Eye Spirals by Tanner Dery
An eye with a spiral is the ideal symbol of the singularity archetype. The image is of a stone plaque I got from a Boulder thrift store. It’s signed [approximately] B. Guannano 7/95 — a play on Bat Guano?
This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And lead you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.
— William Blake12
FROM my earliest encounters with the Singularity Archetype in the Seventies, it was apparent that uncanny eyes, visual languages, and telepathies were consistent motifs. If you wanted to reduce the Singularity Archetype to an icon, you would probably end up with an eye at the center of a spiral.
12 From The Everlasting Gospel (c.1818).
The earliest instance that I’ve found of the uncanny eye motif in an expression of the Singularity Archetype is in the Bible, Revelation 4:6:
“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.”
The four beasts are covered with eyes, and before them is the most optically pure and light-conductive material — “glass like unto crystal.”
Uncanny eyes also feature prominently in modern apocalyptic visions. For example, a Japanese man dreamed the following on August 24, 1945, about three weeks after experiencing the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima:
“I was in Tokyo after the great earthquake and around me were decomposing bodies heaped in piles, all of whom were looking right at me. I saw an eye sitting in the palm of a girl’s hand. Suddenly it turned and leaped into the sky and then came flying back toward me, so that looking up I could see a great bare eyeball, bigger than life hovering over my head, staring point-blank at me. I was powerless to move. I awakened short of breath and my heart pounding.”13
My first encounter with the Singularity Archetype was watching The Village of the Damned, which featured mutant children with light-transmitting eyes and telepathic communication. In the novel by John Wyndham on which the movie was based, The Midwich Cuckoos, the new children’s eyes are described as follows:
“The eyes, however, were even more remarkable than he had been led to expect. He had been told of the curious golden color of their irises, but no one had succeeded in conveying to him their striking lambency, their strange effect of being softly lit from within.” (103).
In Issac Asimov’s Foundation series, The Mule is a powerful mutant whose telepathic powers allow him to manipulate the emotions of entire planetary populations. The Mule, incognito as Magnifico Giganticus the clown, is described:
“‘He is a man of overpowering might, respected sir, and cruel in the use of his power — and his eyes, respected sir, no one sees.’
‘What’s that? What’s that last?’
‘He wears spectacles, respected sir, of a curious nature. It is said that they are opaque and that he sees by a powerful magic that far transcends human powers. I have heard,’ and his voice was-
13 Edinger, E. Archetype of the Apocalypse: A Jungian Study of the Book of Revelation. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1999. 49.
-small and mysterious, ‘that to see his eyes is to see death, that he kills with his eyes, respected sir.’”14
Magnifico is a virtuoso of the Visi-Sonor, an instrument that uses radiation on the optic nerve to produce musical images of pulsing color that people simultaneously perceive differently. The new mutants are almost always described as being able to transmit linguistic content through their eyes or some other visual medium. For example, consider this description from Theodore Sturgeon’s 1953 science fiction novel, More Than Human:
“Thompson took off his glasses. He had wide round eyes, just the color and luminescence of a black and white television screen. The irises showed the whites all the way around; they were perfectly round and they looked as if they were about to spin.”15
What is most interesting about this description is that the eyes are compared to a television screen — a medium that communicates both images and words.
In Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 science fiction novel, Dune, there are frequent descriptions of uncanny eyes. People who take the visionary spice mélange (the most precious substance in the universe and a catalyst for parapsychological abilities) develop eyes that are all irises. It is said of Paul’s younger sister Alia, that “her eyes kill our enemies and torment the unbelievers.”16 In Dune Messiah, Paul’s eyes are destroyed by a “stone burner,” a type of nuclear device, but he retains his ability to see through prescience.
The Visual Transcends the Verbal
In the Medusa Touch, Peter Van Greenaway’s novel about a man with the ability to create catastrophes with his mind, the main character’s eyes are continually emphasized:
“eyes — extraordinary — luminous eyes, like dice flung into a plate of cold porridge. Features defying one to look twice, but even in a poor photograph those eyes were of such an incredible intensity . . . ” (16).
“I cannot describe the ultimate transformation of those features. Discomposing flesh set with diamonds.
“It was as if I gazed through a Dadaist exterior at a crystal skull; as if I saw, physically saw, through him — into him — nothing-
14 Asimov, I. Foundation and Empire. New York: Avon, 1974.
15 Sturgeon, T. More Than Human. A Science Fiction Argosy. Ed. Damon Knight. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.
16 Herbert, Frank. Dune Messiah. New York: Berkley Medallion, 1975. 167.
-alive beyond the transparency except eyes fired by preternatural intent” (211).
“Quite the most intense, almost mesmeric eyes I’ve ever seen. Best looked at through smoked glass kind of a thing. Twin seals of absolute authority. It creates difficulties of course, trying to separate visual fascination from verbal statements — influenced by one you’re bound to accept the other” (43).
The last sentence of this final quote reveals something of great interest: “trying to separate visual fascination from verbal statements — influenced by one you’re bound to accept the other.” Essentially it implies that visual communication trumps verbal communication, and that principle is implicit in so many versions of the Singularity Archetype. Visual, telepathic communication transcends ordinary communication. In More Than Human:
“The probe that passes invisibly from his brain through his eyes into mine.”17
Two characters who have never met in any conventional way are already aware of each other through silent, radiant communication: “She had been aware of him for days and he of her, and now their silent radiations reached out to each other, mixed and mingled and meshed” (652).
In Stephen King’s 1977 horror novel, The Shining, “shining” is a modality of visual telepathy. Danny, a five-year-old boy, is a sensitive, and his intuitions and perceptions of his parents’ unexpressed thoughts are described in terms of colors. Adult thoughts beyond his limited experience to comprehend and interpret come to him “only as colors and moods.” His father’s divorce thoughts are described as “more complex, colored dark violet and shot through with frightening veins of pure black.”
Hallorann, a caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado, is in Florida when he hears Danny’s telepathic call for help. King describes their bond:
“He knew the boy. They had shared each other the way good friends can’t even after forty years of it. He knew the boy and the boy knew him, because they each had a kind of searchlight in their heads, something they hadn’t asked for, something that had just been given. (No, you got a flashlight, he the one with the searchlight.) And sometimes that light, that shine, seemed like a pretty good thing.”18
17 Sturgeon, Theodore. “More Than Human”. A Science Fiction Argosy. Ed. Damon Knight. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972. 684.
