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)!
Another item that has been added to The Terence McKenna Archives as a result of our ongoing crowdfund campaign is Vere Allucinazioni (1995), an Italian translation of Terence’s “talking book” (1984) and eventually paper book (1993), True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise.
What makes this volume particularly valuable and noteworthy, aside from the significance of the affordance for Italian speakers to be able to read Terence’s work, are the copious and excellent illustrations (dozens scattered throughout the text) by Matteo Guarnaccia.
Dozens of Guarnaccia’s drawings litter the pages and often mesh unbelievably well with the contents of the book — I’m only showing a fraction of them here. This is an edition of Terence’s work that is worth having, even if you can’t speak Italian, for the incredibly competent and compelling psychedelic art alone.
The Foundation has produced a documentary on Harner’s legacy, which you can view on their website, or below:
As for connections between Terence McKenna and Michael Harner….it was a curious mis-citing of Harner’s work that, in a very direct way, launched Terence’s career. I think that’s the story I’ll choose to tell on this occasion, as it is both amusing and formative on the careers of both McKenna brothers as well as involving Harner’s early influence on the study of ‘psychedelic shamanism’.
The Search for the Violet Psychofluid
When Terence and Dennis McKenna (and some friends) arrived in the Colombian Amazon, they were not looking for the psilocybin mushrooms that came to be the focus of their attention and which, one might say with only minimal exaggeration, launched their careers. During their “experiments” at the tiny mission site of La Chorrera, combining the beta-carboline alkaloids deriving from the Banisteriopsis caapi (ayahuasca) vine with the psilocybin-containing mushrooms that they found plentifully in the surrounding pastures, it was Dennis who seems to have recalled an article by Harner, from which he recalled mention of a magical fluid that shamans produced from their mouths.
In the following passage from True Hallucinations, Terence describes being at La Chorrera and reading Dennis’ personal journal:
…I suggested to Dennis that, rather than arguing with people about the nature of the experience, he should go off by himself and write down all that he thought about the strange sound that he had made. He accepted this advice and made his way back up the hill to the knoll house to be alone and to write:
February 28, 1971
“I approach these pages with a peculiar sense of urgency as a man might who had confronted an unexplainable phenomenon as some impossible creation of dreams or unaccountable natural principle…
Before going further, something tells me that I must consider who I am. Twenty-four hours ago, I thought I knew — now this has become the most perplexing question I have ever been confronted with… These may be the last characters of a crude language that I will ever apply to the description of anything…”
When I read this prologue later, it seemed to me both grandiose and alarming, but Dennis had an aura of calm certitude that seemed to command respect. I felt that the Logos was struggling with the vocabulary of its newest vessel. He seemed to be making more and more sense, to be on to something. I read on:
“Since any phenomenon is, to a point, describable in empirical terms, so too with this one. It has to do with controlling one’s body chemistry in such a way as to produce very specific vocal and audial phenomena: the state becomes possible when highly bio-dynamic vegetable alkaloids, specifically tryptamines and MAO-inhibitors, are introduced into the body under carefully regulated parameters. This phenomenon is apparently possible in the presence of tryptamines alone, though MAO inhibition definitely helps trigger it by facilitating tryptamine absorption. The phenomenon has now been triggered by two people within our group: Terence has been experimenting with vocal phenomena under the influence of DMT for some years now.
Until last night, when I triggered and experienced this sound wave for a few brief seconds under the influence of nineteen Stropharia mushrooms, Terence was the only person I knew who claimed ability to perform this sound…”
Terence goes on telling the story…
Later that afternoon, Dennis came back down to the edge of the river looking for me… There we sat and talked. It had been about sixteen hours since the previous evening’s episode with the strange sound. Dennis said that the writing exercise had been very useful.
[Terence:] “Great! And so what have you come up with?”
[Dennis:] “I’m not sure. I’m very excited, but whatever it is that’s the cause of my excitement is also developing ideas in my mind nearly faster than I can write them down.”
[T:] “Ideas? What sort of ideas?”
[D:] “Funny ideas. Ideas about how we can use this effect, or this stuff, or whatever it is. My intuition is that it is related to the psychofluids that Michael Harner reported in the July 1969 issue of Natural History and to what happened to you in Boudanath. Remember how Harner implied that ayahuasqueros vomited a magical substance that was the basis of their ability to divine? This is like that, some sort of translinguistic stuff made with the voice.”
We talked at length by the river’s edge, ranging over the options and the possibilities. He was insistent in linking my experience in Nepal with a very strange phenomenon that occurred in Jivaro shamanism in Ecuador. The people take ayahuasca after which they, and anyone else who has taken ayahuasca, are able to see a substance that is described as violet or deep blue and that bubbles like a liquid. When you vomit from taking ayahuasca, this violet fluid comes out of your body; it also forms on the surface of the skin, like sweat. The Jivaro do much of their magic with this peculiar stuff. These matters are extremely secret. Informants insist that the shamans spread the stuff out on the ground in front of them, and that one can look at this material and see other times and other places. According to their reports, the nature of this fluid is completely outside of ordinary experience: it is made out of space/time or mind, or it is pure hallucination objectively expressed by always keeping itself within the confines of a liquid.
Harner’s work among the Jivaro did not stand alone. Since the beginnings of ethnographic reporting out of the Amazon there have been rumors and unconfirmed reports of magical excrement and magically empowered psychophysical objects generated out of the human body using hallucinogens and song. I recalled the alchemical observation that the secret is hidden in feces.
[T:] “Matter that is hyperdimensional and therefore translinguistic? Is that what you mean?” I asked Dennis.
[D:] “Yes. Whatever that means, but something like that, I suppose. Gad! Why not? I mean it’s pretty nuts, but it’s also the symbol system we brought with us running into the shamanic magic that we came here looking for. ‘This is what you shipped for, men, to chase the White Whale over all sides of ocean and both sides of earth till he spout black blood and roll fin out.’ Isn’t that your rap?”
The resort to Melvillian rhetoric was unexpected and not like him. Where did he get this stuff? [T:] “Yes, I suppose.”
[D:] But here is the thing; if there is something weird going on, then we should observe it and see what it is and try to reduce it to some coherent framework. Granted we don’t know what it is that we are dealing with, but on the other hand, we know that we came here to investigate shamanic magic generally, so now we have to go to work on this effect, or whatever it is, and just hope that we know what we are doing and have enough data to crack it. We are too isolated to do anything else, and to ignore it might be to squander a golden opportunity.”
Okay, so the above is the setup for the story. Terence and Dennis…in the Amazon….twenty-something….eager to uncover the secrets of psychedelic shamanism……and armed with past experience and a lot of literature on the brain.
The mention of Terence’s experience in Boudanath, Nepal, which Dennis considered comparable to Harner’s description of the shamanic psychofluid is in reference to what has come to be know as the ‘Kathmandu Interlude’ (due to its place and function in True Hallucinations, which involves a sexual encounter between Terence (on LSD) and a woman (on datura) who both smoke DMT and……well, you’d better just listen/read (p. 55) yourself! …Needless to say, there is a psychedelically-derived psychofluid involved…
Then we made love. Or rather we had an experience that vaguely related to making love but was a thing unto itself…
Reality was shattered. This kind of fucking occurs at the very limit of what is possible. Everything had been transformed into orgasm and visible, chattering oceans of elf language. Then I saw that where our bodies were glued together there was flowing, out of her, over me, over the floor of the roof, flowing everywhere, some sort of obsidian liquid, something dark and glittering, with color and lights within it. After the DMT flash, after seizures of orgasms, after all that, this new thing shocked me to the core. What was this fluid and what was going on? I looked at it. I looked right into it, and it was the surface of my own mind reflected in front of me. Was it translinguistic matter, the living opalescent excrescence of the alchemical abyss of hyperspace, something generated by the sex act performed under such crazy conditions? I looked into it again and now saw in it the lama who taught me Tibetan, who would have been asleep a mile away. In the fluid, I saw him, in the company of a monk I had never seen; they were looking into a mirrored plate. Then I realized they were watching me! I could not understand it. I looked away from the fluid and my companion, so intense was her aura of strangeness.
The article of Harner’s that Dennis had recalled on that day in La Chorrera actually appeared in the July 1968 (not 1969) issue of Natural History and was titled “The Sound of Rushing Water,” now considered among Harner’s iconic contributions…and, you can find it cited in the first edition of The Invisible Landscape (1975), the messy nature of the real-time referencing in the Amazon cleaned up for publication, as the sole reference to the ethnographic literature on shamanically-produced psychofluids.
From Chapter 6: An Experiment at La Chorrera:
During the course of our investigation of the shamanic dimension, our attention was drawn to a report of ayahuasca usage among the Jivaro (Harner 1968); the shamans, under the influence of potent monamine oxidase-inhibiting, harmine- and tryptamine-containing Banisteriopsis infusions, are said to produce a fluorescent violet substance by means of which they accomplish their magic. Though invisible to ordinary perception, this fluid is said to be visible to anyone who has ingested the infusion. Ayahuasca is frequently associated with violet auras and deep blue hallucinations; this suggests that ayahuasca may enable one to see at ultraviolet wavelengths, and that this substance may be visible only in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. We also had occasion to ingest synthetic tryptamines and had observed as a regular feature of the tryptamine intoxication a peculiar audile phenomenon…Individual reports of the subjectively perceived phenomenon exhibit a high degree of similarity.
Our desire to pursue the investigation of this audile phenomenon at greater depth, combined with the curiosity and incredulity which Harner’s report had aroused, led us to travel, in March of 1971, to the tiny mission settlement of La Chorrera, 43 minutes south, 73 degrees west, on the banks of the Rio Igara-parana in Comisaria Amazonas, Colombia. We felt that here we could carry out firsthand observations into the phenomenology of the tryptamine dimension.
It was Harner’s article, then, that provided a significant portion of both the impetus for, and the interpretation of, the experiences that the McKenna brothers were experimenting with and trying to explain…
The irony of all of this is…….Harner’s article contains no mention of this phenomenon whatsoever!! Go ahead, read it yourself….(Harner does mention magical darts but nothing resembling the sort of fluid described by Dennis or Terence for which they specifically cite Harner’s 1968 article on multiple occasions).
Persistent is the idea that these ayahuasqueros vomit or produce out of their bodies some kind of substance, a magical substance, that is the basis of their witchcraft. And, you know, your attitude toward this can be that it’s sleight of hand or that it’s lying or that it’s absolutely true…
Uh, Dennis, in 1970, came across a reference to this in some piece of literature. I confess that I have occasionally cited it as Michael Harner’s article ‘The Sound of Rushing Water’, which appeared in Natural History magazine in 1967 [it’s 1968]. Just to confirm Marlene [Dobkin de Rios]’s opinion, if you actually read that article, you will discover there is no reference to this in there. Uh, I couldn’t find a reference in the literature until yearsafter our investigation of the phenomenon was pretty much wrapped up. I was amazed to discover that our supposition that such a thing existed actually is supported in the literature. Luis Eduardo Luna…has talked about this in numerous of his more scholarly publications. What is claimed is that there are, among very unacculturated people, a habit, when intoxicated on ayahuasca, of vomiting a material, and then, what’s said of it is that it’s blue, that the shamans use it to accomplish all of their magic, and that when you spread it out on the bottom of a flat bowl that you can see the future in it or the past in it.
So, there you have it……Michael Harner’s non-existent contribution to the careers of the brothers McKenna.
Thanks, Michael, for making the world a more interesting place, as a result of both your real and imagined contributions!
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.”
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!
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 each 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.
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:
Another mellow week at the Terence McKenna Archives. Here’s what we took in this time around:
I received the other three issues of Psychedelic Monographs & Essays–I received and mentioned the first ordered issue last week only to note that there was not much to be found in its pages related to TM. Well, the same is largely true of the remaining volumes of PM&E, although there are a few mentions that I will note. In #2, there’s nothing. In #3, there is a citation for both The Invisible Landscape and the original audiobook of True Hallucinations (before a published book ever existed) as part of an article on Rupert Sheldrake and his ‘Hypothesis of Formative Causation’. The McKenna’s are cited among a group of observers who have noted “past life remembrance” with psychedelics. In #4 there are a few more citations: in an article on ‘Meditation and Resonance Effects’ by Philo Stone, the ‘Organismic Thought’ chapter of The Invisible Landscape is cited and in an article on ‘The Mushroom Entheogen’ Terence and Dennis are cited under their Oeric & Oss pseudonyms for their book, Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide. Terence also shows up in an advertisement for an event in honor of Albert Hofmann at which he would be a featured presenter to take place on October 2, 1988 at the Scottish Rite Temple in Los Angeles and is listed on the subsequent page as among the board members for the Albert Hofmann Foundation. Finally, there is an advertisement for Terence’s talks, via Kat Harrison’s Lux Natura catalog, which appears near the end of the volume located next to an advertisement for Botanical Dimensions.
2. Exposure magazine from October 1990 included a dual-article with pieces written by both Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna. This is a fairly rare and little-known (and quite large) item. I am only aware of one other copy currently available online going for about $60.
3. I received a hard copy of an issue of SPIN magazine from April 1991 that I featured a couple weeks back in the weekly haul as a set of digital images. One thing that I failed to mention last time that I will highlight now is a curious mention of a government document that is supposed to reference Terence as a way of pointing to the potential dangers of virtual reality. I would be GREATLY obliged to anyone who might be able to help me track down that document…
At the end of McKenna’s talk, Debbie Harlow rose with a concrete warning: she and Jaron [Lanier] had recently 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.”
4. The April 1995 issue of Yoga Journal featured an interview with Ralph Abraham, which mentioned Terence in passing as a collaborator.
I also spent a few hours in the Image Resource Center on campus scanning photos from Chip Simons’ early 1990s shoot at the house in Occidental. I will be able to offer these very high-quality photos as part of the forthcoming crowdfunding campaign and am excited to eventually show them.
And, finally, once again, I will also include a final section with books that came in this week that don’t mention Terence (or weren’t represented in his library) but that nonetheless might be of interest: