Today’s random item took me a very long time to acquire a copy of, and, when it did become available, came from an interesting and unexpected source. A few years back, the library at Edgar Cayce‘s (in)famous Association for Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, Florida, was selling off portions of their collection. Among other significant items that I acquired from their listings on eBay (including a near-complete set of ReVision journal with several contributions by Terence) was this copy of Metascience Quarterly: A New Age Journal of Parapscyhology. The copy that is now in the archives is the only copy that I’ve ever seen available online or anywhere else.
Metascience Quarterly was a research journal devoted to the study of the paranormal. I’m not sure if it lasted beyond the first three issues, which the A.R.E. had conveniently bound into a single, hard-cover, volume for their library, and which now exists as part of The Terence McKenna Archives. It is the very first issue of the journal that contains an article by “Terrence” (the extra “r” seems to be the most common misspelling) and Dennis McKenna, which is actually a chapter from The Invisible Landscape (1975), called ‘Towards a Holographic Theory of Mind’.
Items of note here are:
1) The early date – so far as I know, this would have been only the second published work of Terence (and Dennis) in their own name. The first was the full first edition of The Invisible Landscape (1975), a chapter of which is reproduced here in Metascience Quarterly Vol. 1 No. 1. Their 1976 book, Psilocybin Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide was published under the pseudonyms O. N. Eiric (Dennis) and O. T. Oss (Terence) [‘oneiric’ means having to do with dreams and ‘otiose’ means idle or impractical, serving no useful end–Terence occasionally confessed: “I am otiose (/O.T. Oss)”].
2) The fact that in his biographical description, Terence describes himself as “currently engaged in establishing a botanical farm in Colombia.” One wonders (and I probably have means of finding this out) how far the process of establishing a Colombian botanical preserve was carried through. It seems likely that the founding of Botanical Dimensions with Kat Harrison in 1985 was a further evolution of this goal. Kat still runs Botanical Dimensions–please give them your support!
Magical Blend magazine #56 (August 1997) included the second part of an interview with Terence McKenna by John DavidEbert. I’ve included some snippets of that interview here. There are also some advertisements spread through the magazine for companies which feature Terence McKenna as a selling point in the ad. This is also another example of the common ‘double-R mistake’: It’s Terence, not Terrence.
“Language is something very deep and general in nature. All of nature seeks to communicate, and that information is moved around on many levels. What is new and unique about human beings is speech. In standard English, speech and language are used almost interchangeably. I would like to see that change…language is something very old and very general.
…The future of communication is the future of the evolution of the human soul. As we communicate with each other with greater facility, the boundaries and the illusions of difference just evanesce and disappear.”
“I see culture offering cheap substitutes for authentic experience. Culture wants you to regret the past, anticipate the future and barely notice the felt presence of immediate experience. To my mind, this is the most toxic value that we tolerate: the devaluation of our feelings as they occur to us in the act of living in the moment in a defined locus of space and time. That’s who we are; that’s all we will ever be. And a world made out of hope and regret is a very pale substitute for that feeling of being vitally connected and present in the living world.”
An interesting array of items came into the Terence McKenna Archives this week. I’ll just get straight into it:
Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal by Tom Shroder includes a couple of passages mentioning Terence in two separate sections on Ricks. One chapter is on Rick Doblin includes a story that Rick also conveyed to me when I interviewed him about Terence regarding the origins for funding an MDMA study as a sort of opposition to Terence’s general cautioning against the promotion of that substance. Another chapter is on Rick Strassman, who I’ve been meant to interview for some time now about his own interactions with Terence but keep losing track of time (soon enough).
2. Eric Cunningham wrote his PhD dissertation, Hallucinating the End of History: Nishida, Zen, and The Psychedelic Eschaton, in the Department of History at the University of Oregon largely as a comparison between the eschatological ideas of early 20th century Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida and those of late 20th century American psychedelic spokesperson Terence McKenna. Nishida’s work incorporated Zen Buddhism with contemporary Western philosophy, taking on the likes of Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel with his own unique philosophy which would become the foundation of the highly influential Kyoto School in Japan. As is often the case with Humanities PhD work, Cunningham’s dissertation was subsequently published as a book. It would be nice to also have a copy of the actual dissertation, as, no doubt, some edits were made between the completion of the dissertation and publication of the book manuscript (so, if you’re reading, Eric, and have a digital copy that you’d be willing to send…). There’s obviously huge sections devoted entirely to McKenna, so I will only post some evocative snippets here just so you can get a sense of the territory.
3. I found some well-priced copies of Thomas Lyttle‘s Psychedelic Monographs & Essays volumes and so ordered them in partial use of some recently acquired birthday money–for the general psychedelics library, not the TM Archives. I wasn’t expecting anything from Terence, as I had looked through most of these before in other people’s libraries and hadn’t noticed anything, and nothing is listed for PM&E on Terence’s bibliography. So far, I’ve only received #5 and that expectation largely holds up. However, there is a review, by George Root, of The Sacred Mushroom Seeker: Tributes to Gordon Wasson. Roots review is quite long but only mentions McKenna among a list of contributors and doesn’t explicitly mention or discuss his chapter called ‘Wasson’s Literary Precursors’.
4. Aftershocks: The End of Style Culture by Steve Beard includes several mentions of Terence and an event report/review of True Hallucinations (the latter of which I’m hoping to be able to use as part of a document I’m creating for an upcoming crowdfunding campaign and so won’t post here). Beard, too, includes reference to Terence’s appearance at Fraser Clark‘s London club, Megatripolis as well as comparisons between Terence, Tim Leary, and Hakim Bey.
5. For those of you who have been actively paying attention to the blog, you may recall a couple weeks ago, I came across a book, Cam Cloud’s Acid Trips, which contained some black & white copies of photos of Terence, shot by Chip Simons, at his home in Occidental, California. They came from the same shoot as this well-known photo which accompanied an interview by David Jay Brown. Well, to update you on the situation, I have received a folder in the mail from Simons which contains film positives of many more snaps of Terence from the same photoshoot. All I can say for now is that they are truly delightful! I have an appointment on campus next week with the Image Resource Center on campus to digitize them. Of course, these photos belong to Simons, and I don’t have any immediate plans or permissions to share them at present. But, I’m hoping to be able to use some of them as part of the upcoming crowdfunding campaign (but I’ll need to discuss those details with the photographer). Eventually, they will come out, but for now they need to stay private–I will keep you updated.
6. The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry from Crop to the Last Drop (the Revised & Updated edition, 2006, is what I got–the 1st ed. is 1999), Nina Luttinger and Gregory Dicum briefly mention Terence’s comments about the relationship between the rousing effects of coffee and the labor-intensive raison d’être of the Industrial Revolution, although they (understandably, given their focus) leave out his query about why the ubiquitous workplace 15-minute coffee break is not replaced with a cannabis break.
7. Follow for Now: Interviews with Friends & Heroes, edited by Roy Christopher, contains a favorite interview of mine with Terence by the ever-insightful and barbed culture critic Mark Dery. Dery’s interview is preceded by a long introductory text (also by Dery), which is also a favorite treatment of Terence and his life and work. The interview and its lengthy introduction will be featured in the ‘Companion Guide to Terence McKenna’ feature that I am creating for the upcoming crowdfunding campaign. I had previously had scans of this but finally added a hard copy to the collection.
8. The material in A Magical Universe: The Best of Magical Blend Magazine (1996) was selected by the magazine’s editors, Jerry Snider and Michael Peter Langevin. Terence appeared in the pages of Magical Blend on many occasions, offering essays and interviews alongside reviews of his books and advertisements for his products. Robert Anton Wilson called Magical Blend “a quiet revolution.” The selection that is included in this edited volume is an essay that Terence wrote for Magical Blend #26 (April 1990) and was later reprinted in The Archaic Revival. I already had a copy of this in the archival holdings but received a few copies to use as incentives for crowdfunding.
9. A couple weeks ago, I received a copy of Matthew Pallamary‘s Spirit Matters: A Memoir, which, among other delightful reminiscences, describes the story behind the photo below, in which Pallamary sent along the first printed copy of the first edition of his novel Land Without Evil to be gifted to Terence at the 1999 AllChemical Arts Conference, shortly before his death. Well, this week, I received a copy of Land Without Evil, which is dedicated to Terence. I’ll get the archives copy signed when I meet with Pallamary in a couple weeks when he comes to town as a workshop leader at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.
Terence McKenna and girlfriend Christy Silness at the 1999 AllChemical Arts Conference. Terence is holding the copy of ‘Land Without Evil’ that Matt Pallamary sent to be gifted to him at the conference, which was the last place most people saw Terence before his death.
10. Poisons of the Past: Molds, Epidemics, and History by Mary Kilbourne Matossian was one of the books in Terence’s library and is among the books cited in Food of the Gods, where it is used as part of an argument against “the Wasson-Hofmann theory” that the kykeon beverage of the Eleusinian mysteries was a form of ergotized beer (of course, Terence, following Robert Graves, wants to push the possibility of a psilocybin mushroom).
11. The following items were added to the general collection and don’t include any specific material related to Terence McKenna, but I thought that they might be of general interest, so thought I would include them as well. So, here’s the ‘Supplemental Haul’…
This week’s intake at the Terence McKenna Archives was much more modest than last week’s substantial haul. The only hard copy publication that arrived just came in today:
Disinformation’s Book of Lies.
The Book of Lies, as most of these large Disinformation Guides, consists of dozens of chapters by a smorgasbord of authors from a wide swath of the countercultural milieu, this time ‘focusing’ on “Magick and the Occult.” The small section on “Chemognosis” contains only two chapters (it’s the heading with the least number of contributions in the volume), one of which is an edited transcript of Terence McKenna’s first talk at Esalen during the Lilly/Goswami [that’s John and Amit] Conference on Consciousness and Quantum Physics, titled ‘Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness’. There seems to be some dispute about when this conference actually took place. Anyone who was there or has a photo or scan of an original catalog can help with this. Both The Book of Lies and Jeffrey Kripal in his book, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion describe the event as taking place in December 1983. However, as you can see here, the actual tape (not published by Dolphin Tapes until 1997) lists it as taking place in 1982, as does Erowid, though citing the Dolphin Tapes published version. I have tended to favor the 1982 dating, though I can’t now remember all of my reasons for doing so (most, like Jesse Jarnow and Graham St. John, have gone with the 1983 date–it would be great to clear this up, as, historically speaking, it’s not entirely insignificant when this took place–you can see this same issue playing out on the Psychedelic Salon page for the talk).
Even though this is among Terence’s most well-known and most-published talk, I thought it would still be worth including some of the selected quotations for your edification and amusement:
2. This week, in a conversation with R. Michael Johnson (one of the movers behind the excellent RAWilsonFans website–you can read a good chunk of his introduction to the brand new edition of Robert Anton Wilson’s Email to the Universe by Hiliritas Press on Amazon), he took me through his list of a great many places where he knew Terence cropped up in various literature. Most of the items he mentioned are already represented in the archives, but he definitely gave me several significant leads that I hadn’t had on my radar (thanks, Mike!). The most embarrassing of the items he mentioned was Robert Anton Wilson’s Everything is Under Control, because it has been sitting on the same bookshelf as most of the McKenna archive for quite a long time without my realizing it contained both an entry on Terence himself as well as an even longer entry on Food of the Gods (which is distinct from RAW’s review of the book which appeared in his Trajectories Newsletter #10, 1991 and is reprinted in Chaos & Beyond: The Best of Trajectories).
3. Beyond that, I rediscovered that Google Books allows you to also search through magazines (whichever ones they have in their database). This caused me to come across some magazine articles that mentioned Terence which I hadn’t encountered before as well as a whole slew of advertisements.
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:
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.
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.”
[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.]
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.
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 much–memed). 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!]
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.]
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).
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.
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 Convention.
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 email@example.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…
Terence made three contributions to a publication called ReVISION: The Journal of Consciousness and Changein the mid-80s. During the time that his pieces appeared, the executive editors of the journal were Stanislav Grof, Ralph Metzner, and Huston Smith, each among the pioneers ofAmerican psychedelia. Terence’s appearances in ReVISION would have been an important outlet for his work to certain important segments of the counterculture at this formative stage in his career. In Vol. 10 No. 1 (Summer 1987), an essay called ‘Temporal Resonance’, written by our own TM, appeared next to other articles by Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham (his co-conspirators for a popular series of trialogues that took place as workshops at the Esalen institute, some of which were later edited and published as books), Ralph Metzner, and physicist Nick Herbert.
ReVISION Vol. 10 No. 1
ReVISION editorial board
In Vol. 10 No. 4 (Spring 1988), in an issue whose cover bears Kat Harrison’s now iconic drawing of the ‘bee-faced mushroom shaman’ from Tassili-n-Ajjer, another essay by our protagonist appeared with the title ‘Hallucinogenic Mushrooms and Evolution’ alongside other essays by Albert Hofmann, Robert Forte, and, again, Ralph Metzner. At the end of the issue, there is also an advertisement for the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference, whose theme for the year was ‘The Transpersonal Vision: Past, Present, and Future’, which lists “Terrence McKenna” [sic] as a speaker.
ReVISION Vol. 10 No. 4
“Terrence McKenna” [sic] — The ever-common double-R mistake
The “double-R mistake”
Finally, in Vol. 11 No. 3, (Winter 1989), in a discussion (roughly) on the subject of UFOs, Terence talks with an unnamed interlocutor in an interviewed dubbed ‘A Conversation over Saucers’. And, following up on the previous advertisement, a new ad for the recordings from the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference appeared in this issue, including Terence’s talk called ‘Non-Ordinary States Through Vision Plants’.
ReVision Vol. 11 No. 3
Some guy called “Terrence” apparently gave a talk that’s for sale at this conference…
All three of these ReVISION pieces were eventually republished under the same names in Terence’s book The Archaic Revival (except the word ‘Hallucinogenic’ was removed from the title of the second piece to render: ‘Mushrooms and History’). Here, the previously unnamed interviewer was finally identified as Will Noffke, radio host and owner of the Shared Visions bookstore in San Francisco which had a history of hosting Terence for talks and book signings.
‘The Archaic Revival’ contents page #1
‘The Archaic Revival’ contents page #2
‘A Conversation Over Saucers’
(Note of interest: my own bound set of ReVision volumes came to me from the library of the Association for Research & Enlightenment, or A.R.E., in Virginia Beach, which was founded by Edgar Cayce to support his research and whose legacy is carried on there by his family. They were selling off some of the items from their library, so I purchased their set of bound ReVISION volumes).