I have a track here, it is called Timewave Zero and it is by Terence McKenna. I like McKenna, so excuse the treatment below. I still like him.. he is an artist. He is also a little misguided:
McKenna asserts that "there is this quality to reality" that "ebbs and flows". He terms this novelty. He goes on to say that "nature is a novelty conserving engine", and that ever since the big bang, "novelty has been conserved". The various properties of the novelty conservation process are the "condensing" of time and complexity, "faster and faster" novelty cycles, and the fact that novelty occurs on "all scales".
McKenna suggests that "science has overlooked" this process, however this is incorrect. Adam Smith referred to it as the "invisible hand", while Charles Darwin termed it "evolution". I find it easier to understand McKenna if I consider the process of evolution whenever he mentions "novelty". Science of today refers to chaos theory, propositions that seek to explore the evolution of "natural phenomena" such as hydrodynamics, the weather, and epidemiology.
The paradigms of evolution - birth, adaptation, stimulation, death - are present in all complex systems. That is, a complex system is born, it grows into its environment, affecting it in various ways before surcumbing to environmental pressure, perishing in the process.
McKenna notes that it's difficult to notice the presence of this evolutionary process, because we are "embedded" into a conformist culture. This statement seems to contradict itself, in that it cries out for recognition of change, and then suggests that cultural change does not occur. Even if it's just Smith, Darwin, and McKenna, that's three people who thought about it that didn't before - that's change, and noticed change at that.
Next, the question is posed: "where do we fit into all of this?". It is then asserted that "so far as we know, there is nothing more advanced" than the human brain "in this cosmos". I cannot agree with this; there is no way to judge. Simply attempting to define "advanced" is problematic.
However, with his statement McKenna attempts to consider the parts without giving consideration to the whole. Complex systems cannot be broken into subsystems - they are a cohesive, interdependent whole. McKenna suggests that our brain is more advanced than the universe itself. In order to prove that this is not the case, I propose that one such brain - McKenna's perhaps - is removed from its skull and placed in low Earth orbit. If it's functional afterwards, I'll reconsider.
Next comes the assertion that communication and culture accelerate evolution, which is most definitely something I agree with. The more we talk, the more we walk - because we learn from each other. Feedback creates.
McKenna seems to think that something major is about to happen that is going to change everything forever. This suggestion overlooks the fact that minor things are occurring constantly that change everything forever. There is no need to wait for something major.. change is among us already, and predates us by at least 10 billion years. There might be crises, but these are not "the end of history" - they are simply the end of a chapter. This book of Time has no end (so far as we know..)
McKenna says, "something is calling us out of nature" and "sculpting us in its image". There is no need for any overseer/god. Evolution occurs naturally.. that is the whole point. "Confrontation is imminent" - I agree totally. I believe he was referring to his previous comment concerning divine intervention, and the dissent it may cause.
He goes on to say that evolution "will become so intensified.. it is going to flow over, into another dimension... we are approaching the cusp of a catastrophe... we will be unrecognisable to ourselves... the world is about to transform itself." This is meant to sound like the End Days or Nostradamus.. but I think it sounds like having a child. In nature, when a plant evolves and matures ("so intensified"), it flowers, and ultimately reproduces.
When McKenna says "novelty is about to be revealed as a universal process of concressing and expressing novelty" he has it in one. Given he's discussing evolution, he's suggesting that the evolutionary process is being recognised by humanity as a universal paradigm. I agree, anyway.. this is what natural selection, the invisible hand and chaos theory is about. Look around.. evolution is everywhere.
McKenna asserts that "the wave of novelty ... has rolled unbroken since the birth of the universe". This is incorrect. The universe has been evolving since its birth.. it's not just starting now. This wave has "focused itself in our species", a comment I agree with, but find very anthropocentric. Evolution occurs in all complex systems, not just humans, not just animals, not just plants. The galaxy is evolving.. the entire universe is evolving.
It is asserted by McKenna that humans are being pulled by some "attractor" that "lies ahead of us in time". I would contend that we are being pushed by evolutionary processes that lie behind us in time. The attractor is time itself; time is a complexifier.
McKenna, a self-professed "ethnopharmacologist" (someone who studies the interplay between culture and drugs), suggests that psychedelics accelerate evolution. I agree; any act does. He then suggests that time is "speaking to us". Again, I would contend we are listening to ourselves, rather than being spoken to. Evolution occurs through feedback - it is how we learn. We grow through our experience.
The recital then says "the future looks more like the past than the future", a comment which forces me to say "of course". Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.. we all live and die, including humans, this planet and probably the universe itself.
A few comments on government intervention in people's private lives: McKenna says that we can progress, "if we allow the wave of novelty to propel us forth", noting that "what cannot be said, cannot be created...". I interpret this to mean that if we have the ability to innovate, we will. I support this; freedom accelerates evolution.
After that most decent facilitative assertion, Mr T slips back into prescriptive mode: "what we need .. is the forced evolution of language". Tsk tsk.. force begets resistance, and language is but one of several communication mechanisms.
More mono-mindedness follows: "..the mind of the total other brought us out of animal organisation". Evolution does not require external guidance, and we are still animals .. a nice dose of anthropocentrism there. But wait: "how well we do.. defines how well the experiment of life on Earth does". I also disagree with this; if we die, something will evolve to replace us. A pre-Cambrian McKenna might have said the same thing about dinosaurs.. and they're dead, and we're not.
McKenna says that humans are "the cutting edge", and says "we have the power to break" life on Earth. I disagree; life cannot be broken, it adapts. This is the beauty of diversity. If we nuke the entire planet, something will eventually crawl out of the depths of the sea. And if we nuke the sea too, something will land on the planet from space, probably bacteria delivered on the inside of a meteorite (which is what happened just the other day, from Mars) or inside a comet.
With reference to humanity getting it together, McKenna says that we must strive for "the celebration of mind as play.. the celebration of love as a genuine social value" ... I interpret these phrases to mean respect and trust, respectively, and I agree wholeheartedly.
McKenna predicts that "the engines of technology .. will allow us to explore the universe", which I agree with. However, he goes on to say that "a planet brings forth an opportunity like this only once in its lifetime", with which I disagree. Why should this be true? It has 8 billion years to come up with something else.. surely it will manage something.
To conclude, McKenna says "the universe is there, and we are ready to claim it, to make it our own", which evokes wild tremors in my typing fingers. We don't own it, any more than it doesn't own us. We are all part of the same system; we all need each other. This is so materialistic and anthropocentric, it makes me want to chuck. So much for enlightenment.. it's this mentality that let us dig up the Earth and burn it, steal entire continents, and practise genocide.. and then scratch our heads and wonder why life and times are so shitty. Get a life.
Pity really.. the concepts about evolution were nice.