Terence McKenna Archives Acquisitions Update

The academic quarter has just ended, and I finally have half a moment to breathe. In doing so, I took a portion of that moment to begin organizing and cataloging some of the acquisitions I have made for the archives over the last year or so. Here are a few semi-randomly selected items that have somewhat recently found their way into the Terence McKenna Archives. I have a few other more focused, historically-oriented posts planned for the near-future, if I can squeeze out some time over the winter break. But, in the meantime, I figured that I should at least share some of what’s been coming in. Enjoy!

1. This first item has been on my list for a very long time and has taken me quite a while to find. Eventually, after years of looking, one came available on eBay, and I was delighted to add it to the collection. This issue of Los Angeles magazine from August 1988 contains a nicely detailed description of the author’s visit to the Ojai Foundation in Southern California to participate in a workshop with Terence McKenna and Riane Eisler.

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2. This is another magazine that I have been looking to acquire for many years, but it wasn’t until some of the crowdfund donations came in that I felt justified spending the cost for this magazine plus the international shipping that came along with it (about $50 total), especially given that the actual content has been available online as a jpg (still, rather obscurely) for some time. Despite that, it was a great pleasure to add this well-preserved copy of i-D #107 (The Artist Issue, August 1992) into the archives. It’s a large magazine and was just slightly too big for my home scanner, but I was able to get the important parts in.i-D No 107 August 1992 001

i-D No 107 August 1992 002i-D No 107 August 1992 003i-D No 107 August 1992 004

3. This next item includes a somewhat curious, passing, and unimportant reference to Terence that stood out to me primarily because the author, Jeffrey Toobin, is now a rather prominent CNN legal analyst. Here, in this short article from The New Yorker from December 2004, Toobin reviews a legal case pertaining to religious freedom around the use of ayahuasca for the U.D.V. (for more details on the specific case, by the same Jeffrey Bronfman mentioned in the article, see this and this) and, in passing, Toobin makes reference to reports of the felt experience of DMT by citing both Terence McKenna and Alan Watts before dismissing both in favor of a comparison to what I can only presume is Mr. Toobin’s choice tipple.

Terence McKenna, a Berkeley-educated ethnobotanist who is an authority on DMT, has written that using such a substance brings a person into contact with entities that he calls “self-transforming machine elves”; for Alan Watts, a cohort of Timothy Leary’s, using DMT was like “being fired out of the nozzle of an atomic cannon.” At any rate, it’s no Chivas.

New Yorker (Dec 2004) (Jeffrey Toobin) 001CaptureCapture2Toobin-dmt

4. This next item is another long-sought-after acquisition that became available on eBay after many years of searching in vain. References to Terence McKenna are scattered throughout this 1996 (1st edition–there is a 2000 2nd edition that I still need) of Ayahuasca Analogs and Plant-Based Tryptamines: The Best of the Entheogen Review, 1992-1996, edited by Jim DeKorne.

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First, Terence is used to introduce the concept of an ayahuasca analog  [from “Ayahuasca and Its Analogs–Autumn, 1992”]:

Ayahuasca is exotic stuff — few of us are able to travel to Amazonia to experience its effects, and the plants from which it is traditionally compounded are tropical species which do not thrive outside of the rainforest. Terence McKenna has perceived this problem and suggested its resolution:

Probably only a synthetic duplication of ayahuasca compounded with the correct percentages of DMT and beta-carbolines will ever make the experience available outside where it is endemic.  [cited from “Among Ayahuasquera,” Gateway to Inner Space, Prism, Great Britain, 1989, pg 202]

This is precisely the concept of an “ayahuasca analog.”

Later, his description of a mushroom trip (not mentioned as such) is compared with a dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita, which itself is already being compared to the DMT experience  [from “Smokable DMT from Plants–Winter, 1993” (this is, perhaps, worth comparing with the next archive item in this post, which quotes Terence in the service of connecting shamanic ritual intoxication with the Hermetic tradition–while both sources use Terence’s descriptions of his own psychedelic experiences to support religious texts of their choice (the Bhagavad Gita and Corpus Hermeticum, respectively), as complements they both evidence and service the generalized perennialist orientation that is predominant in psychedelic culture from Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts onward]:

The numinous nature of the DMT experience recalls some verses from the Hindu scriptures: In chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks Krishna to show him his visva-rupa, or “universal form” —

4. If You think that I am able to see Your cosmic form, O my Lord, O master of all mystic power, then kindly show me that universal self.

