The Planetization of Humanity


I feel gratified that I will not be the first person to mention Terence McKenna or use the word “Eschaton”.  But I’m taking this opportunity to be a bit of a revisionist.  That said, let me open with a few remarks:


All of us have been entranced – seduced – by the vision of the Noosphere as the layer of thought which surrounds the planet.  Yet the Web provided no intellectual argument which engulfed us with its efficacy, a self-justifying raison detre.  Rather, the Web seduced us, an act of love – as far as we can understand it – which is still growing.


So I wish to amend Teilhard, just one little bit:  The Noosphere is not the layer of thought which surrounds the planet, it’s the layer of love.


If this seems an impossibly Romantic view of the situation, dispassionately consider your own relationship to that visible body of the Noosphere, known as the Web…


Americans, as it is well known, love Money almost more than anything else, so if the dream of the heart’s desire is, one can convincingly argue that the Web has found the most powerful engine of seduction we’ve collectively got as a culture, and is centering on it until we are all entirely given over.


I want to quote Teilhard, from The Phenomenon of Man, with a bit of my own commentary:


“The earth gets a new skin.  Better still, it finds a soul.”  (p. 183)  Is this a process of thought or a gift of love?


“Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.”  (p. 265)


The planetization of man must needs be a falling in love with the World, a joyous consummation which ignores the rigorous separations of the Gnostics and the Cartesians.


When I take a look at the direction of my own work over the last eight years, I know that I was seduced into this life-path with an image of the Earth.


“A universal love is not only psychological possible, it is the only complete and final way in which we are able to love.”  (p. 267)


When we talk about completion – at least as far as Teilhard is concerned – we need to invoke the Omega, the final point, the Singularity of consciousness, the actualization of the collective Christ-nature of humanity.


Human nature persistently remains the same even as all of the technology changes; we haven’t changed noticeably since Aristophanes penned the Lysistrata, the same dirty jokes define us.  We have changed very little in three thousand years, less than we might have hoped, and possibly less than befits a species graced with a Noosphere.


Teilhard had fixed the Omega point as many thousands of years in the human future.  Being an anxious young man I have wanted it now, now, now, and naturally found myself drawn to Terence McKenna’s eschatological endpoint in the early 21st Century.


The Omega is certainly collective, and Teilhard defined it as spiritual, but the Eschaton, I believe, is informational, and inorganic, or rather, immaterial, beside the natural, but not of it.  A mechanical process, rather like the feedback on a public address system, and brought on because of some symbolic short-circuiting between the objective universe of information and the subjective world of meaning.


So I’ve now come to realize that the Eschaton is not the Omega; there are eschatons that come as interventions, non-linear ruptures in the gently planetizing history of humanity, intent to rip us from embodiment into a transcendence of form.  This is a premature birth, before our hearts have been made perfect by love, a typhoon which will drown us in its storm surge.


Where can we hide from this End which threatens to take us away from ourselves, without out our consent?  How do we defend against a transcendent rape?


Love must become a refuge, not a hiding place so much as a gathering hall.  And yet…and yet, cyberspace so poorly translates the actuality of love we practically scream it in out-of-band communications, and try – ever harder – to find the interior reality of our hearts expressed on the wire, drive to embody cyberspace because the body contains our emotions and our love.


Without love – skin or biosphere, draw the line where you will – we can not be totally ourselves.  Perhaps we can force the Omega – and if so, we must force the Omega – as the only realistic response to the Eschaton.  Only love can withstand the automatic voice of transcendence.


Thank you.


3 Akbal (24 September 1999)