Note: This is a 5-9 minute read that took 2-3 hours to write––promise it's not like anything else in your feed today. Will be worth it if you stick with it!
So it seems like we're coming unglued.
Unstuck in time is the more technical term.
Tearing down monuments, getting sucked into the conspiratorial hall of mirrors. General losing of minds.
To the untrained eye, it may just look like garden variety Corona Madness… but what if it's something much deeper (and more interesting?). What if we're in the terrifying and painful birth pangs of being born into 4D Quantum Culture?
(do not worry, dear reader–– there shall be ZERO tips on manifesting your #bestlife from the Akashic Field).
Good thing I'm a historian who's done more than his fair share of heroic doses of brain detergent. Cuz like Merlin in the Sword and the Stone (Once and Future King if you're pre-Disney), I sometimes wonder if I'm living backwards, from in front.
"I unfortunately was born at the wrong end of time," said Merlin "and I have to live backwards from in front, while surrounded by a lot of people living forwards from behind. Some people call it having a second sight.”
“Have I told you this before?”
“You see, one gets confused with Time, when it is like that. All one’s tenses get muddled, for one thing. If you know what is going to happen to people, and not what has happened to them, it makes it difficult to prevent it happening, if you don’t want it to have happened, if you see what I mean? Like drawing in a mirror.”
That's good news for you "forwards from behind" folks, happily marching left to right with Time's Arrow in the usual fashion. Think of this update as a form of temporal insider trading ;)
A while back, for my Ph.D dissertation prospectus A Once and Future Past: Towards a Polychronic Quantum Epistemology, I wrote a plan to upgrade historians' viewing of history to a quantum model that was more accurate. It seemed criminal (or at least really unimaginative) that as custodians of Time, historians were still running Newtonian models. Not exactly up to date for the ones entrusted to keep time.
That paper was all precipitated, btw, by an exceptionally mind and time bending experience at some wilderness hot springs on the Big Sur river. I came hiking back from the giant redwoods saying "I don't know exactly what just went down last night, but pretty sure it has something to do with quantum physics!”
Thus began a twenty year inquiry into time, culture and consciousness. It was the founding DNA of the Flow Genome Project too––how to find the cheat codes to access the Deep Now, and live more from there.
So, I didn't realize why I'd written it back then, but it seems to make sense that it was for later (i.e. Right Now––while we're all not so quietly losing our minds).
We're seeing both sides of everything, and that's melting our circuits, prompting us to leap and lunge for any certainty, no matter how whacked. The fancy term is "multiperspectivalism" which is the ability to not hold a singular, ego identified narrative of reality, but one where you can hold a bunch of browser windows open without crashing your laptop. It's a much more effective strategy to parse complex realities, but can also leave folks rudderless who are used to a more certain home base for their monkey minds.
As Hassan I Sabath, the Ismaili founder of the mystical Assassins, claimed on his deathbed "Nothing is true, All is permitted!" (FWIW Neitzche loved this quote)
But to hold that, to be able to navigate multiperspectival multidimensional realities, you need to become extra-grounded in 3D embodied reality. That's why the Shaolin monks trained so hard, why Ashtanga yoga dedicates itself to 8 limbed-living, and why Western Magick has so many hidden yogic elements.
If you want to fly in 4D where "nothing is true and all is permitted", you have to get super duper rooted in 3D. Otherwise you burn up on re-entry, or lose your tits in Deep Space. (that is the entire premise and purpose of our Flow Dojo BTW––supporting more breakthroughs rather than breakdowns as folks first glimpse this terrain.). Train body and brain to Find Your Mind. Neuro Kinesthetic Programming.
This just in from Vice: The Conspiracy Singularity Has Arrived
"Michael Wood is a PhD from the University of Kent and is an expert in conspiracy psychology. Along with his co-authors Karen Douglas and Robbie Sutton, he published a 2012 paper exploring the phenomenon of people who simultaneously believe in conflicting conspiracy theories: that Princess Diana is alive and was killed by MI6, for example, or that Osama Bin Laden both died before the U.S. military raided his compound and is still alive after those same military forces supposedly killed him.
The ability to believe two things at once—even completely contradictory things—is based on an underlying level of "higher order” thinking, the paper argued, an overriding belief that can make even conflicting ideas make sense.”
