Crowdfund Acquisitions #3 – In Memoriam: Terence McKenna (April 3, 2000) – Excerpts from Esalen 1999 in ‘Green Egg’ Magazine

Eighteen years ago today, April 3, 2000, Terence McKenna passed on as a result of a rare brain tumor. In it’s May/June issue of that year, the pagan-oriented magazine Green Egg published a full-page memorial that mostly consisted of a standardized description of Terence’s bio (similar to what appeared on his own books). However, it begins with a set of excerpts by Terence from Esalen in December of 1999, only a few months before Terence’s death, which I thought would make an appropriate object of attention for our remembrance…

“Everything is a blessing and everything comes as a gift. And I don’t regret anything about the situation I find myself in. If psychedelics don’t ready you for the great beyond, then I don’t know what really does. And we’re all under sentence of ‘moving up’ at some point in our lives.

“I have an absolute faith that the universe prefers joy and distills us with joy. That is what religion is trying to download to us, and this is what every moment of life is trying to do — if we can open to it. And we psychedelic people, if we could secure that death has no sting, we would have done the greatest service to suffering intelligence that can be done.

“And I feel that death is close, and I feel strong because of the (psychedelic) community and these people and plants that it rests on, and the ancient practices that it rests on, and I am full of hope, not only for my own small problems, but for humanity in general.”

-Terence McKenna (Esalen, December 1999)

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I’d also like to re-share Robert Hunter’s all-too-little-known poem ‘Words for Terence’, written on the occasion of Terence’s death and read aloud by Phil Lesh at a memorial:

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #37 – Phil Lesh w/ Lost at Last for Terence McKenna Tribute Concert

Today’s random item from the archives is from the San Francisco Examiner newspaper from December 14, 2000, eight months after Terence McKenna’s death. It is a listing in the ‘Daily Datebook’ section of the paper for an event the following evening (Dec. 15) with the band Lost at Last, with special guest Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, held in memory of Terence’s passing. In addition to the Examiner listing, this post includes details about the event, Lesh’s announcement of Terence’s death, an audio recording of the entire concert (including Phil Lesh reading Robert Hunter’s poem ‘Words for Terence’), videos of related performances with Lost at Last, and information about a follow-up event 11 years later.

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Lost at Last had performed several times with Terence raving alongside. At least two of those, one in San Francisco and one in Hawaii, were recorded and are worth viewing:

For his part, Phil Lesh had also been a long-time fan of Terence’s work, penning this blurb which appeared on Terence’s book True Hallucinations:

“How the Magellan of mentats put his mind and body on the line and discovered the source of consciousness, the end of history, and the factors that govern the ingress of novelty into our world. If you’ve been there, this book will take you back; if you haven’t, get ready.” –Phil Lesh, The Grateful Dead

Lesh’s website has a page sharing word of Terence’s death:

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Today we have lost our dear brother. A tremendous warrior. A voice that spoke the language of the universe. The language of the Overmind. Speaking all tongues and from the heart of the Eschaton, Terence will always be rembered and loved.Almost one short year ago, at Mountain Airre, Phil Lesh asked the crowd to take a moment of silence to reflect love and healing light unto those in need. A voice called out Terence’s name. My friends and I had not known that there was anything wrong with Terence until that moment.The full moon that night shown with a curious glow. An eerie feeling touched some of us, even pondering the possible lose of Terence.Now he has past. Before the great 2012 event or in preperation? He leaves us a wealth of enlightening information and awe-inspiring theories and insights into the great psychedelic Other that goes unparralled.What he did best was explore the realms of consciousness. Now his words and spirit will forever continue to shape humanity’s greater Mind. He plays in that band now, with Jerry, celebrating a life on earth that was as golden as all eternity’s love. We will miss you Terence.

Another page on Phil Lesh’s website offers a review of the event:

‘Countdown to 2012 – Celebrating the Life and Logos of Terence McKenna’. On December 15, 2000, in San Francisco, the tribe gathered for a memorial ceremony for Terence McKenna and to celebrate a new commitment to the evolving group mind, commUNITY, love and expression.The event featured 2 rooms of art, multimedia and music, including a performance by Lost at Last with a very special guest appearance by PHIL LESH, eulogy readings, invocation and decorations by many friends and loved ones of Terence’s, multimedia presentations by visual artists Robert Venosa and Martina Hoffman, mind expanding grooves of DJ FANOE and DJ JONAS, masterful visual ‘Gel-o-tronics’ by Vince D’Onofrio, and other blissful multimedia by Scott Davies, and the debute performance of Tinsel Tilde (joined by friends Daniel Paul and Diva Priyo of Lost at Last). Proceeds from the event went to help provide for expenses incurred during Terence’s illness.

Although Dennis McKenna (Terence’s brother) could not attend, he sent these words along and helped sum up what we were all feeling: “This gathering is an affirmation of HOPE, and a statement that however dark things may seem in these times, we have the faith and belief that the future will be more marvelous than we can even begin to imagine… Until that moment, we must somehow keep on keeping on…When the countdown finally gets down to the end and we make the COLLECTIVE crossing, in whatever form that takes, we will find Terence waiting for us there, bemused smile on his face as always, saying something like ‘Well, I told you it was gonna happen: what kept you?’…This gathering and celebration is a message to the world that we are up to the task ..Go forth, celebrate the future, life, ideas and hope: be as good as you can be to each other, and know that Terence is with us now, and will be with us at the ESCHATON, whenever and whatever that is…

There was a new sense of cummUNITY and magic felt by all present at the event. We were especially treated when Phil Lesh joined Lost at Last for a most appropriate version of Lost at Last’s jam ‘PEYOTE’, followed by OTHER ONE, DARK STAR, and FRANKLIN’s TOWER. To cap it off, Phil read Robert Hunter’s ‘Words for Terence’ written exclusively for the event.

Robert Hunter’s poem, ‘Words for Terence’, read as follows [if you can decipher any of the parts that I was unable to, please comment with suggestions]:

A wealthy soul hath he

A bellicose capacity for wonder

As braving the dread tactility of infinite ice

He astonishes angels in their (horizons?)

Consorts with actual imps in virginal dimensions holy and obscure

There is no tongue he does not speak,

Chemic, mathematic, philosophic rap, nor thunder rattle

Nor medusa hath he left uncourted where she sits beside elliptic windows contemplating Asia in the setting sun

Salutations, thou who was and is and is not.

Ave atque vale

There is no death, only final preparation

To discover all numbers are multiples of one

You can listen to the entire concert at archive.org.

A subsequent, follow-up concert, also dubbed ‘Countdown to 2012’ was held 11 years later in December, 2011.

The event also once again payed tribute to Terence McKenna  – author, speaker, visionary, and overall psychonaut – who created the infamous Time Wave Zero Novelty Theory  which postulates that “the universe has a teleological attractor at the end of time that increases interconnectedness, eventually reaching a singularity of infinite complexity in 2012, at which point anything and everything imaginable will occur simultaneously.” Dennis McKenna participated by appearing via a special Skype video message. Sadly, Terence died in 2000 as result of the deadly brain tumor Glioblastoma. In memory of Terence and on behalf of Countdown to 2012 and 13:28 Productions, a portion of postproduction proceeds were donated to the National Brain Tumor Society  and information and literature was made available to help raise awareness of this deadly cancer.

The 2000 event is still listed on the top of the index for Terence’s website:

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #34 – Saturday Night: From Mike’s Flat to a Parallel Universe (DMT)

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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?”

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #32 – Charles Hayes Interview in ‘Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures’

Today’s random item from the archives is a book that contains a long, excellent, and expansive interview with Terence from 1998. The interviewer was Charles Hayes, and the interview appears as “Part III” of his book Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures (2000). The Terence McKenna Archives collection has several physical copies of the paperback edition. There is also a hardcover edition, although I don’t believe there is any other difference between the two beyond the rigidity of the cover. There will be several signed copies available for auction in a crowfund campaign for the archives that will be launched later this month.

Among those to whom the book is dedicated, Hayes includes Terence:

for the spirit of the late Terence McKenna, a true Magellan of the imagination and Copernicus of the hyperreal, who braved the alien othernness of it all and sighted myriad new heavenly bodies in the cosmos of consciousness

Hayes’ interview with Terence (who he calls “one of history’s most compelling champions of psychedelic consciousness”) is, I’m happy to say, very long and, for that reason, covers a great range of topics. Tripping is definitely a book worth having on your shelves, and I consider the interview among the best that Terence gave. Here, I can only offer a paucity excerpts to whet your appetite and send you looking for a copy….or you can wait for the TM Archives crowdfund campaign to launch later this month and bid on your own copy signed by Charles Hayes to you.

These excerpts represent a very small portion of an interview that spans over 38 pages of text. Each of these subjects is treated at much greater length in the full interview:

The material presented…is the product of two extended conversations at McKenna’s home in South Kona, Big Island of Hawaii, on January 17 and 18, 1998, some sixteen months before he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforma, the most malignant of brain tumors, which eventually required him to move to the mainland for treatment.

When we met by arrangement on the highway the first morning, the elfin Celt immediately put me at ease with his contagious whinny of a laugh about the silliness of consumer culture, political developments, the foolishness of contemporary life. I felt right at home.

My very first acid trip took place in the summer of 1965…prior to my enrollment in Berkeley that fall… I’ve never had a trip like that since. It was very bizarre…

…from that revelation at the Masonic Temple I somehow made it back to ordinary reality, but I’ve never revisited the place in my psyche… The reason why I’ve never written about it is because I never reached a conclusion.

Maybe the reason that psychedelics are such a formative force in my life is that they worked for me as advertised.

It’s hard for most people to hallucinate on LSD.

The thing about profound experiences is that if they’re too profound, you can’t remember them…. you can’t really say much about it.

I’ve done MDMA a half-dozen times. It’s not very interesting to me.

I’ve done ketamine about five times, in fairly light doses… Ketamine is dubious.

Before I did Salvia divinorum for the first time…I had some trepidation… The hallucinations came on as…a parody of my fear. It was deliberately insulting me with hallucinations acceptable to a six-year-old. So I addressed it. I may be chickenshit, but I’m not this chickenshit. You can lift the veil slightly.

I did wonderful things with cannabis in the early days.

The best DMT I ever had was made in the laboratory, not from a plant.

The mushroom experience…is alien, because it has no context.

It’s a big question whether this is the only reality or not. That’s been a big issue for thousands of years.

EE kem wye STOK see kee pee PEEN. Vid nim gyo WOKS sid dee mahok a ben dee kee KEK det nen get bikeek teen. Ayus dee viji ZEN GWOT, kay MWON day kwa OK dikee tee teekt. EE vidimee NEEN nenk wah OK sot vay bon wa hagendekt…

Stoned on DMT, it’s an ecstasy to do this…

James Joyce and Marshall McLuhan were onto how people, according to their cultural programming, were cued to either sounds or images. There is much to explore in this area.

As we dematerialize, and that seems to be what’s happening–we’re getting ready to decamp from three-dimensional space and time into the imagination, which is as vast as the universe itself.

Psychedelics are good fuel for religion… But I think they should give more drug, less message.

CH: Have you had moments of mortal terror?

TM: How about intense alarm?… One that I don’t want to visit anytime soon occurred when I took half a dose of ayahuasca and half a dose of mushrooms together…”something’s wrong”… It graduated in intensity, because I was becoming alarmed… had I remained in that place, it was truly madness, truly unbearable. I don’t think you could get used to that.

People, you should behave as though you’re mortal, for God’s sake! Be happy if the evidence is to the contrary.

I think [psychedelics] should be regulated to some degree. We don’t let people drive cars just because they want to…

CH: How do you interface with the rave scene?

TM: Somewhat uneasily…

I was at this scene…called Starwood, which bills itself as a pagan festival…On the final night, they piled up dead apple trees two hundred feet high and set them on fire, and six thousand people tore their clothes off and danced all night long around this thing, raising a cloud of red dust in the air a thousand feet high… I took one look and thought, No wonder the right wing is alarmed… These were pagans. I love them…

“Where can we get loaded?” I asked.

“How ’bout the Temple of Dionysus?”

“Great!”

CH: Are you a shaman?

TM: No no. I’m a shamanologist…

Shamans are meme traders.

TM: The Other could be any of these things…

CH: But you’re leaning toward the friendly-extraterrestrial theory…

TM: I’m torn between two possibilities. The extraterrestrial possibility…most people could probably come to terms with… The other possibility, applying Occam’s razor here, is that what we’re talking about is dead people… “Ancestor” is a pretty sanitized term. “Dead person” brings it home a little more cogently.

The problem is we have no shamans here. Those who claim to be shamans are the last people you’d want to put confidence in.

The most important question in the universe at the moment is Am I doing all right? And the answer is (usually) Yes, you’re doing fine.

It’s possible to be an optimist without being a cockeyed optimist.

I believe we’re in the garden party before the crunch, the long afternoon before the stormy night.

If God was complete, why is there the phenomenon of temporal enfoldment.

There is something we share this space/time continuum with that can, when it chooses, take on any form it wishes.

Bottom line, there is something very weird going on…

Culture is the transition along McLuhanesque lines from the 3-D animal mind to the 4-D posthuman domain.

My faith is with technology and with psychedelics. Politics aren’t going to take us much further.

The Internet has remade the world in six years, and most people take it for granted now. It’s disturbing that many are retreating from full participating in this new reality, because they can’t understand it.

People believe anything they want, and it no longer matters, because there is somewhere a core of cutting-edge thinkers who are still trying to integrate this stuff with fact.

One of the bad things about psychedelics is that they’ve left us with a legacy of intellectual relativism… I’m not supposed to criticize you because it’s all the same, right?… I hate this. It’s the death of thought, and that’s what the New Age rides on.

The guy at the workbench who works for a detergent company is not a scientist. That’s ridiculous. Those guys rarely study the philosophy of science, so they don’t understand what it is epistemologically.

Ultimately, something wants to be communicated through psychedelics. Somethings wants to be told, and it’s not something dizzy like “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Laughter) We know that. That’s not news.

People have two questions: Where did we come from? Where are we going? I think psychedelics provide answers to those two questions…

I want to trade memes with the Other.

I don’t want to leave this world before ordinary people can, by some means, access and walk through DMT hallucinations.

Psychedelics as an experience of boundary dissolution are half the equation. The other half is what the subject thinks about that.

Once boundaries are taken away, wholeness is accessible.

I think the real test of psychedelics is what to when them when you’re not on them…

Psychedelics persist in astonishing.

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #22 – Dearly Departed in the Arts, 2000

The San Francisco Chronicle, on the final day of the first year of the new millennium, published a long list of the ‘Dearly Departed’ to remember “those in the arts who died in 2000. Terence McKenna (d. Apr. 3, age 53) appeared on that listed under the heading ‘BOOKS AND LITERATURE’ between journalist Art Hoppe (d. Feb. 1, age) and novelist Penelope Fitzgerald (d. Apr. 28). The only other person in the list to have died on the same day as Terence was artist Ann Carter (age 31). Other “notables” who listed are cartoonist Charles Schulz (d. Feb. 12, age 77), bandleader Tito Puente (d. May 31, age 75), actors Walter Matthau (d. July 1, age 79), Alec Guinness (d. Aug. 5, age 86), Bill Barty, (d. Dec. 23, age 76), Jason Robards (d. Dec. 26, age 78), and, only 12 days after Terence, the wonderful artist Edward Gorey.