Welcome back to the Trenchant Edges, the daily-ish Newsletter about trying to find the gold in the dustbin of fringe culture.
I’m Stephen, your host and researchy-writery person.
Been hitting my deadline on this enough over the last couple weeks that I was comfortable sharing the newsletter on my facebook page so we’ve got some new people coming from that here (welcome!)
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve had a couple people point out that, were I interested in becoming a grad student, I’m more than capable of doing so. And I might follow that path if I can find a cost/time effective way of getting the degree. I bring this up here because one of the places where I don’t think I’ve let myself down intellectually is staying in the short-form world of facebook posts rather than developing longer and more rigorous pieces for publication.
My interest in that isn’t even about recognition or the like, it’s that rigorous research is hard fucking work and that kind of work forces you to do better. If I’d stayed on a conventional career path, I’d have a PhD by now and while I might have missed out on a great deal of esoteric knowledge I’d almost certainly be a better researcher.
This Newsletter and its still hypothetical output is partially me addressing that issue.
If you want to support this work, the best thing you can do is open my emails and comment on stuff. That kind of engagement keeps google’s spam filters happy. I’ve had a few extremely generous people subscribe and I’m definitely not comfortable with asking for that right now. Eventually, we’ll settle into a format where subscriptions might make sense but for now I just want to do the work without worrying about it.
Back To Terry
OK, so today we’re talking about the outline for this article on Terence’s Timewave theory, if it’s savable, and if any of it is useful or interesting today.
One of the arguments I might make is that the Timewave does set a kind of intellectual standard for fringe theories and intellectual work. He laid out a theoretical baseline, constructed models that could be used for prediction, and set an allegedly rigorous prediction with fairly clear guidelines on what would have to happen for him to be right and wrong.
I know of few other fringe intellectuals to even attempt this sort of thing. Those with the pretense of rigor alone are rare enough, but even someone who achieved a similar level of cult fame with similar intellectual pretensions like Ken Wilbur didn’t build falsifiability or use much mathematics into his canon.
There are a few other places where more quasi-scientific methods are used, like in JFK or 9/11 theories or skull measuring “race” “scientists”, but none of that is the kind of macroscale metaphysics that Terence built with the timewave.
That’s neat and interesting, at least if you’re a connoisseur of strange metaphysics like I am.
If I’m looking to do a 10,000 or so word essay on all this with enough background that someone who doesn’t know who Terence was can read and understand the gist of it all.
Let’s take a look at what I’ll need to cover:
Who is this Terence McKenna and why does anyone give a fuck?
What did he do?
The expedition to La Chorrea
Developing his ideas underground 1971-1980s
A productive blitz in the 90s
The Timewave, I Ching, and the Butterfly Collector’s Millenium
Novelty Theory and the Timewave
From the I Ching to a grand theory of everything
The Mathematics and the Watkins objection
Other December 21st, 2012s (What infinite novelty might look like)
Ghosted by Another End of the World
The past decade in excitement about Terence
When Prophecies Fail
Can his prediction be salvaged?
What’s worthwhile about this theory?
What about Novelty theory now?
Where did Terence go Wrong?
Alright, that’s a decent start. I’ve got lots of the first 3 pretty much ready to write out, except for the hard parts of #3, but I don’t think I can really do 4 or 5 until I’ve ironed that content out.
One step at a time.
See y’all tomorrow.
I certainly appreciate that the outline makes clear whether or not Terence's prediction can be salvaged.
Now, that's an exciting "Content"! Looking forward to it.. Also, stoked to see if the answer to the Question "Who is Terence?" also answers "What is psychedelics and why you should give a fuck about it?". :D