it will be uh, um....irreversible. That, up until a certain point, when any stochastic process begins to happen or when any...cascade begins to get going, up until it has a certain momentum, there is a possibility of many different bifurcations leading different end-states. But, once a certain amount of energy is in the system, then, you know, you can say it's going to go all the way, and I prefer to think of....I prefer to probabilitalize all of these predictions of the end of the world and to think of them simply, uh-uh, the way you think of a particle in the quantum mechanical model. When we assign a position to the particle, we understand that the particle isn't at that position, that that point is merely the center of a cloud of probably positions, any one of which could be occupied. Nevertheless, outside of a certain short distance from that point, the probability of finding the particle drops off asymptotically. So, it's a cloud of probability, and this date up after the first of the century is the center of a cloud of probability. Now, what kind of ethics decline from that kind of a position. It seems to me obvious that the first thing that's apparent from that is that you don't sit around
for the apocalypse. You understand that as soon as you push yourself over the brink, you've done the major piece of work that has to be done in
. From then you just sit around, uh, watching it happen. So, uh, it's an invitation...we're, we're all very fortunate. It reminds me, and I probably mentioned this last time, I think about it fairly often, of the Irish prayer, 'May you be alive at the end of the world'. Uh....probably we all have a very good shot at it [audience laughter], but I have no idea what the probabilities are for any one of us. Uh...I've spoken of this tonight more in its operation terms, rather than in the 'gee whiz' kind of terms, which I did last time, where I painted a picture of what it will be like to invoke this global electronic, uh, uh, aspect of the self and to integrate it. But, these ideas about collapsing time vectors, about history having an end, about, in fact, history being the shockwave of an event at the end of time, these are the ideas that religions handle, uh, fairly well...I mean, not religions so much but theology. Religion tends to concern itself with, uh, with public morality. But, underpinning religion is theology, and it seems to always, at least in the West, meaning in Judaism, in Christianity, in Islam, and in all of the spectrum of cults that each one spawned, or, and continues to spawn, there is this wish to put an end to time, to close it off, to redeem us from the cycle of becoming. And, I think that the reason these ideas are so persistent in the human psyche is because, uh, all of history can be seen, in biological time, as so brief that it is simply, uh, a prelude and an anticipation...[end side 1 of tape]
[start side 2 of tape--ambient music in background]...so that they actually look down on their culture. They become extra-environmentals is a way of putting this: they act the role of the extraterrestrial. And, and, uh, we all connect the role of the extraterrestrial when..and do, when we adopt this extra-environmental position. It can be viewed as alienation if what arises out of it is, uh, uh, a feeling of forlornness and being 'cast into being', as Heidegger says. But, that need not
be the feeling. The extra-environmental is also tremendously, uh, freed from the cultural conditioning. And, when you travel, you are always an extra-environmental and, extra-environmental and, you have a, uh, very deep insight into societies that you may only spend a short time in. Uh...I think the emerging archetype of the other or the alien is an effort to integrate alienation and actually make it a positive thing. And, I think I mentioned either here as Will [last name?]'s show about ET and how clever this was to make people identify with something which looks like a cross between a can of anchovies and the Pilsbury Dough Boy [audience laughter] and to actually....you know,
is what that movie is about and it's
, and, uh, it's a very important form of love to cultivate, because this process of integration of the electronic overself that is one way of looking at the end of history; that is, uh, that is the process that we're all involved in, and psychedelics, uh, which I haven't mentioned too much tonight, but which I hope you realize are the, uh, entire source
