There’s nothing like the smell of a late-summer New York club crowd to get the old blood pounding, is there? Well, it’s a pleasure to be in Manhattan; Manhattan is my second-most favorite island in the world—only because I live on Hawai‘i, and I feel more affinity to this island than to the other Hawaiian islands, which have various cultural extremes I’m not really capable of relating to. But you’ll hear more about that. Anyway, it’s great to be here. It’s great to see so many familiar faces. I appreciate those literary trajectories so ably launched from this stage by Anaïs and [???]. And, what can I say? It’s a pleasure to be here. I always feel when I come to Wetlands that I’m, like, checking in with my sort of my home base congregation.
About five years ago I moved out to Hawai‘i for the specific purpose of looking back at this scene and putting in a full-time effort to understand it. Of course, this tells you I didn’t have a job. I still don’t—but if you’re a cultural commentator, who needs a job, right? The glory alone is sufficient to pave one’s way. And I—probably like you, here at the end of the twentieth Century, having lived long enough to go at least once or twice around the block—I’m noticing that the strangeness is not receding. The strangeness seems to be accelerating.
The theme of this evening is Lógos Meets Eros. Well, I don’t know a lot about Eros. I do think if you smoke after sex, you’re probably doing it too quickly. But otherwise my expertise lies in another direction. I started out in psychedelic drugs, and people said it was a flight from reality. It still is a flight from reality, but I think reality is now a bit more scary than the drugs we used to fly from it so long ago. Is that the victory of a cultural meme, or is that just… oh, I don’t know, the yawning grave sort of opening ahead of us? I don’t know.
My thing is to be amazed at the world as given by nature, but ever more (as we approach this millennial speed bump in our calendrical highway) to be amazed at people, and about the direction that mass psychology seems to be taking. And since I assume everybody here is a shaper of this mass psychology, the extremely powerful media-based jobs that you all occupy, it might be worth talking about that a little bit tonight.
As I see it—well, I spent all afternoon at MOMA, as I always do when I come to town (I know it’s a thing, but I do it anyway), worshipping at the altar of modernism, so relieved now that it’s almost over. You know? Because it’s going to be bracketed in this century. The twentieth century—it’s almost over. There’s very little left to run. A few i’s to be dotted, a few codas to be played. But essentially it’s a done deal. And this end-of-the-century psychology is a psychology of hysterical conclusionism and summation and, to some degree, a rhetoric of fear that we can never outdo ourselves. And I think it probably felt the same way a hundred years ago, if you had been in Vienna in 1899, when Jugendstil was bursting at its seams, and Freud was beginning to formulate his theories, and the Paris Air Show of 1905 was in the planning. There has always been a sense of fatalistic and apocalyptic excitement at the end of a century, and always throughout a culture at the edge of its technologies.
And to my mind the most interesting technologies of the twentieth Century have all been communication technologies. And I extend that to LSD, DVD, HDTV, GHB, 5-methoxy-DMT—all communication technologies for the purpose of transforming languages, transforming understanding. And now it seems to me we’ve struck the main vein. I mean, maybe it’s just that I live up on my mountain, and once a year, in pursuit of money, journey to cities—not like this; there are no cities like this, but the lesser lights—to gather the gold. But I have this sense now of palpable acceleration, and it has many qualities.
The quality that fascinates me most is one I hadn’t predicted, which is: it’s getting funnier. It’s getting funnier because everybody’s categories are disintegrating, and the cult of political correctness dictates that we never point out that other people don’t make sense. So, not making sense has become enshrined as a domain of cultural activity. And god knows, I’ve mined that, you know? Somebody once said—actually, it was the mushroom itself, it wasn’t somebody—but somebody who happened to be a mushroom once said… what did they say? “If you’re not part of the problem you’re part of the solution.” No. What was said was that culture is like the shockwave of eschatology. Nothing is unannounced. This is like a weird quality of experience. you can’t learn this from physics or economics—maybe you can learn it from economics. But nothing is unannounced. Everything is preceded by the shockwave of its coming.
And so, somehow the spreading zaniness of reality is part of the boundary-dissolving qualities that are going to make up this new cultural mix of disembodied human beings, nanotechnologically-maintained environments, dissolved self-definitions, people living at many levels at the same time, intelligence as kind of free-flowing non-locatable resource that comes and goes as needed, prosthesis, implant, boundary-dissolution—these things are usually presented as fairly terrifying. But in fact I think behind it all lurks, you know, the demons who do calisthenics in the angles of every room on this planet to keep it all from collapsing into a flat line.
