Terence McKenna Archives Acquisitions Update (March 7, 2023)

As I work on updating the Terence McKenna Bibliography, I am also acquiring new material for the archive as a reflection of how Terence McKenna’s name and ideas have been (and continue to be) represented. This is a digest of some of the new material coming into the collection at the moment.

Drunk the Night Before: An Anatomy of Intoxication by Marty Roth (2005), University of Minnesota Press

Just because the story of drugs as spiritual degeneration is insistently repeated doesn’t make it true. True and false states of exaltation may not be as different as cultural arbiters claim, since the institutions and images that compose our religious history have been airbrushed by denial, or, shifting to Terence McKenna’s similitude: “There are skeletons in the closet of human origins and of the origin of religion. I would wager that those skeletons are all psychedelic plants.” (p. 86)

Terence McKenna  believes that the “intake of psilocybin by primates living in the African grasslands prior to the last Ice Age may have led to the origins of human language itself.” (p. 156)

The alignment of Wordsworth and Coleridge with water and wine also rhymes with the alternate goals they set themselves in modern poetry: poems of ordinary life as opposed to supernatural subjects that give “the interest of novelty by the modifying colors of imagination” (Coleridge 168). Terence McKenna tries to refine this model further: “Opium was a major driving force on the Romantic imagination–Coleridge, De Quincey, Laurence Sterne, and a number of other writers were creating a world of darkened ruins, abandoned priories, black water sucking at desolate shores–clearly a gloss on the opium state. Then around 1820, Byron, Shelley, and others began experimenting with hashish as well…. [but it] never made inroads into the English literary imagination the way that opium had.”


Culture on the Brink: Ideologies of Technology edited by Gretchen Bender + Timothy Druckrey (1994), Bay Press











In Margaret Morse’s chapter, “What Do Cyborgs Eat? Oral Logic in an Information Society,” Terence McKenna is mentioned several times:

There are certain recurring features in the very limited literature on smart drinks and drugs in how-to books, manifestos, and ads in Mondo 2000: smart nonfood tastes bad–medicinal, in fact; smart drugs are better than nature, once one achieves the right “fit” between brain and chemicals; and they improve performance in mental tasks. To at least one countercultural theorist, Terence McKenna, smart drugs, insofar as they are psychotropic, are in fact Food of the Gods, at once archaic and posthistorical tools toward the next phase of human evolution toward colonizing the stars. (p. 182)

Smart drug “fit” is not based on existing “natural” quantities–neurochemicals are too costly for the body to make in beneficial amounts. However, according to Terence McKenna, nature has offered psychoactive drugs, which are not merely smart but, he claims, have spurred human mental evolution, in abundance. In Food of the Gods, McKenna explains, “My contention is that mutation-causing, psychoactive chemical compounds in the early human diet directly influenced the rapid reorganization of the brain’s information-processing capacities. Alkaloids in plants, specifically the hallucinogenic compounds such as psilocybin, dimethyltrypta-mine [sic] (DMT), and harmaline, could be the chemical factors in the proto- human [sic] diet that catalyzed the emergence of human self-reflection.” McKenna views the fifteen thousand years of cultural history between the archaic period and the present as “Paradise Lost,” a dark age of ego-imbalance to be abandoned, along with “the monkey body and tribal group,” in favor of “star flight, virtual-reality technologies, and a revivified shamanism.” Again, the archaic and the electronic are united.


Out of Character: Rants, Raves, and Monologues from Today’s Top Performance Artists edited by Mark Russell (1997), Bantam Books












In the profile for the artist, performer, puppeteer, and creator of magical objects, James Godwin, Terence McKenna’s books The Archaic Revival and True Hallucinations appear in Godwin’s “Reading List.”












Inward Journey: Art as Therapy by Margaret Frings Keyes (1983), Open Court












This represents a relatively early awareness of and reference to the McKennas based on an encounter with the 1st edition (1975) of The Invisible Landscape. It gets some details wrong, such as Mexico v. Colombia.

