The Future of Humanity

August 29, 1992

McKenna, Abraham, and biologist Rupert Sheldrake contemplate humanity’s bumpy ride towards transcendence. McKenna unveils his theory of an impending "eschaton" when history will culminate in a boundary-erasing recovery of unity, fulfilling religious anticipation. However, approaching this "zero point" will be increasingly chaotic. Abraham and Sheldrake greet McKenna’s vision with skepticism tinged with hope. Probing global crises, the trio spiritedly grapple with miraculous visions for transforming society, from psychedelic revival to empowering women. Their speculative voyage reveals turbulence ahead, yet yields glimmers of our journey’s destination.




So we’ll have the same format as this morning, and I guess I’ll be up to bat this afternoon. The notion being to talk about the future—not the future that I love so well (which is the future where the whole world disappears up its own kazoo in a kind of transcendental self-erasure some time around 2012), but something more immediate, which is the immediate future and the situation surrounding the millennium. The idea being that shamanism—if it’s to make good on its claim of being a penetration into a kind of higher mathematical space—ought then to be a forecasting tool in any and all situations. And so I thought to evoke the future as I see it—some of it being positive, some of it being negative—and then just see what kind of a response it evokes.


Recently I’ve seen the future somewhat differently, I think, in the wake of the Rio conference and then the large conference on AIDS that was held in Amsterdam. Because it seemed to me—as a child, I grew up near Mesa Verde in the Four Corners area of Colorado, and we would always visit this as a family outing. And the great mystery the rangers would tell us is why these people died out, why they left the mesas after living there for a thousand years. And this fascinated me, this concept of a culture dying out. And it’s sort of like these catchphrases like, “the end of the novel,” or “the end of the symphony.” You know, you try to imagine: how can such a thing end?


And recently I’ve had a glimpse of how cultures slip away from themselves. And I think it’s worth invoking so that it doesn’t happen to us. It’s hard for us to imagine our culture dying, because it’s a global culture. I mean, it seems to have unlimited resources that it can call upon. But when you travel in the third world you encounter what is referred to in United Nations reports as “deferred maintenance.” This is where you go to the international airport and large pieces of plumbing are peeling out of the walls, or as you motor into the capital city you see gutter reconstruction projects that have obviously gone on for decades with no conclusion. And more and more you see this kind of thing in this country.


Someone visited me from England last week and said the apocalypse is already happening. The slow apocalypse is unraveling all over the world. I mean, if you want apocalypse, you only have to take an airplane to Yugoslavia, to Lebanon, to Somalia. You know, the list is far too long. And there you find it. Here, among our prophets and seers from Malibu to Mendocino the thing is only dimly glimpsed as yet with the aid of the Mayan calendar and other suitable divinatory tools. But that’s because we live in an incredible bubble of privilege.


Well, so I, in my own life, think a lot about both historical inevitability and its paradoxical twin, political responsibility. You know, if it’s all on automatic, if the world is either undergoing some kind of mass extinction and soul migration into the Elysium realms, then very little has to be done. If, on the other hand, it isn’t on automatic, then what is the nature of the political and social world that we should construct for ourselves and our children? And I think for a long, long time—since the end of World War II, basically—we have been living in a future-phobic society where, for all of the baubles and technology that has been foisted upon us, no real change has been tolerated. I mean, when you look back to the 1930s, you see that, for better or ill, enormous social experiments were underway: the New Deal in the United States, and the Third Reich in Germany—which was a thousand-year plan involving genetic purification of a race, highways from Vladivostok to Paris, so forth and so on. That scale of planning has been banished since… well, for sixty years, basically. And what we have instead is a future-phobic society that places a great deal of stress on the preservation of a pseudo-tradition—called “family values” by some people, but it has many names. It is not an archaic social model or anything rooted in long-term human organization, it’s basically the nineteenth-century industrial model of the couple with some children fitted into an industrial economy.


Now I think that the contradictions of these future-phobic attitudes have become unbearable. And so the log jam that has been in place essentially since 1945 is beginning to break up. It came first at the weak point, obviously, which was the Soviet Union—I mean, a system so built on contradiction that the least breath of reality and it collapsed—and that spread a lot of joy in the murkier minds of the West, I think. Because what was not understood initially was that what this presaged was a crisis in values in our societies. Because the fact is: capitalism and democracy are implacable foes. They can give no quarter. These are two utterly distinct theories of human worth—one which says you are what you own and control (preferably the means of production), and another which says all human beings have equal weight in the political process, and by implication in some metaphysical scheme of values. Well, now these two systems are nakedly exposed in their opposition to each other.


It seems to me—and it sort of comes out of what Ralph talked about this morning—that, in trying to get a general overview of what these bifurcations are that loom in the future, they have to do with choice on many, many levels. I mean, obviously, what’s up for a lot of people is reproductive choice. But there are also… a lot of people in the world don’t like being where they are. They would rather migrate somewhere else. So choice of travel, choice of location, reproductive choice, job choice—all of these things are values either to be preserved or to be consciously suppressed.


The global society is now an integrated unit—in the sense that the data that it generates flows into central modeling institutions that then give a picture of it back. But to date we have not confronted the implications of this in terms of planning. We have been essentially passively contemplating the buildup of an explosive situation very fatalistically. And now we at least, I think, should contemplate the possibility of intervening in our situation, you know? I hear all kinds of fatalism. I hear people saying that our two main problems are population and epidemically transmitted sexual/social diseases, and that therefore: no problem. You see? But I find that a fairly horrifying way to manage human affairs—simply by an appeal to nature to cut us down, to send the grim reaper among us because we can’t manage our own destinies.


It seems to me that a whole rethinking of the notion of freedom has to come, and that it isn’t strictly a matter of more freedom. One of the things that I think the twentieth century has secured, but is reluctant to face, is the toxic power of imagery—that this is the century of the perfection on a scale previously undreamed of, of propaganda. And propaganda has to do with the toxicity of images.


Now, here at a place like Esalen we give lip service to the idea that images can heal. But it also means they can hurt. And there are far more hurtful images around than healing images. Now, a social polity coming out of John Locke and the English social philosophers would want to stay away from that in the John Stuart Mill tradition. But I think we’re going to have to go back to Plato. Plato did not trust the poets. And the heirs of the poets in our hell-Bardo are Madison Avenue. Because images are being manipulated to the point where democratic institutions become a joke, because they are simply referendums, or rather exhibitions of conditioned behavior, which was not the notion in the first place.


I’m trying to stay away from the obvious things on the political agenda: reconstruction of the environment, advancement of women to positions of power, promotion of multi-culturalism, this sort of thing. Because these are, to my mind, basically clichés. Not that I don’t agree with them, but they’re not particularly interesting. The interesting ideas have to do with touching the taboos. As we approach the millennium it’s going to become increasingly important to, if not control, certainly regulate and monitor the irrational element among us—which is a curious concept, because largely we are the irrational element. However, we’re not nearly as irrational as you might wish to be assured. Just listen to what’s on AM radio on Sunday morning and you’ll discover that you ain’t irrational, you represent an extremely high slice of rationality compared to the foment that builds in those that follow what we euphemistically call the whey of cheeses. And this is going to pose social problems as we manage our way through the millennium. It did at the last millennium. I mean, for the three years centered around 999, people simply stood slack-jawed in the streets of Europe with their eyes fixed on the sky. No work got done. Well, the consequences then were trivial. Now it’s not so clear.


