Morphogenic Fields and Psychedelic Experiences

Shared Visions Bookstore, Berkeley, CA


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Terence McKenna: Oki dok. So can everyone hear? Yes? Good. Ok so we’ll strive to maintain a certain level of formality although this is definitely an in-house family get together. I always say every time I’m at Will’s that this feels like the home congregation, that this is where we can let our hair down even when we speak from the pulpit. And I encountered Will a few weeks ago at a buffet and he said “I’m glad to see you”, and I said “I’m glad to see you”, I said “this must mean we both need money”. So why don’t we plan an event? But we needed a draw so we thought probably we could lend some respectability to the enterprise by getting a British theoretical biologist to throw in with the plan. So every year now for several years the annual return of the Sheldrakes to Turtle Island has been a high point in the social calendar. And sometimes it happens in the spring, sometimes in the late summer, but in every case it’s an excuse to suspend the ordinary rules of engagement and party down as much as we can with these wonderful people. And Rupert and I have not seen each other for 10 months or so. He flew in from Vancouver this afternoon. I saw he and Gill for the first time this evening, I have yet to see Merlyn, who is the latest adumbration of the Sheldrakian morphogenetic compressance, and I’m sure he lives up to the name. So the way we conceived of this is I just think that what goes on in our living rooms is much more exciting even without the dope smoking than what goes on in the public lecture situation, so the idea was for Rupert and I to get together again, get to catch up again and have you as part of the extended family participate in this. So, on very short notice I conceived this and called it Forms and Mysteries - Morphogenetic Fields and Psychedelic Experiences as a kind of effort to split the deck two ways equally, you know. Although, in the past Rupert and I have participated at Esalen, we spent a very interesting afternoon talking about the theory of formative causation and what it might say about the psychedelic experience pharmacologically, psychologically, historically, and so forth. Forms and mysteries seems to me a fitting title because of course form is a mystery that even science is willing to acknowledge. This is the great terre incognito of modern science, is the persistence and genesis of form. What is it, where does it come from, and what sustains it? And typical of the history of science, the more complex problems have been postponed historically until epistemological and analytical capabilities were sufficient to deal with the problem. This is why, for instance, linguistics was no more than a metaphor until the 20th century. And in a sense probably morphogenesis was in the same situation, because powerful mathematical tools had to be invented to carry it out of the realm of mere theoretical discussion. Rupert has been, I think, the most radical of all the people that have proposed a revisioning of causality and by extension the domain of science, what it is able to claim as its purvey. And I think that his position has been at first ignored, and more recently, with the publication of his second book, excoriated. Because this is no small matter. This is actually a question of actually fundamental epistemic importance to the entire scientific enterprise. Because what is being proposed in the theory of the morphogenetic field is a revisioning of causality. The second book, which if you haven’t read it you’re certainly missing an intellectual adventure, it’s like a chance to read the principia when the person who wrote it is striding around town giving lectures, it’s really a rare intellectual adventure, I haven’t known that kind of excitement reading theoretical biology since discovering L. L. White when I was a kid, but what is being proposed is a fundamental revisioning of how events happen in the world, and very fundamental to the performance of science is the notion of experiment. And experiment rests on the relatively unexamined concept of the restoration of the initial conditions. [6:53] Well the Sheldrakian cosmos would play havoc with the restoration of the initial conditions because what it is saying is that the universe is a steadily accreting and self-defining set of interlocking habits and that no, that slices into this waveform interference pattern of habit are therefore necessarily going to be time-dependent. In other words, it looks different at each point in its history, it makes it very hard therefore to see how in an atmosphere like that ordinary science can be prosecuted at all. So, the interest that it holds for me then, is that it seems to be a very calm rational attentive program of intellectual understanding which leads to the same radical conclusions that an emergence in the core experience or archaism, the psychedelic experience are used for, in other words, that all our intellectual constructs are in fact built on shifting sands, and all knowledge is provisional at this state in the epistemic enterprise. It doesn’t mean that a more epistemically grounded knowing is not possible, it merely means that up to this point it has not occurred. Science’s claim to fulfil this function is now in serious trouble. It actually has been in some areas since the elaboration of quantum physics in the twenties, but Sheldrake is coming at it not from a real of extremely arcane mathematical modelling, but in the biological realm, with a model which is both simultaneously true to felt experience, and confounding to the scientific paradigm as it has been waged since Bacon essentially. So, Rupert is with us tonight, he will tell you I hope the state of the art in terms of experiments and the public dialogue that attends these things, because make no mistake about it, the overturning of a scientific paradigm is a political act, and it has to do with reputations, and 10 years in publications, and people that have built their lives building something that they now see under severe attack. What I believe is happening, and that Rupert, and my own fascination with the psychedelic experience, and other phenomena in society, all can be brought under the single umbrella of resurgent vitalism, an awareness of the living vitality of form, and organism, and experience. And this is something that in order to do its work the Newtonian model had to expunge all that, had to call these things secondary qualities, epiphenomenal, derivative, this that and the other, and yet these are the existential stuff of the felt world of being. So Rupert brings to biology a theory which links it back into physics and forward into psychology in a way that resorts meaning, however much it may do damage to the somewhat infantile wish of the cartesians to construct a closed tautology. Which is mainly what they want to do, you know, and that’s why they wanna get rid of all these troubling phenomena that are of such complexity that exceeds this model. Well, I’m a great fan of this theory, I could run on at length about it, but the man who invented it is here with us, he can lead us to a deeper understanding of it, please welcome Rupert Sheldrake, the greatest biologist of the age.

