Terence McKenna Interviewed in ‘Critique’ Magazine (1989)

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.

The theme of this particular special issue of Critique was ‘End of the World or End of an Illusion’, so Brown & McClen selected out the sections of their interview that were most relevant to that theme. You can view a photocopy of the entire interview (as published in Critique) on pages 2-4, here. But, I’ll include some choice quotes below.

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

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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.”

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Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #18 – Conduit Interview (1998)

6a00e54fe4158b88330120a6205b79970cSince 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.

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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.

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #10 – The Alchemical Microcosm: Terence McKenna & The Evolution of Consciousness

Magical Blend magazine #56 (August 1997) included the second part of an interview with Terence McKenna by John David Ebert. I’ve included some snippets of that interview here. There are also some advertisements spread through the magazine for companies which feature Terence McKenna as a selling point in the ad. This is also another example of the common ‘double-R mistake’: It’s Terence, not Terrence.

“Language is something very deep and general in nature. All of nature seeks to communicate, and that information is moved around on many levels. What is new and unique about human beings is speech. In standard English, speech and language are used almost interchangeably. I would like to see that change…language is something very old and very general.

…The future of communication is the future of the evolution of the human soul. As we communicate with each other with greater facility, the boundaries and the illusions of difference just evanesce and disappear.”

“I see culture offering cheap substitutes for authentic experience. Culture wants you to regret the past, anticipate the future and barely notice the felt presence of immediate experience. To my mind, this is the most toxic value that we tolerate: the devaluation of our feelings as they occur to us in the act of living in the moment in a defined locus of space and time. That’s who we are; that’s all we will ever be. And a world made out of hope and regret is a very pale substitute for that feeling of being vitally connected and present in the living world.”