I mean, what we’re really caught in is a clash of values where the traditionalist side is getting an unhealthy handicap because of calendrical coincidence. Just being born—or living through—the close of the second millennium poses all kinds of problems for societies that are trying to preserve humanist social values. If the Renaissance had begun in 985, I dare say it would’ve failed.


Let’s see. Anything else? I guess I should just sum it up. The concept which lies behind this is the idea of guiding images. Erich Jantsch, who I think we all related to, used to talk about this: that a society has to be given guiding images. McLuhan said the twentieth century has navigated the way you drive a car using a rear-view mirror—in other words, almost entirely without guiding images. It’s the disgrace of twentieth-century social philosophy that the only two innovative social ideas the twentieth century can claim as its own are Freudian psychoanalysis (which was put out of business last week by Woody Allen) and fascism. These are the two authentic ideological contributions of the twentieth century. Socialism is a nineteenth-century idea, fully worked out in the nineteenth century.


So I think that I’m basically an optimist, but not because I have faith in human institutions, but because I think there is a transcendental attractor that will eventually pull our chestnuts out of the fire. But in the time which lies between then and now, and in the spirit of covering one’s bets, I think it’s worthwhile talking about how society should seriously be reconstructed to make it a more livable place. I think the recent election in England and the election we’re enduring here prove that we cannot expect to hear any kind of meaningful reformist rhetoric from politicians and have there be any hope of it actually being winning at the polls. So then it behooves dissidents like ourselves to try and offer something other than UFO rescue or utter despair as the two poles of the political dialogue.





I missed a key word there. What is it that is going to pull our chestnuts out of the fire?



The transcendental object at the end of time. I mean, I still believe that time is speeding up, that history is an alchemical rarefaction, that at the end we’ll all go off hand in hand with the sacred heart—or something.



You agree with Ronnie Reagan.



Well, we’ve had this discussion before. In fact, it’s in our other book. All these Christers got a piece of the action, but they didn’t get the clear vision. They just have a fairy tale about it—and I suppose so do we. But I do believe that history is the proof of the presence of a hyper-dimensional something or other which is acting on ordinary biology. But what are we going to do until that final moment when it reveals itself to us? I think it’s only twenty years or so in the future. But I also am going to have to live through that twenty years with a bunch of anxious and disturbed people.



Well why don’t you just take drugs? I mean, twenty years… I mean, the millennium—



He said it, folks! What a brilliant suggestion!



What [???] struggle to envision, [???] than envision to remake society in ten years when, in twenty years, we’re going to be carried off in chariots? I—



Well, I’m not sure. Maybe—I mean, I’m not sure. Maybe we shouldn’t.



I think the whole idea of the eschaton might be one of those ideas working militantly most strongly against any social change. That it’s just: hang on to our flying carpets.



Well, you may be right. So if that were true, would you think it a good thing or a bad thing?



Well, just in case the eschaton doesn’t snatch us from the fire.



Yeah, that’s what I have: what to do if the end of time is postponed? So what would you suggest?



Well, let’s say we’re envisioning the year 2000. We’ve got, let’s say, seven years from today we’ll be back here again for only our eleventh trialogue, and then we’ll be looking back on those magic three years which produced this. And seven years is not such a long time. So one reason we despair is that we can’t achieve much in seven years. I mean, look at the last seven years. Suppose we had twenty years or thirty years: that’s not much better, Disbelief is a snail crawling down the trail.


So I think we—just to inject a note of positivity, if that’s allowed—let us think briefly of the years 1965–1968. There, in a short time, I mean, all of you were here, were somewhere nearby, and experienced a fantastic social transformation—more than we could’ve dreamed. Now, true, it died. It peaked and died. Nevertheless, what could be achieved. And it was kind of going in the direction we’ve been talking about, where we had the total transformation of the family into the extended family of prehistoric tribal life. We had the resacrilization of the world with new religions, some of them inherited from the pagan past, practiced on every mountaintop in California and around the world. We had new forms of music, new forms of government, new schools, different ways of teaching; an entire new society such as we feel we need now. And nevertheless, it failed. Furthermore, we experienced that it had faults in its structure. And also, the staff, some of the people involved (such as us) had faults which we carry along from our history in this dominator society that we couldn’t expunge sufficiently rapidly to function successfully in the new family structures and so on.


So when, for example, we can dismiss revolutionary movements of the environment and women’s rights. On the other hand, the existence of these movements—which began with the failure of the sixties revolution, and continue to this day—when another social transformation of that rapidity should start, if that were a possibility, then the progress made in the meanwhile might actually be the foundation for a success instead of a failure of that three-year marathon.


So that’s just for the sake of optimism to recall that rapid change can take place, and we have made big strides as a family in the intervening years. So if we could achieve even a fraction of what was achieved in the sixties, that might actually be enough. Probably not—because, don’t forget, there was the forces of opposition, as documented at the end of your book, with their insidious campaign of crack cocaine, heroin from the golden triangle, and so on, destroying the heart of the revolutionary movement in urban America.


So we need more than images. I think we need to think of a trigger—what you call a clarion call in your book. And, well, we want to avoid the use of the word “revolution” due to the fact that that always polarizes a equal and opposite reaction, which we don’t want to trigger.



Call it an evolution.



An evolution. In the past there have been all of these popular uprisings where, actually, the trigger came—we don’t care who’s elected, really, on the second of November for President of the United States, because the government follows. It doesn’t lead. We need leadership. Now, leadership comes form people. That’s us. So we don’t want a violent revolution and destroying all these buildings downtown. Somehow we would like to see within seven years a kind of a wake-up, where a certain number of people just woke up and said, “That’s enough of that! That’s all. We like the idea.” And to start doing it. We don’t even know whatever triggered one of these major social transformations of the past such as, let’s say, the Renaissance, or the one we actually lived through, the 1960s. What triggered it? I know what you’d say!



It’s too obvious! It’s what anyone would say. Go for the Renaissance: money.



Something is happening again, and maybe Rupert should tell us about the raves going on in London. But….



[???] about that. I certainly think that the year 2000 is a way of focusing our minds tremendously. I find 2012 a kind of diversion from this exercise. It does make it seem almost irrelevant. 2000 is very much a subsidiary thing from the point of view of the 2012 scenario. It’s at best a kind of temporary holding operation. I had hoped that we’d have a full-scale rehearsal for this revisioning exercise this year. I’ve been sadly disappointed. Since, as everybody knows, this is the five hundredth anniversary of the discovery of Columbus by the Native Americans. And this is one of those historical moments which reaches popular consciousness everywhere. These calendrical moments can affect the consciousness of everybody. I mean, books that we write, or anybody in this room writes, or TV documentaries on public television reach a few. But this Columbus thing, Columbus Day this year—there’s not going to be a man, woman, or child in the Americas who’s not going to know about it.


And the five hundredth anniversary could have been an opportunity for a tremendous revisioning of America—the new vision that America gave five hundred years ago, and which still exerts a kind of fascination over the imagination of the world. What these people in Russia and Georgia and everywhere else want, what they’re aspiring to, is something to do with what’s happening in the West Coast of the USA. So America is still the source of vision for the whole world. But unfortunately, the vision that’s coming out of Hollywood and TV productions here is not one [???] with tremendous optimism.


So it could’ve been a huge revisioning opportunity: the new vision of where America could go for the next five hundred years, or just the next hundred years. And I’d hoped that there be a massive ferment of visionary activity in the Americas leading up to this year. Maybe it’s going on and maybe I just haven’t heard about it.



No, I don’t think so.



