Emergent behavior from complex systems, elementally founded upon fundamental, indivisible, and subatomic elements presents a pattern that if we stare into far enough we can see all of reality imprinted inside it. To a certain degree, everything has analogous properties, bearing elements of likeness, within a family of self-similar attributes. Time, as contemporary Westerners organize it, breaks into segmented parts: milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years. We know this system to be flawed; within our 365 days per year model, we are occasionally required to modify a month with a given extra day here and there. Our flawed measurement of time differs from saying that time itself is flawed. Time appears to be mutable, or at least at times bent and yet time is not a thing, it is not material— meeting at the cusp of space in a fractional universe, exerting force ever forward (to our perceptions). Chaos reveals itself as a dominant force in the universe, with its strange attractors allowing the more admirable and beautiful natural phenomena to occur. Is there perhaps some attractor pulling us forward through time?

Modern physicists and ancient Asian philosophies agree— time is change. Time is flux, from Heraclitus to the Tao Te Ching. The I Ching, or The Book of Changes has long led as guidance to Oriental cultures, originating in China. Though artificial and of human conception, the I Ching, if its mathematical and qualitative features are validated (besides its efficacy as a work of art and poetry), is a direct product of the complex interactions of the people who created it and their understanding of time.

The King Wen sequence of the I Ching divides into 64 hexagrams, each a combination of six lines holding the properties of yin or yang. Each hexagram, according to the tradition, represents the archetypes of human interactions. Assuming that the world is governed by seemingly random events and causality, the chaos in hexagram selection by the I Ching diviner compliments the chaotic nature of reality, thus tapping in to its very nature allowing insight to life's possibilities. The I Ching influenced and confounded such modern intellectuals as the psychologist and mystic Carl Jung, Philip K. Dick the author and cosmic by-product, and most relevant to the theories discussed here, Terence McKenna.

Terence McKenna was a psychonautical explorer, a special kind of genius who believed in the power of psychedelics to unlock the mind's ability to ascertain the secrets of the universe. If anything can be learned through the theories of complexity, it is the interconnectedness and gestalt through all things. Through the use of psilocybin-containing fungi and DMT-containing aboriginal mixtures, McKenna began formulating a theory of time that at first was very intuitive and abstract. Through the aid of his ethnobotanist brother, Dennis McKenna, morphogenetic fields theorist Rupert Sheldrake, and chaos scientist Ralph Abraham, McKenna further clarified his theory of novelty with a refined mathematical base.

A few basic terminologies must be established so that I am making sense in my descriptions here. First and foremost, I establish that my knowledge of mathematics is limited to pre-calculus. My knowledge of chaos theory and fractals are limited to the handful of books and classes I've taken on the subject. I am no physicist— just a guy with a sincere interest in reality, perhaps more open-minded than I should be. I make no claims that these theories are entirely scientifically sound, nor do I believe in them any more than I believe in a time model without structure. As humans, we are pattern-forming creatures, and for our own personal comfort we tend to invent rationalizations of the universe that fit within a model that can make us happy— that says something is happening beyond randomness. As I understand complexity theory, it only further enhances the arguments that can be made here&mash; that time and a fractional imprint could possibly dictate causality.

Timewave One is the evolved theory, as it stands today. Through many revisions by the meticulous investigations of mathematicians Matthew Watkins and John Sheliak, it has evolved into more than just an abstract psychedelic whim. Consider that like light, time fluctuates in a waveform, albeit one more complicated than one of such simplicity as a sine wave. This wave is a fractal, wherein the wave when plotted over time (x) remains the same shape regardless of whether time is seen as a large portion of time or a smaller unit. In this graph y would represent novelty, or the occurrence of time.

According to Alfred North Whitehead:

Creativity is the principle of novelty. Creativity introduces novelty into the content of the many, which are the universe disjunctively. The creative advance is the application of this ultimate principle of creativity to each novel situation which it originates. The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction. The novel entity is at once the togetherness of the many which it finds and also it is one among the disjunctive many which it leaves; it is a novel entity, disjunctively among the many entities which it synthesizes. The many become one, and are increased by one. In their natures, entities are disjunctively many in process of passage into conjunctive unity. Thus the production of novel togetherness is the ultimate notion embodied in the term concrescence. These ultimate notions of production of novelty and concrete togetherness are inexplicable either in terms of higher universals or in terms of the components participating in the concrescence. The analysis of the components abstracts from the concrescence. The sole appeal is to intuition.