Rupert Sheldrake: Well, you see, it’s a paradoxical situation, it’s a difficult act to follow and yet somehow I’ve got to try after that build up. I think well, Terence’s, his explanation of how morphic resonance works is obviously elegant and bardic, and I agree with it. The point that he’s put to us now is the thing about the experimental tests. This coming down very much to earth after this wonderful flight of Terence’s imagination into those realms of the imagination that he leads us so easily. The tests so far have mostly been on human subjects, and those of you who have seen the new edition of “A New Science Of Life” which just came out 2-3 months ago in the United States, which was published about 3 years ago in Britain, that edition contains an appendix which brings you up to date on what had happened until 1985. It contains a summary of the controversies and the discussions, including a reprint of the full Nature editorial attack, the “book for burning” article. And it also summarises the experiments which were done in the realm of hidden images, puzzles pictures. I’ve talked about these before several times here and in San Francisco so I’m not going to go into those, but those were, roughly speaking, [] pictures containing a hidden image, a puzzle picture, on television, to millions of people, and the test was to find out whether more people in other countries could recognize it, could spot the hidden image in these puzzle pictures before, it’s [...] after it being shown on tv in one country than before. So, groups of subjects were tested on a variety of countries, the transmissions took place on British television, first on [tempths] television, and then another experiment on BBC involving about 8 million people in the audience. And the tests in other countries were done by volunteer experimenters. The tests involved 2 puzzle pictures, people in other countries were shown both of these; they had to guess or say what they saw in it. They’re either right or wrong, easy to mark; and whether they got the right image or not. And the same pictures were tested on different subjects after the tv transmission. One of them was a control, the other one was shown on tv. Anyway, these experiments which were then repeated in Germany gave interesting but variable results. The first one showed a large increase, well large, a significant increase of the 1% level of probability in the recognition of the transmitted picture, compared with the control picture which remained constant. Very gratifying result. And so the experiment was done again on BBC with this larger audience. The second experiment showed a strong, positive effect in western Europe. More people in Germany and other countries recognized the pictures shown on tv in Britain and the control picture didn’t change. But it showed no effect in North America. Now, these results are very puzzling, and it’s the kind of thing, you know, what do you make of that? I don’t expect morphic resonance to work by distance effect, which is the most obvious explanation. Could it be that somehow people in Europe are being in the same time zone and more in phase with each other than those in the US, 6 to 9 hours shifted. If morphic resonance works as a resonance, then what phase people are in should be an important variable. So that’s one possibility. And that suggested by the results in South Africa which is only one hour different from Britain, and at least as far away as New York and other places, which showed similar results to the European ones. It wasn’t distance, it was time zone, seemed to be the variable. Anyway, this experiment was then done again in Germany, [trans] the pictures, which were new pictures of course in each experiment, and the pictures there were transmitted on a Sunday afternoon on a program there and tests were done all over around the world, again no effect in North America. A highly significant effect in Britain. But in Britain although they were highly significant, the control was no different, and the sample tested was something like 20 thousand people, was a huge sample. Probably the biggest experiment ever done in terms of the numbers of participants. The effects showed that the pictures had become significantly harder to recognize in Britain after having been seen by a lot of germans on a Sunday afternoon. I felt, well, you know, this is too close to a kind of parapsychological experiment, one [-shot thing]. I discussed it with Russel Targ, who I met at a conference, and he said “I bet if you do this experiment you’ll get all sorts of weird precognitive effects and so, like a parapsychology experiment, you’ll get the same kind of anomalies and bizarre things that we get in ours”. And I thought well maybe that was one way of looking at it. And thought that probably I should do more of what is in the spirit of the hypothesis, namely try and test for the effect of repeated exposures, because the theory, it’s a hypothesis of repetition leading to habit, not a kind of one-[shot] event. And I wanted to look for patterns where puzzle pictures for example could be seen many times. Well at this stage it turned out that the only way to do this feasibly, since I couldn’t persuade the tv company to show the same puzzle pictures, the same test, hundreds of times in a program, the obvious way to do that would be have it in a tv commercial, or to have it in advertising in [hoardings]. And at this stage I entered into discussion with various leading members of the advertising industry, including some Think Tank here in San Francisco, and it seemed that they were indeed quite interested in this approach. And at that stage I, then they’ve sent to me from their offices in Madison Avenue for some puzzle pictures and started doing some trial ones for a campaign. But at this stage I began to get cold feet. I began to say, do I really want them first test of morphic resonance to be done completely to be done directly and completely and part of an advertising stunt, and as part of an advertising research project, if things should continue as they begin to some extent, and I thought that wasn’t a very auspicious beginning. And I didn’t get too involved with that. I sort of backed down on that one. They also had fear from their clients because anything to do with hidden images, advertisers are terrified of being accused of subliminal advertising, so there was a kind of paranoia the minute hidden images come up. Anyway, so that experiment is on the back burner. Several other projects on the pipeline, a friend of mine has invented a puzzle in England, a nine-piece geometrical puzzle, which is exceedingly hard to do. It took me hours and hours to solve it. It’s got tens of thousands, millions of combinations, and there’s a 148 possible answers, but they are very hard to find. And he’s planning to market this in the near future or in the more or less near future. So we’re setting up an experiment that would go with that, if it is marketed we’d monitor in other countries where it’s marketed, the rate at which people can solve it under standard conditions, and then measure at regular intervals in other countries before it’s released there. To see whether millions of people, or thousands, or tens of thousands, learning it in Britain affect these successors, it’s like monitoring the ability of people to solve the rubik’s cube if you’d gotten right at the beginning, it’s that kind of things, only at a smaller scale. Anyway, that’s one thing in the pipeline. The other thing is the free experiment which won the [Tennaton] prize, which was awarded in June 1986 for [tested] morphic resonance. All involved experiments on the ability of human beings to learn things that millions of people had learnt before. Again I won’t go into these in details cause they are all written up in my new book The Presence of the Past. Briefly, they involved the ability to learn or recognize words, in languages unknown to the person, in the written form. One involved Hebrew, words written in Hebrew, the other involved Persian, words written in Persian. These two experiments were very similar, they were done independently, one in the United States at [IEO] by [Gary Schwatz], the other in Britain, by two people who both independently devised very similar tests to test for morphic resonance, itself an interesting fact. And they, these tests showed the ability of people to learn things more readily if they were things that other people had learnt before. The third test was on morse code. The main experiments that have been going on, apart from other ones planned in the human psychology realm, the ones that are actually going on right now in the realm of chemistry and fruit fly development, the experiment that’s going on in [...] concerns protein folding. In my new book I discuss this, if proteins are unfolded, then it may be that when they fold up again, which involves a complex morphogenetic process at the molecular level, which can be monitored using quite simple techniques, when they fold up again they may be refolding in a way that they have not done in nature before, especially there are reasons why this would be so for certain particular enzymes. So, the more often they are refolded, they should learn how to do it as it were, and the refolding process should take place measurably quicker, but we have an experiment going on to test for this, refolding of enzymes, and then repeated refolding to see if it happens quicker. I don’t know the results yet, it’s still going on and I’m not sure whether it will give conclusive results or not [...] summer, which is when the project ends. The other one’s on fruit flies, and the development of fruit flies, following up results that already suggest that when fruit flies develop in response to an abnormal stimulus like [ether], or higher temperatures during [pupation] that the percent abnormal flies, for example flies with extra veins in their wings, a certain proportion is produced by the stress of the environment, but the more flies that have been exposed to the stress the more that become abnormal the greater the abnormal response is when fresh ones are put into the stress. This has already been found, and it looks very much like a morphogenetic morphic resonance effect. And some more experiments are going on to test the earlier results that showed this result to be the case. Again, this experiment is about half-way through at the moment. [24:45] So these are the things that are going on to test the theory. I should perhaps mention one attempt to refute the theory that has been made, and recently published in the Skeptical Inquirer, I don’t know how many people here are readers of the Skeptical Inquirer, perhaps rather few, but the Skeptical Enquirer as you may know is the house journal of CSICOP, a debunking organization, and the one that’s most famous for James Randy being among its activists, and this was published, it was a paper by Francisco [Verella] who claimed to have refuted the hypothesis of formative causation, and the experiment that he had done involved programming a desktop computer to carry out a particular operation, measure the time it took to do it, and then repeat this operation millions of times, and then measuring the rate of it. And he found that the computer didn’t do it any quicker. So he concluded that this refuted the hypothesis of formative causation, and he first wrote this paper in 1983 and sent it to me, and suggested we had a public discussion on this, which I agreed to. So we had 2 or 3 exchanges, the idea was to publish the paper together. I argued in my first exchange that it didn’t test the theory because the theory only applies to indeterminate, quantum, systems which contain enough indeterminacy for these probabilistic fields to get a grip on it, whereas computers are completely determinate in their functioning, there’s nothing that the fields could do. Secondary, the computers are not self-organizing systems in the same sense that morphogenetic systems, cells, crystals, molecules and atoms are. Now that the programs is something that has created itself but rather something which Verella had thought up and put inside the machine, there was nothing self-organizing about that. And therefore this wasn’t a test of the theory. Anyway, Varella didn’t agree and said that I couldn’t maintain that living organisms are not machines like computers because those organisms and machines were machines, there’s no difference between computers and living organisms because they were all machines. So we got into this kind of argument and I said, I thought that was rubbish and it wasn’t like that at all and so on. Anyway, what happened then was that a physicist who.. the late professor Michael [Ovington] of the University of British Colombia, who’d, was one of the judges of the [Territon] competition, read Verella’s paper which was entered for the competition, and all 4 judges rejected it as being a valid test of the theory. He pointed out to me that it didn’t test the theory because the way computers work is that every microsecond or so there is a pulse, and the instructions are carried out pulse-wise, so a program with thirty steps would take thirty microseconds cause each step is pulsed by this internal clock. Well roughly speaking, that seems to be what’s going on in the computer, and Verella’s program of thirty steps took thirty microseconds for his computer to do, his computer has a microsecond clock. And after millions of repetitions it still took thirty microseconds. Well, all that shows is that the clock that pulses the things in the computer was pulsing the instructions at the exactly the rate the computer has to pulse [and then move on the] microsecond and so it took thirty microseconds to run through these instructions. Even if the silicon chips had responded quicker to the pulses then it wouldn’t have shown up in this experiment they would still have had to have it every microsecond. Anyway this error in the basis of the experiment was pointed out to him anyway. He published the original paper and I’ve now written a reply in the Skeptical Inquirer pointing out these issues. But when I sent this to the editor of the Skeptical Inquirer he wrote back to me saying that my paper, my reply probably wouldn’t come out till the winter number since the later section of the [fore] number was already full of letters from other people pointing out the same error. So that’s the status of the refutation debate at the moment, and you’ll be able to see these various things in the forthcoming next two editions of the Skeptical Inquirer, should you ever see it around. There are quite a number of projects being planned in the realms of chemistry, and developmental biology, and experimental psychology. Some funding is becoming available for morphic resonance research which is why these projects are getting on right now, owing to the generosity to 3 or 4 individuals and then smaller subscriptions through the fund for morphic resonance research from individuals who have been good enough to try and help this process along. And this money really has helped it along because it has made it possible to hire people to do these experiments in labs, in universities, and there are quite a number of universities ready and willing to do them, and the only limiting factor at the moment is money to hire the people to do them. We’re hiring students over the summer vacations to do these projects because that way we can get 3 to 4 months projects down from 1000 to 500 dollars.

Q: I don’t know if I’m the only one in the audience who really doesn’t grasps what the theory of morphic resonance is but I’d appreciate a couple of seconds description

RS: Yes well I should have said that at the beginning. Sorry about that, I was assuming that most people did know and I should have realized that not everybody [...]

