Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #2 – The Idler’s Companion: An Anthology of Lazy Literature

Today’s random item from the archival holdings is a book which contains a brief extract from an interview with Terence McKenna. The Idler’s Companion: An Anthology of Lazy Literature (1997) is an edited volume which contains selections from the content-over-the-years of a British quarterly magazine called The Idler, which is dedicated to exploring and promoting the idle life:

Back in 1991, bored to tears by his job, 23 year old journalist Tom Hodgkinson lay on his bed and dreamed of starting a magazine called The Idler. He’d found the title in a collection of essays by Dr Johnson, himself a constitutionally indolent man. How to live, that was the question. How to be free in a world of jobs and debt? And curse this alarm clock…
In August 1993, the pair produced issue one of the Idler. It had the sub-title “literature for loafers”. Dr Johnson was the cover star and there was an interview with magic mushroom guru Terence McKenna.
In case there is anyone out there who happens to possess a copy of the The Idler No. 1, this is one of the items that does not yet exist as part of the archives. So, if you do have a copy, it would be a great boon to the archive if you would be willing to scan the cover, table of contents, and interview with Terence and send the files to terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com. Or, if you are feeling particularly generous, we would gladly accept a hard copy to add into the archival holdings.
The material contained in The Idler’s Companion was selected by founding editor Tom Hodgkinson and then Deputy Editor Matthew de Abaitua and only contains one question and one answer from the Terence McKenna interview, but it’s quite a nice little snippet. I’d very much like to see the whole interview. If you can help make that happen, please do get in touch.
TM: Institutions fear idle populations because an Idler is a thinker and thinkers are not a welcome addition to most social situations. Thinkers become malcontents, that’s almost a substitute word for idle, “malcontent.” Essentially, we are all kept very busy, and if you do have a moment of leisure time, then you’re expected to imbibe the sanitized data stream that the cultural imprimatur has been placed upon.

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #1 – Alexandria: The Journal of the Western Cosmological Traditions Vol. 3

I thought I’d start another new feature here at the Terence McKenna Archival Blog. In addition to the ‘Weekly Haul‘ and other featured items that I select from the archives, I decided that one way to get through some of the archives is to do a more regular ‘Random Item’. I’ve given each item in the archive a number (well, most of them, anyway) and will use a random number generator to choose which from among them to include in the blog feature.

The first item from the archives, randomly selected for your viewing pleasure, is from the third published volume (1995) of Alexandria: The Journal of the Western Cosmological Tradition, edited by David Fideler, published by Phanes Press (which Fideler sold to Red Wheel/Weiser in 2004), and funded by the members of the Alexandria Society. The theme of this volume is ‘Education’ with an aim, as Fideler notes in his introduction, “to reconsider and revision the role of education in contemporary society” as “a truly philosophical enterprise in a time when true philosophy, when true discussion, is only rarely to be found within the halls of Academe.” It is in this context that they reprinted a section of a trialogue at Esalen, originally published in Trialogues at the Edge of the West, by Ralph Abraham, Terence McKenna, and Rupert Sheldrake, titled ‘Education in the New World Order’. Terence recommends that archaeology replace physics as the paradigm of the educational system in order to “release us from the post-industrial notion of history as a kind of trendless fluctuation or class struggle or some other very dreary model of the human journey through time.” Echoing his Whitehead-inspired Novelty Theory, Terence suggests that “[i]n reformed education, people must be taught that history is a system of interlocking resonances in which we are all imbedded [sic].” He continues, “Without some knowledge of history from the birth of the universe down to yesterday’s headlines, we’re not in a position to act in our own best interest. I define education broadly as the inculcation of attitudes that cause us to act generally in the interest of all.”

 

Lysergic World #1 – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the First LSD Trip in 1993 (“White humans?!”)