18 King, Stephen. The Shining. New York: Doubleday, 1977. 80.
Haunting the Overlook is a collectivized entity of negative light. It is described alternately as “a huge, obscene manta,” and a whirling blackness, “dancing like negative motes of light.”
The Eye as Evolution’s Star Gate?
In Arthur C. Clarke’s 1968 science fiction novel, 2001, the “Star Gate” through which the protagonist, Bowman, crosses the evolutionary event horizon, is compared to an eye. Bowman looks out at the white surface of the moon, Japetus, and for no visual reason, feels,
“The satellite was a huge, empty eye, staring at him as he approached. It was an eye without a pupil, for nowhere could he see anything to mar its perfect blankness.
Not until the ship was only fifty thousand miles out… did he notice the tiny black dot at the exact center of the ellipse.”19
The pupil of the eye turns out to be a monolith. Early in the book, another monolith appears that is described as having a “pulsing aura of light.” This monolith uses rhythmic light to reprogram a group of missing-link man-apes in an evolutionary intervention that leads to Homo sapiens and, eventually, space travel.
Bowman attempts to land on the giant monolith on Japetus and discovers it to be a “Star Gate,” an infinitely receding corridor where he is bombarded with mind-blowing images. On the other side of the evolutionary event horizon, Bowman has become the “Star Child,” an infant “with eyes that already held more than human intentness.” In the 1968 film, 2001, the Star Child looks like a fetal version of a classic grey alien — the large-eyed beings universally reported to communicate telepathically with abductees and other experiences.
The Eye, the Cambrian Explosion, and the Light Switch Theory
That eyes should be associated with a future, quantum evolutionary change seems strangely appropriate, as the development of eyes may have been the catalyst for quantum evolutionary change in the distant past. Andrew Parker, an Oxford University zoologist, in his book, In the Blink of an Eye, has developed the “Light Switch” theory to explain the Cambrian explosion — one of paleontology’s greatest mysteries.
Approximately 543 million years ago there was an explosion of new life forms. As Parker puts it, “544 million years ago there were indeed three animal phyla with their variety of external forms, but at 538 million-
19 Clarke, Arthur C. 2001. New York: New American Library, 1968. 181.
-years ago there were thirty-eight, the same number that exists today” (9).
According to the Light Switch theory, the relatively abrupt evolution of vision made active predation possible, and this created tremendous pressure on prey to adapt novel ways of avoiding detection. With the dawn of vision, new habitats opened up, inter and intra-species relations became more complex, and organisms specialized and differentiated to deal with this quantum evolutionary shift.
The Alphabet versus the Goddess, The Chalice and the Blade
As we will discuss in greater depth later, the current phase of human evolution is being catalyzed by an explosion of visual technologies and an environment ever more saturated with visual information. The blossoming of visual novelty is causing a shift in hemispheric dominance of the brain from the left to the right, as well as vast changes in perception and communication.
Vascular surgeon Leonard Shlain in his flawed but intriguing and paradigm-shifting book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, presents a theory of cultural and social transformation based on hemispheric dominance. Shlain’s theory grows out of Riane Eisler’s seminal work, The Chalice and the Blade, a book that anthropologist Ashley Montagu praised as “the most important book since Darwin’s Origin of the Species.”
The Chalice and the Blade presents the theory that a Partnership model of social organization characterized Neolithic Europe and lasted until the Bronze Age civilization of Minoan Crete. Partnership societies were characterized by egalitarian relations between the sexes, goddess worship, and life-affirming values. The emblematic object of this era was the chalice, which symbolized abundance, feminine values, and the goddess. The end of the Partnership era came with the invasion of patriarchal tribes built on the Dominator model, which is characterized by strict hierarchies, men dominating women, and death-centered values represented by the sword — the new iconic, emblematic object. Joseph Campbell mapped out this transformation in a parallel way, according to Carolyn G. Heilbrun in her book, Toward a Recognition of Androgyny:
“Joseph Campbell’s five-volume study of mythology, published under the general title of The Masks of God, contains in each of its volumes an extraordinary record of the ancient shift from matriarchy to patriarchy. The shift is schematized by Campbell in four steps as follows:
The world born of a goddess without consort,
The world born of a goddess fecundated by a consort,
The world fashioned from the body of a goddess by a male warrior-god,
The world created by the unaided power of a male god alone” (5).
Essentially, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess is an attempt to explain this enormous shift from Partnership societies and feminine values to Dominator societies with patriarchal values. According to Shlain, the switch over to dominator culture was always preceded by the adoption of a written alphabet. Processing written alphabets caused a shift in hemispheric dominance, emphasizing the left hemisphere. Homo sapiens have a “hemispheric lateralization”20 — a specialization of brain lobes greater than that of any other animal (17).
The right hemisphere develops before the left and has more in common with the way other animals process reality. The right hemisphere is intuitive and holistic. It integrates feelings and appreciates music and images. The right hemisphere is nonverbal, but it recognizes faces and body language. The left hemisphere specializes in words and numbers and is associated with linear thinking and the ability to categorize. Dominator societies arise as the hierarchical left hemisphere becomes more dominant. As Shlain illustrates, quickly following the adoption of a written alphabet, goddesses are eliminated, women are forbidden to preside over religious rituals or even to participate at all, and in general, they become second-class citizens or disposable property. A text of some sort becomes the ruling principle (“In the beginning was the word…”), and that text could be religious (the Bible, the Koran) or secular (the Communist Manifesto, the “rule of law”). Clerics would even come to prefer garments of black and white, the colors of ink and paper.
Thou Shalt Not Have Images
Shlain points out, for example, that the Second of the Ten Commandments is about not having images, while we have to drop down to the Sixth Commandment before we find a prohibition against murder. From Exodus 20:4, the Second Commandment reads:
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the water under the earth.”
20 Hemispheric differences are much more complex than I will be making them out to be here. I am drawing a “rough and ready” distinction so as not to overwhelm the text with complicated neuroscience.
