Terence:Everybody can hear? Good. Well, I like to lead with good news, so, uh, let me assure that at no point this evening will I read from, or quote, the poet Rumi.
[audience laughter][0:00:30] Uh ... It’s a pleasure to be in Sacramento, it’s a pleasure to be in California. I lived here about 30 years before moving out about 8 months ago – lived over in Occidental – so, I sort of feel like this is a hometown congregation.
You may have seen the story in The Bee this morning, uh, it was a reasonable detailing of my theory of evolution [0:01:00]. I noticed that one expert wouldn’t even give his name to allow his “no comment” to have attribution. [audience laughter] [laughing] Gentlemen, this is no way to behave in the face of an ideological revolution. Anyway, uhm ...— and, plus, it isn’t even my weirdest idea, [audience laughter] but that was left unmentioned [0:01:30], thankfully, in the article. But, since the article dealt so specifically with evolution, and because that probably is my best candidate for entre into any kind of respectability, something I crave intensely in [audience laughter] every atom of my body, i thought I would discuss it with you this evening and try and make it [0:02:00] seem a little less absurd than, uh, than my critics might make it seem. First of all, let me lay out for you the, uh, [phone starts ringing] the nature of the problem – right now, the nature of the problem is finding the damn phone and shutting it off! [audience laughter] [laughing] No, the nature of the problem is that, uh, evolutionary [0:02:30] theory tells us that we are some kind of advanced animal, of some sort, and science has waged a noble struggle over the past 150 years to secure this position against all attacks by orthodox religious thinking, and yet, there is...after it’s all said and done, the sense that if we are an animal, we are a very, very [0:03:00] peculiar sort of animal, indeed – a unique animal. An animal capable of language and coordinated planning, an animal not bound to a particular social or sexual style – we have monogamous human societies, polygamous societies – this is very different from animals. We have poetry, we have mathematics, we[0:03:30] have drama, a whole spectrum fo effects that is far from anything that we find in animal organisation. And this problem has fascinated me for a long, long time as it’s fascinated a lot of people, uh, because obviously it’s a great embarrassment to the theory of evolution that it can’t account for human consciousness,[0:04:00] because after all human consciousness produced the theory of evolution [audience laughter]. So, you see, it’s a significant failure there. So, uh, obviously if you accept the basic rules of the evolutionary game, which are that there is random mutation, which means gene drift, mixing of genes through sexual reproduction, uh,[0:04:30] cosmic rays which cause birth defects and mutations, this sort of thing, and natural selection. And, these two factors, natural selection and, uh, and mutation, are sufficient to account for praying mantises, chipmunks, tropical rainforests, but no us. And the reason is that we emerged too quickly[0:05:00] from the background of the rest of ordinary nature. Uh, in the space of about two billion years, the human brain doubled in size, and Lumholtz, who is an orthodox evolutionary biologist, calls this the most dramatic transformation of the—of a major organ of a higher animal, in the entire history of life[0:05:30], and it happened to us. It happened to that very organ that is responsible for the theory of evolution. So, what extraordinary confluence of, uhm, factors could have come together there to take a, uh, essentially an arboreal monkey, an ape of some sort, that had been at an evolutionary climax in the canopy [0:06:00] of the rainforest for a couple of million years, what extraordinary set of factors could then set that creature marching down the road toward, you know, Elvis, the Internet, Bill Clinton, and, uh, all the rest of it?
[Transcript by Frank Bronson]
Well, I imagined when I first started thinking about this, that there must be some huge edifice of established theory, that we have to go up in there and blow up, surely somebody has stated up this ground and made some kind of an argument about human consciousness. Well, in terms of science, not; or almost not. I mean, in term of religion it simple, I mean: god made us from the clay of the earth. In terms of science, the best shot is pretty weak soup from my point of view. Here’s what science is telling us; that when you throw something, you have to plan, because once you let go of whatever it is you are throwing: you can no longer control it. And so because we were small, and weak and hunted in packs, we learnt to throw like hell: at very large,onrushing, wholly fellow mammals of various sorts. And you had to plan your throw. Consequently, we developed brain capacity to do this and have enough left over to invent quantum physics , paint the Mona Lisa , invent the phonetic alphabet , philosophy, religion and all the rest of it. In other words, it was the coordination of the hand and the eye, to the throwing arm. This is what the orthodox folks tell us, that gave us this extra brain capacity. That we sort of then managed into human civilization. Well, notice that this would make the pinacle of the evolutionary ladder, the gum-chewing big league baseball pitcher. Because you know, he can put that pill right across the plate at high speed, time after time. As somebody who learned everything they know about sadomasochism in PE class, I'm not really ready to embrace this theory, it definitely runs against my paradigm: so I’ve built another story, and to my mind, it meets the objections, answers the questions of where did consciousness come from. But instead of doing it very nicely and neatly: it raises in the very act of answering this question , other questions. Maybe more closer to home. Questions that reflect on our social organization, our politics , how we treat each other in the here and now, even with implications for the future. We’ll get to that, for the moment let me just run through this for you . There's a sort of a basic situation that all theories of evolution have to come to terms with, and this is, that our remote, protohominid, primate, ape, ancestors; lived and developed in Africa. If you have a non-african theory of human origin, and there are such things, the evidence is strongly against you. If it were stock, I’d sell. The evidence is pretty strong, that whatever happened that brought us out of the animal-body, it happened in Africa. Well, all animals, and plants for that matter, tend to reach evolutionary climax and occupy a niche and stabilize in that niche. Cockroaches,ants achieved this hundreds of millions of years ago, and have not changed greatly since. Most of biology is this iterative occupation of a climax niche. Very little of biology, is the pushing forward into radical new forms, new species, still rare, new genera. For that, there has to be disruption of some sort, of the environment and it can be the meandering of a river, or an asteroid strike, the retreat of a glaciar, something which creates open land. Well, for five-six million years now, the African continent has been slowly drying and three million years ago it was covered by rainforest at the equator from east to west. And that was the environment of human ancestor types. They were canopy dwelling, they were fruit eating, they ate some percentage of insects composed their diet, they had a pack signaling repertoire that was fairly complicated by animal standards ….
[Transcript by Javier Alonso]
….And there they were happily living in the canopy. But Africa began to dry up.
And they came under nutritional pressure. Now, simpler animals - insects for example - when their food source is withdrawn, they usually buy the farm. They don’t have much flexibility of diet. If you’ve ever tried to raise caterpillars into butterflies for your children, you know that if you give the caterpillars the wrong leaves, they just can’t make any sense out of it, and they die.
Uh - more advanced animals when confronted with dietary pressure or disappearance of ordinary food supplies, before they give up the ghost, they will - uhh - experiment, with other food sources in the environment.
Now the reason this isn’t normally done, is thought - the reason animals are conservative in their food choices - it’s thought to be a way of avoiding - ah - mutational influences in the form of tertiary chemicals, toxins, viruses, and things like this that would be in fo- in unusual foods.
One of the things that accompanies our acquisition of consciousness is gastronomy - the appreciation of flavor - the approach to food that makes it an art. Animals don’t do this - they’re just trying to get enough protein to keep the old engines running. The notion of flavouring is counter-intuitive to animals. And flavoring’s probably in part a mutagenic influence to our diet.
When our remote ancestors came under environmental pressure, their environment was shrinking, the rainforest was being replaced by grasslands, and nutritional pressure - their ordinary diet of fruit and insects was being restricted - they began exploring this new environment of the grasslands, and this is the era of knuckle-walking, turning into bipedalism. It’s the era of the coordination of binocular vision, so forth and so on. There was a paper published recently which anticipates my point but I can’t wait to hit you with it. A paper published recently about canopy-dwelling monkeys who only leave the canopy for the acquisition of one particular food. And the food they will come to the ground for, and risk predation, is mushrooms.
So, it seems perfectly reasonable to suggest that our remote ancestors, exploring the new environment of the grasslands, would have encountered, as you would if you were to go to the - to the tropics, ahh, psilocybin containing mushrooms, growing in the dung of cattle, many dung-growing, so-called coprophilic- coprolitic mushrooms produce psilocybin, among them stropharia cubensis, which is one of the largest and pandemically distributed of these mushrooms.