Between April 16 – 19, 1993, communities in three distant locales (San Francisco, Basel, and Tokyo) coordinated a series of events intended to celebrate the semicentennial (or 50th anniversary) of the discovery of the psychoactive effects of LSD by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in his lab at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basel (there was also a large event at Hyde Park, London and probably elsewhere–if you know of celebrations elsewhere in 1993, please do leave a comment). Although the event was organized around that moment of discovery that led to Hofmann’s famous ‘altered’ bike ride home, it was, of course, more importantly, the chain of history that followed in the wake of Hofmann’s discovery–the potent effects of the chemical on the minds of others the world over–that was really being commemorated. Had his unintended experiment been a one-off event that never moved beyond Basel and the confines of his own mind, we would not be paying attention. But, as an origin story, it’s a fairly compelling one–everyone can get into a bike ride, and people like to imagine themselves in his, unexpectedly stoned, shoes. Indeed, for the Basel celebration, a select 25 lottery winners actually got to participate in a bike ride along the exact route (see image below) that Hofmann is supposed to have taken on that fateful April day in 1943. In commemoration of the worldwide coordination of events, a newspaper called Lysergic World was created.

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The newspaper contained a variety of LSD-related features for its readers, including a world map of locations of important events in the life of LSD (created, in part, by Kat Harrison), an essay by Madonna about a “24-hour orgasm under LSD,” a list of slang terms, a horoscope for the birth of LSD, a cartoon history, and bios of important figures:

Lysergic World also included a list of recommended music with the list topped off by Terence McKenna’s Re-Evolution track with The Shamen:

And, in a section documenting a variety of views on LSD, Terence McKenna is quoted:

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Terence also appeared at some of the events that took place in the Bay Area over the weekend. There was also a video message from Dr. Hofmann who was in Basel:

There’s a part of the newspaper, however, that I am a bit at a loss to explain and hope that somebody can account for. I would very much like to know exactly what it means that an anthropomorphized LSD molecule welcoming readers to the publication says “I’m very happy that you white humans are celebrating the 50th anniversary of your ‘discovering me” [emphasis mine]. How are we supposed to interpret that? Where did it come from? If a typo, it’s a rather odd one….if a purposeful entry, it’s something that needs some explaining!

 

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This Week’s Terence McKenna Archival Haul (5/27/17)

This week’s intake at the Terence McKenna Archives was much more modest than last week’s substantial haul. The only hard copy publication that arrived just came in today:

  1. Disinformation’s Book of Lies.

The Book of Lies, as most of these large Disinformation Guides, consists of dozens of chapters by a smorgasbord of authors from a wide swath of the countercultural milieu, this time ‘focusing’ on “Magick and the Occult.” The small section on “Chemognosis” contains only two chapters (it’s the heading with the least number of contributions in the volume), one of which is an edited transcript of Terence McKenna’s first talk at Esalen during the Lilly/Goswami [that’s John and Amit] Conference on Consciousness and Quantum Physics, titled ‘Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness’. There seems to be some dispute about when this conference actually took place. Anyone who was there or has a photo or scan of an original catalog can help with this. Both The Book of Lies and Jeffrey Kripal in his book, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion describe the event as taking place in December 1983. However, as you can see here, the actual tape (not published by Dolphin Tapes until 1997) lists it as taking place in 1982, as does Erowid, though citing the Dolphin Tapes published version. I have tended to favor the 1982 dating, though I can’t now remember all of my reasons for doing so (most, like Jesse Jarnow and Graham St. John, have gone with the 1983 date–it would be great to clear this up, as, historically speaking, it’s not entirely insignificant when this took  place–you can see this same issue playing out on the Psychedelic Salon page for the talk).

