Today’s randomly-selected item from the archives is Alix Sharkey’s profile of DMT that appeared in London’s The Independent newspaper on November 27, 1993.
The article, Saturday Night: From Mike’s Flat to a Parallel Universe, can be accessed in full at The Independent‘s website. Sharkey only mentions Terence McKenna in passing, noting his description of DMT as a “megatonnage hallucinogen,” but is noteworthy as a focused public treatment of a substance that tended to get very little public PR.
As I lit the pipe and took a deep draw, I heard a rushing sound. Before I could exhale, Mike and the room leapt forward, saturated with colour… DMT had fired me into a parallel universe. I found myself inside a multi-coloured holograph of Mike’s flat posing as a scene from the Arabian Nights being art-directed by Walt Disney, the Dalai Lama and Hieronymus Bosch – continuously and simultaneously…
Earlier in the same year (July 9), The Independent had published another of Sharkey’s “Saturday Night” pieces, titled Saturday Night: A Psychedelic Trip Up the Ladder of Evolution. This earlier article had been a profile and commentary on a lecture that Terence had given to about 40 people at a private home in London (apparently owned by a fellow named “Danny, who runs an audio-visual company called Project Love). If anyone was at or has any more information about this event, please do let me know.
I THINK we should deal only with the facts when we talk of Terence McKenna, don’t you?
Mr McKenna contends…that this humble mushroom is now ready and waiting for us to complete our ontological correspondence course, if we would only tear ourselves away from smack, crack, coke, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, sugar, cocoa, uppers, downers and all the other bad substances we are addicted to.
His theory states: ‘No perception without hallucination.’
We are in a small house in west London. There are 40 people sitting on cushions around the room, which is large and airy, full of plants and dominated by a huge skylight. We all face Mr McKenna, who sits cross-legged on a black leather armchair, wearing a pair of baggy no-brand jeans and a T-shirt that says ‘DMT’… His Birkenstock sandals are placed neatly nearby, and he wears black woollen socks.
A bearded academic type, Mr McKenna does not need fashion to prop up his arguments. His learning and powers of language slowly unwind and coil around us, until eventually we are mesmerised, our token resistance crushed by the irresistible force of his rationale.
This is the McKenna ‘rap’, the reason why people have paid 30 pounds a head to be here.
‘We have to recognise that the world is not something sculpted and finished, which we as perceivers walk through like patrons in a museum; the world is something we make through the act of perception.’ He talks like a man reading out his own thoughts in essay form: at one point he actually says ‘paragraph break’. Only he has no notes, no prompts.
When he answers questions his words are vivid and his thinking clear and unhurried… I’m damned if you are not getting a glimpse behind the dusty old drapes of ‘meaning’ and ‘reality’ even as he speaks.
As we break for food and drink, I realise how fast his argument has proceeded and how far we have climbed… And he has taken us all this way with not so much as a cigarette paper in sight. Forty people, soaring on one man’s imagination, logic and humour.
‘But the point is not to listen to Terence McKenna,’ he says. ‘The point is to go home and get loaded.’
What bothers me is that, as a tax-paying professional, with Significant Other and five- year-old daughter, great friends, a good home and neighbours, I certainly do not think of myself as a radical. So I was worried because nearly everything he said made sense to me.
Somehow I knew he would dare me to act on my beliefs, and he did. Commitment, that is what he wanted. ‘When are we going to come out of the closet?’ he asked.
Finally, to round out Alix Sharkey’s Terence McKenna-related pieces for The Independent, after Terence died in 2000, Sharkey penned a long obituary for the newspaper, which you can find the text of if you search (or scroll) on this forum page.
A charming, playful and exceptionally erudite raconteur
From the outset he was open about his condition, his website
featuring typically offhand updates: “This is a mad and wild adventure at
the fractal edge of life and death and space and time,” he wrote last
summer. “Just where we love to be, right, shipmates?”