The Second Commandment is popularly interpreted as being against idol worship, but it is actually a ban on all representational art. This taboo is repeated throughout the Torah. For example, from Deuteronomy 4:15-18:
Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves […]
Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the Similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female
The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any Winged fowl that flieth in the air.
The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of
Any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth.
Clearly, the Second Commandment is not just a ban on idols. However, the etymology of the word “idol” is interesting and relevant. “Idol” derives from the Latin word “idolum,” and idolum derives from “eidolon,” — the Greek word for image.
Yahweh’s first instruction to Adam in Genesis is to attach word labels to things. Adam’s left hemispheric ability to name things gives him dominion over them. Shlain finds a hemispheric bias in the Abrahamic faiths–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam:
“Each is an exemplar of patriarchy. Each monotheistic religion features an imageless Father deity whose authority shines through His revealed Word, sanctified in its written form.”
Eve’s Choice and Punishment
The Abrahamic faiths, unless heavily reformed and reinterpreted, show a profound bias against women, and this bias seems to run strangely parallel to the bias against images and in favor of words. The punishment of Eve, the very first woman according to the Bible, is about as excessive and over-the-top as can be imagined. Eve makes a choice before she eats the forbidden fruit, and thereby learns the difference between good and evil. Any reasonable person morally excuses the actions of animals, small children, etc., who haven’t had the opportunity to learn the difference between good and evil. Eve is in a such a state of innocence and unconsciousness. Furthermore, she makes the correct choice! Of course, we have to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil– why else did we leave the womb! And yet, Yahweh not only punishes her but curses all women into the indefinite future for this one innocent and correct choice. As Genesis 3:16 tells us:
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee.”
What is especially ironic here is that human females have more pain and medical jeopardy in giving birth than other mammals because of evolution! What makes human birthing so perilous is our increased cranium size to accommodate a larger brain. Women suffer in childbirth to allow us to have a larger brain which helps us learn the difference between good and evil and a great many other things.
A Strange Convergence
Correlation does not mean causation, but it does seem striking how much worship of the written word and hatred of images and women converge. Let’s take a quick tour of examples of this convergence from a variety of cultures, courtesy of The Alphabet and the Goddess. Many examples will emphasize a single point of the triad of word worship, anti-image, and misogyn, sometimes two points, rarely all three, so it is reasonable to question how much the aggregation of examples really demonstrates convergence, and even if does, whether the correlation is causally related.
A Crusade Against Images
“In the 8th century a sect arose […] that so despised images that its members declared and all-out war against statues and paintings. They called themselves the Iconoclasts, which means image-destroyers. Leo III ordered all church murals covered with plaster and all likenesses of the Virgin effaced. Their targets also included painters, sculptors, and craftsmen. Monks who resisted were blinded and had their tongues torn out” (275-6).
The Face Closet
Islam, to this day, is filled with prohibitions against images. Just a few years ago there was an explosion of Islamic rage toward Sweden because of a few cartoons. More than a hundred people died as a result. The repressive custom of the burqa erases women visually. No other animal has a face that compares with the expressiveness of the human face. We have more muscles in our faces than any other animal allowing us a complex medium of visual communication with facial expressions that change in microseconds. Even when an infant is unable to focus her eyes, she can recognize faces and her brain lights up differently than for any other object. To block a woman’s ability to have this sort of communication is an inexcusable form of repression that is perhaps even more profound than genital mutilation. It is fundamentally wrong to use moral relativism to rationalize such repression as a cultural difference when it is clearly an amputation of human potential. Shlain points out that the face-covering taboo is so strong among some Muslim women that if surprised in the bath they will cover their faces before their bodies.
In 2002, a fire in a school in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, was attended by morality police, who are known as “The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.” The morality police fatally interfered with firemen and others trying to help. They kept girls inside the burning building because they were not wearing headscarves and abayas (black robes) as required by the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islam. A witness saw three morality policemen “beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya.” The morality police also stopped men trying to help the girls, warning that “it is sinful to approach them.” Fifteen girls died in the blaze.21
Women are Sinful, but Reading is Fundamental
While women and images are often treated as radioactive, a text, the Koran, is considered divine, perfect, and supreme. The great miracle of Mohammed’s encounter with the angel Gabriel is that he instantaneously acquired literacy. As Shlain puts it, Allah tells Mohammed that “reading is fundamental.” From the Koran, Surah 96:
Read in the name of thy Lord who created! Read: and thy lord is the most Bountiful He who hath taught by the pen
Taught man what he knew not.
Many other patriarchal cultures have combined misogyny with a worship of texts. Hinduism provides some dramatic examples. For instance, in the Manu Code (ca. 300 B.C.):
“A faithful wife must serve […] her lord as if he were a god, and never do ought to pain him, whatsoever be his state, and even though he is devoid of any virtue.”
Shlain points out: “Brahmins gained precedence over other castes in India and allowed no one else to be literate. Should a member of the Shudra class be convicted of reciting the Vedas, he would have his tongue split; if he possessed a written text, he would be cut in two. […] One edict proclaims, ‘All that exists in this universe is the Brahmin’s property’” (AVG 164).
The Law of Manu states: “The source of dishonor is woman; the source of strife is woman; the source of earthly existence is woman, therefore avoid woman.”
Wives were expected to commit suicide at the funeral of their husbands.
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the Transition to Literacy
Another interesting example Shlain provides involves the early Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Socrates preferred the bihemispheric mode of the oral tradition and philosophical dialogue. Socrates, like Jesus, never committed his philosophy to writing. The written accounts of Socrates’ thoughts all come from his student, Plato. Socrates viewed writing as a mechanical prop that merely served “to remind him who knows (about) the things that have been written” (153). Socrates felt that philosophy was better pursued by the back-and-forth of philosophical debate rather than reading or writing a static document. In Protagoras, Socrates disparages some of his contemporaries: “They are just like papyrus rolls, being able neither to answer your questions nor to ask themselves” (153). Socrates also made many feminist statements. For example, after watching the performance of a skilled young female acrobat, he remarked: “Not only from this girl, my friends, but from other things, too, we may infer that a woman’s talent is not at all inferior to a man’s” (154).