of all of this, because what psychedelics are doing, uh, are they are anticipating this future state, this electronic global information organism is, in fact, already present in the same way that most of the future is present in the past. I mean
, think of any point in the past. Think of 1950. Think of how much of today was present in 1950. It means that this idea that science fiction has sold us that the future is a total other world just up around the bend, it isn't actually true. The future is, uh, 95% present
in the present
, and it is that 5% that eludes us that wi-will provide the great adventure for the next 20, 30, 40 years as we come to terms with the fact that, uh, we are moving off into the human imagination. That's what this godlike thing is. It is not a filled space, a loving figure, an angel, a god, or a demon. It is an empty space, a space which we will fill, uh, with our dreams, essentially, because our dreams have always been the appetition [an Alfred North Whitehead term] leading us forward into history. But, we have not understood why, especially over the last 500 years when it's become very unfashionable to believe in dreams and visions and revelations, but I think actually the faith is well-founded. It's well-founded because of the nature of the physics of time, and that is a physics that your own experience will reinforce for you if you, uh, if you examine it carefully enough. Thank you once again very much. I think we're gonna have a brief break and then, uh, questions. [audience applause] Thank you. [ambient music still playing in background]....[tape edit]
...There's no question that what the human imagination has now taken to itself so much power that it can no longer remain on the surface of the planet. We sort of have to part company with the planet for our own good and for its, and, uh, it's just a, uh, commonplace of evolutionary theory that every frontier presents a genetic barrier, because only the hail, the hearty the adventurous, uh, the healthy go. Certainly space is going to be the tightest genetic filter of that sort that has ever been, uh, laid on a human population. It's said that, you know, the dynamics of North American society are due to the fact that we're...we can all trace ourselves back to misfits and malcontents and religious screwballs, and all these people who were out of it relative to Europe came here. A very similar thing will obviously happen in space, uh....but your question is interesting. I can't quote him exactly, but when I spoke in Santa Cruz, Tim Poston, who's a mathematician, after it was all over he s--he quoted a modern poet saying, "It won't end with a statue of Jayne Mansfield 50 miles high. It won't end...," and he list several things. It will just go on. It will continue and continue and continue, and perhaps that's what human society will always be about. Perhaps there will always be a tacky element and we will always [audience laughter], uh, 'flop on the seamy side' [quoting James Joyce's
], but I'm not sure. I'm not sure. The things which we take to be so basic to humanness, such as all that that I just mentioned, have all arisen
this hypothetical moment in Julian Jaynes' theory, when we integrated the ego. Perhaps, uh, integrating the super-ego will actually make us stand taller and see more clearly into each other's needs. Uh...I think that the old evolutionary model, which was that evolution was the struggle of the fittest and the devil take the hindmost is pretty much discredited, and we now understand that, uh, what is maximized in evolution is not the, uh, sharpness of the fang or the, or the length of the claw, but the ability to cooperate with other species harmoniously [audience applause]. That's what's being maximized. Every parasite...er, or, I mean, every disease wants to be simply a benign parasite. No disease wants to see it's host die, because then the party is over for everyone. Uh..so, I would say in answer to your question, I'm hopeful, but I certainly, uh...human's are a perverse lot, and I suppose, reasonably, what one can hope for is incremental advancement toward the good. I studied political philosophy under Joe Tussman, and one of his favorite remarks he used to say to us was, 'When you look around at the world, it's a terrible show to be run by angels, but if you think of it as run by monkeys,
" [audience laughter] Another question...any other question...yes.
[male audience member]: Yea, I'd like to know if, uh, you've had any experience with ketamine, and, uh, what you think of its place in the future and....whatever.
