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SF Religion 3: Qwet

This is my third post on SF religion, and I probably won’t post on this again for awhile. I’m interested in the topic these days as I’d like to have the founding of a religion be a plot element in my next novel, The Big Aha.

I’ll start with a physical process that produces an unusual state of consciousness. And then I’ll trace out the sense of excitement and personal liberation among the adepts; the wider public’s incomprehension and fear; the denunciations and attacks from the politicians and the exponents of existing religions; and the inescapable international tsunami of interest.

I want the catalyzing, mind-altering spark to be something involving quantum mechanics. Not a drug. A technique of mind-alteration that’s literally physics-based. I’m going to call it qwet, which is short for quantum wetware. The users of this technique are called qwetties.

In a nutshell, qwet gives you a certain type of telepathic power—called teep for short. You can share the mind states of other people, and animals and, to some extent, the “mind states” of plants and objects. You’re sharing the states in the sense of merging-into, rather than in the sense of observing-from-the-outside.

At the end of today’s post I’ll say a little more about the nature of quantum wetware and about how this quantum-mediated teep is going to work.

But first let me talk about some models for the birth of a modern religion. The psychedelic movement was in some ways an event of this kind. And it was based upon science, that is, upon the use of a specific newly-discovered synthetic chemical. The idea of a physical or chemical process that leads to a cult or a religion is very SFictional.

It’s easy to replace LSD by qwet teep and recast the cultural history of the psychedelic revolution: the early voices-in-the-wilderness Beats, Tim Leary’s high-minded proselytizing, the Pranksters’ street psychedelia, and then the mass fad, complete with convivial freakouts and light shows.

I see a qwettie wearing a button: Are you qwet yet?

How do we get from qwet as a method to qwet as a religion? The acidheads were interpreting a certain brain phenomenon in religious terms—what you might call experimental of mysticism. But street psychedelia never attained the status of a sanctioned religion—although the traditional Peyote Religion did find cover as the Native American Church.

Mormonism is another intriguing model of a modern religion. The underlying physical object here is the Book of Mormon, said to have been found inscribed on golden plates and deciphered via two “stones of sight” called Urim and Thummim. What if the plates had been left on Earth by a UFO? Or what if they’d welled up from a hidden, subdimensional level of reality? Not that I want to pick on the Mormons. We could ask the same kinds of questions about the origins of any religion.

But this move interests me: what if the techniques of quantum wetware were unearthed rather than invented? What if the qwet rats from Dimension Z fed them to us?

Yet another modern-religion story is that of Dianetics/Scientology. As I understand it, Dianetics was originally a scientifically inspired tool for exploring one’s personality—the E-meter, a fairly simple device that measures the changing resistance of a person’s skin—not unlike a simple lie detector. In order to fend of unwelcome government scrutiny of his E-meter technique and of any health claims made for it, L. Ron Hubbard changed his movement to a religion, that is, to Scientology, and the E-meter results were now viewed as religious phenomena rather than as diagnostic medical results. This origin story provides a scenario I could use in my book.

(As with Mormonism, I don’t mean to disparage Scientology. I’m only mentioning these two religions in somewhat abstract way—in terms of historical patterns that might play out in my SF novel. I don’t want my comments thread to become a battleground! To this end, I’m going to be blocking out comments advocating or criticizing these religions. I’d much prefer that you comment on Qwet!)

Getting back to my main line of discussion, I can see a situation in which the qwet technique might initially be viewed as a practical communication channel, or as an empathy-promoter, or simply as an offbeat mind-toy. But then it evolves into the Qwet religion. The switch might initially be a tactic to forestall some type of governmental crackdown.

But then we’ll get an SF kicker—a big aha—whereby there are in fact some higher-level beings revealed by the qwetties’ telepathic visions. Weird and otherworldly experiences. Odd critters living behind straight-reality’s sets. Like rats on a sound stage.

Qwet is real!

So what is quantum wetware and how does it give you telepathy?

(In a way, “quantum wetware” is a pleonasm, like “hot fire.” I’m using wetware to mean a person’s biological material, viewed as a kind of computer. Not just the DNA, but all the other chemicals as well. The interactions of these complex biochemical molecules are ruled by quantum mechanics. So any wetware is already in some sense quantum.)

This said, our PowerPoint descriptions of something like DNA often depict it in a classical-physics, Tinker-toy, Turing-machine kind of way. Indeed, there really is a crisp, mechanistic quality to the actions and reactions of our bodies’ proteins and enzymes. Quantum mechanics is the playing field, but the players are solid little lumps.

But now I want to get away from that. Since it’s states of consciousness I’ll be talking about, I’m particularly interested in having neurons and neurotransmitters that are in the so-called mixed states of quantum mechanics. Not yes, not no, but both.

And if you get some quantum catalyst in your system (it’s transmitted like a sexual disease), all of your bodies processes can take on a fey, QM quality. And this is going to lead to telepathy, a.k.a. teep.

One way of starting to imagine telepathy: my thoughts aren’t at all like a page of symbols—they’re blotches and rhythms and associations. Open your (inner) eyes to your true mental life. A related notion that continues to inspire me is the mind-as-quantum-system notion that my philosopher-sage friend Nick Herbert calls quantum tantra.

Your state of mind can evolve in two kinds of ways that I’ll fancifully call—“robotic” and “cosmic”. The “robotic” mental processes proceed step-by-step—via reasoning and analysis, by reading or hearing words, by forming specific opinions.. Every opinion diminishes you.

The “cosmic” changes are preverbal flows in which several opinions can co-exist. If you turn off your endlessly-narrating inner voice, your consciousness becomes analog, like waves on a pond. You’re merged with the world. It can be a simple as the everyday activity of being alert—without consciously thinking much of anything. In the cosmic mode you aren’t standing outside yourself and evaluating your thoughts.

As Nick Herbert has explained in his “Quantum Tantra” essay that you can find in the link that I mentioned above, it’s natural to regard the cosmic, analog mental process as essentially quantum mechanical. And once you’ve got QM happening, you can get quantum entanglement, whereby you couple your “cosmic” mental state to the “cosmic” state of another person, or even to the state of another object.

For quantum theoretic reasons, the link between the two systems isn’t of a kind that can leave memory traces, otherwise the link is functioning as an observation that drags consciousness back down to the robotic mode. So you can’t directly exchange specific, usable info via quantum teep. (And in my novel this will be a disappointment to some government backers of the qwet experiments.)

But your mind state will be changed by your teep interactions. And whenever you drop back down into the chatty “robotic” state, you’ll find that you are saying things you wouldn’t have said before the merge.

One more hit: Synchronicity might be evidence that we’re all parts of some higher being. The higher mind’s cosmic states filter down into surprising links within our mundane robotic reality.

And—look out!—here come the qwet rats!

What might be some rituals of the Qwet religion? Once I was at the Esalen Institute south of Big Sur with Terence McKenna. He and I were leading a seminar entitled “Wetware and Stoneware.” A cute woman in the group was talking about “sacred dancing.” Cheryl from Carmel—she was a follower of Terence’s, and she talked about driving up from Esalen to the River Inn in Big Sur to get in some sacred dancing. By way of explaining this, she held her upraised hands together and moved her head back and forth.

If you have qwet teep, you can do sacred dancing without having to be in the same place as the other dancers, and there doesn’t have to be an audible sound. I’m thinking of a Silent Disco scene I saw at the San Jose Zero1 Biennial this September, where each dancer had a pair of earphones, and we were dancing in a virtual soundscape.

[As mentioned above, I’ll be curating the comments on this post, so please don’t try posting any passionate screeds pro or con existing religions. Other than that, we’re wide open.]

3 Responses to “SF Religion 3: Qwet”

  1. Brendan Says:

    Heya Rudy. Just finished reading Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, which is nicely timed for this. His thoughts on twinning Catholic ceremony with mescalin intake & the need for chemical disassociation to achieve a religious/mystic state might fit in here, somehow. Also “qwet rats” immediately remind me of machine elves, although obviously they’re not the same thing. And there is something incredibly disconcerting about how everyone who’s ever done DMT seeing the same thing…

  2. paradoctor Says:

    There are modern religions which have started as cons. How very American. One thinks of the older religions as starting as revolts by desperate fanatics…and only ending up taken over by conmen later on.

    As for qwet… what if, for it, the crazy-sincere/savvy-crooked dilemma was a quantum superposition? That would be entirely fitting!

  3. Newfur Says:

    paradoctor: that’s a good point, and actually kind of cool!

    Brendan: agreed, and that is strange. Then again, it might be a product of being human, or of being human with a certain set of symbols. I wonder what would happen if we gave it to someone from, say, the 1500s…

    But all in all this seems pretty interesting. Can’t wait to read whatever you write on it!

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