Ebb & Flow Trends
Ebb & Flow – The Fluctuating Trends of Habit and Novelty
By Jonathan McGregor Bethel, Omega Point Institute – Sunday, March 4, 2007 – 3:02 AM
Here’s what the prognosticators thought, but it did not unfold in that way:
Ebb and Flow, the process of Tension and Release, is the binary modality that governs much of our life and our daily experience. This seemingly primal process can be seen in the formation of our universe at the big bang, the formation of a human from the climax of love-making, to the cycle of breath retention and release that keeps are body vitalized with oxygen. This primitive process is embedded in every aspect of our life and our cosmos, as a self-similar fractal comprised of a dual urge. One urge tends toward manifestation, action, and tension; simultaneously, it is mirrored by a similar urge to release, union, and dissolution. This cosmic dance of opposites is what the ancient mystics called Yin-Yang, Yab-Yum, Tao-Teh, Ob-Od, and Shiva-Shakti, to name just a few.
It is through the mastering of these two primal forces that the meta-programmer and illuminate, modern reflections of the ancient adepts and sages, finds balance, harmony, and contentment within their personal life, while the chaotic dynamic dance and interplay of the universe rushes and whirls around them. As our civilization rushes headlong into what appears as a moment of complete social crisis, it is important to note that this is a process in the mode of building up tension before a great release. Chaos mathematics demonstrates that as systems shift from one state to another, the transition is nearly always preceded by a short period of extreme agitation and the build up of tension. This is due to the amplification of thousands of positive and negative feedback loops within the system.
As the system builds toward a moment of what seems like total lack of cohesion, the system suddenly shifts, a bifurcation occurs, and a new state of complexity and order manifests. From the now emerging records of Archeology, evolutionary theorists now know that evolution did not follow a continuous and uniform line of progress; contrary, it is now assumed that evolution proceeded by intermittent stages of stasis, juxtaposed against moments of quantum leaps and tumultuous transformations. The archetypal forces of tension and release find some of their most practical uses in modern psychology and psychotherapy. Shamans have known for thousands of years that the build up of psychosomatic energies and then their consequent release are extremely important shamanic techniques that must be learned by the initiate, in order to rid himself of his personal demons, and to integrate his personality onto a higher level of being.
Modern psychotherapy harnesses this archetypal process in the form of catharsis. As the patient moves toward a complete and integrated self, the psyche becomes balanced as it releases tightly held – pent up energy tied up in subconscious conflicts and neuroses. This the ebb and flow of tension and release is the foundation of the big bang, our bodies, the tides, the global economy, and the mystery of birth and death. It is echoed in our blood stream, as our heart undulates between the two primal attractor points, in our breath, in waking and sleeping, and in our sex. As evolutionary biology moved up the rung of understanding, it shifted from a mechanistic reductionist view of biology and nature, toward an organic view of not only the body, but the planet as well, and will eventually invade the field of physics. The Gaia Hypothesis argues that the planet is a complete organism, just like you and me, and has a collective intelligence. That this intelligence is in the process of waking from the nightmare of history is the message of the Hopi and the Mayans.
“History is the shockwave of eschatology”, is one of my favorite quotes of the late great Terence McKenna. In the same line of transcendent thinking as Lao Tse, Terence McKenna had an impeccable grasp of the innate and hidden processes of the universe, two of which have gone unnoticed and ignored by modern science, according to McKenna. Novelty Theory is just one of the jewels of wisdom left by this great Irish bard and his shamanistic visions of eternity.
Novelty Theory, a distant cousin of Chaos Dynamics and Complexity Theory stipulates that the universe is a novelty or complexity conserving engine and is ruled by two principles”
1. Simple and less complex states within the universe give rise to greater levels of complexity and ramification, which in turn gives rise to even greater levels of novel form.
2. This process of novelty begetting greater novelty occurs at a faster and faster rate, until we reach a moment of novel concrescence, a moment when novelty increases at an exponential rate.
It becomes obvious from looking at this theory that the system is moving toward a singularity, what chaos theorists call a “Strange Attractor”, a dwell point. Terence McKenna calls this moment of novel concrescence, “the transcendental object at the end of time.” This is a moment when all of the energy and information of 15 billion years of mounting tension and pressure, from the ingression of novelty and complexity folded in upon itself, is released in an explosive collective planetary rapture. This is what modern Transhumanists and Extropians call the “Technological Singularity.” It is a singularity because it is a moment, after which, we are unrecognizable to ourselves and our definitions of reality are no longer suitable.
Terence McKenna and his brother Dennis distilled Novelty Theory from an algorithmic wave called “Timewave Zero.” This time wave was formulated by mapping the Ken Wa sequence of the I-Ching. The I-Ching is composed of 64 hexagrams and is based on the binary system of yin and yang, the ebb and flow of opposites. Timewave Zero was updated to Timewave One in 1997, after John Sheliak’s analysis clarified the timewave, giving it a foothold into the halls of science as a truly genuine intellectual discipline. The Timewave is a self-similar fractal that can be scaled to huge spans of time, such as all of space-time itself, all the way down to a minute, or an even smaller segment of time. The wave itself maps to separate poles, “Habit & Novelty.” The pole of “Habit” is the habitual rote repetition of deeply worn chreodes and runnels within systems. It is the same, the familiar, the compulsive, and the instinctual.