Even though this is among Terence’s most well-known and most-published talk, I thought it would still be worth including some of the selected quotations for your edification and amusement:

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2. This week, in a conversation with R. Michael Johnson (one of the movers behind the excellent RAWilsonFans website–you can read a good chunk of his introduction to the brand new edition of Robert Anton Wilson’s Email to the Universe by Hiliritas Press on Amazon), he took me through his list of a great many places where he knew Terence cropped up in various literature. Most of the items he mentioned are already represented in the archives, but he definitely gave me several significant leads that I hadn’t had on my radar (thanks, Mike!). The most embarrassing of the items he mentioned was Robert Anton Wilson’s Everything is Under Control, because it has been sitting on the same bookshelf as most of the McKenna archive for quite a long time without my realizing it contained both an entry on Terence himself as well as an even longer entry on Food of the Gods (which is distinct from RAW’s review of the book which appeared in his Trajectories Newsletter #10, 1991 and is reprinted in Chaos & Beyond: The Best of Trajectories).

3. Beyond that, I rediscovered that Google Books allows you to also search through magazines (whichever ones they have in their database). This caused me to come across some magazine articles that mentioned Terence which I hadn’t encountered before as well as a whole slew of advertisements.

Accessing Hyperdimensions in Santa Fe: Terence McKenna invades Meow Wolf!

Last summer (2016), I had the pleasure of attending an event called Earth Consciousness & Lore of the Amazon at the Synergia Ranch in Santa Fe. Presenters included Dennis McKenna, Rick Doblin, Allan Badiner, Ralph Metzner, Valerie Plame Wilson, Michael Garfield, and Gay Dillingham (Don Lattin was also present). I had already been on a long road trip from Santa Barbara, stopping through the Blythe Intaglios on the way to present at the American Academy of Religion/Western Region conference in Tucson, then winding through Tombstone, Alamogordo, and Roswell on my way to Albuquerque to do archival research at the University of New Mexico in their Frank Waters collection…and would be headed onward through Chaco Canyon and Taos up toward Boulder where I would be doing further research at Naropa University, interviewing John Major Jenkins about his relationship with Terence McKenna, and, finally, heading back through Paonia (Terence’s and Dennis’ hometown) to familiarize myself with the feel of the place and to locate the places where various antics described in Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss and many of Terence’s talks and writings took place (I will write a separate blog post about this trip rather than try to squeeze it in here). So, the Synergistics event was a nice midway point in the overall journey. It was also a great opportunity to finally connect with Dennis, Terence’s brother, in person after previous conversations by email and Skype. I was also able to score a late-night interview with Rick Doblin about his remembrances of Terence and perceptions about his legacy.

However, that event is not the focus of this post…it is only the proximal cause for the circumstances leading up to the topic of this particular blog post. Following the event, I was intending to head back to Albuquerque for more research in special collections at UNM the following day. It just so happened that one of the presenters needed a ride to Albuquerque in the morning to catch a flight, and so I stayed the night at the ranch near Santa Fe and made my way back to Albuquerque in the morning, recording another engaging dialogue during the car ride. After a day of successful document scanning (relating to Frank Waters’ role in the development of the ‘2012 Phenomenon’), I checked my Facebook and noticed that my wife had posted an article on my wall about a place in Santa Fe that had just opened called Meow Wolf.

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The article made it seem like the ultimate psychedelic, interactive, mystery play house… walk into the refrigerator of a two-story family home and exit into a crystalline hyperdimension (as one example). It would take too much space for me to express how impressive the full-scale virtual reality that the creators of Meow Wolf have built actually is. I would recommend that you read articles such as this one (and this brand new windfall) to get a clearer sense of what this installation, funded by George R. R. Martin, in a refurbished and extended bowling alley in Santa Fe consists of. But, more importantly, if you’re ever in Santa Fe, you should just go!! Even the bathroom is a trip…

One of the features of the storyline at The House of Eternal Return (the name of the world that you enter) is that some of the family members have learned how to use a combination of drugs and sound to get access to travel between dimensions. You have access to their entire house, including the individual rooms and offices of the family members, a living room, a kitchen, etc. They actually built an entire house that you can walk around and inspect every detail of–you can read their mail, watch their videos, pull books off of their shelves, read diaries, check the files on their computers, root around in their medicine cabinets…and, more significantly, find the hidden portals into other worlds even more expansive than the house which is the entry point.

