Harari and McKenna

I would like to promote this TED dialogue on Nationalism vs. globalism: the new political divide, by Yuval Noah Harari, despite still suspecting that the speaker has possibly cherry-picked most of his original ideas from the rich and diverse idea pool of our lord and savior, Terence McKenna!

I claimed this once before and was questioned by a friend, that why I even care who said it first? I don’t! That what matters most for the message is that it spreads after all, under any brand. And I do agree that we need good salesmen and “insiders” to tune down radical but crucially good ideas and to make them digestible for the mainstream, or certain crowds who control the planet, one of them the easily-impressed TED community. So I applaud any platform that transmits certain memes, whether the messenger is carrying an original mutation or not. That’s not the point here.

The point is that a picture of something is rarely as good as the actual deal itself. And if you, for example, would have the chance to meet the predecessors of Dalai Lama you wouldn’t practice mindfulness with a rather successful Yoga teacher in Oslo central, would you?

You wouldn’t, mo matter the revenue of the Yoga school or the number of their social media subscribers. They may be clever and passionate enough to understand some of those messages and turn them in to a self-promoting successful carrier, and in good faith even. But I think it leaks out if something is the real deal, or just a modification.

So I repeat, if you had been exposed to a good deal of the diverse materiel laid out humbly in the 80s and 90s by a bunch of marginalized visionaries such as McKenna (who sadly has a few blunders himself), then the book Sapiens and similar contents would not have much more value to add to you, let alone impressing you.

The lost treasure I am referring to was largely limited to a little audience, a ring of psychedelic substance users and hidden in controversy and censorship, up until lately that it has become digitally accessible. Many of those videos are put up by stoned fans and are accompanied by psychedelic music and cheesy fractal images so have the potential to turn off serious people. But you may as well find yourself motivated enough to search through them for the actual substance.

Well, it is saddening that we live in a double screwed environment; where the rational goal-oriented people are largely indoctrinated and brain-washed and the open-minded intuitive people are irrationally stoned or marginalized. Too little overlap between practicality and intuition that marginalizes uncompromising truth-seekers and deprives the practical world from a much needed wisdom. But you can also view it as the state of the human civilization in the primitive era of the early 21st century, the Trump era.

Anyhow, if I believe in the genuineness of the prizes that Harari has won for his “Creativity and Originality”, at best the jury was largely unaware that these has been said decades ago. And way better!

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On McKenna, on of the most futuristic people of the past. I can bet he is still early in some of his ideas as they seem to die out with a different time constant than the normal so they will eventually win over the temporary opinions of the habitual daily routines, the temporary, the mortal.

Mckenna foresees the rise of the citizen press, new media and grassroots journalism before the creation of mainstream blogging or digital social networking services. He elaborates so beautifully on the social aspects of the digital disruption before the rise of new business models powered by the Internet. He has great speculations on the future of augmented reality and in other sources he had predicts the rise of data science. He spells the long-tail theory, what Chris Anderson and other visionary entrepreneurs of the Sillicon Valley started branding 10 years later (half way between this interview and now). Fun to notice that some predictions of the long-tail theory have already failed, while Mckenna’s take on that is still valid. And last but not the least his deep insights on the “technological singularity” and the implications of extrapolating the Moore’s [and similar] laws and the take over of AI, are neater than what people like Kurzweil did, trying to coin the term to their own names.

P.S. Many futuristic attempts fail to understand the importance of that “meme time constant”. As an example, in the expensive Hollywood sci-fi projects we see that long-term trends are masked by temporary hypes. If a movie is made today to depict 2040 you see they introduce spaceships and flying cars too early, next to the to-be-extincted numerical keypads (too late). But not even a vintage radio is seen in the scenery. In a futuristic depiction I find it unrealistic not to present the past’s profound achievements in retro style.

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