The Omega Point was a phrase coined by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. McKenna was influenced by de Chardin. At times we will place in parenthesis comments by de Chardin, which will be in parallel to McKenna's statements.
Moving Beyond Matter
Well first of all, I can't quite imagine what we mean either. I think this is the test, to imagine what could that mean. Maybe the bridge concept is virtual reality. Obviously, we're on the brink of building computer assisted worlds that don't "really exist." But that we will experience, the way we experience dreams or the imagination. I think this is where psychedelic substances come in. Shamans have always entered into a non-physical realm of information, through trance. In a way, there is nothing new here. This is part of the archaic revival.
Is the ascent into a novelty a human thing? No. Part of what I discern here though is that we humans are always ready to suffer guilt and take blame for everything going in the universe. I do not believe this is something we are doing. I think that we are as much corks tossed on the ocean of time as are humming birds and prairie dogs. In other words, an event of cosmic significance and importance is going to occur, not far in the future. Are we causing it? No. Can we stop it? No. Can we hurry it? No. It's built in to the structure of matter itself. One way of thinking of this is that the laws of physics are evolving to permit greater freedom.
...[the Internet] is the greatest force empowering marginal and minority points of view to come along in centuries. In other words, before the Internet, the great establishment ideas already had the machinery of media to communicate their position. What has happened is that the common man has gotten into the game with technology that I don't think was ever intended to fall into their hands.
People have said to me, well don't you find it a little strange that such a momentous event would occur in human history, after all, human history is ten thousand years wide, the planet is five billion years old, pretty unusual coincidence that human history would be happening when this cosmic event happens? No. That's completely wrong. Humans history is being caused by the nearby presence of this event.
In other words, if you think of the event as something which has shells of influence, some of its shells of influence reach so far back in time that they drag life out of the primitive oceans. Some of its shells of influence reach so far back in time that they define the emergence of the hominid line out of the higher primates. Some shells reach back to Egypt. Some to medieval times. As you approach the present it becomes stronger and stronger.
I would argue that the presence of human civilization on this planet is the strongest evidence we have that matter and organizational processes are about to make some kind of a leap, to a new order of being. What history is, is the twenty-five thousand year transition zone. Before you enter the zone, you're an animal. After you leave the zone, you're a god. But for twenty-five thousand years, you're kind of an animal and kind of a god. You're constantly being swamped by your animal nature, then great teachers are appearing and dragging people back to the right line and we are schizophrenic in history.
A friend of mine once said that history is the shockwave the precedes the eschaton. And I absolutely believe that. I believe as historical processes intensify it's reasonable to believe that we are closer to the eschaton. If my ideas seem strange to someone, I ask them, can you imagine this planet in five hundred years, given the propagation of ordinary of historical and scientific rates of unfoldment and discovery? Can you imagine this planet in a thousand years? No, no one can imagine that. Because processes are now in play, which so totally rewrite the script, that no one can imagine can hundred years or two hundred years in the future, because the discoveries that will have been made in that time will so totally rewrite the human experience that self and the environment that we cannot see deep into the future.
This indicates to me that the future is exploding in an asymptotic unfoldment into a kind of cultural superspace. Our own bafflement at the impossibility of conceiving any real future, given the political, social and technological forces in play, is proof that of that.
Definition of Eschaton and Concrescence
Well, let's go back to eschaton first. Eschaton is a good word out of theology. It simply means the last thing. The last thing is the eschaton. It is everything become one thing. For theologians, it's God. For someone of a more materialist bent, it might be something else, but the eschaton is the last thing. Eschatology is the study of the time of the last thing.
Concrescence is a little tricker concept. I took it from Alfred North Whitehead. Concrescence is the idea of something that grows together. It concrescess. It becomes more dense more connected, more defined in space and time. When I talk about the transcendental object at the end of time, or the coming of the eschaton, or hypernovelty, I mean that the process of the human and biological concrescence of intent reaches some kind of maximum.
Concrescence is the end of the process of becoming. Becoming is not true being. True being exists at the concrescence. The kind of being we experience - becoming, is a partial state of being, much like history is a partial state of concrescence. History, definitely places us outside the world of biological intent - the animal mind. But, history does not bring us into the presence of the eschaton. It's a partial process and concrescence is what waits at the end. The eschaton is the concrescence.
Question: But we really can't have any way of knowing what experience that is going to be?
No, and the reason why is because asking that question is like asking a man looking East at 2AM to describe the coming sunrise. He can't, because it is literally over the event horizon of the future. When we look into the future, we see that the East is streaked with a rosy dawn, but, we cannot conceive of the day that is about to come. All we can see the dim glow of some kind of eschatological promise. Ask me this question in 2010, and I'll have a different answer.