I’m sure that our early ancestors also tested other kinds, of food, they were testing everything. They were digging for corms with pointed sticks - ahh - and I’m sure there were many uhrhr ecological and medical disasters as a consequence of this. For instance ah, the birth control steroids in modern birth control pills are produced by dioscorea vines, grown on plantations in Mexico. Well dioscorea is the family of ahhhh sweet potatoes. Imagine-uh a hungry band of primates that come up on a patch of sweet potatoes that are heavy in these steroids. It would raise holy havoc with their reproductive cycle - it would interfere with menstruation, ovulation, lactation, fertility, and uh, y’know, human genetic history is the story of many such - uh - encounters - with mutagenic influences in the environment - most of them catastrophic, detrimental, lethal. But in some few cases, there would have been uhh - salutary results - advantages conferred upon the, animals that accept these new foods into their food chain.
*breath* And - and I want to particularly emphasise psilocybin because I believe it’s the key. You see we’re looking for some kind of factor, which could have exploded, the human brain size, at a rate ten times faster than evolution, normally takes place. So it’s going to be an unusual situation - perhaps the need to throw a boulder at distance accurately, or perhaps contact with an unusual food item or drug-containing plant. But it was something unusual - if it weren’t unusual, it wouldn’t have taken this planet….
[Transcript by Kurt Robinson] [18:00]
...a billion and a half years to bring forth its first intelligent species. Well, so let’s look at psilocybin then in a little more detail.
It has a number of properties, not specifically related to its psychoactivity that make it an ideal candidate for a catalyst for the emergence of consciousness and an advanced animal. First of all, and at the early stage of human invasion of this new grassland environment - proto-hominid invasion I should say - ahh, we were testing foods, we would certainly have tested this food. I’ve seen these things the size of dinner plates in the Amazon after a rain, and they are silvery with blue and purple shading, they are the most dramatic thing in the environment, whether you know anything about them as, as, uhm, psychoactive agents or not. Certainly they would have been tested for food; I’ve seen chim-, uhm, baboons in Kenya investigating cow pies and flipping them over, because beetle grubs nestle underneath them. So cow pies are a natural vector for hungry baboons, so that everything is in place, it’s- it’s trivial to, uh, suggest otherwise, I would maintain.
OK. The first quality of psilocybin, which isn’t specifically related to its psychoactivity, is that in small doses - doses that are the kind you might obtain if you would just sort of eating it along with little roots, grassroots, small bugs, um, you know, so forth and so on - visual acuity is improved. Specifically, edge detection is improved. Well, now, it seems to me, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if you’re in a highly competitive evolutionary environment, in grassland, an environment characterised by large predators, hunting cats, and also characterised by small ungulate prey, that having an increased sensitivity to edge-movement might make the difference between whether or not you live to tell the tale or you become somebody’s dinner, or it would certainly make the difference between going home empty handed, and taking dinner home with you. So, a factor which enhanced edge-detection on those animals accepting that food supply into their food chain, they would have, uhh, a slightly increased chance of evolutionary success as opposed to the non-psilocybin members of their group, and this increased hunting, uhh, success, would tend to outbreed the non-psilocybin-using members of the group.
At slightly higher doses, uhh, in highly sexed animals like primates, uh, all alkaloids are what are called CNS stimulants - central nervous system stimulants - that means that they produce arousal, and in sexually extremely active animals like primates, arousal means, uhh, erection, usually in the male, usually followed by hanky-panky, what anthropologists and primatologists call successful instances of copulation. [*audience laughs*] Well, again, what is this? It’s a second factor tending to outbreed the non-psilocybin-using members of the population. They’re now definitely moving to the rear of the parade; they don’t have as much hunting success, they don’t have as much food for themselves and their offspring, they’re not having as much sex so they’re not having as many offspring, and, you know, in terms of, of rising and falling numbers, those that have some allergy prejudice or fear of, uh, of a mushroom, are, are just being shunted out of the breeding population.
Well, at still higher doses, approaching effective doses of 20 milligrams or more, in other words 4 grams dried and up, or 45 grams wet and up, uhh, hunting is out of the question [*audience laughs*], sex is something you can consider [*audience laughs*] but it’s out of the question, and you are basically nailed to the ground in a state of mind which we for all of our sophistication, our logical positivism, our superconducting supercolliders and all the rest of it, haven’t a clue as to what it is, what it means, what its implications are - the full blown psychedelic experience of which we can only speak in, in terms of, uh, religious hierophany, epiphany, apocatastasis, and all those other great greek words, uhh, ataraxia, you know - in other words, we like it; but we don’t understand it. And it is therefore, uh, the basis for religion. Well… *swallows*, uhh, so right there… [24:00]
[Transcript by Adnan Zahirovic]
….You have a three step process, driven by nothing more than hunger and curiosity, that leads remote primate ancestors to a confrontation with, what Rudolf Otto called the Holy Other, The Holy, The Numinous, The Transcendental. And aah, aah, you know this is on slightly less firm ground but in my own personal experience and having collected psychedelic experiences life long I feel confident in saying that at high doses psilocybin causes glossolalia. Glossolalia is syntactically structured language like behavior in the absence of meaning. Aah, speaking in tongues is what christian fundamentalists call it, but they don’t have, aah, mo, monopoly on it. It’s ancient it occurs in all cultures, It’s shamanic, and what it is it is a kind of neurological seizure where linguistic organization spontaneously is verbalized. No animal does this, It must have something to do with the acquisition of language by human beings, and what I think is going on is that probably language was, aah, entertainment long before it was meaning, that is a kind of tuneless singing, and that having discovered that we could make an almost endless repertoire of small mouth noises, we did this, for each other, for amusement, for, to, aah, pass the time I mean, god knows there was a lot of it *audience laughs*, and It, It probably was very late in the evolution of this ability that some very tight ass rational type said, you know, we could attach a specific meaning to a specific sound and then every time I’ve made that sound you’d know what I meant, and then you can go and get it for me, *audience laughs* you see. It’s a sort of, it, it’s the “as long as you’re up get me a Grant’s” theory of language, aah. So, so that’s the basic idea, and, I, I really believe that, sometime in the last fifty thousand years before twelve thousand years ago, a kind of paradise came into existence. A situation in which man and women, parents and children, people and animals, human institutions and the land, aah, all were in dynamic balance, and not in any primitive sense at all. Aah, language was fully developed, poetry may have been at its climax, dance, magic, poetics, altruism, aah, philosophy. There is no reason to think that this things were not practiced as adroitly as we practice them today. And it was under the aegis of the boundary dissolving influence of psilocybin. We were nomadic, we were breeders and, and caretakers of katle, we worshiped a great goddess, we followed a yearly round in a vast grassland cut by crystal streams that were washing down out of the, the higher altitudes, and we were probably black as your hat, for that matter. Aah, and it was great, well if it was so great, what happened, well, ahh, the very forces which created this situation, and you all recall what it was, it was the drying of the African continent forcing us out of the trees, forcing us to change our diet, forcing us to accept a dung growing mushroom, ahh, and there were other factors forcing us into consciousness as well. When we became omnivorous, the first form of consciousness is having the point of view of your prey, predatory animals have the highest form of animal consciousness, big cats, but it’s a consciousness of the exterior world. Psilocybin forced us beyond that, into consciousness of the imaginal world, the world of the imagination inside our heads. What happened was, aah, the mushroom faded, the climate changed, what had been everywhere became seasonal, moved into the rain shadows of mountains, aah, became the prerogative of a special class of people called shamans, who were like the, the designated hitters for dealing with the hyperspace of the mythos. Ahh, and in other words, over millennia, the, the, the, connection went from available to everyone all the time, to ever more tenuous, ever more tenuous, finally faded out entirely. It’s even more complicated than that because surely people….
[Transcript by Lobo Noble] [00:30:00]
Terence: …. would have, as they saw this happening, make attempts to preserve the mushroom, and in a world without refrigeration, the only effective way to do this is preservation in honey. You can dry mushrooms, but in a world without hermetically sealed peanut butter jars, drying is a very short-term strategy for preservation. The only thing which will really work is preservation in honey. The problem there is that honey itself, especially aboriginal honeys – which have a lot more water in them than what you get in those little plastic bears at the A&P [audience laughter]– uh, aboriginal honeys are very runny, and so what do they do? They themselves have the capacity for turning into a psychoactive substance: alcohol. But alcohol promotes a completely different set of cultural values and attitudes than psilocybin. Uh, psilocybin is a boundary dissolving hallucinogen, uh, mead alcohol, uh, gives an enhanced, uh, sense of verbal acuity in the presence of lowered sensitivity to social cues. In other words, uh, one can make an ass of oneself [audience laughter].