In other words, the thing which lies at the end of any epistemic investigation of what reality is, is surprise, astonishment. Not religious awe, not that kind of astonishment, but actually like pie-in-the-face hysteria: food fights and falling anvils, explosions. This is what lies at the end of the epistemic enterprise. Why is that? Well, I think it has something to do with the fact that we are simply loaded monkeys; that our belief that we were proceeding as God’s messengers, or his research assistants, was somehow ill-contrived, misbegotten. What we’ve shipped for is not a voyage of discovery, it’s more like a ship of fools deal. It’s something which Hieronymous Bosch or Pieter Brueghel the Elder could appreciate. It’s probably best summed up in the work of Groucho Marx, but unfortunately he can’t be here tonight.
So I exist in this matrix—as you exist in this matrix—making our way through our lives, our affairs, our careers, our disasters. And the thing that has struck me about it, for some time—and don’t bother telling me it’s a symptom of serious mental meltdown; I know that, I’ve lived with it—but the thing that’s struck me for some time is the artificiality of everything: how’s it’s like plotted, how it’s like constructed, artificial. It can’t be that this is the first iteration. This is not the first take. There have been many takes. The fingerprints of the editing suite are all over this scene. If you don’t notice that, it must be because you take your life for granted. And if you take your life for granted and you think it makes perfect sense that you’re doing whatever you do, this isn’t an issue for you.
But for those of us who never thought that we would gaze on the things we’ve gazed upon, be the people we’ve become, see the things we’ve seen, the whole thing has this extravagant Pynchonesque kind of efflorescence about it that rides right on the edge of insanity, dare we say it. And the interesting thing is: I don’t need drugs anymore! I need them to get away from this; this sense of everything opening into everything else.
You know that thing that W. H. Auden said about how
The glacier rattles in the cupboard,
A desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the teacup opens
A door to the land of the dead.
Well, I first heard that maybe thirty or forty years ago. He used to wander around this neighborhood, as you probably know. Back then I thought it was about acid, because that’s what I thought everything was about at that time. But now that I’ve replayed it to myself, I see that it’s like an alchemical insight. It’s the insight that everything gives way to everything else. Everything is connected. We know this clichè imported from Malibu and Santa Fe, but it’s connected in a way that isn’t really, I think, sensed there. Everything is connected in that it’s emotionally accessible. This is what the Eros part of this thing means to me, if I’m to make any stab at it at all.
When I was very young I must have had a very non-traumatic upbringing, because I discovered early in life a stunning truth that’s made my life very complicated in its wake, but that I still think is true. And it’s that people are very easy to love—in fact, you can love anybody if you are not constrained by expectation, class, the momentum of history, race, gender, the whole thing. But for a child to make this discovery, and recall it, stick with it, be able to mnemonically pull it up at such situations like this, I think is extraordinary. And I stand outside it. I don’t draw any conclusions from it. It hasn’t made me a nicer person; don’t try to buy me a drink based on it! You know, somebody said, “Loves mankind, loathes individual human beings.” I don’t loathe individual human beings, but I do enjoy things the further I stand back from them. This is the Hawaiian perspective, the motivation for being the hermit with the nightclub career.
But I have not lost the thread. This is the thread! And what it’s about is an effort to generalize, you know, from one person’s life to everybody’s life. Because the only thing I really bring to the party is a lot of experience, and then some ability to articulate it. And it’s like it’s not my story, it’s not somebody else’s story I tell. It’s just the story. And, this story is like the literary net of synchronistic connectivity that makes life something other than the laws of physics, particles flinging themselves through nothingness, waves dying out in empty space. This isn’t our experience of being.
Our experience of being is meaning. That’s my experience. And the meaning is not always pleasant or life-affirming or even exactly rationally apprehendable. Sometimes meaning is a palpable thing, you know? Like liquid being poured through cracking ice, language moves ahead of its intent. It encloses its object and gives you almost a reverse casting of the thing intended. There are many ways for words to fit themselves over the contours of intentionality.
So personality becomes an issue, because in the future personality (if it exists at all) is going to be a very fluid, dynamic thing. One of our hangups is the idea that we come with one body, one mind, or one body and a mind split into two parts. All these are social fables, illusions. The fabric of reality is defined by whatever large numbers of people believe about it. And now, in the absence of an overarching metaphor that can claim everybody’s allegiance, reality is actually fracturing. I’ve called it the balkanization of epistemology, you know? I’ve poked fun at the abductees and make jokes about pro bono proctologists from nearby start systems.