But so far it’s not given much hope for encouragement. I’d hoped this would be a rehearsal for 2000 when, surely, all of us will feel a need for some new vision; to stumble into the next millennium with people like John Major and George Bush around is not really going to be very inspiring for many. Many people are going to want a greater inspiration than that. And I find it very hard to see where it’s going to come from, because it’s not as if there are totally fascinating models of the future available at the moment. The only ones I find really exciting are the ecological ones, and those are largely negative: stop cutting down the rainforests, stop killing the whales—just limiting the destruction we’re bringing about.


In terms of positive visions, the ones that I find most exciting are ones that involve a return to local communities—the people walking around or cycling, and not traveling everywhere, huge distances, enormous consumption of fossil fuels, emissions of CO2, and so on. But most forces are working against that at the moment. And even our present—I don’t know how many tons of carbon dioxide have been released by our gathering here this weekend. A formidable amount. So we still haven’t got that vision. And for me that’s the thing we lack the most: the vision of where we actually want to go. Because the vision of local community—which is the one I find most attractive—is still far away from the lifestyle of myself or most people I know. So I myself don’t quite see where this new vision’s going to come from. It hasn’t emerged so far.



So what you’re saying is that the alternative vision that is offered is basically a steady state thing. It’s all about: stop cutting down the rainforests, stop releasing CFCs. Nobody ever says: “But what about the future destiny of the human species? What’s your plan for that?”



Well I think that most people, when they confront that question, find it so horrific—you know, overpopulation—



Well, there’s been a total, as you say, a total failure in leadership. How the Soviet Union could undergo collapse, and it’s almost like there must be an official ban on suggesting a worldwide cutback in military expenditures. I mean, why isn’t there a 20% cutback by everybody? How could that hurt anybody? You know? All games could continue to be played, but just simply at a slightly lower level. There’s been—another thing I don’t understand: the collapse of the international military machine is creating mass joblessness. But at the same time they decide to end all manned spaceflight and high-tech space exploration, when this is clearly a perfect field in which to funnel high-tech military budgets, and keep engineers employed, keep your technical base sharp, and not produce useless weapons and stuff that deprecates at a staggering rate. So it’s bad management, even of their own stated goals. I mean, we’re not being led by evil people, we’re being led by jackasses at this point.



Well, I don’t know. I think it looks like we’re being led by jackasses, and I certainly don’t want to suggest that there might be intelligent leaders somewhere. But I think the situation is rather worse than that. The leaders are pretending to lead, but as a matter of fact the entire system is way out of control—as, of course, it always has been, because it’s evolving under essentially mathematical forces; I mean, a dynamical system inherent in the rules of the game; the fundamental psychic equipment of the human species. So [???] it looks like there are nations with leaders and organizations of nations like NATO, the United Nations, and so on. As a matter of fact, the whole system, I think, is simply out of control—always was, and not necessarily always will be.


The collapse of the Soviet Union was inherent in the dynamic, the rules of the game, of the Soviet Union, in that it was over-controlled and there was inadequate space for chaos to play. It had to crash. No decision of a leader or a popular movement of revolt or minor change of the structure could make any change in this collapse, except possibly a year or two one way or the other.


So I don’t want to sound pessimistic, because I think there might be some solution; that an intervention, as Terence suggested, is possible—and may even take place, resulting from meetings like Rio and Amsterdam, where not the George Bushes of the world, but the native peoples of the world, somehow get together and produce and implement a new idea.


So—this is in the category “bad news is good news”—it seems pretty certain that a real nightmare is coming. It’s evident. I don’t mean the ozone hole and an increased rate of skin cancer. I’m talking about an ice age, glaciation, inhabitability of most of the northern hemisphere, the rapid flight of people from the northern cities like London and Copenhagen leaving for Portugal and North Africa. I’m talking about the collapse of the monetary system, the increasing poverty of the United States, and later other developed nations, especially Europe—a process that would be accelerated by the unification of Europe as understood by the Danish voters and maybe a few other people in Europe.


This pretending that this catastrophe is not probable, we’ll almost certainly guarantee that it takes place real soon. So I think what we want to do is to vision the magnitude of the problem, and then to vision a few alternative miracles by which this catastrophe would be averted. And one of them I’ve been trying to advertise. It has to do with the incomprehensible complexity of the combined system of the environment and the economy. Now we have so many people on Earth, there’s no way just by returning to local communities—even if we could achieve that within twelve months—we could still not avert an economic catastrophe due to the fact that the economic system… there are so many people, there has to be an economy, it’s highly unstable, and it’s strongly coupled to the environment. So if we evoke any apparently wise move, intervention, risky experiment with regard to the environment—like make it impossible for people to cut a single additional tree in the Amazon—then the backlash of the uncontrollable, unpredictable backlash into the economy could actually be catastrophic, and much faster than if we had made no intervention.


What we need in order to survive as a species is to increase our intelligence beyond the cleverness of, at present, the most clever people, the most radical thinking, the best artists, and so on. We need to advance our intelligence through coming to understand new mathematical structures and ways of understanding the complexity of the most complicated systems. So that if we were going to do an intervention—either with regard to the economic system (such as the unification of Europe) or the environment (such as making combustion of fossil fuel illegal or something like that)—that this intervention that we plan to do, although still not guaranteed to work, would have its possibility of succeeding slightly increased from what it at present is.


If we wait for a popular revolution, it’s going to be kind of—the popular revolution in the Soviet Union didn’t really help a bit, because it’s too late. And, as your friend visiting from England suggested, it’s already too late for us and for a lot of places around the world. Unfortunately, we don’t have fifty years. And the strategy that I’m recommending, I guess I have already abandoned it because it takes too long. It seems to me—this is the macro-structure of my own pessimism—that we don’t even have ten years, really, to avoid a really terminal situation for society as we know it, for the civilization of these past thousands of years.


So the vision that I’m recommending in place of—I mean, the vision department here is empty. I’m saying: let’s avoid the disease of denial. Because if we don’t admit a problem, then there’s no solution. And people always say, “Oh, doomsday. If you think like that, then…” No. I want to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem, and simultaneously to vision what would have to be, essentially, a miracle which averts the disaster for humans and the environment. That’s what I’m calling for.



So what is the miracle?



Well, I think that it’s possible for people to get together and undertake a visioning process that will produce a miracle. We can’t think up a miracle right now. But it would take a clarion call. That means: by all means we have to avoid practicing denial. We have to admit that the environment is threatened, and the economy is threatened. And what happened in the Soviet Union happened very rapidly, and was incontrovertible. And it’s happened now, it’s history, and yet they have a future. That may be happening here also.



Well, I think that the people who run the world are not in a state of denial.



Nobody runs the world.



Well, I mean the people who think they own it. In other words, the Fortune 500 corporations—they are alarmed.



No—but giving them responsibility itself is part of the problem, because they have nothing to do with it. There’s nothing they can do.



I think that’s their conclusion as well: that there’s a spreading—did you see this report from the Vienna modeling group that was released two weeks ago, where they said there’s nothing anybody can do. It’s too late. The fail-safe point was passed, I don’t know, eighteen months ago or something. Anyway, their view of it is: hang on.



No, I think we can do better than that. Let’s just suppose for a moment that the doomsday people were right. Then, although it’s very rapid, it proceeds in steps. So it would get to a certain step, which is, say, the climate got three degrees warmer or something like that. So then we—



Well, see, I don’t think you need these exotic scenarios. You’ve got an epidemic disease going that could kill 7⁄8 of the Earth’s population in the next forty years. You don’t need planetary dynamics or any of this woo-woo stuff. You’ve got a science fiction situation raging out of control.



