Paul Krassner very kindly agreed to republishing, in cyberspace, his interview with Terence Mckenna in the lastest edition of Maybelogic Quarterly. Please follow the link for the entire interview combined with audio provided by DJ fly agaric 23.
“The rise of the web has been a great boost to my fantasies along these lines, because now i can see with the Web from here to the eschaton. Apparently, it’s a technology for dissolving space, time, personally and just releasing everybody into a data stream, something like the imagination. Then that’s why the ultimate technological fantasy along this line of thought is what is conventionally called a time machine.
There’s an interesting aspect to the time machine. The wave describes the ebb and flow of novelty in time, but then you reach a point where it’s so novel that it fails beyond that point. Well, a time-traveling technology would cause such a system to fail, because it’s a description of the unfolding seriality of linear events, which a time machine would disrupt.
So it may be that it isn’t explosion of the sun, or the coming of the aliens, or the descent of the second person of the Trinity, it’s simply that a technology is put into place that destroys linear time and, from thence forward, when you give your address you have to say not only where but when. There are some problems with this.
And then here is a slightly more interesting and woo-woo scenario. The thing that’s called the grandfather paradox – somebody pointed out it’s not called the father paradox because apparently you want to avoid an Oedipal situation – and it’s simply the following objection: if you could travel into the past, you could kill your grandfather. If you killed your grandfather, you wouldn’t exist. Therefore, you couldn’t travel into the past. Therefore, time travel is impossible.
One idea i have for an end of history scenario: Time travel becomes more and more discussible, finally there are laboratories working on it, finally there is a prototype machine, finally it’s possible to conceive of a test; and so on the morning of December 12, 2012, at the world Temporal Institute headquarters in the Amazon Basin, by a worldwide, high definition, three-dimensional hook up, the entire world tunes in to see the first flight into time. And the lady temponaut comes to the microphone and makes a few brief statements, hands are shaken, the champagne bottle is smashed, she climbs into her time-machine, pushes the button and disappears into the far flung reaches of the future. Now, the interesting question is, what happens next? And i have already established for myself that you can travel backwards into the past, but you can’t travel further into the past than the invention of the first time machine, for the simple reason that there are no time machines before that, and if you were to take one where there are none, you get another paradox.
So what happens when the lady temponaut slips into the future? Well, i think what would happen a millisecond later is tens of thousands of time machines would arrive from all points in the future, having come back through time, of course, to witness the first flight into time. Exactly as if you could fly your beachcraft back to Kitty hawk, North Carolina, to that windy morning when the Wright brothers rolled their flyer out and fueled ‘er up. And that’s as far as the road goes. That’s the end of the time road.
But the grandfather paradox persists. One of those time travelers from 5,000 years in the future, on their way back to the first time-travel incident, could stop and kill his grandfather, and then we have this whole problem again. So i thought about this for a long time, and i think i’ve found my way around it. But, as usual, at the cost of further weirdness.
Here’s what would really happen if we invented a time machine of that sort. The lady temponaut pushes the button, and instead of all time machines appearing instantly in the next moment, in order to preserve the system from that paradox, what will happen is, the rest of history of the universe will occur instantly. And so that’s it. I call it the God whistle.
This is because you thought you were building a time machine, and in a sense you were, but the time machine isn’t what you thought it was. It caused the rest of time to happen instantaneously, and so the furthest out developments of life, matter, and technology in the universe can right up against you a millisecond after you break that barrier, and in fact you discover that traveling time is not traveling time, it’s a doorway into eternity, which is all of time, and that’s why it becomes more like a hyperspatial deal than a simple linear time-travel thing.
There’s been a parallel development which has caused me to be more confident. We’re now beginning to build this parallel world called the Wolrd Wide Web. And you can bet that long before we reach 2012, the major religions of the world will build virtual realities of their eschatological scenarios. There will be the Islamic paradise, the Christian millenium, the Buddhist shunyata – these will be channels that you tune into to see if you like it and want to join, so in a sense guaranteeing we will have a virtual singularity.
It’s all very well to try to understand the end point, but recall that where we are relative to the end point is in resonance with the year 950 AD. We’re like the people in 950 AD trying to understand the web, the hydrogen bomb and the catscanner. How can we? My God, we don’t even have calculus yet. Newton hasn’t been born yet, let alone Einstein. I mean we’re running around – essentially we’re primitives, is what i’m saying. We don’t have tools yet to conceive of the object of 2012. We must build those tools between now and then. And good places to start are with the web, psychedelic drugs, whatever is the most cutting edge and most far out.