The Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #40 – The Flight Into Egypt by Timothy C. Ely (Foreword by Terence McKenna)

Today’s item randomly selected from the collection is the book The Flight Into Egypt by Timothy C. Ely, which includes a Foreword by Terence McKenna. The two had met in New York and quickly came to collaborate on a rare and unique hand-made art book called Synesthesia [our upcoming crowdfund will be, in part, an effort to be able acquire one of these from a private owner who has accepted an reasonable offer so long as I can get the funds by mid-March–keep your eyes peeled in the next week or so for the crowdfund launch]. In the process of their interactions,

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Timothy C. Ely & Terence McKenna

Terence had a chance to see the original, unique, one-off The Flight Into Egypt book. Ely is an artist and bookmaker and has a history of making unique books…and by that I don’t mean books that standout as different as a result of their own distinctive style (although this is also true of his work), but rather that he only makes one of each…unique…they are not commercial items. The Flight Into Egypt was one such book, perhaps the only such book to eventually make it out in a commercial version–a sometimes bittersweet process that makes an artist’s work available in a way that it wouldn’t otherwise have been while simultaneously reducing a unique object of depth & texture and flattening it to a smooth, 2D rendering that can be endlessly reproduced as exact copies of each other. Yet, for those of us who might have never had the opportunity to see the original face-to-face, it is still an opportunity for us to enter into a visionary mind that we might not have otherwise had access to. For comparison, here are photos of both the original and the commercial reproduction:

Nonetheless, even given that the commercial reproduction can never match the embodied experience of the original, it is still more than a delight to interact with, and Terence’s 3-page Foreword is wonderfully imaginative and playful! It’s been a great pleasure of mine to get to know Tim by email correspondence over the last couple of years. He’s a very thoughtful individual, and I hope to share more of his story and thoughts with you over time.

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There will be several used copies of The Flight Into Egypt available in the imminently forthcoming Terence McKenna Archives crowdfund campaign (along with some other relevant material that I think you’ll enjoy). Here’s some of what Terence had to say about it:

It was with great pleasure and anticipation that I accepted [the] invitation to provide an introduction to this, the first printed edition of Timothy Ely’s masterpiece The Flight Into Egypt: Binding the Book. I was familiar with Tim’s bookmaking accomplishments, had even published in collaboration with him, but in spite of our association I had never experienced the actual presence of the original Flight Into Egypt until that moment, when alone, in good light and suitably activated by the lighter esters of delta six tetra-hydrocannabinol, I removed the brass screws from a heavily insured wooden packing crate, lifted away the top, and gazed upon the work. Reality outran apprehension at last, and the thing lay before me…

In the act of opening the book, my anticipation of otherness bordered on the Borgesian.

And then there it was, the open tome–part book, part journey, part secret doctrine, part jewel. The heavy pages must be turned carefully; the aura of magical craft is inescapable… There is text, but little is recognizable. Most is cryptoglossia, the rare written equivalent of spoken glossolalia… Automatic writing, cryptoglossia especially, carries us into the realm of intent toward signification without any culturally contrived meaning, toward the radiance of the Neoplatonic idea of the One…

…one cannot help but be immediately struck by the insectile glyphs so scrupulously and cryptically written everywhere. They are tracings made with a conscious alien intent… What is beheld, what is intended, literally cannot be spoken of. To understand it is to enter into a confraternity of silence, along with bookmakers, mystics, mathematicians, musicians, and assemblers of mosaics.

To gaze upon these images is to be swept on a pilgrim’s journey into a phantasmagoria of hashish and occult dreaming…

And what is it that is being charted, measured, graphed, and mathematically expressed as we make our way deeper into the analogical engine of the work? I believe it is the magma of posthistorical time, which moves beneath the carefully charted landforms of Ely’s mental Egypt. The rupture of planes is sure to occur when the transubstantiated object raises its protean form from beneath the desert sands, where it has been sleeping for uncounted aeons…

In Tim Ely’s world, we meet the book as artifact, as concrescence of cognitive process… The Flight Into Egypt…is intensely aware of itself as both object and enterprise…

Words, signs, maps, and the presence of hidden energies all combine into a course of visual epistemology. This is a grimoire for our times, a book of angelic conjuration… The Flight Into Egypt is ultimately accessional and alchemical. To experience it leads to a rarefaction and an internal integration that is the essence of art and life.

–Terence McKenna

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