No, people are still completely denying that there’s any problem. Most people—



I don’t think so. I think certainly these big corporations—say, the 500 top corporations—I’ve had contact recently with one of them in Britain (Shell, the international oil company), and they have a think tank situated in London with the brightest people from their offices all around the world. And the job of this think tank is to think out future scenarios, because their managers are having to invest twenty, fifty years ahead in some cases. And so they don’t know what’s going to happen. So they’ve got this group together. And this group that’s trying to write the scenarios for the top managers of Shell doesn’t know what’s going to happen either. So they asked me to come along and to try and tell them what I thought was going to happen. Well, so I spent some interesting days with these scenario-writers in just one such company. And they don’t have any better clue than we do.


And the main thing they’ve got, though, is: they have alternative scenarios. And the two alternatives they’re working on are actually quite interesting. They systematize what we all know; two major processes. One is globalization. Once scenario has more and more multi-nationals, more and more media link-ups, more and more integration of the world economy, more and more of this globalizing process—of which the European common market is a political expression. You know, the mega-bureaucracy running Europe, then expansion of the western European economy markets to include eastern Europe and Russia, opening up Siberia and so on, as part of the greater new European empire with vast hinterlands. And so—



It was Hitler’s plan, I think.



It’s Hitler’s plan, basically, that the EUC has inherited now that Russia and eastern Europe, those empires, have collapsed. Anyway, there’s this globalization model. But the alternative scenario is the exact opposite. It’s one of progressive fragmentation, large units falling apart, states decomposing, as the Soviet Union has and Yugoslavia is. Petty nationalisms, tinpot fascist states, ethnic unrest and conflict in the cities, and so on. That’s all happening, too. And the interesting thing is that these seemingly opposite processes are both happening in dramatic and myriad ways right now.


And one of their models extrapolates one as the main tendency of the future. The other model extrapolates the other. And they have, of course, an intermediate scenario that’s a mixture of the two. But they haven’t a clue which of these models is going to happen. All they do in their planning at the moment is to consider that they have to work in a situation where it could go one way or the other, or be a mixture between the two. But beyond that they don’t seem to have any idea of the way things are going. And if you were around in London tomorrow—you, Terence—they’d probably ask you as well to go along and tell them. We don’t know either. So it is a matter of the blind leading—



No, we know. We know!



We don’t know whether—well, do we?



Well, yes. I think we do. Well, as far back as the mechanical bride, which was 1952, McLuhan was talking about what he called electronic feudalism and said the world will fragment. And it seemed completely unlikely, because the United Nations was on the rise, these vast power blocks were squaring off. But I think it’s clearly happening. I think that federal Europe is a dream. It will never happen. It’s dead. The people reject it. It’s only in the glass ministries in Brussels that the heart beats fast for European federalism now. It’s finished. Russia is falling ap—



But [???] has already expanded all over the planet.



But it’s not a state.



It is.



Russia is falling apart. Russia will become what the Soviet Union was: fifteen separate warring factions. 32 out of 36 northern California counties voted to separate from southern California. Canada is falling apart. And strangely enough, meanwhile, at the top—in the world of George Bush and John Majors—there’s a feverish enthusiasm for unity, for great trade blocs and wide-flung negotiation. This is clearly a last-ditch effort to keep this globalism together. And Yugoslavia is a bad example, obviously. But it was the inheritor of great power rivalry. I think that Czechoslovakia—that dissolution is the one to watch. Because here, people simply want to rule their own turf. And, after all, why shouldn’t they?


Like, one of the most suspect notions running around is free trade. Free trade is a notion that right-thinking people of decent people are expected to stand up and salute. What free trade means is the right to sell crap everywhere. The right to deal Coca-Cola in Afghanistan—that’s what free trade is. The right to sell Volvos in Turkmenistan. It’s a bad idea, free trade. We don’t want to make trade easier. We want to make the manufacture of objects an excruciatingly expensive process, and the moving them from one market to another damn near impossible. Because what we want is the dematerialization of culture. What free trade means is turning the entire world into a marketplace for high-tech pre-obsolescent durable goods. And yet, nobody points this out at all.


And what’s going on in the American economy is that, over the past twelve years under the aegis of the cryptofascist Republicrats, an enormous transfer of wealth has gone on to the top three percent. In 1980, six Americans had more than a billion dollars. In 1992, over 80 Americans have more than a billion dollars. Meanwhile, most Americans have gotten considerably poorer, because the money which was not transferred to the super-rich was transferred to the Third World. The great leveling, which the left always called for, has in fact taken place in part, and that’s why you have less money. Because you, when the leveling took place, did you think it was going to kick back into your pocketbook? You haven’t visited Bangladesh recently.


So a whole bunch of manipulations have gone on which tend to, I think, support the idea that nations are being looted and dissolved by ethnic factionalism and corporate hegemony, and that in the future these are the two things that will exist. And people will—it’s a Japanese model, basically. I mean, in Japan your corporation is your identity if you’re really embedded in the culture. And the nation-state—I’m not sure whether this is a bad thing or a good thing. I mean, the nation-state has become a fascist tool. All nation-states. What these companies stand for is unbridled gangsterism. But on the other hand, that’s what political revolution has often meant in the past. So it’s a complicated situation. The world is feudalizing, fractioning into interest blocs. At the same time, the technologically—you mentioned MTV—technologically, it’s being knit into a single psychology. So it’s—



Well, I don’t want to stand in the way of such a pessimistic vision. However…



I don’t consider it pessimistic. It’s just…



I don’t think it matters if there’s a political fractionation, or the unification of a single world government. It doesn’t matter, because it won’t affect the religious observance, the mythological base, the family structure, the distribution of wealth, or anything else. All these problems will go one way or another, totally independent of political realities. See, we give too much credit to the political realities, when actually they don’t do anything, essentially, except collect taxes and give welfare.


So I think no matter which way it goes for the sake of the Shell oil corporation, we still need to consider some interventions either way. We need, for example, the empowerment of women worldwide without delay, without waiting a day. I mean, this has to be achieved, because otherwise the overpopulation—I mean, it’s irrelevant, the political organization in the country. And it’s neither good news nor bad news if it goes to this way or that. We need to have a vision on another level—let us say on the mythological level. We need to provoke a resurgence of shamanic practice, we need to make changes that everybody desires; changes that only need nucleation in order to—I mean, the clouds are filling the sky, and yet there’s no rain. We just need to salt these clouds. That somehow, it needs social transformation, has to come up from below as the crop circles come from the Earth. We need a totally unexpected, miraculous flattening of the grain into new patterns.


And this is the way social transformation has come in the past, and will happen again in the future. It doesn’t matter if, for example, there was, okay, the partition of India. Now we have Pakistan. Before, we didn’t. And they’re still—there’s Hindus and Muslims there, there’s… the birthrate didn’t change by the partition of India. The birthrate in Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia won’t change. Of course, the war will kill off millions of people.



Well, the only thing we’ve ever been able to come up with that has this grassroots quality—I don’t know if we discussed it in Trialogues—but was this notion that every woman should limit herself to conceiving one natural child, and that then the population of the planet would fall by 50% in 40 years without war, migration, et cetera, et cetera. It pushes responsibility on this previously oppressed minority. It’s a personal thing. It doesn’t require governments.



