Based on the insights in my article The End of the River, this short piece was written for Dream Creation magazine (1998).
My first reaction to the internet was physical. I accessed Usenet to see what sort of newsgroups were around. Scrolling down the list, I was simply staggered. This was just one list, and there were so many discussion groups, and so many threads within each one. Two things happened: I started extrapolating from the small sub-section of the net I’d peeked into, boggling at the capacity for information exchange the whole thing appeared to afford; also, I kept remembering a quote at the end of a Throbbing Gristle interview in Re/Search, which inspired me at the start of my zine-making days: “Information exchange is the only way to ever get real change…” I hadn’t even got to the end of the list of newsgroups when my physical reaction to this vista of potential became unbearably intense… I was so excited I had to go outside and shout “FUCK!” a few times.
Well, that TG quote was from 1982. At that time, the ‘zine scene’ was only just emerging from the 70s’ mailart networks, the internet was mostly unheard of, and the arrival of VCRs had provoked a moral panic about screen sex and violence. Even now, the censorship of visual information is perhaps only beaten by that of political information. Us responsible over-18s still can’t see the more intimate details of lovemaking, like hard-ons and labia, onscreen. Well actually, we can—if we dig a bit deeper than the local multiplex or Blockbusters!
The same applies to political information. We get lied to daily about even the most basic of political situations through the mass media (and they lie even when they’re telling the truth). But anyone with the barest scrap of curiosity can get a better low-down through more underground media, whether it’s via the internet, Red Pepper, SchNEWS, Undercurrents videos, whatever. There are things that far too few people know about, no doubt; but there’s much more than enough information around to intellectually arm anyone who genuinely wants to get out there and do something about our corrupt cultures. Lack of access to information is not the major problem. Apathy is.
So is ‘information exchange’ still the Holy Grail of social change? Can it be such a thing in a society where information overload now seems to reign supreme? Bombarded with tragedies and trivia from around the globe, we grow numb to our immediate surroundings. Persuaded that we should be like this or like that—by everyone from advertisers to health experts, New Age moralists to totally sound eco-activist groups—our faith in our own nature is eroded. Faced with seemingly limitless possibilities for ‘inner change’ or ‘personal growth’—magick, yoga, therapies, dancing, crystals, NLP, psychedelics, neo-quasi-pseudo-shamanism—we can easily succumb to ‘option anxiety’. Imagine a rabbit, transfixed by oncoming headlights because it can’t decide which of the two escape routes to take. Now imagine that it’s not a rabbit, it’s you. There aren’t just two ways out, but hundreds. And it’s not a car approaching, it’s a black hole, on the other side of which there may be… a spouse, two kids, mortgage and a tiresome job? Schizophrenia? Death? Boredom? I feel like I’m just starting to learn that knowing how to apply a small amount of information is shitloads more powerful than being the most informed squashed rabbit around.
Actually, saying that I’ve just started to learn is a bit misleading. Nearly four years ago I wrote: “The concept of consuming information should be replaced by that of seeking out and using information.” Such a simple thing to do, no? But how many of us use—in a tangible, creative way—as much information as we consume? How many of us express as much information as we consume? I don’t think all information has to be immediately ‘functional’—that would be as boring as information overload is paralyzing. But as far as the way I allow information to change my life goes, I’ve reached some fruitfully creative peaks, and I’ve also sunk to some very burnt-out troughs. The learning process (or mine, at least) is wave-like and cyclic, not linear and progressive.
Lingering traces of linearity are my main bone of contention with the apocalyptic ideas of people like Robert Anton Wilson and Terence McKenna. Don’t misunderstand; people like this have inspired me to do some wonderful things. Their models of how human culture is evolving still influence me. And I know that they’re probably well aware of the criticisms I’m about to bring up—they just don’t seem to talk about them much. Only human.
RAW, mainly in Prometheus Rising, has demonstrated that the rate of human acquisition of knowledge is increasing exponentially. That is, it’s not just going up; it’s going up faster and faster and faster… So if it was mapped on a graph, it wouldn’t be a straight diagonal line going from bottom left to top right; it’d be a curve, rising slowly from the bottom at first, then getting steeper and steeper, until eventually it’s just going vertically.
What happens when human knowledge ‘goes vertical’? Time-travel? Space colonization? Entry into a hyperdimension? Massive good vibes? No one really knows, but Terence McKenna’s tagged a date and time to that vertical line—6.00am, December 21st, 2012. Moreover, because of the acceleration of the universe’s unfolding, he thinks that half of the total evolution of our 72-plus-billion-year old universe will occur in the last 0.3 seconds before 6.00am on this date. If we take the rise of life or the discovery of atomic energy as examples of key ‘barriers’ that universal evolution passes through, McKenna’s calculations tell us that thirteen such barriers will be passed in the last 0.0075 seconds!! (see The Invisible Landscape) This theory is staggering, unimaginable, and inspiring in a way that’s intense but very hard to grasp (until you smoke DMT I suppose). It’s also amazingly human-centred, ‘West-centred’, and probably very ‘male’ too.
The idea of a point at the end of history, or the universe—McKenna’s “concrescence of novelty”—is the flip-side of everything exploding out from a singularity at the beginning. The Omega Point and the Big Bang are like bookends of unification at either end of the flow of time. They can also be seen as Vast Ejaculations (now there’s an album title). Douglas Rushkoff first pointed out to me the masculine sexuality underlying linear apocalyptic ideas. As I wrote that last paragraph, I noticed the sexual innuendo in the idea of human knowledge ‘going vertical’ (fnarr, fnarr). The Big Bang isn’t really that far from Egyptian creation myths where gods bring forth various things by beating off. And the Omega Point is an ever-accelerating rush towards a crescendo of connectedness and barrier-dissolution—a Cosmic Climax.
This all sounds great, but I also wonder: where’s the female orgasm? What about continuous waves of full-body, non-linear ecstasy, with no focal point and no singular ‘explosion’? Such experiences are the focus of much sexual mysticism, for men and women. There’s no Point to it, but it ain’t ‘pointless’! Does it have no place in eschatology? Would the concepts of the Omega Point, the Apocalypse, Judgement Day, Timewave Zero, etc. even exist if this experience was more common than the furtive “sneeze in the genitals”, as Alan Watts has called the average male orgasm? Well, there’s only one way to find out!
Undigested information is mounting up inside most of us: facts without meanings, meanings detached from emotions, emotions we don’t take time to understand. Are we yearning for a quick and catastrophic explosion to relieve the tension—the tension of information overload, the tension of tightly measured time, the tension of too much history? Dare we step back for a moment amidst this frantic rush towards the Climax, and question the assumptions behind linear masculine eschatology—even as we approach the deadline? As Mogg Morgan says in his article ‘The Erotic Landscape (revisited)‘:
If you feel yourself approaching the point of ‘no return’, maybe ask your partner to pause, and make any adjustments necessary to prevent ejaculation or climax . . . . As the urge for ejaculation or release subsides, you may feel the warm sexual glow spreading throughout your whole pelvic region, opening out other energy centres sometimes called chakras . . . A strange thing happens: you become like an erotic landscape, a sea of sensation. Try to regard the time you have spent in this ‘build up’ to ejaculation as part of the orgasm. Viewed this way, perhaps you can see that an orgasm, for both men and women, is actually a lot more intense than those few moments of ejaculation or climax.