I’ve been listening to quite a few of the MP3s in the Future Hi Media Library recently. Mark Pesce is good for an enthused head-spin; and it’s been interesting to catch some Terence McKenna that I’ve never heard before. Especially in conjunction with guests, such as the incredible Nicole Maxwell. I’ve never heard McKenna’s long-time wife Kathleen Harrison speak before (she’s on the series at Future Hi titled “The Rites of Spring”), and it’s fascinating to hear her. Of course it’s highly amusing to hear McKenna get a gentle drubbing for running too far with his metaphors in the way only a spouse can manage.

The stand-out item so far has to be McKenna’s telling of a then very recent tall tale from the psychedelic information ocean. It’s a kind of Gnostic alternative history, obviously chiming with Philip K. Dick and Grant Morrison’s fictional truths in the same vein. It has an appropriate mixture of vivid, bewitching detail and convenient vagueness (although you get the impression McKenna’s download of the information could have been unpacked to a much finer degree if anyone had given him the chance). In short, it’s as paradoxical as the man himself: flipped one way, it’s blatantly McKenna’s own historical wet dream; flipped the other way, it’s an oddly beguiling possibility with a delirious grandeur of its own. I thought it was worth transcribing in full. He starts in response to someone’s questions to him:

You’re such a skillful questioner that you’ve brought yourself to the doorway of my most recent mania. Maybe I should unburden myself briefly about it. One of the weird things about growth, or trying to make your ideas always become new, is that you always assume you’re going to know what the next step is. That even though you’re going to become more and more enlightened, there won’t be any surprises. So, a few weeks ago I was meditating in my usual fashion, and I began to get this “new idea”, which was so weird that I immediately shifted into, “This is not the truth, this is not a transmission about the nature of reality. This is a plot for a science fiction novel that I should write!” I tried to hold that as my defence, that was my shield against the onslaught of this thing.

I’ve never been one for Atlantis, or Lemuria, all these invisible prehistoric lands and places that people enjoy so much, but I was told a very funny thing, which I will share with you. It’s a funny idea. Let’s see, how does it go? It has two versions, one of which speaks a scientific language, the other speaks a mythological language. So the scientific language goes something like this…

There’s something in the universe called a “Fractal Soliton of Improbability”. This means it’s a unique event, it only happens once in the lifetime of a universe. You can think of it as a wavelength with one wave; that’s why it’s called a soliton. These things move, not in ordinary three-dimensional space, but in some kind of much higher spatial manifold. And when they collide with a planet, or when one collides with a planet in a universe, the time-stream of that planet is divided, and two copies of that planet spring into existence, without either having any knowledge of it. It’s just something which happens. So, this voice was telling me that this had happened to the Earth, and that this was the secret that we were all striving to understand; that an event in the past had actually divided our time-stream, and that a twin of this planet had come into being in another dimension.

OK, so that’s the scientific explanation. So the mythological explanation was, that the universe is Gnostic. The universe is the creation of the Demiurge, not the highest expression of divinity, but a kind of demon, a fallen creature. This Demiurge was able to coax itself into being, actually incarnate into history as a human being. And when this happened, this was the mythological expression of the Fractal Soliton of Improbability. When it happened, the time-stream split. The time-splitting event had to do with the career of Christ, who was an extraordinary manifestation of energy in the historical time-stream; not to be confused with a Buddha or a Mohammed or a Zoroaster, who were great saints—this was something else. It was in some sense what it claimed to be—but in some sense.

So at the moment of—and you can choose either the Immaculate Conception or the Resurrection, depending on which side of the bed you got up on today—at that moment, the time-stream split, and this other place came into being, without having any awareness of it. They were identical at that moment, these two worlds.

What I forgot to say was, this event, the Fractal Soliton of Improbability, has this quantum-mechanical half-charge, so in one of the universes it happens, and in the other universe it doesn’t happen. So everything about these two worlds was the same, except in one of them the Immaculate Conception or the Resurrection had not taken place. Now, because Christ had no children, in the world in which he was absent, it was not a genetic line that was missing, it was an ideological line which never received expression. And consequently, as time passed, first decades, and then centuries, the absence of this particular intellectual influence in the world changed the world radically, in the following way: Greek science did not suffer the suppression that occurred with the conversion of Constantine; the Academies were not closed; the Hermetic knowledge was not repressed. Conversely, the Empire was stronger, and was able to repel the barbarian invasions of the 2nd to the 5th century, and mathematics, which had halted in our world at Diophantus, proceed through his disciple Hypatia to develop a calculus by AD 370. So that the millennium of Christian stasis that occurred in our world did not occur in that world.