But now I want to backtrack for a minute, I will return to this thing about the loss of the mushroom, but there’s something that I wanna go over with you that’s really important in all this, to me, and that is: this isn’t simply the story of how an intoxicant promoted consciousness and then we fell into history but losing that intoxicant and went into other intoxicants, with consequences to be evaluated, it’s that, but it’s more, because psilocybin had a very, very peculiar effect, over and above what I’ve mentioned so far, and it’s this over and above effect that makes my theory so controversial, and so, uh, and academics so phobic of it, because it rips open a whole can of worms, and this is the problem: all primates, clear back to squirrel monkeys and old world monkeys, all primates form dominance hierarchies. This means that the sharp fanged, hard bodied young males control everybody else: the women, the elderly, the sick, the children, homosexuals – everybody finds their place somewhere in this dominance hierarchy run by these dominant alpha males. We are no different. We also, as we sit here this evening, operate under this kind of a social organisation. I mean, we complain about, we analyze it, we are aware of it, but we live under it, it’s how it is. So, here is my suggestion: that, what psilocybin did was it changed behaviour, it interfered with primate behaviour. Specifically, it interfered it interfered with this tendency to form monogamous pairs and dominance hierarchies, and so the ordinary tendency of the primates to organise themselves that way [00:34:00] was interrupted, medicated out of existence, if you like, vaccinated against, if you like, by the presence of psilocybin in the diet. And, uh, this, oversec—this, this overemphasizing or chemical accentuation of sexuality occasioned by the arousal of psilocybin, was sufficient to dissolve [00:34:30] the ordinary tendency toward monogamy, and replace it with an orgiastic sexual style, or they coexisted simultaneously, I mean who knows, we weren’t there, it's sort of, the way I imagine it, is that at every new and full moon there were group mushroom parties which basically, simply got out of hand [audience laughter[, regularly. And—and, so, the monogamous [00:35:00] pair bond would be under pressure if not completely eliminated. Many cultures have this even to this day, I mean, in a sense, mardi gras is a festival where the rules are dissolved, and nobody is supposed to go to their spouse the monday after and say, “You know, was that you I saw dressed as Marie Antoinette and, uh”...[audience laughter] because, you know, the rules are—there is permission to break the rules, and many societies [00:35:30] do this. Uh, the result of an orgiastic style like that, is, uh, men cannot trace lines of male paternity, and so there is a tremendous social glue, a tremendous, uh, force for the cohesion of community. Men don’t then think in terms of “MY children”, they think in terms of “our children”, the children [00:36:00]of the group.
[Transcript by Frank Bronson]
….And under the aegis of this group, this polymorphis.. (polymorphic), sexual style, group -uh- childcare, and -uh- and extended family rearing, we produced everything that we think of as human; that we value. Our art, our music, our philosophy, our sense of each other’s worth, -uh- body painting, tattooing, piercing, all the accoutrements that distinguish us from animal existence were put in place when we had a different kind of mind than we have now. We didn’t have a mind that that favored role specialization, and male dominance, and anxiety over female sexual activity related to feelings of male ownership. That all came later.
We became human beings in this other.. World of - of values and psychological attitudes. The problem is, as I say, ‘the mushroom faded,’ but by the time it had faded -uh- we were no longer the wordless symbionts of cattles, the, the barely sentient hunters of, of the African plain. By the time we were finished with the mushrooms we had language, we had social institutions, and - but what we began to lose was, you know, - you can get as wet eyed as you want about it but.. respect for each other; a sense of each other’s individuality. A sense of love, a sense of community. And it must of been, though it happened over a long period of time, very much like what we’re living through now.
A sense that people are, you know, no damn good and getting worse. A sense that, you know, ‘Why can’t we be as we once were?’ ‘Where is our sense of each other?’ ‘Where is our ability to care for each other?,’ so forth and so on. I wrote a book called -uhm- ‘Food of the Gods’, in which I tell this story in the first third of the book that I have just told you, and then I show that, what history is essentially, is, is a careening, out of control effort to find our way back to this state of primordial balance. One of the things that marks us as humans that is unique is our obsessions with drugs; our ability to addict.
We addict not only to substances, we addict to each other, we addict to ideologies (Marxism, Christianity, pff..Skinkism as practiced in Washington, *audience laughter* -uh- whatever). And we addict to each other. You know? I mean I am a romantic -uh- with the best of them but I can’t help noticing that a broken heart and a heroin withdrawl show very similar presentations. *audience laughter* Really! Insomnia, sweating, sense of diminished self-esteem, hysteria, -uh uhm- you know, it’s, it’s very very similar. We- so, a psychologist looking at a person with an addictive syndrome will say, “Well you were damaged in childhood, there’s some trauma there that you’re, you’re trying to compensate. You’re trying to compensate.”
Well i’m not that keen on all this psychologizing, but I do think that we could apply this model to ourselves on a grand scale. We were essentially torn from the giain womb, thrust into the birth canal of history, and expelled sometime around the fall of the Roman Empire into the cold hard world of modern science, existentialism, and all the rest of it. And -uh uh- we have searched the planet for substances which would asswage our sense of pain. And there are things out there, you know.. Alcohol, the whole morphine family, so forth and so on. But these things always have consequences. There’s a price to be paid.
-Uh- The very knowledge of psilocybin was lost to the entire planet, except for some tribes in the Mexican mountains, -uh- for several millennia until Valentina and Gordon Wasson went in the -uh, uhh- early nineteen-fifties and found these mushrooms and brought them out and then Albert Hoffman, who had earlier discovered LSD, synthesized the compound and made it available. That was ‘55. Well by ‘66 all human research with these things had been forbidden. We have- It’s not that science “mowed this field and moved on.” It’s that -uh- science has never really been here. -Uh- we haven’t looked at the implications of diet on early human evolution.
[Transcript by Nigel Millegan]
We don’t have a theory for the evolution of consciousness of any consequence, and yet, you know, the factors I’ve laid out for you - increased visual acuity, a-, impact on sexual and social behaviours, uh, triggering of glossolalia-like phenomena in the presence of a boundary dissolving psychedelic experience - these are catalysts efficiently dramatic that inculcated into a cultural style, I think they explain a great deal about where we came from and who we are. Now, the, [*looks at watch*] the irony of all of this is, uh, that we live in a society that has made p-, all practically, any discussion of this, illegal. Certainly if I were to end this lecture by handing out doses of psilocybin, [*audience laughs*] I would be gently taken by the elbow and led away forever. [*audience laughs*] Uhh…
Uhh, the western mind is particularly phobic of this, uhh, of this subject, I mean, we have bent our laws so that people can jump out of airplanes in the pursuit of thrills, so they bungee-cord off major highway bridges and freeway overpasses; be-, so concerned are we to fulfill society’s need for thrills, uh, but this, is something else. It provokes all kinds of alarmed reactions and perhaps you believe unfairly. I think that when you examine the situation, it’s possible to understand very clearly why this is such a social issue; because what these things do, if you look - and now I’m slightly broadening my wrap to include other psychedelics besides psilocybin, but psilocybin is certainly true in all cases - what these things do, if you had to generalize a hundred-thousand psychedelic experiences - the ones where people thought they were god, the ones where people had to be taken to the ER room and have their stomach pumped, all of them - if you generalize what the-, what these substances do, is they dissolve boundaries. They dissolve boundaries. If you love it, you’ll love it. If you hate it, you’ll hate it. But that’s what they do; they dissolve boundaries.
Now, the reason this provokes a lot of social anxiety is because all societies are about the maintenance of boundaries. It doesn’t matter whether you’re, you know, a stockbroker in New York, a zen monk in Kyoto, a hasid in Jerusalem, your society is held together by boundaries, and definitions, and anything which dissolves those boundaries and introduces, uh, relativity into cultural modeling, is felt to be threatening. Because we like to believe that our reality is somehow sanctioned, that this is how it should be. But in fact, you know, that’s just, uh, cultural judgement; all cultures think that their culture represents a sanctioned reality. It doesn’t. It just represents the current download of, uh, their linguistic enterprise. [*audience laughs silently*]
Uhm… The- At the core of the western anxiety about boundaries is something that we are very proud of, that we believe we invented. We call it the ego. Sometimes we call it the democratic individual. Uhh, we say no we- wu-, no eastern society could have produced this. We took this from the Greeks, we perfected it through the Romans, we brought it up through the medieval period; John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes, and all those folks fixed it up for us in the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson ironed out the wrinkles, and modern America is the shining example of, uh, what you can do if you empower the ego, the citizen, the individual. We want nothing of tribalism, still less of collectivism, and God forbid [*in mockingly stern voice*] nothing whatsoever to do with communism! See, all these- all these things, uh, set us going. Uhh…
But in fact, the ego is appropriate only to a certain point. I mean, yes, we need egos, so that you take someone to dinner at a reasonable restaurant, you place food in your mouth, not their mouth. [*audience laughs*] This is-, this is what the ego is for. It tells you who pays. [*audience laughs*] [*clears throat*] Uhm, but in fact, what the ego is, is the return to consciousness of this psychic structure related to the patterns of dominance. And the way I think of the ego is it’s like a cyst, or a calcareous growth, or a tumor, [*audience laughs periodically throughout the sentence*] that gets going in the personality, and if not treated, it becomes chronic, and then there is no cure. There can only be, you know, a certain amount of maintenance, and….