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Once you arrive at the house, it’s entirely up to you what you explore and where you end up–it would take days (maybe weeks) to find everything. But, it’s definitely a case of “the further in you go, the bigger it gets.” (Apologies for the poor quality of the photos–I took most of them with my phone)

The soundtrack throughout is spectacular, by the way, and there are several areas that are delightful chill spaces that one could easily just kick back for a while (including a fog-and-light-filled room with a laser-harp).

To finally come closer to the point of the blog post, there is definitely an aspect of the cultic milieu spread throughout the experience even beyond the general “trippy” nature of the whole thing (much more so than I can get across here). One of the most obvious places where this shows up (for those capable of noticing) is in the personal libraries of the family members. One office in particular has a metaphysical and conspiratorial bent (you can see that I spent some time rooting through the desk drawers).

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And, on the bookshelves were a couple of familiar friends…Food of the Gods and (though it may be difficult to read the spine in the photo), a first edition (1975) of The Invisible Landscape. Terence McKenna is part of the set decoration at Meow Wolf, and, in fact, his work definitely thematically ties into the story.

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Food of the Gods (to the left)

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1st edition of The Invisible Landscape (middle-ish)

And, in the bedroom, near the device that creates the tones that, in concert with drugs, one uses to enter other worlds, there are even more subtle hints at what we are to understand is on the minds of our protagonists in the House of Eternal Return… Solomon Snyder’s Drugs and the Brain is out on the desk and on the bookshelf is a 2nd edition of The Invisible Landscape adjacent to Jim Fadiman‘s Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide and near Tim Leary‘s Your Brain is God, among other evocative titles.

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After having spent hours wandering through the alternate reality of Meow Wolf and realizing that I had only just scratched the surface of a fully-interactive creation chock-full of ‘easter eggs’ for someone with an eye for the esoteric, I suddenly found myself back in the dining room of the house staring at its large fireplace when suddenly I noticed someone crawling out of it from the inside. To my complete shock, this emerging fireplace gnome suddenly stood up and turned into Ralph Metzner. I had already succumbed to the strangeness of the world I was inhabiting, but for 1960s psychedelic pioneers to suddenly and unexpectedly manifest out of the interiors of fireplaces seemed somehow beyond incredulous. I came to find out, as I greeted Ralph and made my own way into the bowels of the hearth, that the house was now crawling with psychedelic luminaries who had, unbeknownst to me, also made their way down from the Synergia Ranch to check out the new local feature. It was a surreal experience that I will not soon forget, that I’m eager to repeat (there’s so much that I missed/didn’t find), and that I recommend to anyone of any age. And, as I made my way through the House of Eternal Return, it was a great pleasure to find that Terence was already there waiting to greet me.

This Week’s Terence McKenna Archival Haul (5/19/17)

This is the first of what will be an ongoing series of ‘Weekly Haul’ posts showing off materials that have been added to the archive over the course of the preceding week. This week’s intake has been particularly noteworthy, including quite a range of TM-related literature for the archives, among which are a couple of incredibly rare items. Here’s what came in this week:

Let’s begin with a pair of books by Mark Jacobson:

  1. Teenage Hipster in the Modern World: From the Birth of Punk to the Land of Bush: Thirty Years of Millennial Journalism (2005)
    • Jacobson reprints his well-known interview with Terence that appeared in Esquire in 1992, but in his book, he amends the title, taking dispute with the tongue-in-cheek but somewhat derogatory title that Esquire assigned to the interview in the magazine, which was ‘Is Terence McKenna the Brave New Prophet of the Next Psychedelic Revolution, or Is His Cosmic Egg Just a Little Bit Cracked?’ 

    • As part of my effort to write this blog post, looking back at the original Esquire piece, I was fortunate to come across several other relevant issues of the magazine that contained material related to TM.
      • The September 1992 issue included a couple of curious reader responses to Jacobson’s interview with Terence that had appeared in the June 1992 issue. 

