Terence McKenna’s published works have been translated, over the years, into more than a dozen languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Polish, Japanese, Estonian, Bulgarian, Italian, Dutch, Slovenian…and, no doubt, others that I am unaware of). The Terence McKenna Archives holds a small selection of these translations. Some were acquired recently as a result of donations to our ongoing crowdfund, others were in the collection prior to the crowdfund, and some have been kindly donated. If you have a translated copy of a work by Terence McKenna that is not pictured here (or if you represent a publisher of such a work) and would like to donate a copy to The Terence McKenna Archives, please do send an email.
Another edition of the same book that is produced in a similar style is the Japanese edition published by Daisan Shokan: 幻覚世界の真実 (Genkaku sekai no shinjitsu) (1995). [Google Translate provides a rough translation of “The Truth of the Hallucination World”]. Some of the primary differences between this and the English and Spanish editions derive from the different ways in which Japanese is read (the book opens from what English readers would identify as the “back” cover, for instance, and the text reads from right to left). I am particularly enamored of the vertical, columnar orientation of the Table of Contents and the marbled, malachite-green hard cover beneath the dust jacket.
The Japanese translation of Food of the Gods, also published by Daisan Shokan, is called 神々の糧 (ドラッグ) : 太古の知恵の木を求めて : 植物とドラッグ、そして人間進化の歴史再考 (Kamigami no doraggu : taiko no chie no ki o motomete : shokubutsu to doraggu soshite ningen shinka no rekishi saiko (1993). [“Drugs of the Kami” is an interesting translation of Food of the Gods]. It’s another hardcover that looks very nice on a shelf and has a wonderful cover design.
The Terence McKenna Archives collection also has German and Polish translations of Trialogues at the Edge of the West under the titles Denken am Rand des Undenkbaren & Zdążyć Przed Apokalipsą (which Google Translate renders, respectively, as “Thinking on the Edge of the Unthinkable” & “Make it For the Apocalypse” or “Be in Time for the Apocalypse”).
We also have some copies of foreign-language books or translations that include contributions by, or interviews with, Terence McKenna.
This heady German volume includes a translated 3-page extract of Terence from a conversation with musician b-Eden, called “Psychedelische Erfahrungen” [Psychedelic Experiences]
published by Stampa Alternativa, this is an Italian book (translated ‘Psychedelic Heresies’) that includes an interview with Terence McKenna called “Sacri Antidoti,” mostly about Buddhism.
German translation of ‘The Gateway to Inner Space: Sacred Plants, Mysticism, and Psychotherapy: A Festschrift in Honor of Albert Hofmann’, edited by Christian Rätsch, which includes a chapter by Terence McKenna, called, in English, “Among Ayahuasquera”
However, there are far more translations that are not currently represented in The Terence McKenna Archives collection….(it’s actually nice to still have plenty more work to be done)!
For Terence McKenna’s birthday this past year (Nov. 16, 2017), the Terence McKenna Archives held a raffle for a set of photos of Terence. The first-prize winner, Graham St. John, won the full set of photos, and runner-up Jeff Lerue won a single photo of his choice. Everyone else who participated received an email thanking them for their contributions, which included a unique document compiled by the archivist with details about the locations of copies of a rare art book which Terence collaborated on.
I had also promised that I would make a blog post detailing which items I was able to add to the collection with the profits from the raffle. This is that blog post. Thanks, again, to everyone who contributed! You’ll be glad to know that we were able to make bargains with some of the sellers, which allowed us to save $70 on the total cost of the items.
Here is what you helped to add to the Terence McKenna Archives:
1. All 4 issues of ‘Towards 2012’ magazine (edited by Gyrus)
Towards 2012 was a magazine produced in the late 1990s that was partly inspired by the work of Terence McKenna. From 1995 to 1998, the series editor, Gyrus, created five well-produced, and now very difficult to find, issues (the final two issues were housed in a single magazine, making four volumes in all). Within the volumes there are several articles which refer to, comment on, or reconsider Terence’s ideas, a transcribed version of Terence’s Tryptamine Hallucinogens & Consciousness talk (his first-ever talk at the Esalen Institute), an interview with Sasha & Ann Shulgin where some differences with Terence come up, some interesting Terence-related art (I particularly like the ‘stoned ape’), and several ads for Terence-related material, including his website. Of particular note for the archive is an advertisement for a “hefty zine” called Heads and Tales, which lists “Terence McKenna” under the contents for Issue #1. If anyone reading this has any further information about this zine or if you have a copy that you would like to scan, send, or sell, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a publication that is not represented in our physical or digital archives.
