Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds explores Terence McKenna's prediction that December 21, 2012 will mark the occurrence of what McKenna called "an unpredictable event ... some enormously reality-rearranging thing … I don’t know if it’s built into the laws of spacetime, or it’s generated out of human inventiveness, or whether it’s a mile and a half wide and arrives unexpectedly in the center of North America.”
Renowned science writer John Horgan, author of The End of Science, Rational Mysticism, and several other books, pens a regular column at Scientific American where he takes a closer look at some of the quirkier topics that can still fall under the purview of “Science.” His current column pertains to Terence McKenna, the late psychedelic bard who spoke of the “self-transforming machine elves from hyperspace” he’d meet though psychedelic drug use.
What interests Horgan the most pertains to McKenna’s so-called Timewave Zero theory of history, which holds that something “novel” and mind-bending would happen on December 21, 2012. This notion was “revealed” to him by an “alien intelligence” during a psychedelic experiment conducted by McKenna and his younger brother Dennis, in the Amazon jungle in 1971 (Dennis McKenna, today a respected ethnopharmacologist, was the “channel” through which this entity supposedly spoke, has apparently never been much of a believer in his brother’s apocalyptic theories).
The Timewave Zero formula purports to mathematically “decode” the 64 hexagrams of the King Wen sequence of the I Ching into something that graphs fractal patterns of “novelty” and particularly active eras in history, culminating in a singularity point of infinite complexity that he predicted would happen at the end of the 13th b’ak’tun of the Maya calendar.
McKenna believed that all of human history and cultural and scientific evolution were moving inexorably towards a “strange attractor” at the end of time. Timewave Zero was later codified into a software program that seemingly mapped major moments in humanity’s evolution with the Timewave’s peaks and valleys.
(Screenshot of Timewave Zero software from Rumor Mill News)
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.
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