Terence McKenna at the Entheobotany Seminar
Palenque, Mexico on January 16, 1999
On Saturday night, January 16, 1999, Terence McKenna gave one of his last lectures at the legendary Entheobotany Series by the foot of the pool at the Chan Kha Hotel near the Mayan ruins of Palenque. There were about 100 people sitting in the moonlight, listening to the lowing of cattle in the distance and the occasional chatter of the howler monkeys in the trees nearby. This was Terence doing what he did best, which was to challenge all of us to stretch our minds to their far limits and then expand them once again.
This recording was made by our dear friend, Noah, who recorded most of the talks at this and many other conferences. Later he gave me this copy of the recording. Noah wouldn’t take any money for the copy he gave me, in fact, he wouldn’t even take anything to pay for his cost in duplicating the tape. He just said, “I want as many people as possible to hear what Terence has to say. Please pass it around.” Sadly for us, Noah has moved on to another dimension. But wherever you are, Noah, you will be remembered every time someone listens to these wonderful recordings you made.
SOUND BITES: A snoot full of tequila and a messianic mission … the psychedelic experience contextualized … what I’m interested in is psychedelics as philosophical tools … what can the psychedelic experience bring to philosophy … where did the world come from, where is it bound, and who’s along for the ride … The psychedelic community has given itself the image of an underclass … evidence of a major paradigm shift… we are a culture of science, yet this rhetoric is not the rhetoric of the larger community of psychedelic users who share a nostalgia for shamanism … The news coming out of science is the most psychedelic news there is … while we struggle to legalize psychedelics, psychedelic thinking is everywhere triumphant … the entire universe is ruled by a very weird force that has been known to science for precisely five months! … Forces shaping the cultural modality … the 20th century had the most spectacular celebratory affair with the irrational since the 16th century … if you aren’t current in a field then your version of that field is only a myth … we’ve had some fairly existential characters in our ranks over the years … we are not relativists … I believe the psychedelic experience is the only reliable contact with the numinous … Optimism … the best story will win … Ur was a virtual reality … artificial intelligences: while the naïve are scanning the stars our appliances have become telepathic … I’ve come to a kind of cyber pantheistic Emersonianism … the Earth’s strategy for its own salvation is through machines … human beings are the deputized bride in this alchemical rarefaction of glasses, ceramics, metals, and volatile materials … the nervous system of Earth is appearing … at who’s behest are we doing this … we are actors in a cosmic drama that involves Earth at one polarity and machines at the other polarity … why I like this story … Where does the psychedelic experience fit into all of this … consciousness expansion in human beings is going to become an absolute necessity … the Internet is a partner in the understanding of the world that is Genie-like … the only people who can see the game move against the background of the forest pattern are the psychedelic heads …A future where the expression of the individual is muted … the dichotomy between the natural and the artificial is an obsession of the 20th century, hence canceled … Things about the cosmological constant that are very counterintuitive … the Novelty wave (Timewave) … space itself is in the act of exploding
Illustration: Adam Scott Miller (Thermohoizon)