Surfing the Liminal Aether with Bruce Damer Ph.D


Bruce Damer with Terence McKenna in 1999.

Via Midwest Real

Dr. Bruce Damer is a multi-disciplinary scientist and a (proud) woo-drenched renaissance man. He researches evolutionary biology, especially focusing on the murky questions surrounding the origin of life. Damer also designs asteroid-wrangling spacecrafts and is an expert in computer science who has spent decades researching emergent, lifelike virtual systems.


Why is it that we’re always searching for someone to tell us answers? We have an obsession with experts, scientists, teachers — gurus of all sorts. As long as I can remember, I’ve been under the impression that learning and knowledge come from some sort of external source, but what if that’s entirely backward? 

What if all of the answers are right there inside of you, somewhere within your own deepest murk just waiting to be discovered? Perhaps great men are simply skilled facilitators of knowledge and learning, while the actual evolving and growth is wholly incumbent upon the individual. While reading up on this concept, I stumbled across this incredibly pertinent Plato quote:

“We must reject the conception of education professed by those who say that they can put into the mind knowledge that was not there before – rather as if they could put sight into blind eyes. This is a capacity which is innate in each man’s mind, the faculty by which he learns is like an eye that cannot be turned from darkness to light unless the whole body is turned; in the same way the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until its eyes can bear to look straight at reality, and at the brightest of all realities…” 

We don’t think of knowledge in this way because it’s so rare to find wise men who aren’t swept up in their own accomplishments. Their victories seduce them (and us) into the belief that they have something special to teach us. I certainly can’t think of many scientists, gurus, successful entrepreneurs, or whatever, out there saying “hey, you’re the truth, you’ve got it all already, just let me orient you toward the light then I’ll send you on your way, free of charge!” 

My guest on this show, Bruce Damer has definitely made contact with the sort of deep, innate knowledge I’m talking about. He partakes in the whimsical practice of going on meditative trips deep into this own mind (It’s like a Jungian mining expedition into the realm of synchronicity, novelty, and ripe, unpicked ideas). Going into your consciousness for inspiration and insight might sound a bit out there, but considering what Dr. Damer has brought back from these realms, it’s pretty intriguing. He’s mined his mind for asteroid-wrangling spacecraft designs, the basis for peer-reviewed papers on evolutionary biology and a whole bunch of other amazing shit.

For more on Bruce, check out his bio, his podcast and his TED Talk!