Q: Something that tricks me about it but I don’t grasp it

RS: Well, it’s hard to grasp in its detailed form, that’s what our dialogue is going to be about and some of these things, but basically what it’s saying is that the so-called laws of nature are like habits, that things happen the way they do because they happened that way before, the way crystals crystallize depends on the way similar compound, the same compound has crystallized in the past; the way rats learn a new trick depends on whether other rats have done it before, if rats in another place have already learned it then it would be easier to learn somewhere else for subsequent rats by the process called morphic resonance. So there is a kind of collective memory in nature, in different species, in different kinds of things. And this collective memory is transferred from the past to the present by the process I call morphic resonance. That means in general new things which happen repeatedly should happen more and more easily and more and more quickly and more and more probably as time goes on because of the effect, the build up of this morphic resonance. And this theory is controversial as Terence pointed out because it’s not the way scientists usually think about these things. And the issues I’ve just been discussing is there is experimental ways to test it, because this theory says when proteins fold up a new way repeatedly they should do it quicker. And when people have learned something in one country, like on television in a hidden image, it should make it easier to spot it elsewhere, or if fruit flies have developed in a particularity, in a new way, for example extra veins in their wings, then the more they do it, the easier it should get for others to do it, others things being equal. And that’s the point of all these experiments I’ve been describing, they’re all designed to test this theory, to see whether there is in fact this kind of memory or habit in nature. There’s one more aspect of the theory that I should mention. [33:06] Which is that it leads to a completely new interpretation of memory, and it says that ordinary memory, our ordinary memories of what we’ve done, depend not on traces of physical material changes stored in the brain, like traces on the tape recorder on recordings in a hologram. It doesn’t depends on a material storage system in the brain, rather it depends on tuning into our own past directly, by morphic resonance. And the brain is more like a tuning system than a storage system. Damage to the brain can interfere with the tuning or the reception and so you can get loss of memory through brain damage, but the memory isn’t in the brain. And just as we tune in to our own memories from our own past, so we also tune into memories of large numbers of people and this is similar to the notion of what Jung calls the collective unconscious. So that’s a summary of what it’s all about. And the experiments I just been talking about were in response to Terence asking an update on the experimental tests situation. So that’s more or less what’s been going on so far on the experimental tests. And more are in the pipeline and the limiting factor at the moment is funds and more funds are becoming available, so that’s where we are from that point of view.

TMK: Yes, I might say about all this. To my mind the criticism of the theory has to this point been fairly inane, and largely carried out by people who didn’t really understand the theory. That doesn’t mean that it is not open to criticism. The reason I have such an interest in it it’s because it solved a lot of what I felt were outstanding problems in my own model building efforts, but it certainly raises other questions. In the first paragraph of the Presence of the Past, Rupert condenses the theory to a slogan, which could be shouted in a theater parade. It’s that “things are as they are, because they were as they were”. And that in essence is what this theory is saying. Now, notice that this is as conservative a point of view as one could possibly imagine, the problem, if you believe things are as they are because they were as they were, then your problem is to account for anything new or novel ever happening. How in a world where things are as they are because they were as they were ever going to get creative advance? It seems to preclude it from the outset. Well, what drew me originally to Rupert, or what drew us together was I had a theory that was entirely about accounting for novelty, and that was what it delivered on. It was a model of how new things could come into being. Rupert’s theory is a model of how structure is conserved and perpetuated into time. So my thought was you could bring these together and if they were not mutually exclusive then you would find out why there was persistence of form, why there was this overwhelming presence of the past, and yet why there could still be apparently free will and novel situations arise. And you know, you really participate, when you participate in this idea, in an intellectual adventure upon which the curtain has only risen. No one can stride to a black board this afternoon this evening and write the equations of the morphogenetic field, we’re a long long way from that. This is basically at the level of parlor room discussion. But if the morphogenetic field is written, the equations are written, then it will flower into who knows what. In the same way that the electromagnetic equations were finally written by Clerk Maxwell suddenly radio, television, all of these things became a possibility. I think that accounting for form is the great unsolved problem that science has put off for about 500 years. Accounting for novelty is a somewhat newer problem that is not even addressed until you get to the theory of evolution in the eighteen fifties, and then only addressed in the biological realm. The theory that I originally elaborate had novelty as the down-sloping part of a fractal wave, and the up-moving part of that wave I called entropy, or disconnectedness, or I can’t even remember and it was Rupert who said “you should call it habit”. And you should see then that the world is an ebb and flow of habit versus novelty. Of temporal situations of varying durations in which the presence of the past is so overwhelming that they are, that basically the past is replayed in that space-time domain, and yet there are other space-time domains where the way in which causality and formative causation come together creates novel connections. And these novel connections come into being with their own morphogenetic field, with their own ability to be a past present in a future yet-to-be-realised. So though I think that the attacks that have been mounted so far have been trivial, the real challenge for the morphogenetic field is to formalise itself. To aim toward mathematical expression and to construct itself in such a way that the self evidence of novelty is not sacrificed in the way that the Newtonian model had to sacrifice the self evidence of primary experience, of felt experience. So, and I haven’t talk about this this much, but I would like to hear you talk about the conservation of novelty in a universe ruled by formative causation and how do you see that. And perhaps the ways in which it plays into the psychedelic issue is that we can take the word habit very generally, and realize that one of the curious things about ourselves as higher animals is our susceptibility to habituations. I define habituation as unexamined obsessive behavior. Seems reasonable. And we, more than any other creature, we seem to fall into behavioral loops of television watching, snack consuming, fascist voting patterns, tasteless tonsorial tendencies, and so forth. What precisely, you see, my notion, again to try and unite the psychedelic thing with what Rupert is doing, my notion of a new model of the psychedelic experience, is to call these things morphogenetic field amplifiers. And to say, you know, this is why in the presence of a psychedelic experience, one can hold an object in their hand and visualize its past states. This is how shamans determine who stole the hen. Or where the sacred, or who’s sleeping with who. Actually, the morphogenetic field, if sufficiently amplified to sufficient clarity, is nothing more of a record of the past history of what is being examined. So that suddenly, instead of being focused a kind of atomised present, with a receding past and anticipated future, we lose our particulate nature as the individual as meet, object, and we enter into our selves defined as a morphogenetic field, as a body of wave-mechanically maintained information about past and future states of time. And you may be sure that these theories, like the theory of formative causation, like the theory of relativity, like the theory of Newtonian mechanics, eventually filter down into the realm of every day experience, and common models of ordinary consciousness. And if the morphogenetic field theory or idea was to become empowered as the model for millions and millions of people then the past and the future would change in their connotation to our existential dilemma. It is, I think, probably the ultimate legacy of the transition from a particulate to a wave-mechanical point of view. It binds us to the past at the same time that it exorcises the terror of the future and it really empowers the notion of Tao. So it is not far removed from the realm of our immediate experience. But how can we preserve the self evident fact of novelty and still get all the good stuff out of formative causation?

[45:09] RS: Well there’s a simple answer in a way, which is that the entire evolutionary cosmology of which formative causation is part, it makes sense because if we live in an evolutionary universe, and it makes sense for the regulative principles of all things to evolve, rather than be fixed to eternal laws. And the standard view of course is that the regularities of nature are all governed by unchanging laws of nature which are totally eternal and they were before the big-bang. Well, that’s the standard cosmology, but if I move into the big-bang cosmology, which is what I’m trying to do, this idea of an evolutionary universe, and habits, the laws of nature as habits is to say that everything evolve, so even the regularities of nature, then the very basis is that the big-bang cosmology is the driving force of evolution, which is one of expansion. The big-bang is the initiation of an ongoing expansion of the universe. And the entire cosmology we have tells us that the universe is expanding, [the red] shifts to the galaxies and so on. The whole modern cosmology is based on an underlying expansion of the universe. And it’s this expansion which first of all allowed the big-bang to cool down enough so that particles, nuclear particles could form, and then it cooled enough for atoms to form, and then enough for molecules to form. And the emergence of form, the progressive emergence of form in the subatomic, and the atomic, and the molecular, and the chemical realms, and through the forms of stars and galaxies, and then ultimately planetary systems, the emergence of all this form has only been made possible by a progressive cooling process, which is the other side of the expansion process. Because forms such as you and me couldn’t exist at 25 billion degrees centigrade, which is how the universe began. And nor could anything else here, nor could the solid rocks of the Earth. I mean this is a cooling process which is linked to the universal expansion, which one could regard as the primary cause or novelty wave. I mean, there’s going to be novelty if the universe is always expanding, there’s always new space, new territories, new possibilities. The new space creates new possibilities in some kind of literal way. And the creation of new space and new possibilities, which is happening both at the physical, and the metaphorical, and at the imaginal levels, if we have a view of evolution which where everything is evolving, mind matter, spirit, it’s all part of one process, it’s a great evolutionary process, then the creation of new space, new possibilities, and new expansion means there’s an ongoing novelty going to be there as an inbuilt feature of any universe of this general kind, an expanding universe. Like in our big-bang cosmology. It has to be there, cosmology demands it. So that’s an accepted, a given. So for me the problem isn’t the existence of novelty through the expansion, I mean that’s the basis of the whole cosmology, the problem would be in such universe how to account for the stabilization of novelty, so that is not just swept away by this onrush of this expansion and change which is underlying process of evolution. So I would see morphic resonance as providing a way in which the novelty of things, when new forms come into being, the persistences, habits can build up, cause otherwise pure novelty without any persistence would be chaos. I mean chaos is precisely that which where no regularity emerges

TMK: Utterly unpredictable

RS: And pure novelty, novelty alone, the novelty wave alone without stabilization would be chaos, endless chaos. An expanding chaos but nothing more. And so I think that the two ideas are completely complementary, but the thing that just occurred to me as you were talking is if the novelty wave applies to novelty in general, I think is its claim, not just in the human mind, not just in cockroaches, and ecosystems, even in this planet, but to the whole universe, yes?