[Transcript by Adnan Zahirovic]
[0:48:00] ...medication of it but it’s it’s incurable except unless we resort to not only non-prescription drugs but uh drugs currently illegal. In other words, the psychedelics through this boundary dissolving function dissolve that boundary as well. And so they promote a larger sense of the world than the values of capitalism, [0:48:30] competitiveness, object fetishism, property acquisition and the bottom line, empower.
So the -the issue as was always since, since the sixties forward i think is not simply uh an issue of religious freedom or an issue of an eccentric minority social practice [0:49:00] being tolerated by the majority, the way they tolerate handing out pamphlets in the airport or something like that, the -the issue is in fact what kind of people shall we be? And then what kind of society shall we put in place?
And that’s why my theory of evolution is not simply a dry [0:49:30] footnote on uh an issue that involves anthropologists, primatologists and biologists, but it turns into a political issue because our unhappy, addicted, ego-driven condition has become not simply the source of our own unhappiness, that was bad enough but now it’s the source of great discomfort and dislocation [0:50:00] for all life and human society on the planet. We -we are out of control, we are basically severely addicted to things, and cannot stop ourselves. Uhh and we know, or we should know, that there is not enough petroleum, heavy metal so forth and so on [0:50:30] in the planet to give all the thing addicts all the things that we know they must have in order to be happy.
We have spread this intellectual virus from pole to pole, to Turkmenistan and Borneo, to the upper amazon to the Tajiks , everybody wants kids, you know? Everybody wants the pause that refreshes, uhh, [0:51:00] what are we going to do about this? Well so far we've been treating it like an endless garden party, there's no serious plan on the table to deal with this at all. Uhh uh i think that the momentum of human history is pushing us inexorably toward some kind of day of reckoning and in which we are going to have to turn [0:51:30] consciously toward brutality and selfishness and say we’ll let India go. Let Bangladesh go. Triage. Costs too much. Can’t possibly fix the problem in order to maintain our locked compounds and our 50 channels of television and the endless availability of arugula (*audience laughs*) we have to let India go.
We’re going to have to [0:52:00] turn that way in other words each consciously participate in a choice to brutalize the human enterprise or we’re going to have to uhh seriously talk about very major restructuring of our society and i don’t really know how we do that.
I was living in northern california a couple years ago when they wanted to close an airbase near here and the [0:52:30] newspapers were filled with weeks for weeks with analysis whether western civilization could absorb this hammer blow at the very heart of its institutions of closing one frickin airbase for crying out loud. (*audience laughs*) That’s not my idea of major change. You know?
We may have to give up some of our pretty things. We may have to discipline some of the irresponsible [0:53:00] uh social philosophies that run amuck among us and no i don’t mean the advocacy of psychedelic plants i mean the roman catholic church on population control in the third world. I mean the germans take quite a knock for the holocaust but the catholic church manages to push more people into death disease and degradation every year [0:53:30] than the holocaust manages in its entire show and it’s thought rather crass to even mention the fact. It seems to me that as long as these catholic bishops can show their face in public that we are - uhh in complicity with mass murder. It’s not pleasant news, but what are you going to do about it. Islamic fundamentalism, [0:54:00] another bunch of not-heads with an anti-human agenda, what are we going to do about this?
[Transcript by Jonathan Laliberte]
Are we going to go gently into that good night of planetary chaos, extreme distortion of class structure, defence of what we have at any cost against those who have nothing? There doesn’t seem to be any other plan on the horizon.
Arthur Koestler - who probably never thought he would be quoted by Terence McKenna, [*audience laughs*] a very conservative character, you’ll recall he was a marxist who turned on marxism and led a very interesting intellectual life - he wrote a book thirty years ago called “The Ghost in the Machine”, and he made a case similar to mine, but a little simpler. He observed: human beings are hardwired for homicide. [*audience chuckles*] This is what we do best, because this was something we had to do, apparently, at some point in our past, at least in Koestler’s view, he didn’t believe in a mushroom paradise. But he reached the same conclusion that I have, which is, we need a pharmacological intervention on antisocial behavior, or we are not going to get hold of our, uh, our dilemma. And, uh, I-, I-, you know, there have been dystopias based on drug intervention on aggressive behavior; you all remember “Brave new world”, where every time anybody raised their voice, they were given a, a gram of soma, and told a “gram is better than a dam”(?). And so, nobody ever had the thought in their head. Well, that’s a terrible drug, let’s not introduce that. O-oh, the bad news is, we’ve had it for decades, it’s called television, [*audience laughs*] you know. We have millions of people in larval low-awareness lives, in their little condominium apartments, just ladling this garbage into their minds. The average American watches five and a half hours of TV a day, so imagine how much these people watch. I mean, to- to think of that as human at all... If that were a drug, we’d be up in arms. You know, if people were loaded at home with that level of mental condition, [*audience laughs*] day after day after day, we would-, we would do something about it. [*clears throat*]
So, my, uh, you know, I don’t ha-, I can’t propose a grand solution, but I do think that it is, uhh, uh, pregnant with implication that here at the end of the 20th century, with all of this problems hammering down on us, the news comes from the rain forests, and the deserts, that these aboriginal people - while we made the descent into history, and got the top quark, and planted the flag on the Moon, and all that - they kept the faith. And they have… [*pauses, swallows*] a “materia medica”, a toolbox, that can carry us back into connection, uh, with the planet. Now, the question might be asked: w-, why-, why do y-, do you have such overwhelming faith in, what is after all a substance, a drug? I mean, don’t psychedelics just cause you to see pretty pictures and patterns, and tally up your gains and losses, and then you come down, and that’s it? And the answer is: no. What is mysterious here - and I mentioned this in the early part of my talk - what is mysterious here, is this thing we call the psychedelic experience. Those people nailed to the ground around the campfires fifty thousand years ago, they didn’t know what it was. And when we go in there, armed with our Heidegger, and our Husserl, and our… Wittgenstein, and our Merleau-Ponty, we don’t know what it is either. There has been no progress in sixty thousand years in reducing the psychedelic experience to a known quantity. It is as terrifying, as awesome, as ecstatic, as irreducible to us as it was to them. Well, what is that? As secular people, uh, we rarely experience religious awe, especially of the uncontrollable sort. Uhh, I believe that, what makes the psychedelic experience so central, is the that it is, uh, a connection into a larger modality of organisation on the planet, which is a fancy way of saying, it connects you up to the mind of Nature herself. The planet is not, uh, uh, just a hodgepodge of competing species, that’s the old evolutionary model. That’s been obsolete for decades. The new evolutionary model is, that, where we see species… Nature sees only ge- a gene swarm. Genes moving at various speeds, being transferred around - a large percentage of them by sexual propagation.
[Transcript by Adnan Zahirovic]
But a large percentage of them by asexual and vegetative propagation. And still others by more exotic -uh- methods of propagation such as [what] go on in the fungi and the bacteria. Uh, the world is a gene swarm, and people like Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock have been suggesting for years that the Earth is a kind of thermostatic self-regulator. Well, if you carry that idea far enough, thermostatic self-regulator is a way of saying [it’s] a kind of computational engine; a kind of computer; a kind of mind! A kind of of mind; The Gaian Mind. The reason those mushroom eating, orgiastically-behaving people worshipped a great horned goddess, the reason they imaged the numinous other as feminine [1:01:00], was because they had a connection into a kind of overarching intelligence that they instinctively and intuitively felt to be feminine.
And we retain this in our languages as the idea of mother nature, and the femininity of the land and so forth and so on, but it’s just become a distant metaphor to us. I think ous. I think our intelligence is, is a source of toxicity to nature and discomfort to ourselves unless our values are based on planetary values; are linked to the values of the rest of nature. And that means we need to -uh- fit ourselves more appropriately into the scheme of things by limiting our numbers, [1:02:00] by -uh- limiting our extraction of natural resources and toxification of the environment.
Uh, we uh, we need to realize that there is a hegemony of life on the planet, not necessarily a hegemony of intelligence. Intelligence is not a licence to trample. Th- the proper role of intelligence in a planetary ecology is that of gardener, caregiver, and uh, uh, maintainer of balance. Well.. so where do we go and how- what do psychedelics have to say about that? Well, I- I believe that psychedelics show us something which -uhm- [1:03:00] which capitalist, consumer fetish oriented society doesn’t want us to know.
What psychedelics show us, is the incredible richness of our minds. That- that you, little you, can produce more art in a 20 minute burst of hallucinatory intoxication than the western mind has produced in the last 500 years. Our socially created space is incredibly impoverished. You know? We have Picasso's contribution and Pollock’s contribution and everybody’s contribution but it all together is as nothing compared to the richness that resides in each one of us a half inch behind your eye brows.
We are told, you know, ‘oh well if you want beauty you have to own a lexus.’ Or -uh- you know, if you want a sense of satisfaction then you need a triple car garage. [And] on and on. Th- this is absolutely -uh- not true. These are substitute addictions that will never satisfy for the genuine article, and the genuine article is a connection into the Gaian Mind. Well I don’t believe or expect for a moment that ever again, naked, tattooed, and joyous we will herd our cattle across the grasslands of Africa. *audience laughter* I mean there are six million (billion?) of us that chance has been blown. Uh, but, but, what- what can we do to make- to ameliorate our situation? Well I have always been an optimist, i’m more optimistic right now [1:05:00] then I have been for a long time because sometimes when you’re an optimist, you’re an optimist simply on principle, you believe it’s going to turn out alright but you don’t see how it possibly could.
I’m beginning to see how it possibly could turn out alright, and -uh- my notion is - first of all I- I follow my thinking about shamanism and I follow the great historian of religion Mircea Eliade, who got it almost all right except that he never embraced psychedelics. He thought they were decadent. But that was just his French/European education and he came to early. But anyway, Eliade wrote a book called ‘Shamanism,’ and then he subtitled it ‘The Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy.” Now he wrote the book in French. In French . . .
[Transcript by Douglas Salguero]
….technique has a connotation that it doesn’t have in english. It means both a way to do things, and it means technology. Later, the french sociologist Jacques Ellul wrote a book called ‘Propaganda’ and the little banner under which his book flew which is printed right on the front of his piece, is he says, ‘there are no political solutions, only technological ones. The rest is propaganda.’ And then he spends 200 pages explaining what he means by political solutions, technological solutions, and propaganda. By Ellul’s understanding, I agree. I think ideology is toxic. All ideology. It’s not that there are good ones and bad ones. All ideology is toxic because ideology is a kind of insult to the gift of human free thinking. I mean, if you adopt some ideology, Lenninism, Mormonism, it doesn’t matter, then you have all the answers. You just go and look in the catechism. Well I don’t know why they issued you a brain, they could have just given you the catechism. *laughs* Uhhm. Technology as the counterpoint to, uhh, ideology is a very different animal. Now right now we’re going through a technophobic phase because people think technology means exploding nuclear power plants and uhh irradiated food and tv. But all technology really means in the Mclewin sense is the extensions of man, the extensions of man. And, so language is a technology, shamanism is a technology, psilocybin is a technology, and certainly the internet is a technology. It’s, slowly I think, dawning on a number of people that if we, if we’re talking about hallucinogens as consciousness expanding drugs, than the only difference between a drug and a computer is that one is slightly too large to swallow, and our best people are working on that problem, even as we speak. The drugs of the future will be much more like computers. The computers of the future will be much more like drugs. And I think what we have to recognize is that we are in a very brief and low energy technical phase in technology, basically we’re at the tail end of the petro-chemical steam era and where we are headed is toward the solid state, fiber optic, global community of the internet. And uhh, when I was in San Francisco two weeks ago, the buzz was all about VRML, the virtual language markup… the Virtual reality markup language whose protocols are being set now so that we will be able to build websites on the net that you can put on your helmet and walk around in. Sun Microsystems is about to introduce something called Hot Java which will let you build and interact with your website without going through your server. Bandwidth is broadening as we speak. Uh the whole world is being brought into the domain of electricity. And you may not know it but Marshall Mclewin thought that this was descent of the holy ghost as a convert to christ- to catholicism, he sort of went the opposite direction as me. As a convert to catholicism, he decided that the descent of the third person of the trinity and the worldwide spread of electricity were the same event. So I think that uh what we have to do is dematerialize culture in every way possible. And that means pharmacologize culture, computerize culture, network culture, virtualize culture, and uh, make of it, thereby, uh a tool for the production of our poetic flights, a technology for the putting in place of our dreams as exhibits that we can show each other. This is what it is, this is what technology can be in the service of boundary dissolution. In the service of boundary maintenance, you get hydrogen bombs and seran. In the service of boundary disillusion, you get psychoactive substances, and the Internet, and uh, sexual experimentalism, social justice, tolerance, and community, and the, the choice is to be made on an individual level by each and every one of us. I don’t advocate a mass outbreak of psychedelic use, I think these things are a private matter. They are, the only thing comparable to them in our human experience is our sexuality, and that’s a private matter. [Transcript by Christian Haas]
[1:12:00] How we define it, how we express it, how we act it out, who we do it with, what we think about it and what we choose to say in public about it is all, uh, in our hands. I do not think that, uh, the government, under the guise of some phony alarmist pseudo-scientific rhetoric, should attempt to control the evolution of consciousness. After all, if these things truly are consciousness-expanding, it doesn't take too much intelligence to realise that it is the absence of consciousness that is causing our flirtation with extinction and planetary disaster. If there is any way to raise consciousness - diet, drug, machine, sexual practice, mantra, yantra, whatever it is - we should be furiously exploring and applying it. Because if we should fumble the ball, if we should actually, uh, where our ancestors over thousands of generations did not fail, if we are to fail, the magnitude of the tragedy will be immense, because failure is not inevitable, it is not inevitable that we should fail. There are ideas, personalities, technologies, uh, available right now that which, if honestly explored and- and implemented, could rescue the human enterprise from the disgrace that hovers over us. We don’t want this to end in a toxified garbage pit ruled by nazis, which is, you know, the way we may well be headed. Uh, the Gaian mind has always been there.
Nature, originally through the plants and shamanism, provided the tools for us to access this incredible natural database through the vicissitudes of history, previous generations lost the key in western society. Since the 1960s the key has been re-found. It's a matter of great social controversy, it's a matter of… of- of great risk of those who take it, how they will be viewed by their peers but there is no longer.... ignorance is no longer an excuse. Anthropology in the last 100 years has laid at our doorstep the tools necessary for an archaic reconstruction of a society and, uh, human values within that society. It's inconceivable that Western industrial capitalism could run on another 500 or a 1000 years. Uh, it- it will not continue as it has, it will deteriorate under the pressure of resource scarcity. And what few democratic values we have obtained, what little space for reasoned discourse has been created will be the first to be swept away, so it's- it’s very, very important that people take back their minds and that people analyse our dilemma in the context of the entire human story. From the descent onto the grassland to our potential destiny as citizens of the galaxy and the universe, we are at a critical turning point. And as I say, the tools, the- the data that is... holds the potential for our salvation is now known, it is available, it is among us. But it is misrepresented, it is slandered, it is litigated against and it’s up to each one of us to relate to this situation in a fashion that will allow us to answer the question that will surely be put to us in a some point in the future, which is "What did you do to help save the world". Well, I'll knock off now, I'll sign books, we'll take, like, a 10-minute break and then we'll come back and do questions. Thank you very much for your attention! [Applause]
[Dis]...aster and that in fact what we're involved with here at the end of the 20-th century is some kind of, uh, accelerated forward escape into transformation. And I- when I lecture that subject I more or less imply that it's inevitable. In other words, that it's not that we have to to X, Y or Z, that it's on track. I think it is on track but I also think there is a place for this kind of politics we discuss this evening because, as the world gets crazier and crazier, a lot of people are going to get very, very anxious. This thing in Oklahoma City is an example of people getting anxious. Uh- so, what needs to be done is to spread [1:18:00] the idea that anxiety is inappropriate.
[Transcript by Demeter Bogoev] It- it’s sort of like w-we who are psychedelic have to function as sitters for society [audience laughs], because society is going to thrash, and resist, and think it’s dying, and be deluded, and, uh, regurgitate unconscious material, and so forth and so on. And the goal (1:18:30) - and the role, then, for psychedelic people, I think, is to try and spread calm.
I’m very convinced that things are going to get a lot nuttier than they are, and they are a lot nuttier now than they have been for a while [audience snickers]. But, it- it isn’t -- it isn- doesn’t mean the bad people are winning, or that we are going to fumble the ball, or anything.
The mushroom said to me once, it said, “This is what it’s like when a species departs for the stars.” (1:19:00) It’s a birthing. It’s complicated. Uhm, if you had never seen a human birth, and you came around the corner of a building in your daily round, and it was happening - it vibrates medical emergency. I mean, blood is being shed, tissues stretched. It doesn’t - you really have to have your chops together to step back and say, “How wonderful! New life coming into the world!” (1:19:30) [audience laughs] Because, uh, you know, that’s not the vibe of it. [audience continues laughing] And, I think that’s the circumstance that we’re in. This is the birth canal to a new order. And, at the moment, it looks like suffocation, constriction, limitation, possible death.
But, uh, we need to inform ourselves, and get a big perspective. (1:20:00) And, there’s no way to get a big perspective like education and psychedelic experiences. If we can see history for what it is, it’s a- it’s a twenty-five-thousand year, nearly instantaneous, transition from one state of being to another. And, yes, there are fifteen-hundred generations of people who live in that paper thin transition time. (1:20:30) But, when it’s over...it’s over, and we will leave history behind the way you dump a used placenta, I’m sure.
Yeah? [Points to audience member with a question]
Audience Question -
Um, I wondered, is there any reliable information on the relationship between psychedelics and early, uh, Christianity?
Reliable information on psychedelic use in early Christianity? The answer is no. I mean, there - there is a book by John Allegro, (1:21:00) called The Sacred Mushroom And The Cross. He was a very respected Dead Sea scholar ‘til he wrote that book, [audience laughs] uh, and that basically finished his career as a classicist. He says some incredibly provocative things in that book. To judge whether he’s right or wrong you would have to be, uh, an Assyrian philologist - about which I know nothing. (1:21:30) So, to the layperson, it seemed to be quite an impressive book, but, apparently to his specialist colleagues it was sloppy thinking, and a travesty, and reason to deny tenure. [Audience laughs]
Uhm, St. Augustine was a Montanist before he - no, he was a Manichaean before he converted to Christianity. And, uh, (1:22:00) he mentions that Manichaeans forbade the use of mushrooms - the eating of mushrooms, it doesn’t say the use of mushrooms.
But, the ancient middle-east - we don’t know very much about psyc- uh -- psychedelic sacramentalism. It may have been there. It may not have been there. Absence of reference is not proof of absence, because of cult secrecy, and- and other factors like that. (1:22:30)
We do know that the - or we feel we are on firmer ground in saying that the Greek mystery religions, emphatically, probably were psychedelic. Especially, the- the Ele- Eleusinian mysteries. The mysteries that were practiced on the plain outside of Athens every year for over two-thousand years. And, everybody who was anybody in the ancient world made the journey to Eleusis (1:23:00) to celebrate the greater mysteries, which were celebrated in September. Interesting approach to psychedelics there - you could only legitimately participate in the mystery at Eleusis once in your life.
So, imagine if you had a single, high-dose, psychedelic experience under ideal conditions. In other words, in darkness, under the care of experts, and then (1:23:30) the rest of your life you had to sort it all out based on what happened that one evening. It was extraordinarily powerful for the ancient world.
Eventually, it was destroyed. Alaric the Visigoth, who was a barbarian, but that didn’t stop him from being a convert to Christianity. [audience laughs] Alaric the Visigoth burned Eleusis on his way to North Africa, on his way to burn other things. (1:24:00)
[Transcript by Jason Bastin] [1:24:00] Terence: “Yeah?”
Audience member: “I was wondering, Terence, if you’d had a chance to read The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose, I think? It’s an argument against the idea of A.I. Artificial Intelligence and whether you were able to follow his argument, ‘cause I would take it you would be opposed to his argument”
Terence: “I haven’t read the book. I like Roger Penrose’s early work. He’s saying Artificial Intelligence is impossible?”
Audience member: “Yeah, based on...And he goes through the Turing, uhh, and I heard you bring it up once”
Terence: “The Turing Test.”
Audience member: “The Turing test for Artificial Intelligence and he also, uh, brings in the, uh, incompleteness theorem.
Terence: “Uh huh. Oh, Girdle's little incommensurability thing?”
Audience member: “Maybe a little on that?”
Terence: “‘A little Girdle please?’ *laughs with audience* ‘in 2/4 time?’ *audience laughs* Well, uuuuhhhh, I don’t have a particularly strong opinion one way or another on A.I.. I certainly think computers wi...can be a lot more intelligent they are before we settle the question of whether they can pass the Turing test. You all know the Turing is this test...uh...Alan Turing was a mathematician. He figured it out during World War II and it’s basically ‘if you call “X” on a telephone and you can’t tell whether “X” is a person or a machine, then “X” passes the Turing test,’ and every year they have T- Turing tests, uh, where judges converse by telephone with computers and people and try and decide which are the computers and which are the people and it’s still pretty easy, uh, because the people exhibit exasperation, incorrect information, *some audience members laugh* misinterpret the question *more audience members laugh* so forth and so on. *coughs* Uh, there are some wild thinkers out there, far wilder than me of...you know, if you want to read a wild book, read, uh um, Hans Moravec's book, Mind Children: The Future of Human and Artificial Intelligence. There’s a book, uh, and, uh...I’m having a memory lapse here, help me out…”
Terence: “Tipler, thank you. I said help me out with a memory lapse. You didn’t have to read my mind, for God’s sake! *audience laughs* *Terence laughs* Yes! *laughs* Thanks you Creon. *chuckles* Tip...Tipler’s book is, uh uh, the end of all speculation where artificial intelligence, uh, is concerned. Uh, I think machine/human interfacing is, is very important. I think the debate about whether a computer can think like a human being is kind of not very interesting. Computers think like computers. Already vast amounts of what we call ‘human society’ are entirely run by machines including very important financial sectors, market decisions, uh, resource extraction decisions, inventory resupply decisions that feed clear back from the warehouse to the mine; in other words machines say how much tin should be extracted and at what rate and therefore, to certain degree, say who should come to work and who shouldn’t on certain days. Uh, a lot of design work of circuitry, engineers will simply tell the machine what the circuit should do and leave the actual architecture of the circuitry to machine decision. Uh, this means, you know, lar..m-more and more parts of the human world are being over...given over to machines to design, but when you see how much the world looks like the arrival concourse of an international airport, uh, having computers design the world might not be, uh, a bad idea. Uh, definitely computers figure in our future. I mean, I wasn’t joking when I said that drugs and computers are migrating toward each other. I can imagine, uh, a world, and this is not the ultimate world by any means, a world 5, 6, 7 years in the future where the equivalent of today’s advanced Macintosh would be something you glue on your thumbnail and communicate with that way. And, you know, beyond that lie, you know, enormous computational and data-accessing abilities that may be accessed through implants. Uh, we’re going to have to decide, you know, how much of the monkey we want to take with us into the future. We don’t want to take the homicidal killer, we don’t want to take, uh, the male dominator, but we...it would probably be a mistake to leave the body entirely behind. Uh, after all the body gives us our orientation in the world and our sense of ourselves as somehow co...coextensive with animal life. But how much of what we call ‘human’ is really human is going to be major topic for discussion, uh, from here to the end of time. Yeah, [1:30:00] in the back.”
