Well, the random number generator seems to have a thing for ‘Alien Dreamtime’, so here we are again….another review of the 1993 album/video/event, this time in none other than the iconic Billboard Magazine in their issue of January 22, 1994. This certainly would have carried Terence’s name to a pretty wide audience, though the impression people would have received is less than complimentary. The short and negative review was written by Catherine Applefeld.
The fragile realm of the psychedelic experience and the suffocating threat of exposure to those who are just plain living form the thesis of this performance video, which was filmed before an audience in San Francisco. Leading viewers on the so-called magical mystery tour is a sniveling little man who throws out empty sound bites as quickly and seamlessly as he changes inflection. Here are some favorites: “The three evils of society are hegemony, monogamy, and monotony,”
and “Going through life without having a psychedelic experience to going to the grave without having sex.” Maybe so, but this guy’s delivery is enough to scare Timothy Leary straight. Those going on a trip are advised to leave this pretentious piece of work behind.”
Again, as with Harley Barnhart’s characterization of Terence as “rancorous and contumacious,” not everyone cares for Terence, his prose, or his rhetorical style.
It’s been another slow week of intake at the Terence McKenna Archives. Only one item came through this week. Check out our crowdfund if you’d like to see more weekly acquisitions coming in.
Jim de Rogatis’ book Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock contains a quote by and a paragraph mentioning Terence Mckenna.
“The power of sound is almost an archetypal conceit of all theories of magic anywhere in the world. For us, magic means stagecraft and illusion, but for many people, it simply means another way of doing business with reality. Rave culture, to some degree, can be seen as a nostalgia for archaic and so-called primitive lifestyles….Music has to be percussive to address human physiology. I mean, you wouldn’t want to listen to too much Schoenberg on acid.” -Terence McKenna
“Another hugely influential English act was the Shamen, who shifted gears in 1989 from post-punk psychedelic rock to more dance-oriented sounds while breaching the mainstream with the acid house hit, “Move Any Mountain.” In 1993, the group started a trend by recording Boss Drum with Terence McKenna, the American ethnobotanist who no less an authority than Timothy Leary called “the Timothy Leary of the ’90s.” The author of poetic pro-psychedelic tracts such as True Hallucinations, The Archaic Revival, and Food of the Gods, McKenna was the closest thing rave culture had to a guru. Although ravers failed to adopt all of his theories, he showed a keen understanding of the rock ‘n’ roll mindset with his central tenet that going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience is long going to the grave without ever having sex. Samples of such pronouncements delivered in McKenna’s lovably nasal voice would soon show up on tracks by Psychic TV, Coil, Youth, and the Orb, among other techno artists. One of the most lucid and enlightened authorities on the subject of drugs in the ’90s, he sadly died from brain cancer in April 2000.” -Jim de Rogatis
If you appreciate what the Terence McKenna Archives does and want to ensure that the acquisitions keep coming, please do consider donating or purchasing some items from our crowdfund. All proceeds go to support the further acquistion, preservation, storage, and sharing of Terence McKenna’s Legacy.
In 2005, a new edition of The Evolutionary Mind was published, consisting of transcribed selections from the trialogues between chaos mathematician Ralph Abraham, renegade biologist Rupert Sheldrake, and explorer of the “ontological foundations of shamanism and the ethnopharmacology of spiritual transformation” Terence McKenna, which took place at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. David Jay Brown, whose own interviews with Terence will come up in future blog posts, reviewed the new volume for Shift: At the Frontiers of Consciousness, the (former) quarterly magazine of The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS).
“The deep thinking and imaginative speculation in this book cover an incredible range of topics from the nature of time to the end of reality. Each participant takes a turn initiating a discussion, and then the other two join in, almost like circus jugglers adding layers of complexity to their performance. A rare alchemy is created when these three scholars and close friends begin exchanging ideas, provoking and challenging one another into new dimensions of thought…
What emerges from these conversations is a kind of collective intelligence that appears to transcend each thinker’s individual limitations. The combined perspectives form a single mind that is more imaginative and intellectually balanced than one might expect examining their ideas separately. It’s as though each holds a piece to the cosmic puzzle, and the pieces begin to fit when they explore the frontiers of thought creatively together.”
The 60-minute VHS video tape of the 1993 Alien Dreamtime event in San Francisco, composed of “three raves [and] two interregnums [with] visions [by] Rose X, didgeridoo [by] Stephen Kent, and sound by Spacetime [Continuum], [with] words and ideas by Terence McKenna,” was reviewed in the April 1, 1995 issue of Library Journal (a trade magazine for librarians founded in 1876 by Melvil Dewey, of Dewey Decimal System fame). The reviewer, Carol Dratch-Kovler, a consultant with the Upper Hudson Library System gives a very positive review amidst a pretty random array of brief video reviews, including ‘The Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust’ and ‘Color Printing with the Beseler 45A Color Head: A Workshop with Darryl Nicholas (2 vols.)’.
