Pretentious-if-interesting postmodern introductory essay by Mark C. Taylor provides stark contrast to color and B&W photos of two large symmetricaPretentious-if-interesting postmodern introductory essay by Mark C. Taylor provides stark contrast to color and B&W photos of two large symmetrical gouges in the side of a Nevada mesa, gouges that comprise the titular artwork.
I suspect the artwork is more impressive to onsite visitors than it can ever hope to be in a series of 2D photos, but that might also be a function of the vast emptiness of the landscape into which the artwork is gouged....more
According to the New York Times, in turn according to Wikipedia, Fukuda's posters "distilled complex concepts into compelling images of logo-simplicitAccording to the New York Times, in turn according to Wikipedia, Fukuda's posters "distilled complex concepts into compelling images of logo-simplicity." This collection of posters from one of the world's foremost graphic designers and creator of optical illusions provides a handful of classic images, some fun (and funny) optical illusions, and lots of repetition....more
The Other plays with us and approaches us through the imagination and then a critical juncture is reached. To go beyond this juncture requires abandon
The Other plays with us and approaches us through the imagination and then a critical juncture is reached. To go beyond this juncture requires abandonment of old and ingrained habits of thinking and seeing. At that moment the world turns lazily inside out and what was hidden is revealed: a magical modality, a different mental landscape than one has ever known, and the landscape becomes real. This is the realm of the cosmic giggle. UFOs, elves, and the teeming pantheons of all religions are the denizens of this previously invisible landscape. One reaches through to the continents and oceans of the imagination, worlds able to sustain anyone who will but play, and then one lets the play deepen and deepen until it is a reality that few would even dare to entertain. (p. 112)
This is the story of Terence, his brother Dennis, and a few fellow travelers who made their way into the Amazonian rain forest in search of the fabled brew ayahuasca. The two brothers went instead on a multi-day trip in which Terence intuited the fractal nature of time and discovered the symbiotic, alien intelligence that comprises psilocybin mushrooms, all while Dennis tripped even more balls than Terence and made a weird buzzing sound.
Unfortunately, the book is not nearly as interesting as it sounds, in part because McKenna's authorly voice is not nearly as confidently eccentric as the one with which he delivered his raves. The story is all over the place, lots of TMI, and relatively uninteresting personal stuff, and because so much of the brothers' experience is simply not amenable to mediated communication it really requires a more skilled craftsman. Luckily his raves and other writings are more lucid.
That said, there were some standout quotes for me.
On Terence's suspension of disbelief:
Over a period of a few minutes, I had passed from weary, disgruntled skeptic to ecstatic believer. Looking back on it, I believe that, for me, this was the critical juncture. Why did I not question Dennis more closely? Was I some, how self-hypnotized? Did the unfamiliar setting, the restricted diet, the strain and expectations push me into a place where I was unable to resist participation in the world of my brother’s bizarre ideation? Why was I unable to maintain my detached and skeptical viewpoint? In some sense this willing suspension of disbelief is the crux of the matter—and, I believe, of many a “close encounter” situation. (p. 112)
Some of the more lucid comments on "The Experiment at La Chorrera":
We were among the first to achieve contact with this Other species. It was the real thing. We had come to the equatorial jungle to explore the dimensions glimpsed in tryptamine ecstasy, and there, in the darkness of the heart of the Amazon, we had been found and touched by this bizarre and ancient life form that was now awakening to the global potential of a symbiotic relationship with technical humanity…. I saw gigantic machineries and worlds of vegetable and mechanical forms on scales inconceivably vast. Time, agatized and glittering, seemed to pour by me like living superfluids inhabiting dream regions of terrible pressure and super cold. And I saw the plan, the mighty plan. At last. It was an ecstasy, an ecstasis that lasted hours and placed the seal of completion on all of my previous life. At the end I felt reborn, but as what I knew not. (p. 157)
It was during those velvet, star-strewn, jungle nights that I felt closest to understanding the tripartite mystery of the philosopher’s stone, the Alien Other, and the human soul. There is something human that transcends the individual and the transcends life and death as well. It has will, motive, and enormous power. And it is with us now. (p. 149)
I suspect that when we inspect the structure of our own deep unconscious we will make the unexpected discovery that we are ordered on the same principle as the larger universe in which we arose. (p. 200)
The funniest thing I’ve heard McKenna say, in print. In other words, science needs to practice a tad more humility:
Imagining what happens in the presence of a singularity is, in principle, impossible and so naturally science has shied away from such an idea. The ultimate singularity is the Big Bang, which physicists believe was responsible for the birth of the universe. We are asked by science to believe that the entire universe sprang from nothingness, at a single point and for no discernible reason. This notion is the limit case for credulity. In other words, if you can believe this, you can believe anything. It is a notion that is, in fact, utterly absurd, yet terribly important to all the rational assumptions that science wishes to preserve. Those so-called rational assumptions flow from this initial impossible situation. (p. 198–199)
The big whoops, re: 2012. Assuming isn’t predicting:
The timewave seems to give a best fit configuration with the historical data when the assumption is made that the maximum ingression of novelty, or the end of the wave, will occur on December 22, 2012. Strangely enough this is the end date that the Mayans assigned to their calendar system as well. (p. 200, emphasis mine)
My story is a peculiar one. It is hard to know what to make of it. The notion of some kind of fantastically complicated visionary revelation that happens to put one at the very center of the action is a symptom of mental illness. This theory does that, and yet so does immediate experience, and so do the ontologies of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. My theory may be clinically pathological, but unlike these religious systems, I have enough humor to realize this. It is important to appreciate the intrinsic comedy of privileged knowledge. (p. 202)
My position is interesting but not enviable. Because the major idea to emerge out of this experience is the timewave and the computer software that supports it, I am in the absurd position of being either an unsung Newton or completely nuts. There is very little room to maneuver between these two positions. The timewave paints a radical picture of how time works and what history is. It provides a map of the global ebb and flow of novelty over the next twenty years and it also makes a prediction of a major transformational event in 2012. This is only as far in the future as La Chorrera lies in the past. It is soon. (p. 225)
I think the correct answer, in so far as there is one, is that Terence McKenna was neither a Newton or nuts (at least, not entirely). He had some powerful experiences with some powerful substances/intelligences. We didn't have a reality-altering ingression of novelty (wtf that even means) five years ago, and I doubt we'll have one in the next 20 years. I do know that psilocybin mushrooms are being revealed, by non-visionary weirdos, as really powerful medicinesthat don't really allow themselves to be abused, the McKenna brothers' experiences at La Chorrera not withstanding, and perhaps that is one ingression of novelty that Terence would appreciate....more
Grim, grim, grim. A novel that is more or less a Western set in a post-apocalypse USA rent by civil war. All animal life other than human apparently dGrim, grim, grim. A novel that is more or less a Western set in a post-apocalypse USA rent by civil war. All animal life other than human apparently died out after "the War" and so the protagonist, along with every other character in the book, practices cannibalism without acknowledging that people and "stock" are the same species. Have I mentioned that this is grim? It was a decently written and a quick read, but it concluded in a way that made it seem little more than a setup for a sequel. GRIM! ...more