Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #30 – Bruce Eisner’s Dedication to Terence McKenna

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 DSCF8479each 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.

Indeed, as Walt Whitman sings of himself (and each of us by extension):

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:


Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #21 – Erik Davis: Data Density Data-Dense

Today’s random item from the Terence McKenna Archives is one that only mentions Terence in passing and, yet, feels more Terence-relevant than many of the items in the archives that feature him more heavily. It is a 1999 article in The Santa Fe New Mexican erikdavisnewspaper (Jan. 22) profiling Erik Davis (who Rob Brezsny apparently once called “the next Terence McKenna”) as prelude to a local event for the release of his book Techngnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Age of Information at Santa Fe’s Plan B Evolving Arts. The profile, by Antonio Lopez, includes sections of an interview conducted with Davis by phone. I think those who pay attention to Terence McKenna will find this to be an interesting read. It’s a well-done profile of a writer (and podcaster!) whose work is well-worth paying attention to. He was also potentially the last person to interview Terence–it’s a long interview that I still think of as one of the best. The article includes a discussion of Davis’ visit to the Cyberthon in San Francisco in 1991, discussed in a previous blog post (Esquire, Apr. 1991), at which Terence and Tim Leary spoke along with VR pioneer Jaron Lanier and others, including Debbie Harlow, who told those in attendance that she had “received a newsletter put out by the criminal justice department of the state of Hawaii that quoted McKenna and Mondo 2000 on virtual reality and alerted judges to the possible dangers of this new “drug” (Spin, Apr. 1991).


Erik Davis speaking at Burning Man 2003 next to a picture of Terence McKenna, whose work provided the inspiration for the Palenque Norte theme camp.

The convergence of mysticism and pop culture is a niche journalist Erik Davis carved out one spoonful at a time.

Several years ago, in “Technopagans,” a story for Wired, Davis explored the neopagan world of Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) programmers and other Net practitioners and occult denizens in San Francisco [which features eventual Terence collaborator, and VRML co-inventor, Mark Pesce].

With the recent publication of his tome, Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information (Harmony Books), Davis has become somewhat of a de facto expert on the strange, secret history bridging technological culture and the spiritual realm.

“Personally I have always been fascinated by weird religious ideas, psychedelia and the occult,” he said. Moreover, he said, “I’ve always been a pop-culture junkie.”

“In terms of looking at new technology, I always look at it through a science-fiction lens because I’m interested in the mythic and fantastic aspects that are always part of the discussion of technology rather than tracking the business and technological aspects,” he said. “I’m interested in where the machine and psyche meet.”

In the early ’90s, such a connection became real in Northern California, where the Information Age and Aquarian Age mingled, symbolized by psychedelic mentors Terence McKenna and Timothy Leary exchanging with technological visionaries Jaron Lanier (an early developer of virtual reality) and Howard Rheingold. The Berkeley-based magazine Mondo 2000 served as a forum for the kookier aspects of the psychedelic-computer convergence.

Davis set out for San Francisco, where he attended the Cyberthon festival and gathering. “It was an attempt to be the Woodstock of virtual reality,” Davis said. “It was that whole San Francisco mixture of psychedelia and computer technology. When I was there, I saw that this is real. I wanted to know how it was that these ’60s psychedelia ideas became mixed up with information technology.”
Although the event proved pivotal in sparking Davis’ exploration of the netherworld of information technology and mysticism, the rhetoric of the movement remains a dream. “It did not develop into some great alternative culture,” Davis said. “The record is very bad. As I wrote the book over the years, I became more and more critical of the way that people use utopian, mystical and psychedelic language in order to hype technology. “There was some genuine, authentic experimental space that was really there and is still there but what I’m afraid happened is basically a certain kind of capitalism absorbed those energies and language with a purpose to sell something to consumers, like psychedelic screen savers that are in the offices of Internet startup companies that don’t do anything. “This is a true consensual hallucination, like Gibson said,” Davis said. “It’s not so clear what’s going on. In the end, I was rather disappointed in how these utopian dreams played out.”

Davis juggled to address an eclectic readership, which includes a cyber-theoretical, cyber-critical audience, smart new-agers and what he called “new consciousness” people, and those interested in underground spirituality. In addition, Davis believes Techgnosis appeals to those interested in the history of technology and contemporary culture from a journalistic perspective. “In response to that, my voice jumps inside the text,” Davis said. “It’s a symptom of how difficult it is to explain the moment we live in. You have to become a kind of pragmatic schizophrenic.”

“I’m trying to articulate the collective dreamworld of contemporary technological culture rather than just analyzing it,” Davis said. “Even though I use academic material and scholarly questions, I’m also equally interested in expressing something strange and fantastic about the times we find ourselves in. “For example, when I write about UFOs, on the one hand I’m very interested in the sociology of UFO believers. But on the other hand, I’m interested in catching the bizarre side of whatever it is that compels people to be fascinated with UFOs and looking at these perceptions that don’t fit into ordinary reality. “I’m not interested in whether UFOs are real but how people come to believe they are real. What is that about? It’s trying to do both things at once.”

Asked if he follows a particular spiritual path, the author remained cryptic. “I’m very interested in mindfulness practice,” Davis said. “I think paying attention to attention is one of the key tools for facing the Information Age.”