…if she [a patient] learnt the hard way within the active imagination to overcome the obstacle, she would have also learnt something for outer life. Even if a patient was stuck in active imagination over weeks Jung did not give a helpful suggestion but insisted that he or she should continue to struggle with the problem himself and alone.

In controlled drug-taking this forth step is again missed. The controlling person carries the responsibility instead of the producer of the phantasy. I came across an interesting book by two brothers Terence and Denis [sic] McKenna: The Invisible Landscape. These two courageous young men went to Mexico [sic] and experimented on themselves with a hallucinogenc plant. They experienced according to their own report schizophrenic states of mind, which led to a great widening of consciousness. Unfortunately they could not keep track of the experiences except that they went to other planets and were often helped by an invisible guide who was sometimes a huge insect. The second part of the book contains the speculations which they derived from their visions. They are not different from any other wildly intuitive modern speculations about mind, matter, synchronicity, etc. In other words they do not actually convey anything really new or which the two well-read authors could not have thought out consciously. But what is decisive is the fact that the book ends with the idea that all life on earth will be definitively destroyed in an approaching cataclysm and that we must either find means to escape to another planet or turn inward and escape into the realm of the cosmic mind. Let me kcompare this with a dream which an American student allowed me to use and which is concerned with the same theme…


Soul Seeds: Revelations & Drawings by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld; Foreword by Laura Huxley (2008), Cross-Cultural Communications












And to my mentors and beloved comrades who inspire from beyond the concept of death, Dr. Carl Faber, Edmund Kara, Barry Taper, Freda Taper, Dr. Timothy Leary, Dr. Oscar Janiger, Terence McKenna, Nina Graboi, Dr. John Lilly, William Melamed, and the unmentioned others. (Acknowledgements)

Carolyn is interviewed along with Allen Ginsberg, Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Laura Huxley and others in Mavericks of the Mind: Conversations for the New Millennium by David Jay Brown & Rebecca Novick. THE CROSSING PRESS, FREEDOM, CA 1993 (p. 91)

Terence McKenna also wrote a blurb that appears on the back of Kleefeld’s book The Alchemy of Possibility: Reinventing Your Personal Mythology (1998):

“A wonderful mature amalgam of esthetic intention. Congratulations!”

— Terence McKenna, author of The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching


How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson (2005), HarperCollins











An interview with Terence McKenna by Hodgkinson appeared in the inaugural first  issue (August, 1993) of his journal The Idler. The Terence McKenna Archives does not currently own a copy of this 1993 publication. If you have a copy that you would like to scan, send, or sell, please get in touch.

In this 2005 book, Hodgkinson sprinkles references to McKenna throughout:

It is precisely to prevent us from thinking too much that society pressurizes us all to get out of bed. In 1993, I went to interview the late radical philosopher and drugs researcher Terence McKenna. I asked him why society doesn’t allow us to be more idle. He replied:

I think the reason we don’t organise society in that way can be summed up in the aphorism, “idle hands are the devil’s tool.” In other words institutions fear idle populations because an Idler is a thinker and thinkers are not a welcome addition to most social situations. Thinkers become malcontents, that’s almost a substitute word for idle, “malcontent.” Essentially, we are all kept very busy … under no circumstances are you to quietly inspect the contents of your own mind. Freud called introspection “morbid”–unhealthy, introverted, antisocial, possibly neurotic, potentially pathological.      (pp. 33-4)

“UFOs, the theory goes, are simply folk like us who evolved on another planet and have a more advanced technology,” the late Terence McKenna once remarked. “It doesn’t straing credulity in the way that hypothesizing that we’re in contact with an afterworld or a parallel continuum challenges our notion of reality.” (p. 187)

Robert Louis Stevenson used his dreams to create plots and characters for his stories. Little creatures which he called Brownies revealed stories to him. He said, “My Brownies do one half of my work while I am asleep.” Stevenson’s Brownies sound a bit like the “chattering elves of hyperspace” cited by Terence McKenna as one of the key elements of the experience of taking the drug DMT: mischievous, scampish, truth-giving sprites and fairies. (pp. 264-5)


Exploring the Labyrinth: Making Sense of the New Spirituality by Nevill Drury (1999), Continuum












Published by the same company that published the first edition (1975) of The Invisible Landscape (Continuum was then a subsidiary of Seabury Press), this is not Drury first time mentioning McKenna in his work. This will make a fifth entry for Drury in the Bibliography.





