I’ll keep this one short. In 1998, Mystic Fire Video released a 5-video set called Apocalypse: Revelations for the New Millennium created by director Werner Weicke. Terence McKenna made a brief appearance in part one of the series, titled A Vision of the End. Although the videos were released in 1998, it’s possible that the recording of McKenna took place earlier as he sets the year of the eschaton, 2012, “20 years” into the future, which would suggest a recording date somewhere around 1992. Either way, I don’t believe that this short clip has been shared online before. So, here you go. Enjoy!
In an earlier ‘weekly haul’, I mentioned that the archives received a copy of Paul Krassner‘s book Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities, which contains Krassner’s interview with Terence under the title ‘Further Weirdness with Terence McKenna’. The same interview appears, with slightly different edits each time, in two of Krassner’s other books: Sex, Drugs, and the Twinkie Murders and Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs. The latter two books contain an extended Q&A (“in person and by e-mail”) that doesn’t appear in Murder at the Conspiracy Convention. The interview originally appeared in High Times #266 (October 1997) under the title ‘The Mushroom Apocalypse of Terence McKenna’.
The item that was selected through the random number generator for today is the 2nd edition of Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs (the 1st edition was self-published by Krassner). I don’t own a copy of either edition (I’ve never seen a copy of the 1st), but I was able to scan the relevant pages of a copy just to make sure that it is at least digitally represented in the archives. If you’d like to donate to help acquire a copy, which I’ve found online for $13.92, you can do so at the Transcription Project or through our crowdfund store (I’ve also found a copy of the original High Times for $9.97). Rather than continue to have individual blog posts for each of Krassner’s books that contain the interview, I am just going to finish out the series here with one final post about all of them, including some selections from the interview. I almost encountered Paul Krassner a few days ago at a Robert Anton Wilson event in Santa Cruz (about which I will post more soon), but he was was unable to attend. In the meantime, these are where you can find his interviews with Terence McKenna…Also of note is the Dedication to McKenna in Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs:
And, some excerpts from Krassner & Terence (passages set off by quotation marks are McKenna’s words):
With his curly brown hair and beard, a twinkle in his eye, and a lilt to his voice, he could easily pass for a leprechaun.
“I’m convinced that probably for most people, the most important thing in a workshop is nothing that I will say or do, but who you might meet here.”
He is a psychedelic adventurer and visionary author who serves as a missing link between botany and technology.
He handles the role with intelligence, grace, and humor. In person, he is spontaneously charming and effortlessly witty. He loves language, and though he is glib without being speedy, he chooses his words carefully. He communicates with the precision of an architect and the passion of a poet, speaking in a friendly, entertaining twang. He is, in short, a Mr. Rogers for grown-ups, and the neighborhood he welcomes you to explore is your own inner space.
Krassner describes an incident that occurred in San Francisco following the Saint Stupid Day Parade and a fundraiser event for Jack Kerouac’s daughter, Jan, in which he was arrested for possession of a bag of mushrooms that he hadn’t entirely been aware that he had possessed. It was, apparently, that incident that prompted his mission to meet and talk with Terence McKenna, which led to the present interview:
The cop’s question–“So, you like mushrooms, huh?”–was asked with such archetypal hostility that it kept reverberating inside my head. So you like mushrooms, huh? It was not as though I had done anything which might harm another human being. This was simply an authority figure’s need to control. But control what? My pleasure? Or was it deeper than that? This need to understand the basis of my plight became the impetus for my decision to meet Terence McKenna. He was, after all, the Head Mushroom Guru.
I contact McKenna in Hawaii, where he lives in happy isolation. “My website is on a machine in the Bronx, although I administer it from the Big Island.”
The workshop convenes… Everybody has arrived with their own personal agenda, and each will hear McKenna through their own individual filter.
Someone else publicly confides to him, “If my life were a ride through the fun house at Disneyland, you’re like one of the characters who keep popping up.”
McKenna confesses, “I’m an epistemological cartoon.”
“Why is there so much social tension over this psychedelic issue? Nobody who has informed themselves claims that great criminal fortunes are being made or that kids are being turned into psilocybin runners in the ghetto. We know that all the stupid reasons given for suppressing psychedelics are in fact some kind of lie.”