This is a finite project, created to take a close look at the transmutational possibilities that lay before homo sapiens as we approach the millennium… At the heart of the project is the intuition that the human race is fast approaching a catastrophe cusp point – a phase transition period… 2012 CE is a date that may as well have been singled out arbitrarily for the title of this journal. As it happens, it is the date that ethnopharmacologist Terence McKenna points to as the precise location of the ‘catastrophe cusp’ in the temporal dimension; it is the date beyond which futurologist Robert Anton Wilson has stated that he is unable to project possible futures; and it is the end of a Great Cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar system. We are facing the end of the world as we know it, because it has outlived its viability.
Now, perhaps, the ‘archaic revival’ proposed by Terence McKenna, and the term ‘modern primitives’ popularized by the Re/search body art manual, can be seen in an evolutionary context. The prime characteristics of rave culture – the use of psychedelics, the utilisation of percussive music for altering consciousness, its neo-tribal structure, the rise in nomadic lifestyles, the popularity of body-piercing and tattooing – may be seen as a cultural return to a more primitive model. From this point, having regressed back beyond the cultural and social blind alleys of recent human history, a “creative leap forward” may be made to escape WoMan’s over-specialization.” -Samuel Lawson
Sasha Shulgin: I was listening to Terence McKenna years ago at Esalen. He was talking about how if a drug comes from nature it’s okay, but if it comes from a lab it’s suspect. Suddenly he realized that I was sittin gin the audiences (laughter). In essence, I said, “Terence, I’m as natural as they come…”
It is interesting, then, that around Dionysus…we find so much debate about whether his worshippers’ sacrament was wine or mushrooms… Most scholars…conclude that Dionysus’ rites involved both intoxicants. Astoundingly, McKenna does not pick up on this symbolic psychoactive cross-over, but clearly recognizes the importances of Dionysus as a transitional one. -Gyrus
Psychedelic experiences and dreams are chemical cousins, they are only different in degree. -Terence McKenna
2. 5 issues of ‘TRP: The Resonance Project’ and 1 issue of TRIP magazines (edited by James Kent–it can’t be said that the editorial staff didn’t have a sense of humor), including relevant interviews with Terence McKenna, Dennis McKenna, Rick Strassman, and D.M. Turner, articles mentioning TM, reviews of books that have contributions by TM, and more.
Elizabeth Gips interviews D. M. Turner
3. ‘Bookways’ magazine #8 (1993)
This journal which is dedicated to the art of bookmaking includes a review, by Barbara Tetenbaum, of the 1992 collaboration of Terence McKenna with artist and bookmaker Timothy Ely. The Terence McKenna Archives will be holding a major crowdfund campaign early in 2018, in part in order to acquire a copy of this book, called Synesthesia, from a private owner who is making a copy of this rare item for the archives if I can raise the funds by early March. Tetenbaum has kindly donated her review to the crowdfund effort for a document that I am creating to offer to donors. Here is just enough to give a hint…
4. ‘boing boing’ magazine #10 (1994)
This is a volume that has long been on the list of items to acquire for the archive but has usually been unavailable. Fortunately, a reasonably-priced copy became available at the same time as the raffle. I knew that there was both an interview with Terence and a review of his Timewave Zero software, both of which made it a high-priority item. So, it was a pleasant surprise to also find references to Terence in two other places in the magazine: in Thomas Lyttle‘s interview with Peter Stafford and in D’Artemis Hart(wo)mann’s article reflecting on the role of prostitutes in religious history. There was also an unexpected review of the Experiment at Petaluma video project produced by Terence’s friends at Rose X Media and an ad (one I’ve never seen before) for a company, Fringeware, selling Terence’s Timewave software.
5. ‘High Times’ magazine #385 (July 2001)
This is another item that has been on the acquisitions list for some time. It is an issue of High Times magazine from July 2001 containing a letter from Dennis McKenna offering some words on Terence’s passing and making readers aware of the Journey Through the Spheres tribute album produced by The Novelty Project.
Terence was a complex person, blessed with a restless mind and curiosity that led him down many little-traveled pathways of thought and speculation. As his brother…I can testify from experience, it was a long, strange trip indeed. -Dennis McKenna (via Internet)
6. ‘Utne Reader’ magazine #53 (1992)
This issue of the Utne Reader from 1992 contains an excerpt from Terence’s book Food of the Gods, which had just been published by Bantam. The excerpt in the magazine appears under the heading ‘Just Say Yes: Rethinking our Relationship to Psychoactive Plants’.
The time has come to rethink our fascination with the use of psychoactive drugs and physioactive plants… [W]e cannot simply advocate “Just say no” any more than we can advocate “Try it, you’ll like it.” Nor can we support a view that wishes to divide society into users and non-users… The suppression of the natural human fascination with altered states of consciousness and the present perilous situation of all life are intimately and causally connected… As a consequence, the maladaptive social styles that encourage overpopulation, resource mismanagement, and environmental toxification develop and maintain themselves… We pursue a business-as-usual attitude in a surreal atmosphere of mounting crises and irreconcilable contradictions… The government not only restricts research on psychedelics that could conceivably yield valuable psychological and medical insights, it presumes to prevent religious and spiritual use of them as well… [E]ncounters with psychedelic plants throw into question the entire worldview of Western culture… We are killing the planet in order to keep intact wrongheaded assumptions.
It is time for change.
7. The Shamen – Hystericool: The Best of the Alternative Mixes CD (2002)
8. Psiconautas: Exploradores de la Conciencia (edited by Juanjo Pineiro) (2000)
This book contains Spanish-language interviews with an exciting swath of the psychedelic community, including a 20-page interview with Terence McKenna. Anyone who wants to volunteer to translate this interview into English, please contact email@example.com.
9. Bang Pudding by Steve Taylor (1995)
Terence read this book and, “at several points,” “burst into real laughter” at this work that is “steeped in the unutterably Other” and “alarms, even as it amuses.”
10. Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge by Kevin T. Dann (1998)
In his analysis of the phenomenon of synesthesia, Kevin Tyler Dann, touches down on Terence’s ideas at several points.
11. Lucid Waking: Mindfulness and the Spiritual Potential of Humanity by Georg Feuerstein (1997)
George Feuerstein is notably disdainful of Terence and the ‘chemical path to ecstasy’.
12. The True Light of Darkness by James Jesso (2015)
Jesso’s autiobiographical account includes his encounters with the ideas of Terence McKenna.
13. Sacred Mushroom of Visions, Teonanacatl: A Sourcebook on the Psilocybin Mushroom by Ralph Metzner (2005)
Ralph Metzner’s sourcebook on psilocybin mushrooms includes several passing references to Terence, mostly showing his major linguistic influence on how people interpret their psychedelic experiences.
14. The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination, and Spirit by Ralph Abraham, Rupert Sheldrake, and Terence McKenna (2005)
An edition of this book that I’ve hoped to add to the archive for some time but has simply not taken priority up until now over other, harder-to-come-by, items. A very welcome addition, though. Eventually, we’d like to have copies of all editions (and translations) of Terence’s books represented.
15. Heavenly Highs: Ayahuasca, Kava-Kava, DMT, and Other Plants of the Gods by Peter Stafford (
Peter Stafford’s book mentions and quotes Terence throughout, including a couple of brief comments by Susan Blackmore in her Afterword.
16. 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect: A Revolutionary Spiritual and Physical Survival Guide for 2012 – 2020 (Discovered by Bob Thiel, Ph.D.) (2009)
This one I actually just randomly found at a thrift shop and thought I’d include it here. The Timewave is invoked here (via Robert Bast) among a string of expectations for 2012. At some point, I have plans to make a whole extended blog post about the occurrence of Terence’s name and ideas in the rise of 2012 literature after his death. You’ll notice quite a few ‘2012’ books in the physical holdings of the TM Archives.