      • The April 1991 issue included an article on Virtual Reality that contained a description of an event called Cyberthon, at which both Terence McKenna and Timothy Leary spoke. The article describes part of Terence’s talk. 

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      • The November 2006 issue includes a cheeky article about apocalyptic expectations and includes a rather mean-spirited jab at McKenna as one among many misguided prophets calling him a “drug-eating dead man.” 

  2. Gojiro (1991)
  3. Terence’s bibliographer alerted me to a copy of a rare zine called Light Times: A Random Periodical (1988) that was for sale online. I had long been aware of its existence but over the years (and after a lot of searching) had never seen a copy for sale anywhere, and the UCSB Interlibrary Loan department was not able to find a single copy available in a worldwide search of libraries (though there does actually appear to be a copy in Special Collections at the University of Michigan if anybody is in the area and wants to check it out). The hand-printed and stapled zine includes an edited version of one of Terence’s talks that was originally a KPFK/Botanical Dimensions co-fundraiser sponsored by Roy Tuckman (aka Roy of Hollywood), under the title Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature (which is interrupted by a letter to the editors from Timothy Leary under the pseudonym Irving Blum), as well as an article by underground psychedelic icons Gracie & Zarkov (who have a great, unpublished interview with TM), titled Gracie’s ‘Visible Language’ Contact Experience, which makes several mentions of TM, including one of my favorite analogies for the Taoist concept of wu-wei

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    [Note for the super geeky: It’s not entirely clear to me how often Leary used the Irving Blumenthal pseudonym. On a quick search, I could only find two clear references to it as Leary’s alternate name. Antero Alli references it here, and there is a reference to another letter under this name in Michael Horowitz’s extensive Leary bibliography, in 1981, listed under C118. Horowitz’s bibliography was published in 1988, the same year this zine, and, as such, the latter does not appear in the bibliography. Horowitz does list another (1982) reference to a publication called Light Times under J433, though it’s not clear that the two publications are related. If you have any further information about Leary’s Irving Blum pseudonym, please do leave a comment.]

     

  4. Andy Roberts’ Albion Dreaming: A Popular History of LSD in Britain (revised edition, 2012) doesn’t devote much time to Terence McKenna, but he is listed as among the guest speakers at Fraser Clark‘s London Megatripolis club. Here’s a song from a Megatripolis compilation CD that sample’s McKenna’s voice (and another). And, here’s Terence talking at Megatripolis. Here’s a nice clip of Terence talking about the difficulties of being a club-scene philosopher (and mentions Megatripolis). 

  5. Most of you have probably heard Terence’s several interviews with Fortean shock jock Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM (now hosted by George Noory). Well, Art also included some of Terence’s ideas in at least one of his books, The Source: Journey Through the Unexplained, co-authored with long-time pulp paranormal writer Brad Steiger. I added both a first edition (1999, hardback) and second edition (2002, paperback) to the archives.
     

  6. Sometimes, I stumble upon really great Terence McKenna material unexpectedly. I ordered a copy of Cam Cloud’s Acid Trips and Chemistry (1999), because there was a cheap copy available and I had a coupon at Thriftbooks. When it arrived, even though I assumed that since it was a book about LSD, it probably wouldn’t have any relation to TM since LSD wasn’t one of the psychedelics substances he went out of his way to promote (though he certainly had plenty of experience with it, having explored it “quite occasionally” among his youthful endeavors, often waiting until the peak of the acid trip to smoke some DMT). Nonetheless, despite my assumptions, I flipped to the back of the book (as I do) looking for an index in order to locate the letter “M.” Frustratingly, as is often the case in these matters, an index was absent, but a brief bibliography was present, which, to my surprise, did, indeed, include a reference to The Archaic Revival. So, I flipped through the pages hoping to locate where TM showed up, expecting maybe a passing quotation and was genuinely non-plussed at what I found. There is a “famous” photo, by Chip Simons, of Terence that appeared in the April 1992 issue of High Times as part of an interview conducted by David Jay Brown (and has been muchmemed). In Cam Cloud’s book, there appear to be further photos from that same photo shoot that I’ve never seen before. I have contacted Simons to see if he still has the originals, which would be professional color photographs rather than the black-and-white scans in Acid Trips and Chemistry. But, regardless, it is still fairly exciting to find out that there was a whole series of photos from this shoot at his home in Occidental, California….and that they are so creative! Keep an eye out for more on this front in the future.  [Update: Simons is going to find his originals from the shoot and send me scans!]
     