Question: Back to this question of physics, and your description of the two things which you think are left out of their models. The way that you describe it is so self-evident and simple that in the fact that everything in complexification is speeding up. Would you talk just a little bit about the relationship between the world of the physicist and their effort to define reality and why they're not including in their models these aspects that you spoke about in their models?
The main reason physicists are not friendly towards a progressive concrescent model like this, is because you would have to give credit to biology for being a stage higher than chemistry. You would have to give credit to human history as a stage higher than biology. Physicists study physics. If you study physics, there is no biology. You don't have to deal with issues of biology when you study physics. There is something called biophysics, but it's not well received in physics or biology.
(We include a video as an introduction to what biophysics is. The attitude towards this specialty may be changing since McKenna's time. If you cannot see the embedded video, here is the link: http://bit.ly/kvYxWV)
So physicists, tend to discount biology. Even though, life on this planet is 4.83 billion years old, physicists discount it. They call it an epiphenomena. Then when you talk to sociologists, they give no credit to physics. Science has compartmentalized nature in order to analyze it, and there is no theory of nature, as such.
That's really what I'm offering. I'm offering a theory which covers physics, chemistry, geology, biology, sociology, linguistics, the whole thing. In other words, not saying man is some special category, not saying that we need artificial divisions, but that over the entire domain of known phenomena, This A., tendency to complexify through time and B., faster and faster [speed] can be discerned. We need a theory of everything. Physics talks about theories of everything, but none of these theories of everything address biology, let alone sociology and linguistics, and you know, the phenomena of human beings.
Question: What is the Archaic Revival?
Well, there is a way of looking at the entire 20th century, beginning with Pablo Picasso bringing masks back from Africa and showing them around in French cafes in 1915, beginning with Freud's discovery of the unconscious, and Jung's elaboration of those discoveries, and then every phenomena of major importance that you care to mention in the 20th century, Fascism, Abstract Expressionism, RocknRoll, sexual permissiveness, psychedelic drug taking, rave culture, body piercing, Jazz, the list is endless.
We are caged by our cultural programming. This is the most imprisoning factor in our lives. If we could train ourselves, simply to remember our dreams, psychedelics would become obsolete.
McKenna, Lecture Eros and the Eschaton
McKenna, Lecture Eros and the Eschaton
What do all these things have in common? They are reversions to archaic behaviors. They represent rejection of the Edwardian gentleman with his white man's burden, and represent instead that for us to survive and live with ourselves, we have to re-empower archaic values. As the century unfolded the understanding of what this re-empower might mean has changed. Jung and Freud discovered the unconscious, discovered that we are not all ladies and gentlemen, but that there is a cannibal lurking within. Albert Hoffman's discovery of LSD demonstrated that, that inner wilderness is accessible to most people through chemistry.
(We include a video of McKenna speaking about this archaic revival. If you cannot see the embedded video, here is the link: http://youtu.be/ZTPFs1diXp0)
Then still later, it was understood that the key ingredient in active Shamanism is psychedelic plants, psychedelic experiences. And, in a way, that closed the loop between the impulse towards the archaic and the impulses of modern science and modern medicine. The key is the psychedelic experience, that's what makes the Shaman a Shaman. That's what made the archaic, in fact archaic. So people like Freud and Jung, and the surrealists and the Dada, and the Abstract Expressionists all of these people were very close to the mark.
The Shaman is the paradigmatic figure. And the psychedelic experience, seems to be the anticipatory experience of this eschaton that we're headed towards. When psychedelics were first being discussed, it was thought that they would prepare people for death. In a sense, they probably do. But, in the same way that they prepare people for death, they prepare people for transformation. It gets you use to the idea that the world is not what it appears to be. It gets you use to the idea that the world is somehow animate, intelligent and preceding along its own agenda.
(We include an explanation given by McKenna about the differences between schizophrenia and shamanic visions. If you cannot see the embedded video, here is the link: http://youtu.be/ZEglHjd_gUQ)
So, in a way, Shamans have always been, anticipations of some future state of mankind. They're the masters of language. They're the ones who are telepathic with the animals. They're the ones who can see into the future. So, this archaic nostalgia gets real focused once you realize that it is the Shaman and his or hers shamanic techniques, that confers on them, the extra-historical dimension. That is how you get out of linear history. That is how you visit the realm of the ancestors. That is how you travel into the future. That's how you break up the tyranny of Newtonian serial time.