TMK: Yes

RS: Well then I deduce from that the universe is expanding to steady rate, the usual theory, given by the idea of Newtonian absolute time, simple cranked onto the new cosmology, but rather that the expansion of the cosmos is taking place at a rate which is determined by the novelty wave. But there should be a variable rate which should have all the fractal ripples and features of the novelty wave, if your theory is correct. 

TMK: Now, where would we look for a trace of this?

RS: I don’t know, but I mean the trace, what gives the measure of the universal expansion is the cosmic microwave background radiation

TMK: That’s right and there’s argument about whether it’s uniform or inhomogenous

RS: That’s right, but the reason why it’s such a very long wavelength it’s because it’s relic light, it’s fossil light from the big-bang. And since the universe has been expanding ever since the big-bang, light which has remained light from that first moment, which has never yet been intersected by matter, because when light’s intersected by matter it stops being light, it’s absorbed, unless it’s reflected, but this light is light from the origin... But since the universe was [...] very small to start with, the light was very high energy, and the wavelength was very very short, but as the universe expands, you see, the same light gets sort of stretched out and the wavelength goes slowly longer and longer and longer, and the 3.5K is the result of the stretching process. It’s light cooled down to that wavelength [caused upon] 3.5 degrees above absolute zero. But nevertheless it should show irregularities in its wavelength, irregularities in the change of its wavelength which reflect the novelty wave.

[51:22] TMK: Well it is true that both at its beginning and it end, the novelty wave undergoes at its beginning a series of balloon-like expansions, which is what these new cosmologies are calling for, instead of a smooth big-bang they’re calling for tremendous expansion very shortly after the beginning of the universe in a series of successive stages, so in that sense you may be right. We were talking before we came on stage tonight and I was saying that to my mind, in the 10 months since I’ve seen Rupert, but have read The Presence of the Past, I’ve come to wonder about conceiving of what we’re trying to talk about as a field exactly. That what it is it’s a theory of formative causation, the morphogenetic field is just an image of trying to understand how this preformative causation could work. And one thought that has occurred to me about it is the big-bang is basically tremendous energy, free energy, which as Rupert described goes through a series of coolings, and as it cools and energy dissipates and is lost as heat, form emerges, first the form of nuclear chemistry, then organic chemistry, then molecular chemistry, so forth and so on, but progressively more complex form as you move toward the point of the arrow of time. Well, rather than visualizing this as a field in which previous states, the presence of the past, where previous states are impacting on successive states, another way you could think of it is energy enters the universe in which at a very great distance ahead of time’s arrow there is a planum of form, a kind of form of forms if you want. And if the causality operated in this form of form was a two way causality then what you would have is the expanding shell of energy that is the universe slowly being influenced essentially by information flowing backward from the future, and so it isn’t so much the presence of the past that puts the stamp of form into things, but that form is an intimation of a future state that is a kind of maximizing of form into a kind of metaphysical hypostatization beyond our ability to conceived. Have you ever considered this possibility? .. We should have rehearsed

[55:01] RS: What I think, I mean, if I take your description you seem to be very like, I don’t know if you like this or not, similarity, but the omega point of time of the shadow, which he sees as the goal or attractor of the entire universe, and if there is to be a model of a morphogenetic field, to come back to one of your earlier points, it has to be in terms of dynamics of some kind. And interesting about modern dynamics is that it’s based on the idea of attractors. Systems are attracted towards states from their points of view lie in the future. So these morphic attractors, which are the basis of the kind of dynamical models, including in chaoting dynamics, which are emerging now, and so that gives the idea as morphogenetic fields have to have, is the idea of containing the goal of form of final state of something within themselves. The morphogenetic field of the oak tree contains in some sense the form of the fully formed oak, and draws the growing seedling towards it. This is like [...] final causes. And so the entire nature of morphic fields is to have attractors. And the only way to model them mathematically that we can, that we have something that hints towards it at the moment is in terms of dynamics, including chaotic dynamics, the idea of non-stable end points, or dynamic end points. And if one has a novel view that is based on those, and if one has also as one does in this kind of organismic, holistic universe, the idea that the microcosm mirrors the macrocosm, that the part in some sense, you know, is the whole, so each system is in some way related to the whole, then the morphic field of the entire universe must have a kind of cosmic attractor from that point of view. Which is drawing the universe towards something, so that instead of, this would then, you see, lead to the view that even the flux of energy has another side to it because we normally think of the big-bang pushing matter out from behind, everything being pushed from the past. And the big-bang and certainly that model is an explosion that’s the original impetus of the explosion which is pushing the galaxies and the whole universe apart, but the idea of an attractor is that it’s not being pushed, is being pulled. And so, the energetic causation as we know it is based on an pushing principle and formative causation is based on a pulling principle towards a kind of goal or form or an attractor.

TMK: So placing it in the future is not that inappropriate

RS: Well, you see it’s if one has the idea of the universe as a whole has a morphic field which has a morphic attractor for the evolution of the entire universe then what could that attractor be. And we don’t know what it is. It might be a kind of ever receding attractor, so the universe will just go on expanding for ever and for ever with an endless creation of new forms with no end. That’s one possible 

TMK: That’s one possible view

RS: But if there’s an end, which is what the entire judeo-christian myth of history leads us to believe, well within the field of a judeo-christian myth of history whether we like it or not the whole counter progress depends on it, and the idea that some kind of end or goal of history is deeply rooted in our entire culture, and it comes out in some forms,you know star wars and these kinds of visions of the future, the ultimate nuclear war. And mostly images drawn from the book of revelation. These are things that happen at the end of ordinary history before the coming of the millenia. Plagues, famines, season rivers turning red to blood, far from heaven, and finally the great war in heaven. Signs of the end which many of us can easily find very plausible. The approaching of a new millennium means we’re absolute bound to have vast outbreak of millenerian prophecy, of which you’re one of the earlier exponents

TMK: Oh, Thank you very much

RS: But I mean you’re ahead of your time since the millennium is only 12 years away you can’t possibly be more than 12 years ahead of it because the crescendo of prophecies is going to grow obviously as we approach January the 1st 2000, and you know how [monic] convergence was the end of the beginning of the beginning of a dress rehearsal for what’s going to be a mammoth revisioning, and this sense of a culmination in time, and of goals and ends is something very hard to escape from in our civilization, the idea of it just going on and on and on and on forever isn’t very attractive. The [tie] of the shadow view, of an omega point is the idea of there being an end or goal to history. And then of course there’s the pessimistic version of this which is always associated with the postulation of dark matter, which dark matter, dark mother Kali, I mean is the dark one who is going to destroy it all. The destructive aspect, by having enough dark matter undetectable by any instruments which will cause the expansion to slow down and into this dark matter in the universe and then to contract until everything ends in the final implosion, the big crunch. Well, this is one cosmology on the market, you see, then of course the return to the great cycle cosmologists who welcome that because see it as if the big crunch of this universe could be the big-bang of the next, and then you get back to endless cycles for ever, which is back in the realm of archaic cosmology’s eternal laws, it’s where the whole tradition of our science, rooted in greek cosmology feels comfortable, the idea of an eternal cyclic universe with eternal [knot]. But if we have this idea of an evolutionary universe, then it seems to me the main choice is between this either it all going in reversal coming to a sticky end [noddle], the big-crunch, or that it just goes on and on forever and there’s no end, there’s no final form in some sense pulling things forward, except pure diversity for its own sake a kind of universal free economy that goes on forever.

[1:01:49] TMK: So it’s what you’re saying, since there obviously was a big-bang since we’re here, your more comfortable with placing the morphogenetic causality as something which moved from the past toward the future, rather than from the future toward the past because the hypothesized final end state we have no evidence for.