[Terence]: Interesting question...what, what about ketamine? What do I think about it? Well, different things. First of all, uh, you all know what ketamine is, or should I briefly sketch it. Ok, this is a psychedelic drug that's recently come on the scene that, uh, is what's called a disassociative anaesthetic. It was used as a veterinary and children's anaesthetic from the early 60s onward and it was..only slowly was it realized that, uh, at low doses there were peculiar psychic phenomena, and, uh, i-i-i--when done as an anaesthetic, it's done 600 mL IV push. That means straight into the vein under pressure as fast as you can, 600 milliliters, which would be just like being hit by a truck. But, when it's done for its...I don't like to say 'recreationally', so, when it's done for it's, uh, 'psychic' effect, it's done like 100 milliliters, IM, into the muscle. And, uh.....it's a, it's a....troubling psychedelic, because a lot of people, I think, are doing it who have never done any other. And, I think that would be very, very misleading. I...When I did it, the first thing that...my first reaction was..complete amazement that, here was a category of experience that I had no idea existed. In other words, it was a slot on the bookshelf that I didn't realize was there. It is not like mescaline, not like LSD, not like psilocybin, not like DMT, not like ayahuasca, not like any of these things, and yet, you cannot get away from the fact that it's a powerful psychedelic. So....it'sss, it's useful for that alone, to further expand the definition of
a psychedelic drug. The problem that I have--I have two problems with it, and both of them may be..curmudgeonly on my part, so you don't have to take it from me. The first one is that it's very easy. The first thing that happens after you've done ketamine is that you cease to be concerned that you've done ketamine [audience laughter]. Before there is any other effect that effect takes hold [audience laughter]. And, uh, that's a funny thing. I'm on, on these tryptamine hallucinogens, you are fully aware that you have taken a drug, that you're walking on egg shells, that you should keep yourself alert to what's going on, and, and....In other words, it puts you on your toes. You know you're in a dimension of risk and opportunity, and you comport yourself that way. On ketamine, your definitions dissolve so completely that it's a major accomplishment to realize that you're a human being on a drug. You keep discovering and losing that realization. You keep saying, 'Oh yes, that's what it is; I'm some
and I'm stoned some
And that's what this is...now it's coming back to me.' Which brings me to the second thing about ketamine which is, uh, puzzling, and this is a problem with all psychedelic drugs, but, but, you have to, sort of, get a l-life strategy for dealing with it, because it's important to overcome, and that is, it's very "state-bounded," which is the that the psychologist Rolland Fisher coined, which means that you can't remember anything about it. It's like an intense dream where you're intensely dreaming, and the alarm goes off, and as you stumble to the shower it's just........and there's nothing there. And ketamine is very much like this. There's..while you're on it, there is a complete conviction that this is of staggering import to you and mankind [audience laughter]...and then, it is just totally mercurial and elusive and slips away. Now, that, in itself, is obviously an interesting experience, and, uh, so ketamine seems to teach obliquely. It teaches you that there are psychedelic states that you might not have called psychedelic. It teaches you that there are wonderful insights that totally, uh, elevate you that you can't remember 15 seconds later. So, it sort of teaches you the richness of mind, but, uh, by, uh, example, rather than by the imparting of information that you can take away. And, then, whenever this question is asked, uh, unlike my acquaintance John Lilly, I always feel like I
say to people that, if you're going to take a new drug, you should go to the medical literature read it, and I know there's this much in reprints on ketamine, because I have it. And, what it will tell you is that, um....there's a kindling effect, which means each time you do it, it is easier the next time to get loaded. Uh, however, on the, uh, neurophysiological level, er, or the level of
an electroencephalogram, this kindling effect is....can be cons---I don't want to say it's dangerous. I just want to say, it's a warning sign, because the same kind of kindling will proceed, uh, petit mal seizure and other forms of seizure. Let me say, though, on this matter of drugs and how you judge them, especially now, since there're so many drugs in the MDA series making their way into society: MDA, MMDA, MDMA, MDM--MMDA-2, a whole gamut of these, and there will be more down through the years. I've always taken the position that it was important that the psychedelic have a relationship to a plant. And, uh, that's almost a perfect fit for me, because I approve of psilocybin and it comes from a plant, and mescaline and it comes from a plant, and...uh, LSD is sort of problematic, because the LSD-25 that is what most people are familiar with, is not from a plant. That's a creature of pure, of the laboratory, but, uh, analogues, active in the milligram range, diethyl, uh, ethyl lysergic acid amide, uh, occur in morning glories of several species and in ergot, er, uh, and in some cases non-toxically. So, I.....as I live into the 80s, it's becoming harder and harder to maintain this thing about the importance of the plant, because, so many people don't..can't imagine what you're talking about. They are totally devoted to one or another completely synthetic drug, and are having revelation and, uh, loving insights and all these things, and, so, I feel a little bit like a Puritan. But, until I know more about it, for myself, that's sort of the categories I'll work with. Also, I'm...the, the plant drugs almost always have a shamanic tradition associated with them that's several thousand years old. So, they're use-tested in human societies both for psychic effects and for physiological effects, uh. If a drug has been taken for 10,000 years, chances are, it's fairly benign.......Any other questions, yes...