Plato was the transitional figure between the oral tradition of Socrates and literacy. Plato remained suspicious of writing even as he immersed himself in it. His attitude toward women was condescending. He also, very peculiar for an Athenian, developed an antipathy toward images. Writing in Book 10 of The Republic about his theory of art, Plato disparaged those who created representational images as “charlatans”:
“The art of representation is therefore a long way removed from truth, and it is able to reproduce everything because it has little grasp of anything, and that little is of a mere phenomenal appearance. For example, a painter can paint a portrait of a shoemaker or a carpenter or any other craftsman without understanding any of their crafts; yet, if he is skillful enough, his portrait of a carpenter may, at a distance, deceive children or simple people into thinking it is a real carpenter” (155).
When we move from Plato to his student Aristotle, we find the full expression of both literacy and also of hierarchical, dominator thinking. Aristotle was a champion of inequality and justified both slavery and the domination of women: “The male is, by nature, superior and the female inferior; and the one rules and the other is ruled; this principle, of necessity, extends to all mankind” (156).
The Anti-Feminine Bias of Buddhism
As Shlain points out, Buddhism also has an anti-feminine bias:
“Buddha’s disciples excluded women and his monks took vows of celibacy. The message [was] that women were connected with craving and ignorance… His syllogism equating the end of suffering with the negation of birth eviscerates the very essence of womanhood” (174).
Shlain also makes an intriguing, speculative connection between the death of the Buddha’s mother in childbirth and Buddhism’s negative and anti-feminine stance toward birth as the cause of all human suffering. Buddha’s mother was named “Maya,” the Sanskrit word for illusion. (175)
Taoism and the Right Hemisphere
In dramatic contrast to the patriarchal bias of most religions stands Taoism. As Shlain points out, the Tao Te Ching is almost like the voice of the right hemisphere. The opening couplet of the Tao Te Ching states Lao-tzu’s key principle that language, the naming of things that Yahweh commands Adam to do, is exactly what keeps us from finding the Way:
“The Tao that can be spoken is not the real Tao.
The Name that can be named is not the Eternal Name.”
Lao-tzu adds: “He who knows does not speak, and he who speaks does not know.” “Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no talking.” The Tao can only be grasped intuitively and holistically.
Confucianism, which came slightly later, seems like a patriarchal correction of Taoism. Obedience to strict and rigid hierarchies is a central virtue in Confucianism. Any modern user of the classic Wilhelm I Ching experiences the tension between Taoism and Confucianism. The I Ching precedes and inspires both Taoism and Confucianism. Confucius wrote many of the commentaries, and there is a dissonance at times between Taoist principles and the patriarchal, hierarchical principles, models, and metaphors of Confucius.
Shlain points out that Confucianism surged past Taoism at the same moment he printing press began to dominate. This moment also coincided with the first effective code of universal written laws. At the very same moment in history, the bizarre and repressive practice of binding women’s feet began: “The first mention of foot-binding is in the annals of the court of the Sung emperor Li Hou-chu in the year A.D. 970— virtually coincident with the precise moment in China’s five-thousand-year history when the printing press began to dominate the structure of society” (196). The practice was so disabling that many upper-class women were unable to walk and had to be carried by servants. Chinese men found the sight of these hobbled and deformed women sexually exciting. Interestingly, the strips of linen used to bind the feet of young girls were the same strips of linen used to make paper. (196-97)
The aforementioned are some of the stronger examples of the often-converging triad of worship of text, misogyny, and anti-image bias. There are a number of other cases where Shlain, with a touch of left hemispheric monomania, contorts history to fit the theory. In an epilogue, Shlain more or less admits this tendency. Nevertheless, everyone should read and evaluate this extremely important book for themselves.
The communication media that predominate in our lives profoundly affect our consciousness and every other core attribute. Marshal McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.” The Alphabet Versus the Goddess would encourage us to add, “and especially neurologically.” Shlain has identified an enormous factor affecting human history and culture and can perhaps be forgiven for, at times, overstating the case.
Terence McKenna, A Logos Beheld Visionary
The late Terence McKenna was a visionary genius I encountered in the Nineties who had many crucial insights related to the Singularity Archetype.22 From my first contact with Terence’s ideas, I was astounded by the parallels between the conclusions I had reached in the Seventies and those Terence had arrived at traveling a very different path. One of the strongest areas of convergence was the prediction of visual telepathy as we approached the evolutionary event horizon. The title of this section, “Logos Beheld,” comes from comments Terence made in his book, The Archaic Revival, about Philo Judaeus, an Alexandrian Jewish philosopher who was a contemporary of Christ:
“I always think of Philo Judaeus writing on the Logos. He posed to himself the question: ‘What would be a more perfect logos?’ and then he answered, saying it would be a Logos that is not heard but beheld. And he imagined a communication where the ears would not be the primary receptors but the eyes would be. A language where meaning was not constructed through a dictionary of spoken words, but where three-dimensional objects were actually generated with a kind of hyperlanguage so that there was perfect understanding between people. This may sound bizarre in ordinary reality, but these forms of synesthesia and synesthesic glossolalia are commonplace in psychedelic states” (162).
22 For an account of my discourse with Terence, see “A Mutant Convergence — How John Major Jenkins, Jonathan Zap and Terence McKenna Met During a Weekend of High Strangeness in 1996” at ZapOracle.com
A Telepathic Synesthesia
A possible early Biblical example of the sort of synesthesia Terence is referring to can be found in Exodus 20:18: “And all the people were seeing the sounds.” Terence also made reference to the tribal hallucinogen Ayahuasca as a catalyst for telepathic synesthesia. Anthropologists once called Ayahuasca “telepethine” because of persistent reports that it produced telepathic states. Reportedly, individuals in a group Ayahuasca experience can sing nonverbal songs that will be experienced by the entire group as changing colored forms. Musical intentionality occurs as both sound and imagery, and afterwards different individuals in the group will describe the visual symphony using the same adjectives of color and shape. Terence reports from first-hand experience:
“My experiences with shamanic hallucinogens, especially ayahuasca used in the Upper Amazon Basin, had shown me the reality of vocal performances that are experienced as visual. The magical songs of the ayahuasqueros, the folk medicos of the Indians and mestizos of the jungle back rivers, are not song as we understand the term. Rather they are intended to be seen and to be judged primarily as visual works of art. To those intoxicated and adrift upon the visionary reveries unleashed by the brew, the singing voice of the shaman has become a magical airbrush of color and organized imagery that is breathtaking in its alien and cosmic grandeur” (234).