“Strangely enough, the way you cheat the grim reaper is by living as fast as you can, because all time is [is] the seriality of events, and the more events there are, the more time you have, so awareness becomes very important, and even, as the Buddhists say, awareness of awareness.”
Saturday morning at Esalen. Fresh fruit and vegetables galore. Hot cereal and stewed prunes. People will be passing gas all over the place…
McKenna maintains that “There are not good beliefs, there are just bad beliefs, because they inhibit human freedom.”
“Our legacy is the legacy of the children of the stoned monkeys.”
“If yoga can do it, great. If Transcendental Meditation can do it, great. The pope and the Dalai Lama, fine. But, in my experience, the only thing that changes consciousness as fast as we’re going to have to change it is psychedelics. We have to change it on the dime, because the processes that we have set in motion are going to drag us down.”
“We need to unify heart and head in the presence of super technology.”
“If psychedelics are so great, then what’s so great about us? Are we better than those poor people who have never taken psychedelics? Are we morally better? Are we wiser? Or are we just some kind of screwball cult like Mormons, who congratulate themselves on having achieved this supreme understanding, and yet to everybody else they just look like geeks? And we look like geeks. This really is a problem I carry with me, because I’ve advocated psychedelics my entire life, yet I often see incredibly bad behavior and stupidity and cruelty and insensitivity committed by psychedelic people.
The bottom line of psychedelics is not how good it makes you feel but how creative you are, and the acceleration of creativity that is taking place is immense, and if you can get off with the people who are responsible for most cutting-edge phenomena, they will admit that they began with psychedelics.”
“I really believe our evolutionary past holds the key to our evolutionary future.”
“The end of the Mayan calendar is the same day that I had calculated [archivist’s note: this is not actually true]. Well, this is not a reason for believing my theory, for you, but for me it was a reason. Too weird a coincidence. The only thing that I have in common with the Mayan civilization is that we both used psilocybin, and it’s almost as though when you purge the virus off your disc, there is at the bottom line, written in assembly code that cannot be expunged, a discard date that says, ‘Abandon this locality before December 21, 2012 AD.”
Someone else asks, “What book are you currently reading?”
I’m reading a book , it’s a hoot, Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphyics, and Science Fiction by Paul Nahin. It’s published by the American Institute of Physics, so you need not hang your head in the subway.”
Another person asks, “How’s your website coming?”
“I’m just so damned proud of having hacked it in the first place. The things we’re discussing here, if you go there and download, it’s all there in high detail, and you can take your time. I think of it–in terms of my intellectual life–it’s more who I am than who I am sitting here, because I might forget a reference or skip over something. On the website, we got it right.”
Except that on the website you can’t appreciate McKenna’s speech patterns. He would pronounce pat-tern, as though his inner dictionary were separating syllables, certainly a shat-tering experience.
“Aliens don’t talk to individuals, they talk to species. And they don’t say things like, ‘Be vegetarian,’ the say things like, ‘Now do language. Now physics.'”
“[The universe] wants to conserve novelty at all costs. That seems to be more important to it than conserving biology. It will sacrifice biology if necessary to save novelty. Novelty is the top of the value hierarchy, as I see it, and biology, culture, technology, physics–all are simply means to an end.”
And, Krassner adds his own thought to the matter:
I remember the first time I came to Esalen, in 1970, for a workshop with John Lilly. He played a tape loop of one word being repeated continuously, but after a while you would begin to hear other words.
“When faced with repetition,” Lilly explained, “your human biocomputer automatically programs in novelty.”
“Finally, after I had alarmed a number of people, and my friends were meeting, speaking of intervention–on an idea for god’s sake–Ralph Abraham came to see me on his own, he wasn’t delegated by the interventionists, and said, ‘The problem here is that you have an occult diagram. Only you understand it, and only you can interpret it, and therefore it’s not very persuasive.”
“For me, this [discussion of the Timewave] is sort of the payoff of doing these weekends. In the other parts of the weekend, I basically function as the nutty professor. This is so personal that no one has ever tried to steal it. That’s how uniquely and wholly and totally mine it is. So if it’s malarkey I get all the blame, and if it’s true I get all the credit.”
