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)!
Critique: A Journal Exposing Consensus Reality was a quarterly countercultural publication that often specialized in issues surrounding conspiracy culture but also dealt with broader issues, as is made more clear in its alternate title: Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies & Metaphysics. It’s self-described purpose was “to question, explore, and expose consensus reality to assist in the transformation from consumer idiots to critically thinking, aware and developing individuals. And to prepare the way for the new paradigms and the new species.”
Issue #31 (Summer 1989) contained a 3-page interview with Terence McKenna conducted by David Jay Brown & Rebecca McClen. This is a different edit from the same interview that also later appeared in High Times magazine in 1992, and which later appeared again (also with a different edit) in Brown & McClen (Novick)’s book Mavericks of the Mind in 1993. The interview also appears in Terence’s own book The Archaic Revival, identifying Critique as the original publication, although the interview is much longer in the book than in the magazine.
A reference to Terence also appears elsewhere in the issue in Michael Grosso‘s article, ‘Endtime Anomalies’, where he says:
“The anomalous signs in the sky — which we call UFOs — seem designed to undermine confidence in our prevailing sense of reality. Terence McKenna compares these unidentified sky signs with the Resurrection of Jesus in the ancient world, something meant to counfound, paralyze, and suspend the intellectual cocksureness of the powers that be.” -Michael Grosso
In the introduction to the interview in Mavericks of the Mind, Rebecca McClen Novick provides some further details about the context of the interview: “This was our first interview. It took place on November 30th, 1988 in the dramatic setting of Big Sur. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean we sat on the top floor of the Big House at the Esalen Institute, where Terence was giving a weekend seminar. He needed little provocation to enchant us with the pyrotechnic wordplay which is his trademark, spinning together the cognitive destinies of Gaia, machines, and language and offering a highly unorthodox description of our own evolution.”
TM: “What we can say concerning the singularity is this: it is the obviation of life in three dimensional space, everything that is familiar comes to an end, everything that can be described in Euclidean space is superseded by modes of being which require a more complicated description than is currently available.”
TM: “We shouldn’t assume time travel is impossible simply because it hasn’t been done. There’s plenty of latitude in the laws of quantum physics to allow for moving information through time in various ways. Apparently you can move information through time, as long as you don’t move it through time faster than light.
DJB: “Why is that?”
TM: “I haven’t the faintest idea. (laughter) What am I, Einstein? (laughter)
DJB: “I’m wondering what you think the ultimate goal of human evolution is?
TM: “Oh, a good party. (laughter)
TM: “It’s very interesting that in the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, when they took the sacrament, what the god said was, “Procreate, procreate.” It is uncanny the way history is determined by who sleeps with whom, who gets born, what lines are drawn forward, what tendencies are accelerated. Most people experience what they call magic only in the dimension of mate-seeking, and this is where even the dullest people have astonishing coincidences, and unbelievable things go on; it’s almost as though hidden strings were being pulled…”
DJB: “Do you think that there’s any relationship between the self-transforming machine elves that you’ve encountered on your shamanic voyages and the solid state entities that John Lilly has contacted in his interdimensional travels?”
TM: “I don’t think there is much congruence. The solid state entities that he contacted seem to make him quite upset…”
TM: “Now let’s think about what machines are made of, in light of Sheldrake’s morphogenetic field theory. Machines are made of metal, glass, gold, silicon, and plastic; they are made of what the earth is made of. Now wouldn’t it be strange if biology were a way for earth to alchemically transform itself into a self-reflecting thing. In which case then, what we’re headed for inevitably, what we are in fact creating is a world run by machines… Actually the fear of being ruled by machines is the male ego’s fear of relinquishing control of the planet to the maternal matrix of Gaia. Ha. That’s it. Just a thought. (laughter).
TM: “Consciousness can’t evolve any faster than language. The rate at which language evolves determines how fast consciousness evolves, otherwise you’re just lost in what Wittgenstein calls ‘the unspeakable’. You can feel it, but you can’t speak of it, so it’s an entirely private reality.
…There have been periods in English when there were emotions which don’t exist anymore, because the words have been lost. This is getting very close to this business of how reality is made by language. Can we recover a lost emotion by creating a word for it? There are colors which don’t exist anymore because the words have been lost. I’m thinking of the word jacinth. This is a certain kind of orange. Once you know the word jacinth, you always can recognize it, but if you don’t have it, all you can say is it’s a little darker orange than something else. We’ve never tried to consciously evolve our language, we’ve just let it evolve, but now we have this level of awareness, and this level of cultural need where we really must plan where the new words should be generated. There are areas where words should be gotten rid of that empower politically wrong thinking… So planned evolution of language is the way to speed it toward expressing the frontier of consciousness.”
TM: “It was Ludwig von Bertallanfy, the inventor of general systems theory, who made the famous statement that “people are not machines, but in all situations where they are given the opportunity, they will act like machines,” so you have to keep disturbing them, ’cause they always settle down into a routine.”
