The virtual topographies of our millennial world are rife with angels and aliens, with digital avatars and mystic Gaian minds, with utopian longings and gnostic science fictions, and with dark forebodings of apocalypse and demonic enchantment
…All our so-called consciousness is a more or less fantastic commentary on an unknown, perhaps unknowable, but felt text…
Science fiction is always more important that science
Everything that can be said has already been said, or something to that effect. It is not original to make the statement that originality no longer exists as it’s all been done before. Yet, as Marshall McLuhan famously said, ‘the medium is the message.’ So it may not be the message we are concerned with here but rather the medium of its passing. And the adage goes that everything exists according to ‘time and place.’ When the ‘sacred speaks’ – so to speak – it does so through the ways and means of the times. This could apply to prophets, oracles, and channelling as well as pop culture and its modern fictions. The sacred, the sublime, has always walked amongst the profane. The signs are everywhere, blended into the sidewalks, pulp fictions, and the kitsch ‘n’ kool of the art world. For iconic sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick, most of the sublime things of his world were disguised as trash that seamlessly slipped into the background of a dysfunctional world reality. As modern society slipstreamed into a post-modern smorgasbord of chaos, clutter, poetically burnt outbursts, and beat-ific revelations, a new landscape of the sacred was scattered across the bedrock. The seeming trash of the everyday mundane clashed with the incoming cosmic, and a new urge for the transcendental found its way into so many popular cultural forms that it would take an encyclopaedic mobius-strip to recite it all. For my purposes here I will only all-so-briefly take a hop and skip around some of the budding flora that displayed a burgeoning sacred urge to blur the boundaries and reach for the sublime connection.
However paradoxical it may sound, one of the mediums for the sacred virus to spread came through the channel of chaos. Chaos, contrary to what we may think of it as being an anarchic and senseless cacophony, is actually a canvas for patterns to play out on. As the later emergence of the chaos sciences showed, there was a theory behind chaos – a method behind its apparent madness. Chaos, as we soon learned, did not operate in isolation. As the famous ‘butterfly effect’ was apt at promoting, a minimal disturbance in one part of the world (e.g., a butterfly flapping its wings) could result in a climate effect in another part (a tornado was often cited!). Everything thus existed in patterns, and not in arbitrary, random molluscs and mole-hills. The Santa Fe Institute (founded in 1984) quickly became a prominent centre for the research into complex systems, otherwise known as chaos science.