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Page 6: Freaks Heroes - Terence Mckenna

Today, we decided to follow Simon Posford's words and the choice of this week is Terence Mckenna.
 

 
Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 - April 3, 2000) was an American philosopher, psychonaut, ethnobotanist, lecturer, writer and author of several books. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, culture, technology and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. He also formulated a concept about the nature of time, based on fractal patterns he claimed to have discovered in the I Ching, which he called novelty theory. Novelty theory is linked to 2012 eschatology and independent evaluators have called it pseudoscience.

Terence McKenna advocated the exploration of altered states of mind via the ingestion of naturally occurring psychedelic substances. For example, and in particular, as facilitated by the ingestion of high doses of psychedelic mushrooms, and DMT, which he believed was the apotheosis of the psychedelic experience. He spoke of meeting entities he described as "jeweled, self-dribbling basketballs" or "self-transforming machine elves" which one can encounter in those states. However he was less enthralled with the synthetic drugs stating that "yes, LSD is a psychedelic drug. But it's a psychedelic drug in the same way a fruit fly can fly." Mckenna also always stressed the responsible use of psychedelic plants saying, "Experimenters should be very careful. One must build up to the experience. These are bizarre dimensions of extraordinary power and beauty. There is no set rule to avoid being overwhelmed, but move carefully, reflect a great deal, and always try to map experiences back onto the history of the race and the philosphical and religious accomplishments of the species. All the compounds are potentially dangerous, and all compounds, at sufficient doses or repeated over time, involve risks. The library is the first place to go when looking into taking a new compound."

Although he avoided giving his allegiance to any one interpretation (part of his rejection of monotheism), he was open to the idea of psychedelics as being "trans-dimensional travel"; literally, enabling an individual to encounter what could be ancestors, or spirits of Earth. Also, drawing on James Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis McKenna put forward the idea that psychedelics were "doorways into the Gaian mind" suggesting that "the planet has a kind of intelligence, it can actually open a channel of communication with an individual human being" and that the psychedelic plants were the facilitators of this communication. In a more radical version of biophysicist Francis Crick's hypothesis of directed panspermia; another idea Mckenna speculated on, was that, psilocybin mushrooms are a species of high intelligence, which may have arrived on this planet as spores migrating through space and are attempting to establish a symbiotic relationship with human beings. He suggested that "intelligence, not life, but intelligentce may have come here [to Earth] in this spore-bearing life form" pointing out that "I think that theory will probably be vindicated. I think in a hundred years if people do biology they will think it quite silly that people once thought that spores could not be blown from one star system to another by cosmic radiation pressure" and believed that "Few people are in a position to judge its extraterrestrial potential, because few people in the orthodox sciences have ever experienced the full spectrum of psychedelic effects that are unleashed."
 

Throughout his life McKenna remained opposed to most forms of organized religion or guru-based forms of spiritual awakening, favouring shamanism, which he believed was the broadest spiritual paradigm available, stating that:
"What I think happened is that in the world of prehistory all religion was experiential, and it was based on the pursuit of ecstasy through plants. And at some time, very early, a group interposed itself between people and direct experience of the 'Other.' This created hierarchies, priesthoods, theological systems, castes, ritual, taboos. Shamanism, on the other hand, is an experiential science that deals with an area where we know nothing. It is important to remember that our epistemological tools have developed very unevenly in the West. We know a tremendous amount about what is going on in the heart of the atom, but we know absolutely nothing about the nature of the mind."

Either philosophically or religiously, he expressed admiration for: Marshall McLuhan, Alfred North Whitehead, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Jung, Plato, Gnostic Christianity and Alchemy, while regarding the Greek philosopher Heraclitus as his favorite philosopher.

He also expressed admiration for the works of Aldous Huxley, James Joyce (calling Finnegans Wake "the quintessential work of art, or at least work of literature of the 20th century."), the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick who he described as an "incredible genius" and Vladimir Nabokov: McKenna once said that he would have become a Nabokov lecturer if he had never encountered psychedelics.
During the final years of his life and career, McKenna became very engaged in the theoretical realm of technology. He has advocated the idea of a technological singularity. In his last recorded public talk, Psychedelics in The Age of Intelligent Machines, he outlined strong ties between psychedelics, computation technology, and humans.

*** Today We will publish most interesting part of his speech about Psychedelic Society (1984) ***

What blinds us, or what makes historical progress very difficult, is our lack of awareness of our ignorance.

Our ability to destroy ourselves is the mirror image of our ability to save ourselves, and what is lacking is the clear vision of what should be done.

What we need to do is transcend these localized grids of fate, which make us what we are but don't want to be.