This fumbling move towards "higher order" thinking may be the beginnings of our move to higher order Quantum Consciousness––but right now, it feels and looks like madness.
So as we saw Twitter ban over 700 QAnon related accounts this week (check out this Rebel Wisdom interview with our buddy Tristan Harris on the role of social media platforms in all this)––we can only expect for these dynamics to grow as we go. The Intertwingularity folks––it's not gonna be pretty as everyone's favorite End Times stories start smashing and crashing into each other. (and it's going to take real discernment to separate wheat from chaff).
This is the fun one and what prompted me to want to write this piece in the first place. Because what we're seeing with this current wave of revisionism––tearing down monuments, stripping universities of named buildings, and generally rewriting history, is important and worth teasing apart.
It makes sense that as we re-examine our past, we ensure that the stories we tell and the lessons we draw match and support the values we hold.
"Who knows only his own generation remains forever a child" said Churchill.
"History is written by the victors" also said Churchill (he was well known for his pithy aphorisms)
Stories have power, and stories conceal power. So it makes sense that we might not want Confederate monuments honoring a past that we fought hard to overcome. It makes sense that how we write (and re-write) history has implications for the future we all want to live into.
But what about George Washington? (Or Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, John Muir, Woodrow Wilson, and a growing list of otherwise "good guys" with blemished records that most folks are only finding out about now?). And for the record––Ben Franklin would be #metoo'd in a heartbeat today. He was a lecherous bastard who spent most of his time in Paris serving up all kinds of debauchings from his diplomatic pouch.
How do we make sense of their historic contributions, acknowledge their prior mythologization, and hold up factually accurate accountings of their shortcomings?
If all you know of the discipline of history came from sleeping through it in high school, it might seem like a really bland names-and-dates kinda gig. But within the field, there are actually at least three profoundly different modes of relating to the past from the present.
What's happening right now with our current debate on monuments and legacy is we're getting our tenses muddled up, and it's causing a ton of unnecessary heartache and conflict.
The Synchronic perspective of Social Justice Warriors collapses the norms and values of Now (i.e. the One Time that matters) onto the Then of these people's lives. Unsurprisingly, it's not a good look for a bunch of old dead white men. They said and did some things that for sure would get them canceled today were they still around. As powerful and inevitable it is that we engage our meaning-making from a Synchronic perspective (we're always trying to make sense of things from and for our current moment) it's also deeply partial.
In fact, historians and anthropologists have a term for the classic error of this perspective––it's called Upstreaming. That means taking values, insights or customs from the present, and projecting them back "upstream" into the past. It almost always warps the integrity and sovereignty of those actors in the past, and collapses them into the ill-fitting suits of our own present tense psycho-dramas.
Another common time signature we're seeing deployed right now is the Achronic position––which basically addresses what are assumed to be timeless or eternal truths. This is especially pernicious these days when we approach concepts like "Whiteness" "Blackness" or "Racism." Rip a critical concept out of historical context (and with it, evidence, nuance, progression, evolution, contradiction and complexity) and you end up beating each other over the head with hermetically sealed idealized concepts.
Case in point: From 1607 until 1675 (or so), in Jamestown Virginia, it was possible for Africans (mostly migrated from Carribean sugar colonies) to sue white people, own property, and appear and defend themselves in court. At that time, slavery obviously existed, but it was a legal status, separated from color of skin. For a brief moment, a free black African could actually have more rights in that situation than an indentured English servant. Chattel slavery of an entire race, where legal status got conflated with skin color came after this, as a post-facto rationalization for a crime against humanity and access to a secure labor force (Ibram X Kendi has made this argument most recently). The same thing happened again and again with cultural attitudes towards native american tribes. First neutral to romanticized, then conflicted, then racialized. This is crucial because if we don't know how things start, we have less insights on how they can end.
Whiteness is also a bizarre and recent construction, and insisting Achronically that it is pervasive, timeless and eternal, and underpins all of Western Civilization, does grave injustice to Persians, Egyptians, Hindus, Slavs, Celts, Roma, Semites (both Arab and Jewish), and hundreds of other civilizations whose fingerprints are all over the "Western Canon." (and for an interesting example of the arbitrary evolution of whiteness over time in US History, read "How the Irish Became White.")