[male audience member]: I was wondering, if you've read, in the introduction of 'Psilocybin' by Oss and O.N. Oeric, a statement that the authors purport to be from the mushroom, whereby the...mushroom offers a possible symbiont...for the humans....offers to give information on how to build spaceships, and, what, uh....what do you think about that and what do you think about the symbiosis between humans and mushrooms, other than, you know, just taking mushrooms, is there....this....have you ever reflected on this...er, have this this introduction?
[Terence]: I've read that introduction, yes. You're a brave man to ask the question. Uh...Oh no, I shouldn't kid you...I wrote the introduction. [audience laughter] Because, I am O. T. Oss and my brother is O. N. Oeric. I can tell you this now, because this book is going out of print. Uh, well, when we wrote that, that was, uh, that was straight transcription. That's what the mushroom said. Uh....I don't know exactly what to make of this. These things stretch our....uh....our, uh....categories, because we, s--we, because it deals with our own definition of humanness, uh.... It's curious that the psilocybin mushroom that my book, or that our book is about, occurs in the dung of domesticated cattle, the Indian humpback cattle, Bos indicus. Uh, so that it has been since very early in human history, in a sense a symbiot of man, because a symbiot of a domesticated animal, wh--which man had a symbiotic relationship with. And, when you study symbiosis, uh, among lower animals, you often find this situation where it isn't simply two species involved, but three or even more. Uh...the mushroom has this peculiar ability to invoke, or allow, or trigger a voice in the head, this Logos-like phenomenon of information unrolling in your head. Uh...no other drug that I'm familiar with does that consistently. And, our model of what psychedelic drugs should do has no room in it for this. Our model of what psychedelic drugs should do is derived from Freud and then secondarily from Jung. From Freud, we derive the idea that the psychedelic drug should, uh, introduce you to neurotic thought processes, repressed memory, traumatic experiencence, um......g-guilt, uh.....-laden incidents that have been forgotten, this sort of thing. From Jung, we inherit the idea that beyond that, there is a landscape of myth, and that we will encounter the great...mythological motifs of the collectivity of the human psyche. What psilocybin seems to be saying is that, yes, these two areas do exist, but beyond them and far larger than them, if we can speak of such dimensions in terms of relative size, there is an area which has very little to do with humanness, collective or particular. It is simply like a landscape. It is a world in the mind, but not related to our neuroses or our religious, totemic, and mythological figures. It is in fact highly independent of the human ego, but nevertheless discoverable, uh, uh, through these drugs. And, uh, in those dimension, we come up against things like, the voice of the mushroom claiming to represent a galactic form of organism, or, uh......wh-wh-what are conventionally callled angels, or demons, or jinns, or afrits; in other words, these traditional, but rarely encountered by modern people, autonomous forms of psychic existence, and we have no models for those things. For our civilization, the other, if it exists, can only come from the stars, in ships. It must be a carbon-based lifeform with the political and social and intellectual aspirations similar to ourselves. Science is not yet ready to entertain the idea that all points in our universe may be co-tangent, that every form of intelligence in the cosmos may have the potential to communicate with every other, in the here-and-now, eh, simply because to do this science would throw open a floodgate of information that it cannot deal with. The repression of magic has been a very important part of science's program for explaining the world, not because science has anything, uh, intrinsic....an intrinsic antagonism to magic, but simply because magic, if tolerated, would unleash more information than any scientific theory can cope with. Scientific theories must first limit the amount of information that they're dealing with before they can begin to model things. So, in answer to your question about the mushroom and its role in human history, I've gone through many changes about this since the