February 23, 2008

Misguided enthusiasm

I have a lot of experience with misguided emotions, but I'm getting better at channeling my energies and hope the most I can be accused of these days is misguided enthusiasm. I had 18 months, two years, when I was all about cacti and drove my wife crazy with trips to plant markets each weekend and hours spent mooning over the them. But now I've made my peace with cacti, and they're no longer an obsession.

Rode out to the country listening to a Terence McKenna talk from 1995, The State of the Stone. Some good things, but I find his attitude to science annoying, or I would if he wasn't such a good speaker. To be generous, what I take from him is a conscious interplay between fiction and nonfiction, a sci-fi thrill that extrapolates and bends to amaze. There's also no direct references to 2012, which is a plus, as I find that talk tiresome.

John Horgan's Rational Mysticism has a good chapter on McKenna, entitled The Man in the Purple Sparkly Suit, which acknowledges that he's less a philosopher, and far less a scientist, but rather a performance artist, jester and poet. Horgan falls for his charm gets what I think is the essential point of his riffs - that life is weirder and more wonderful than we suppose, that humanity is something interesting, important and good. Which may not be true, but that's no reason not to entertain such lines of thought for the feelings and internal images they inspire, the connections that they set up or uncover.

McKenna presented all of this with a michievous grin, daring us to take him seriously.

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