RS: Well, there are two things. If the influence on the future in some sense influences creativity, if that in some sense cause new forms to come into being, once they’ve come into being I think that the, they take on a life of their own and this is a kind of memory aspect. I think memory is so intrinsic a part of our own life so obviously a part of all life. So undeniably the basis for all our experience that any view of the universe that doesn’t take memory seriously as an influence from the past and tries to substitute in its place an influence from the future is going to be inadequate. If there’s an influence from the future I don’t think it can work on the realm of memory or habit fenomena which we know very well depend on the past. Or rather it may work in the realms of the as yet, in the realms of the possible, which are the realms into which we are always moving and they’re the realms which in fact consciousness inhabits. I mean consciousness is the realms of the possible as far as I can see.

TMK: Well, I think that one way to think about information coming from the future is to imagine that ordinarily this is not allowed, but, to make a quantum mechanical metaphor, you can imagine bits of information that tunnel into the past in a way that particles overcome energy transitions by magically appearing on the other side of them without ever having gone over them, and it’s possible to imagine that a very small amount of information actually leaks into the past and that this information becomes the province of seers and shamans and visionary thinkers of all sorts, that creativity is this appetition, you know there’s a word in Gaelic, “hiraeth”, which means simultaneously nostalgia for the past and the future, and it seems to me that kind of nostalgia for the past and the future is what drives great creative spirits, poets, and visionaries. And it has this enchanted, this [fay], kind of aura about it because information from the future is necessarily magical, it’s, it exists and yet it cannot exist because in its existence is implicitly, impl… is a paradox.

RS: Well I think there are two ways information from the future works. One isn’t really so much information from the future, is what I’d think is the primary cause of the whole thing which is the attraction of the attractor. There’s something in the future which draws us, for example, forward. And what we experience the future as, is not as definite information, not even as exactly concrete plans, but more in the experience of hope, and more consciously in the experience of faith. And faith is basically a vision of the future which we believe in, and believe is the right one for us into which we are attracted. [1:05:43] So, people who have, as we read in thousands of books on how to get on in business, if you have faith that you’re going to succeed, you really believe that you’re going to be rich, then the chances are it may well be so. Whereas if you don’t actually want to be rich and if you don’t have faith in it, and if you don’t keep putting out that kind of image, if you don’t have that hope, then the chances are you won’t be rich. And so there’s also the kind of religious faith that drew the pilgrim fathers to the United States and it was the faith from the Judeo-Christian heritage, the promise, the faith in the promised land, the promise of a land in the future or somewhere else which would be flowing with milk and honey, where there will be bounty prosperity, the land would yield up its riches, the land of course, the original promised land wasn’t empty, it had inhabitants in it, but they were killed off, and then it was appropriated and this was the promised land was that: it’s America. And that dream of the promised land drew everybody here to America [...] ancestors is this kind of hope, this drawing this attraction, it’s actually what we know from our own experience is how this attraction works, it works through faith through vague mythic hopes, through sense of promises as yet unfulfilled and so on. 

TMK: Well the disturbing thing about that then is what you referred to: this utter conviction in the approaching end of the world which motivated vast numbers of people caught up in this motheistic myth system. All the major monotheistic religions point to an end to the world and for several of them it’s soon.

RS: But you see I think we’re in a worse way that you may think because if we say “alright, let’s not model so much these monotheistic religions” what other models, since I think that if morphic resonance works then it means that our collective unconscious, and particularly our cultural unconscious contains elements which we’ve, so deep down, they influence us much more deeply that we know, and the Anglo-Saxon race, the English language it’s cultural roots are in Germany. The Germanic gods, the whole Germanic mythology is that the old age will end in a twilight of the Gods. And one of the problems that Hitler had in reviving the German Gods is that that entire theology of those Gods, the entire pagan system of the Germanic Gods is one that comes to appalling end in the twilight of the Gods, even the Gods die out in this twilight of the world when there’s a destruction of all things: Ragnarok. So even if we look to pagan mythic sources, as well as the Judeic ones, and even if we look to the Hindu mythic sources, you know the idea of the Kali Yuga at the end of every age where there’s this densification of time and find that the entire universe is dissolved, and then Brahma, it’s inhaling of the breath of Brahma, and then a new universe is created or breathed out. It seems to me that a great many of these have this view that would lock in to the idea of an end to time

TMK: Yes well, or an end to history

RS: or an end to history

[1:09:11] TMK: It’s occurred to me recently thinking about this, my own model of time comes to an abrupt end for all of its prophecies to work there has to be an end date assigned, and it only works when the end date is assigned very close to the end of the Mayan calendar, which is 24 years in the future. So I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to imagine how the world could end in 24 years. How is such a thing possible without just, you know, God almighty descending and the chariot aflame, but how could it happen without that? Could there be a plausible scenario created that would have our world utterly end in 24 years in a happy way. And it occurs to me that the way in which this is to be accomplished is staring us in the face. It is simply this: that in the close end, shortly after the first few years of the next century, a technology will begin to be developed, the purpose of which will be to transmit a message forward into time. And unbeknownst to the technocrats that will create this massive governmental project to communicate with the future, will be certain paradoxes which are built into the effort to do this. One of the things that will be discovered is: if you invent a time communicator that can send a message into time, into the future, then anyone in the future can send a message back to you, but no message can go further back into the past then the moment of the invention of the first time machine. Do you follow? So suddenly in human history an absolute membrane for information is established: before time communicators, all causality moves from the past to the future, after time communicator, causality moves both directions. And consequently more advanced states, states thousands, millions, hundreds of millions of years in the future, will diffuse through the entire temporal medium like heat through a gas, and at that point what you’ll suddenly find is the moment the switch if thrown on the first time communicator, the future end state of evolution will appear one microsecond later, because the entire of the future will be forced to happen all at once. Not sure you’re with me.

Q: [...]

TMK: So basically it’s simply a technological innovation which would be like whistle for calling the almighty God into the historical process. The first person to invent a device which communicates with the future will discover that all of the future is suddenly communicating with them. And this will be experienced as a very radical sort of transition in the way we maintain our homes and businesses. Well I don’t know, I think we’ve running past intermission time, I think we should have an intermission and then all these people who are burning to ask questions should come back. How do you feel about that?

Q: [...]

TMK: I don’t care. Fine. You

Q: If that were true [...]

TMK: Well but we haven’t reached the moment when the switch is thrown

Q: Somebody has

TMK: But the future cannot go any further into the past than that moment

Q: Absolutely [...]

TMK: Well don’t you think that that’s what’s making the world so crazy? 

Q: It may well

TMK: It’s that we are running smack into another dimension, and that’s what’s creating the shock wave of cultural effects that we call the 20th century, but which once we get through all this it will be known as the bow-shock of transition to the millennial eschaton or whatever it was.

Q: [...] Time is in fact asymptotic. [...] We’re entering this asymptotic curve now and this is when “weirdness” [...] synchronicity [...]

TMK: Well I think that this asymptotic thing that you’re talking about, how you perceive it depends how you stand in time. There is a certain point of view where only a few moments after the big-bang the asymptotic weirdness began to set in. It was interesting a few weeks ago I was visited in Hawaii by none other than Carl Sagan and he had a number of things on his mind one of the things that he was at great pains to point out to me is I said something about this asymptotic approach to the end of history, and he said “Well my dear boy, you just have it all wrong”, the speed of information transfer reached the speed of light, with the invention of radio, it’s been absolutely flat ever since, the largest thermonuclear blast ever detonated was in 1958, there hasn’t been a bigger one for 30 years. The fastest human object ever built was launched in 1967, there hasn’t been a faster one since. So this nonsense about ever-creasing this that and the other

Q: [...]

TMK: Well what he, what is increasing asymptotically is density of connectedness and obviously at a certain point, you reach maximum density of connectedness in the present. The only way you can then continue to desify connection is if the connections begin to move outward in time, into the future and into the past, and you undergo this transition from particulate Cartesian Newtonian existence to this wave-mechanical shamanic both present in the past, present in the future, present in the present kind of existence. This is what I meant about the social implications of the integrating Rupert’s paradigm. It is permission to feel this new way and to know that it is a more correct mirroring of the greater cosmos than the model that had us as the citizens, the ego, the individual, all of that sort of thing.

Q: [...]

