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.

The Hallucinogeneration Game – Terence McKenna & The Shamen in New Musical Express

Welcome back to the Terence McKenna Archival Blog. It’s been a very busy summer, and I apologize for not having posted more regularly over the past months. I am hoping to get back into a more regular pattern of posting. Even though the blog has been quiet, the effort to archive the world of Terence McKenna has continued in full force. For the first post back after the summer lull, I thought, as a treat, I’d include an item that I received recently that includes some “new” photos of Terence. People always love that!

You have probably heard the musical collaboration between Terence McKenna and the British band, The Shamen, called ‘Re-Evolution’. If not, you should hear it — it’s a classic! It begins with Terence’s rephrasing of William Blake: “If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed.” I’ll leave it to you to consider whether you think this is the case or whether you think, as Terence said in a later talk, that he tries to “think of a good story, because I think the best story will win,” and that, perhaps, the truth can be told so as to be understood and a good story might still be believed in its stead. Either way, if you haven’t heard it, or just haven’t listened in a while, it’s worth a (re-)listen. I also am particularly fond of the remix by Future Sound of London, called ‘Re-Iteration’.

The Shamen had previously topped the British music charts with their song ‘Ebeneezer Goode’, which gained both fame and infamy for its apparently subversive MDMA-promoting lyrics: “He’s Ebeneezer Goode….eezer Goode, eezer Goode” (i.e. “E’s are good”; Good-E). So, when they produced ‘Re-Evolution’ with Terence McKenna, people were paying attention, and it drew a lot of popular attention to Terence that he had never received in that way before. The Terence McKenna Archives currently holds two copies of the ‘Re-Evolution’ LP (though I can’t currently locate the posters that came along with them which display a full transcription of Terence’s monologue).

Another related favorite item (this time from the digital archives) is a short article that appeared in the London newspaper, The Daily Mirror, on March 10, 1993.

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I always find it particularly amusing that the author of this article actually contacted “a spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry” to get an official comment on Terence’s suggestion that the working man’s coffee breaks be replaced with cannabis breaks. Cannabis is, of course, still illegal in the UK, 24 years later.

The main item from the archive, though, that I’d like to profile today on the blog is a recently acquired issue of a British music magazine called New Musical Express from February 27, 1993. This issue of NME features The Shamen on the cover and includes a two-page spread article featuring commentary on the band and its recent endeavors and controversies, focusing particularly on their collaboration with McKenna, and includes excerpts of discussions with Terence and co-founder of The Shamen, Colin Angus. Photos are by Steve Double (who I have contacted to inquire about other photos from the shoot). I’ll include some excerpts from the article below the images.

…the bloated, festering music industry has shown itself to be moribund by the debacle of this year’s Brits Awards…

…What kind of decidedly crazy people only give awards on sales merits when their vested interests are involved and refuse to even acknowledge true rags-to-riches tales like that of The Shamen? Why, the committee of money-driven, power-hungry major label movers and shakers of course…

…But Colin Angus and his verbal sparring partner Terence McKenna aren’t fazed today — Colin just feels snubbed by the industry…

…Terence McKenna’s creased face breaks into a huge grin — he’d love to have performed ‘Re-evolution’ with The Shamen at the awards ceremonies and disturbed the peace.

His eyes are twinkling, limpid pools of light. They seem suffused with a thousand years of knowledge. His demeanour betrays  a near-lifetime of psychedelic drug ingestion. His voice is a deep, rich, cracked volcano and, in his presence, you feel other-worldly, as if you’re making contact with previously undiscovered alien beings who understand you but whom you can’t understand.

This is Terence McKenna, author, shaman, voyager into the unknown…and not your average acid casualty. A thorn in the side of polite society, a crusader for change, and the spoken-word star of the new single by The Shamen, he’s spooning his chicken curry in London’s East End and offering pearls of wisdom.

Terence: “My approach to this stuff is political and I see this stuff as a vehicle for propaganda. And this youth culture is very astute on how bankrupt the values of the middle-class are. What are they going to have handed on to them? The whole planet has been looted right in front of them. So, getting this kind of message out is empowering an underclass that is going to inherit the world.”

Who is this mild-mannered man who never raises his voice, this American with a 14-year-old son who gets him to listen to grunge and house music when they’re not going out to see Ice-T films together? And what is he doing with one of our highest-profile pop groups, The Shamen, who strive to question the unquestionable when they’re not perfecting bite-sized snippets of electronic gospel…

Terence McKenna…is much more open to music and experience. He doesn’t see Western people with painted faces dancing around a fire as shamen, but people who hold great sway over other people through the healing power of music. And he tries to make mincemeat of my arguments against psychedelic drugs. The reason why most people don’t take these drugs, I proffer, is because they fear for the effects; not necessarily the short-term effects, but the long-term effects, which are largely unknown.

“I think people don’t take them because the establishment has misinformed them, he counters… This is the recovery of the way religion was done for the first million years after it was invented. And it’s just been in the last 500 years of European civilisation that people have become so phobic of the unconscious, of their own minds, that they’ve tried to legislate everything but a waking sleep out of existence.”

Terence: “Society picks and chooses the drugs it exalts, usually to serve a social system that is not our friend, but the friend of the people who are profiting off the social system.”

We have an interesting discussion on the class system — during which Colin and Terence relish abolition of the monarchy — and a heated debate on Christianity.

Colin: “The apocalypse is going to start happening in the beginning of the next century, the next millennium. At least the start of it, anyway. And it’s basically going to be the collapse of the global capitalist economic system, competition for dwindling resources and basically the results of there being too many people on the planet.”

Don’t you have any optimism for the future?

“I do believe that those of use, the people that do survive, that it will be a new beginning for us, a positive transformation.”

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #26 – Washington Post reviews ‘Hemp Revolution’ (Film), 1996

Terence McKenna made an appearance in the 1995 film The Hemp Revolution, directed by Andy Clarke, and, as a result, comments about him appear in several published reviews of the film. Today’s random item is a Washington Post review (March 22, 1996) by Desson Howe and includes the following excerpt:

[I]n the last, briefest section, of the film comes the campy part, during which we see montages of stoned faces and hear about the joys of getting buzzed. “If you don’t smoke cannabis,” says the oddly cadenced “ethobotanist” Terence McKenna, “you may spend your evening balancing your checkbook. If you do smoke cannabis, you may spend your evening contemplating the causes of the Greek renaissance.” Or keeping your face off the floor. Contains brief nudity and footage of stoned people.

You can read the entire review on the Washington Post website here.

The part of the film that includes Terence can be viewed here, where he says:

It does carry a fantasy-inducing, thought-catalyzing quality. It allows the mind to rove and scan in a much more expansive domain of information than is normally the case…

Another clip of Terence is here.

More money has been spent trying to find something wrong with cannabis than any other vegetable material in human history, and what they’ve come up with is so pathetically thin that I am confident that it amounts to a clean bill of health for this stuff.

And another:

Cannabis is not a health problem. The problem is that it promotes social values and attitudes which are unwelcome in capitalist, market-based society; it’s just that simple. A drug like coffee, with a horrendous health profile compared to cannabis, is complete welcomed into the marketplace and the home and the lifestyle of modern people. This is simply that we value certain states of mind and we fear and suspect others and this is based entirely on value systems that are inculcated from above.

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #13 – Terence McKenna’s Rave New World (Alternative Press, March 1994)

Ok, the random item of the day is back after a busy period. Today’s random item eluded me for quite a while. Terence McKenna was featured in the music magazine Alternative Press in 1994 for an article/interview by Eric Gladstone focusing on rave culture and Terence’s influence on the philosophical outlooks of many in that scene. Gladstone praises Terence’s Alien Dreamtime collaboration with visual artists Rose X (aka Ken Adams & Britt Welin), electronic musician Spacetime Continuum (aka Jonah Sharp), and didgeridooist extraordinaire Stephen Kent as “one of the most meaningful projects to come out of the culture so far.” For me, it’s always great to hear Terence explain things in words I’ve never heard from him before, even if it’s a familiar concept he has explained elsewhere time and time again. To my way of interacting with T’s output, it is precisely these alternate tellings of the same or similar concepts which really allow one to unpack his ideas. This is one of the reasons that I have focused the archives on print material as it is a whole (prolific) realm of Terence’s output and wordplay that doesn’t exist in the ubiquitous and readily-available online audio/video corpus. It is the print material that is most in danger of becoming lost and forgotten. I’ll continue to search and share for these things, and we value any support that you might be able to offer.

Gladstone interviewed Terence at his home in Occidental. One of my favorite bits comes in the concluding paragraph:

Sounding alternately pessimist and optimist, lighthearted and passionately serious, McKenna’s arguments, both in interview and in performance, show a rare level of contemplation. But not, he insists, much planning. “No, no, none of these things are rehearsed. It’s all ad-lib. We’ve been doing it right here. We can send this to the Shamen and release it! No, it’s called ‘not being stupid!’ Amazing! Miraculous! Line up at the door, folks, a liberal college education displayed for your astonishment! Ha, ha, ha, ha!”

And, here’s Terence’s advice on appropriate drug use in the rave scene:

“Raves are a good place to do pot and take smart drugs, and dance, but I think a psychedelic dose that is effective is too high a dose to be 1) out in public, and 2) trying to negotiate transportation.”

Terence also describes, in this interview, how he ended up collaborating with The Shamen on ‘Re-Evolution’:

“They came to one of my old-style, pitcher-of-water-and-chair onstage lectures in London and said they wanted to sample me. And, we got together in the studio the next day and basically just talked for a couple of hours.” Straight to DAT, the result appeared on the album Boss Drum and single “Re-Evolution,” hits which brought McKenna to the attention of Spacetime Continuum. Collaborations with Zuvuya (a.k.a Jason Grey, a.k.a. Juju Midget) on the U.K. Flow Sound label and another with Coil are due soon.