Finally, in an overview that links native shamanism with the New Spirituality, mention must be made of the unique and potentially revolutionary vision of Terence McKenna. One of the most controversial and illuminating figures to have emerged from the counter-culture, and arguably the most obvious spiritual successor to Timothy Leary, McKenna is renowned for his gift of eloquent dialogue. In any of his lectures or media appearances he will, more likely than not, amaze his audience with eclectic references to shamanism, visionary literature, psychedelics, UFOs, alchemy and the mystical traditions. But shamanism itself is central to his contribution to contemporary transpersonal perspectives.

McKenna believes that the shamanic model of the universe is not only the most archaic but also the most accurate we have, and that we should heed shamanic traditions and practices in our efforts to map the psyche. He also believes that since research into psychedelics has been banned by governmental authorities–a consequence both of recklessness of the counter-culture as well as the power politics of the establishment–valuable insights into the potentials of consciousness are in danger of being overlooked at a crucial time in our history.

From pages 143-146, Drury goes on to devote the entirety of his attention to McKenna, concluding with:

For him, shamanism is nothing less than the best map we have of consciousness in the modern era, a map which allows us awe-inspiring access to the very core of our being and to the soul of the planet itself. From his perspective, nothing could be more profound or significant than that.

Drury also includes a brief, fairly standard, bio of Terence on page 201: “McKenna, Terence (1946 – );”

The penultimate entry for today’s acquisitions update (I’ll be back with more soon) is the satirical:

Generation Ecch! The Backlash Starts Here by Jason Cohen and Michael Krugman, Comix by Evan Dorkin (1994), Fireside









Cyberpunk hypothesizes that the new technology is a gateway to God. All these years man has been mystified by the divine phenomenon of speaking in tongues, and it turns out it was just PASCAL. Add some drugs to the mix, and you’ve got an idyll of technospiritualism.

If this scene has a guru, it’s the man Timothy Leary himself has called “the Timothy Leary of the nineties,” writer and self-acclaimed prophet genius Terence McKenna. At fortysomething, McKenna is neither neo or retro in his preaching–rather, he’s an actual hippy, a guy who still hangs out in Berkeley and Big Sur exploring the transcendental self-actualizing utopian possibilities of psychedelic drugs. Unsurprisingly, McKenna’s solution to most global and individual problems is what he calls the “heroic dose” of psilocybin, better known as ‘shrooms dude.

McKenna has said that the magic morels speak to him, but the revelations he experienced while drooling in dark corners under the influence are not exactly original. For one thing, they told him to take a .45 and go kill Stacy Moskowitz. Son of ‘Shroom! But seriously … the talking toadstools actually delivered the shocking information that the ecosystem is in trouble! Or perhaps Al Gore was plugging his book Larry King Live while Terence was tripping.

The anthropomorphic fungi have also told him that the way to solve the world’s environmental crisis is to take more ‘shrooms. Cool! It beats composting.

In the wee small hours of the morning, the disciples of cybercrap and McKennan catechism can be found at abandoned warehouses and isolated meadows, where, garbed in Day-Glo rain gear, enormous bell-bottoms and Cat in the Hat chapeaus, they harmoncially converge at futuristic be-ins known as raves. Bearing fluorescent pacifiers ’round their necks and backpacks crammed with Yodels, Silly String and VapoRub, they get juiced on nootropics and find sustenance in the nourishing sugar and caffeine of Jolt cola. Other nutritional requirements are fulfilled with large colorful hanfuls of crunchy yummy Flintstones vitamins. Unapologetically escapist, fatuously optimistic and barely sybaritic, these festivities meld digital technology and New Age posturing with elements of previously viewed youth culture: disco’s party! party! mentality, the frenzied spasmodics of punk, psychedelic pspirituality and that old favorite, the Dionysian bacchanal. (pp. 166-8)


And, finally for today’s post (see you next time):

Big American Trip by Christian Peet (2001), Shearsman Books


This collection of fictional postcards, as you no doubt anticipate, includes a mention of Terence McKenna:

Says the Alien Terence McKenna:

“The starships of the future, in other words the vehicles of the future, which will explore the high frontier of the unknown, will be syntactical. The engineers of the future will be poets.”

[Addressed to:] NASA/DOD, Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA 94035



Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #42 – ‘The Archaic Revival’ Reviewed in Library Journal (1992)

Today’s random item from the archives is another in the line of Terence McKenna’s work reviewed in Library Journal. I’ve already covered the Library Journal reviews of The Invisible Landscape (in 1976) & Alien Dreamtime (in 1993) and will eventually get around to reviews of Food of the Gods (book), History Ends in Green (audio), True Hallucinations (book), and Global Perspectives and Psychedelic Poetics (audio) also from the same publication. These are primarily useful as focused instances of reception of Terence’s work as well as to see how he would have been portrayed to the audience of this widely-dispersed trade publication.

Here, in Vol. 117 No. 7 (April 15, 1992), Gail Wood, from Montgomery College Library in Maryland, briefly reviews (and recommends) Terence’s anthology of essays and interviews, The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History. The book is listed under the category ‘Parapsychology’, while Food of the Gods was reviewed as ‘Social Science’ and True Hallucinations as ‘Anthropology & Customs’.

McKenna has been exploring the “Wholly Other” for 25 years. In this spiritual journey, he ponders shamanism, buddhism, and ethnopharmacology. By the phrase “archaic revival,” McKenna refers to a return to shamanism, which he believes can be enhanced by current scientific Sc8z3a7a1pJop8e+3ThaWo4mD3ZvVgD4DZEmM1bjC7HOXrbytgWvzpshQMVgVdVGGG0GKU17+H4hazYJyLZFYWZeIJhnKV3FvKNBi1kl9Fo=practices. The next level of spiritual transformation, he explains, is achieved by the intelligent use of psychedelics and should be performed only by thoughtful explorers rather than experimenters, scientific or otherwise. The ideas presented in this collection of interviews, speeches, and articles are radical even now, and will challenge the reader. There are many insights on current spiritual movements such as goddess worship, deep ecology, space beings, and virtual reality. Recommended. —Gail Wood, Montgomery Coll. Lib., Germantown, Md.


The Terence McKenna Archives has an on-going crowdfund campaign at: https://www.gofundme.com/terencemckennaarchives

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


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 #36 – R. U. Sirius Reviews ‘Alien Dreamtime’ for Wired Magazine

Today’s random item is a brief review of the Alien Dreamtime VHS video, produced by Ken Adams and Brit Welin as Rose-X Media House (not the audio CD, which was edited by Jonah Sharp, aka Spacetime Continuum for the Astralwerks label–there are some differences between the two aside from the fact that one includes video). This review, by none other than our friend R. U. Sirius (aka Ken Goffman, if you must), appeared in Wired Magazine for its issue of May 1994. [This item is from the digital archives, meaning that there is no physical copy of this magazine yet in the collection. We do have a copy of the Alien Dreamtime VHS, though.]

“Call him unscientific or intellectually lazy, but Terence McKenna’s brand of psychedelic blarney – always more fun to hear live than to read – is so beautifully phrased that it transcends the historic and anthropological bean counters who dis him.”

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Sleeping with the Aliens
The Alien Dreamtime video, produced by Rose-X Media House, is Terence McKenna’s “Greatest Hits,” spoken to the rhythm of the rave, live in San Francisco. Call him unscientific or intellectually lazy, but Terence McKenna’s brand of psychedelic blarney – always more fun to hear live than to read – is so beautifully phrased that it transcends the historic and anthropological bean counters who dis him. In this video, Terence gets off the basic themes outlined in his three books: True Hallucinations, Food of the Gods, and The Archaic Revival (updating McLuhan, McKenna claims that postindustrial cyberculture is leading us back into the future toward archaic prepatriarchal modes of living – witness the rise of Modern Primitivism), the oppressiveness of “mono” culture (“monopoly, monogamy, monotony”), and the place of tryptamine hallucinogens in human evolution (“the psilocybin mushroom is the catalyst of human evolution and language”).

Alien Dreamtime is the second video Rose-X has produced with ethnobotanist McKenna. (The first, Experiment at Petaluma, was a 30-minute rap on the possibilities of visual language.) Rose-X’s two-person team – Britt Welin and Ken Adams – cut their special effects teeth on visual effects for San Francisco’s Toon Town Raves. Alien Dreamtime stretches the duo’s psychedelic computer effects to new limits, and Stephen Kent’s didgeridoo adds a note of primitive intensity to the techno-rave soundtrack. The high point of the 60-minute Alien Dreamtime is the entrancing dance and sway of psychedelic love goddess Kim Kyle. The presence of the feminine form in all of its grandeur provides a humanizing touchstone amid the abstract imagery. (In fact, my only complaint about this video is that we should have seen more of her. But that’s a minor quibble.) Fans of a good psychedelic rant must run out and purchase this video right away!

–R. U. Sirius

Terence McKenna Archives – Random Item #11 – New Maps of Hyperspace (in Magical Blend, 1989)

Today’s random-number-generator-selected item from the Terence McKenna Archives is another issue of Magical Blend magazine, this time issue #22 from April 1989. The magazine contains an edited transcript of a talk, which Terence gave in 1984 at the Berkeley Institute for the Study of Consciousness (founded by Arthur Young in 1972–Young and his wife Ruth hosted some of Terence’s earliest talks), with the title ‘New Maps of Hyperspace’. This talk has been through several edits: the original talk (the recording of which I have not seen), the version in this magazine, and another slightly edited version that appeared in Terence’s book The Archaic Revival. One of my favorite ads for Terence, emphasizing his “Word Magic” via “public raves and private musings,” is also present.

“All these other images — the starship, the space colony, the lapis — these are precursory images. They follow from the idea that history is the shockwave of eschatology. As one closes distance with the eschatological object, the reflections it is throwing off resemble more and more the thing itself. In the final moment, the Unspeakable stands revealed. There are no more reflections of the Mystery. The Mystery in all its nakedness is seen, and nothing else exists. But what it is, decency can scarcely safely hint at; nevertheless, it is the crowning joy of futurism to seek anticipation of it.”

There was also an article by, and several ads for products from, Robert Anton Wilson:

Viva Arte Viva! The Art of Jeremy Shaw, Or A Psychonaut in Venice

I’m never quite sure where Terence will pop up. I was recently alerted by an artist acquaintance, Ken Weathersby (who interviewed Terence in 1996–related post forthcoming), to an appearance by Terence at this year’s Venice Biennale Arte international exhibition, titled Viva Arte Viva, the 57th incarnation of a major art show in Italy running from May through November. The exhibition is composed primarily of nine ‘Trans-pavilions’: The Pavilion Arts and Books, The Pavilion of Joys and Fears, The Pavilion of the Common, The Pavilion of the Earth, The Pavilion of Traditions, The Pavilion of the Shamans, The Dionysian Pavilion, The Pavilion of Colours, and The Pavilion of Time and Infinity. In addition, there are two major project spaces: The Artists Practices Project, which houses “a series of short videos made by the artists about themselves and their way of working,” and Unpacking My Library, a project inspired by Walter Benjamin’s spectacular 1931 essay of the same name, which allows the artists to display a list of their favorite books.

It is within the Unpacking My Library project that Terence was spotted. Among artist Jeremy Shaw‘s list of favorite books was The Archaic Revival.

Some of Shaw’s work is quite explicitly influenced by psychedelics.

The available snippet from his contribution to the Artists Practices Project, a 20-minute video called Liminals, seems reminiscent of a 5-meo-DMT experience. Ben Davis, writing for artnet, found Shaw’s video to have been his “favorite discovery” of the entire exhibition serving as a sort of microcosmic “internal critique” of the disposition of the broader Viva Arte Viva experience, which he describes as a sort of “half-thought-through primitivism.” The film takes place in “future times, [and] as the certainty of human extinction comes to weigh more and more on the species, a group called the ‘Liminals’ form a sort of cult, trying to restimulate the parts of their brain that activate the lost sense of religious belief.” Davis offers a tantalizing outtake of the narration from Liminals: “Thus, the quest of the Liminals, and of periphery Altraist cultures in general, to incite evolutionary advancement in an effort to save humanity is more consistent with the types of reactionary developmental syndromes found in societies during End Times than a plausible attempt for redemption. Nonetheless, their diligence and commitment to such fantastical ideas is rather fascinating.”

This is the frontier that we stand on the edge of. This is what history has been about. History has been some kind of suicide plot for 15,000 years. Not a moment passed that the plot was not advanced closer and closer and closer to completion. And, now, in the 20th century, you know, we see that this thing – this transcendental object at the end of time, this attractor – that chose us out of the animal kingdom, and sculpted the neocortex, opposed the thumb, stood us on our hind legs, gave us binocular vision – this thing is calling us toward itself across aeons of cosmic time. We are asked to mirror it, and as we mirror it, we become more of its essence. And, as we become more of its essence, we leave behind the animal organization that we were cast in, in the beginning. And what is this about? Who knows? Is this a drama of cosmic redemption? Is it the transcendental other at the end of time? Is it a gnostic daemon? What is it? We do not know. But I really believe we are in the era when we will come to know. And what the psychedelics are, are periscopes in the temporal dimension. If you want to see a little bit into the future, elevate your psychedelic periscope outside of the three dimensional continuum and peer around.   -Terence McKenna

ReVISIONing the Archaic Revival (1987-1989)

Terence made three contributions to a publication called ReVISION: The Journal of Consciousness and Change in the mid-80s. During the time that his pieces appeared, the executive editors of the journal were Stanislav Grof, Ralph Metzner, and Huston Smith, each among the pioneers of American psychedelia. Terence’s appearances in ReVISION would have been an important outlet for his work to certain important segments of the counterculture at this formative stage in his career. In Vol. 10 No. 1 (Summer 1987), an essay called ‘Temporal Resonance’, written by our own TM, appeared next to other articles by Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham (his co-conspirators for a popular series of trialogues that took place as workshops at the Esalen institute, some of which were later edited and published as books), Ralph Metzner, and physicist Nick Herbert.

In Vol. 10 No. 4 (Spring 1988), in an issue whose cover bears Kat Harrison’s now iconic drawing of the ‘bee-faced mushroom shaman’ from Tassili-n-Ajjer, another essay by our protagonist appeared with the title ‘Hallucinogenic Mushrooms and Evolution’ alongside other essays by Albert Hofmann, Robert Forte, and, again, Ralph Metzner. At the end of the issue, there is also an advertisement for the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference, whose theme for the year was ‘The Transpersonal Vision: Past, Present, and Future’, which lists “Terrence McKenna” [sic] as a speaker.

Finally, in Vol. 11 No. 3, (Winter 1989), in a discussion (roughly) on the subject of UFOs, Terence talks with an unnamed interlocutor in an interviewed dubbed ‘A Conversation over Saucers’. And, following up on the previous advertisement, a new ad for the recordings from the 1988 International Transpersonal Conference appeared in this issue, including Terence’s talk called ‘Non-Ordinary States Through Vision Plants’.

All three of these ReVISION pieces were eventually republished under the same names in Terence’s book The Archaic Revival (except the word ‘Hallucinogenic’ was removed from the title of the second piece to render: ‘Mushrooms and History’). Here, the previously unnamed interviewer was finally identified as Will Noffke, radio host and owner of the Shared Visions bookstore in San Francisco which had a history of hosting Terence for talks and book signings.

(Note of interest: my own bound set of ReVision volumes came to me from the library of the Association for Research & Enlightenment, or A.R.E., in Virginia Beach, which was founded by Edgar Cayce to support his research and whose legacy is carried on there by his family. They were selling off some of the items from their library, so I purchased their set of bound ReVISION volumes).