Krishna responds to Arjuna’s request by saying:

8. But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give you divine eyes, so that you can behold My mystic opulence…

Whatever Krishna does to open Arjuna’s eyes, it obviously precipitates a profound alteration in consciousness. Anyone who has experienced a full-fledged DMT flash might see a parallel here. At any rate, Arjuna is deeply disturbed by the vision he receives:

24. O all-pervading Visnu, I am unable to keep the equilibrium of my mind! Seeing Your radiant color filling the skies and seeing Your mouths and eyes, I am afraid.

25. O Lord of lords, O refuge of the worlds, please be gracious toward me! I cannot keep my balance seeing thus. Your blazing, deathlike faces and awful teeth. I am bewildered in all directions.  [for those with a historical interest, the specific version cited is Bhagavad-Gita As It Is (Swami Prabhupada), The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, NY, 1972]

Compare this with Terence McKenna describing a psychedelic trip:

I even have conversations in the hallucinogenic spaces where I say, “Show me what you are for yourself.” And then it starts like an organ tone that begins to lift velvet drapery. After about forty-five seconds of that I say, “That’s enough of what you are for yourself. Let’s go back to dancing mice and little elves and, you know, the happy, nice stuff! This is scaring the socks off me!” … It always cloaks itself. It’s not an entirely honest encounter. It knows that you actually couldn’t handle it … It can accept as many projections as we can put onto it. It literally is beyond the power of human imagining, so whatever image we lay onto it, it can take that and give it manifestation. The mice, the elves, the alien abductors. [citation to a 1993 interview in Green Egg magazine]

With the DMT experience now available to anyone willing to extract this endogenous (you’ve got some in your pineal gland right now) entheogen from any one of the scores of different plants (many of them common North American “weeds”), it seems that the fools and angels among us are being offered “divine eyes” for seeing the “universal form,” or something like it. Given the historical context of this sudden gift, I cannot help but feel that McKenna’s “ingression of novelty into time” is about to go into overdrive. May the force be with us. — Jim DeKorne

In another place, DeKorne nods to the overall impact of McKenna’s voice on the psychedelic ideosphere  [from “Phalaris Update–Fall, 1994”]:

The discoveries now emerging from the ER network regarding Phalaris grass are nothing short of incredible. It is as if a Trans-Personal Intelligence were revealing data deliberately designed to create the widest possible opportunity for the mass expansion of consciousness. Having been exposed for years to Terence McKenna’s ideas about global changes in awareness, the “ingression of novelty into time,” and the “end of history” a scant 18 years away, I can’t help but feel that it is all happening on a scale too large and at a pace too rapid for comfortable assimilation. To really understand McKenna, you have to go where he’s been and that’s becoming easier all the time.

“SOME DMT QUOTATIONS”  [from “5-Methoxy and Purple/Green Spit–Fall, 1996”]:

Yet however much we may be hedonists or pursuers of the bizarre, we find DMT to be too much. It is, as they say in Spanish, bastante, it’s enough — so much enough that it’s too much…One of the interesting characteristics of DMT is that it sometimes inspires fear — this marks the experience as existentially a fool or that one has taken a compound that paralyzes the ability to be terrified.
Terence McKenna Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness

And, finally, a curiously curated quotation from Wired magazine (no further citation given) calling into question the efficacy of DMT and, by extension, Terence’s credibility  [from “THE FINAL WORD ON DMT–Summer, 1996”]:

There have always been close ties between the high-tech and psychedelic drug communities. A vocal cross-over, author Terence McKenna has long championed alien languages, the holographic mind, and DMT, a short-acting but powerful hallucinogen. Well, DMT is now on the streets. Only, it’s a major disappointment. After sucking on smoke that tastes like burning plastic, you discover that McKenna’s singing elves are a lot like the stars you see when conked on the head. Suddenly, his theories about the future singularity look a little less likely. –Wired Magazine

5. In Dennis William Hauck’s The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation (1999), we find Terence thrice-referenced. Hauck attempts to use Terence’s words to help him in his own effort to synthesize the experiential dimensions of shamanic and Hermetic practice into a normative ontology of transformation.

Emerald Tablet

The Emerald Tablet…is a living document that speaks to each of us directly about our personal transformation. “It is the cryptic epitome of the alchemical opus,” says Jungian analyst Dr. Edward Edinger–“a recipe for the second creation of the world.” Ethnobotanist and guru Terence McKenna says that the tablet of Hermes presents “a formula for a holographic matrix” that is mirrored in the human mind.

