“Psychedelics: What Science Forgot”

Terence McKenna
*Source – The Psychedelic Salon - 180
**Transcribed by DominatorCulture.com for readability and grammar.

So everyone can hear, yes?  I can hear anyway.  Good.  Well I want to thank Mandela books, Jan, I want to thank Jay Whitner for bringing me back to Seattle, the home of real grunge and real peculiarity.  Before I plunge into this I should tell you, because Harper would like me to do that, The Invisible Landscape after years and years of being out of print is shipping right now.  I don’t know if it’s in the bookstores but it’s real.  True Hallucinations is going into paper at the same time so if you couldn’t afford the $22, wait for the $12 or the 2012. 

What I wanted to talk about tonight simply because it’s the thing that is moving me to the edge of my chair at the moment is: I called the talk Eros and the Eschaton.  What I could have called it is Eros and the Eschaton, What Science Forgot. Somebody asked me recently is there any permission to hope?  More specifically, is there any permission for smart people to hope?  It’s easy to hope if you’re stupid.  Is there any basis for intelligent people to hope?  I wanted to deal with that because I think so.  It was to me a shocking question because I live in an aura of hope because I live in a twilight world of my own self-generated, cannabinated fantasy.  I forget that not everyone is so fortunate and that there’s a lot of despair and uncertainty out there. 

So I wanted to talk about this.  I’ll talk for a while and then we’ll break and have an intermission.  I’ll sign books if anybody needs a book signed.  Then we’ll come back and do Q&A on this until we’re sick of it basically. 

If there’s a technician adjusting this, help me out a little bit. 

Eros and the Eschaton – these are the two areas that I think compromise the old paradigm and give permission to hope.  Strangely, neither of these words is that well known, which gives you a measure of how completely the dominator position has squelched, subverted and downplayed any opposition to its worldview.  Eros we know about in some kind of devalued, shticky kind of glitzy way because we get it in the eroticization of media and society.  Really what Eros means in the Greek sense is a kind of unity of nature, a kind of all-pervasive order that bridges one ontological level to another.  This is not permitted in the official worldview of our civilization, which is science.  The world of inorganic chemistry is not thought to make any statement about the organic world and the organic world is not thought to be extrapolatable into the world of culture and thought.  There are imagined to be clear breaks in these categories.

“Nothing Lasts”

Terence McKenna - 1994
*Source – The Psychedelic Salon - 391
**Transcribed by DominatorCulture.com for readability and grammar.

[Audience] - I had this experience of dreaming that I smoked.  It was very futuristic and it looked like little pellets, like something out of a star film and out of a little metallic pipe.  It was like DMT when I went up on it.  It lasted about 45 seconds, intense.  I wondered if this was common or do you have any theories about what happened?

That’s an interesting question.  It relates to some of the properties of DMT.  I mentioned DMT occurs in human metabolism.  It does, and its concentration in cerebral spinal fluid fluctuates on a circadian or daily rhythm.  The most intense concentration of DMT is about four in the morning and this is when the deep REM dreaming is going on.  When you give DMT to somebody, as an index of how loaded they are, what you look at is with them stretched out in front of you - you look at their closed eyes.  If their eyes are darting wildly back and forth under their eyelids, then you assume that they have in fact become successfully intoxicated because they are then in the realm of the self-transforming elf machines and they’re watching all this stuff.  Many people who have smoked DMT report that later they will have a dream where a glass pipe will be introduced into the dream, they will smoke it and this will happen.  This is really interesting to me because it argues that the psychological capacity for the DMT flash is present at least in deep sleep, maybe all the time.  It seems to me that an inspired biofeedback program of research ought to be able to teach people how to do that.

One thing I’ve talked to my brother about in terms of orienting the research programs of these pharmaceutical companies is how about a drug, which just allows you to remember your dreams.  That alone might throw open a whole new world of possibility. 

Kathleen?

[Audience Indecipherable]

Yes, so if you could get in there, we might solve our drug problem because I think that probably every night we go deeper than we can remember and that the dreams we remember are basically at the surface and even the deepest dreams we remember are fairly near the surface.  The dissolution back into some kind of primal swarm state is part of the daily cycle and why the top level can’t remember is a real question about our physiological and psychological organization.  Maybe there is simply no efficacy to it. 

[Audience] – Does it have something to do with the brain waves?  If you’re down in theta, you can still witness what’s going on but when you go down to delta, it’s just a total absorption.  Within the process, you remember it felt nice afterwards but you don’t remember…

Well what seems to be happening is there is no transcription of short-term memory.  RNA activation of short-term memory isn’t happening.  All of these things have physical mechanisms, which could be studied but we spend money in unusual ways. I doubt that any drug company would put money into a dream recollection drug. 

“Monogamy, Marriage, and Neurosis”

Terence McKenna - 1994
*Source – The Psychedelic Salon - 390
**Transcribed by DominatorCulture.com for readability and grammar.

[Audience] - Can you maybe briefly go into what your model for how sexual relationships would be in a society.  If you had an ideal, how would you setup sexual interactions?  Would you do away with marriage?  How would you do it?