“For those of you who are true fans of predictive accuracy, the day of the Human Be-In, January 13, 1967, is the day we go over the hump… We’re right about here [in the late 90s]. This is the pause before the storm. This is the most habituated moment that we will know for maybe the rest of time.”
“I suppose if I were a different kind of personality,” McKenna observes, “I would haunt the hallways of major universities and try to drag these guys into my theory. But for some reason, I think the Timewave itself empowers a certain kind of fatalism, and I just say if I’m right, I’m right; if I’m wrong, I’ve probably told enough people already.”
When Krassner asked Terence about the recent Heaven’s Gate mass-suicide:
“I encountered Do (then Bo) and Peep in 1972. They were contemptible, power-crazed new age creepoids then, and apparently things didn’t get better.”
When Krassner asked Terence about the “posteschaton”:
“I’ve created a series of scenarios in ascending weirdness which answers the question.
A low weirdness answer would be, suddenly everyone begins to behave appropriately. This is kind of a Buddhist, Taoist approach…we would just dissolve into appropriate behavior. Since we’ve never had that, we can’t imagine what it would be like.
Then there’s the transformation-of-physics scenario, which basically says, ‘All boundaries dissolve.’ What that would probably be like, the first hour of it would be like a thousands micrograms of LSD. After that, we can’t imagine or predict, because again it would have so totally changed the context…
Then there are the catastrophic scenarios that revolve around the question, “Death, where is thy sting?” And probably the most efficient of those is the planetesimal-impact scenario. A very large object strikes the earth and kills everybody, and that’s it…[or] the sun will explode. that would certainly clear the disc and fulfill the whole thing. The planet vaporizes, and collectively we and all life on earth move into the shimmering capsules of the post-mortem realm, whatever that is. Novel, novel.”
“The rise of the Web has been a great boost to my fantasies along these lines, because now I can see with the Web from here to the eschaton. Apparently, it’s a technology for dissolving space, time, personality, and just releasing everybody into a data stream, something like the imagination.”
One idea I have for an end-of-history scenario: Time travel becomes more and more discussible; finally there are laboratories working on it; finally there is a prototype machine; finally it’s possible to conceive of a test; and so on the morning of December 21, 2012, at the World Temporal Institute headquarters in the Amazon Basin, by a worldwide, high-definition, three-dimensional hook-up, the entire world tunes in to see the first flight into time. And the lady temponaut comes to the microphone and makes a few brief statements, hands are shaken, the champagne bottle is smashed, she climbs into her time machine, pushes the button and disappears into the far-flung reaches of the future. Now, the interesting question is, what happens next? And I already established for myself that you can travel backward into the past, but you can’t travel further into the past than the invention of the first time machine, for the simple reasons that there are no time machines before that, and if you were to take one where there are none, you get another paradox.
So, what happens when the lady temponaut slips into the future? Well, I think what would happen a millisecond later is tens of thousands of time machines would arrive from all points in the future, having come back through time, of course, to witness the first flight into time…And that’s as far as the road goes. That’s the end of the the time road.
[And, here, Terence goes even beyond this “normal” explanation of his]
But the grandfather paradox persists. One of those time travelers from 5,000 years in the future, on their way back to the first time-travel incident, could stop and kill his grandfather, and then we have this whole problem all over again. So, I thought about this for a long time, and I think I’ve found a way around it. But, as usual, at the cost of further weirdness.
Here’s what would really happen if we invented a time machine of that sort. The lady temponaut pushes the button, and instead of all time machines appearing instantly in the next moment, in order to preserve the system from that paradox, what will happen is, the rest of the history of the universe will occur instantly. And so that’s it. I call it the God whistle.
This is because you thought you were building a time machine, and in a sense you were, but the time machine isn’t what you thought it was. It caused the rest of time to happen instantaneously, and so the furthest-out developments of life, matter, and technology in the universe come right up against you a millisecond after you break that barrier, and in fact your discovery that traveling time is not traveling time, it’s a doorway into eternity, which is all of time, and that’s why it becomes more like a hyperspatial deal than a simple linear time-travel thing.”
