Posted by: goatberg | February 25, 2008

McKenna Monday

For the first of what I hope will be many McKenna Mondays, I’m posting a brief excerpt from Paul Horgan’s chapter on Terence in Rational Mysticism. If it wasn’t illegal, I’d post the entire chapter because it’s the fairest treatment of the man from a writer outside the psychedelic community I’ve come across. Note: Horgan formerly wrote for Scientific American. From page 183:

Anyone who reads Scientific American, McKenna continued, can see that science is in the throes of “an enormous crisis; or maybe not crisis but turmoil, based on the breakdown of paradigms.” Just look at superstrings, parallel universes, hyperdimensions, time travel, and other bizarre notions emerging from physics. Then there are technological advances such as AI, which is on the verge of creating machines with superhuman intelligence. “Nobody knows what mind is,” McKenna said, “operating at muiti-gigahertz speeds in virtual realities unconstrained by gravity and economy of any sort.”

I told McKenna that many of the supposed revolutionary advances he
had read about in Scientific American and elsewhere were grossly oversold.
Artificial Intelligence, far from being on the verge of creating “hyperintelligent”
machines, is a joke, a failure, with numerous failed prophecies behind
it. As for superstrings, they’re so small that it would take a particle accelerator
the size of the Milky Way to detect them. That’s why many physicists believe
that superstring theory and its variants will turn out to be a theoretical
dead end.

McKenna shrugged. Whether or not superstring theory pans out, no
one can deny that physics is “a field in rich ferment, in need of broad new
paradigmatic visions. I mean, sort of where physics was circa 1898, when no
one could make sense of Planck’s black-body studies and Einstein was
chasing girls around bars in Zurich, and it just hadn’t quite frozen out to be
what it was.” What was most impressive about McKenna’s riffs was their apparent effortlessness.

If you’re looking for more McKenna, KMO posted a bonus edition of The C-Realm this week: the Terence McKenna Special.

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