Well, that’s an interesting question.  In my own life, I’ve gone from incredibly traditional arrangements: long marriage, monogamy.  In my early psychosexual existence, it was very mainstream in that it was driven by the archetypes of Hollywood.  I was always amused – well, not amused – puzzled by the concept of casual sex.  I couldn’t exactly put those two concepts together because for me every relationship I ever had was Galahad approaching the Grail or something.  Then I got married and I was married for a long time and then my marriage ended and so I’ve been single for a number of years.  So I have thought about this.  I don’t have a prescription but I’ll tell you how I think about it.

My approach to everything tends to be mathematical in order to not miss any of the cases.  You just work through the exhaustive set and try to understand it like that.  So the exhaustive set is first of all, you can be single and celibate.  This is out of the question for me.   In this area, all you have to do is answer the question for yourself.  So while there may be those brave and ether highly motivated or completely neurotic or God inspired – who knows – people, who can be celibate, I don’t think I’m one of them.  I think the I-Ching inveighs against a kind of…’sterile’ it says.  It says ideas not fertilized by friends or something like that.  Two then, moving through the numerical arrangements, the post reformation, postindustrial solution is the nuclear family, which I’ve attacked at times in the past.  It is not a traditional social unit.  It’s less than 250 years old.  This is the man, the wife and the two children.  The traditional social unit is a very large extended family of cousins, sisters, brothers in laws, children, elders.  This nuclear family thing is part of the root of our problem.  It is an engine for the production of neurotic dysfunctional people. 

The entire industry of psychotherapy is based around trying to straighten out what was done to people by their family and trying to get them to get them to stop doing equally horrible things to the people within their family structure.  It’s an artifact of capitalism.  It does not serve human needs.  It serves the needs of the engines of capital and it is also based on paranoia.  Monogamy in all forms is based on extraordinary anxiety; male anxiety about the behavior of females.  It also denigrates females to the levels of property because they have to be controlled.  So I conclude from that that certainly marriage doesn’t seem to work and that high levels of divorce seem to support that.  Part of what has gone on since the industrial revolution is called what’s called forced social neoteny.  Neoteny is the phenomenon of maintaining juvenile characteristics into adulthood and marriage is a kind of neotenous schizura in life’s development where you’re just about to cross the great bridge into adulthood and then it says, ‘last exit before authentic responsibility – get married.’  So people leave the great freeway of life and they get married and they form this ‘you and me against the world’, us back to back, this basically paranoid unit and they set off then to acquire houses in the south of France and little Meraux etchings and stuff like that.  Then it ends in great unhappiness and bitterness usually and people say they wasted their time and they weren’t understood and so forth and so on.  So two doesn’t work I conclude in this monogamous thing. 

“Effects of Psychedelics on Society”

Terence McKenna - 1988
*Source – The Psychedelic Salon - 365
**Transcribed by DominatorCulture.com for readability and grammar.

What I sort of want to talk about this morning and I can be lead away from it if you have other considerations.  It’s pretty clear from how this group is relating and coming on that everybody has come to some resolution about this in their own lives.  What’s become more and more interesting to me as I’ve talked to more people and also if you stay in a field like this, you eventually get to meet everybody.  You get to meet Albert Hoffman and Sasha Shulgin and Leary and Lily and all these people and you begin to have a view of how all these people viewed it.  So what I wanted to talk about this morning and lead it toward your concern with the alien intelligence is, I wanted to talk about the effect that psychedelics are having and I believe will have on society in general, and at deeper levels simply than drug laws and government campaigns of abstinence but more on the level of how it’s impacting in philosophy and science and the social sciences.  I think we are winning.  The psychedelic viewpoint is becoming more and more legitimate but psychedelic drugs are not.  That’s the odd paradox of it.

This has a lot to do with the history of science over the past hundred years.  What we call modern science or what you could almost call super-science, not the notebook jottings of naturalists and the collated accounts of travelers, but big science where millions, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on instruments and coordinated teams of people to attack problems.  This style of science that has grown up in the 20th century has had a very interesting consequence because it is spread out over more than a generation; we all have grown up with it and haven’t really realized what an unusual situation we are living in.  We are living in a state of constant scientific revolution.

There is not a single area that you can name that is now seen as it was seen, let’s pick a number, a hundred years ago.  Nothing is left of the worldview of one hundred years ago.  One hundred years ago, atoms were billiard balls, the basic building block of the universe – indivisible.  One hundred years ago, the position of biology was that Darwinian mechanics had just been enunciated in the 1850s and was making its way against an orthodoxy, which held that the Earth had been created in 4004 BC.  Less than one hundred years ago, when the cave painting of Lascaux and Altamira in Southern France and Spain were first discovered and experts came from Paris to view them, after looking the caves over the experts announced that these paintings were obviously done by soldiers in the army of Napoleon who had overwintered there in 1816 and 17.  Continental drift was unknown.  The fact that the continent of Africa had an edge that fit exactly against the edge of the continent of South America was mentioned in textbooks as an example of God’s sense of humor.  It was not seen to signal anything. 

“A Higher Dimensional Sectioning of Reality”

Terence McKenna
*Source – The Psychedelic Salon - 349
**Transcribed by DominatorCulture.com for readability and grammar.

I’m not very keen on the whole abduction shtick.  I think that one of the symptoms of cultural disintegration is simply that people lose the ability to distinguish between dream and memory and that somehow one’s past, one’s real past and one’s dream past simply become one’s past.  Then under certain circumstances what was basically dream material is presented as reality. 

Just because you have a nut theory, it doesn’t mean that you agree with other nut theories.  In fact, it often makes you very hostile to them.  After all there’s a limited pool there that we’re all…

My idea with psychedelics throughout my whole career with them was that they were the purpose.  It was to go out into mind space and hunt ideas and bring something back to show the folks around the campfire, something that would astonish us and amaze us all.  Well you know it’s a narrow keyhole, the mind.  You can’t bring back a flower like the time traveler does in Welles’ story.  So I’ve found the only thing I could bring back, not being graphically endowed, was ideas.  It’s a very mysterious business, the revelation of mind to the world.  Since the last time I talked to any audience I finally understood an argument of my enemies that I had never understood before - enemies in the friendly collegial ideological sense, in other words enemies. 

The countervailing theory to the evolution of consciousness, how it came to be so rapidly as opposed to the idea that it was stimulated by psychedelic compounds in the early human diet – and I’ve ridiculed this idea to you before – the idea that human beings throw things.  Because we were small and weak and we hunted very large animals, we learned to hurl rocks with great accuracy and that this is a behavior not observed in the animal world.  I mean, monkeys hurl feces in a generally downward direction to indicate displeasure but their aim is lousy, which is a very fortunate thing if you’re an Amazon explorer.  But human beings can hit with considerable force an object up to 120 feet away.  Evolutionary biologists have fastened on this as, requiring so much coordination of neuro-material that there would be enough left over to invent Western Civilization and explore the planets once you had this thing down.  Well it always seemed somewhat preposterous to me and I pointed out that it would make the big league baseball pitcher the paradigm of evolutionary accomplishment in the human world if that standard were accepted. 

“This Psychedelic Thing”

Terence McKenna
*Source – The Psychedelic Salon - 358
**Transcribed by DominatorCulture.com for readability and grammar.

I think when we finally, if we ever, tease apart this psychedelic thing, what we’ll discover is it’s an interspecies communication system; that life is a seamless web of signal transduction and that we somehow have become isolated from this process by our historical pathology.  So for us the voices have grown mute.  We can’t get the signal and consequently it’s a pretty grim row to hoe.  There’s a curve with the introduction of every drug of great expectation.  I mean once it was Milltown and then Valium, then something else and usually once as your data sample swells, you begin to see the negative effects of these things. 

I’m very sort of not the person to ask this because I’m very…some people have said blindly prejudiced in favor of plants but I just think human beings have evolved in the presence of living systems and that that’s a very good filter to pass drugs through.  The question: do they occur in living systems?  I mean God knows there’s enough stress built into modern life.  It’s like a stress production machine.  I’m constantly trying to tell myself that we’re having a good time now.  But this is what it’s all about. 

If I may go off on a tear here.  I followed with interest the crop circle phenomenon in England and recently a book has been written by an American called Around in Circles and it basically buries the crop circle phenomenon.  If your metaphysic was hanging on this, you better head for cover in a hurry.  The most interesting figure to me in the controversy was this British meteorologist Terence Meaden, who at the beginning, his position was this is the wind.  These things are vortices caused by heat convection and they’re capable of swirling the wheat into these patterns.  He was, you see, a reductionist.  He was saying there’s nothing unusual going on here, so forth and so on.  Then as the phenomenon got rolling, the circles became more and more elaborate and Meaden, always being asked by the media to explain these things, came to insist…he eventually electrified his vortices and they became plasma vortices, a rare natural phenomenon disputed by some whether it even exists or not.  Once he had in place the concept of the plasma vortex, no matter how elaborate the crop circles became - the straight lines, triangles, triangles in triangles - Meaden could always explain that if you were cognizant of the higher mathematics which ruled the world of plasma physics, this was all perfectly straightforward and in fact predictable from theory.

Q

Anonymous asked:

Hi this site is awesome! Thanks for doing this. Would it be possible to put number 349 on your list of those to be transcribed? I've listened to that one a few times and I always thought it's a tour de force of ideas that are different but he weaved them together seamlessly. "Because I believe psychedelics are a kind of higher dimensional sectioning of reality, I think they give the kind of stereoscopic vision necessary to hold the entire hologram of what’s happening in your mind." Amazing.TY

A

Thanks for the feedback!  I really appreciate hearing from folks who are finding these talks useful since they are definitely labors of love.  I’ll check out 349 I haven’t actually listened to it before but I’ll make that the next one on my list to do!  Thanks!