[1:18:48] TMK: Well, see, I think it’s something much more profound than that. Let’s take my example about the time communicator for a moment and let’s tell a little science fiction story to make it more understandable what I’m talking about. Let’s pretend it’s not a time communicator, it’s a real time machine. And we’re going to send somebody into the far flung reaches into the future, and we’re never done this before, so we load them in to the jewel device that we’ve built in our laboratory and we pass out the champagne and we have a brief countdown and then we throw the switch and our lab chief sails off into the future. Well then what the rest of us sitting there see, what happens at that moment. Well at first I thought what would happen is suddenly all over the world time travelers would begin arriving from the far flung reaches of the future having come to witness the first voyage into time. Obviously a great thing to see if you’re a time traveler, if you had a [sessen] airplane that you could fly to Kitty Hawk in 1906 wouldn’t you fly there and see? But it kept nagging at my mind that there was some paradox in this or something was wrong with this idea. And then I said “ah ha!”, I see what it is, it’s the kill your own grandfather problem. If time travellers could travel backward into the past, even as far as only the invention of the first time machine, one of them might conceive, one from many centuries in the future, might travel back and kill their grandfather and initiate that good old paradox of how could you kill your grandfather, because you killed your grandfather you didn’t exist, or how did you exist to kill your grandfather. But then I realized, no, in the same way that the most advanced cultures on the sphere of the planet dominate and overwhelm less advanced cultures the most advanced future states would dominate and overwhelm the entire temporal continuum clear back to the moment of the invention of the first time machine. So what you would really see when you threw the switch on the first time machine. Would be the simultaneous arrival of the ultimate state of human evolution, whatever that is, something beyond our conceiving. So it’s in very practical terms it would fulfill this apocalyptic dream of monotheism. It’s conceivable that if we could invent a device which would transmit information or objects forward into time, that the moment that device were invented we could call upon the resources of all future human history to bail us out of this mess that we’re in. It may be the only way to save the planet. An immediate time wars commitment to spare no efforts to send information forward into the future looking for help. I’m not serious of course, but I’m peculiar. On that note, why don’t we take an intermission, and then come back. 10 minutes.

[1:22:55] RS: Well, let me take one bit first. There’s lot of separate questions. The punctuated evolution thing, the idea that evolution moves by fits and starts, which was denied by neodarwinists, and by Darwin himself, in favor of a slow, gradual, steady progression, moving at a more or less uniform rate. Darwin was great disciple of Liells and the principle in geology of uniformitarianism, the idea that things go on at uniform rates, and this particular school of geology was opposed to the theory of catastrophism, the idea that there are catastrophic events on the earth, like the flood, the biblical flood, and the development has been discontinuous, there’s been breaks, and fits and starts, periods of more or less stability and then big changes. That catastrophist theory, which was a popular theory at the beginning of the 19th century was rejected by Darwin, as it was rejected by Liell, because as soon as you allow catastrophes, all the Christians agree with this, they say yes the bible tells us that we know from our whole cultural history that there are catastrophes, and this is saying the same kind of thing. They wanted to say something totally different, that wouldn’t fit into any kind of biblical view whatsoever, the idea of a totally progressive, linear progress of change. Anyway the fossil record never supported that. And punctuated equilibrium seems to be what happens. And it suggests that evolution moves by fits and starts. And what started as an appalling heresy it’s been a recurrent heresy ever since Darwin first put forward his book, people have objected to it on the grounds that evolution may well move by fits and starts, even T. H. Huxley disagreed with Darwin on this one. Anyway if evolution moves by fits and starts rather than uniformly, then it looks as if there’s not a uniform rate of novelty formation in the universe. And of course that’s just what Terence tells us. 

TMK: That’s right, one way of thinking about the novelty wave on the largest level, is that it is a picture of the ebb and flow of mutation in the history of life on the planet. In other words, the idea that mutation is random is based on the untested and cheerful assumption that radiation is arriving on the Earth at an even rate. But there’s no reason why it should be. If the rate of radiation arriving on the Earth were fluctuating for any reason, you would expect to see a concomitant fluctuation in the fossil record, and there are many other reasons. Catastrophism, the idea that there have been extremely violent episodes in the Earth’s history, huge volcanic outgassings, cometary and asteroidal impacts, and this sort of thing, is now pretty widely accepted, in fact extinction of the dinosaurs is put down to an asteroid or impact. But go on it would be interesting to hear you deal with the salts that tire.

RS: Yes, I’m fascinated by these salts that get tired. I don’t know, I mean I’d been interested to get from you later reference to the literature so I can look it up because that sounds really interesting eutactic salts going back and forwards and getting tired. I mean the only thing that I think of hand in response to that is that I’ve been thinking quite a lot recently about exactly that kind of phenomenon, melting points. And asking the question of myself and of chemist, whether compounds fairly newly synthesized, when they’re crystallized have a particular melting points, and as the time goes on the melting point might change because the habits which hold the crystal in its form might become stronger and it might be more resistant to thermal disruption so the melting point might go up. It turns out that in the chemical literature, far from being fixed, melting points fluctuate, but in the public literature I found differences of up to 12 degrees over 20 years. And there do seem to be extraordinary fluctuations, and most organic chemists agree that strange changes occur, that they don’t seem half as constant as they are cracked up to be.

Q: That might keep the ice caps in place then

[1:27:45] RS: Well, that might be a...

TMK: Changing the melting point

RS: You see, one of the things I’ve been thinking about is when the substance melts you’ve both got the formative field of the crystal, but the liquid phase of the substance also has a morphic field, liquids have characteristic properties, they are not totally chaotic and formless. And if it’s a new substance that’s never been melted before, it won’t have had a sort of morphic field for its liquid phase. By repeated cooling I was trying to think of experiments involving cycles, cycling a substance through cycles of melting and cooling, because there would be a way in which the number of transitions and also the endurance of the liquid versus the solid phase would tend to stabilize the morphic fields of these two phases and in a sense [run] the melting points. It would be as if there were two competing fields, and if one were the stronger one might tend to raise or lower the melting point. So, this is, I’ve been thinking about this sort of things. I’m fascinated to hear about these eutectic crystals and I’d like to hear about the literature. I’m adopting a very traditional scientific position in one way by assuming that by putting forward the hypothesis in the most general possible form if I said that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t then it would be very difficult to test because… and it would actually be irrefutable. That’s a vice and not a virtue in a scientific theory and so I’m more inclined to think of it working—trying to think of it working everywhere. Now, there are many systems, like the behaviour of hydrogen atoms, crystallization of sodium chloride, and all sorts of phenomena that physics studied in great detail, which have happened billions of times and as far as we know for billions of years even before this planet formed. So there are certain kinds of phenomena in nature which have happened so many times before, they’re so deeply habitual that they behave as if they’re governed by eternal laws. Their habits are so deeply entrenched. And I think many of the phenomena that scientists have studied, particularly in the physical sciences are of that kind. And therefore they do look as if they’re governed by eternal laws. Where the difference shows up is when you look at any new phenomenon, cause then you can see that habits building up, without established habits they might look as if they might look as if they are not really habits at all, but following eternal laws. So I would say that the… I would prefer to think of the theory applying everywhere and I’d account for the apparent non-changing of many physical habits in terms of the extreme antiquity. In fact they are so deeply embedded in group habits they don’t change. 

Q: [...]

RS: Well you can test the theory in any area where you can do something new. New forms, new crystals, new molecules, new patterns of protein folding, new ideas, new ways of learning. There seems to be plenty of areas that can be tested in.

Q: [...] 

RS: It’s a hypothesis. What a hypothesis is is a guess about how things may be. And what I’ve done is contrasted this guess in a variety of areas, the realms of memory, crystallography, morphogenesis, instinct, behavior, transmission of learning, behaviour and evolution of social groups. So I’ve looked at the predictions of this way of looking at things compared with the standard way of looking at things, and in every area one finds that there’s a whole range of shadowy phenomena where the evidence for the conventional position is very weak indeed. One sees that that’s actually a guess too, which is in most essential areas unproofed, even now. So one’s got one guess vs another much more common and habitual guess. And there are other guesses on the market too. 

Q: [...]