But—butt!—for all of that, what this fracturing means is permission to manifest opinion as art. That’s really all there is. There is no truth that is different from opinion. There is no… nothing is secure. I mean, even mathematics—if you understand Kurt Gödel and people like this—even mathematics is an uncertain enterprise. Even common arithmetic is an uncertain enterprise.
So what are we left with? When I argued a couple of weeks ago with Sheldrake and Abraham about this, I said we have to look at our messengers. We have to look at the people who bring the news of the pro bono proctologists from nearby star systems, who bring the news of military establishments trading human body parts for fiber optic technology. We have to examine the messengers. Well, they quickly stomped on that and said no, that won’t work. Because when you go back into the history of ideas, lots of screwballs have obtained great success with their ideas—you know, you don’t want to look too hard at Newton or Wagner or Thomas Aquinas, or anybody else. So the squirrel test (or the fluff test) is insufficient.
Well, so then what are you left with? Well, basically, a sense of humor and a battered sense of aesthetics, I think! Now, I don’t know how loose-headed the heads in this town are. I rather suspect they’re screwed more tightly than the situation further west, and screwed more loosely than the situation further east. But, I’m telling you, as the world reforms itself in these islands of defined opinion, the only thing which is going to make sense is sense which is conferred. So it becomes like about beauty, I think. Beauty. Beauty is an easier-to-realize value than political correctness, Bodhisattvic compassion—I mean, what are these things? Who knows! The rancorous debates start as soon as they’re mentioned. Beauty is self-defined, perceived and understood without ambiguity. And beauty is the stuff that lies under the skins of our individual existences.
You know, James Joyce said in Finnegan’s Wake, he said, “We sprout on the seamy side here in Moy Cane”—meaning n the red light district of Dublin. “But up n’ent, prospector, you sprout all your worth and you woof your wings.” Well, you don’t have to go up n’ent, prospector, because right here, right now is a good enough place to do this.
Our past is disappearing. It’s almost closing behind us. At the MOMA today we were looking at this Russian avant-garde stuff, and I was thinking it seems so far away. They seem almost like messages as distant as messages from the sixteenth century or the fourteenth century. I mean, what does it mean to us, the struggle between Fascism and Bolshevism, the struggle between the European banks and emerging socialist ideas in the twenties and the thirties? This stuff arrives absolutely as ancient as the cave paintings at Lascaux. Our past is all becoming more and more somebody else’s past, irrelevant to the enterprise of the future.
Oh yeah, I know that if you don’t learn from history you’re bound to repeat its errors, but the most important thing to learn from history is not to do it at all, you know? That it’s a very bad idea, history. Look where it got us! The only way we can essentially redeem what history has done to us is carry the understanding that it wrought back into the enterprise of humans, of creating sane systems of education, of resource extraction, of healthcare and community value. If we don’t carry the experience of history back into those domains, history will continue.
I remember once when I was a fighting radical in the streets of Berkeley, and someone had let a banner down over the front of a building. It was a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre. It said: socialism will not be transcended until we transcend the conditions which created it—true. History—even more true. And, at the moment, the dialogue about the transformation of the species, and the integration of communication technology and biotechnology—all this stuff—how it’s going to work out is in the hands of short-sighted profiteering institutions that are not particularly interested in your welfare or my welfare. In fact, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nobody is particularly interested in your welfare or my welfare in terms of the intellectual environment of risk through which you move every day. I mean, the number of cons you’re offered, the number of people who prey upon you—all of these things indicate that the culture has not yet realized the power of its own possibilities.
How will it realize the power of its own possibilities? I’m, at this point, pretty fatalistic through time. I mean, I don’t feel I have to be here tonight, or you have to listen tonight, for us to come around any kind of corner. The momentum now is inevitable. Now it’s about each of us individually arranging the furniture of our own mind to deal with what has become inevitable. It wasn’t inevitable, but the twentieth century made it inevitable, through the holocaust, modernism, psychedelic drugs, syncopated music, the dislocation of time and space through media. All of that has now made this transformation inevitable. The human being, adapted to the savannas of Africa of 120,000 years ago, is just dragged forward into the future by all of this. And if you can get through life without trauma, heartbreak, agony, murderous rage, fury, betrayal, et cetera, et cetera, you’re a better man or woman than I am, for sure. I don’t think anybody can get through the narrow neck of (first of all) incarnation in a body, but (more trying) incarnation inside a historical society that is cannibalistic, low-intentioned, and with values that are completely formed and modeled on the marketplace.