…if these or similar drugs were known and used by the alchemists, they kept it a secret and no direct references to such compounds have ever been found. Certainly, had the alchemists used psychoactive compounds, they would have approached them in the sacred way of shamans traveling to nonordinary reality in search of spiritual truth and not in the “recreational” use we see today.

“According to this viewpoint,” says ethnobotanist Terence McKenna of the shamanic experience, “the world has a center, and when you go to the center–which is inside yourself–there is a vertical axis that allows you to travel up or down. There are celestial worlds, there are infernal worlds, there are paradisiacal worlds. These are the worlds that open up to us on our shamanic journeys, and I believe we have an obligation to explore these domains and pass that information on to others. At this time in our history, it’s perhaps the most awe-inspiring journey anyone could hope to make.” [citation to The Archaic Revival, Ch. 17]

It is not surprising that the hidden world the shamans have discovered is the same one described in the Emerald Tablet. Though the shamans call him their “ally,” it is really Hermes, once again, who is their guide. Hermes’ Seven Steps are the levels of consciousness through which the shaman journeys, and the Emerald Tablet is his roadmap for a safe trip.

Psychonaut Terence McKenna believes we will return to the stars together, as a species. He heard this from the mouth of Hermes himself, which for McKenna is the Psilocybe Cubensis mushroom, a true entheogen or independent intelligence that he believes is actively promoting human evolution. In a recent interview, McKenna described a prophetic encounter he had with this Hermetic ally in which the mushroom deity said clearly: “When a species prepares to depart for the stars, the planet will be shaken to its core.” McKenna elaborated: “All evolution has pushed for this moment and there is no going back. What lies ahead is a dimension of such freedom and transcendence, that once in place, the idea of returning to the womb will be preposterous. We will live in the imagination.” [citation to interview in Omni magazine]

6. While Terence was a regular on the pages of Magical Blend, this issue (#46, April 1995) doesn’t have any interviews with or essays by him. Instead, it includes an interview with Douglas Rushkoff where Terence is mentioned (and, I would argue, partly misconstrued) as well as some advertisements for Sound Photosynthesis, FS Book Co, Big Sur Tapes, and for Spacetime Continuum’s excellent post-Alien Dreamtime album, Sea Biscuit.

Magical Blend #46 (April 1995) 00120191216_143553

Magical Blend: It seems that now, more than ever, writers of science fiction like William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick [sic], and Terence McKenna should be known as the prophets of the future. Do you think they’re correct in their views?

Douglas Rushkoff: Sometimes I get the feeling that they all lack faith in human nature. McKenna says we’ve gone down a dead end, and we need to back up and go out the way we came in. I say absolutely not! We need to push through. McKenna believes there’s a bottleneck effect, and people who have had the DMT experience and other realizations are going to make it through the attractor at the end of time, while the vast majority will not. The way I see it, either we all make it or none of us will. It’s one organism, one thing. Dick and Gibson say that technology is going to change and get better, but human nature is going to stay the same. In other words, human nature is bad, and we’re just going to use our new technology to do mean things to each other. I just don’t believe that’s true. Human nature changes, and I believe that it’s basically good, not bad. Technology is inherently liberating, ultimately. Renaissances don’t happen overnight.

Magical Blend #46 (April 1995) 003Magical Blend #46 (April 1995) 004.jpegMagical Blend #46 (April 1995) 005.jpegMagical Blend #46 (April 1995) 006

Magical Blend #46 (April 1995) 002

7. This rare and long out-of-print volume is only the penultimate of 10 volumes of The Psychozoic Press that were originally edited by Elvin D. Smith. Issue 9 (Autumn 1984) brought in Tom Lyttle as co-editor, and, following #10, the title of the publication was changed to Psychedelic Monographs & Essays. This is the only of the Psychozoic Press volumes that I have been able to find a physical copy of. Fortunately, scans of volumes 1-9 are available on Erowid. This volume includes part of an interview with Terence (that appears scattered across the issues) as well as a review of the “psychedelic bedtime stories” that make up the 8-cassette tape audio version of True Hallucinations.