RS: Well, a failure of experiments to show morphic resonance would falsify it. Except that falsifying scientific theories is never, people often go on as if, they say Popper says the idea is to falsify theories, I don’t know a single example of science proceeding in that manner. Most scientists are trying to prove theories and they may try and falsify theories of their rivals, which is the way usually happens. And it’s a kind of dialectic then, science become a dialectic between rivals, and science is full of ego rivalries. Well most people think that this is terrible vice, but actually is one of the motors of competitive science as we know it. Somebody puts forward a theory and someone has a rival theory and they, then the way the contest is decided is by experiment. Experiments are usually designed to test for rival hypothesis, rather than testing a single one in isolation and I’m putting forward a variety of tests that test between the idea that nature has this habitual tendency as against the conventional idea which is always that nature has got immutable changeless eternal laws. And some tests may be inclusive, some tests may I think favor the idea of morphic resonance, if all the tests that are done fail it. If it fails, if it looks as if things are governed by eternal changeless laws, there’s no evidence for any incremental change in time in any area, that everything goes on as if it were governed entirely by laws that were already there to start with, I’d find these rather surprising, but failure of these experiments would actually support that view, and the conventional view would then have for the first time have empirical evidence in its favour. Cause this would be the first time it’s ever been challenged, and if its challenger fail it would strengthen it. So these tests I think are in everybody’s interest, but then if they support the idea of morphic resonance then indeed it would show that that is not a perfect model, the idea of a memory in nature, morphic resonance, however crude the theory is in its present preliminary form, it would be a better theory and a theory more worth developing. And the question is: is the field connection in quantum non-locality, in Bell’s theorem and the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky paradox, that kind of quantum non-locality related to morphic resonance, are they two aspects of the same phenomenon? That’s a really interesting question in relation to existing physics and nobody know the answer. I don’t know how morphic resonance is conceived would fit with quantum non-locality which does in fact involve a past, because both systems originate from past and it’s to do with a system with a past, which is I would say the very existence of these particles produces a kind of resonance from their own past and I’d say that there is a kind of morphic resonance link and probably that’s what it might be, but I can’t fit that into the formalism of quantum theory because I don’t know it, I’m not a quantum theorist and to really to work with those equations with any degree of subtlety would require a deep understanding of the subject. On the other hand, J. S. Bell, the inventor of Bell’s theorem has been in correspondence with me, he’s read both my books and has sent me his latest book. So we’ve been in correspondence about a possible connection between morphic resonance and his own theory, he’s perfectly intrigued by morphic resonance and his own theory, and he thinks they may be connected with his own theory but he can’t see how because there’s nothing in the conventional physics which has yet proved, because it’s so based on eternal equations, the idea of Schrodinger’s equation is a kind of eternal platonic form that governs all quantum processes from the beginning of the universe to the end in exactly the same way. That’s the kind of inherited formalism of quantum mechanics, and that kind of mathematics which postulates eternal platonic types forms is not going to be adequate for modelling an evolutionary universe. And so it’s not clear how the bridge can be made, or even whether that connection, but I think there must be some kind of connections, there can’t be lots of totally unconnected types of non-locality in the universe.

[1:36:42] TMK: Rupert why not replace the platonic models with fractal models and then say that time itself is the morphogenetic field, that it is some kind of fractal topological manifold that, and what, and so the repetition, or the connection to past states is really accomplished through resonance within the fractal and then we have a model for resonance because it’s familiar to us from other domains of nature

RS: Well I don’t see quite how, there’s a sense in which the fractal is a new mathematical model that gives us the same idea that, the ancient idea that the microcosm mirroring the macrocosm, the idea that different levels

TMK: Well but not only different levels, but different points on the same level, in the same level in the same way that the past occupies a relationship to the future of formative anticipation, so in a fractal do early portions of it anticipate later forms, so it is like a prediction, a self fulfilling prediction is what a fractal is. It predicts by virtue of its past states, they define what its future states would be, exactly in the same way that I imagine the morphogenetic fields define what a future state would be. The fractals that have been talked about to-date have been used to describe spacial phenomena, coast lines, molecular arrangements, distribution of flowers in a meadow, this sort of thing. But if instead you thought of fractals as descriptors for the temporal dimension and replace the notion of a flat or slightly curved manifold with an actual fractal surface over which events were flowing and flowing over patterns which repeated themselves at many many levels in resonance with previous similar patterns, then you would begin to have a mathematical picture of how the morphogenetic field would work and you would also have found a phenomenon in nature upon which to hang it by saying time is obviously it, it’s just that we’re so ingrained by Newtonianism to accept time as an abstraction, as something not having equal status with the other three dimensions, that we’ve overlooked this fact, and yet obviously that is the carrier wave, that’s why you would speak of the presence of the past. What else could it be but time, past time, in the present?

RS: Well it is past time in the present, but the fractal wave, why I don’t like the fractal model taken to any great extreme is because any kind of mathematical modelling given the whole kind, the whole nature of mathematics as it’s practiced, fractal mathematics is conventional paradigm in the sense that you create an equation and you generate this form. The equation itself, the governing equation, is not subject to evolution and it’s generating the same form, and it would go on generating the same form right into the future, in other words it would be a kind of determinism based on a kind of platonic or pythagorean ideal form, the fractal equation, which generate the fractal. And I don’t understand evolution as happening like that. I don’t think that it’s deterministic.

TMK: Well you’re right that as they are presently understood it would generate, however complicated, ultimately a determinism. But I wonder if we’re just not mathematically sophisticated enough to inculcate into the fractal equations sufficient randomness within the fractal constraints to begin to get the kind of complexity that we meet in the real world. That would seem to be what is lacking, is a random factor that causes the factor to skew toward the production of ferns, and then suddenly to switch over to feathers, and then to river systems, and then to industrial economy, you see, something like that. But if… it can do all these things, it can model all these things, but as you say, in a deterministic way. But maybe we don’t know enough about them yet, and that there maybe higher dimensional or higher order fractals with the degree of self determinacy or autopoiesis build into them, I think this must be so, because I think the world we’re living in must be such a world and that we are these fractals, we are essentially three-dimensional expressions of DNA. And all the DNA is the same and yet each one of us is different, and yet ten of us are like any other ten and yet different. And we as human beings have these same qualities and so do our cities, and our nation states, and continents we inhabit, and the religious systems we’re inside of. So it seems to me the fractal model may be the one who holds out the greatest hope for a formalizing of the morphogenetic field. All other fields are fractals. The electromagnetic field, the radio wave, all of these things are found to have these quality and in fact the development of this kind of mathematics initially was in an effort to describe the field phenomenon, fourier transforms, that sort of thing. So, then, why not this one? And then that vastly narrows the mathematical domain in which you’d have to search for a formal description of the morphogenetic field. It would also yield a perfect theory of history, because that part of the morphogenetic field.

[1:43:32] RS: Well I suppose that one of the problems I have is that I’m not so fascinated with mathematics, I mean I don’t think that mathematics, most mathematicians think that the maths is more real than the thing it models, that the equations of the universe are more real somehow than the universe, they were there before it after all. They were its source. They were [pride] of it, both logically and temporally. They’re the more real thing, this is the platonic tradition. And this is alive and well. I mean its latest, greatest exponent in the best seller of the last few months is Stephen Hawking, who is a perfect exponent of that platonic view, the eternal intellect, the eternal mathematical mind, which somehow is over and above the universe. The mathematical mind of God in some sense is there before and prior to matter or bodies. And as one of our British journals put it Stephen Hawking is the closest that we have to a disembodied mind. And it’s a perfect, you see, in a sense there’s a perfect.. I think the reason for his mythic quality, cause he’s a mythic figure, mythic [...], is because of that. And the vision is totally consistent with it. So I don’t really… all mathematics tend to have that quality, and I would think of the fields not as something which to grasp we have to model mathematically, but as something which I think as much more like living things. And our models would be much more and more appropriately based on intuitive sense, and living sense, of things that we actually learn from experience, as living things ourselves. So the models would be much more communicated by seeing how they correspond to our actual subjective experiences, the kind of things that we experience

TMK: Through ordinary language

RS: Through ordinary language, through the realms of the imagination, through our understanding of memory, through the mind, through the power of hopes, fears, desires, fantasies, through the experience of our consciousness as the realm of the possible. And so these are much the best models. And mathematics is a tiny fraction of a formalized modelling of the possible which is constrained by their particular rules and is entirely and so far in the whole history of the mathematical subject, under the influence of platonic spirit. And I just think that try and pin it all to that just seems a limitation that one doesn’t need at this stage. I mean it may be helpful, it may be interesting

TMK: My god, I see why they’re alarmed now. Yes well I’m sure you’re quite right. So what you’re really calling for is the re-birth of poetry.

RS: Well, and all kinds of lived experience through which we related to the world. Because a science which helps us directly to experience nature and actually when we walk in the wood understand it more deeply and more profoundly than we do know, something that tells us something we don’t know about the quality of woods, trees, the nature of the bird song we hear, how they communicate. I mean, I think they’re just call signs as sounds and the actual messages as it were telepathic once they’ve tuned in through the right cause. This kind of world we might come to live in and actually experience, and the mathematical models just wouldn’t seem, I don’t think, totally interesting or important

[1:47:28] TMK: Well so this is the connection to the psychedelic experience, the felt realm of immediate perception, that somehow with the psychedelics we’re coming into the full spectrum of our experiential birthright and you’re saying that this theory correctly assimilated brings us also into a full appreciation of the full spectrum of experience that is our birthright

RS: It makes us realize that we live in a magical world in which there are unseen connections, that the power of thought, imagination, and dream actually has a reality and our ancestors actually lived in such a world, you know the whole medieval and animistic world and the worlds before that. And most people in the whole world have lived in such a world, a world in which such things are possible. It’s only since the 17th century that our civilization has stripped the world of its magic, and it’s stripped the world of its magic by turning it into a machine, and if it becomes a living organism again, alive once again, I think it’s becoming, then it’s a living thing, and we have to relate to it as a living thing. And the disembodied mind approach of totally abstract mathematics seeing the universe as if from without, the whole point of the mechanistic picture was that you withdraw yourself from the world, you see the world as a spinning ball, as we now finally through the space mission come to see the world, is a total confirmation of the initial leap of the [...] of Copernicus, it’s the proof of Copernican theory in the most dramatic form, cause [...] was to step off the earth, which everyone else had taken the Earth as the centre from which to model things, cause it’s the centre from which we experience them and it’s true to our experience. Saying that’s not the centre at all and Kepler in 1609 wrote the early work of science fiction of dream where he imagined himself being in a visionary state transported to the moon. On the moon encountering strange creatures that lived underground and crawled out from under rocks and looking back on the Earth and seeing the Earth spinning on its axis just as astronauts in our cameras see it from the moon, and using this in his book, The Somnium, to persuade people by the thought experiment to see that the Earth could be moving even they themselves experienced the rest of the heavens to be moving, and this is the thought experiment that takes our minds of the Earth and puts them out in space. And then through Newtonian space takes them outside the entire universe until they occupy the same vantage point as the imagined God of the mechanistic world machine, somehow external to the mechanism. And this is the world in which [LePass] and his followers thought that their minds were actually dwelling, through experiencing these eternal mathematical truths, learning them in physics text books and there they were, the eternal truths of the universe, as named by God, as such a God existed. And so the human mind was totally abstracted from the whole universe, leaving the body and the feelings behind, in some other kind of realm, the realm of everyday life, poetry, imagination, religion, etc. That the intellectual understanding of the whole universe which was finally applied to the whole of [...], to the whole of the human body, and finally to the whole of the human brain, purporting to explain everything in terms of this abstracted intellectual vision rooted in eternity, as the mind of the scientists somehow outside the universe observing it, this has been collapsing, I mean the [...] in quantum theory, the unworkability of that view, and now the collapse of any justification for any eternal laws. So I don’t think we have to stay in that, yeah we have to change the whole way of experiencing it, yes

TMK: And it is an archaic return, it is a brief intellectual detour since the 17th century as you point out

RS: Terence’s interested is in the time flow, and I’m interested in the habits, but I think they’re complementary because you’re never going to understand the quality of time flow if you haven’t already understood the power of nature of habit, because there’s no doubt whatever that a great deal of the time flow that’s happening, in spite of all the fluctuations, involves the persistence of a vast number of habits, which is why we’re all here tonight. If these habits, the major ones by which we live from day to day, our bodies work, our language work, our social conventions work, and so on, if these habits were severely disrupted it would be virtually impossible even to sit here and talk about it. We’re here because there’s a vast stability of habits. And so I think that one has to understand the habits, as well as.. They’re two sides of the same coin in a sense. The time flow and its quality, what affects is the other side of the coin of habit, and that understanding goes together I think but I would think see the primary task for me anyway is to try and establish the nature of these habits. Once we understand the nature of habits better I think it would be easier to set up if we’re [...] to study the nature of time flow around, one would, I suppose, look for correlated events around the world, see, whether certain patterns of events tended to happen around the world, what Jung called synchronicities, which he thought of as manifesting some kind of underlying pattern in the flow of time. And so the study of synchronicities already exists of course, Jung initiated it [...] and others. So that’s one way of looking at time flow because synchronicities suggest that something behind the scenes of what appear to be near events in different places. So [...] some complementary approaches, it’s not one or the other, and I think both the study of synchronicities, and the quality of time might help to explain a lot of anomalies in scientific experiments. There are few scientific experiments that are repeatable in fact, they’re repeatable only approximately. I’ve spent years teaching practical classes in Cambridge at the universities, Harvard, teaching practical classes to undergraduates in biochemistry is an enlightening experience because they’re only given experiments to do which a text book experiments that everybody already knows work. I mean you wouldn’t give students something that isn’t going to work. So you give them the most certain, established, repetitive, and repeatable of all the systems you can think of. You don’t want them right up at the research frontiers where results fluctuate wildly and no one know what’s going on until it sort of stabilize, being published and become kind of habit of thought, and expectation, you give them things that are already believe by everyone to work. And the results are astounding! They’re all over the place, I mean even competent undergraduates, the answers are extremely variable, for any biological experiments I’ve ever had hundreds of [...] they’re given the same apparatus, the same pipette, the same solutions, you know lab technicians put these things out by the dozens in first year and second year practical laboratories. The results are all over the place. Well, even in third year undergraduates [..] keep coming out all over the place and you explain away the ones that don’t, either they don’t know the technique, they put the wrong solution in, they must have done this, they must have done that, you must have done the other, and you can find a hundred to explain why this actually happens. The only actual examples we have where people try to repeat experiments on a mass scale, turn out to be highly unrepeatable. And most scientists don’t spend their time repeating standard experiments and measuring whether they fluctuate or not, they’re always getting on to the next thing, and so this idea has never been tested. I think if it is tested perhaps we’ll find synchronized fluctuations in the way experiments work in labs around the world. People have lab notebooks kept separately, the date, when presenting the experiments you never mention the date you did it. It’s assumed that time flows uniformly. Figure 1 shows the effect of magnesium ions on the activity of phosphofructokinase, you have sort of enzyme activity, magnesium ion concentration, there’s this graph, it’s treated as if it’s an eternal truth. And yet any biochemical experiment you do is different. I’ve done hundreds in my time. You publish one of them and gives sort of plausible [...] well representative results are shown in figure 1. And no two experiments give exactly the same results in any real interesting scientific system, such as those looked up by chemists and so on. And so I think actually there’s vast amounts of data, if scientists dated their results for example, [...] an elementary move towards recognizing the quality of time. If one finds all one particular kinds of results were date that… and if scientists all around the world found that say on the 12th of September experiments wouldn’t work very well but they all tend to work on the 15th, this would be very interesting information. Everyone agrees that sun spots, for example, the 11 year cycle affects climatic patterns and growth rings in trees, you can measure it, way back. And this is standard science now, and cosmic rays fluctuations, every year the Earth passes through meteorite clouds, there are all sorts of things that are known, and cosmic rays affect mutations rates, and if you experiments where people have tried to do some of the Rudolf Steiner people did experiments where they crystalized standard solutions, they crystallized them in different days, the same conditions, and yet the patterns, the dendritic patterns of crystal growth differ from day to day, indicating a kind of quality of time. Now, no normal science would do that, you see, because it’s assumed that any day is as good as any other. So there’s, [...] in lab books, if you went, the data is all there, there’s tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of lab note books in the world today, and scientists do date their experiments in their notebooks, you keep a daily register of experiments, all dated. Just an examination of old notebooks would be quite revealing and it wouldn’t even involve new experiments. But as soon they write up the paper it’s taken out of its temporal context and put in this kind of seemingly timeless context of eternal truth.

TMK: Well this is because science cannot operate without this notion of the restoration of the initial conditions, and yet this is a highly unexamined notion. And as all these anecdotal incidents indicate, there is no restoration of initial conditions, all of science is being practiced on an unexamined and apparently false assumption. So a more honest definition of what science is, is science is the art of studying those phenomena so crude that they can have an apparent restoration of initial conditions, but that leaves out all investment schemes, love affairs, dynastic families, elitary campaigns, and what have you, none of those can have their initial conditions restored, and those are the things that are really important to us so it then is correctly seen to be a very limited way of doing intellectual business, having a very narrow spectrum of applications. One way I think of thinking about the difference between ordinary science and what Rupert is trying to do is to think of science as that enterprise of human thought which attempts to state what is possible, what is possible. But out of the very large class of what is possible, certain things are going to have to be selected to actually happen, to undergo what Whitehead called the formality of actually occurring. And an idea like Rupert’s is a way of saying well, here is the past, the past is the factor which selects against the class of the possible to narrow it into this much narrower class, the class of those things which have actually occurred. Science never talks about how the class of the possible is narrowed into the calls of the actually occurring, yet this is obviously a big question. We don’t wanna know what’s possible, we wanna know what’s going to happen. We don’t wanna know what might have happened, we wanna know what happened. And so new ways of thinking about causality, new ways of thinking about time, new ways of thinking about the way influence of form is mitigated into the world of three-dimensional space. Does it come from the past? Does it come from a kind of platonic never never-land that is a hyperdimension that surrounds apparent space and time? Does it come from the future, is it like a dynamic attractor, is it a huge flickering shadow across a lower dimensional landscape that is somehow gathered into itself? These are the kinds of questions that have to be asked to create a new model of time that is empowering of the felt presence of immediate experience, that is the new ground zero of any kind of humane science. The felt presence of the immediate experience of the individual has to be the primary datum of a new science, otherwise it isn’t going to be a new science, it’s going to be a re-thread on the old science. But it’s well after 11 o’clock maybe we should pack it in. thank you very much