So I think about all of this all the time, and I feel great change. I try to monitor it, especially in the realm of society and technology. Everything is redefined every thirty days, every sixty days—redefined toward some kind of singularity, some kind of extraordinary moment in the fractal pattern of historical unfoldment. You know, fractals are always repetitious: always low levels build to higher levels. But nevertheless, somehow, intrinsically to the pattern, there comes a moment where there is an apotheosis; a breakthrough to a new level of understanding. And then whatever the old world was, it simply dissipates. It goes away—not that there isn’t political struggle, but once the (call it) karmic underpinnings of a historical position—especially an oppressive historical position—once those underpinnings are articulated, revealed, shown in the light of day, then the game cannot continue.
And I feel like we are—interestingly, in this calendrical moment—we can experience the calendar’s transformation, or we can use it (as others are using it) to put forward the idea that certain things are now obsolete, no longer to be practiced outside the confines of the twentieth century, not part of the third millennium. And I’m thinking of fascism, sexism, racism, all the division-based consequences of old-style politics. And people say: where, then, do psychedelic drugs fit into all of this? Or: do they fit into it? Of course they fit into it. Because the felt presence of experience—the reclaiming of the body—that’s the critical political battleground.
Your mind is now your own, in some sense. It was a mistake; it wasn’t supposed to happen that way. But the acceleration of psychedelic use in the twentieth century, the explosive spread of the Internet—in some sense it’s as though we have broken from the slave’s quarters and are already milling in the streets. But we don’t yet have the power or the understanding to know where the centers of power are, and how it is that they disempower and manipulate us. And that’s because we haven’t focused on the body.
The body—and this, I suppose, then, is the thing which gives the Eros thing cogency—the body is the battleground for these various definitions of humanness, you know? And, Eros—representing the erotic celebration of diversity—is a terrifying specter to hold up in front of the order-crazed, constipated hierarchists who actually have the illusion that they own the enterprise. And nevertheless, this is what they’re looking toward. This is what was made inevitable by their own rapaciousness in the past: that they painted us so quickly into a corner of resource extraction and disgust with media manipulation that a breakout was inevitable. Had to come.
You know, one of the things that has impressed me, as I go through all this, is: well, my doctor brought it home to me, because he was saying to me—as I buttoned up recently after an examination—he says, “You know, in the nineteenth century, most people your age were dead!” This is true. “I’m 52. You’re soon to be 52. Very few people, statistically, reached that level.”
And I think part of what’s happening—and it’s odd to address an audience so young on this matter, but here’s something your parents may not be telling you—culture (as a con) is only good for about 35 years on average. I mean, some people are impressed with culture till they go to the grave at 90, some people are thoroughly apprised of the fact that it’s horseshit by the time they’re 19. But the average person’s experience with culture lasts about 35 or 40 years. In the past that was enough. Most people, then, were ready to die without ever blowing their whistle on the game. What is happening here is: we are living past the age—by the millions—living past the age where cultural values make any sense at all. They simply are—after, you know, the ten thousandth piece of apple pie, the sixteenth Mercedes, the five hundredth whatever—it’s just seen to be intolerable, unbearable. You know, the agony that resides in matter that the Surrealists were so prescient in insisting upon.
So culture generally is an infantilizing process. And, you know, some French people have mentioned this, but they didn’t really put it in a historical context that this neotenizing trick—now so useful to advertising to create youth-crazed values in everybody—it hastens the end of this culture game. It hastens the awakening of many people to the fact that the felt presence of immediate experience is not negotiable. It has no price. And yet, this is what’s taken from you when you go to the job, when you dress for the image, when you kiss up to the power establishment, when your time is turned into money. The felt presence of immediate experience is analogous to being enslaved—I mean, let’s be frank about it: is enslavement—it’s simply that the rules of the game have been changed. Of course it’s easy to say if you’re unemployed like me. But, on the other hand, I’m meeting my obligations, somehow—always have—without ever truly working, and without ever putting my shoulder to the wheel for the Man. Of course I had to deal dope to do this, but once I’d gone past that it worked.