[Transcript by Jaska Isola]
T: Yeah, in the back…. Q: Ahh, two questions on ecstasy. Aah. What’s your take on MDMA? And ahh, what’s the optimum grams to take ahh to achieve ahh sexual ecstasy? T: Sexual ecstasy on XTC? (*laughs, *audience laughs) A. On mushrooms. T: Oh, on mushrooms! Oh I see. “W- well” first about MDMA… w-well there is no doubt, that from here to the end of time, whether it be eighteen years or a thousand years away, science is going to produce more and more psychoactive drugs. There a psychoactive drugs on the shelve now, waiting for human testing and government approvement, ahh, around the world. We cannot explore the brain, we cannot explore neurochemistry, without these drugs being, ahh, a natural consequence of this program of research. MDMA is a cyclised amphetamine, like MDA, like mescaline, which is “a- a” natural occurring compound of this type. Uhm, “i-in” the hands of a skilled psychotherapist ahh MDMA leads to conflict resolution, “relationsh- insights into relationships”, this sort of thing. I am not entirely convinced that it’s, ahh, the silver bullet for these conditions. Every drug that has made it’s way on to the, ahh, the alternative scene has first built itself as a love drug.That’s an unfailing market ploy. (*audience laughs)To get a drug to the forefront of public attention. Cannabis was sold to us as a love drug. Ahh, LSD, psilocybin, ibogaine. MDMA, ahh, is no different. (“MD- MDMA does promote a certain kind of empathy”), not a whole lot of, ahh, vigorous sexal activity. In terms of what dose of psilocybin leads you (“int- into”), ahh, a sexual rather than a visual acute or visionarilly ecstatified situation. Ahh, I would say for a hundred and thirty five pound person, probably two to three grams is this agitated, sexually active or if no sex is happening maybe dancing or drumming. In other words thoroughly aroused, busy, active dose. As the dose rises, you know, activity slows and finally you just want to sit down and then finally you just want to lay down, and ahh, (*audience laughs). Then you’re into the other fase. Behind you there was another question. Q: Yeah, I was gonna say that John Nully? Has an interesting kinda speculation about the future possibilities of solid state (unintelligible) on an autobiography of a scientist. But I was really curious what, if you have anything to say or, you know, about the credibility of the author William Cooper, who wrote the book called ‘Behold A Pale Horse’. You know that book? T: This is the flying saucer debunker. A: (unintelligible) T: And isn’t he the one who said he was the CIA guy for a long time. A: (unintelligible) T: Well this is slightly off the track or might be seen by some people to be slightly off the track. Ahh, I don’t know William Coopers book., I regard that, ahh, whole flying saucer thing as a civil war in a leper colony. Ahh, (*audience laughs) but I do think, I do think, having been, like probably most of you, very interested in flying saucers from the time I was a kid. And I grew up when it was alle happening. Ahh, a (“few- couple of years ago”) I accepted an invitation for the first time to go to a flying saucer conference. If you’ve never been to one and you’re interested in flying saucers. Go! You will, (“b- ch- have more insights in the phenomenon then in ten years of studying it, because what’s perfectly clear is that people are self-selected for gullibility. (*audience laughs) Ahh, it’s not their fault, it’s just that (“the- the ticket through the front door is”), ahh, you know, ‘would you believe this’? ‘Would you believe this’? (*audience laughs) Ahh, I think probably what happened, historically speaking, you know, in 1947 the first UFO’s were seen, “they- it was a weird world.” The explosion of the atom bomb, the work toward the hydrogen bomb… People didn’t know. Einstein and Trumann and all those, ahh, they didn’t know what it really meant. “If- they thought that it is conceivable that the solar system is monitored. And it is conceivable that this is the switch which turns on the monitor and brings attention. I mean, they were in awe of the atom bomb and they realized they were tampering with cosmic forces. And then, at this moment of cosmic awe and realization of tampering they began to get reports of spacecraft entering the skies of earth and interacting with human beings. Well, what they did, the CIA had just been founded in ‘48 and so forth and so. What they did, they put a lot of time and effort into infiltrating all these groups that claimed knowledge of what was going on. And as a survivor.. [Transcript by Melvin Goudbeek] [Terence Mckenna] : ....of the new left I can tell you when the government gets interested in infiltrating, I mean I, ...there wu eh, [fff], two out of every three members of SDS was a government informant [audience laughter] at the height of its membership! So, I believe that what happened was these flying saucer groups were massively infiltrated by the government in the course of its,... pursuing its constitutional obligation to, maintain the public welfare. And by ‘54 or ‘55 the government was perfectly convinced that whatever flying saucers were, they did not pose a threat to the integrity of the Air Defenses of North America and that was their real concern.
But bureaucracies are weird creatures, they really exist only to perpetuate themselves. So at some point inside these agencies, they must’ve had to face the fact that they had massively infiltrated a bunch of very flaky people and now their choice was to either end the program, tell the budget people that, “No, they wouldn’t be needing that 10 million dollars this year” [audience laughter], OR keep going with it because they now had a group of people self selected for gullibility. And that group of people became the victims of every chemical experiment, weird technology, propaganda experiment, and so forth and so on, because their friends and relatives had already written them off [audience laughter] as completely, uhh, untrustworthy. Who would believe them no matter what story they told?
So, I really felt I was among severely damaged people [audience laughter] , uh, and it wa-it wasn’t their fault it’s that they-they had become part of something, that had become part of something, that had become part of something, and they never really had a fighting chance. Do strange lights haunt the skies of Earth? You bet their booties they do. But, the flying saucer cults are a social phenomenon and largely unrelated to whatever this anomaly is.
Terence McKenna: *Points at Audience member* Yeah.
Question: “Um, (could not make this part out, i tried) ...of doctor Pugnitzen Polar [sp?] often spoke of the ephemeralization of technology. Do you think there will come a time when, we are indistinguishable from our technology and would that be sort of apotheosis that you speak about in your-in your books?
TM: No, I think it would go the other way that we’re moving toward a time when our technology is indistinguishable from us. In other words, I don’t want us to all turn into, uh, 7100 ADAV, that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Uh, but on the other hand I could, imagine, as a hopeful scenario a future world of let’s say 500 or a billion, healthy, happy, well fed people of all races, political persuasions, gender preferences, and so forth and so on. And, uh, those people would essentially live as our archaic ancestors did. Very little material culture, uhh, very-ve, nomadic, uh, but if you could transport yourself into the body of one of these people you would discover that when they close their eyes, there are menus, hanging in space. In other words, the computer that was on the back of the thumbnail, 5 years later that computer moves into being a kind of an implant, a black contact lens that is sewn into your eyelids at age 6 so that when you close your eyes you're actually looking at an interface. And the entire, uh, database of the culture could be placed there.
You see really what computers are doing is they’re making what we call the collective unconcious, concious! All data, all images, uh, are potentially accessible through, uh, the network. And, uh, ya know, I’m still getting used to the idea of the network myself. Like I keep thinking, “Oh, I have this timeline, I could get somebody's chronology and put it at my website”. And then I remember “No, No, all I have to do is point to their website. I don’t have to copy or move anything”. If there is one list, that’s all the world needs. Anybody else who needs that list can point to it from their website. So the speed at which new structures can be created, is, astonishing! I mean it- almost literally overnight, you can build a website, and begin to point at other websites and bring resources into yours.
Uhh, this is a technology which is gonna turn out to not be what people think it is. It’s going to be a technology for showing each other the inside of our heads. For showing each other our dreams. Uh, you know one thing I didn’t talk about in the main part of the lecture is that psychedelics are catalysts for language. They speed up and catalyse the language formation process. And a culture cannot evolve any faster...
1:42:00 [Transcript by Wesley LaVassaur] [Starting at 01:42:00]
... than its language evolves and it cannot be anymore glued together than the bandwidth that its languages will tolerate, and so what this technology that is putting in place is going to mean is.. the way in which it will dissolve boundaries is by making us transparent to each other. I mean I can imagine a child of the future, uh... we all bring home our drawings to stick on refrigerators and things like that, in the future we won’t stick them on refrigerators, we will stick them in our website and everything will go into our website and by the time we are twenty-five or something, our website will be the size of the American museum of natural history and you can wander through it and a.. as… [01:43:00] as a gesture of intimacy, you can invite someone else to wander through it. Well that’s who you are. It’s your imagination. And… I think in a sense I have said it times that the cultural enterprise is an effort to turn ourselves inside out. We want to put the body into the imagination and we want the imagination to replace the laws of physics. With these technologies we can probably do that. But it will have to run on psychedelic design principles or it’s certain to be a mess. Yeah *pointing towards the audience*
Q-What can you tell us about the problems of that some people experience with the digestibility of the mushrooms and how can it lead to pain an- and discomfort uh.. sometimes to like a nightmarish type of experience? *Terence nods*
A- Well, first of all let me say this, there are several mushrooms which contain psilocybin [01:44:00] which grow in cow dung. What I urge people to do, if you are serious about this, is to grow your own. Uhh… this is moderately self serving because I wrote a book about how to grow your own mushrooms *audience laughter*. But there are many such books. You don’t have to buy mine, you only need it if you want the best one *audience laughter*. Ahh.. but- you see- ah- Stamatson’s book is excellent, and if you wanna go large scale, Stamatson’s book is the one. But let me say something then, ah… after the brain, the stomach is the most heavily innervated organ in the body and anxiety has a way of cropping up as a stomach ache. So, its- a lot of people have anxiety in the first hour of taking mushrooms and they believe that [01:45:00] something in the mushroom is giving them gastric distress. It really isn’t, it’s more like a case of butterflies on an empty stomach because you should take mushrooms on an empty stomach. Ah… you can try a suppository, you can try another drug if you want. But there is in this psychedelic business something to be said for simply disciplining your hind brain. Also you can suppress nausea with cannabis. So, you know, a mixture of self-discipline, pharmacological steering, uh… so forth and so on. Ah.. if you have- if you have a severe reaction to the mushroom, you probably shouldn’t take it. I mean after all it is a fungus and as mammals we have developed some pretty strong uh... allergenic reactions to fungi, [01:46:00] some of us. And- certain reactions to psilocybin are not psychedelic reactions like uh... enormous sweating or something like that. That’s more an indication of an allergy. If you are going to get into psychedelics, one of the things that you have to do is learn your way around. Psychedelic sophistication doesn’t mean you took everything there is in combination with everything there el- else there is, at high doses, with your friends, at rock concerts *audience laughter*. *clears throat* It- it means that you figured out what worked for you, and then really put the pedal to the metal, you know. Yeah* pointing towards the audience*
Q- I recently came by David Hudson’s work on Orbitally Rearranged Monoatomic Elements and found that these monoatomic heavy metals [01:47:00] conduct- act as superconductors- conduct lightforce through our nervous system. Are you familiar with this work at all?
A- No you- you have stumped the star *audience laughter*. Ah.. I mean uh.. I am interested in organic superconductivity and room temperature superconductivity, ah.. but i don’t know his work so i can’t comment on
Q- It’s fairly new, its- its- its you say will be *inaudible* coming out a book called ORMEs *spells out* which is Orbitally Rearranged Monoatomic Elements.
A- I am sure it will find it’s way to my de- now all these hands, oh he should be the guy, you tell me,alright.
Q- How much of our consensus reality do you think is based on um.. inexorable physical laws things that aren’t the *inaudible* creations and how much if any is subject to change without notice simply based on a consensus belief of what should be or what is going to be? [01:48:00] [Transcript by Rohan Singh]
™: Well, I mean, this is, you’ve... this is sort of where I’m at. I mean, as you were asking the question I was... my tendency would be to say none. That none of our reality is based on inexorable physical law. But, I only want that to be true. I’m not sure it is true. Whitehead used to sa- he had this thing about what he called stubborn facts. And he said there are some stubborn facts and you can cut your philosophy any way you want but if you don’t take account of the stubborn facts, you’ll have a problem. Uh, a lot of reality is made of language. How much I’m not sure. But, I, my hope is that a great deal is made of language. Rupert Sheldrake, who’s a good friend of mine, and we sort of think along the same lines, he believes that there are not inexorable physical laws, that there are just very old habbits. He would think of the speed of light as a very old habbit. Uh, these physical constants may be changing. We don’t know, I mean take the speed of light, we’ve measured it on one planet since 1906, and cheerfully extrapolate it to every corner of the known universe with no sense that there might be a problem there at all. Yet, you know, if you’re a critic of this, you can look at the speed of light as measured from 1906 and you will notice that the values have been slowly going up. It’s apparently going slightly faster than it was a century ago. Well, people just dump on that and say ‘no no, you poor moron, you don’t understand, it’s that the instrumentality has become more precise and so the measurement may have changed slightly’. Oh yeah? Well it seems to me in that case the points should cluster. How come the more recent ones are faster than the earlier ones consistently? In other words it’s not that we’re getting measurements which cluster around a value, it’s that we’re getting measurements which are going out this way toward faster. Uh, I think language is the key to making reality. I think our language is a, is a very weak language computer languages may be more powerful. Uh, you know, VRML, or mathematics, but i believe the world is made of language, that’s the magical belief but then the challenge to that belief is how come the world isn’t the way you say it it? Well, that’s ungenerous. Uh, it...it uh, I think because it doesn’t work quite like that. Consensus is set by societies. By millions of people. Reality is a phenomenon of many linguistically operating subsystems. Maybe if you and I were stranded on a desert island we could get a reality going. We probably could but it would surely be shattered when somebody showed up to take us home again. Over here (points to audience) uh, the documentation, um, well there wouldn’t be anything written, of course, it’s earlier than that, but the documentation, it is well known that the Sahara was wetter in the past, even as recently as Roman times, Pliny called it the breadbasket of Rome. And we know that human populations were out there. We, in the Teselly Plateau of southern Algeria there are rock paintings ruprestice paintings that show shamans with mushrooms sprouting out of their bodies and in their hands. So, we have mushroom use, we have evidence of mushroom use at the era of the great horned paleolithic goddess, um, the um, the presence or absence of monogamy and polygamy is debatable. So I, however the archeology of this area has not been well studied, and won’t be soon, thanks to islamic fundamentalism, Algeria is no place to do archeology right now. Now to the first part of your question, why was it human beings who ate the mushroom? Uh, well, we, you had to, to use the mushrooms as a doorway to higher intelligence, you would have had to already come a certain distance down the path of higher animal organization. We were bipedal, we had a pack signaling repertoire, we had binocular vision, and the reason we used the mushrooms is because we were under nutritional pressure. Uh, there may have been other animals under nutritional pressure but they may have been more tightly, uh, bound to their original diet, or they may simply have had behavioral organization that the mushroom couldn’t dissolve or break through. [Transcript by Suzanne Tracey]
[Start 1:54:07] There has been talk among evolutionary biologists about if there were no primates on this planet, what order of animals might occupy the conscious niche or be able to come in there. And interestingly raccoons are candidates. Raccoons have, bah, have well positioned eyes. They have a very complex hand and, uh, uh, years and years ago I used to grow mushrooms in, and I grew them by my own method naturally in jars. And uh I would have waste rye infected with jars. I mean, jars infected with mycelium permeated rye and I would put them out on the back porch at night or I did once. And I awoke in the middle of the night to this terrific racket and there were racoons on the back porch. They could smell the rye infested with the psilocybin containing mycelium. They could unscrew the lids and plunge their mitts into this stuff and, and, as I turned on the lights I saw these little bandit faces with this mycelial crumbs on their little upturned muzzles and their didn’t, they wouldn’t back off. They would, the other thing was they were standing up on the they hind legs, so they were standing on the their hind legs holding a jar, holding this stuff, and tottering toward me. So um I just took one look and backed off. And for the rest of the eventing you could tell they were approaching the orgiastic boundary, ah because the carrying on, the sexual squeaking and squealing, thumping and pounding going on in the backyard was just incredible. So ahh, you know they might be interesting test animals to put through this.
Yeah *points at new questioner*
*inaudible* I want to have your comments on the numerous dangers of the ufo phenomena with regard to *inaudible* and the role of this phenomena which I think you referred to as the other earlier in your talk has been the transformation you have us going through in the future.
Yeah, yes Jaque Belay was a UFO and the book that was mentioned, passport to Magonia was one of his earliest books on the subject. He’s gone through a lot of changes about it. Um, the numinous, I think whats going on is that in a sense there is leakage from the future. This is a broad subject and it late in the evening so I’ll give it to you in headlines. But basically science takes the position that nature is without purpose. In other words nature has no goal. Nature proceeds forward according the unfolding of chance and necessity. But I don’t believe this. I think nature is an engine for the conservation of novelty. Natures purpose is to generate ever greater novelty. In fact history is the dawning realisation that we are about to descend down a very steep novelty sink as it were, into immense amounts of novelty. And this is why we image the other in the 20th century as the extraterrestrial because out of the unconscious comes this image of the other as the extraterrestrial . I think we are in the presence of the transcendental object at the end of time and that religions call it the messiah, or the maitreya, secularists call it utopia, millenarians call it something else, mushroom enthusiasts call it something else. But we are in the presence of the transcendental object at the end of time. And that it casts and enormous reflection back through history, especially recent history. But any person encountering this backward moving shadow of the transcendental object will attempt to interpret it in cultural terms that they can relate too. So if they happen to be a french peasant in the 11th century they will assume its the virgin mary. If they’re a sexual scientific rationalist in the 20th century they will assume it’s a spacecraft of some sort. [1:54:00] The Celts and their relationship to little people and an invisible world this is a generally held belief that they are exemplifying that is world wide which is that the dead are somehow co-present in the space of the living, but invisibly so. Except to those who have the gift of second sight or are magically empowered or shamanically adept. Uhhm the last thought i should leave you with this and it’s adumbration of this question, but also has deeper implications.. The model that you’re usually given of the psychedelic experience is a religious model, that the mysterious of religions, Hindu, Buddhist, or something or other are somehow illuminated by this boundary dissolving experience, my model is a little different, a little cooler and a little more formal, and it’s this. That consciousness is an omnidirectional threat detection response. . [ Transcript by Christian Sherriff ]