But that can’t be expected of a woman in a culture where they’re normally tied down and raped—



But we discussed the fact that it’s in the cultures where that isn’t happening where this decision would have the greatest impact. It’s the women of Malibu and the Upper East Side who, by making this decision, would immediately have a huge impact on the destruction of the Earth, because a child born to a woman in Malibu uses about a thousand times more resources than a child born to a woman in Bangladesh. So they present our problems as insoluble, but something as simple as that—women have reproductive… limiting—



Well, we have already limited population growth in Malibu.



Zero population growth isn’t what we’re talking about. We’re talking about cutting the population rate in half in one generation. Zero population growth perpetuates the rape, keeps us at this unbearable level of self-gnawing destruction.



Well, I mean, this is a long—even if it would work, it’s a long-term solution. Each of us has two children, so we’re not exactly setting an example.



You could get a vasectomy. That would set an example. No takers?



We’re talking about a much more short-term need for change. I mean, if we’re talking about the millennium—I mean, even if every woman started doing this today, it’s not going to affect things much within eight years.



You’d have to model that, but you may be right.



So this miraculous thing that we’re talking about clearly involves something of the scale of a huge psychic transformation, or religious revival. I mean, religious revivals have changed the face of the world more quickly than most things. The rise of Islam, for example. The transformation of England in the early nineteenth century by a massive religious revival, which totally transformed England in general for the better. These things—fundamentalist Islam—is having a huge impact for good or ill over large parts of the world. And something of that kind seems to me necessary.


Now, one form that it could take is through the psychedelic revival. And interestingly, as you mentioned briefly earlier, this is actually happening in Britain at the moment. There’s a massive psychedelic revival going on, partly because Britain represents and extreme case of overdevelopment and collapse of the older order. I mean, the sense of decadence, of things falling apart in America is nothing compared with what we’ve lived with for much longer in Britain—a decline over decades from world power, from economic domination. Now, through Thatcher and the successor conservative government, an undoing of many of the better aspects of our social institutions, our sense of disempowerment and despair among many people, and economic recession deepening and deepening, with no light at the end of the tunnel. All these things have combined to deprive most people of any sense of faith in the democratic process in the normal political and economic mechanisms.


And as people contemplate falling incomes, and as children now expect to earn less than their parents rather than more, as has been the case for many generations, there’s a situation where the old models, the old hopes, don’t really apply anymore. Socialism is no longer a hope for many. And in this moral vacuum, and in this visionary vacuum, what is happening but a massive psychedelic revival. The rave scene, which is sweeping the youth of Britain, I think probably—I don’t know what the percentage is. My impression is about 50% of the youth of Britain is now caught up in this. It’s now swept the provinces. It started in London a few years ago, it’s now sweeping even through small towns and so on. These huge parties at which people dance wildly all night having consumed MDMA and LSD, leading to a revival of interest in psychedelics and in sixties-type music.


And now, of course—as Terence knows full well, but some of you may not—the rave scene in Britain has discovered Terence McKenna. And so there’s this other direction. All normal kinds of means of hope and action have been blocked, and what’s happening is an expression of trying to find some way out or way forward, or just way sideways, or just to have a good time, which is having a big effect at the moment. But it’s difficult to see where that could go beyond itself, you see. It’s an expression of a desire for some kind of spiritual renewal; a kind of new tribalism. Dancing all night, a sense of incredible unity with everybody else through the MDMA, the shared beat, the sense of new vision through psychedelics. But so far it has no political organization, no expression. It represents a need for huge transformation and vision, but one which can’t in itself actually go anywhere, in my opinion.



Yes. I think in the sixties that what gave the American thing a focus was: people could unite around the notion of stopping the war. And, in fact, when the war was sort of stopped, then the whole thing was more blunted and muddled. So in the absence of a clear vision or a clear task, it is hard to know where it goes. You’re right.



So then the question is: there’s no clear vision there right now, as we seem fairly clear. There are little indications of one. There are communities here and there, doing things in a different way. It’s not all bleak. There are signs of hope, shoots of spring, and so on. But basically, there is no really clear vision, so how are we going to get one? That seems the problem. Now, we’ve got maybe twenty minutes to think one up right now. Or else we have to think of ways in which we might be able to come up with one. What about some kind of collective vision quest? Is that a way?



Well, I mean, wasn’t that what spaceflight was? That it was the shamanic flight cast in a technological mold?



Yes, but it didn’t work, did it? I mean, the jet travelers, in a sense, are shamanic flight cast in a technological and commercial mode. Most of the dreams of modern civilization—limitless mobility, flying through the air, seeing what’s going on somewhere else—these are all the technological realizations of shamanic visions. These things have been envisaged for thousands of years by shamans. Now we can all have them at just the press of a credit card.



Well, it seems that a social transformation is imminent in Britain. This, if successful, would then be exported to the rest of the world. Here in the United States we’re some years behind. We haven’t reached 50% of youth in the rave movement. But let’s just say, to put an actual vision on the table, that a social transformation took place this year in Britain that was something like, and to a degree evolving upon, the model of the 1960s in California. And unlike that one, it sort of succeeded. Is this fantasy too much to hope? That we need religious, mythological, ethical, social, political structures to emerge in this movement in Britain. Well, one thing that might—I mean, we have to think of some idea and put it there. Not that we’re going to do it, but maybe somebody would actually have an idea that would take hold, so we’ll try. The church attendance in England, I believe you told me, is down to 2%, whereas in the United States it’s still 24%, but of course declining rapidly.



Well, if you take all denominations in the U.S. it’s about 50%, and in Britain about 9%.



So at 9% it’s close to zero. It’s going fast again. It’s far ahead of the United States where, for some reason in the Midwest, things are really slow to… I don’t know. But—






These churches in England—I’ve seen this in the Cathedral of St. John The Divine in New York: that the budget problem in that church is actually destroying all its spectacularly innovative programs. So these churches in England are desperate for even maintenance funds. The roof leaks, the rain is coming through, pretty soon they’ll just be a pile of rubble. It would look like Glastonbury Abbey.


So perhaps what we need is that the raves would take over these vacant unused churches, and move the raves into the churches, and try to psychedelicize them slightly more. Because I don’t want to put down ecstasy, but it’s a little bit lacking when it comes to true vision.



A little psilocybin poured in there.



A little psilocybin poured in. If there was an international cartel as greedy for the salvation of human life and the biosphere of planet Earth as the current cartels are greedy for totally meaningless and useless piles of money and arms, then they would start taking these piles of money and putting them into the churches of England now, this year, making it attractive raves with more availability of synthetic and natural psilocybin or DMT, ayahuasca. And, well, what else? Let’s think it up. Here’s an opportunity.



Well, actually, there was an effort to do something somewhat like what you’re describing with somewhat different players. You know that Canary Wharf is the tallest building in Europe. And you know that it was—



What’s Canary Wharf?



The tallest building in Europe.



It’s in London.



It’s in London on the docklands, and it was built by Olympia & York, a company run by idiots of such depth that they have managed to get themselves seven billion dollars in debt—go figure.



Debt is wealth!



So on the fourth of July there was an effort by the rave culture to seize the grand piazza at Canary Wharf, figuring that if they could hold it for 24 hours, they could get a quarter of a million people to come into London onto the docklands and they would liberate the tallest building in Europe and just—



And stone it!



No, enter and live in it from top to bottom. However, Scotland Yard had intelligence on all this and stopped all traffic moving into that area after there were only a thousand people in the piazza. So it’s like a replay of the 1960s. There’s that old problem that the man gets there first.