TM: “I have named us [himself, Rupert Sheldrake, Ralph Abraham, and Frank Barr] Compressionists, or Psychedelic Compressionists. A Compressionism holds that the world is growing more and more complex, compressed, knitted together, and therefore holographically complete at every point, and that’s basically where the four of us stand, I think, but from different points of view.”
Today’s random item from the archives is a profile of Terence McKenna, called ‘Tripping, but Not Falling’, that appeared in The New York Times in its issue of May 2, 1993 and was written by Trip Gabriel who had spent some time talking with Terence near his home in Occidental, California. The full, long article can be read on the Times’ website, here. Some highlights are included below…
Nibbling his “Cranberry Gobbler” sandwich in a sunny cafe, Terence McKenna explained his theory of how psychedelic mushrooms are the missing link in the story of human evolution…
“For sure the mushroom would have been sampled,” Mr. McKenna said. “Then our proto-hominid forebears, like legions of hippies millennia hence, discovered that the usual activities comprising the whirl of their days — hunting and gathering, primarily — were out of the question.
“You are just simply nailed to the ground and you experience the bewildering phenomenon that we call the hallucinogenic experience, which even post-Husserl, post-Merleau-Ponty, post-everything, we don’t know what to make of,” he said. “It laid the basis, I think for religion and for language.”
This was some earful to hear over lunch in the pleasant, slow-moving town of Occidental… A local bulletin board advertises “Environmentally Conscious Tree Care” and “Christie’s Not-So-Toxic Housekeeping Service.”
Magic mushrooms as the missing link is only one of many seemingly preposterous notions he promotes with beguiling logic, albeit with a definite lack of hard evidence.
After wandering for years in the cultural outback of the New Age — a movement he deplores for its guru worship and abandonment of rationalism — Mr. McKenna is beginning to be more widely heard… His charismatic lecture style…pulls in audiences…seemingly [that are] equal mixes of psychonauts, cyberpunks and slightly befuddled mycologists.
Mr. McKenna has a significant following in the youthful rave culture, where dancers pulsating to a dreamy techno beat often choose to chemically alter their consciousness. His latest book…was launched in February not with a book signing but with an all-night rave in San Francisco…
“This under-25 group is a little different from the wannabe yuppie generation of the 80’s,” Mr. McKenna said.
“They have the same kind of alienation that immediately preceded the hippie outbreak of the 60’s. It’s a feeling of being marginalized by the system. Apparently, if a generation can’t find inclusion in the culture, then it becomes narcissistic, with all the positive and negative connotations that brings.”
With piercing deep-set eyes and a scraggly beard, Mr. McKenna has a cheerfully demonic look. His countenance bears weary witness to the utter strangeness of what he claims to have discovered in 25 years of imbibing “heroic doses” of hallucinogens. Now 46, he first tried psychedelics in the mid-60’s in Berkeley, Calif. But unlike most of his generation, who buried their acid trips in a file marked Unidentified Youthful Indulgences, Mr. Mckenna doggedly followed through.
For more than two decades he has hitchhiked around the galaxy on the back of the magic mushroom.
Whatever else he is, Mr. McKenna is a sure sign that Reagan-Bushism is dead and in the ground, and that a wilder social moment may be upon us.
His speaking style is a perfect synthesis of message and medium, an aural reconstruction of psychedelic experience…
Free-associating his way through intellectual history, he caroms between reference to Finnegans Wake, Heraclitus, a scene with the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz and the writings of the neo-Platonist Philo Judaeus.
The cosmic giggle ripple through Mr. McKenna’s spiels as if to make palatable the sheer weirdness of what he has to say.
The crowd was mostly hirsute forty-somethings, like the characters in a Koren cartoon. They wore layers of loose natural-fiber clothing, like Mr. McKenna himself, who was dressed in a baggy chenille sweater.
…the most forceful advocate for psychedelics since Timothy Leary.
“He’s an eloquent and imaginative poet of the psychedelic experience,” said Mr. Leary, and unabashed admirer… “He combines ancient wisdom with Irish wit.”
…Mr McKenna’s claims for hallucinogens go way beyond Leary, Aldous Huxley or any of his predecessors.
In a nutshell, this is Mr. McKenna’s update of the psychedelic revolution: tune in, turn on, save the ozone layer. To many, he appeals simply because he is such a hoot. “Our dilemma,” Mr. McKenna said with pranksterish wit, “is that halfway on the way to becoming angels we stopped taking our medication.”
He was seated on the floor of his Occidental apartment, a tea tray at his feet… The big room was empty of furniture except for a reading chair. Thousands of books lined three walls from floor to ceiling. Mr. McKenna sat near the Greek philosophy and Hellenistic religion shelves. He had Plato, the gnostics, the cabala, Appolonias of Cayenna and a seven-volume “Legends of the Jews.”
“I don’t understand why drugs are not used as tools of research,” he said. “You want to know how the atom works? Smash it and look at the pieces. You want to know how the mind works? Get it smashed and then see what the pieces are.”