Dr. Rupert Sheldrake calls these habits of nature, “Morphic Fields”, and these fields resonate in a process he calls “Morphogenetic Resonance”. Every creature and plant has a field of information surrounding it. Sheldrake believes these fields contain the species memory. He contends that the acorn contains the memory of all previous oak trees and obtains this information thru “morphic resonance.” Even the laws of physics are just really old and compulsive habits, according to Sheldrake. What gets stranger is to suppose that these fields not only are in resonance with the past, but are also in resonance with the future. This is where Terence’s Novelty Theory and Rupert’s Morphic Theory fuse seamlessly together. In actuality, both have been great friends for many years, and along with their good friend Ralph Abrahams, a Chaos Mathematician, they have created many good ideas and have published several books together.
The Ebb and Flow between the poles of “Habit” and “Novelty” in our daily lives is evident. Many humans struggle daily to break the self-destructive grip of negative habits and addictions. Simultaneously, we are exposed to a barrage of novel events, products, relationships, moments of creativity, of clarity, of revelation, and what Maslow called, “Peak Experiences.” The application of these radical ideas, along with the sciences of chaos theory, quantum theory, and complexity theory, to the fields of Psychology and Psychopharmacology will open the way to better techniques for the integration of the personality, better models of consciousness, and better modes of living. The dominator paradigm built upon the mechanistic and reductionist model of survival of the fittest has brought our planet and our civilization to the brink of catastrophe.
This dominator mode of existence has infiltrated our universities, our governments, our religions, and our businesses; even our own personal relationships are hounded by the Dominator. Everywhere one looks they can see the handprint of the Dominator. Many of us want to point the finger and accuse a certain culture, race, or demographic of being the dominator, the “Us-Them” model. Unfortunately, the dominator has infiltrated every single one of our lives, and we all unconsciously participate in its’ destructive modes of existence. The Dominator is inside each and every one of us and acts through aspects of our ego. The Dominator is the ego, the pathological state of our mind that has been forming since our great split with nature. We participate with this dominator by buying the goods that the capitalistic machines spit out, by watching the crap they shovel through our televisions and our movies.
The silent majority, through its passive acceptance, keeps the power structure in place and the wheels and cogs of the dominator machine well greased. We have all been born at a very poignant time in history. We are to be the generation that watches the release the greatest amount of planetary novelty that world has ever known. The system is in crisis. We have entered the third act. We are at the eleventh hour. How well will humans fair as this process unfolds? The answer rests in the hands of the 6 1/2 billion individuals that currently reside on this planet. The solution rests itself at the doorstep of each and ever one of us. In Chaos Theory they talk about the “Butterfly Effect.” In essence, it states that a butterfly flapping its’ wings in Central Park has the power to create a typhoon on the other side of the earth. Thru the power of feedback loops, the power of the butterfly’s wings is amplified to exponential proportions.
This being the case, each and every one of us wields unbelievable power and effect. Looked at in this light, one may begin to see the extraordinary shaping power of people acting in cooperative environments. The complete morphogenetic field of the planet is comprised of the composite or aggregate of all the individual fields of all humans, animals, plants, and elements. The 100th monkey effect demonstrates the process whereby newly learned techniques are passed into the larger mindset of the species. Critical mass occurs at anywhere between 7-12%. Whenever any idea reaches this 7-12% threshold in the population, it is immediately passed on to the total population, as the critical mass is reached. The power to shape reality really does rests in the hands of the few. Lao Tse, the father of Taoism, would say to move with the Tao.
Although we are tossed back and forth between the poles of pleasure and pain, between habit and novelty, we are to move with grace within this ebb and flow. We have divided ourselves into neuroses and now stand stiff and rigid against the forces of change. We would do well to listen to the wise words of the ancient sage, and to move with the ebb and flow of Tao and Teh, of habit and novelty, without resisting. The system is in process. We are, therefore, a masterpiece in the making. How well we do will be determined by the decisions each end every one us makes. Trying to steer reality at this point may seem like a futile attempt, and a narcissistic one at that. Yet, it would seem to me that before Nanotechnology, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence show up on the stage, we better get right with ourselves. For if we do not, we will impart to these godlike creations our own innate dominator mentality, and that, my friends, would be our last act.
We must not panic, we cannot act hastily, yet undeniably we must prepare. Some futurists place the technological singularity out as far as 2030. I cannot see us sustaining this system another 27 years at the rate we are going. It is interesting; Terence McKenna’s Timewave reaches maximum novelty on Dec. 21, 2012. This is the same exact day that the Mayans end their great 13 Baktun long count calendar. For, on that day the world will end and will be created anew, what the Mayans call “Creation Day – One Hunahpu”, according to the Mayans. Whether we see this great transition in 2012, 2020, 2030, or even 2050 is still undecided. However, one thing is for certain, the halls of science, business, and government are now echoing with the words, “Technological Singularity”, and many are very concerned. Our days are the final stages of a planetary process that began millions of years ago. We are moving rapidly toward what Whitehead called, “Novel Concrescence.” So, relax, fasten your seatbelt, and get ready for a wild ride into the novel waves of the future frontier.