Psychozoic Press #9 001

Analogs 002Analogs 003Analogs 004Analogs 005Analogs 006Analogs 007Analogs 008Analogs 009Analogs 010

8. The April 2001 issue of Mean magazine (#13), which, from 1997-2001, was primarily a music zine and alternative magazine, contained something like an obituary or reflection on Terence’s life and work by Blake Nelson. As part of his research, Nelson spoke with an anonymous friend of Terence’s who shares a posthumous dream appearance. The photograph that accompanies the piece (the multi-armed psychedelic Terence light-photography) is one of the shots by Chip Simons from their late-1991 shoot. Check out our crowdfund catalog, if you’d like to order a high-quality print of this or any of the other photos from the shoot. Chip sent me the original photo positives to scan and has given me exclusive permission to offer them for donations to the archive.

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According to his website, “Terence McKenna joined the ancestors at 2:15am Pacific Standard time, April 3, 2000.” According to history, he joined a long list of charismatic prophets destined to be absent for the events they predicted.

I spoke with an acquaintance of McKenna’s, who wished to remain anonymous, while researching this article. According to this individual, McKenna was optimistic in his quest to “reach” friends and loved ones from the great beyond. In fact, he was convinced that the same communicative tools he discovered through hallucinogens would be accessible in the next world. Telepathy was a cornerstone in McKenna’s theories regarding hallucinogenic trips… The individual I spoke with related a personal experience shortly after McKenna’s death in which McKenna appeared clearly to him in a dream. The encounter was described as a vision of McKenna amidst lush jungle surroundings, covered by ancient Indian tattoos. He was full of warmth and spoke candidly, promising to honor his pledge as friend and teacher.

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9. A quote by Terence McKenna is paired with a quote by Albert Einstein to open the chapter “Marijuana and the Power of Imagination” in Sebastián Marincolo’s book of essays on cannabis intoxication, What Hashish Did to Walter Benjamin (which is also the title of one of the essays). Thanks to one of my friends at rawilsonfans.org for alerting me to this.

“The imagination is the golden path to everywhere.”
Terence McKenna, philosopher, psychonaut, ethnobotanist, 1946-2000

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
Albert Einstein, 1879-1955

Hashish Benjamin 001

I’ll leave it there for this post. There’s lots more to share, though. Thanks for your attention! Keep an eye out for more posts in the near future.

 

Dale Pendell (1947-2018)

I’m very sad to hear, today, that one of the great poets of the psychedelic community, Dale Pendell, is no longer with us. I had the pleasure of seeing Dale read his poetry on several occasions, and he made an immediate impact–he’s not the kind of person you’re likely to forget. We’ve lost another irreplaceable wordsmith. Terence said of Dale’s original masterpiece, Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft:

“Dale Pendell reactivates the ancient connection between the bardic poet and the shaman. His Pharmako/Poeia is a litany to the secret plant allies that have always accompanied us along the alchemical trajectory that leads to a new and yet authentically archaic future.”
 

Robert Forte remembers:

“Dale’s trilogy, Pharmako/Poeia, Pharmako/Dynamis and Pharmako/Gnosis are among the very best… There is no better writing or writer on plants and consciousness. We have lost a wise man and I another beloved Friend. My greatest literary achievement is an acknowledgement in his first book for reading the manuscript and telling him: ‘Don’t change a word’.”

Every plant is a teacher
But as in every crowd
There are always
A few loudmouths

–Dale Pendell

The Rime Sparse

So many are grabbing for the money, so many
Want a free lunch, or are cynical and settle
For entertainment, that the world has adopted
Shallowness as its habit, and what was once

Our birthright is now considered deviation.
So squandered is our natural wisdom, that he
Who seeks the source of the flowing itself,
—the Muse’s spring—is thought a fool:

Who really desires laurel, or myrtle either?
“Goddess-lover, go, in the rags you deserve!”
Is what they’ll say, themselves pursuing

More material gains. You’ll find few comrades
On your chosen path; but for that reason I pray
All the more that you will not falter.

Petrarch
–translation by Dale Pendell

He mentions Terence, here, in his discussion of building up to taking DMT:

“I wasn’t anxious to meet Terence’s elves.” -Dale Pendell

The writer, and editor of Towards 2012 and Dreamflesh, who goes by the name Gyrus, in reviewing Pendell’s work made an interesting comparison with Terence:

“Like Terence McKenna’s Food of the Gods, Pendell’s trilogy promises to unravel your preconceptions about the role of plants in human life. Unlike McKenna’s brilliant but inevitably flawed work, which re-visions our image of history around our interactions with plant chemistry to create a bold new emphasis that is bound to falter in its details, Pendell works in a more carefully particular, less declamatory mode. He has the open-hearted suspicion of the modern world that marks all good poets, but his occasional attempts to sketch coherent images of history, seen through the lens of our alliance with plants, are most often pithy asides, wry quips. That plants are significant powers is drawn out clearly; but there’s little presumption to grasp the total shape of their projects. McKenna walked a tightrope between humanist exuberance in the power of our species and animist deference to the larger system of nature. Pendell—while being very, very far from lacking exuberance or concern with power—sides with the animists, it seems. For a book on plants, this is a greater boon than anything else.”