As time passed, and engineering advances occurred, by around 850 they had ships that were able to cross the Atlantic Ocean. And they encountered the Mayan civilization reaching its fullest flower in Guatemala and in the Yucatan peninsula. In fact, in this vision I saw the Roman Emperor Cosmodorus the Fifth make a pilgrimage to Tikal in 920 to be present at the coronation of a king at the end of Baktun 8. Anyway, this Greco-Roman imperial culture immediately recognized the genius of the Mayans in mathematics and astronomy, and Europe was… transformed, into an amalgamation, a Greco-Mayan civilization, and this civilization continued to develop.

Now one of the influences which the Mayans brought into Europe around the year 950 was their extremely sophisticated psychopharmacopeia, and shamanism. And this mated with Neoplatonism and Hermeticism, so that rather than science developing as it developed in our world, a kind of magical, psychopharmacolytic technology of thought and understanding was what was developed over the centuries. And in later centuries, centuries before it happened in our world, they contacted the Orient, and the dynastic influence of the Sung poured itself into the creation of a global civilization. Such that, by around 1200 AD they were able to land on the moon, and create a cybernetic global civilization similar to the kind we have now.

They continued evolving, with all this psychotronic and shamanically-derived… well, by now you can imagine it was an unbelievably exotic and alien civilization compared to our own. The fruits of their psychedelic and psychoanalytic investigations into higher space was the discovery of our world. They found out what had happened. They figured it out, by studying dreams, and by making deep journeys into the psychedelic space, they were able to discover our sleeping unconscious, with its repository of the legacy of the Christian centuries under the reign of this Demiurgic ideology. And they conceived of the notion of saving us. And it has to do with this whole thing about the UFOs, and influencing dreams, and astral travelling… and the Other Side is actually the manifestation of this bizarre Greco-Mayan, postmodern star-faring civilization, trying to reach across the dimensions to save us from the momentum of our history, by making us aware of, first of all their existence, and also their technology, which is evolving toward a point where I think around the Mayan millennium, around 2012, we will flow past the time island, and the two time-streams will be rejoined. And we will make peace with this civilization that is now a thousand years more advanced than us, with this totally different cultural history, and this completely different take on reality.

So, this came to me in the space of about fifteen seconds…

[A discussion ends in a question about our destructiveness to plant ecologies versus what might have happened in the other world…]

They were developing and exploring technical options many hundreds of years ago, and they discovered the theoretics for nuclear fusion and fission, but they never used it. Until a few hundred years later, one of their great theoreticians—this was after they had discovered our time-stream—made the prediction that the physics of atomic explosions were such that they would cross the time-stream. And so they performed an experiment by detonating an atomic device in what is our year 1907. And this was the Tunguska event! And then, by monitoring the dreams of Siberian shamans, which they had in clear focus, they saw, “Aha! This explosion which we set off actually did occur in both time-streams.” And at that point, they became very interested in monitoring our time-stream, because they were picking up the dreams of a Swiss telegraph worker, who seemed to be pushing toward an unimaginable conclusion… So now there is a certain amount of urgency, because if we explode our atomic stockpiles, it will wreck the place that they call Home World. It’s not self-preservation, because they now have starflight, and encompass many systems, but preservation of Home World, which on the other side is a vast botanical and ecological preserve from pole to pole. It’s a sacred site of pilgrimage; it’s the home of the species, the Earth. And the notion that suddenly great parts of it will be blown apart by leakage from hyperspace of one of our atomic wars is impelling them now to attempt to open the doorway, and re-join the time-streams. We’ll be allowed a few years inside the botanical park to acclimate, and then most people will ship off for the stars, I imagine.

I also noted a couple of quotes from the series in which he talks with Nicole Maxwell about Amazonian shamanism, the first from MP3 1B, the second from 5A (wow, remember tapes—they had sides).

I have an obsessive need to create a certain kind of closure, so excuse me for about five minutes while I do it. It’s to satisfy an itch of mine. It’s the need to tie it all together, to make some kind of sense of it.

And then, discussing the Taoist aesthetic:

Closure is a neurotic and infantile demand to make upon reality, other people, language. You just have to live in this state of dynamic disequilibrium, which, if sustained long enough, and in sufficient taste, becomes a life well lived.

On the one hand we see the paradox at the heart of his 2012 / Timewave theory, the positing of a colossal endpoint in a theory derived from the I Ching, itself the fruit of flow-obsessed Taoism. On the other, we see his all-too-human contradictions: a flawed nature that he never hid, to his credit, and which is a valuable antidote to over-seriousness about the theories he espoused.

Anyway, thanks for the ideas, Terence.