Terence makes the case that a visually beheld language would be far superior to a verbal/auditory language. He was in an interesting position to make such a claim because he was the most articulate and witty speaker of the English language that I have ever encountered. Terence had certainly pushed to the edge of the spoken-language performance envelope. Since Terence is so uniquely articulate, I won’t try to paraphrase him. What follows is an excerpt from a talk he gave in LA in 1987 entitled “Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature”:
“What we need is to see what we mean. It’s not without consequence or implication, that when we try to communicate the notion of clarity of speech, we always shift into visual metaphors: I see what you mean; he painted a picture; his description was very colorful. It means that when we intend to indicate a lack of ambiguity and communication, we shift to visual analogies. This can in fact be actualized. And in fact, this is what is happening in the psychedelic experience. There we discover, just under the surface of human biological organization, the next level in the organization of language: the ability to generate some kind of acoustical hologram that is manipulated by linguistic intent.
“Now don’t ask me how this happens, because nobody knows how it happens. At this point it’s magic. Nevertheless, the fact is it does happen — you can have this experience. It represents a synesthesia in the presence of ongoing communication. It is, in fact, telepathy. It is not what we thought telepathy would be, which I suppose if you’re like me, you imagine telepathy would be hearing what other people think. It isn’t that. It’s seeing what other people mean. And them also seeing what they mean. So that once something has been communicated, both parties can walk around it and look at it, the way you study a Brancusi, or a Henry Moore in an art gallery.
“By eliminating the ambiguity of the audio signal, and substituting the concreteness of the visual image, the membrane of separation that allows the fiction of our individuality, can be temporarily overcome. And the temporary overcoming of the illusion of individuality is a much richer notion of ego-death than the kind of white-light, null-states that it has [been] imagined to be. Because the overcoming of the illusion of individuality has political consequences. The political consequences are that one can love one’s neighbor, because the commonalty of being is felt. Not reasoned toward, or propagandized into, or reinforced, but felt.”23
Cephalopods and Becoming Your Linguistic Intent
Note from 2023: In general, I tend to assume too much in this book that Terence had done intellectual due diligence with his factual assertions. Later, both his brother Dennis and his colleague and friend, Dr. Bruce Damer, with whom I discussed the matter extensively, outed Terence as more of a colorful raconteur and showman than careful researcher. See my article on the topic:
I have not vetted Terence’s ideas about cephalopod with any cephalopod authorities. I did challenge Terrence to his face on his bogus Time Wave 2000 predictive algorithm and all the inconsistencies in his thinking about novelty. But even where Terence exaggerates or confabulates, the underlying ideas are often extremely valuable.
Terence turns to nature to illustrate how such a visually beheld language can work and uses the example of cephalopods:
“I was drawn to look, strangely enough, at cephalopods, octopi. Because I felt, first of all, they are extremely alien. The break between our line of development in the phylogenetic tree, and the mollusca, which is what a cephalopod is, is about 700 million years ago. Nevertheless, and many of you who are students of evolution know that when evolutionists talk about parallel evolution, they always bring out the example of the optical system of the octopi. Because, isn’t this astonishing? — it’s very much like the human eye, and yet it developed entirely independently. This shows how the same set of external factors impinging on a raw gene pool will inevitably sculpt the same organs or attain the same end, and so forth and so on.
“Well, the optical capacity of octopi is one thing. What interested me was their linguistic organization. They are virtually entirely nervous system. First of all, they have eight arms in the case of the octopods, and ten arms in the case of the squid, the decapods. So coordinating all these organs of manipulation has given them a very capable nervous system as well as a highly evolved ocular system.
“But what is really interesting about them is that they communicate with each other by changing the color and texture of their skin and their physical shape. You may know that octopi could change colors, but you may have thought it was camouflage or something very passive like that. It isn’t that at all. They have a vast repertoire of traveling bars, dots, blushes, merging pastels, herringbone patterns, tweeds, mottled this-and-thats, can blush from apricot through teal into dove Grey and on to olive — do all of these things communicating to each other. That is what their large optical system is for. It is to be able to see each other.
“The other thing which octopi can do — besides having these chromatophores on the surface of their skin — they can change the texture of the skin surface: can make it rugose, papillaed, smooth, lobed, rubbery, runneled, so forth and so on. And then, of course, being shell-less mollusks, they can hide arms, and display certain parts of themselves and carry on a dance.
“When you analyze what is going on here, what at first seems like merely fascinating facts from natural history, begins to take on a more profound aspect. Because it is an ontological transformation of language that is going on in front of you. Note that by being able to communicate visually, they have no need of a conventionalized, culturally reinforced dictionary. Rather, they experience pure intent of each other without ambiguity because each octopus can see what is meant — this is very important — can see what is meant. And I think this heralds, or could be made to herald, a transformation in our own definitions of language and communication.”
In The Archaic Revival Terence adds:
“An octopus does not communicate with spoken words as we do, even though water is a good medium for acoustical signaling; rather the octopus becomes its own linguistic intent. The octopus is like a naked nervous system, say rather a naked mind: the inner states, the thoughts, if you will, of the octopus are directly reflected in its outward appearance. It is as though the octopus were wearing its mind on its exterior. This is in fact, the case. The octopus literally dances its thoughts through expression of a series of color changes and position changes that require no local linguistic conventions for understanding as do our words and sentences. In the world of the octopus to behold is to understand. The octopus does not transmit its linguistic intent, it becomes its linguistic intent. The mind and the body of the octopus are the same and are equally visible. This means that the octopus wears its language like a kind of second skin; it appears to be and becomes what it seeks to mean” (AR 231).
A parallel example to Terence’s understanding of cephalopods as creatures that can wear their language on their skin is Ray Bradbury’s 1951 science fiction classic, The Illustrated Man. In 1951, being covered with tattoos was unusual and very likely meant that you were a circus freak. The Illustrated Man is covered with living, linguistically dense tattoos:
“For he was a riot of rockets and fountains and people, in such intricate detail and color that you could hear the voices murmuring small and muted, from the crowds that inhabited his body. […] Each illustration is a little story. If you watch them, in a few minutes they tell you a tale. In three hours of looking you could see 18 or 20 stories acted right on my body, you could hear voices and think thoughts” (3-4). The Illustrated Man got the tattoos from “a little old witch from the future, a changeling, one moment she looked a 1000 years old and the next 20 years old” (231-32). In other words, he got his illustrated skin from a shape-shifter, the body type most appropriate to Logos Beheld.