Well, I could go on in this vein for some time, as you see, but the thoughts that I wanted to leave you with tonight on this, because I feel like I am checking in with, in some weird way, my peer group of—and maybe my most critical group as well, which is fine, I can’t… we don’t need any gurus here, we don’t need any laying down of the law. Anybody who tells you they have a clue as to what’s happening should be suspect for mental illness and delusions of grandeur. The thought is (and I haven’t said this yet, but this is the conclusion from all of this) is that culture is an effort to satisfy this weird desire human beings have to close off experience, to live with closure, to force closure. And that’s why cultural trips are so bizarre; you know, why they don’t make sense to anybody but the Witoto or the Huaorani or the Americans or the Japanese. If you’re not inside the culture it seems crazy. The cultures don’t make sense because they’re not trying to make sense. What they’re trying to do is produce closure, which then somehow makes a human being who is living in the light of closure a more manipulatable, a more malleable, a lesser thing.
And so, you know, if the experience of the twentieth century didn’t do it for you, if psychedelics didn’t do it for you, I don’t know what could do it for you. The message coming back at all of us is: live without closure. That’s the honest position given that you are some kind of a talking monkey, some kind of a primate, some kind of creature, on a planet, in an animal body, incarnate in a time and space. In the face of that, life without closure is the only kind of intellectual honesty there is. If you have to inoculate yourself against the various memes of closure that are around, psychedelics do that. That’s why they are so politically controversial and potent: because, more than any other single act that you may voluntarily undertake, they pull the plug on the myth of a cultural meaning. They show that these things are provisional, and that beneath the level of culture there is lurking this erotic time-and-space-bound, feeling-defined, pre-linguistic mode of being—which is real being. Not becoming, not caught in the various fetishistic forms of tension that commodification of culture and delayed gratification and all these other buzzwords create, but a deeper level of authentic feeling. And it was there all the time, but is denied by the culture. And if we don’t come back to that, if we don’t re-access that, then this historical thing—which grinds so many people down, none of whom are here tonight, I might add; they are lost in the barrios of third-world cities and in the disrupted environments created by this system—but history will continue.
You know, I’m fond of quoting Stephen Dedalus where he says—Joyce’s character—where he says, “History is the nightmare from which I am trying to awaken.” But nightmare is not a strong enough metaphor. It’s a narcoleptic paralysis. It’s that horrible thing that happens at the edge of sleep. It’s that place where the pro bono proctologists from other star systems get their wedge into the seam, you know? And if you’ve never had that paralysis at the edge of sleep, you don’t know the panic, the constriction, that it engenders.
We’re really, you know, at a very terminal point in the process of our historical unfoldment—in the same way that our hunter-gatherer phase led into agriculture and advanced role specialization and urbanization and all that. Now we’re ready to make another leap. But this time it’s going to be done in the light of consciousness, because consciousness is what was garnered in the last leap.
And how this is done depends essentially on the collective state of mind: how malleable it is, how phobic of closure it is, how open to the lógos—to the, you know, downloading of universal intent into human understanding (which is what I would call the lógos) it is—and finally how deeply it operates in the light of lógos. How much love is there in this culture? How much love has been carried intact from the plains of Africa through the Minoan civilization and the Medieval period and the spread of people around the planet? How much of what we call true humanness made the journey with us to this new time? We’re going to find out. We’re going to find out by pooling the love that is in each of us in a form in which it is co-extensively shared by all of us. There may be many ways to talk about what this will feel like, what it will look like. But what it will be, if it works, is love. If it isn’t love, than it’s less than a perfect sublimation of the alchemical purpose. And less than perfect is now off the menu. So the only way up is out. Up and out.
That’s all I have to say. [???] critics will surely describe as “another meandering diatribe.” I know there are some people here from the Novelty List. It would be nice to have a flesh meet downstairs, and anybody else who wants to chat. And then we’ll get out of here and [???] is gonna do the questions. And if that ain’t the felt presence of immediate experience, I don’t know!
Q & A Session
We don’t have to worry about magicians without power who have desire for power, because it’s never going to come to that. It’s the magician who can actually manifest power—and usually that’s so sobering that that person gives up any wish to control anybody. I mean, I’ve seen weird shit go down, and it didn’t make me want to take hold of that energy. Somebody else, it might’ve—I like really clear hallucinations that are somewhat distant from me. What happens on DMT that is so freaky is: you see the hallucinations, and if you’re a practiced head you can sort of stand that. But at higher doses you become the hallucination. And this is much harder to put up with, much harder to stay calm in the presence of, because you’re no longer looking at something weird, you have become something weird. I’m convinced that the hallucinogens touch the language—the thing inside us which describes reality, which is constantly explaining to you what’s going on. Once it’s contaminated, or once it’s affected by the psychedelic, then you enter into a world where you don’t know what’s going on, where you can’t tell what is hallucination.
