Practical Time Travel for Everyday Mystics: A Serial Essay (final installment)
Time travel and the desire to control
There is a place in Italy you might have heard of — the underground caves at the community of Damanhur — caves that the Damanhurians call “The Temple of Humankind.” The caves took 15 years to build, and according to several YouTube videos, they look like pagan temples with psychedelic decorations and a lot of attention to detail (it’s hard to know more because the Damanhurians did not allow my request for a media visit).
In their earlier years, Damanhurians reported what they called “time travel” experiments using “time travel cabins.” Their leader, Falco, claims to originate 600 years in the future and to have learned 12 ancient languages. He apparently possesses a code to save humankind, which the Damanhurians inscribed on the inside of one of the caves. Word on the street is that the code is impossible for anyone but Falco or someone who has achieved the highest level of enlightenment to understand. According to some of those who have left the community, the time travel element of Damanhur is no longer considered acceptable conversation as Damanhur is now courting higher-end tourists in the consciousness transformation movement. These same ex-Damanhurians charge that the community is really a cult that gradually indentures servants who serve Falco, who justifies sexual harassment. Whatever Damanhur is, Falco’s origin story is a great example of how people’s common sense about others’ behavior can be eroded if they believe that person is from the future.
It’s worth thinking in more detail about the wisdom that we hope lies in the future. Mark Twain did exactly that in his book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. In that story, a self-aware but not particularly brilliant guy originating in early-1900s Connecticut ends up in the 1400s among knights, maidens, Merlin, and King Arthur himself. He is able to trick the temporal locals into thinking he’s a more powerful wizard than Merlin based on his understanding of gunpowder and lunar eclipses. He makes fireworks appear and the moon disappear, and the tricks work as long as he puts off his magic eclipse commands until the right times. Eventually he uses his newfound influence for good, helping the locals discover democracy, public education, and…