Today’s random item from the Terence McKenna archives appeared in a magazine called Psychedelic Illuminations (which later became TRP: The Resonance Project, which later became Trip Magazine, which later became Tripzine.com). Our item of interest appeared in Psychedelic Illuminations #8 (Winter 1995/1996). It is, in fact, a rather curious item that is, in many ways, a very odd thing to publish, and, in other ways, is an exercise that perhaps many of us can sympathize with. Barry Klein, writing under the pseudonym Runyan Wilde, has created a sort of reverse pseudo-interview with Terence McKenna using TM’s written and spoken words from other interviews to provide a basis for Wilde’s further commentary, sometimes at odds with McKenna and sometimes in qualified agreement. In other words, Klein (as Wilde) essentially presents his own commentary on a range of Terence’s thoughts as expressed to earlier interviewers.
Here are some excerpts from Runyan Wilde’s ‘Hallucinations on the Archaic Revival’–you can download a PDF of the entire “interview” here:
[P.S. – This is another publication that the archives does not possess a physical copy of, which also includes an essay by Terence–below are photos I took of someone else’s copy. I have found a copy available that will cost the archives $18.99 to acquire. If you would like to help fund the acquisition of this item, please donate directly at the Transcription Project website or make an order from our crowdfund shop. Thanks for your help!]
I intend my comments, taken from my own favorite paradigms, to arouse thought and discussion, not as statements of some real “Truth” in contention with Terence’s ideas…
I think mysticism is not something that happens to you, I define it as a precisely ordered set of disciplines from within, within the outlines of a specific set of paradigms. This should distinguish our version from the jumbles of neo-occultism and empty ritualism. I believe that what Terence is referring to as mysticism must be more the experiential sense of wonderment and transcendence enjoyed in the rich psychedelic journey.
98% of the experiences people have with psychedelic substances [are not mystical], because they are mostly devoid of purpose and context.
Much of our scriptures and mystical literature are attempts to describe what was seen and experienced in altered states of consciousness.
Terence has fallen back into psycho-political-social philosophy, which is not of the same order as psychedelic consciousness.
This phenomenon–the voice in the head–can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s true, the information is outside of ordinary personality, but that in itself does not make the source reliable, nor prove that there are extraterrestrials or transdimensional elves, whom I rather distrust anyway… What is necesary is self-reliance without self-importance, because then we can compare what we are seeing and hearing to our larger experience without getting hooked by the amazing seductions these dimensionalities can come up with.
There have been some good bridges built by the New Age, but now it has fallen derelict, with shoddy mediums channeling while they drink beer, disciples of hidden (non-existent) masters peddling their techniques for a thousand dollars, and earnest devotees spending years of their lives building replicas of spacecraft whose description was channeled to them.
The reason shamanic traditions personify Death (capitalized here for that reason) is that, in order to be able to navigate on the other side, the shaman must form a personal relationship with his own impending Death.
Diddling with entheogens is an insult to oneself as well as to the Spirit…however, I have seen enough wasted, and toxic, “heroic doses” to realize that merely taking a high dose of something does not guarantee any breakthroughs, visions, or realizations, and I have seen (and experienced) penetrating results from ridiculously low doses, including none at all…
Nature by itself cannot be the guide, since its purposes might be best served by no one’s awakening or breaking free of the ordinary mold, but everything we’ve talked about points to the notion that the only thing that we have to rely on is our individual relationship with Consciousness itself, not any external substance, nor its dosage, nor its history, nor “reasonable social values.” Many of the shamanic cultures have some despicable social values like mutilation, torture, human sacrifice, eating the brains of the dead, circumcision of young girls and endless tribal warfare–not so very reasonable, I’d say.
Why would you wish to integrate human and machine intelligence? There is no machine intelligence other than what some particular human intelligences put into it in the first place. Terence is still laboring under the notion that it will be mechanistic science that leads us, the human race, into that amazing hyperworld of the future, while elsewhere he acknowledges that science fails miserably with the ineffable. Terence, are you planning on selling us a computer program that will give use the measliest cullings of that which is our birthright as humans with consciousness? Why would I buy a program when I can see for myself directly for the price of a couple of mushrooms or a few tokes of DMT, and ultimately with just proper training?… The very shamanic cultures that Terence is supposed to have studied do plenty of transmogrifying without defining themselves as bits and bytes. I thought we were looking for a more wholistic paradigm.