Here’s Dale doing a reading from just a few months ago. The first poem, about dust, seems particularly poignant:

“There is only one truth: this dust comes home to us.”

Dale Pendell’s website has much to explore. Here is a post from this past November (2017): Those Who Still Have Bones.

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #35 – Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness (1992)

Today’s randomly-selected item is a 1992, German-produced, anthology that Terence contributed to called the Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness, or in its German title: Jahrbuch für Ethnomedizin und Bewußtseinsforschung.

This first volume in the series, edited by anthropologist Christian Rätsch, is the only one that is sold-out and otherwise apparently unavailable online. I have a scan of Terence’s chapter, but the archives does not currently hold a physical copy of the volume. If you have a copy that you would like to donate to be housed in the archives, please email terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com.

Terence’s contribution is a transcription of the first talk he ever gave at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California…a location where he would become a staple presenter over the next nearly two decades. The talk, titled ‘Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness’ was presented as part of the [John] Lilly/[Amit] Goswami Conference on Consciousness and Quantum Physics, and there is a bit of historiographical confusion about whether this conference took place in December of 1982 or 1983–different sources make different claims, none apparently definitive. You can see a further commentary and some other links related to this confusion on our post about the same talk as it appears in The Book of Lies. Again, anyone who was at the event or who has an Esalen catalog or some other definitive evidence, please let us know.

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.

Sharkey003

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.

This Week’s Terence McKenna Archival Haul (5/19/17)

This is the first of what will be an ongoing series of ‘Weekly Haul’ posts showing off materials that have been added to the archive over the course of the preceding week. This week’s intake has been particularly noteworthy, including quite a range of TM-related literature for the archives, among which are a couple of incredibly rare items. Here’s what came in this week:

Let’s begin with a pair of books by Mark Jacobson:

  1. Teenage Hipster in the Modern World: From the Birth of Punk to the Land of Bush: Thirty Years of Millennial Journalism (2005)
    • Jacobson reprints his well-known interview with Terence that appeared in Esquire in 1992, but in his book, he amends the title, taking dispute with the tongue-in-cheek but somewhat derogatory title that Esquire assigned to the interview in the magazine, which was ‘Is Terence McKenna the Brave New Prophet of the Next Psychedelic Revolution, or Is His Cosmic Egg Just a Little Bit Cracked?’ 

    • As part of my effort to write this blog post, looking back at the original Esquire piece, I was fortunate to come across several other relevant issues of the magazine that contained material related to TM.
      • The September 1992 issue included a couple of curious reader responses to Jacobson’s interview with Terence that had appeared in the June 1992 issue. 

      • The April 1991 issue included an article on Virtual Reality that contained a description of an event called Cyberthon, at which both Terence McKenna and Timothy Leary spoke. The article describes part of Terence’s talk. 

        1991 - Esquire - VR Conference 07

      • The November 2006 issue includes a cheeky article about apocalyptic expectations and includes a rather mean-spirited jab at McKenna as one among many misguided prophets calling him a “drug-eating dead man.” 

  2. Gojiro (1991)
  3. Terence’s bibliographer alerted me to a copy of a rare zine called Light Times: A Random Periodical (1988) that was for sale online. I had long been aware of its existence but over the years (and after a lot of searching) had never seen a copy for sale anywhere, and the UCSB Interlibrary Loan department was not able to find a single copy available in a worldwide search of libraries (though there does actually appear to be a copy in Special Collections at the University of Michigan if anybody is in the area and wants to check it out). The hand-printed and stapled zine includes an edited version of one of Terence’s talks that was originally a KPFK/Botanical Dimensions co-fundraiser sponsored by Roy Tuckman (aka Roy of Hollywood), under the title Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature (which is interrupted by a letter to the editors from Timothy Leary under the pseudonym Irving Blum), as well as an article by underground psychedelic icons Gracie & Zarkov (who have a great, unpublished interview with TM), titled Gracie’s ‘Visible Language’ Contact Experience, which makes several mentions of TM, including one of my favorite analogies for the Taoist concept of wu-wei

