Timewave Surfer Dudes

by Paco Xander Nathan
First appeared in bOING-bOING magazine, issue #10

Software launching on my DOS system emits its bold meme - 'Timewave Zero version 4.07. Copyright 1989, 1991 Lux Natura. A precision instrument for exploring the theory of time as a fractal wave derived from the King Wen Sequence of I Ching Hexagrams. Based on extraterrestrial communications to Terence McKenna. Software developed by Peter Meyer. Published by Dolphin Software. Please press a key to begin...'

As a kid I attempted to escape from a devout religious upbringing by listening to the radio. I'd listen to just about anything for shelter, especially the weird or progressive. Regardless of how faded or what level of static, I'd stretch the tendrils of my auditory cortex across Etheric Maze to any haven, elsewhere or elsewhen, that allowed people to think for themselves. So much for xtian mind control tech. These days I still tolerate immense radio static, straining to catch that ephemeral whiff of, say, an ionized King Missile track... No bother, tis a creative pursuit to fill in the riffs.

Lately I've noticed how this annoys my friends. Given the tiniest crackle, some will scramble impulsively, twisting the dial to find comfort in gigawatt playlist sleaze, anything to avoid the fear of Noise. A parallel, predicted by the Eight Circuit model, can be found in common reactions to a really nice, witty guy named Terence McKenna. Try it: goto a local New Age bookstore, rent McKenna tapes, pop 'em in the deck. Most likely a couple of your friends will bend over backwards to kill your stereo, invent new forms of logic to reason you out of listening, thus confirming Leary's prediction that Circuit N types will instinctively fear Circuit N+1 parlance. 'Go listen to something proven and safe for us couch potatoes; this dangerous stuff might prompt you to think creatively.'

Because it does, throughout hours of apparently boundless rap, rant and rhyme presented in the brilliant shrill cackle of a modern Celtic bard/visionary. And, to me, McKenna makes his most incisive cultural point in the middle of one rant with the crying of I Ching Hexagram #49: 'The magician is the one who makes the calendar.'

To dominate, a new religion always appropriates calendrical events: Yule becomes Xmas, etc. Think about it, who determined the time scale of your life: some pontiff, Ike Newton, Julius Caesar, or you? Who decided that you'd celebrate each of your birthdays during the same season? Who fixed legal systems onto the varying cycles of sun or moon? Anybody who's ever tripped can vouch that Time isn't much of a scalar, bound by precise tickings within Swiss factory spawn. Time spirals, wrinkles, bends, or to paraphrase Edgar Cayce 'flows like a river... with eddies and backcurrents.' Cut to the chase, this is the room with the Wolfmother Wallpaper. Welcome to Time Hacking.

As Terence sez: 'Newton's conception of time is that of pure duration, a measure without structure; Timewave Zero presents time as a fractal.' The skinny is that TMcK had been diving into calendrics, researching across Time and Gaia, pondering alternative theories. Then he went South to nibble on his own preferred version of Rainforest Crunch with some Amazon yage heads. Bingo. Cut deep enough into your psyche with indole alkaloids and you'll end up meeting some Other Dudes. Okay, okay, you don't even need drugs, just try systematic lucid dreaming or meditation: we're not alone. Anywhere or anywhen else you go, if it's deep enough, therein lies an Experience that our evolutionary level of consciousness just can't quite grok. Symbolize 'em as aliens, pixies, gopod or Elvis, the point is we all have a lot to learn that cannot be put into words.

So Terence learned a bit about a certain mathematical function, later found to be a fractal, but hey this was back in 1971 before fractals had even become trendy. He started playing with numerical sequences in the oldest section of I Ching, a numerical system of 64 hexagrams which encompasses most of the astronomical cycles observable to the naked eye, i.e. state-of-the-art Chinese tech 3000 years ago for those bicameral enthusiasts in the audience. From this he arranged a table to generate a function, which math buddies at Berkeley ID'ed as a really trippy fractal... Timewave Zero.