Mr. McKenna is a lovely psychedelic sophist. His reasoning has a seductive and seemingly learned coherence, even though it doesn’t quite hold up. One wonders if he’d advocate conducting other scientific inquiries — atom-smashing, say — while the observer is hallucinating. The polysyllabic sentences he lards with intellectual references are an attempt to lend credibility to the otherwise debunked subject of drugs.
On occasion Mr. McKenna seems to swerve perilously into what psychologists might call delusions of grandeur. “If I’m right, you know,” he said in an eerily serious voice, “you’re sitting across from Newton.”
“People say marijuana is the entry drug,” he said. “Science fiction is really the entry drug,” he said. “Science fiction is really the entry drug. Because the subtext of science fiction is release your imagination, anything can happen.”
What saves Mr. McKenna’s fantastic yarn from being instantly dismissible is that he himself recognizes the absurdity of what he’s saying and, yet, feels compelled to say it anyway.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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?”
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…
Today’s random item is among those items from the archive that are largely irrelevant. It offers no significant information about Terence McKenna (except a lead to another newspaper article) and no significant insight. However, what it does provide an example of (an admittedly very small datapoint at best), is a localized published response to the awareness of Terence McKenna’s existence. That is, it shows us one set of responses to psychedelic culture and the notion of a psychedelic philosopher. In this case, the response is to dismiss and minimize via humor.
The article, titled ‘Tripping Out With Terence, the Psychonaut of Inner Space”, appeared in The Irish Times on May 23, 1994, and, although the byline is attributed only to Brendan Glacken, it appears to be a dialogue of some sort (perhaps entirely invented by Glacken or, perhaps, with an unnamed interlocutor). The overall tone, as you’ll see, is disapproving and dismissive albeit in a semi-informational and light-hearted vein, but there are some delightful Irish colloquialisms that I’ll leave you to sort out for yourself. This, then, is one of the ways that an Irish audience might have been introduced to Terence McKenna in the mid-90s.
I was reading a British newspaper the other day about a Mr. Terence McKenna (47), described as an ethno-botanist and psychedelic philosopher.
An ethno-botanist and psychedelic philosopher.
We’d say young be thumping the pages of Education Living for mannies the long day before you’d see that come up under “Me and My Job.’
So what’s his game exactly?
Well, once every two months he gets into bed and takes what he describes as “a heroic dose” of psilocybin mushrooms.
…the author makes some bad jokes about culinary mushrooms…
…These mushrooms are hallucinogenic.
Correct. But Mr. McKenna explains: “My mind-brain system is a laboratory where I explore the great mystery of life. The boundaries that define the waking world are dissolved. I become a psychonaut of inner-space, entering complex experiences beyond language, bizarre yet beautiful landscapes never seen before.”
The Lord save us. What does he think about dreams?
That each night we are trying to rediscover something we find and lose every 24 hours; that when we dream we are plunged into some primordial pool of imagery.
some reminiscences by the author about his own fairly xenophobic dreams of a “big black fellow standing over us with a sharp spear”….
He’s out at wild sex and drug orgies every night of the week I suppose?
On the contrary, he claims to be very reclusive and unsociable.
Does he take ajar?… If a man doesn’t take ajar, and there’s no medical condition involved, it’s a good bet he’s done mad on drugs, that’s our opinion.
His idea of a great evening is, and I quote, a “200-year-old book and a snifter of brandy.”
Fair play to him. Brandy is an expensive poison, where exactly does all his money come from?
Books, lectures, records and CDs dealing with his dreams and hallucinations.
We’re in the wrong line of business is all we can say.
I am familiar with the feeling.
More interesting are the comments by Susan De Muth whose interview with Terence is the basis of The Irish Times piece:
He was the fastest-talking person I have ever met and – unlike Timothy Leary – did not appear to have suffered any mental degeneration as a result of his massive ingestion of drugs.
Later, I saw him guru-like on stage in a night club, surrounded by fans sitting cross-legged and listening intently to his psychedelic message.
He was very generous and gave me lots of collaborative CDs he’d made with various bands and individual musicians.
On six very special nights a year I unplug the telephone, lock the front door, turn off the lights, get into bed and, alone in silent darkness, take a huge amount – an heroic dose – of psilocybin mushrooms.
For me this is not an hedonic activity.
After about four hours I get up, exhausted, and make myself something to eat. Then I fall into a deep sleep, way beyond normal dreaming, and wake with memories and data that will keep me inspired for weeks.
Normal dreams are not a disappointment to me. I’m fascinated by all kinds of mental activity, including those day- residue dreams where you’ve forgotten to buy the milk . . . and nightmares, too.
I often dream of places I haven’t been: a futuristic city I call Hong-Kong-Morocco-Tasmania. There are also hundreds of strangers in my dreams to whom I relate as if I know them. This is very much like my life: I meet so many people since I’ve become some kind of minor icon on the underground scene that I’m often in situations where I vaguely recognise someone but have no idea who they are.
I don’t have any trouble sleeping, which is a shame because I’m thrilled by the prospect of insomnia. I once went for nine days and nights without sleep in the Amazonian jungle and found it an ecstatic experience. At night I’d walk deep into the jungle or sit somewhere and just contemplate: I found I could follow four or five trains of thought simultaneously and never lose the thread.
When we were children my mother used to put us to bed and say, ‘now you’re going into the friendly darkness’
I don’t envisage giving up drugs at any point. The older I get, the more like a psychedelic waking dream everyday life appears to me.
Welcome back to the Terence McKenna Archival Blog. It’s been a very busy summer, and I apologize for not having posted more regularly over the past months. I am hoping to get back into a more regular pattern of posting. Even though the blog has been quiet, the effort to archive the world of Terence McKenna has continued in full force. For the first post back after the summer lull, I thought, as a treat, I’d include an item that I received recently that includes some “new” photos of Terence. People always love that!
You have probably heard the musical collaboration between Terence McKenna and the British band, The Shamen, called ‘Re-Evolution’. If not, you should hear it — it’s a classic! It begins with Terence’s rephrasing of William Blake: “If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed.” I’ll leave it to you to consider whether you think this is the case or whether you think, as Terence said in a later talk, that he tries to “think of a good story, because I think the best story will win,” and that, perhaps, the truth can be told so as to be understood and a good story might still be believed in its stead. Either way, if you haven’t heard it, or just haven’t listened in a while, it’s worth a (re-)listen. I also am particularly fond of the remix by Future Sound of London, called ‘Re-Iteration’.
The Shamen had previously topped the British music charts with their song ‘Ebeneezer Goode’, which gained both fame and infamy for its apparently subversive MDMA-promoting lyrics: “He’s Ebeneezer Goode….eezer Goode, eezer Goode” (i.e. “E’s are good”; Good-E). So, when they produced ‘Re-Evolution’ with Terence McKenna, people were paying attention, and it drew a lot of popular attention to Terence that he had never received in that way before. The Terence McKenna Archives currently holds two copies of the ‘Re-Evolution’ LP (though I can’t currently locate the posters that came along with them which display a full transcription of Terence’s monologue).
Another related favorite item (this time from the digital archives) is a short article that appeared in the London newspaper, The Daily Mirror, on March 10, 1993.
I always find it particularly amusing that the author of this article actually contacted “a spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry” to get an official comment on Terence’s suggestion that the working man’s coffee breaks be replaced with cannabis breaks. Cannabis is, of course, still illegal in the UK, 24 years later.
The main item from the archive, though, that I’d like to profile today on the blog is a recently acquired issue of a British music magazine called New Musical Express from February 27, 1993. This issue of NME features The Shamen on the cover and includes a two-page spread article featuring commentary on the band and its recent endeavors and controversies, focusing particularly on their collaboration with McKenna, and includes excerpts of discussions with Terence and co-founder of The Shamen, Colin Angus. Photos are by Steve Double (who I have contacted to inquire about other photos from the shoot). I’ll include some excerpts from the article below the images.
…the bloated, festering music industry has shown itself to be moribund by the debacle of this year’s Brits Awards…
…What kind of decidedly crazy people only give awards on sales merits when their vested interests are involved and refuse to even acknowledge true rags-to-riches tales like that of The Shamen? Why, the committee of money-driven, power-hungry major label movers and shakers of course…
…But Colin Angus and his verbal sparring partner Terence McKenna aren’t fazed today — Colin just feels snubbed by the industry…
…Terence McKenna’s creased face breaks into a huge grin — he’d love to have performed ‘Re-evolution’ with The Shamen at the awards ceremonies and disturbed the peace.
His eyes are twinkling, limpid pools of light. They seem suffused with a thousand years of knowledge. His demeanour betrays a near-lifetime of psychedelic drug ingestion. His voice is a deep, rich, cracked volcano and, in his presence, you feel other-worldly, as if you’re making contact with previously undiscovered alien beings who understand you but whom you can’t understand.
This is Terence McKenna, author, shaman, voyager into the unknown…and not your average acid casualty. A thorn in the side of polite society, a crusader for change, and the spoken-word star of the new single by The Shamen, he’s spooning his chicken curry in London’s East End and offering pearls of wisdom.
Terence: “My approach to this stuff is political and I see this stuff as a vehicle for propaganda. And this youth culture is very astute on how bankrupt the values of the middle-class are. What are they going to have handed on to them? The whole planet has been looted right in front of them. So, getting this kind of message out is empowering an underclass that is going to inherit the world.”