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    [Note for the super geeky: It’s not entirely clear to me how often Leary used the Irving Blumenthal pseudonym. On a quick search, I could only find two clear references to it as Leary’s alternate name. Antero Alli references it here, and there is a reference to another letter under this name in Michael Horowitz’s extensive Leary bibliography, in 1981, listed under C118. Horowitz’s bibliography was published in 1988, the same year this zine, and, as such, the latter does not appear in the bibliography. Horowitz does list another (1982) reference to a publication called Light Times under J433, though it’s not clear that the two publications are related. If you have any further information about Leary’s Irving Blum pseudonym, please do leave a comment.]

     

  4. Andy Roberts’ Albion Dreaming: A Popular History of LSD in Britain (revised edition, 2012) doesn’t devote much time to Terence McKenna, but he is listed as among the guest speakers at Fraser Clark‘s London Megatripolis club. Here’s a song from a Megatripolis compilation CD that sample’s McKenna’s voice (and another). And, here’s Terence talking at Megatripolis. Here’s a nice clip of Terence talking about the difficulties of being a club-scene philosopher (and mentions Megatripolis). 

  5. Most of you have probably heard Terence’s several interviews with Fortean shock jock Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM (now hosted by George Noory). Well, Art also included some of Terence’s ideas in at least one of his books, The Source: Journey Through the Unexplained, co-authored with long-time pulp paranormal writer Brad Steiger. I added both a first edition (1999, hardback) and second edition (2002, paperback) to the archives.
     

  6. Sometimes, I stumble upon really great Terence McKenna material unexpectedly. I ordered a copy of Cam Cloud’s Acid Trips and Chemistry (1999), because there was a cheap copy available and I had a coupon at Thriftbooks. When it arrived, even though I assumed that since it was a book about LSD, it probably wouldn’t have any relation to TM since LSD wasn’t one of the psychedelics substances he went out of his way to promote (though he certainly had plenty of experience with it, having explored it “quite occasionally” among his youthful endeavors, often waiting until the peak of the acid trip to smoke some DMT). Nonetheless, despite my assumptions, I flipped to the back of the book (as I do) looking for an index in order to locate the letter “M.” Frustratingly, as is often the case in these matters, an index was absent, but a brief bibliography was present, which, to my surprise, did, indeed, include a reference to The Archaic Revival. So, I flipped through the pages hoping to locate where TM showed up, expecting maybe a passing quotation and was genuinely non-plussed at what I found. There is a “famous” photo, by Chip Simons, of Terence that appeared in the April 1992 issue of High Times as part of an interview conducted by David Jay Brown (and has been muchmemed). In Cam Cloud’s book, there appear to be further photos from that same photo shoot that I’ve never seen before. I have contacted Simons to see if he still has the originals, which would be professional color photographs rather than the black-and-white scans in Acid Trips and Chemistry. But, regardless, it is still fairly exciting to find out that there was a whole series of photos from this shoot at his home in Occidental, California….and that they are so creative! Keep an eye out for more on this front in the future.  [Update: Simons is going to find his originals from the shoot and send me scans!]
     

  7. Alt.Culture: An A-to-Z Guide to the ’90s–Underground, Online, and Over-the-Counter (1995–the title pretty much explains it) includes an entry on Terence, which begins by describing him as “ethnobotanist, philosopher, historian, and Nabokovian know-it-all.” Lodged between ‘McJob’ and ‘media moguls’, he is praised by authors Steven Daly and Nathaniel Wice as “one of the world’s greatest rhetorical ravers.” I think they like him.
     

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  8. Visionary Plant Consciousness: The Shamanic Teachings of the Plant World (2007), edited by J. P. Harpignies, contains material that, so far as I know, has not been represented in any other collections and does not exist in the online YouTube/mp3 corpus collected and distributed by the TM fan-base. The slim volume contains quite a few chapters of interest, including a transcript of a talk that Terence gave at the Bioneers conference in 1993 and a transcript of a trialogue from the following year that he had with his brother, Dennis, and the esteemed ethnographer and ethnobotanist Wade Davis. All of the material in the book comes from the Bioneers conferences from 1990 to 2004. The chapter list is fairly impressive and includes presentations by and discussions with Kat Harrison (Terence’s ex-wife), Paul Stamets, Dale Pendell, Luis Eduardo Luna, Jeremy Narby, Francis Huxley (who died in Dec. 2016), Alex Grey, Michael Pollan, Andrew Weil, Charles Grob, and others. 

  9. In Ayahuasca: The Visionary & Healing Powers of the Vine of the Soul (2003), Joan Parisi Wilcox includes just a passing mention of “intrepid psychonaut Terence McKenna” in her entheogenic travelogue. While introducing a chapter where she allows her ayahuasca-drinking companions to tell their experiences in their own terms, she quotes TM from The Archaic Revival, saying “What we need now are diaries of explorers. We need many diaries of many explorers so we can begin to get a feeling for the territory” (of course, this was before Erowid’s Experience Vaults manifested this kind of database). 

  10. Spirit Matters is a memoir by Matthew J. Pallamary that includes several interactions with Terence in the years leading up to his death. I’ll be meeting with Matt when he comes to town next month to teach at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, so I’ll keep this entry relatively short in anticipation of a future post after our meeting. In Spirit Matters, Pallamary recounts his journey to the Maya ruins of Uxmal to meet Terence in 1998, his meeting with Terence, his gift of a short story collection, how he was turned on to TM by a “sweet little old lady who had sent [him] tapes of his lectures,” an experience on thirteen Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds combined with “what Terence McKenna would call a ‘heroic dose’ of nine grams of mushrooms that nearly killed [him],” a second meeting with TM the following year in Palenque (including a 5-MeO-DMT trip), and a delightful story about a successful attempt (see photo below) to get the “very first copy…from the very first print” of his novel, Land Without Evil, to Terence at the 1999 AllChemical Arts Conference in Hawaii (the last place that most people saw him). Pallamary returned to the 2000 Entheobotany conference, but Terence was too ill at this point to attend; he recounts a conversation with Lorenzo Hagerty (who you’ll know as the host of the Psychedelic Salon podcast) where they reminisced about Terence’s absence, noting, “we all knew that if it hadn’t been for Terence, most of us would not have come to the tribe.” Look back for another post after I meet with Matt in June. 

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  11. It’s not often that I encounter explicit support for (or even mention of) Terence’s argument (in Food of the Gods, Chapter 7), against R. Gordon Wasson and others, that the soma plant of the Vedas, ritually consumed by the ancient ṛṣis (“rishis”–Vedic seers) was a species of Psilocybe mushroom (Wasson, of course, argued that it was an Amanita muscaria). However, in an endnote to his bestselling The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, Ian Baker does just that. [Here’s a short clip of Terence talking about soma and its potential relationship to the Zoroastrian haoma, which is identified as the harmaline-containing Peganum harmala (aka Syrian Rue); and here’s a talk by Baker that some may find interesting on the use of mercury among alchemical practitioners in present-day Burma.] 

  12. In Acid Christ: Ken Kesey, LSD, and the Politics of Ecstasy, Mark Christensen offers one of the strangest McKenna quotes to date (an idea that just seems patently wrong on its face, on all accounts, no matter how I spin it). 

  13. Ok, we’re getting near the end…. Penultimately, I received another very rare and hand-bound publication directly from the artist/editor (published in a series of 200), which includes an interview with Terence from 1996. I’m hoping to do a series of email dialogues with both of the editors soon, so won’t say too much now in anticipation of a future blog post entirely devoted to this. However, I thought it worth at least including in the record of the week’s haul. In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Ken Weathersby and David Keith, founding editors of Hootenanny, which includes details about the unique nature of the publication and some reminiscences of their meeting with TM. 

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  14. And, finally, for this week, I received a copy of Paul Krassner‘s Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities. Krassner includes the same piece, “Further Weirdness with Terence McKenna” (under the section heading “Several Dead Friends”) that also appears in his books Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs and Sex, Drugs, and the Twinkie Murders (although the edits do appear to be slightly different each time and the latter two books include an extended Q&A session (“in person and by e-mail”) that is not included in Murder at the Conspiracy ConventionIMG_0604IMG_0605IMG_0606

Whew! That was quite an intake for the Terence McKenna Archives for the week. As always, if you have any materials that you would like to contribute to the archive, please send an email to terencemckennaarchives@gmail.com, and if you would like to donate to help assist with the acquisition effort, for now, use the Paypal link at the Terence McKenna Transcription Project website (and include a note with your donation that says “for archival acquistion” or the like). In the coming months, there will be a crowdfunding campaign for the Archive. So, please do follow this blog to keep up-to-date on even further weirdness with Terence McKenna…

Viva Arte Viva! The Art of Jeremy Shaw, Or A Psychonaut in Venice

I’m never quite sure where Terence will pop up. I was recently alerted by an artist acquaintance, Ken Weathersby (who interviewed Terence in 1996–related post forthcoming), to an appearance by Terence at this year’s Venice Biennale Arte international exhibition, titled Viva Arte Viva, the 57th incarnation of a major art show in Italy running from May through November. The exhibition is composed primarily of nine ‘Trans-pavilions’: The Pavilion Arts and Books, The Pavilion of Joys and Fears, The Pavilion of the Common, The Pavilion of the Earth, The Pavilion of Traditions, The Pavilion of the Shamans, The Dionysian Pavilion, The Pavilion of Colours, and The Pavilion of Time and Infinity. In addition, there are two major project spaces: The Artists Practices Project, which houses “a series of short videos made by the artists about themselves and their way of working,” and Unpacking My Library, a project inspired by Walter Benjamin’s spectacular 1931 essay of the same name, which allows the artists to display a list of their favorite books.

It is within the Unpacking My Library project that Terence was spotted. Among artist Jeremy Shaw‘s list of favorite books was The Archaic Revival.

Some of Shaw’s work is quite explicitly influenced by psychedelics.

The available snippet from his contribution to the Artists Practices Project, a 20-minute video called Liminals, seems reminiscent of a 5-meo-DMT experience. Ben Davis, writing for artnet, found Shaw’s video to have been his “favorite discovery” of the entire exhibition serving as a sort of microcosmic “internal critique” of the disposition of the broader Viva Arte Viva experience, which he describes as a sort of “half-thought-through primitivism.” The film takes place in “future times, [and] as the certainty of human extinction comes to weigh more and more on the species, a group called the ‘Liminals’ form a sort of cult, trying to restimulate the parts of their brain that activate the lost sense of religious belief.” Davis offers a tantalizing outtake of the narration from Liminals: “Thus, the quest of the Liminals, and of periphery Altraist cultures in general, to incite evolutionary advancement in an effort to save humanity is more consistent with the types of reactionary developmental syndromes found in societies during End Times than a plausible attempt for redemption. Nonetheless, their diligence and commitment to such fantastical ideas is rather fascinating.”

This is the frontier that we stand on the edge of. This is what history has been about. History has been some kind of suicide plot for 15,000 years. Not a moment passed that the plot was not advanced closer and closer and closer to completion. And, now, in the 20th century, you know, we see that this thing – this transcendental object at the end of time, this attractor – that chose us out of the animal kingdom, and sculpted the neocortex, opposed the thumb, stood us on our hind legs, gave us binocular vision – this thing is calling us toward itself across aeons of cosmic time. We are asked to mirror it, and as we mirror it, we become more of its essence. And, as we become more of its essence, we leave behind the animal organization that we were cast in, in the beginning. And what is this about? Who knows? Is this a drama of cosmic redemption? Is it the transcendental other at the end of time? Is it a gnostic daemon? What is it? We do not know. But I really believe we are in the era when we will come to know. And what the psychedelics are, are periscopes in the temporal dimension. If you want to see a little bit into the future, elevate your psychedelic periscope outside of the three dimensional continuum and peer around.   -Terence McKenna

The ABCs of Drugs

I’m hoping to find some time to work on a couple of longer posts soon once I get some other long-overdue projects off my plate, but in the meantime, a lot of stuff has been coming into the archive, and I thought it best to keep some material coming into the blog. So, here’s the first of a few short additions to whet your appetite for more to come later…

I received a copy of Steven Cerio’s ABC Book: A Drug Primer (1998). It’s a delightful little pseudo-children’s book for the drug geek‘s library as an example of one artist’s rendering of the aesthetics and iconography of a variety of anthropomorphized drugs from Angel Dust to Zoloft (other inclusions are Bufotenine, Heroin, LSD, Nicotine, Opium, Peyote, Quaaludes, Shrooms, and Valium). There is one drug for each letter of the alphabet and each is accompanied by a four-line poem written by Cerio, such as:

Y is for Yage, food of the Gods,

But beware of Bill Burroughs’ big arthropods.

The Great Ayahuasca, Amazonian vine,

imbibe some and become one with the divine.

It is, of course, in the DMT entry that Terence McKenna is mentioned:

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Steven Cerio’s latest book is Sunbeam on the Astronaut.