It’s no good trying to steal the buildings. We’ve been through that. Violent revolution only worked in the nineteenth century. What we need now is a conspiracy with the leaders of the church. They’ve got to understand that there’s no other hope for the survival of the Anglican church establishment. This is the last help to maintain these buildings, is to move young people into them. I went to the temple with my mother—there wasn’t anyone younger than 85 years old attending there. So it may still be 50% in the United States, including all denominations, but these 50% is all older than 50. So I think the church—I mean, are they beyond the possibility of understanding that this is an opportunity for the future life of Christianity transformed? Young people in the church, not only having a good time, but getting religion!



But how does this plan square up against Voltaire’s observation that mankind will know no peace until the last politician is strangled in the entrails of the last priest? I thought that was the theory.



Give us Voltaire here, today, and let’s discuss this. I think he will agree with me. We are the priests, we are the polity. Who’s this Voltaire? He’s one of us, too.



But climbing in bed with the dominator institution par excellence as the first move in trying to create a sane society at the turn of the millennium sounds to me awful doom.



Here’s an offer of free real estate. We can’t [???] these enormous and expensive buildings are gigantic fields. Joining the church.



Well I’m into taking the church. But instead of negotiating, we could just hang all these people who claim ownership, point out that we’re the original owners—



They’re us!



—the lease is up, they’ve had it 2,000 years, and we’re back!



Talking about mom and dad!






Ah, it always comes down to that. Rupert, maybe you should rescue us. Maybe we don’t deserve it.



Well, I mean, the miraculous change is obviously going to have to involve this new vision. It has to involve some spreading through society. It has to involve some kind of institutional framework, because otherwise it won’t have any way of gearing in with the way people live. I don’t think that a—the acid house scene at the moment is based on the Terence McKenna model. It’s the anarchic model. And we’ll see what happens. But I myself don’t think it’s likely to have any big or enduring effect.


So what about visioning—I mean, do you spend much time trying to vision what you would like the world to be like if you could actually write down a feasible scenario for the year 2000? We know what we don’t want it to be like.



Well, I don’t know. 2000 is a little close. But if you move away from the idea of some deus ex machina ending, then it seems to me that we could direct resources—they publish these pies of the world output of GNP, and 40–60% of it is going into military budgets. The way money is being spent is absolutely crazy. In other words, we could clothe the naked, feed the hungry, cure the sick probably with 30% of global GNP. If we need to keep our technological skills honed, then I would think as achievable as building a supercollider or a colony on Ganymede, or some of these other things they come up with, why not unleash R&D toward the production of something which essentially looks like a contact lens, but which is surgically implanted in the inside of your eyelid at age three or something, and that when you then close your eyes, there are menus hanging in space, and you make your way into a virtual culture?


What we need to do is dematerialize our interfacing with nature. If we’re going to keep the body, then we have to jettison material culture. We cannot have both the body and material culture. So I can imagine a world where people appear naked and aboriginal and sacral and so forth, but when they close their eyes they step into a world of electronically sustained databanks, sensory impressions, virtual realities, so forth and so on, and that is what culture comes to mean. And the idea of actually building something in three-dimensional space becomes just vulgar and barbarous. Why would you? It’s like shitting on your doorstep or something. It’s just no sane person would ever do that.


That technological goal married to the empowerment of women (and their full exercise of control over their reproductive capacity along the lines I outlined) would deliver us into a closer version of Eden than I think most people dare dream could be achieved within our lifetimes. So it’s—yeah, stuff like that. It’s not inconceivable.



I think this sounds not unlike Ralph’s version this morning, except you got it miniaturized further.



Yeah, it should be completely… it can be pushed—



Maybe it’s in a vanishing point.



A contact lens is sufficient.






I have the same problem with it, though, because it involves a detachment from the Earth, from nature, from biology. And I’d like to move in exactly the opposite direction, you see.



But how is it a detachment if you’re cooking your food over an open fire, walking barefoot on the Earth, living in restored ecosystems, and fishing on the reef for breakfast?



You didn’t mention that bit.



Oh, that’s what I meant when I said living an aboriginal lifestyle. I mean, you look like a rainforest Indian, it’s just that if you step into this person’s body, you discover that they’re browsing at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. They just appear to be wandering along a river in Brazil.



Well, we don’t have to do anything yet. This is the vision. Because, as a matter of fact, this is what we’re on the way to: the post-catastrophic world society.



No, there’s still a lot of people into dealing stuff. The dematerialization of culture has not yet been announced as a goal. I mean, some comp—



Some people might not voluntarily desist from their usual form of piracy. So while we’re back in the Amazon fishing, they’ll be flying overhead with helicopter gunships.



Well, I was—in my fantasy, that was all in the past. You would not allow people to assemble objects in three-dimensional space. The only legally allowed object would be the inner lens. And the inner lens would be a surgical implant. And if people—



But the pirates would all be shamans.



Well, that’s how it’s always been. Now you’re back to the archaic, you know? You’re living in a mythological archetypal society ruled by magic.



But nothing’s going to happen. You see, within thirty years—according to predictions—two thirds of the world’s population will live in mega cities like Mexico City or Calcutta. At present, a majority are still rural.



No, I think that what we’re not being told is that four fifths of the Earth’s population is headed for the early grave, and that nobody wants to face it or understand it. I could not believe what was coming out of that conference in Amsterdam. Absolutely apocalyptic statements where you read the statement and expect the last line to be, “And therefore, experts conclude the human race will become extinct some time after 2035.” But they never drew that conclusion. But the data was horrendous. I mean, we’re kidding ourselves. People think: well, science will deliver an AIDS cure. Science might deliver an AIDS cure—to the super-wealthy and well-connected—but the human heart will not deliver a medical delivery system that will get the cure to the billions of infected people in the Third World who, because of the color of their skin and the misfortune of their place of birth, are going to be condemned to death whether there’s a cure or not. I mean, there are partial cures now, and only the super-rich are getting them no matter what anybody says about who’s getting them.


So I don’t understand the denial about this epidemic. You just draw the curves, and there’s no cure on the horizon. And nobody knows how many people are infected. And nobody knows how virulent the mutational capacity of this thing is. If it’s like flu and some of these other things, then hell itself stalks the planet. And what we’re all being asked to do is hide ourselves in the skirts of science. Well, by god, they better be able to deliver. It’s been a long time since they’ve delivered anything but nuclear weapons, remote lethal delivery systems, mega-death, brainwashing and propaganda. If science is the friend of suffering mankind, it’s time to step forward. Sorry to rave.






Rant! Rant.



I mean, it’s clear that all these crises, problems, et cetera are coming faster and faster. The thing that I think is important is to realize that if the social order does break down, if these crises do overwhelm us, there’s no longer going to be any place for rational deliberation, international agreements, and you couldn’t get someone in Bosnia to sign an agreement to cut CO2 emissions according to some rational plan. The moment when we can still do that is perhaps now, but as things break down further it’ll be less and less possible for any global vision or rational planning, chaotic models on computers, so on, to be put into place, because those all depend on intact institutions, functioning civil services, and so forth. So a plunge into the—not the kind of anarchy you would advocate, but old-fashioned anarchy of the most unpleasant kind—seems quite likely in many parts of the world.


So the hope that we might have is something that can survive that and somehow grow up from out of that crisis. We’re going to be forced to change by crisis—like individuals are, so we are socially. But at the moment we still hope we can do it by some kind of rational plan and international agreement. So we come back again to this question: where will the new vision come from? And I think at the moment we all seem to think we can only rely on miracles. I suppose all we can do is pray for it.