Presently, being covered with tattoos has become commonplace. Although tattoos are painful and expensive, people are motivated to acquire them to be able to externalize linguistic intent onto their skin. The tattoos that people get usually come from their most personal mythologies and can be seen as consciously created dream fragments or image stories worn on the skin in what amounts to a low-tech form of shape-shifting. Tattooing and other forms of body modification are motivated by what I call “the will toward the glorified body.”24
The high-technology way to become our linguistic intent is virtual reality. As Terence speculates,
“Like the octopus, our destiny is to become what we think, to have our thoughts become our bodies and our bodies become our thoughts. This is the essence of a more perfect Logos, a Logos not heard or beheld. VR can help here, for electronics can change vocal utterance into visually beheld colored output in the virtual reality […] The ambiguity of invisible meanings that attend audio speech is replaced by the unambiguous topology of meanings beheld. At last we will truly see what we mean. And we will see what others means too, for cyberspace will be a dimension where anything that can be imagined can be made to seem real” (AR 231).
Of course, Terence is hardly alone in imagining a virtual-reality future for the species. In his 1984 pioneer cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, William Gibson introduces the concept of cyberspace:
“[A] consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation […] A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding” (3).
In the future of virtual reality, as Terence and others have imagined, VR is not merely a new environment but something we become, a new medium for being. In a 1989 interview, Terence remarked,
“When the world’s being run by machines, we’ll all be at the movies. Oh boy.”
Interviewer: “Or making movies.” Terence: “Or being movies” (AR 213).
As Terence sees it: “In the not-too-distant future men and women may shed the monkey body to become virtual octopi swimming in a silicon sea” (AR 231).
Although Terence’s metaphor sounds exotic and far off, much of the transformation he is talking about is not only underway, it has been-
24 See section on “The Glorified Body”.
-ongoing for more than a century. Everyone reading this has spent his or her lifetime being transformed by an intensifying vortex of technological change. Consider the change experienced in just three generations. My maternal grandfather grew up in a Latvian village that had no electricity. Maybe Latvia is a bit of a backwater, but my father was born in New York City in 1919. In 1919, even in New York City, there were no commercial radio stations and wouldn’t be for a few more years. When my father was born, the most high-tech medium available was the silent film. Early viewers of silent films almost couldn’t process what they were seeing. When the zoom lens was first introduced and used to zoom in on a woman’s face, people in the audience gasped. This woman’s face was getting bigger! But nowadays, the opening credits of a movie might involve a series of rapidly unfolding surreal montages, and yet even children comprehend them. When The Wizard of Oz came out in 1939, audiences saw Dorothy pulled out of the black-and-white world of Kansas by the spiraling vortex of a tornado. The technological tornado acted as an interdimensional portal for both Dorothy and the audience when it delivered them into the Technicolor world of Oz. Everyone reading this has been born inside this tornado and can reflect with amazement at the technological innovations occurring within their lifespan.
From my present vantage in 2011, I can foresee a couple of upcoming breakthroughs that will greatly empower the Logos Beheld function of technology. The closest one will be when we perfect relatively inexpensive widescreen, high-definition video-display glasses that will allow a much more immersive visual experience.
Note from 2023: This is getting closer with Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro Headset, but it is certainly not inexpensive.
Another breakthrough is further out, but seems a reasonable extrapolation of present technology. Advanced CGI movies like Avatar use technology that can record live actors and convert them into CGI avatars in realtime. Some day there will be enough distributed processing power that the webcam on your laptop, for example, can take a live, moving image of you and convert it in real time into an avatar. At the cutting edge, something like this is already available. On the set of Avatar, director James Cameron was able to look through a camera and see actors converted into their Pandoran avatars in real-time.
Note from 2023: That’s already here, see the recent Lex Fridman podcast where he interviews Mark Zuckerberg in the Metaverse, and so is the next item on my dream list. As William Gibson says, “The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” When these innovations are more widely distributed, they will have vast effects.
Presently, the social experience people have in networked computer games like World of Warcraft and in primitive virtual-reality environments like Second Life is limited by a lack of complex facial expressions. As we’ve discussed earlier, human beings employ a subtle visual language of facial expressions as a major part of our social experience. When we can put on a pair of video display glasses and enter a world of avatars that are conveying the real-time fluctuations of other users’ facial expressions, we will cross a major threshold where the virtual social experience will have far greater power.
We do not, however, have to wait for the future to experience virtual realities or logos-beheld languages. As Terence pointed out, language and culture were the first virtual realities. Also, we have created visually-beheld languages. While it may not have all the complexities of a fully realized language, the international language of icons is not just in airports anymore. It’s how we navigate the internet and our personal computers. American Sign Language is a fully realized, visually-beheld language with great powers of evocation, inflection, and style. ASL poetry, poems that do not start as words but as visually-beheld sequences of gestures, is a growing artistic movement. Deaf children in Nicaragua who had not been taught ASL created their own visually-beheld language — Nicaraguan Sign Language.
We also don’t have to wait for greater computer processing power to experience fully engrossing virtual reality; we just have to go to sleep. Dreaming is a spontaneous, organic virtual reality where meaning is often beheld as scene, spectacle, or phantasmagoria.
Nature’s Virtual Reality
“In James Joyce’s Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus tells us, ‘History is the nightmare from which I am trying to awaken.’ I would turn this around and say that history is what we are trying to escape from into dream.” –Terence McKenna25
The dreamtime can be seen as a virtual-reality environment where the expression of meaning transcends verbal language. Transcendence includes that which is transcended, so dreams don’t need to exclude verbal language. Dreams often make very sophisticated use of language, employing double and triple entendres to create multiple layers of meaning in a single phrase. But dreams can also convey linguistic intent without any verbal content.
The dreamtime environment can parallel, and dreamtime characters can personify meaningful content. The fluctuations of the Dreamtime not only parallel the dynamism of inner process, they are inner process — psyche and universe become one. Matter in dreams is spiritualized and can come into being, disappear, or mutate in perfect accord with psychic need.