Runyan Wilde, who has been studying the mysteries all his life, is the author of psychedelic poetry, social commentary. Under another name, he has made some fifty radio broadcasts and given numerous on personal transformation and mysticism. He is not what you’d think, and yet he is.
Today’s random item is a rather brief one, so I’ll spice it up a bit with some related additional material at the end…
The Daily News of Los Angeles newspaper from Sunday, April 19, 1992 listed two forthcoming bookstore appearances in the L.A. area over the next week. This was very shortly after Food of the Gods was published. For anyone who is keeping a Terence McKenna timeline (or, for anyone who wants to help keep our timeline up to date at the Terence McKenna Transcription Project), these are useful data points.
The second, on Friday, April 24, was at the (now out of business) Phoenix Bookstore in Santa Monica:
If any of the people involved with either of these bookstores has any further information about these events, flyers, newsletters with event calendar, photos, recordings, correspondences with Terence about the event, etc., please do let me know. I would also just be interested to talk with anyone who was at or involved with the event (or any other similar event). If you represent Bodhi Tree or Phoenix Bookstores, please contact me at email@example.com.
As a further archival bonus, on the topic of Bodhi Tree Bookstore, Terence was also interviewed in an issue of the Bodhi Tree Bookstore magazine (#5, Spring 1993). The TM Archives does not currently possess a physical copy of this and haven’t been able to find one for sale online, so if you have a copy and would like to donate it to the archives or know of how the archives can acquire one, please do get in touch. The interview (by Mark Kenaston) is, however, available online, so you can read it yourself here.
I had never entertained such a notion as that there could be these chemicals in cactus that would sweep you away to jeweled landscapes haunted by mythological creatures, phosphorescent maidens and the ruined architectonic geometries of who-knows-what.
I regard science fiction as the entry drug into the psychedelic world. If by nine, ten, eleven or twelve, you’re reading science fiction, then you’re probably lost to normality.
MK: What did your mother think of your interests? Did she think my kid is off his nut?TM: Well, she was a Huxley fan. But you see, the great paradox of Huxley was that he sold guns to both sides. Brave New World is what really gave Huxley his reputation. Have you read it? …he anticipated the archaic revival because the world of Island is essentially an archaic-technical world.
MK: So how did you make your entry into the world of psychedelics?TM: With morning glories. Let’s see, it must have been the summer that I was fifteen or sixteen.
I discovered Cannabis in my last year of high school and from then on I was just riveted by it. It seemed to me obvious, I don’t know, like I was astrologically set up for it.
The twin horrors or twin problems of Western society are ego and materialism. And they’re linked together in a naïve monotheism. This creates toxic cultural conditions if you allow the engine to run for a thousand years, which it now has.
TM: Since we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of LSD, I suppose it would be appropriate.MK: Is Sandoz throwing a party of some sort?TM: Well there’s going to be parties worldwide. It will be called Bicycle Day and is going to be held on a weekend in the middle of April—in Frankfurt, Basil, London, San Francisco and Los Angeles there will be celebrations of some sort. My book is coming out that weekend, although that was just coincidental.
The best trips I would have with LSD was when I would smoke a lot of hash—by itself, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I had this romantic vision from reading Huxley and Havelock Ellis, and by god, I wanted to see ruined desert cities and jungle ruins of strange civilizations and hear the phosphorescent maiden play her daemon song upon the dulcimer. In other words, I wanted vision and LSD wasn’t exactly like that for me. But, Psilocybin was, and DMT certainly was.
Well, I really believe that this connection to the Gaian Mind that Paleolithic shamanism exploited is the basis of our ideas about deity. The idea of and overwhelming, guiding, creating force comes out of all of that. Religion and mystical practice without psychedelics are derivative, I think, and late. It’s an accommodation to class structures and community need for control, and that sort of thing, that basically came with the invention of agriculture.
I tend to assume that chaos is unavoidable and that it’s like living on an island chain in the Pacific Ocean, and the issue is to sail or not to sail, and that nobody can guarantee calm seas.