Who is this mild-mannered man who never raises his voice, this American with a 14-year-old son who gets him to listen to grunge and house music when they’re not going out to see Ice-T films together? And what is he doing with one of our highest-profile pop groups, The Shamen, who strive to question the unquestionable when they’re not perfecting bite-sized snippets of electronic gospel…
Terence McKenna…is much more open to music and experience. He doesn’t see Western people with painted faces dancing around a fire as shamen, but people who hold great sway over other people through the healing power of music. And he tries to make mincemeat of my arguments against psychedelic drugs. The reason why most people don’t take these drugs, I proffer, is because they fear for the effects; not necessarily the short-term effects, but the long-term effects, which are largely unknown.
“I think people don’t take them because the establishment has misinformed them, he counters… This is the recovery of the way religion was done for the first million years after it was invented. And it’s just been in the last 500 years of European civilisation that people have become so phobic of the unconscious, of their own minds, that they’ve tried to legislate everything but a waking sleep out of existence.”
Terence: “Society picks and chooses the drugs it exalts, usually to serve a social system that is not our friend, but the friend of the people who are profiting off the social system.”
We have an interesting discussion on the class system — during which Colin and Terence relish abolition of the monarchy — and a heated debate on Christianity.
Colin: “The apocalypse is going to start happening in the beginning of the next century, the next millennium. At least the start of it, anyway. And it’s basically going to be the collapse of the global capitalist economic system, competition for dwindling resources and basically the results of there being too many people on the planet.”
Don’t you have any optimism for the future?
“I do believe that those of use, the people that do survive, that it will be a new beginning for us, a positive transformation.”
In an earlier ‘weekly haul’, I mentioned that the archives received a copy of Paul Krassner‘s book Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities, which contains Krassner’s interview with Terence under the title ‘Further Weirdness with Terence McKenna’. The same interview appears, with slightly different edits each time, in two of Krassner’s other books: Sex, Drugs, and the Twinkie Murders and Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs. The latter two books contain an extended Q&A (“in person and by e-mail”) that doesn’t appear in Murder at the Conspiracy Convention. The interview originally appeared in High Times #266 (October 1997) under the title ‘The Mushroom Apocalypse of Terence McKenna’.
The item that was selected through the random number generator for today is the 2nd edition of Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs (the 1st edition was self-published by Krassner). I don’t own a copy of either edition (I’ve never seen a copy of the 1st), but I was able to scan the relevant pages of a copy just to make sure that it is at least digitally represented in the archives. If you’d like to donate to help acquire a copy, which I’ve found online for $13.92, you can do so at the Transcription Project or through our crowdfund store (I’ve also found a copy of the original High Times for $9.97). Rather than continue to have individual blog posts for each of Krassner’s books that contain the interview, I am just going to finish out the series here with one final post about all of them, including some selections from the interview. I almost encountered Paul Krassner a few days ago at a Robert Anton Wilson event in Santa Cruz (about which I will post more soon), but he was was unable to attend. In the meantime, these are where you can find his interviews with Terence McKenna…Also of note is the Dedication to McKenna in Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs:
And, some excerpts from Krassner & Terence (passages set off by quotation marks are McKenna’s words):
With his curly brown hair and beard, a twinkle in his eye, and a lilt to his voice, he could easily pass for a leprechaun.
“I’m convinced that probably for most people, the most important thing in a workshop is nothing that I will say or do, but who you might meet here.”
He is a psychedelic adventurer and visionary author who serves as a missing link between botany and technology.
He handles the role with intelligence, grace, and humor. In person, he is spontaneously charming and effortlessly witty. He loves language, and though he is glib without being speedy, he chooses his words carefully. He communicates with the precision of an architect and the passion of a poet, speaking in a friendly, entertaining twang. He is, in short, a Mr. Rogers for grown-ups, and the neighborhood he welcomes you to explore is your own inner space.
Krassner describes an incident that occurred in San Francisco following the Saint Stupid Day Parade and a fundraiser event for Jack Kerouac’s daughter, Jan, in which he was arrested for possession of a bag of mushrooms that he hadn’t entirely been aware that he had possessed. It was, apparently, that incident that prompted his mission to meet and talk with Terence McKenna, which led to the present interview:
The cop’s question–“So, you like mushrooms, huh?”–was asked with such archetypal hostility that it kept reverberating inside my head. So you like mushrooms, huh? It was not as though I had done anything which might harm another human being. This was simply an authority figure’s need to control. But control what? My pleasure? Or was it deeper than that? This need to understand the basis of my plight became the impetus for my decision to meet Terence McKenna. He was, after all, the Head Mushroom Guru.
I contact McKenna in Hawaii, where he lives in happy isolation. “My website is on a machine in the Bronx, although I administer it from the Big Island.”
The workshop convenes… Everybody has arrived with their own personal agenda, and each will hear McKenna through their own individual filter.
Someone else publicly confides to him, “If my life were a ride through the fun house at Disneyland, you’re like one of the characters who keep popping up.”
McKenna confesses, “I’m an epistemological cartoon.”
“Why is there so much social tension over this psychedelic issue? Nobody who has informed themselves claims that great criminal fortunes are being made or that kids are being turned into psilocybin runners in the ghetto. We know that all the stupid reasons given for suppressing psychedelics are in fact some kind of lie.”