T.S. Elliot popularized the term “objective correlative” to describe externalizations of inner states in literary texts. An objective correlative could be any object, scene, event, or situation that stands for or evokes a particular mood, emotion, or inner state. For example, a wilted rose in a-
25 From The Archaic Revival. p.90.
-poem may be the objective correlative of a disappointment in love. The dreamtime is a universe composed mostly of objective correlatives, a cauldron of objects, events, people, entities, and situations that evoke emotions and inner meanings without the intercession of words.
The language of dreams is not exclusively self-referential. Numerous well-documented cases of mutual or shared dreaming exist where two or more persons share a common dream. In my many years of doing dream interpretation, I have heard a few reports of mutual dreaming and experienced one possible case of it myself. From William James’ principle that one white crow is sufficient to disprove the notion that all crows are black, a single valid case of mutual dreaming in all of human history indicates that the human species has the ability to use organic virtual reality as a language medium. However rare, the ultimate logos-beheld language already exists. Quantum evolutionary change can happen both gradually and suddenly. The potential for a new means of consciousness/communication slowly develops until it begins emerging episodically, in fits and starts. A great shock to the system–individual and/or collective may catalyze them into greater manifestation. Whether through technology, organic evolution, or some combination thereof, shared virtual realities, where we become our meanings, are likely the most potent way for us to transcend verbal language. Perhaps Terence is right. One day, we may awaken from the nightmare of history into a mutual Dreamtime.
Logos Beheld Cuts Both Ways
Terence’s view of logos-beheld communications parallels my early work on the Singularity Archetype. However, I disagree with Terence’s assertion that Logos Beheld communication will eliminate deception and other forms of darkness. I think that some people will wake up from the nightmare of history into the nightmares of the Dreamtime or into nightmarish realms of virtual reality. When novelty intensifies, when there is a time of great transformation, the outer edges of both light and dark usually intensify. As Sophocles said, “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.”
When I discussed my theories with Ram Dass a few years ago, he expressed a POV almost identical to Terence’s. Ram also believes that on the other side of the shift to the new means of conscious and communication, it will be impossible to do evil. “You would be aware that you were doing it to yourself, that there was only one of you,” he told me. I would like to believe that Terence and Ram are right, but I think they are only half right. I’ll let Terence make his case in his own words:
“We are going to go from a linguistic mode that is heard to a linguistic mode that is beheld. When this transition is complete, the ambiguity, the uncertainty, and the subterfuge that haunt our efforts at communication will be obsolete. And it will be in this environment of beheld communication that the new world of the Logos will be realized” (AR 37).
“The shared beholding of the same linguistic intention in an objectified manifold is a true union. We become as one mind with this style of communication. Language beheld could perhaps serve as the basis for a deeper web of interlocking understandings between human beings that would represent a kind of technically aided evolutionary forward leap of the species.”26
Both Terence and Ram have had the same crucial insight. A fully realized Logos Beheld language would, in some cases at least, fundamentally alter the separation of subject and object and move things from what Martin Buber called the I-it relationship to the I-Thou relationship. Indeed, the Singularity Archetype, as we will discuss later, contains within its core a shock to the ego and a metamorphosis that the ego may interpret as apocalypse.
My view is that egoism, will to power, deceptive intentions, etc., are resilient forces that can adapt to a new means of communication and use visually beheld language diabolically. This is not conjecture–everyday we are bombarded with myriad examples of visually-beheld deceptions called advertisements. What is that sexy, air-brushed person in the glossy cigarette ad if not the devil that hath the power to assume a pleasing shape? Ruthless advertisers, power-hungry politicians, and sexual vampires are among the types that already use visually beheld linguistic deception to manipulate people. I am reminded of a skit I saw a few years ago on The Daily Show with John Stewart. A conglomerate of the big oil companies agrees to be interviewed by a Daily Show correspondent, but only if they can be represented by a nine-year-old girl. The nine-year-old girl, who has long blonde hair and is impossibly cute and charming, talks about how sad she feels when people say bad things about oil companies, etc. Similarly, the gorgeous female avatar you meet at a disco in Second Life is very likely an obese guy masturbating in front of his computer monitor.
I have also heard that in the near future of political propaganda, a politician could have his face in a pre-recorded video shifted slightly to reflect the demographics of particular regions. For example,-
26 From “Understanding and the Imagination in the Light of Nature”.
-stations broadcasting to Hispanic precincts would get an image of the politician’s face that had been subtly merged with some Hispanic faces. I’ve heard that there are studies that show that we tend to vote for politicians who look more like us. With enough computer power, a politician could merge his face slightly to resemble an individual viewer’s.
Note added in 2023: That was written before the present era of deep fakes where everything described above is entirely doable.
Shelia’s Dream: Heaven and Demon Ride
A few years ago, a young woman we’ll call Shelia asked me to interpret an extraordinary dream she had that has extreme relevance to the potential for darkness in virtual reality. The following is a very slightly edited version of a transcript I made of a recording of the dream interpretation session. In the interview, I merely asked clarifying questions because the dream largely spoke for itself without the aid of interpretation.
S: The dream begins, and I’m at a friend’s house, sort of a party house. A guy approaches me. He’s not anyone I recognized from real life, a dream character, but someone I feel I can trust and that I have a connection with. He comes up to me and says,
“There’s this new stuff. You’ve got to try it!”
“Well, what is it?” I asked.
“It’s Heaven,” he said, but in a way that told me that there was no implication of anything religious. Heaven was just the name of some sort of drug. My friend is at a computer, and he’s going to make this drug for me. It’s extremely difficult to make — you have to make it on a computer, and you have to know physics and computer programming to make this drug.
J: So, how did you make a drug on a computer? Is it made out of zeros and ones? What is the computer doing to make it?
S: The computer program has access to a whole repertoire of chemicals. It’s not a purely informational thing. It’s spit out as a mixture of all these chemicals, and molecules in a small capsule–very small, a little bit smaller than one centimeter squared.
J: And so the computer makes just one capsule at a time?
S: It could make several capsules, but with every particular program, there’s only one. Each one is unique…
I could tell that my friend was putting a lot of effort into making my capsule. He finishes it, and I swallow the capsule.