  7. Alt.Culture: An A-to-Z Guide to the ’90s–Underground, Online, and Over-the-Counter (1995–the title pretty much explains it) includes an entry on Terence, which begins by describing him as “ethnobotanist, philosopher, historian, and Nabokovian know-it-all.” Lodged between ‘McJob’ and ‘media moguls’, he is praised by authors Steven Daly and Nathaniel Wice as “one of the world’s greatest rhetorical ravers.” I think they like him.
     

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  8. Visionary Plant Consciousness: The Shamanic Teachings of the Plant World (2007), edited by J. P. Harpignies, contains material that, so far as I know, has not been represented in any other collections and does not exist in the online YouTube/mp3 corpus collected and distributed by the TM fan-base. The slim volume contains quite a few chapters of interest, including a transcript of a talk that Terence gave at the Bioneers conference in 1993 and a transcript of a trialogue from the following year that he had with his brother, Dennis, and the esteemed ethnographer and ethnobotanist Wade Davis. All of the material in the book comes from the Bioneers conferences from 1990 to 2004. The chapter list is fairly impressive and includes presentations by and discussions with Kat Harrison (Terence’s ex-wife), Paul Stamets, Dale Pendell, Luis Eduardo Luna, Jeremy Narby, Francis Huxley (who died in Dec. 2016), Alex Grey, Michael Pollan, Andrew Weil, Charles Grob, and others. 

  9. In Ayahuasca: The Visionary & Healing Powers of the Vine of the Soul (2003), Joan Parisi Wilcox includes just a passing mention of “intrepid psychonaut Terence McKenna” in her entheogenic travelogue. While introducing a chapter where she allows her ayahuasca-drinking companions to tell their experiences in their own terms, she quotes TM from The Archaic Revival, saying “What we need now are diaries of explorers. We need many diaries of many explorers so we can begin to get a feeling for the territory” (of course, this was before Erowid’s Experience Vaults manifested this kind of database). 

  10. Spirit Matters is a memoir by Matthew J. Pallamary that includes several interactions with Terence in the years leading up to his death. I’ll be meeting with Matt when he comes to town next month to teach at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, so I’ll keep this entry relatively short in anticipation of a future post after our meeting. In Spirit Matters, Pallamary recounts his journey to the Maya ruins of Uxmal to meet Terence in 1998, his meeting with Terence, his gift of a short story collection, how he was turned on to TM by a “sweet little old lady who had sent [him] tapes of his lectures,” an experience on thirteen Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds combined with “what Terence McKenna would call a ‘heroic dose’ of nine grams of mushrooms that nearly killed [him],” a second meeting with TM the following year in Palenque (including a 5-MeO-DMT trip), and a delightful story about a successful attempt (see photo below) to get the “very first copy…from the very first print” of his novel, Land Without Evil, to Terence at the 1999 AllChemical Arts Conference in Hawaii (the last place that most people saw him). Pallamary returned to the 2000 Entheobotany conference, but Terence was too ill at this point to attend; he recounts a conversation with Lorenzo Hagerty (who you’ll know as the host of the Psychedelic Salon podcast) where they reminisced about Terence’s absence, noting, “we all knew that if it hadn’t been for Terence, most of us would not have come to the tribe.” Look back for another post after I meet with Matt in June. 

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  11. It’s not often that I encounter explicit support for (or even mention of) Terence’s argument (in Food of the Gods, Chapter 7), against R. Gordon Wasson and others, that the soma plant of the Vedas, ritually consumed by the ancient ṛṣis (“rishis”–Vedic seers) was a species of Psilocybe mushroom (Wasson, of course, argued that it was an Amanita muscaria). However, in an endnote to his bestselling The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, Ian Baker does just that. [Here’s a short clip of Terence talking about soma and its potential relationship to the Zoroastrian haoma, which is identified as the harmaline-containing Peganum harmala (aka Syrian Rue); and here’s a talk by Baker that some may find interesting on the use of mercury among alchemical practitioners in present-day Burma.] 

  12. In Acid Christ: Ken Kesey, LSD, and the Politics of Ecstasy, Mark Christensen offers one of the strangest McKenna quotes to date (an idea that just seems patently wrong on its face, on all accounts, no matter how I spin it). 

  13. Ok, we’re getting near the end…. Penultimately, I received another very rare and hand-bound publication directly from the artist/editor (published in a series of 200), which includes an interview with Terence from 1996. I’m hoping to do a series of email dialogues with both of the editors soon, so won’t say too much now in anticipation of a future blog post entirely devoted to this. However, I thought it worth at least including in the record of the week’s haul. In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Ken Weathersby and David Keith, founding editors of Hootenanny, which includes details about the unique nature of the publication and some reminiscences of their meeting with TM. 

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  14. And, finally, for this week, I received a copy of Paul Krassner‘s Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities. Krassner includes the same piece, “Further Weirdness with Terence McKenna” (under the section heading “Several Dead Friends”) that also appears in his books Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs and Sex, Drugs, and the Twinkie Murders (although the edits do appear to be slightly different each time and the latter two books include an extended Q&A session (“in person and by e-mail”) that is not included in Murder at the Conspiracy ConventionIMG_0604IMG_0605IMG_0606

Whew! That was quite an intake for the Terence McKenna Archives for the week. As always, if you have any materials that you would like to contribute to the archive, please send an email to terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com, and if you would like to donate to help assist with the acquisition effort, for now, use the Paypal link at the Terence McKenna Transcription Project website (and include a note with your donation that says “for archival acquistion” or the like). In the coming months, there will be a crowdfunding campaign for the Archive. So, please do follow this blog to keep up-to-date on even further weirdness with Terence McKenna…

Viva Arte Viva! The Art of Jeremy Shaw, Or A Psychonaut in Venice

I’m never quite sure where Terence will pop up. I was recently alerted by an artist acquaintance, Ken Weathersby (who interviewed Terence in 1996–related post forthcoming), to an appearance by Terence at this year’s Venice Biennale Arte international exhibition, titled Viva Arte Viva, the 57th incarnation of a major art show in Italy running from May through November. The exhibition is composed primarily of nine ‘Trans-pavilions’: The Pavilion Arts and Books, The Pavilion of Joys and Fears, The Pavilion of the Common, The Pavilion of the Earth, The Pavilion of Traditions, The Pavilion of the Shamans, The Dionysian Pavilion, The Pavilion of Colours, and The Pavilion of Time and Infinity. In addition, there are two major project spaces: The Artists Practices Project, which houses “a series of short videos made by the artists about themselves and their way of working,” and Unpacking My Library, a project inspired by Walter Benjamin’s spectacular 1931 essay of the same name, which allows the artists to display a list of their favorite books.

It is within the Unpacking My Library project that Terence was spotted. Among artist Jeremy Shaw‘s list of favorite books was The Archaic Revival.

Some of Shaw’s work is quite explicitly influenced by psychedelics.

The available snippet from his contribution to the Artists Practices Project, a 20-minute video called Liminals, seems reminiscent of a 5-meo-DMT experience. Ben Davis, writing for artnet, found Shaw’s video to have been his “favorite discovery” of the entire exhibition serving as a sort of microcosmic “internal critique” of the disposition of the broader Viva Arte Viva experience, which he describes as a sort of “half-thought-through primitivism.” The film takes place in “future times, [and] as the certainty of human extinction comes to weigh more and more on the species, a group called the ‘Liminals’ form a sort of cult, trying to restimulate the parts of their brain that activate the lost sense of religious belief.” Davis offers a tantalizing outtake of the narration from Liminals: “Thus, the quest of the Liminals, and of periphery Altraist cultures in general, to incite evolutionary advancement in an effort to save humanity is more consistent with the types of reactionary developmental syndromes found in societies during End Times than a plausible attempt for redemption. Nonetheless, their diligence and commitment to such fantastical ideas is rather fascinating.”

This is the frontier that we stand on the edge of. This is what history has been about. History has been some kind of suicide plot for 15,000 years. Not a moment passed that the plot was not advanced closer and closer and closer to completion. And, now, in the 20th century, you know, we see that this thing – this transcendental object at the end of time, this attractor – that chose us out of the animal kingdom, and sculpted the neocortex, opposed the thumb, stood us on our hind legs, gave us binocular vision – this thing is calling us toward itself across aeons of cosmic time. We are asked to mirror it, and as we mirror it, we become more of its essence. And, as we become more of its essence, we leave behind the animal organization that we were cast in, in the beginning. And what is this about? Who knows? Is this a drama of cosmic redemption? Is it the transcendental other at the end of time? Is it a gnostic daemon? What is it? We do not know. But I really believe we are in the era when we will come to know. And what the psychedelics are, are periscopes in the temporal dimension. If you want to see a little bit into the future, elevate your psychedelic periscope outside of the three dimensional continuum and peer around.   -Terence McKenna

ReVISIONing the Archaic Revival (1987-1989)

Terence made three contributions to a publication called ReVISION: The Journal of Consciousness and Change in the mid-80s. During the time that his pieces appeared, the executive editors of the journal were Stanislav Grof, Ralph Metzner, and Huston Smith, each among the pioneers of American psychedelia. Terence’s appearances in ReVISION would have been an important outlet for his work to certain important segments of the counterculture at this formative stage in his career. In Vol. 10 No. 1 (Summer 1987), an essay called ‘Temporal Resonance’, written by our own TM, appeared next to other articles by Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham (his co-conspirators for a popular series of trialogues that took place as workshops at the Esalen institute, some of which were later edited and published as books), Ralph Metzner, and physicist Nick Herbert.

In Vol. 10 No. 4 (Spring 1988), in an issue whose cover bears Kat Harrison’s now iconic drawing of the ‘bee-faced mushroom shaman’ from Tassili-n-Ajjer, another essay by our protagonist appeared with the title ‘Hallucinogenic Mushrooms and Evolution’ alongside other essays by Albert Hofmann, Robert Forte, and, again, Ralph Metzner. At the end of the issue, there is also an advertisement for the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference, whose theme for the year was ‘The Transpersonal Vision: Past, Present, and Future’, which lists “Terrence McKenna” [sic] as a speaker.

Finally, in Vol. 11 No. 3, (Winter 1989), in a discussion (roughly) on the subject of UFOs, Terence talks with an unnamed interlocutor in an interviewed dubbed ‘A Conversation over Saucers’. And, following up on the previous advertisement, a new ad for the recordings from the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference appeared in this issue, including Terence’s talk called ‘Non-Ordinary States Through Vision Plants’.

All three of these ReVISION pieces were eventually republished under the same names in Terence’s book The Archaic Revival (except the word ‘Hallucinogenic’ was removed from the title of the second piece to render: ‘Mushrooms and History’). Here, the previously unnamed interviewer was finally identified as Will Noffke, radio host and owner of the Shared Visions bookstore in San Francisco which had a history of hosting Terence for talks and book signings.

(Note of interest: my own bound set of ReVision volumes came to me from the library of the Association for Research & Enlightenment, or A.R.E., in Virginia Beach, which was founded by Edgar Cayce to support his research and whose legacy is carried on there by his family. They were selling off some of the items from their library, so I purchased their set of bound ReVISION volumes).