On the timewave’s graph, periods of high novelty are where key events in history have taken place. McKenna’s plotting, through his Timewave Zero software developed by John Sheliak, indicates at its highest novelty points key moments in history, such as the formation of the sun, the earth, and onward.

When looked at over a smaller timescale, the graph repeats itself with new key points.

The graph presents time over a scale of 6 billion years, or the same illustrates the last 94 million years. Or one can leap ahead to the past 360 years; the timewave remains the same as key events are plotted according to McKenna (which I admit may be the more subjective, arbitrary flaw of the theory):

The most compelling piece of information within these graphs is the end point at 2012. According to the software McKenna used, and the information supposedly released upon him by the collective unconscious (or the logos) was a future end date in that year, precisely December 21, 2012. This end date is not the Armageddon usual in end-of-the-world theories; instead it is the point of highest novelty throughout time. This could be interpreted as the most major paradigm shift we have ever known, and limiting it only to humankind would be folly. McKenna has theorized that it may be the year we make contact, or realize some means to transverse space and time, or artificial intelligence becoming such a reality that it becomes an omega point of sorts for the universe. His personal conviction, and also the one I most subscribe to if I were subscribing to any of this, is a return to the Invisible Landscape, a means to leave our fleshy bodies behind and become one with the cosmos.

Rupert Sheldrake’s morphogenetic field theory here enters into the equation. The morphogenetic field is the idea of the collective unconscious married to physics, and while highly experimental and without verifiable proof, anyone with any serious encounters with psychedelic spiritual plants like DMT, Salvia Divinorum, and psilocybin have come into contact with this field, and its morphic resonance within us has been more real than any hallucination-model would suggest. It is a shame that most psychedelic research in this country has been stifled over the years, and such a social stigma has been placed upon their use. One need just mention the word psychedelic and all their research flies out the window as incredible. Ralph Abraham hypothesizes 2012 as the strange attractor time has been following all along, that we are being pulled towards this point through complexity.

A means to discovering this pull may be within the supposedly-reflexsive nature of the I Ching. One may attribute this ability to the controversial, experimental, quite possibly false but unfalsfiable theory of the morphogenetic field. From this field, it could be speculated, the ancients had withdrawn their knowledge and encoded within the fortune-telling device. It is interesting to note than independent to Terence McKenna’s ruminations on the subject, the Mayan calendar had a projected end date of 2012 as well. This corroborating evidence further suggests the possibility of a morphic resonance through time of this end point.

The Timewave theory is not without its criticism. In 1994, Matthew Watkins raised an issue with what he thought to be arbitrary construction of McKenna's math. Later, at least according to McKenna, the mathematical errors were corrected in the computer program. According to Watkins, "The timewave is a mathematical function defined by applying a 'fractal transform' to a piecewise linear function. The latter function is an expression of 384 'data points' (positive integer values) derived from the King Wen sequence." Watkins' objection was that at some point in the math, numbers are brought to the -1nth power. He saw no clear reason why. The mathematician who wrote the computer software called this the half twist. Despite his doubt in the significance of the timewave itself, Watkins says "It wouldn't surprise me if a fractal map of temporal resonance was encoded into the King Wen sequence, just as it wouldn't surprise me if something quite remarkable does occur on December 21, 2012. The world can be a very strange place, and we all have much to learn. McKenna's hyper-imaginative speculation has fired the imagination of many. With this particular 'theory' he has spread awareness of the I Ching and the Mayan calendar, both fascinating and poorly understood systems of ancient human thought. I should therefore end by suggesting that the remainder of his published thought should not be dismissed as a result of my findings which are discussed here."

But these are just words; these are not necessarily belief. I find these ideas incredibly fascinating, and only wish I could understand the math to any degree. The concept of a novelty wave, oriented with time is yet another attractive alternative to God and destiny; an endpoint both terrifies and excites, because it's the end of one thing, and the beginning of another.


Abraham, Ralph; McKenna, Terence; Sheldrake, Rupert: Chaos, Creativity, and the Collective Unconscious, 2001. Park Street Press.
McKenna, Terence: The Archaic Revival, 1991. Harper SanFrancisco.
McKenna, Terence: Derivation of the Timewave from the King Wen Sequence of Hexagrams. www.levity.com/eschaton/waveexplain.html
McKenna, Terence: The Invisible Landscape, 1994. Harper SanFrancisco.
McKenna, Terence: True Hallucinations, 1994. Harper SanFrancisco.
Watkins, Matthew: Autopsy for a Mathematical Hallucination?. www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp/autopsy.html
Whitehead, Alfred North: Process and Reality, 1929. Free Press.

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