TWZ, as the docs state, 'correlates history with the ebb and flow of novelty, which is intrinsic to the structure of the universe.' The fractal zig-zags through advances and declines, extropy and habituation, leading to a zero point at 21 Dec 2012. This is a singularity, which corresponds with the end-of-the-line for the Mayan calendar as well. Hmmm... McKenna's work charts Time as the ebb and flow of Novelty and Habit. His friend Rupert Sheldrake cites periods of habituation as morphogenic, i.e. developing form. Their friend Ralph Abraham describes the zero date as a chaotic strange attractor leading to some event or non-event. Maybe 2012 isn't Armageddon, but rather a launching point for an ultra-chaotic suprahistory. Okay, so just how many shrooms did Arthur Clarke ingest while writing 'Childhood's End' and Whom did he meet?

Programmer-au-poil Peter Meyer has done an exquisite job of presenting TWZ on a common denominator PC platform - DOS 2.10 or later w/o even any graphics adaptor card required. Peter's implementation of TWZ provides a solid, intuitive framework for exploring the fractal, from any target date or timespan. We sat around an open fire in my backyard one moonful night, sipping a nice Cabernet and time traveling...

'Look at this huge drop into novelty,' Peter noted, 'in February to April 1996 - this is the steepest drop in the wave in the 1990s. It's the fourteenth lower trigrammatic resonance in the 67-year cycle of a another steep drop occurring in early 1525. That was when the German Peasants Rebellion was occurring, an event which touched off 150 years of religious wars.

'In the second half of the 20th Century the wave peaks on February 12, 1968, then begins a long descent into novelty which bottoms out on February 14, 1992. From then to the zero date of December 21, 2012, there are many ups and downs, indicating an exciting run up to the end of history and a leap into a mode of being whose nature we can only now just begin to glimpse.'

Happy landings to you! Zooming in, the fractal looks markedly similar - the late 60's launched our most recent extropy fest; the early 1900's led a rough ride into post-WWII 'bliss'. Zooming out, we catch a massive slide around 14,000 BCE at the time of the agricultural revolution and another back around 32,000 BCE near the beginning of Homo sapiens' thriving and language.

Peter Meyer has several other related titles available through Dolphin Software: C function libraries, encryption software, as well as Mayan Calendrics, which is related to Timewave Zero. 'The Maya calendar system is well-understood,' sez Peter... 'The problem is that there is no conclusive evidence as to which dates in the Western calendar correspond to dates in the Maya calendar that are found on the stelae and in the codices.' The number system for the Maya calendar is base 20, and some dedicated scholars have suggested viable correspondences.

Peter's software provides a wonderful framework for exploring various hypotheses of the Maya calendar, for converting between Western and Mayan dates. By the way, if someone had a sequence of numbers they really wanted to protect, like say a private key for encryption, these kinds of tools could let hir bury a secret in Time.

I sit here typing on in the Tikal system using correlation number 584,283, also called 1 Cimi 9 Yax, which PC anthropologists would call 13 Oct 92 CE, also known as 18th day of the Gort lunation by Celtic standards, and agreed by most modern astronomers to be Julian day number 2,448,909. Samhain time. In a couple weeks, by the first week of November 1992, our latest round of descent into Novelty will have subsided, just around the time of the US presidential election

In conjunction with Time Hacking, think of Terence viz other modern shamans of the West. Aldous Huxley knew psychedelics, but exhorted us to keep the treasures indoled, hidden among elite intelligentsia - the first step in building a Hermetic 'egregor', aka meme factory. His friend Leri took the party out to the masses, thankfully - the second Hermetic step into proselytizing Egregorville, which led to revolution and backlash. Now McKenna leaps to the fore, urging people to work for their treasured trip experiences - a chaotic jumble to complete the occultish Yod-He-Vow-He sequence...

In a time when the Just Say No crowd has monopolised the airwaves, TMcK presents a very complex story, admonishing hardcore heads to chase after botanical arcana instead of better living through chemistry. So authorities dismiss him as New Age nonsense (grin). It's a shame that good hallucinogens are so tough to find in these drug war days (wink). Why, you almost have to crawl through jungles just to get high anymore (snicker). In fact, soon the authorities will have wiped out rainforests and with them any hope of a psychedelic revolution (open belly laugh).

Static rumbles the Etherwaves, but a message xmits clear enough for those not afraid to stretch their heads. To quote the closing of Tom Robbins' time hacking treatise: 'The temple door is open, the room waits for you to enter.'

The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension