TechnoPagans at the End of History:
Virtual Reality, Psychedelics, and the Impeding End of Everything
Terence McKenna and Mark Pesce at Esalen in August 1998.
I think we have to have character models built of ourselves, and turn the whole thing over to our writers; and we’ll just go off to Tahiti, and the writers can — it’s the “Uncle Duke” solution. If you can turn yourself into a cartoon character, you can retire, and a whole team of people will keep you au courant. … You know, I think the only way to keep your career going is to retire the “bod”, and create an online character– a Saturday morning cartoon show apparently is where the action is.
It’s strange — you know, the Net is denounced as austere, the product of the engineering mentality, so forth and so on. It’s the most feminine influence that Western civilization has ever allowed itself to fall under the spell of. The troubadors of the fourteenth century were as nothing compared to the boundary-dissolving, feminizing, permitting, nurturing nature of the Net. Maybe that’s why there is an overwhelming male preference for it, in its early form, because that’s where that was needed. But it is Sophia, it is wisdom, it is the penetrating archetypal female logos of the world-soul, leading us away from what was very sharp-edged and uncomfortable and repressive to our creativity and our sexuality and our relationships to each other and to the Earth.
Virtual reality is a fairly new concept to us; but once you grok it, it seems clear that any civilization that was capable of starflight and longevity extension, and so forth and so on, would also have a full VR toolkit under control. Well then, that means that when we go looking for the extraterrestrial, what will be the footprint? Perhaps vanished races are all around us, but downloaded into solid-state matrices that we have only recently come to the point where we could even recognize that possibility.
Mark mentioned the vector of virtual reality, nanotechnology, global communications — it’s clear that we’re moving toward, if not the Eschaton itself, then some kind of historical echo of it, in simulation, that, for all practical purposes, will be the same thing, as far as the impact it has on our lives.
For example, you could doubt my much-vaunted prediction that the world will become unrecognizable by 2012; but do you doubt for a moment that by 2012, every major religion on Earth will have vast simulations of its eschatological vision for you to wander in and try out– so that you can look in on Nirvana.com, or lope over to the Celestial City, or look in on Sufi paradise? I mean, religious ontologies will be marketed like beers! And will be made as realistic and compelling as possible.
Well then, who is to say what is real and what is not? “Real” is a distinction of a naïve mind, I think. We’re getting beyond that. I mean, naïve empiricism worked well enough, until the discoveries of quantum physics seventy or eighty years ago revealed the hideous secret that the bedrock of reality is a funhouse basement!