mushroom began talking to me, since I wrote that forward. I have a manuscript now, which, uh, one of the titles that we toy with for it is, uh, 'Alien Intelligence and Psilocybin'. Although it probably won't be called that, a lot of what it deals with is that, is the fact that post-modern people, which is you and me, are getting in touch with something which modern, the modern worldview, cannot handle at all. For modernity, voices in the head are a clear instance of pathology. And, yet, for the Hellenistic world and the worl--the post-modern world, voices in the head are a clear, uh, aspect of, uh, following the path. And, this was classic before the rise of the forms of reductionist thought that characterize modern thinking. Socrates had a daemon. He mentions it many times. It told him what to say. It helped him with what he should think, and, uh, it was a commonplace for sages and philosophers of that time to make that kind of claim. Psilocybin places it within the reach of modern people, but it also, by so doing serves to demonstrate that the old models of psyche, Freudian and Jungian, just won't serve. [Audience member says something] I don't think that these things can be reconciled very easily. I think science, if it's going to take up the Enochian tables and that sort of thing is going to transform itself to the point where it will no longer
science. Uh, Paul Feyerabend, who lives in Berkeley--I don't know if he still teaches--has written a couple of books, one called 'Against Method' and another one called 'Science in a Free Society', and he makes the point there that, uh, science has really become an enemy of the free society, simply by virtue of the fact that it ca--it wishes to, uh, arbitrate
. So that, somebody says, 'well, I believe that the universe is such and so' and everyone says, 'well, go ask the scientists if it's true or not'. Uh, this is a staggering amount of power for, for any group of people to have, especially a group of people whose accomplishments, and I'm not now talking about the technicians and the engineers but the scientists, what they have accomplished is only to give us an unrecognizably abstract model of the world. Uh, so I would prefer a world of intellectual pluralism, where, uh, astrology, and astronomy, and kabbalah, and information theory, and all these things, worked in their own area, but no one claimed pre-eminence, because, you see, this claiming of pre-eminence, uh, rests on a false assumption. No idea can be dismissed that is internally consistent. There's nothing more than that. Science is not...
internally self-consistent, and astrology is not
internally self-consistent, so why should these things be placed on two different levels in terms of, uh, arbitra---uh, being arbiters of the truth.
So, I think that, uh, that there will be, by psychology for instance, fringe human abilities and things like that discovered, but I think higher magic will always operate according to the laws of higher magic, and that this will be a closed book to science, simply because of the nature of the premises of both, uh concerns. One of the things I didn't get to say about this time theory that I've put down this evening was that, uh, it's a very anti-scientific theory. It cannot be integrate---this is not merely a physics of time that can be grafted onto orthodox and have science survive, because what I'm saying has, uh, certain consequences in the realm of cause and effect and experimental design that make what is normally called a scientific experience, out of the question. And, another untestable hypothesis that riddles science from end to end is the idea that if A causes B at time F, then A will cause B at time anything else, and that's just obviously nonsense in any realm where we experience things, but it's necessary to believe that....and, so what science ends up being able to do (this is interesting)...science, then, becomes a way of explaining anything which happens the same way over and over again, regardless of the time that it happens. We could almost describe science as, uh, the descriptive, uh...that branch of human knowledge which is concerned with the description of those processes which are not effected by the time in which they occur. And, those proc---and none of those processes are interesting to living, thinking, feeling people, because everything you experience is unique, every moment, every event, every person, every situation.