The trip was pretty indescribable. I went to some sort of alien world that was very beautiful. The colors were so vivid, almost too vivid. There were strange iridescent colors I’d never seen before. Another unique thing is that everything I saw was in frames of about one and a half feet. In every direction, I would see everything repeated to infinity in frames of about one and half feet. So when I looked at my arm, I would see it repeated in these artificial frames extending out to infinity. I know how absurd it sounds, but this was just beautiful.
J: So everything you looked at had this telescoping effect as if it were an infinite chain of dominos? But what is it that you are seeing in this environment?
S: Yeah, I saw plants that looked like belladonnas. They were very inviting, and my overall feeling was one of total euphoria. The sun was shining — or a star of some sort — and every sensation was really articulate. Within the dream, this trip lasted between ten and thirty minutes.
When it was over, I wanted to know more about how the capsule was made and how it did this to me. My friend began describing what it takes to start making your own. The duration of the trip could be anywhere between two minutes and eighteen hours. He was also adamant about one point — how incredibly dangerous it was to design your own capsule if you didn’t know what you’re doing. He wouldn’t let me even touch the computer. He told me what it would take to run the trip, which was pretty intensive. You couldn’t just put in a bunch of lines and dots and squiggles and be like: ‘There you go.‘
J: So when he’s designing a trip, he’s not just designing what chemicals go in, he’s also designing the visual parameters, he’s designing a whole virtual-reality environment.
S: Correct. So I’m talking further with my friend because I want to know more and keep in mind I’m still feeling some euphoria from having just had this trip. I asked him: “How many different kinds of this stuff are there?”
And then my friend got quiet because he didn’t want to say anything more, but eventually answered: “There’s only three.” He was fine to tell me about the first two — the first was called Heaven, the one that I took, and the second was called Earth, and the third was called Demon Ride. Demon Ride was made for the sort of person who liked horror films. And then I thought to myself: Wait a minute, this can last for up to eighteen hours. What if someone gave it to you without your knowing about it or against your will? I was thinking about the implications of all this. I was still euphoric from my experience with Heaven, but I wanted to know the full implications of this Pandora’s Box. As I went deeper into it, I became more disturbed. I realized that this was an odorless, colorless, tasteless substance that dissolves instantly in water, can last up to eighteen hours, and there’s no antidote. Once you’ve taken it, you have no choice but to let it run its entire course. Some people who like horror films could get together and design this H.P. Lovecraft/H.R. Gieger/ Hellraiser-type trip with demons coming after you and things that can’t actually physically harm you, but that could be very psychologically traumatizing. And I’m thinking that if it were up to me, considering the benefits and the risks, I couldn’t approve this drug. I was realizing what a Pandora’s Box this was because, on the one hand, people could have these great experiences, as I had, and heal psychological trauma, and I was only thinking about all the benefits until my friend told me about Demon Ride. Also, I realized there was no way you could outlaw this stuff. Once the program exists, it can be abused. It does take quite a level of skill with chemistry and computer programming to make these capsules, but someone who did have these skills could sit there at a computer making pill after pill of these utter horror shows.
J: So you’ve discussed what Heaven is like, the one you actually experienced, and you’ve also discussed Demon Ride, but what was the one called ‘Earth’ like?
S: Earth was a so-so, nothing bad would happen, probably nothing good would happen, low-intensity, mass-market one that took very little skill to make, low potency, doesn’t last that long — half an hour at most — and it’s sold in conventional places where alcohol would be sold, though people still charged an arm and a leg for it. But whichever of the three kinds you take, you are no longer experiencing this world; they all replace that with a different experience. What everyone was trying to work on was a way for you to process the real, physical world while you were on the substance. When you are having the experience, it’s not like your motor skills are paralyzed, you can still move your body, but you can’t orient yourself to the real world. Also, a unique aspect of these capsules is that if you were to take two instead of one, those trips would run parallel to each other.
J: So instead of magnifying each other or running consecutively, you have two individual trips running at the same time?
S: Correct, and I tried that one time. My friend said, “I’m going to give you a two-minute trip of that because I don’t want you to freak out. I’m going to give you something really straightforward.” He gave me a two-minute trip of skydiving plus a two-minute trip of going to an ancient library.
J: And which of the three types were these two capsules?
S: They were both Heaven capsules. That’s the only kind my friend would make. They are the highest quality. Heaven had the most clarity, the most purity, the most clean sort of experience you could have with no traumatic after effects.
J: And so what was this simultaneous experience like? What did you see in the ancient library, for example?
S: There were all these Flower of Life symbols all over the place, as if the whole thing were woven.
J: What whole thing was woven?
S: The library itself, not the books.
J: The library itself was woven? Can you explain that?
S: The library was woven with the Symbol of Life.
J: So was the library a physical building with a marble floor, for example, and so forth?
J: So, in other words, the pattern of the tiles on the floor would be the Flower of Life, and the pattern of the drapes would be the Flower of Life and so forth?
J: So it was woven in the sense that it was a decorative motif that was repeated everywhere, but it wasn’t literally woven out of this symbol?
J: Did you see any particular books, or was it just endlessly receding bookcases or what?
S: Actually, there weren’t books. There were scrolls — that’s what I meant by an ancient library. And I never actually opened up any scrolls or tried to read them or anything. I was just dazzled by this old place that had the smell of old parchment. My hands were steady, and I would have been able to handle the scrolls, but my hair was just going everywhere because of the skydiving.
J: So when you were seeing the ancient library, you were simultaneously having the kinesthetic sensations of skydiving?
J: But were you only seeing the library, or were you also seeing the skydiving?
S: Seeing both, both superimposed on each other.
J: So you are able to have two completely encompassing visual experiences at the same time?
S: Sometimes it seemed like the library was less present, the floor seemed semi-transparent, and it would fade in and out.
J: So it was as if you were experiencing two holograms at the same time that were bleeding into each other, and sometimes one or the other would be more vivid?
S: Yes . . . When I woke up, the implications of Demon Ride were so intense that I was sweating, and I was beside myself because it seemed like something that was very feasible, that it would be possible at some point. What if someone gave an eighteen-hour version of Demon Ride to a child? What sort of psychological scars would that leave?