The only version I’ve been able to locate is the super low-res digital scan that appears below, but I also just (after years of searching) found a copy that was finally posted on ebay and have ordered it. So, I should be able to add a physical copy of the magazine into the archives very soon.

 

If you’d like to donate to help support the acquisition, preservation, storage and sharing of Terence legacy, you can donate here: https://terencemckenna.wikispaces.com/

There is also an ongoing crowdfund effort at present, so please do check out our Etsy storefront. The photo-items on offer are really spectacular!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TerenceMcKennaArkive

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Terence McKenna’s Pipe (or, one of them, at least)

It’s no secret that Terence’s lifetime mistress was the humble (and sometimes not so humble) cannabis, and that they “got together” quite often. In fact, at the Psychedelic Science 2017 conference in Oakland earlier this year, I saw his former wife, Kat Harrison, acknowledge the she and cannabis were “sister wives” of Terence’s.

“Let’s not underrate cannabis, for crying out loud! Cannabis should be the glue of the community.” —Terence McKenna

Well, I’ve been scanning some photos of Terence lately, that photographer extraordinaire (and mad mountain biker) Chip Simons sent, from an early-90s photoshoot at Terence’s home in Occidental, California (which you’ll be pleased to know that I will be able to offer prints–and perhaps posters–of as part of the forthcoming crowdfunding campaign). And, I noticed, among the items in some of the photos, an interesting little waterpipe of Terence’s, and thought I’d share it with you all. So, without further ado, I present Terence’s pipe (or, at least, one of them).

 

A brass worker on Facebook helped spend some time to identify this as a Chinese waterpipe of the style explored on this page. (Thanks, Anders!)

Audience: Where do you see the place of Cannabis in consciousness evolution? On the one hand, it’s obviously doing something like that, but on the other hand kids do it before they do drive-by shootings in LA. Also address maybe the notorious affect on memory? You mentioned that you consume cannabis when you are doing mushrooms. In my experience, I don’t bring back as much information that I remember…I just want to hear your comments about this.

Terence: Yes, well, it’s worth talking about Cannabis. I certainly don’t think I would be who I am if it weren’t for cannabis. It hasn’t particularly affected my memory. I’m actually the most devoted on a lifetime scale. The person most devoted to cannabis that I’ve ever known is myself. When I lived in Asia, I used to set my alarm for 2 am to smoke because I couldn’t go from midnight to five. People thought I was bananas. In terms of its deleterious effect, I think it’s pretty on a scale of the other major drugs of commerce, which would be alcohol, tobacco and white sugar. I think it comes off as in the best position. I sort of think of it as going back to this partnership model about mushrooms in Africa – that when that all dried up and those people were moved into the Middle East. There had been previous waves of migration out of Africa that had established populations in central Asia. This is why you have ‘Peking Man’ and ‘Java Man’ – those are earlier remnants of earlier migrations.

Cannabis, botanically, originated north of the Himalayas on the plains of Central Asia. I think it probably is the best substitute for mushrooms on the cultural level. It’s one of the oldest domesticated plants. It was early on associated with cordage and fiber and it’s strange that all the words for narrative are also words about weaving. You weave a story. You unravel a yarn. You thread and unthread a situation. You untangle a situation. The parallelism is very old in all European languages, this association with narrative and fiber, which means hemp. So I sort of see it as the pilot light of Gaian consciousness that was kept going.

Now what people always say to shoot this down is: they say, well Islam tolerates cannabis and Islam is hardly the pilot light of Gaian consciousness. It isn’t actually that Islam tolerates cannabis. It’s that the Koran expressly forbids alcohol and then that leaves you to sort it out from there. I certainly think that cannabis should be legalized and that if every serious alcoholic were encouraged to be a pothead and other drug abusers encouraged toward pot… The problem with pot from a societal point of view is that it is psychedelic enough that like all psychedelics, it erodes loyalty towards cultural values. Meaning, this is the bullshit effect. People say why don’t you get a job. Bullshit! Why should I?

I don’t see it implicated in violence. I think if anything, probably cannabis in ghettos is holding down violence as a drug but probably promoting violence as an item of commerce, and that is because of chuckleheaded laws. I’m absolutely convinced that the way to solve the drug problem is to remove the profit motive. That’s so obvious that it’s baffling to me. Society is so schizophrenic on this topic. The most dangerous drugs are alcohol and tobacco, both fully established in the engines of commerce. It’s a bizarre situation and largely driven by the agenda of Christian fundamentalism in collusion with criminal syndicalists who see this as an opportunity for enormous profit – and cynicism all the way along.

Audience: But I do find that I can’t smoke a lot of pot. Unfortunately, I can never become addicted to any drug as much as I try. My body just doesn’t tolerate it and I’ve tried them all more than once. But I do find with pot…I’ve had friends who became pot heads who, it wasn’t that they betrayed commerce, they lost their ambition. You’re very intelligent and you’ve got a vision and you’re dedicated to your vision. You’re a little bit above most average people (or different)…

Terence: Manic is what you’re trying to say. Yes, I understand.