So psychedelics are the only miracle we really can get on command.



But whether they are adequate to the task remains to be seen. I myself think they’re not. The psychedelics may help the coming into being of the new vision; psychedelic vision quests with the intention of finding or seeing this new vision may be our best hope. But how many people are undertaking them?



Well, let’s hope it’s like other revolutions, and that you can build it with somewhere between 10% and 15%. Let’s hope. Well, shall we throw it over to them?



Yes. Let’s see who’s got—we haven’t got that good an idea of where to go. Let’s see if anyone else has.



—speaking about. I speak to many, many thousands of people every year, and I think what people really want is to be inspired by someone who’s doing their thing, living a living example. Maybe that’s what we lack in politics. And so for me, rather than spending the whole time talking about that the world’s going down the tubes, which has been going on forever anyway, I’d really like to just spend the time having fun and being an example of this thing that is going to create this shift.



Yeah. I think it’s a wonderful approach. But the problem is, you see, that in terms of global problems—like toxic gas emissions, CO2 emissions, the way we all live—the very fact we’re here at all, every one of us has probably burned up I don’t know how many gallons of gas to get here. Women in our society are consumers as much as men are in terms of waste, toxins, and so on in the environment. That inner change has to be related to this ecological dimension if it’s going to have any larger context in the world. And it’s a kind of luxury in a developed country. But I haven’t yet seen how this works through into a totally transformative thing that would affect the ecological problems.



You know, I just see it in my own community. I was, four years ago, you might say divinely led to a place where something shifted in me. I said, “Wow, these people are living what they’re talking about.” And what I notice is that it’s happening on a communal level with a group of people that I see—a large group of people. And I see that that’s where it begins, you know? For me, I see that when I go out, whatever I do when I speak to people, that is the message that I’m carrying. You know? And it’s not something that I have to talk about, or that any of us have to talk about. It’s just part of what we exude as part of the process of our life. And I don’t know what else to say about it.


But it seems like, if I had my choice of spending my time with the attitude of “it’s going down the tubes,” or if I had my choice of seeing all the positive shifts that are happening, which just happens to be what I’m seeing, that’s the energy I’d much rather take into the world. That is the energy that I feel is going to be more productive in terms of creating a shift. And I don’t think it is denial, and I don’t think that it is avoidance.



But at some point you have to see that that has to manifest itself in a reduction of what Terence has called—well, when you called it the dematerialization of culture. So what you’re suggesting at some point has to manifest itself in the dematerialization of culture, because that’s the only thing—and at the bottom line you can’t get away from that bedrock notion—that unless we turn back, unless we reduce our consumption, unless we reduce our production, not increase it, not grow. And that is a notion that, on a societal level, is absolutely unthinkable—even at this stage of the game. No parent wants to think of his child as having less than he has—probably not even you. I don’t know what you think. Maybe you do. But not very many people in the world at large—at least in the modern world, at least in the Western world, in industrialized democracies—want to think of their children saying, “You’re going to live a lifestyle that does not have the material benefits that I have had. And you children are going to have fewer.”


Now, what you’re saying is accurate. These things are taking place. But I’m not seeing a measurable distinctive change in the material consumption that we’re all making. But I’m making it, and I’m an enlightened, conscious, sensitive human being. And I haven’t reduced my material consumption that much. And if I haven’t done it, I know that there’s a lot of other people who haven’t done it. And yet that’s the only thing. And I don’t see—I’ve been to conferences like this before—usually in places like this or Santa Barbara—where a lot of wealthy people basically talk about reducing, or they don’t talk about reducing. Nobody says: “Tomorrow I’m going to make less, I’m going to consume less, I’m going to dematerialize my lifestyle.” And that’s an economic powerhouse. That’s it. But I don’t see it manifesting itself on a [???] level in behaviors. And that’s what it’s going to take.


So my question to the panel, and maybe the group, is: what is going to translate? When are the dialogues going to translate into a real transformation on the part of our society, if you will, into a reduction of our production? Our material production must stop and then go back if we’re going to make a dent in all the—I mean, that’s what has to take place. So how are we going to accomplish that?



[???] quality.



Maybe. By cataclysm. Yeah, that’s it: cataclysm.



What are you saying?



Oh, I was saying that it’ll happen when it has to. That’s how human beings are. When it has to.



But that’s what they’re saying. They’re saying the cataclysm will be here, and that’s when we’ll probably stop.



The thing that I was going to bring up is that dematerialization needs to be made chic as materialism has been.






Right. That’s right.



It has to be. And it is sort of, if you look at what’s happening in the gap, other things—simplicity is becoming chic, it’s becoming in. Less is more.



So you have to convince people that quality is important and that amount is not, and that people who have large amounts of tacky stuff are tacky.



That’s the vision that needs to get created.



Yeah. Which—advertising could do that if it cared as much and could somehow figure out how to make money out of it.



What do you think about these garage sales? That’s what they’re doing. People are throwing out all kinds of stuff and [???] buy it locally.



Here. You.



Well, I don’t want to take issue with what anybody’s saying, because I think that if there is a miracle, it’s got to come from everybody, not from the top or not from the visionaries. And what I see is that—you know, imagine eight years from now, at this conference here, if people on the planet were already so connected to [???] are so aware of the crisis that’s happening now, how much more aware they’re going to be seven years from now. And what kind of emotion that will generate in terms of local community response. I think that’s the unknown. But that’s—short of a UFO or meteorite [???]



So basically, what you’re saying is: the information itself will inspire us to get our act together, because the data flowing in is so horrendous that we’re actually—



Bad news is good news. We welcome the [???]



Well, so they build concentration camps, but this time they don’t get to run them for four and a half years and send ten million people up the chimney. This time they build concentration camps, and within weeks at least there’s a lot of squawking and whining, and probably within a few months the rail approaches will be bombed and they will not be able to run these genocidal camps. So the world is not exactly on a Batman trip here, but we do respond in a way that was not happening in the 1930s, anyway.



Not in Bosnia, we don’t.



We don’t respond to information. Human beings respond to things they can feel, smell, taste, and touch. And all these catastrophes that are so imminent are all things that we’re told about. But until we actually feel them, smell them, and taste them, I don’t see how we can really change.



I would just like to say: I really—you know, the [???] up there in the [???] emotions. And the thing is, it would be wonderful if all of us could do what we’re supposed to do and [???]. I have four grandchildren. My concern—and I’ve never been so jaded in my life as I am now with the world situation—my big concern is exactly what you were talking about; at least what I inferred you were talking about. We don’t have time. We just simply have run out of time, barring some sort of technological miracle. Information certainly can help us by letting people know we’ve run out of time. We are over-propagandized—I mean, look at Bush with [???]. I mean, everything’s fine if people would just go out and spend money, right? Going on and on and on!



He’s a candidate of change.



And the recognition simply has to be there. That, if we have any chance at all, we have to act immediately and do everything we can, and then we may lose. I mean, that’s the way it is.



Yeah. On this inner/outer thing, I think it’s very, very fine to cultivate one’s self and one’s community, but it is no substitute for polity. And ultimately your responsibility, as John Dunn said, is every man, you know? And if you’re Buddha and the rest of us all succumb to epidemic diseases, it’s a sorry statement on your spiritual accomplishment.