MK: Where do stand today on the subject of mysticism?TM: The bottom line for me is that I absolutely believe that the world is magical. I have seen violations of physics that satisfy me. But also my position is, “show me,’ because that works. Out of 10 minutes of my life, the ‘show me’ position has delivered 10 minutes of truly miraculous stuff.
The best method is to be very rational and rigorous about evidence, but to press the edge.
I’m basically a rationalist, totally committed and believing in the power of the irrational. But some people have tried to put me in the New Age, I just have contempt for all that because those people are just flaky. They believe anything. All you have to do is lower your voice and start raving and they think they’re in contact with a mogul lord of the sixteenth millennium. I mean I just don’t understand that level of woo-woo.
Terence McKenna made an appearance in the 1995 film The Hemp Revolution, directed by Andy Clarke, and, as a result, comments about him appear in several published reviews of the film. Today’s random item is a Washington Post review (March 22, 1996) by Desson Howe and includes the following excerpt:
[I]n the last, briefest section, of the film comes the campy part, during which we see montages of stoned faces and hear about the joys of getting buzzed. “If you don’t smoke cannabis,” says the oddly cadenced “ethobotanist” Terence McKenna, “you may spend your evening balancing your checkbook. If you do smoke cannabis, you may spend your evening contemplating the causes of the Greek renaissance.” Or keeping your face off the floor. Contains brief nudity and footage of stoned people.
You can read the entire review on the Washington Post website here.
The part of the film that includes Terence can be viewed here, where he says:
It does carry a fantasy-inducing, thought-catalyzing quality. It allows the mind to rove and scan in a much more expansive domain of information than is normally the case…
Another clip of Terence is here.
More money has been spent trying to find something wrong with cannabis than any other vegetable material in human history, and what they’ve come up with is so pathetically thin that I am confident that it amounts to a clean bill of health for this stuff.
Cannabis is not a health problem. The problem is that it promotes social values and attitudes which are unwelcome in capitalist, market-based society; it’s just that simple. A drug like coffee, with a horrendous health profile compared to cannabis, is complete welcomed into the marketplace and the home and the lifestyle of modern people. This is simply that we value certain states of mind and we fear and suspect others and this is based entirely on value systems that are inculcated from above.
The second short newspaper post today is from The Buffalo News (New York), February 14, 1993. There’s not a whole lot to say here…or a whole lot to see. But, it is….interesting, at least, that Terence McKenna’s book Food of the Gods is here listed, though not actually reviewed, under books “for young readers.”
And, some unrelated images…just for fun.
I’m back today with two short posts from newspaper references to Terence McKenna a decade apart. The first is from the Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2003 (three years after his death) and is largely unrelated to Terence, but he gets mentioned in a way gives some minor insight into his public perception. While it’s not always immediately clear what their use value might be, I find these little snippets an interesting insight into the wider reception of Terence and his work, a good way to see where people might have come across him, and sometimes even lead to valuable leads that produce fruit down the line.
In this case, the article is a profile of author Donnell Alexander and his, then, recently-released memoir, Ghetto Celebrity (Donnell also co-produced that audio narration to this well-shared short animation about baseball pitcher Doc Ellis’ LSD-saturated no-hitter). Near the end of the piece, Times writer Susan Carpenter refers to a regular series of events hosted by Alexander:
The author regularly hosts what he calls “Wet Daddy” events, which bring together the “best of young writers alongside the energy of live performance” with the goal of producing “a buzz perfect enough to make even Terence McKenna proud.”
You can find the full article on the Los Angeles Times website, here.
Today’s random item is a brief article from The Kansas City Star newspaper of March 16, 1997 on former Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan lyricist, Robert Hunter (who wrote songs like ‘Truckin‘, ‘Darkstar‘, ‘Friend of the Devil‘, ‘Ripple‘, and many others). The article describes Hunter’s career, including a mention of his (at the time) recent correspondence “with psychedelic luminaries like Terence McKenna.” Many of you may have seen those correspondences, which are available online and worth checking out. This newspaper article only offers a brief mention of Terence but gives another interesting avenue through which his name appeared before the public and from which people might have been inspired to look into him more closely.