17. The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalists Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments by Eliezer Sobel (2008) (Paperback)
Today’s random item is a brief review of the Alien Dreamtime VHS video, produced by Ken Adams and Brit Welin as Rose-X Media House (not the audio CD, which was edited by Jonah Sharp, aka Spacetime Continuum for the Astralwerks label–there are some differences between the two aside from the fact that one includes video). This review, by none other than our friend R. U. Sirius (aka Ken Goffman, if you must), appeared in Wired Magazine for its issue of May 1994. [This item is from the digital archives, meaning that there is no physical copy of this magazine yet in the collection. We do have a copy of the Alien Dreamtime VHS, though.]
“Call him unscientific or intellectually lazy, but Terence McKenna’s brand of psychedelic blarney – always more fun to hear live than to read – is so beautifully phrased that it transcends the historic and anthropological bean counters who dis him.”
Sleeping with the Aliens
The Alien Dreamtime video, produced by Rose-X Media House, is Terence McKenna’s “Greatest Hits,” spoken to the rhythm of the rave, live in San Francisco. Call him unscientific or intellectually lazy, but Terence McKenna’s brand of psychedelic blarney – always more fun to hear live than to read – is so beautifully phrased that it transcends the historic and anthropological bean counters who dis him. In this video, Terence gets off the basic themes outlined in his three books: True Hallucinations, Food of the Gods, and The Archaic Revival (updating McLuhan, McKenna claims that postindustrial cyberculture is leading us back into the future toward archaic prepatriarchal modes of living – witness the rise of Modern Primitivism), the oppressiveness of “mono” culture (“monopoly, monogamy, monotony”), and the place of tryptamine hallucinogens in human evolution (“the psilocybin mushroom is the catalyst of human evolution and language”).
Alien Dreamtime is the second video Rose-X has produced with ethnobotanist McKenna. (The first, Experiment at Petaluma, was a 30-minute rap on the possibilities of visual language.) Rose-X’s two-person team – Britt Welin and Ken Adams – cut their special effects teeth on visual effects for San Francisco’s Toon Town Raves. Alien Dreamtime stretches the duo’s psychedelic computer effects to new limits, and Stephen Kent’s didgeridoo adds a note of primitive intensity to the techno-rave soundtrack. The high point of the 60-minute Alien Dreamtime is the entrancing dance and sway of psychedelic love goddess Kim Kyle. The presence of the feminine form in all of its grandeur provides a humanizing touchstone amid the abstract imagery. (In fact, my only complaint about this video is that we should have seen more of her. But that’s a minor quibble.) Fans of a good psychedelic rant must run out and purchase this video right away!
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.”
Dale Pendell’s Pharmako Trilogy
From L to R: Ralph Metzner, Jonathan Ott, Rob Montgomery, Daniel Siebert, Kat Harrison, Dale Pendell, Breitenbush Staff, Bret Blosser
“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
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.
–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.”
Today’s random item from the archives comes from an issue of the magazine (no longer in production) Psychedelic Island Views, which was edited by “long-time and notorious member of the psychedelic community,” Bruce Eisner. The issue itself has a bit of an identity crisis: the cover lists it as “Volume 3, Issue 1,” while the footer at the bottom of each page inside the magazine says “Volume 2, Issue 2.” To compound the schizophrenia even further, in Eisner’s own dedication to the volume (and to Terence), he refers to it as “this second issue of Psychedelic Island Views.” How a “second issue” could be either “Volume 3, Issue 1” or “Volume 2, Issue2” is still a bit beyond me.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
The relevant part of this multitudinous magazine that I am sharing with you today is Eisner’s Dedication to Terence McKenna, which opens this 1997 issue…..whichever issue it happens to be.
There is actually a lot in this dense ode, including some interesting data points for those who are paying particularly close attention to Terence’s timeline. As an example, Eisner mentions having met Terence in July, 1982 at a party that was affiliated with the Colloquium II: The Future of Consciousness conference. He doesn’t make clear whether or not Terence was a speaker at the conference or not, but if he was, this would have been one of his very earliest public talks. If Terence didn’t talk at the conference, it’s still an important meeting point between him and other major figures in the psychedelic community. If anyone attended this conference and has photos, recordings, or memories of the event, please do contact me and let me know what you recall.
