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…
Psychedelics persist in astonishing.