“Take a step outside your mind”. . . this video captures the psychedelic experience without drugs. It incorporates the hallucinatory visuals or Rose X Media House with the transcendent rap of author Terence McKenna. . . The mesmerizing visuals are enhanced by the musical musings of the Space Time Continuum and didgeridooiste Stephen Kent. Recorded live, this is much more than a media performance; it is a hypnotic journey that seduces the viewer into the mysterious realm of alternate reality. The performance is divided in to three movements, each cognizant of McKenna’s ethnobotanical theories: Archaic Revival, Alien Love, and Time Wave Zero. The radical ideas presented here proved that the “Sixties” are alive and well in the “Nineties,” at least in San Francisco. At $19.95, the price is right for “a long, strange trip.”
Ok, the random item of the day is back after a busy period. Today’s random item eluded me for quite a while. Terence McKenna was featured in the music magazine Alternative Press in 1994 for an article/interview by Eric Gladstone focusing on rave culture and Terence’s influence on the philosophical outlooks of many in that scene. Gladstone praises Terence’s Alien Dreamtime collaboration with visual artists Rose X (aka Ken Adams & Britt Welin), electronic musician Spacetime Continuum (aka Jonah Sharp), and didgeridooist extraordinaire Stephen Kent as “one of the most meaningful projects to come out of the culture so far.” For me, it’s always great to hear Terence explain things in words I’ve never heard from him before, even if it’s a familiar concept he has explained elsewhere time and time again. To my way of interacting with T’s output, it is precisely these alternate tellings of the same or similar concepts which really allow one to unpack his ideas. This is one of the reasons that I have focused the archives on print material as it is a whole (prolific) realm of Terence’s output and wordplay that doesn’t exist in the ubiquitous and readily-available online audio/video corpus. It is the print material that is most in danger of becoming lost and forgotten. I’ll continue to search and share for these things, and we value any support that you might be able to offer.
Gladstone interviewed Terence at his home in Occidental. One of my favorite bits comes in the concluding paragraph:
Sounding alternately pessimist and optimist, lighthearted and passionately serious, McKenna’s arguments, both in interview and in performance, show a rare level of contemplation. But not, he insists, much planning. “No, no, none of these things are rehearsed. It’s all ad-lib. We’ve been doing it right here. We can send this to the Shamen and release it! No, it’s called ‘not being stupid!’ Amazing! Miraculous! Line up at the door, folks, a liberal college education displayed for your astonishment! Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
And, here’s Terence’s advice on appropriate drug use in the rave scene:
“Raves are a good place to do pot and take smart drugs, and dance, but I think a psychedelic dose that is effective is too high a dose to be 1) out in public, and 2) trying to negotiate transportation.”
“They came to one of my old-style, pitcher-of-water-and-chair onstage lectures in London and said they wanted to sample me. And, we got together in the studio the next day and basically just talked for a couple of hours.” Straight to DAT, the result appeared on the album Boss Drum and single “Re-Evolution,” hits which brought McKenna to the attention of Spacetime Continuum. Collaborations with Zuvuya (a.k.a Jason Grey, a.k.a. Juju Midget) on the U.K. Flow Sound label and another with Coil are due soon.
The only version I’ve been able to locate is the super low-res digital scan that appears below, but I also just (after years of searching) found a copy that was finally posted on ebay and have ordered it. So, I should be able to add a physical copy of the magazine into the archives very soon.
For the first time in many weeks, there have been no new additions to the Terence McKenna Archives! As such, I thought it might be appropriate to introduce something that I mentioned in a few past blog posts, something that can help ensure that the acquisition process can continue apace and so that we continue to have newly acquired material to share with you each week. You may recall that in the past weeks, I found out about, inquired about, received, and scanned a set of photographs by Chip Simons that he took of Terence at his house in Occidental in the early 90s. Well, I’m pleased to say that I can now offer prints of that photoshoot with all funds going to support the acquisition, preservation, storage, and sharing of Terence McKenna’s legacy. Here’s a low-res example of a collage print with 16 of the 17 photos from the shoot…
I currently have a shop open at Etsy (with individual and collage prints, magnets, buttons, and a couple posters). The scans are very high quality 600dpi reproductions. This is a way that you can both receive a great product (the prints look great framed on the wall!) and contribute to an important effort. And, in fact, in the long-run, it is not only the photo product that you will get, but as the acquisition process continues and more archival material comes in, that newly acquired material will also continue to be shared. So, you are really helping to fund more Terence McKenna material coming your way in the future. In fact, there are plans underway to host the TM Archives and Transcription Project at the official Terence McKenna website owned by his estate as a permanent online location to where people will be able to access an array of his work and related material.
There is actually a much larger crowdfunding campaign for the Terence McKenna Archives coming down the pipeline in the coming months with other tantalizing incentives, but this initial effort with these photos will serve as prelude to that larger campaign. Once that later crowdfund launches, the Etsy shop will probably come down. Here’s a provocative teaser of a page from one of the documents that I’m creating for that larger campaign (from ‘A Companion Guide to Terence McKenna’):
Today’s random item from the Terence McKenna Archives is actually an interesting one. It comes through PR Newswire (a NY-based press release distribution service) and advertises an appearance by Terence McKenna on Talk City, The Chat Network, which is described as “the #1 chat service on the Internet, known for its civilized environment, wide market acceptance, and quality programming.” I’d recommend reading this article to get a clear sense of the significance of Talk City in the history of web-based communication. It appears that (at least part of) their MO, in addition to general-topic open discussion forums, was to host people of interest and invite people to come chat with them in a text-based forum. Terence McKenna participated as the guest of honor in such a forum on the 16th of October, 1997…..”Visionary scholar, prophet or madman; you be the judge.”
CHALLENGE FOR THE WEB-SAVVY: I wonder if there is any chance that this chat is still represented somewhere on the web (or in someone’s personal file collection!). This would be a great session to retrojectively eavesdrop on as it must have unfolded somewhat different than a typical Q&A at a lecture.
Today’s random-number-generator-selected item from the Terence McKenna Archives is another issue of Magical Blend magazine, this time issue #22 from April 1989. The magazine contains an edited transcript of a talk, which Terence gave in 1984 at the Berkeley Institute for the Study of Consciousness (founded by Arthur Young in 1972–Young and his wife Ruth hosted some of Terence’s earliest talks), with the title ‘New Maps of Hyperspace’. This talk has been through several edits: the original talk (the recording of which I have not seen), the version in this magazine, and another slightly edited version that appeared in Terence’s book The Archaic Revival. One of my favorite ads for Terence, emphasizing his “Word Magic” via “public raves and private musings,” is also present.
“All these other images — the starship, the space colony, the lapis — these are precursory images. They follow from the idea that history is the shockwave of eschatology. As one closes distance with the eschatological object, the reflections it is throwing off resemble more and more the thing itself. In the final moment, the Unspeakable stands revealed. There are no more reflections of the Mystery. The Mystery in all its nakedness is seen, and nothing else exists. But what it is, decency can scarcely safely hint at; nevertheless, it is the crowning joy of futurism to seek anticipation of it.”
There was also an article by, and several ads for products from, Robert Anton Wilson:
Magical Blend magazine #56 (August 1997) included the second part of an interview with Terence McKenna by John DavidEbert. I’ve included some snippets of that interview here. There are also some advertisements spread through the magazine for companies which feature Terence McKenna as a selling point in the ad. This is also another example of the common ‘double-R mistake’: It’s Terence, not Terrence.
“Language is something very deep and general in nature. All of nature seeks to communicate, and that information is moved around on many levels. What is new and unique about human beings is speech. In standard English, speech and language are used almost interchangeably. I would like to see that change…language is something very old and very general.
…The future of communication is the future of the evolution of the human soul. As we communicate with each other with greater facility, the boundaries and the illusions of difference just evanesce and disappear.”
“I see culture offering cheap substitutes for authentic experience. Culture wants you to regret the past, anticipate the future and barely notice the felt presence of immediate experience. To my mind, this is the most toxic value that we tolerate: the devaluation of our feelings as they occur to us in the act of living in the moment in a defined locus of space and time. That’s who we are; that’s all we will ever be. And a world made out of hope and regret is a very pale substitute for that feeling of being vitally connected and present in the living world.”
In another article by George Myers Jr., the staff book critic for the Columbus Dispatch newspaper of Ohio [we met Myers in an earlier blog post when he praised Timothy Ely’s Flight Into Egypt but characterized Terence as “gassy”], we learn what many who follow Terence’s life will have known: Tom Robbins reads Terence McKenna. Myers reviews a new book by Kevin Kelly who began a project as an English major at San Diego State University to find out which books most inspired an array of influential Americans. Among that list was author Tom Robbins…and among Robbins’ list of books which were influential on him is Terence McKenna’s Food of the Gods, along with some other appropriate titles–Robbins is the only person mentioned who lists one of his own books as an influence on himself. Of course, Robbins also wrote the introduction for The Archaic Revival. Woody Harrelson’s list is also interesting.