Here’s a photo of Eisner’s dedication to Terence, followed by a transcription of the text:
This second issue of Psychedelic Island Views carries on our tradition of honoring individuals who have contributed to psychedelic cultural experiment, proposed first by Aldous Huxley. We dedicate this issue to Terence McKenna, the bard and philosopher who has during the past decade been responsible for a resurgence of interest in the psychedelics and the experiences they engender by men and women around the globe.
I first met Terence McKenna during a party surrounding a conference, Colloquium II: The Future of Consciousness, in July 1982 at U.C. Santa Cruz. The conference featured a wide assortment of speakers including Stanislav Grof, Stanley Krippner, Timothy Leary, Frank Baron, Ralph Metzner, Elizabeth Rauscher and many others. The event was a follow-up, 3 years after we had presented Albert Hofmann in the same venue at a mega-meeting called LSD–A Generation Later, the first and only psychedelic conference of the ‘Seventies.
I had read Invisible Landscape in its hardbound form and was fascinated by Terence and his brother Dennis’ account of their Ayahuasca experience in the South American jungle, which Terence later exfoliated in his first spoken book and later written book, True Hallucinations. When I met Terence, he was a quiet figure in the background, doing a kind of Carlos Castaneda and quietly publishing books about the psychedelics that he held sacred. A second book authored by his brother and Terence under the pseudonym Oss and Oeric called the Psilocybin Mushroom Grower’s Guide had done a great deal to make available to the public important psychotropic fungi which previously had only been read about by most of our community.
Terence and I had an instant “connection.” What I didn’t know when I first met him, aside from the lively conversation we had at the party that night, was that along with Timothy Leary, this was another Irishman who had kissed the Blarney Stone. Since that night, Terence has lectured around the globe, holding audiences mesmerized by his talks on a variety of unusual topics.
One lecture I was invited to, that was sponsored by Mondo 2000, concerned a theme which has remained constant with Terence, his theory that there is a fractal harmonic based on the I Ching, which when combined with predictions found in the Mayan Calendar points to the ending of history as we know it in the year 2012. He even has developed a software program which allows us to explore rises and falls in “novelty” of events as we approach the “rotating object, which hovers at the end of time.”
The latest predictions are incorporated into his beautiful World Wide Web site Hyperborea (http: http://www.levity.com/eschaton/hyperborea.html), which begins, “You have entered an Alchemical Garden at the Edge of Time. There is haze upon the distant hills; spreading Acacias bend low over reflecting pools. The air is filled with an all-pervasive hum; these are the reveries of the Proustian bees. Your guide will be gardener/curator, Terence McKenna.”
Master Web Artist Dmitri Novus has also created a rich Terence McKenna space as part of his The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension (http://www.deoxy.org).
Another lecture I attended was about Terence’s theory that the magic mushroom was a much-used part of our tribal past. This view is expressed in his book Food of the Gods, McKenna believes that our past several thousand years have been a fall from our Dionysian, tribal, psychedelic past and that we are headed for an Archaic Revival, the subject of a series of essays and interviews in a book by the same name.
McKenna is also a close friend with Chaos Theorist Ralph Abraham, a professor of mathematics at my alma mater, U.C. Santa Cruz, and has conducted wide-ranging discussion with him and English biologist Rupert Sheldrake that was published in another recent book, Trialogues.
As you can see, Terence has indeed filled our ears and eyes with many words in the 15 years since we first met. Not content to rest on his laurels, he has published a number of recent articles about the link between the Internet and the psychedelic experience and is currently working on a new book about the future. At the same time a poet and a scholar. We are proud to dedicate this issue to one of the most significant spokesmen of a new generation of leaders of Island’s community of like-minded folk in search of a new culture.
– Bruce Eisner
And a few advertisements that I found throughout the rest of the issue:
Today’s random item is a rather brief one, so I’ll spice it up a bit with some related additional material at the end…
The Daily News of Los Angeles newspaper from Sunday, April 19, 1992 listed two forthcoming bookstore appearances in the L.A. area over the next week. This was very shortly after Food of the Gods was published. For anyone who is keeping a Terence McKenna timeline (or, for anyone who wants to help keep our timeline up to date at the Terence McKenna Transcription Project), these are useful data points.
The second, on Friday, April 24, was at the (now out of business) Phoenix Bookstore in Santa Monica:
If any of the people involved with either of these bookstores has any further information about these events, flyers, newsletters with event calendar, photos, recordings, correspondences with Terence about the event, etc., please do let me know. I would also just be interested to talk with anyone who was at or involved with the event (or any other similar event). If you represent Bodhi Tree or Phoenix Bookstores, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a further archival bonus, on the topic of Bodhi Tree Bookstore, Terence was also interviewed in an issue of the Bodhi Tree Bookstore magazine (#5, Spring 1993). The TM Archives does not currently possess a physical copy of this and haven’t been able to find one for sale online, so if you have a copy and would like to donate it to the archives or know of how the archives can acquire one, please do get in touch. The interview (by Mark Kenaston) is, however, available online, so you can read it yourself here.
I had never entertained such a notion as that there could be these chemicals in cactus that would sweep you away to jeweled landscapes haunted by mythological creatures, phosphorescent maidens and the ruined architectonic geometries of who-knows-what.
I regard science fiction as the entry drug into the psychedelic world. If by nine, ten, eleven or twelve, you’re reading science fiction, then you’re probably lost to normality.
MK: What did your mother think of your interests? Did she think my kid is off his nut?
TM: Well, she was a Huxley fan. But you see, the great paradox of Huxley was that he sold guns to both sides. Brave New World is what really gave Huxley his reputation. Have you read it? …he anticipated the archaic revival because the world of Island is essentially an archaic-technical world.
MK: So how did you make your entry into the world of psychedelics?
TM: With morning glories. Let’s see, it must have been the summer that I was fifteen or sixteen.
I discovered Cannabis in my last year of high school and from then on I was just riveted by it. It seemed to me obvious, I don’t know, like I was astrologically set up for it.
The twin horrors or twin problems of Western society are ego and materialism. And they’re linked together in a naïve monotheism. This creates toxic cultural conditions if you allow the engine to run for a thousand years, which it now has.
TM: Since we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of LSD, I suppose it would be appropriate.
The best trips I would have with LSD was when I would smoke a lot of hash—by itself, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I had this romantic vision from reading Huxley and Havelock Ellis, and by god, I wanted to see ruined desert cities and jungle ruins of strange civilizations and hear the phosphorescent maiden play her daemon song upon the dulcimer. In other words, I wanted vision and LSD wasn’t exactly like that for me. But, Psilocybin was, and DMT certainly was.
Well, I really believe that this connection to the Gaian Mind that Paleolithic shamanism exploited is the basis of our ideas about deity. The idea of and overwhelming, guiding, creating force comes out of all of that. Religion and mystical practice without psychedelics are derivative, I think, and late. It’s an accommodation to class structures and community need for control, and that sort of thing, that basically came with the invention of agriculture.
I tend to assume that chaos is unavoidable and that it’s like living on an island chain in the Pacific Ocean, and the issue is to sail or not to sail, and that nobody can guarantee calm seas.
MK: Where do stand today on the subject of mysticism?
TM: The bottom line for me is that I absolutely believe that the world is magical. I have seen violations of physics that satisfy me. But also my position is, “show me,’ because that works. Out of 10 minutes of my life, the ‘show me’ position has delivered 10 minutes of truly miraculous stuff.
The best method is to be very rational and rigorous about evidence, but to press the edge.
I’m basically a rationalist, totally committed and believing in the power of the irrational. But some people have tried to put me in the New Age, I just have contempt for all that because those people are just flaky. They believe anything. All you have to do is lower your voice and start raving and they think they’re in contact with a mogul lord of the sixteenth millennium. I mean I just don’t understand that level of woo-woo.
The second short newspaper post today is from The Buffalo News (New York), February 14, 1993. There’s not a whole lot to say here…or a whole lot to see. But, it is….interesting, at least, that Terence McKenna’s book Food of the Gods is here listed, though not actually reviewed, under books “for young readers.”
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.