I found out yesterday that John Major Jenkins, an important figure in the development of the 2012 phenomenon and a friend and collaborator of Terence McKenna’s, died of cancer on July 2, two days ago relative to this post. For me, it was rather unexpected, and the first thing I did was to relisten to the interview that I recorded with JMJ at his home in Windsor, Colorado in April of last year while on a roadtrip through Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado (during which I also visited Terence’s & Dennis’ hometown of Paonia). While I wasn’t planning on publishing the interview anytime soon, since I expected to have plenty of other opportunities to follow up with John and am also gathering quite a few interview with people about Terence, and since I plan to do something with them collectively. However, in light of his sudden passing, I thought it appropriate to share that conversation with you all.
The interview covers a range of historical information about JMJ, his awareness of Terence and his ideas, his interactions with Terence over the years, a variety of personal synchronicities between the two, and a final reflection on Terence’s legacy and significance (as well as absence) in the present world.
My primary recording device was dead at the time, and I had to record on my phone. So, I apologize in advance for any moments where either of us lean away from the table where the phone was sitting and the volume goes down.
John and I have a had a complex relationship over the years, often going back and forth between cordial sharers of information of mutual interest to antagonistic intellectual opponents. In the end, I’m incredibly glad that we met (for the second time) at his house last year, where he was a very kind host and offered me a place to stay for the night on my road trip. I certainly didn’t know it would be the last meeting would we have. As I’ve done for Terence (and for Jose Arguelles), I’m hopeful that I can be among those who help ensure that JMJ’s significant historical documentation (you’ll notice his very specific recollections, references, and references to documents he owns in the interview) can be preserved for future researchers. What John really wanted in life was for people to take his ideas seriously.
For an even longer and more recent interview, after he was diagnosed with cancer, check out this article and (5-hour) interview with Jonathan Zap at Reality Sandwich: http://realitysandwich.com/321420/john-major-jenkins-reflecting-on-a-life-of-discoveries-and-tribulations/
For my own scholarship on the 2012 phenomenon, including some public tussles with JMJ, visit my academia.edu page: https://ucsb.academia.edu/KevinWhitesides
And, without further ado, here’s my interview with John Major Jenkins, about Terence McKenna, from April 11, 2016:
Here’s my library of John’s work (I do keep archives of more than just Terence). I’ve got a lot more than this, but can’t find some of it just now and have a lot stored digitally:
Annotations to the John Major Jenkins Interview:
- (0:08) JMJ originally states the date as “August 11th” and then corrects himself to “April 11th.” This may seem innocuous but shows how much time he spent with his head in the Maya Long Count calendar. August 11th is (one of the candidates for) the base-date of the Long Count calendar, August 11, 3114 BC.
- (0:31) JMJ mentions that Terence McKenna wrote the Foreword to his book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (1998).
- (6:11) After mentioning that he cites The Invisible Landscape in his 1989 book Jouryney to the Mayan Underworld (“for the shamanism”), he mentions that it was through seeing an article by (or interview with) Terence in Magical Blend magazine that he realized that this “put him on the map as some kind of cultural icon or something, a real guy that was out there, because of course, [in] the late ’80s, you couldn’t just go on Google and look people up; where are these people? I don’t know, they don’t have a Facebook.” This realization led to their eventual contact through an I Ching mailing network that they were both members of.
There are a couple of annotations to be made here.