I think that [???] individual selves, as you’re saying, I think [???] presupposes the kind of calendrical [???] everything sort of will be alright. I’m willing to say that there’s certainly a possibility that there could be, let’s say, an end point in time. The human race is on a race towards a finish line that we really don’t know what it is, and yet we’re being [???] are images of how we possibly have to transform to meet that. So if we postulate that there is this end point, maybe an attractor, that sort of puts a light on what we’re doing.


You know, I watched my brother’s little kids, and they’re completely oblivious to the effect that they have on their environment. The mess they leave doesn’t matter to them. And I think that’s a metaphor for the way we are as adults. We’re not—that’s not what we’re about. We’re not about sustaining the planet. I think we’re about doing something else. And that’s what we have to figure out: what it is. How are we being attracted by this end point? And we have to align ourselves with that. It’s a mystery. But we all have to ask ourselves the question.



Well, I stayed away from that subject simply because, for me, it’s slightly later than 2000 AD. But I agree with you. I think that the Earth is not our mother, exactly. It’s more like the placenta. And something is going on here in this species; it’s been going on for 100,000 years. Long before history, long before Western man, long before Greece, long before Christianity, there has been something fomenting in this one species. And it seems that we are going to burst through into some kind of super-dimension, and we don’t really care what kind of mess we leave behind. The planet groans in travail, because the planet would like to get back to business as usual—coral atolls, glaciers, volcanoes, the usual menu. But it has to shed this information-infected technology-producing virus that has taken hold of it. And as soon as we part, we will feel much more relieved because our dreams—which are the dreams of the imagination—can be unfolded in super-space or outer space. Anyway, they can’t be unfolded on the ground of a planet. When we unfold our dreams on the surface of a planet, you get Los Angeles or London. This is not what we’re striving for. It’s a sorry symbol for the cities of the heart that we would build if we could.



It is in some ways indicative of what we’re striving for [???].



Oh, you mean that these are like intimations of immortality, in Wordsworth’s phrase? Yes, I think that we’re going to a grand destiny, and that the planet will survive this. But consciousness is the flashlight to throw on the path. And we will probably be pulled, sucked, hammered, and pushed into this destiny if we refuse to become conscious. But why do that? Why not grease the slides? Why not get in on the plan and help it forward? It seems it’s the only game in town.




[???] not a game or [???].



Monetary, you mean.



There’s a [???] here. I think the apocalypse is upon us. I think you would agree, Doctor. The system is sufficiently complex that it is no longer controllable. You said that. And your proposition of: we can just dispense with the defense spending and it will change this and that—well, a chaotic recursive system doesn’t operate that way. You have no idea what that’s going to ultimately do to the overall economy. That could cause the crash by itself.



Yes. Well, somebody said at this point, all this country needs is for people of goodwill to be elected to high office. And when these people rush into the burning factory and start throwing switches and spinning valves, you’ll blow the whole psychosocial shithouse sky high.



So if the system has become sufficiently complex that this may well be an inevitability, then what these people are talking about becomes the ultimate important thing, because someone’s got to tunnel through that. Someone’s got to be there on the other side to say, “Wait a minute, what did we do wrong there?”



But there’s another possibility. It may be out of our control, but it may not be out of control.



The eschaton is there.



The eschaton is there. The eschaton is the hyper-object at the end of history that, like an enormous magnet, is organizing the iron filings of societies, messiahs, housewives, and day nurses, and orienting it all toward an expression of divinity which lies at—



Or the devil!



—the end of the historical process. In other words, history is an agitation in biology that precedes the eschaton. And it only takes it 25,000 years to rise out of the sea of chaos. But—



It would seem like we came here to play a game, and we’re playing it out—



And it’s running out.



And it may be [???]



And on this hopeful note….



It’s almost over, yeah.



—will be that the Earth will survive without us, and we’ll be somewhere else.



It was a chance-met affair. It was an alliance of the road. It was—



Jim Lovelock believes that the microbes will try again.



Would this [???]



Yeah, exactly. That notion.



So the end product [???] evolve to our highest state of consciousness and being and connecting [???]



Oh, [???] was a little more optimistic than Terence.



No, I don’t think so. It’s the same idea. I don’t understand why you think it’s so pessimistic. Get this straight—



Maybe I would like to understand you. When you talk about the eschaton at the end of history, are we talking about the end of history and the beginning of post-history? Or are we just talking about the end?



Well, we’re talking about the end of history, and then—



And then?



And what that is is the erasure of all boundary. So the only thing I can imagine that to be is pure, pure love. So how can that be pessimistic? Don’t you get it? Men and women—the boundaries disappear. Life and death—the boundaries disappear. Spirit and matter—no boundary.



We get to carry on our lives in a post-historical realm in the sky, disembodied—



It’s eternal.



—and having graduated from the destroyed playpen….



It can’t be described as disembodied, because that would imply boundaries. Anything you can say about it out of the language that it springs is necessarily unfaithful to it.



Well, I think that Teilhard de Chardin had in mind something more like what we’ve got, except there was a change in consciousness so that practically every person was connected up into an infinite field of consciousness that was basically love, that was Christ, that was the messiah. It wasn’t in the sky, it was on Earth. We still had trees and—



I’m not—I think you read him wrong.



[???] space.



Not even in space.



Yeah, some other realm. The transcendent realm of the deity.



We’re going home.






[???] only temporary.



Yeah. He was an absolute eschatonic millenarian. Love is what lies at the end of the historical descent into novelty. It has to be. Now, the reason there’s a lot of freaking out is because the trip gets rougher as you approach the zero point. That’s the way that, on an airfoil, approaching the speed of sound, you get Q-forces build up along the cutting edge of the airfoil. And the Q-forces are at maximum immediately before you break the sound barrier. So the history barrier—history, the ride, is going to shake your teeth out in the last moments. And then you will touch the eschaton and break though.



Less grand. That’s a grand rap. I hope this won’t seem to petty, but let’s—there’s one tiny little detail. This number, 2012. I mean, if it would be postponed 20, 30, 40 years, that would be okay with Teilhard de Chardin. But not with you. You’re fixed on this date. I mean, wouldn’t it be a completely different future if the eschaton at the end of time was two or three centuries away?



Sure it would. Yes, it would. But when you look at the curves of population, CFC release, rising radiation, toxification of the oceans, spread of nuclear waste, spread of—



A lot of other pessimists have given us 35 years.



Well, so I’m an optimist. I say twenty years!



Yeah, regarding this eschaton at the end of history, it seems that it also existed at the beginning of history. If you examine all the major world religions and major world philosophies, they all seem to indicate that, at some point in the past—whether it was the garden of Eden or this nirvana/satori—there was this unified consciousness; that everything existed in effect as one. And there was the fall, and somehow this collective consciousness got fixated in matter. But it seems that the process of all religion and philosophy is to try and guide us back to that oneness, to that eschaton.



Yeah. You got it absolutely right. That’s exactly what’s going on. Religion is the anticipation, and then different plans for recovering, this thing which caused our fall into this lower state. And what gives it cogency is to see that the scenario we’ve reached the third act. It has to be this way, or it’s hardly a play at all. It’s just a mess. Shakespeare said, “sound and fury signifying nothing.” That’s your other choice.



Maybe our bill will be forwarded to the future, so that after the Omega Point we will look up there and find that the bill has been forwarded; that we still have to pay for this mess.



Not only the bill, but the Bobs and Johns as well.



Could this be the foreplay [???] orgasm?



The big surprise is how we named this cosmology. Well, we should knock off. Thank you very much!

Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake

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