As promised, in honor of surpassing 1,000 followers on both Twitter and Facebook, with just a bit of further ado, here is the correspondence between Terence McKenna & R. Gordon Wasson. I will only give a brief prelude to set context and give what information I know…
As you’ll see, the letter (from Terence) is from May 27th, 1986, and he writes to Wasson saying that he will be in Rhinebeck, NY to teach a workshop in July (probably at the Omega Institute). It’s worth noting that this talk doesn’t appear to exist in the online corpus, so far as I can tell. It’s certainly possible that the workshop wasn’t recorded, but if anyone out there knows of a recording, please do let me know. He asks if he and Kat might visit the, then almost 88 year-old, mushroom icon at his home in Connecticut on July 21st of that year. To the best of my knowledge, through discussion with friends of Terence’s and a relative of Wasson’s, the meeting never took place. As Wasson’s response indicates, there were both health and travel plans which seemed likely to get in the way of the encounter, although Wasson was keen to indicate that if he were home and in good health, he would welcome a visit.
A couple brief notes on the contents of the correspondences (and then the ado will be over):
In Terence’s letter:
- Terence mentions an encounter with Albert Hofmann at Esalen “two years ago” (so, roughly, 1984), which I also can’t quite place, so any help with that would be appreciated, too.
- Terence mentions the “suggestive writings” of John Uri Lloyd and Herbert Moore Pim, which I won’t expand on now (maybe in a later post), but some time spent looking into these figures would certainly reward the inquiring mind.
- Terence gives the wrong date for Wasson’s seminal LIFE magazine essay on the Oaxacan mushroom ceremony. It was the issue of May 13, 1957 (not May 14, as Terence writes in the letter).
In Wasson’s Letter:
- Wasson mentions that his “final book” will be published later that year by Yale University Press. That book is Persephone’s Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion, along with Stella Kramrisch, Jonathan Ott, and Carl Ruck, and in it Wasson double’s down on his original soma hypothesis, which he deems now “well beyond the stage of hypotheses.” In the opening to Chapter One, the air of palpable finality in Wasson’s letter is echoed: “As I am nearing the end of my days, I will draw up an account of our mushroom quest…”
[One final note: this correspondence is not housed in the Terence McKenna Archives. It is held by Wasson’s archivist, Mark Hoffman (no relation to Albert–different spelling), who is also the former editor of Entheos: The Journal of Psychedelic Spirituality and a current research collaborator with Carl Ruck. I visited Mark in Taos last year (if you’re ever in Town, look for Mark at his Eske’s Brew Pub), and he showed me his substantial psychedelic archive, and I snapped photos of a bunch of Terence-related material….including this correspondence. Mark gave me the go ahead to share it. I have removed all addresses and phone numbers from the images for privacy.]
So, now, actually without any further ado, here’s the correspondence:
Finally, also in honor of the milestone of 1,000 followers on both Twitter and Facebook, I am offering readers of this blog 25% on the prints that we are offering for our crowdfund effort at our Etsy store. Just use the coupon code: MCKENNA25 to receive 25% of all prints, buttons, magnets, and bookmarks through the end of July. The first 10 orders received (for shipping within the U.S.) after I post this will receive two free bookmarks (they came out very nice!). Reminder: all proceeds go to support the acquisition, preservation, storage, and sharing of the Terence McKenna Archives. We are not personally profiting financially off of these sales. It all goes back into the Archive.
The San Francisco Chronicle, on the final day of the first year of the new millennium, published a long list of the ‘Dearly Departed’ to remember “those in the arts who died in 2000. Terence McKenna (d. Apr. 3, age 53) appeared on that listed under the heading ‘BOOKS AND LITERATURE’ between journalist Art Hoppe (d. Feb. 1, age) and novelist Penelope Fitzgerald (d. Apr. 28). The only other person in the list to have died on the same day as Terence was artist Ann Carter (age 31). Other “notables” who listed are cartoonist Charles Schulz (d. Feb. 12, age 77), bandleader Tito Puente (d. May 31, age 75), actors Walter Matthau (d. July 1, age 79), Alec Guinness (d. Aug. 5, age 86), Bill Barty, (d. Dec. 23, age 76), Jason Robards (d. Dec. 26, age 78), and, only 12 days after Terence, the wonderful artist Edward Gorey.