History is the in-rushing toward what the Buddhists call the realm of the densely packed, a transformational realm where the opposites are unified.

We have numerous, extremely naive assumptions built into our thinking, and our most venerable explanatory engines, such as science, happen also to be our oldest explanatory engines, and therefore they have built into them the most naÔve and unexamined assumptions.
What blinds us, or what makes historical progress very difficult, is our lack of awareness of our ignorance. And [I think] that beliefs should be put aside, and that a psychedelic society would abandon belief systems [in favor of] direct experience and this is, I think much, of the problem of the modern dilemma, is that direct experience has been discounted and in its place all kind of belief systems have been erected... If you believe something, you're automatically precluded from believing in the opposite, which means that a degree of your human freedom has been forfeited in the act of this belief.
Our ability to destroy ourselves is the mirror image of our ability to save ourselves, and what is lacking is the clear vision of what should be done... What needs to be done is that fundamental, ontological conceptions of reality need to be redone. We need a new language, and to have a new language we must have a new reality... A new reality will generate a new language, a new language will fix a new reality, and make it part of this reality.
I believe that liberation, or let's even say, decency as a human quality, is an actual resonance and anticipation of this future perfected state of humanity. We can will the perfect future into being by becoming microcosms of the perfect future, and no longer casting blame outward on institutions or hierarchies of responsibility and control, but by realizing the opportunities here, the responsibilities here, and the two may never be congruent again, and the salvation of your immortal soul may depend on what you do with the opportunity.

Orient yourself towards the psychedelic experience, towards the psychedelic phenomenon, as a source of information. A mirror image of the psychedelic experience in hardware are computer networks. Computer networks, paradoxically enough, are a deeply feminizing influence on society, where, in hardware, the unconscious is actually being created. It's as though we took the Platonic bon mot about how "if God did not exist, Man would invent him", and say "if the unconscious does not exist, humanity will invent it" ó in the form of these vast networks able to transfer and transform information. This is in fact what we are caught up in, is a transforming of information. We have not physically changed in the last 40,000 years; the human type was established at the end of the last glaciation. But change, which was previously operable in the biological realm, is now operable in the realm of culture.
Because too much we have lived in the light of the idea that your ideology will be dictated to you essentially by geography! And if you're born in India, you'll find out that the Cosmos is one way; if you're born in Brooklyn, you find out it's another way. What we need to do is transcend these localized grids of fate, which make us what we are but don't want to be.

History is the in-rushing toward what the Buddhists call the realm of the densely packed, a transformational realm where the opposites are unified.
The psychedelics are a red-hot social issue, ethical issue, whatever the term for it is, and it is precisely because they are a deconditioning agents: they will cast doubt in you if you are a Hasidic rabbi, a Marxist anthropologist, or an altar boy, because their business is to dissolve belief systems, and they do this very well and then they leave you with the raw datum of experience, what William James called in infants 'the blooming, buzzing experience.' And out of that you reconstruct the world, and you need to understand that it is a dialog where your decisions, the projection of your grammar onto the intellectual space in front of you, is going to gel into the mode of being. We actually create our own universe because we are all operating with our own private languages.
We have numerous, extremely naÔve assumptions built into our thinking, and our most venerable explanatory engines, such as science, happen also to be our oldest explanatory engines, and therefore they have built into them the most naÔve and unexamined assumptions.

Yet science is going to tell you that the only things worth describing are those phenomena that can be repeatedly triggered. This is being these are the only phenomena that science can describe and that's the name of the game as far as they are concerned. But we, to claim our freedom, to take advantage of the tiny moment between immense abysses of unknowability, perhaps death, perhaps other reincarnations, perhaps transitions into other life forms, these things we don't know, but in the moment of being human we have the unique opportunity to figure things out. And I have the faith that it is possible, sometime, somewhere, to have a conversation, perhaps no progress will be made until the ninth hour, but to have a conversation in which reality could be literally pulled to pieces, beyond the point of reconstructing.

We have to claim anarchy and realize that systems have a life of their own that is anti-humanist. There is definitely an anti-humanist tendency in all systems.
We must begin to send out ideological visions rather than be the consumers of them. We need to turn off the metaphorical televisions which are hooking us into the network of cultural assumptions dictated from the Pentagon and Madison Avenue and what-have-you. We need, instead, to turn on our terminals, and to begin to interact with like-minded people throughout the world and establish this new intellectual order, which will be then the salvation of mankind, I firmly believeñ because it is a collectivity, and people will then feel the interrelatedness of their fates, feel the interrelatedness as a thing which transcends national divisions, ideological divisions, feel the primacy of being part of the human family.
Read 1111 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 June 2014 18:42

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