“Strangely enough, the way you cheat the grim reaper is by living as fast as you can, because all time is [is] the seriality of events, and the more events there are, the more time you have, so awareness becomes very important, and even, as the Buddhists say, awareness of awareness.”
Saturday morning at Esalen. Fresh fruit and vegetables galore. Hot cereal and stewed prunes. People will be passing gas all over the place…
McKenna maintains that “There are not good beliefs, there are just bad beliefs, because they inhibit human freedom.”
“Our legacy is the legacy of the children of the stoned monkeys.”
“If yoga can do it, great. If Transcendental Meditation can do it, great. The pope and the Dalai Lama, fine. But, in my experience, the only thing that changes consciousness as fast as we’re going to have to change it is psychedelics. We have to change it on the dime, because the processes that we have set in motion are going to drag us down.”
“We need to unify heart and head in the presence of super technology.”
“If psychedelics are so great, then what’s so great about us? Are we better than those poor people who have never taken psychedelics? Are we morally better? Are we wiser? Or are we just some kind of screwball cult like Mormons, who congratulate themselves on having achieved this supreme understanding, and yet to everybody else they just look like geeks? And we look like geeks. This really is a problem I carry with me, because I’ve advocated psychedelics my entire life, yet I often see incredibly bad behavior and stupidity and cruelty and insensitivity committed by psychedelic people.
The bottom line of psychedelics is not how good it makes you feel but how creative you are, and the acceleration of creativity that is taking place is immense, and if you can get off with the people who are responsible for most cutting-edge phenomena, they will admit that they began with psychedelics.”
“I really believe our evolutionary past holds the key to our evolutionary future.”
“The end of the Mayan calendar is the same day that I had calculated [archivist’s note: this is not actually true]. Well, this is not a reason for believing my theory, for you, but for me it was a reason. Too weird a coincidence. The only thing that I have in common with the Mayan civilization is that we both used psilocybin, and it’s almost as though when you purge the virus off your disc, there is at the bottom line, written in assembly code that cannot be expunged, a discard date that says, ‘Abandon this locality before December 21, 2012 AD.”
Someone else asks, “What book are you currently reading?”
I’m reading a book , it’s a hoot, Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphyics, and Science Fiction by Paul Nahin. It’s published by the American Institute of Physics, so you need not hang your head in the subway.”
Another person asks, “How’s your website coming?”
“I’m just so damned proud of having hacked it in the first place. The things we’re discussing here, if you go there and download, it’s all there in high detail, and you can take your time. I think of it–in terms of my intellectual life–it’s more who I am than who I am sitting here, because I might forget a reference or skip over something. On the website, we got it right.”
Except that on the website you can’t appreciate McKenna’s speech patterns. He would pronounce pat-tern, as though his inner dictionary were separating syllables, certainly a shat-tering experience.
“Aliens don’t talk to individuals, they talk to species. And they don’t say things like, ‘Be vegetarian,’ the say things like, ‘Now do language. Now physics.'”
“[The universe] wants to conserve novelty at all costs. That seems to be more important to it than conserving biology. It will sacrifice biology if necessary to save novelty. Novelty is the top of the value hierarchy, as I see it, and biology, culture, technology, physics–all are simply means to an end.”
And, Krassner adds his own thought to the matter:
I remember the first time I came to Esalen, in 1970, for a workshop with John Lilly. He played a tape loop of one word being repeated continuously, but after a while you would begin to hear other words.
“When faced with repetition,” Lilly explained, “your human biocomputer automatically programs in novelty.”
“Finally, after I had alarmed a number of people, and my friends were meeting, speaking of intervention–on an idea for god’s sake–Ralph Abraham came to see me on his own, he wasn’t delegated by the interventionists, and said, ‘The problem here is that you have an occult diagram. Only you understand it, and only you can interpret it, and therefore it’s not very persuasive.”
“For me, this [discussion of the Timewave] is sort of the payoff of doing these weekends. In the other parts of the weekend, I basically function as the nutty professor. This is so personal that no one has ever tried to steal it. That’s how uniquely and wholly and totally mine it is. So if it’s malarkey I get all the blame, and if it’s true I get all the credit.”
“For those of you who are true fans of predictive accuracy, the day of the Human Be-In, January 13, 1967, is the day we go over the hump… We’re right about here [in the late 90s]. This is the pause before the storm. This is the most habituated moment that we will know for maybe the rest of time.”
“I suppose if I were a different kind of personality,” McKenna observes, “I would haunt the hallways of major universities and try to drag these guys into my theory. But for some reason, I think the Timewave itself empowers a certain kind of fatalism, and I just say if I’m right, I’m right; if I’m wrong, I’ve probably told enough people already.”
When Krassner asked Terence about the recent Heaven’s Gate mass-suicide:
“I encountered Do (then Bo) and Peep in 1972. They were contemptible, power-crazed new age creepoids then, and apparently things didn’t get better.”
When Krassner asked Terence about the “posteschaton”:
“I’ve created a series of scenarios in ascending weirdness which answers the question.
A low weirdness answer would be, suddenly everyone begins to behave appropriately. This is kind of a Buddhist, Taoist approach…we would just dissolve into appropriate behavior. Since we’ve never had that, we can’t imagine what it would be like.
Then there’s the transformation-of-physics scenario, which basically says, ‘All boundaries dissolve.’ What that would probably be like, the first hour of it would be like a thousands micrograms of LSD. After that, we can’t imagine or predict, because again it would have so totally changed the context…
Then there are the catastrophic scenarios that revolve around the question, “Death, where is thy sting?” And probably the most efficient of those is the planetesimal-impact scenario. A very large object strikes the earth and kills everybody, and that’s it…[or] the sun will explode. that would certainly clear the disc and fulfill the whole thing. The planet vaporizes, and collectively we and all life on earth move into the shimmering capsules of the post-mortem realm, whatever that is. Novel, novel.”
“The rise of the Web has been a great boost to my fantasies along these lines, because now I can see with the Web from here to the eschaton. Apparently, it’s a technology for dissolving space, time, personality, and just releasing everybody into a data stream, something like the imagination.”
One idea I have for an end-of-history scenario: Time travel becomes more and more discussible; finally there are laboratories working on it; finally there is a prototype machine; finally it’s possible to conceive of a test; and so on the morning of December 21, 2012, at the World Temporal Institute headquarters in the Amazon Basin, by a worldwide, high-definition, three-dimensional hook-up, the entire world tunes in to see the first flight into time. And the lady temponaut comes to the microphone and makes a few brief statements, hands are shaken, the champagne bottle is smashed, she climbs into her time machine, pushes the button and disappears into the far-flung reaches of the future. Now, the interesting question is, what happens next? And I already established for myself that you can travel backward into the past, but you can’t travel further into the past than the invention of the first time machine, for the simple reasons that there are no time machines before that, and if you were to take one where there are none, you get another paradox.
So, what happens when the lady temponaut slips into the future? Well, I think what would happen a millisecond later is tens of thousands of time machines would arrive from all points in the future, having come back through time, of course, to witness the first flight into time…And that’s as far as the road goes. That’s the end of the the time road.
[And, here, Terence goes even beyond this “normal” explanation of his]
But the grandfather paradox persists. One of those time travelers from 5,000 years in the future, on their way back to the first time-travel incident, could stop and kill his grandfather, and then we have this whole problem all over again. So, I thought about this for a long time, and I think I’ve found a way around it. But, as usual, at the cost of further weirdness.
Here’s what would really happen if we invented a time machine of that sort. The lady temponaut pushes the button, and instead of all time machines appearing instantly in the next moment, in order to preserve the system from that paradox, what will happen is, the rest of the history of the universe will occur instantly. And so that’s it. I call it the God whistle.
This is because you thought you were building a time machine, and in a sense you were, but the time machine isn’t what you thought it was. It caused the rest of time to happen instantaneously, and so the furthest-out developments of life, matter, and technology in the universe come right up against you a millisecond after you break that barrier, and in fact your discovery that traveling time is not traveling time, it’s a doorway into eternity, which is all of time, and that’s why it becomes more like a hyperspatial deal than a simple linear time-travel thing.”
Today’s random item from the Terence McKenna archives appeared in a magazine called Psychedelic Illuminations (which later became TRP: The Resonance Project, which later became Trip Magazine, which later became Tripzine.com). Our item of interest appeared in Psychedelic Illuminations #8 (Winter 1995/1996). It is, in fact, a rather curious item that is, in many ways, a very odd thing to publish, and, in other ways, is an exercise that perhaps many of us can sympathize with. Barry Klein, writing under the pseudonym Runyan Wilde, has created a sort of reverse pseudo-interview with Terence McKenna using TM’s written and spoken words from other interviews to provide a basis for Wilde’s further commentary, sometimes at odds with McKenna and sometimes in qualified agreement. In other words, Klein (as Wilde) essentially presents his own commentary on a range of Terence’s thoughts as expressed to earlier interviewers.
[P.S. – This is another publication that the archives does not possess a physical copy of, which also includes an essay by Terence–below are photos I took of someone else’s copy. I have found a copy available that will cost the archives $18.99 to acquire. If you would like to help fund the acquisition of this item, please donate directly at the Transcription Project website or make an order from our crowdfund shop. Thanks for your help!]
I intend my comments, taken from my own favorite paradigms, to arouse thought and discussion, not as statements of some real “Truth” in contention with Terence’s ideas…
I think mysticism is not something that happens to you, I define it as a precisely ordered set of disciplines from within, within the outlines of a specific set of paradigms. This should distinguish our version from the jumbles of neo-occultism and empty ritualism. I believe that what Terence is referring to as mysticism must be more the experiential sense of wonderment and transcendence enjoyed in the rich psychedelic journey.
98% of the experiences people have with psychedelic substances [are not mystical], because they are mostly devoid of purpose and context.
Much of our scriptures and mystical literature are attempts to describe what was seen and experienced in altered states of consciousness.
Terence has fallen back into psycho-political-social philosophy, which is not of the same order as psychedelic consciousness.
This phenomenon–the voice in the head–can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s true, the information is outside of ordinary personality, but that in itself does not make the source reliable, nor prove that there are extraterrestrials or transdimensional elves, whom I rather distrust anyway… What is necesary is self-reliance without self-importance, because then we can compare what we are seeing and hearing to our larger experience without getting hooked by the amazing seductions these dimensionalities can come up with.
There have been some good bridges built by the New Age, but now it has fallen derelict, with shoddy mediums channeling while they drink beer, disciples of hidden (non-existent) masters peddling their techniques for a thousand dollars, and earnest devotees spending years of their lives building replicas of spacecraft whose description was channeled to them.
The reason shamanic traditions personify Death (capitalized here for that reason) is that, in order to be able to navigate on the other side, the shaman must form a personal relationship with his own impending Death.
Diddling with entheogens is an insult to oneself as well as to the Spirit…however, I have seen enough wasted, and toxic, “heroic doses” to realize that merely taking a high dose of something does not guarantee any breakthroughs, visions, or realizations, and I have seen (and experienced) penetrating results from ridiculously low doses, including none at all…
Nature by itself cannot be the guide, since its purposes might be best served by no one’s awakening or breaking free of the ordinary mold, but everything we’ve talked about points to the notion that the only thing that we have to rely on is our individual relationship with Consciousness itself, not any external substance, nor its dosage, nor its history, nor “reasonable social values.” Many of the shamanic cultures have some despicable social values like mutilation, torture, human sacrifice, eating the brains of the dead, circumcision of young girls and endless tribal warfare–not so very reasonable, I’d say.
Why would you wish to integrate human and machine intelligence? There is no machine intelligence other than what some particular human intelligences put into it in the first place. Terence is still laboring under the notion that it will be mechanistic science that leads us, the human race, into that amazing hyperworld of the future, while elsewhere he acknowledges that science fails miserably with the ineffable. Terence, are you planning on selling us a computer program that will give use the measliest cullings of that which is our birthright as humans with consciousness? Why would I buy a program when I can see for myself directly for the price of a couple of mushrooms or a few tokes of DMT, and ultimately with just proper training?… The very shamanic cultures that Terence is supposed to have studied do plenty of transmogrifying without defining themselves as bits and bytes. I thought we were looking for a more wholistic paradigm.
Runyan Wilde, who has been studying the mysteries all his life, is the author of psychedelic poetry, social commentary. Under another name, he has made some fifty radio broadcasts and given numerous on personal transformation and mysticism. He is not what you’d think, and yet he is.
Since I’ve been a bit lax on posting lately, I’m doing a double-post today, along with the post about John Dee. This item from the archives is a brief excerpt from an interview with Terence McKenna (conducted by Kathleen McGee) for the alternative literary publication Conduit, which describes itself as “a biannual literary journal that is at once direct, playful, inventive, irreverent, and darkly beautiful” that has been “thwarting good taste, progress, and consensus for over twenty years.” If you’d help cover the cost of acquiring an original copy of Conduit #6 (Fall 1998), which is $10, please donate here, or check out our crowdfund offerings.
Conduit editor, William Waltz, informed me that he had, at the time, recently read McKenna’s Food of the Gods and was fascinated by the premise and decided to organize a themed issue (concerned with the “doors of perception”) around an interview with Terence. The official title of the issue is ‘Drunk Genius: Euphoria, Inebriation, and Creativity’.
In the excerpt offered on their website, Terence is asked about the implications of his Food of the Gods “Stone Ape” thesis for the relationship between psilocybin and poetry, which leads to speculations about what these general capacities might mean for the future of the species.
Of all animals we have the most complicated language behavior and we have the most complicated cultural behavior. There is some link there. It seems to me what we call the human imagination is a capacity in the human brain which these psychedelic plants stimulate radically, and it is out of the imagination that comes not only poetry but scientific invention, models of how the universe works. It’s almost as though the effect of these plants on our brains has over historical periods of time pushed us to develop complex culture and very complicated ideas about the world, and that’s still going on. It is very clear that the cyber culture of today was created by a lot of psychedelic people from the 60s and 70s…
The job of the artist is always to push language beyond the boundaries previously defined… Art is going to become more interactive, three-dimensional, multimedia-driven, and much more seamlessly part of ordinary reality…
The internet as we possess it in any given moment is not the internet of the next moment…
War is fading out, racism is fading out, but so is cultural diversity and non-market based value systems, so I think culture is losing and the individual is winning…
It’s nice that we love to see the Laplanders with their colorful caps, people in the South Sea Islands, but how pleasant is it to be these people? We can’t expect people to just function as museum dioramas.