So, what happening, here? Something is happening to the monkeys. And, it's very dangerous. And, it takes about 25,000 years to happen. It's a mad rush, because for it to happen, the most dangerous processes in the universe have to lie 'present at hand' [Heidegger terminology]: nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, so--uh, social control, genetic control. Everything has to be possible for the Good to be possible. The species is completely...free to mirror itself. That is, in fact, what this test is about. What freedom means is, you find out how good you are by discovering what you do when you have the power to destroy yourself. And, we, as a species, are in that position, and no one can do it but us, and, if we do not destroy ourselves then, very obviously, the intellectual tools that we have taken in hand are the tool which will send us, uh, out to the stars. Now, as far as this idea that I talked about tonight about, uh...temporal fractals and the nature of time and that sort of thing, that is only one aspect of this conquest of reality by information. And, I think you can see, if you look back through biological and cultural history, though no one, so far as I know, has ever actually described it this way: What it really is, is a conquest of dimensions. With the earliest, uh, forms of life, you get...they are like the amoeba. They essentially have a tactile perception. They can only perceive what they are immediately physically in contact with. And, then, in slightly higher organisms, you get the evolution of cells which distinguish light and dark. So, there is at least the idea of a sense that there is something out there that comes and goes that cannot be tactilely recorded. It's the coming and going of light. But, then, as organisms advance in complexity, the eye is where the evolutionary thrust comes once you get past the eye spot. Then, uh, there is sense of things at a distance, which do not tactilely impinge on the organism but nevertheless have importance for the organism. They are distant pieces of food, or distant enemies, and, uh, the organism learns to move forward or away from these things, and toward or away are dimensional concepts. Then, when you get truly mobile organism, you get, uh...for instance, like monkeys or that sort of thing, they move in a much larger control space, and they move through it to grasp what they desire, and, and you get the evolution of a tactile sense that is under the control of the eye, and then, uh, that essentially ends with the binocular vision and the bipedal locomotion. That ends the conquest of physical dimension for biological objects, but then you then get language, which seems to have something to do with time, because language allows memory, and the re-collection of memory, so that past states can be brought to bear on the present with an eye toward anticipation of the future, and suddenly you realize that what language is allowing this organism to do is to claim a whole new dimension. Language, then, is a dimension, uh, a dimension-exploring vehicle of some sort. And, to what degree, we don't know, because, for instance, obviously, as animals, we contact the dimensions 'past' and 'future'. These are dimensions with great importance to an animal, because what you learn in the past may keep you from being eaten in the future. But, then, once you have the luxury of civilization, we get language applied to subjects which are neither related to the past or the future, like mathematics. And, lang--mathematics is a language, which has gone out and described, uh, multidimensional spaces.
[tape cuts out]
I think that, er, nothing is more exquisite than the interior music, and all music is obviously an effort to approximate this interior music, and, I don't know if it's apocryphal or not, but I'm sure you all know the story of Beethoven saying, you know, if you, 'if you could hear what I can hear, you wouldn't bother with what I've written, because, it's just..compared to what I'm hearing.' Uh....you have to....it's, it's a knife edge, because the music does lead deeper into these visionary states, but I still think that once you are where you want to be, that if you can cast loose from exterior musical input that this interior music will rise into perception and reward you for that. Uh, the way that I take psychedelic drugs seems very natural to me, but then when I describe to groups of people like this, I realize that people have all kinds of styles, and this caus--this has caused the psychedelic experience to be sort of blurrily defined in the mass-mind. My idea of how you take a psychedelic drugs is that you reduce sensory input as low as you can without the reduction itself becoming an impediment. In other words, I'm not talking about isolation tanks and all that. I'm just saying a dark, quiet, calm, cool, empty room is the best kind of situation. And, uh, some of the most interesting trips, that I've had, have been to the accompaniment of a single sound, which is simply a drone, it's like the
, the seed around which, then, the multiplicity of the hallucinogenic vision can gather itself and constellate. I mean, I blush to tell you this, but some of my most interesting, uh, trips have been to the accompaniment of my floor heater [audience laughter], which makes a buzz like a refrigerator, and that buzzz becomes, you know, the cutting edge of a light, which is like a comet, giving off, in the eddies of its trail...hallucination, all the hallucinations there are. So, I think that, m-music is intrinsic to everything that we are talking about. We are aspiring to the condition of music, and we need music, therefore, we should have it as an exterior input, uh, when we can have it no other way. So, saying that musi--that I don't listen to music during those states, is not a put down of music, uh. Music is obviously the ideal, because it
one of these tonal languages that you understand by hearing. It is an
. It has...it's a language of emotion, yea...