If White Hegemony "just always was" it's actually a disempowering position for folks on the receiving end of those injustices and gives us far fewer handholds to shift or move the things we care about most. Weirdly, it also gives validation to the truly dangerous folks who hold up the exact counterargument of "Whiteness as eternal civilizing force" (see this recent Smithsonian AA Museum piece).
Put even more simply, Achronic history is the favorite tool of fascists and Maoists. Ripped out of historical context and causation, Hitler could make an Aryan Third Reich seem inevitable and predestined. Mao could erase thousands of years of history in the Cultural Revolution. "Essentialism". i.e. that all important concepts can be boiled down to their timeless essence is a powerful tool, but one used sparingly and with caution. (see "Real Americans" and "American Greatness" as additional examples of this ploy).
The third option, and the one we're perhaps most sorely lacking these days is the Diachronic perspective, which is paying really close attention to how things evolve and develop over time. In this era of Hottakes and flame wars, almost no one is paying attention to how we got to Now. That shit's crucial folks. As Churchill warned, if we only have awareness of our own generation, we're little more than children. America has a longstanding current of extreme Presentism and anti-intellectualism that make this acting out even worse.
Plus––becoming aware of the passage and progression of history might offer us an important and humbling corrective to our current righteous certainty that everyone in the past must conform to our values or be erased. I was watching a Netflix comedy special this week and the standup was busting Millennials for thinking they are the most progressive generation that's ever lived, "Newsflash!” he said. "Every generation has always been the most progressive that's ever lived!" So before we get too self-righteous about the sins of our fathers, let's fast forward to fifty years from now and see how we're likely to hold up in our great grandchildren's eyes.
Solid odds that the more we think and learn about animals, consciousness and agency, the more rights we will insist upon conferring on our furry friends.
If we don't lose the technical know-how to do it, odds are strong that within the next decade or two, consuming the flesh of animals for protein will be seen as utterly barbaric and inexcusable. How many well meaning citizens stopped at IN-N-Out on the way to the protests? And how do we wrestle with that pending contradiction?
If we don't steer things right and end up overcooking this Little Blue Marble of ours, how will our grandchildren look back at those of us who exceeded 1.5 lifetime flights on an aeroplane? Or lit and cooled our giant homes from coal fired power plants? Will we have been blindly complicit in exceeding our carbon footprints? Will anything else we did that was good be redeemed in the face of this blindness and its consequences?
Or let's say things go super pear-shaped and we end up in the aftermath of a nuclear conflict. What were we doing, standing idly by, while nuclear proliferation happened for decades? If Silence is Violence, if there's no middle ground for uncertainty, how will we be judged when our turn comes?
Our castles aren't even made of sand, they're made of glass. And we should balance the thrill of throwing stones now with the near certainty that our time will come soon enough.
Would suggest that simply swapping out one historical lens for another might fix the imbalances of one perspective, only to introduce the imbalances of another. Guardrail to guardrail. Briefly helpful as a corrective, but not up to the job of ushering in anything resembling Quantum Culture. So what would a polychronic perspective do for us right now?
Let's use old George Washington as a case study.
That's the thing––and where we anchor this to Einstein's basic insight––you can't ever know the true nature of an object (like position and velocity) if you don't also identify the relationship of the Observer to that thing.
While we likely think of George Washington in sepia toned, scratchy black and white movie style images––his own life was actually full speed, 3D in living color and surround sound.
His own experience of his time and place was as "George", not as "hallowed founding father" or as "hypocritical plutocrat slave owner." Just George. complex, contradictory, confused human.
Go back into the French Indian War and Washington massacred a French diplomatic party that kicked off the first global conflict in the Seven Years War (whoops). He surrendered in disgrace, and was refused a subsequent commission in the British Army. (he'd retired to Mount Vernon to lick his wounds before getting picked as leader of Continental Army). If he'd never had the second act we all came to know, Washington might be remembered as a minor, cruel, marginally competent soldier.
Check in with long suffering Martha Washington, and pretty certain her experience of "the man, the myth, the legend" would be quite different than the one they teach in grade school. Again, perspective and position of the observer matters in determining the nature of the subject under study.
And speaking of grade school, what about his inability to tell a lie, and his famous wooden teeth? The "I Chopped Down the Cherry Tree" Incident didn't occur until after Washington was already dead––made up of whole cloth by one of his first biographers. And yet, that “truth” that is actually a lie, has informed and inspired two centuries of Americans. What to make of that? #SuckItShroedingersCat
And the wooden teeth? Either that was a delightfully weird factoid you remember from fourth grade, or (if you're keeping up on these things) a whitewash for the far more ghoulish reality that his mouth was populated by the teeth of many of his slaves.
Or how about a contemporary politician name-checking Old George on their way to lobbying for (fill in the blank, it doesn't really matter) in Congress. As Oscar Wilde put it "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel!" Who is GW in that situation, other than a cynically deployed patina of virtue?
So who was, or is, George Washington?
It depends. On our time perspective and our relationship to the man. Which isn't to descend into post-Modern relativism. Perhaps it's better to think of the "GW Meme" that encompasses all of these themes, all of these stories and all of these insights. Simultaneously, and at once. It's more complicated, but ultimately more empowering and more precise.
There's text (what "really happened"). there subtext (what did it/does it "really mean") and then there's context (from what position are we assessing all of this?).
So when it comes to the ongoing process of writing and rewriting our history––we should be careful of the liabilities of Synchronic upstreaming (insisting that those in the past conform to our current norms and values) we should be careful of Achronic essentializing (assuming that qualities like national, gender or racial characters are timeless and etched in stone) and we should practice Diachronic humility (realizing that we're on an endless progression of ideas and values and will face our turn in the barrel too).
Because we can't simply act out childishly, pissed off at our parents, and looking to tear down everything built before us. We can't slap trigger warnings all over the last ten thousand years because Hobbes was right––it was all pretty nasty and brutish. #NobodyPromisedUsARoseGarden
We have to learn more than our own generation, and properly honor the past, while seeking to live and lead into a future that works better for more of us.
And if we can do that––truly hold a Polychronic Perspective––what might that look like? What stories might we tell, what pasts might we honor, what presents might we live and what futures might we create?
Not just me and mine, here and now.
But everyone. Everywhere. Everywhen.
In the same way that the evolution of language utterly transformed homo sapiens––with our ability to share knowledge across generations, conceive of abstractions and ideals like god, truth, justice, and mercy (along with space travel and quantum computing), what might it be like to add the capacity to consider ourselves not just as rational individuals trapped in our metabolic timelines, but as participants in a timeless unfolding?
The reason this analogy is helpful is because the advent of language changed everything, and it changed nothing. We were the same naked apes after discovering Logos as when we were still pointing and grunting. We still had to master the game of calories in/calories out, ensuring that enough glucose kept getting to our brains, while avoiding toothy animals and big drops. But we added a vastly expanded and expansive new level to the game we were playing––The Imaginal.
"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so!" said ol' Billy boy. Now just look at us.
So talking about the advent of "Quantum Culture" is definitely not a free ticket out of the shitshow we've found ourselves in. But it might be a step function increase in the information and inspiration we have to solve it.
It's easy enough to glimpse quantum realms these days––just find a shaman or a pharmacist or a mad-scientist (or especially banging DJ) to help you out. We're getting pretty good at lobbing ourselves into the Deep Now. But sticking the landing? Not so much. We're coming unglued as we leave the snug harbor of singular ego-bound stories, and we're getting our tenses all muddled up as we wake up to where we've been born in the unfolding of history. Outraged that things aren't already perfect. Horrified that our heroes have feet of clay.
We can and must hold all of it, to solve some of it.
This is the moment, before the moment (that just happened).
There's no guarantee that what we're seeing these days ushers us giddily into a New Dawn of human flourishing. Birth has always been a painful and bloody affair, attended by the Reaper. But if we can endure the contractions, if we can remember to breathe and be kind, we have a chance to usher in the Aeon––the Child at the End of Time.
And for the love of God, I sure hope she knows what to do ;)
P.S. Thanks so much for all the interest in our Canyons Course this fall––and so sorry we can't take everyone. If you're on the waitlist we'll be giving you first crack at the next program. We will be doing more adventuring, learning and training in beautiful remote locations in the American West in the coming year––so save up your PTO, professional dev budget, and vacation time––we're leveling up everything in the next six months and you're invited along for the ride.
PPS. This riff/rant is actually going to be the backbone of the next book I write, after Recapture the Rapture comes out in the Spring. It'll take a much more methodical approach to these topics, and will essentially attempt to lay out the roadmap for quantum consciousness and culture––stay tuned