Is that when you’re doing the visible language you’ve talked about, or singing?
It’s just slightly past that. I think I do that (those language activities) to try to channel and confine that DMT-like energy. Because when it really comes over you, it’s like having your camera melt. There’s no longer a picture, there’s no longer a channel. It’s gotten behind what was looking at it, and now you really don’t know.
Have you had your camera melted?
Oh yeah! And what I do is: I just try to sing my way through it. One of the things that happens among European people is: when they feel threatened by being loaded, they just assume the fetal position, and their theory is if I can live through it, it will be alright. If I can stand it. What you should do is sit up and sing. Just sing! Sing! Sing! Oxygenate your brain, force energy through your body. Then everything will rearrange itself. I think when people have bad trips it often means they’re not breathing enough.
How do you compare salvia to DMT? I know that DMT is weirder, the way it sounds.
Some people don’t think so. I think so. To me, salvia seems like a strong hallucinogenic drug, but it’s not as hard for me to explain to myself what’s going on as with DMT. DMT, if it works, pushes me into a place where I just have to admit that I don’t know what I’m talking about. All these metaphors that have been spun out in books and on stage were just shadow play. The real thing is so appalling, so confounding, it’s just, you know: may the baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your mind!
Did you ever smoke salvinorin-A?
The pure compound? I did smoke it once. It came on so fast that I found myself on it; I had no impression of getting high at all. I found it happening to me. I was expecting it to be weirder than DMT. To me it didn’t seem to be weirder. To me it seems liked a very accelerated ayahuasca rush of some kind. It definitely distorts your body image in some way. People have these weird things where they’re half in and half out of something, and they talk about it and they try to crawl into it or crawl out of it. I liked it. I like the leaf. The way I do it is: I take 35 grams of leaf and I lie down in the dark and I chew it. At about the fifteen-minute mark it begins afterimage streaming—you know, lights past the eyes. Then I just spit it out into a Kleenex without holding it. It’s a big mouthful.
You’ve talked about plants as teachers. Would you say the same thing about ketamine? Even though it isn’t a plant, do you think it can teach you things?
The thing about ketamine is that it’s active over a very large range. In other words, as little as 40 milliliters is active, and yet people shoot 150, 200 without a problem. I’ve only done it about five times. I shot it every time, and I shot 140 milliliters. At that dose it’s not a very useful drug, because you can’t remember fucking anything. I really like drugs that you can remember.
The other night I searched (the Web) for “self-transforming elf machines.” There were 36 hits! It surprised me. I sort of use the search engine like an oracle. I’ve used the phrase for DMT, “Arabian hyperspace.” So I thought of this, and then I searched it, “Arabian hyperspace,” in quotes. And it took me right to a transcript of the talk in which I’d said the thing! You can find your own mind on the Internet. I’m very grateful to the people who type up my talks and then post them at their websites.
I have a question about a theme in your work. It’s actually an absence, and I’m curious as to why. It’s the similarity that I sense with some of your visions of history, the visions of that process, and those I found the work of de Chardin—at least The Phenomenon of Man. I’ve never heard it mentioned by you or in talks about you, as far as I know.
I have talked about him. I did read Phenomenon of Man and Alpha-Omega. I have no knock on Chardin. I think that he got there first, and it’s all basically there. Maybe the reason I don’t mention it is that my mother was very big on pushing it on me! Yeah, he is the guy. He and McLuhan. If you take de Chardin and McLuhan together, there’s not much to add to all that.
It’s the visual aspect of his writing, that to me links him to what you say. And you bring in so many references to other writers that it seemed a little like a hole there.
There’s sort of a hole there. Considering the amount of time I spent reading him, it is a hole, you’re right. Olaf Stapleton is another influence, but that was thoroughly rehearsed on the Novelty List. H. G. Wells was an influence. What I like is big-picture thinkers. I like to think in terms of a thousand years, a million years—probably because when I was growing up in western Colorado, what I got into early in life was fossil collecting. We would find dinosaur bones and 200-million-year-old clam shells and stuff. And when I finally figured out that a million years is a thousand years a thousand times, it was like an epiphany. It just opened up underneath my feet how fucking old it’s possible for things to be!