[male audience member]: Real quick question...according to the, um, to the graph that you've developed, it seems to me that the end date that you've pinned down, that you could have almost your own running biorhythm chart based on this graph and you tell whether novelty's gonna be coming up in the next week or three months, or...have you gone that far?
[Terence]: Oh yes, definitely. One of the things that I do is I have a counseling service called 'Anamnesis', and the reason I organized it as a counseling service was because I wanted people to interact with my Wave on the level of their personal history, and I didn't want them to be contaminated by being my friends, so I basically just advertised this service in 'Common Ground', which says something about 'Understand novelty in your life, maps of the past and the future', this and that, and then people come to me and I interview them about their life, and we search the wave for a good fit to their life and then we integrate their wave as a statistical component of the larger wave and then we can make maps of the present, the next six months, the next ten or fifteen years, at different levels, and then people live it out and see if it works, see if when the graph indicates novelty in their life should be increasing, it is increasing, and when it shouldn't be it doesn't. It's like I've invented one-term form of astrology. It only talks about novelty. It tells you when it will go up, when it goes down, when it will go down. It doesn't, in any given situation say
will happen. It only defines the level of novelty that must be fulfilled by
Synchronicity...you see, what, what's, um, one way that I think of this Timewave is, orthodox chemistry, biology, uh, probability theory, all these things, go together to describe what..mm..is possible. So, you say, you know, could an asteroid strike the earth? Let's ask the scientists. And, they say, 'well, yes, it's possible, there are enough of them. the probability is very low'. Or, you say, you know, 'can we cleave this molecule with the input of this energy?', and they say 'well, yes, it's
, physics allows for that'. But, what my theory seeks to describe is not what is possible, but what out of the set of all possible things, why is that certain things undergo the 'formality of actually occurring' [an Alfred North Whitehead concept]. It is as though they are selected at of this vast pool of possible things, things which could happen without violating any known laws, but out of that vast reservoir certain things undergo the formality of occurring, and once they have occurred, the fact of their occurring has defined the level of novelty in that now-passed moment. And, so, that's what...it's like this novelty wave is a...an additional variable which has to be added into physical laws. It's the variable which dictates what, out of the possible states, which ones actually are realized. And, it's the flux, the coming and going, of that wave of novelty which controls that. Now, if you're in a highly novel situation, then, you get what Lilly calls Cosmic Coincidence or Jung calls synchronicity. You get obvious connections which have no obvious casuistry behind them. They..s-they are connected through meaning, not through the chain of cause and effect. And, that is simply happening
the level of novelty is so great that these sideways connections are beginning to come apparent. And, at the end of time or at the ingression into this higher dimension, I think this will become excruciatingly, uh, present in the foreground of our experience. In other words, synchronicity is getting stronger, coincidence is getting stronger. The world
becoming more irrational. Science
work better in the 19th century [audience laughter] than its working in the 20th, because reality is slowly slipping through it's fingers. There was a maximum moment when the dreams of science and the nature of reality overlayed almost perfectly but now reality is growing beyond it and pulling away from it, and, uh, I think soon, I shall be pulling away from this meeting.
Thank you very much. [applause]
Original transcript by: Eva Petakovic
Review 1 by: Kevin Whitesides
Review 2 by [admin only]:
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