Terence McKenna Interviewed in ‘Critique’ Magazine (1989)

Critique: A Journal Exposing Consensus Reality was a quarterly countercultural publication that often specialized in issues surrounding conspiracy culture but also dealt with broader issues, as is made more clear in its alternate title: Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies & Metaphysics. It’s self-described purpose was “to question, explore, and expose consensus reality to assist in the transformation from consumer idiots to critically thinking, aware and developing individuals. And to prepare the way for the new paradigms and the new species.”

Issue #31 (Summer 1989) contained a 3-page interview with Terence McKenna conducted by David Jay Brown & Rebecca McClen. This is a different edit from the same interview that also later appeared in High Times magazine in 1992, and which later appeared again (also with a different edit) in Brown & McClen (Novick)’s book Mavericks of the Mind in 1993. The interview also appears in Terence’s own book The Archaic Revival, identifying Critique as the original publication, although the interview is much longer in the book than in the magazine.

The theme of this particular special issue of Critique was ‘End of the World or End of an Illusion’, so Brown & McClen selected out the sections of their interview that were most relevant to that theme. You can view a photocopy of the entire interview (as published in Critique) on pages 2-4, here. But, I’ll include some choice quotes below.

A reference to Terence also appears elsewhere in the issue in Michael Grosso‘s article, ‘Endtime Anomalies’, where he says:

“The anomalous signs in the sky — which we call UFOs — seem designed to undermine confidence in our prevailing sense of reality. Terence McKenna compares these unidentified sky signs with the Resurrection of Jesus in the ancient world, something meant to counfound, paralyze, and suspend the intellectual cocksureness of the powers that be.”  -Michael Grosso

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In the introduction to the interview in Mavericks of the Mind, Rebecca McClen Novick provides some further details about the context of the interview: “This was our first interview. It took place on November 30th, 1988 in the dramatic setting of Big Sur. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean we sat on the top floor of the Big House at the Esalen Institute, where Terence was giving a weekend seminar. He needed little provocation to enchant us with the pyrotechnic wordplay which is his trademark, spinning together the cognitive destinies of Gaia, machines, and language and offering a highly unorthodox description of our own evolution.”

TM: “What we can say concerning the singularity is this: it is the obviation of life in three dimensional space, everything that is familiar comes to an end, everything that can be described in Euclidean space is superseded by modes of being which require a more complicated description than is currently available.”

TM: “We shouldn’t assume time travel is impossible simply because it hasn’t been done. There’s plenty of latitude in the laws of quantum physics to allow for moving information through time in various ways. Apparently you can move information through time, as long as you don’t move it through time faster than light.

DJB: “Why is that?”

TM: “I haven’t the faintest idea. (laughter) What am I, Einstein? (laughter)

DJB: “I’m wondering what you think the ultimate goal of human evolution is?

TM: “Oh, a good party. (laughter)

TM: “It’s very interesting that in the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, when they took the sacrament, what the god said was, “Procreate, procreate.” It is uncanny the way history is determined by who sleeps with whom, who gets born, what lines are drawn forward, what tendencies are accelerated. Most people experience what they call magic only in the dimension of mate-seeking, and this is where even the dullest people have astonishing coincidences, and unbelievable things go on; it’s almost as though hidden strings were being pulled…”

DJB: “Do you think that there’s any relationship between the self-transforming machine elves that you’ve encountered on your shamanic voyages and the solid state entities that John Lilly has contacted in his interdimensional travels?”

TM: “I don’t think there is much congruence. The solid state entities that he contacted seem to make him quite upset…”

TM: “Now let’s think about what machines are made of, in light of Sheldrake’s morphogenetic field theory. Machines are made of metal, glass, gold, silicon, and plastic; they are made of what the earth is made of. Now wouldn’t it be strange if biology were a way for earth to alchemically transform itself into a self-reflecting thing. In which case then, what we’re headed for inevitably, what we are in fact creating is a world run by machines… Actually the fear of being ruled by machines is the male ego’s fear of relinquishing control of the planet to the maternal matrix of Gaia. Ha. That’s it. Just a thought. (laughter).

TM: “Consciousness can’t evolve any faster than language. The rate at which language evolves determines how fast consciousness evolves, otherwise you’re just lost in what Wittgenstein calls ‘the unspeakable’. You can feel it, but you can’t speak of it, so it’s an entirely private reality.

…There have been periods in English when there were emotions which don’t exist anymore, because the words have been lost. This is getting very close to this business of how reality is made by language. Can we recover a lost emotion by creating a word for it? There are colors which don’t exist anymore because the words have been lost. I’m thinking of the word jacinth. This is a certain kind of orange. Once you know the word jacinth, you always can recognize it, but if you don’t have it, all you can say is it’s a little darker orange than something else. We’ve never tried to consciously evolve our language, we’ve just let it evolve, but now we have this level of awareness, and this level of cultural need where we really must plan where the new words should be generated. There are areas where words should be gotten rid of that empower politically wrong thinking… So planned evolution of language is the way to speed it toward expressing the frontier of consciousness.”

TM: “It was Ludwig von Bertallanfy, the inventor of general systems theory, who made the famous statement that “people are not machines, but in all situations where they are given the opportunity, they will act like machines,” so you have to keep disturbing them, ’cause they always settle down into a routine.”

TM: “I have named us [himself, Rupert Sheldrake, Ralph Abraham, and Frank Barr] Compressionists, or Psychedelic Compressionists. A Compressionism holds that the world is growing more and more complex, compressed, knitted together, and therefore holographically complete at every point, and that’s basically where the four of us stand, I think, but from different points of view.”

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Journey to the Mayan Underworld – John Major Jenkins Interview Item #2

This is the second item in the series of annotations to my interview with John Major Jenkins.

51qLHmdd7+LAfter mentioning (6:11) 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 during the same period when he was writing that book that he realized that this “put [Terence] 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.” 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.

  1. The first is that the Magical Blend article that JMJ refers to is almost certainly the ‘New Maps of Hyperspace’ article from issue #22 (April, 1989) that was featured in an earlier blog post. Since Jenkins refers to the period of “1988, maybe early 1989,” and since this is the only Magical Blend appearance in those two years, it seems likely. It seems even more likely, given that JMJ cites that very article in his (2017) revised edition of Journey to the Mayan Underworld. Without seeing his original (1989) manuscript, it’s difficult to know what changed (it’s clear that there have been significant revisions).
  2. The second is the specific nature of the reference that JMJ makes to The Invisible Landscape. I have to say, given his qualifier in the interview with me, that he was mostly interested in the shamanism, his actual use of The Invisible Landscape is actually more of an attempt to extend their argument about the “electron spin resonance” (ESR) of drug molecules and DNA storage of memories. This eventually does get back around to shamanism but only at the very end of the discussion, where he finally speculates that “shamanic journeys to the ‘spirit world’ may have access to these [ESR patterns fundamental to human DNA], resulting in the abstract art seen at Mitla, as well as the Sacred [Mayan] Calendar which reflects the same pattern.”

Since Jenkins passed away, I have attempted to fill in my collection of his work and have also tried to (very respectfully) be in touch with his family to discuss assistance with archiving and preserving his work and substantial amounts of historical documentation. The new edition of Journey to the Mayan Underworld (2017) is among those items, and it is also now one of the new items in the Terence McKenna Archives.

 

 

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #11 – New Maps of Hyperspace (in Magical Blend, 1989)

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: