Today’s randomly-selected item is a 1992, German-produced, anthology that Terence contributed to called the Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness, or in its German title: Jahrbuch für Ethnomedizin und Bewußtseinsforschung.
This first volume in the series, edited by anthropologist Christian Rätsch, is the only one that is sold-out and otherwise apparently unavailable online. I have a scan of Terence’s chapter, but the archives does not currently hold a physical copy of the volume. If you have a copy that you would like to donate to be housed in the archives, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terence’s contribution is a transcription of the first talk he ever gave at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California…a location where he would become a staple presenter over the next nearly two decades. The talk, titled ‘Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness’ was presented as part of the [John] Lilly/[Amit] Goswami Conference on Consciousness and Quantum Physics, and there is a bit of historiographical confusion about whether this conference took place in December of 1982 or 1983–different sources make different claims, none apparently definitive. You can see a further commentary and some other links related to this confusion on our post about the same talk as it appears in The Book of Lies. Again, anyone who was at the event or who has an Esalen catalog or some other definitive evidence, please let us know.
This week’s intake at the Terence McKenna Archives was much more modest than last week’s substantial haul. The only hard copy publication that arrived just came in today:
- Disinformation’s Book of Lies.
The Book of Lies, as most of these large Disinformation Guides, consists of dozens of chapters by a smorgasbord of authors from a wide swath of the countercultural milieu, this time ‘focusing’ on “Magick and the Occult.” The small section on “Chemognosis” contains only two chapters (it’s the heading with the least number of contributions in the volume), one of which is an edited transcript of Terence McKenna’s first talk at Esalen during the Lilly/Goswami [that’s John and Amit] Conference on Consciousness and Quantum Physics, titled ‘Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness’. There seems to be some dispute about when this conference actually took place. Anyone who was there or has a photo or scan of an original catalog can help with this. Both The Book of Lies and Jeffrey Kripal in his book, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion describe the event as taking place in December 1983. However, as you can see here, the actual tape (not published by Dolphin Tapes until 1997) lists it as taking place in 1982, as does Erowid, though citing the Dolphin Tapes published version. I have tended to favor the 1982 dating, though I can’t now remember all of my reasons for doing so (most, like Jesse Jarnow and Graham St. John, have gone with the 1983 date–it would be great to clear this up, as, historically speaking, it’s not entirely insignificant when this took place–you can see this same issue playing out on the Psychedelic Salon page for the talk).
Even though this is among Terence’s most well-known and most-published talk, I thought it would still be worth including some of the selected quotations for your edification and amusement:
2. This week, in a conversation with R. Michael Johnson (one of the movers behind the excellent RAWilsonFans website–you can read a good chunk of his introduction to the brand new edition of Robert Anton Wilson’s Email to the Universe by Hiliritas Press on Amazon), he took me through his list of a great many places where he knew Terence cropped up in various literature. Most of the items he mentioned are already represented in the archives, but he definitely gave me several significant leads that I hadn’t had on my radar (thanks, Mike!). The most embarrassing of the items he mentioned was Robert Anton Wilson’s Everything is Under Control, because it has been sitting on the same bookshelf as most of the McKenna archive for quite a long time without my realizing it contained both an entry on Terence himself as well as an even longer entry on Food of the Gods (which is distinct from RAW’s review of the book which appeared in his Trajectories Newsletter #10, 1991 and is reprinted in Chaos & Beyond: The Best of Trajectories).
3. Beyond that, I rediscovered that Google Books allows you to also search through magazines (whichever ones they have in their database). This caused me to come across some magazine articles that mentioned Terence which I hadn’t encountered before as well as a whole slew of advertisements.